Is it Okay to Defer Love? by Bonnie Trachtenberg

Q. I feel jinxed when it comes to men. My first husband and I were very mismatched and we divorced after seven years. My second husband and I had many things in common, but he grew up in a very different ethnic culture from me and after a year, I felt his unusual attachment to his family coming between us. It only got worse and we divorced after three years of marriage. Then, while out of the country on business, I met another man (also an American) and we fell for each other. We were married for four years when he had a massive heart attack and died. (I chose not to have children with any of my husbands.) It’s been almost two years and I haven’t gone on one date. I feel very beaten up and embarrassed to tell anyone that I’ve been married three times, for fear they’ll think I’m loony. I occasionally go out with friends, but find that after work, I look forward to just being home alone. I’ve always been somewhat of an introvert, but friends are worried that I’ve stopped living my life normally and so try to push me out into the dating world again, even though it’s the furthest thing from my mind. Do you think I need to be out there again?


A. First of all, I’m sorry for your losses. Death of a spouse, of course, is a horrible one to bear, but two divorces can certainly take a huge emotional toll on you as well. Unlike your friends, I’m not in the least bit surprised you are now living a more secluded lifestyle. You have taken a beating and have a lot of processing and healing to do. It also does not sound as if you are unhappy with your quiet life, so forcing yourself out into the dating world is not something I’d recommend right now. I advocate using your own happiness quotient as a barometer for life’s decisions. Forcing yourself to live according to others’ standards or beliefs is not the path to self-fulfillment; Listen to your own head, heart, and gut instead.

What concerns me, though, is your notion that people will label you as “loony” for having been married three times. I admit that many people, upon first hearing that news, may make judgments, but those are not the people that should matter in your life. When the right, thoughtful, caring man gets to know and like you for who you are, and can appreciate the difficulties you’ve had to weather, he will be able to put things in perspective, discard the labels, and focus on the real person before him. If a man cannot do that, he is just not the right man for you. So don’t let this concern be the reason you decide not to date. It’s a rationale based in fear, and those are usually faulty. Just focus on your happiness barometer. If you feel good about nestling at home alone, you are entitled to do so. There are other things in life that bring joy besides a man. But if you one day find yourself lonely and longing for a relationship, then it may be time, once again, to open your front door—as well as your heart.

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Please leave a comment

  1. Nicky Wells Says:

    Sound advice, and very supportive. I love your feature, Bonnie!

  2. Chris Longmuir Says:

    I had an aunt who was married 7 times. I’m afraid that, as a child, I thought that quite glamorous, like being a film star because they married a lot. Of course, as a child I had no conception of the heartache behind marriage breakups. So found your column sensitive and supportive. Keep up the good work.

  3. Lavada Dee Says:

    I had an aunt like Chris’s and like him I thought she was soooo glamorous. She was a very successful cocktail waitress. I remember even telling my mother I wished she was more like her. Now all grown and seeing how much trauma she caused her kids I realize how fortunate I was.

    I really like this column and am looking forward to more postings.

  4. Bonnie Trachtenberg Says:

    Thanks so much for your comments Nicky, Chris and Lavada! I’m glad you are enjoying the column and it feels good to help people again.

  5. Sheryl Browne Says:

    Late coming in but just wanted to say what sound advice that is, Bonnie! 🙂 x

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