Back at the end of April, I offered Divorced Over 50 users a quick survey. It asked respondents their gender and how long they’ve been divorced, and then presented two open ended questions: “What are the BEST things about being a divorced person over 50,” and “What are the WORST things about being a divorced person over 50.”
I summarized the responses into an article which started running at Huffington Post on May 4th. The article was aimed at those who are Divorce Curious, or Di-Curious as we call them around here. And its point was to offer additional information to that Di-Curious man or woman, hopefully helping him or her better understand how life may go if they choose divorce, or one is forced on them.
For the users of this site who are already divorced, I thought you might be interested to compare your experiences to the survey results. And for you Di-Curious who missed the article on Huffington, here’s a look at what you may experience if it comes to a Divorce Over 50. (A quick note — the HP article offered readers a chance to take the survey, too, so many additional responses have come in and are reflected in what follows…)
The overwhelming negative had to do with loneliness. Sometimes it was stated in one word, sometimes respondents provided answers like:
- “Being alone.”
- “Fear of being alone.”
- “Doing things alone.”
- “Realization you may be alone.”
- “Afraid of being alone the rest of my life.”
- “Not having someone to share adventures with.”
Economic issues were also mentioned frequently. Some people said their divorce created significant financial hardship. One said she’s very poor, and is counting every penny. Another said she’s starting over at zero — no home, no job, no savings. Another cited the loss of financial security, and says she has to work full time again. Others mentioned the changes necessitated by living on just one paycheck, as well as taking on new roles like financial planning.
The difficulties of dating were another common response. As one woman put it, “The dating pool sucks.” Other women complained that men want younger partners, though one man sees a “…poor quality of women my age, or even close to my age.” One woman said she feels invisible to the opposite sex, while others expressed concern about their body image. One says she’s intimidated about having a physical relationship with someone new after a thirty year marriage.
Some cited reductions in the time they could spend with their children, while others mentioned being excluded from couples events.
If “Loneliness” won a plurality on the WORST side, with financial issues coming in second, clearly “Freedom” reigned as the BEST thing about a Divorce Over 50. In fact, freedom, in one form or another, was the respondents’ overwhelming response.
Those who expounded beyond the single word added commentary including:
- “I have the freedom to do anything I like.”
- “No one to tell me what I can or cannot do.”
- “Not having to answer to anyone else, being able to do what I want, when I want, and being in control of my finances.”
- “Able to do what I want, when I want, and where I want without having to answer to anybody. First time in 50+ years I will be able to do so.”
- “Being able to have whatever adventure I want, when I want, just because I want.”
It’s interesting to note how often respondents used the word “I” when writing about the positives. It seems that their Divorce Over 50 had shifted their perspective — no longer part of a “we,” so many were fully embracing the optimism of being an “I,” and the opportunities available to them.
Specifically, many did mention reinventing themselves, and getting a fresh start. One woman wrote, “You can discover who the new you is, and that has been fantastic so far… Love yourself and the rest will fall into place.” Another said, “I get to hit the RESET button and start a new life.” Said another, “Just being myself, and most of all re-inventing myself in the way I want to live my life.” And one put it simply: “I can really be ‘me’ again.”
Sex was cited a bit, too, by both men and women. There were those having more of it: “Meeting/sleeping with new people”; “Sleeping with who I want”; “Sex with new women that’s reminiscent of my younger days.” And there was the woman who was glad it would now be on her terms, not her ex’s: “Not being woken up in the middle of the night for sex when I have to be up early for work.”
Some of the BEST responses were quite inspiring, such as “Although I have grieved my marriage, my life is better than it was when I was married.” And, “Life is great, and I am so very grateful.”
But at least a few people responded “Nothing” to the BEST question. Combining that with all the loneliness and fear and loss expressed in the WORST category demonstrates what a mixed bag divorce is. Common sense says that those feeling the worst about it were probably not the ones who chose divorce. And that those having the better experiences either made the choice, or it was mutual. But there’s no way to know, because I didn’t think to make “Who drove the divorce?” one of the questions. (Sorry, I’m new to this survey world).
If you’d like to continue the discussion, here’s a new survey form that’s completely wide open. Tell us the best and worst things you’ve experienced in your divorce. Or anything else you think is relevant. Or that you just want to get off your chest.
We’d love to hear your stories. It helps us better understand the users here and what they’ve been through, which helps us provide better, more relevant information.
Remember, we’re all in this together, making our way through our Divorces Over 50, and moving toward that brighter future.