Dating in Your 50s is Like Dating People with PTSD
I remember when my Ex broke the news that she was filing for divorce and had no desire to try counseling, my first feeling was one of relief. It was over. No more would she be yelling and swearing at me, chasing me around the house from room to room. No more would I be fighting off tears as I drove home and be made to deal with her again. It was over. Finally. I would have stuck it out forever. For the kids’ sake. But I had been released from that prison. I had been delivered.
My second thought was, OMG, I get to start dating again! I remember what that was like. Dating in my teens and twenties was one of the great experiences of my life. A long list of fun and beautiful people I got to meet and spend time with. The faucet was in the on position, and it pretty much stayed like that until I got married. I wasn’t sure how I’d adapt at age 49, coming from the pain and misery of my marriage, to the unmitigated joy of dating.
Boy, was I off base.
My first two relationships were indeed fun. At least they started out that way. First, there was Hockey Mom. As previously noted, we started dating with a vengeance, seeing each other seven times in ten days. Then she broke it off. Why? Her insides were messed up, and required medical care. Seeing me was making things worse because her body translated the passion into stress, and her marriage had run down her body’s immune system. I could relate, because I had serious gastro-intestinal issues for the last six years of my marriage, all of which magically cleared up within three months of moving out.
The second woman I dated was even more fun and more beautiful than the first. Problem was she was even more messed up. She decided not only would she file for divorce from her husband, but also move to Italy where she’d work in vineyards for six months. Makes sense, right? Chasing a childhood dream. Only problem was that she left her kids behind, and the kids were both under 10. Then she came back, was living in someone’s basement, and took a job as a cashier at a liquor store. Wow.
Another woman had been pushed down a flight of stairs by her husband. She hit her head during the fall, and was left there for some untold amount of time. She didn’t wake up from her coma for more than a year. Yet another woman walked with a limp. More spousal abuse. Another woman owned a gym, and her husband stole all of her exercise equipment. When she hired an attorney, the husband threatened to go after various pre-marital bank accounts if she tried to get her equipment back. Earlier in life she had been sexually assaulted. Later her martial arts instructed tried to assault her. The woman I’m seeing now went years without any physical contact with her husband. He barely ever spoke to her.
The stories are endless, and, after a while, they all start to sound the same. It's like listening to my Dad's war stories. Once you've heard one, you've heard them all.
Wikipedia says the following about PTSD (Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder):
Post-traumatic stress disorder (sometimes also written Posttraumatic stress disorder, often shortened to PTSD) is an anxiety disorder. It can develop when people are severely harmed, or experience something extremely upsetting. Between 50% and 90% of people in the United States will experience a trauma at least once in their life. However, not everyone who experiences a trauma will develop PTSD. In the US, the prevalence of PTSD - the percentage of people who have the condition - is about 8%. PTSD is more common among specific groups of people who are more likely to experience a trauma. These groups include physicians, firefighters, soldiers and people working in emergency medical services. Among these people, the prevalence of PTSD is much higher, reaching over 50%.
I think the causes of the disorder need to be reevaluated. Divorce needs to be a new source for the disease. I bet the incidence level is even higher than 50%, at least based on my personal experience.