Fourteen years ago when I met my husband, we were both failures. Relationship failures, that is. He was divorced twice and so was I. We were in our early forties, fearful of making another mistake, yet still hopeful that maybe this relationship would be the right one. We both had a healthy dose of skepticism, but we forged ahead. Good thing we did because meeting him has definitely turned out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me!
If you are single and over forty, odds are you have at least one big relationship failure in your life. Singles often ask me about the people they are dating and whether or not they are worth the risk. He’s been divorced and single for ten years. Is he ready? She’s never been married but lived with a guy for fifteen years. Does she have a problem with commitment?
The twice divorced person may look like a long shot, but it turns out that there are some real advantages to dating relationship failures - IF they meet these four criteria.
One: Healthy Paranoia
Anna is 41, in medical sales, and recently divorced. Her green eyes sparkle as she relates to me the enchanting story of meeting Doug through an online dating service. After one coffee date and one dinner date, she is wowed. “He’s the guy I’ve been looking for,” she gushes. She can hardly wait to introduce him to her family and friends. In her mind, she’s practically engaged to the guy, yet she knows almost nothing about him.
“When was his last serious relationship, and how did it end?” I query. She looks at me blankly. “Well, I know he was married a long time ago, and he’s been single a long time,” she trails off, frowning. She then takes up the narrative of how wonderful he is. I know now that she is in deep trouble as she rushes into this new relationship.
The person who has failed and learned from it is smart enough to have a healthy dose of skepticism about relationships. It’s easy and tempting to fall for the first attractive person who gives you attention. It’s much harder to hold back a little until you really understand the person sitting across from you.
Maybe you are skeptical, but do you look for that in others? It might pay to do so. Studies show that the longer you date before becoming engaged, the better your odds are of making a good match, especially if you are focused on making sure your values align.
A little bit of worry about making another mistake helps you pay attention to the warning signs of a relationship that isn’t going to be good for you. If the person you’re dating is also a bit worried about making a mistake, together you are more likely to ask good questions, discuss your values and life goals in depth, and look for real compatibility.
Two: Ego Correction