How to Date After a Divorce

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Photo: Gregory Hayes (Unsplash)

In a former life, I was one of those trying women who would comment on articles about online dating with a “Wow. That sounds terrible. So glad I found my partner at 19 and got married by 25!” These comments were accompanied by an air of frantic smugness that is usually seen in a young woman who is just beginning to suspect she made a mistake.

In a twist that is actually not twisty at all, but a predictable, linear portion of my life story, I am now divorced, and it rocks.

But it did not always rock, and I had to unlearn a lot of bad behavior before it began to. Divorce is often framed two different ways: a great tragedy or a great triumph. Either you couldn’t make a great thing work (and are a failure!), or you escaped from a bad situation (and are a strong hero!), but the truth is that it’s often somewhere in between. No matter how mutual the decision to get divorced was, parts of it will be horrible, but dating after divorce doesn’t have to be that bad.

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Being married is a little like being in a time capsule, and successfully dating after the dissolution of a marriage is less about getting hip with the apps and more about creating an internal shift in how you think about relationships, romance, and sex. Like anything, divorce is different for everyone, but there are some strategies I think every divorced person can employ to make dating after marriage not terrible—and maybe even fun.

Learn to appreciate the void

A lot of “being lonely” is actually getting over the muscle memory of being physically near another person for a large portion of your day or night. As someone who worked from home, and was married to someone who also worked from home, I can tell you that it takes some unlearning, but it can be done. Your first impulse may be to fill this physical emptiness with a string of dates or casual sex—I hesitate to use the phrase “meaningless sex” because even the most casual, noncommittal sex can have meaning and serve a purpose—but you will have to eventually be comfortable with being in a room without another person also being present.

Spoiler alert: Being alone rules. If you have a hard time believing this, think about how you would feel whenever your spouse went out of town. Did you pine for them from the moment they left until the moment they returned? Probably not. You most likely ate whatever you wanted, watched whatever you wanted, and spent more time with friends, without worrying about coordinating with your “other half” (which is honestly a very weird thing to refer to a partner as). Try to recall and tap into that joy, and then amplify it by doing the things your former partner kept you from doing. I’m not necessarily talking about drinking every night or having sex with strangers (though you could), I’m talking about hanging up that painting she hated, or inviting over that friend he never quite got along with. I’m talking about playing Hank Williams as loud as you want, and never having to listen to Tool again.

Date outside your “type”

It’s possible that your ex was the perfect picture of what you’re attracted to, but it’s also possible you just think that because it’s what you knew, what you were used to, and what you had grown to love. There are a lot of wonderful humans of all shapes out in the world, and now is the time to meet them. Also, take this time to examine what may be compulsory heterosexuality and/or monogamy, particularly if either of those things were a source of anguish, anxiety, or strain in your recently ended marriage. The worst thing that can happen is that you try something and it’s not a good fit, but then you get to learn something about yourself, which is never bad.

Love interests are not spouses

Married people do thoughtful, loving things for each other without even realizing that they are being thoughtful and loving, and that’s one of the beautiful things about marriage. By getting divorced, you are effectively losing a family member, and there’s suddenly one less person in your corner. Not only is there one less person taking care of you, but you have one less person to take care of. If you were the more nurturing partner, you might find yourself a backlog of nurturer-type energy that is screaming for a home. You may find yourself performing emotional labor for people who neither want nor deserve it, or find yourself expecting an inappropriate amount of emotional labor from someone you’ve only been on a couple of dates with, simply out of habit. This is not ideal, and it can be helpful to think of these new love interests as friends. For example, if you’re thinking of doing something for a person you’ve only been on a three dates with, ask yourself if you’d do that same thing for a new, platonic friend you’d only hung out with three times. If not, maybe don’t do the thing.

Talk about it, a lot

Go to therapy, champ. You’ve just been through some major trauma and, though I’m sure your friends are all a bunch of lovely, very supportive listeners, they are not therapeutic professionals, and may not have the resources or bandwidth to help you through this effectively, no matter their intentions.

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Also, depending on how dysfunctional your previous relationship had been or become, you may not have the healthiest romantic behaviors, and a therapist can help you identify those, so you can treat new potential partners how they deserve to be treated, as well as spot when you are being treated in a way that you do not deserve. What you have come to know as “normal,” acceptable behavior may not be, but you’ll never know if you don’t examine the past.

The one person you shouldn’t talk to your divorce about is, of course, the person you are on a date with. Obviously be upfront about the fact that you are divorced (or getting divorced), but don’t turn your date into a Tinder-sourced therapy session, and resist the urge to tell harrowing tales, even though harrowing tales can be extremely entertaining. There’s no way your divorce is the most interesting thing about you, and you shouldn’t talk about it like it is.

Enjoy the lack of time table

Some people are very concerned about “finding the one” so they can “settle down.” Great news: you already did it. Check it off your list, and seek out new experiences. Being married can be wonderful, but it is not, and never was, a resting place, and viewing a state-sanctioned relationship as some sort of fairytale “ending” helps no one. You may get married again, and you may not, but neither outcome should affect your self-worth. You may not believe it now, but a failed marriage is not a reason to feel guilty, and you don’t have to explain your divorce to anyone (besides a therapist, for therapeutic purposes, perhaps). You tried it, you did your best, and—like everyone else just trying to fucking live—you deserve to be happy again, and maybe dating a a few fun people can help you achieve that.

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It’s time to reclaim singledom as a symbol of power

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“Are you swiping?” my best friend asks me over breakfast one morning. I gulp down a spoonful of woefully bland porridge and think for a moment about how to reply. 

The answer was no, I wasn’t swiping. But in saying so, I was met with a bewildered expression. I’m reluctant to swipe these days, or just to date in general, due to a long, troubling pattern of power imbalances that have occurred in every single relationship I’ve had since I started dating when I was 15. 

Now, at age 30, my status as the perennial singleton is firmly established after taking countless protracted hiatuses from dating. Not because I don’t like the idea of being in a couple, but rather because I find dating really hard. Let’s be real, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that dating is plain sailing for literally no one. But, as a woman who dates men, I’ve found that every breed of relationship I’ve ever had — from casual sex to long-term relationships — has felt completely antithetical to the vision of equality I’ve envisaged for my own life. The lack of agency I feel in my love life made me want to remain single just so I could cling on to any semblance of control. So, in order to avoid feeling disempowered, I have periodically opted out of dating.

It strikes me as odd that even in 2019 — in this new wave of the women’s movement — my lack of a partner renders me something of an anomaly, an outlier among my friends and family. For decades, we’ve been trying to rebrand the trope of the single woman from sad lonely spinster to something more reflective of reality: an independent, discerning woman who is resistant to the pressures of the patriarchal social values we’ve inherited. But, is this rebrand even working? Because, from where I’m standing, the very same pressures Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw were up against in the ’90s and ’00s feel just as prevalent today.

At every single step of dating and in every genre of relationship, I come face to face with power disparities and micro-aggressions that are tinged with misogyny. During my last serious relationship, my boyfriend hurled gendered insults — “bitch,” “crazy,” “insane” — at me when I tried to assert myself or express that I wasn’t happy about something. He would openly objectify my female friends, appraising their physical attractiveness with nominal values. I dumped him and vowed to be more discerning about the next man I called my boyfriend. The next person I dated rolled his eyes when I spoke and replied “come on, Rachel” when I asked questions about subjects I didn’t know much about. The realm of online dating brings other headaches, like being pressured by matches to send nudes, receiving unsolicited dick pics, and harassment, and verbal abuse if I take too long to reply to messages or don’t want a second date. 

In my sexual experiences with men, a marked power imbalance has left me feeling vulnerable and, at times, traumatised. When I look back on past encounters through a post-#MeToo lens, I can see that a troubling proportion of my sexual experiences fell into what I’d characterise as “grey areas”— sex that’s non-criminal, but can feel violating. I experienced coercion, pain, and violence during sex that caused me trauma. During one experience, I asked the guy I was having sex with to stop because I had changed my mind. He proceeded to shout at me and yell insults until my housemate  intervened and helped remove him from our house.

“Dating as a straight woman is complicated by the fact that the gender you’re attracted to has vast systemic power over you.”

Perhaps it’s me, perhaps I’m picking the wrong men, I’ve told myself countless times. In an attempt to address those concerns, I have re-calibrated the choices I’ve made in selecting a partner. A few years ago, I vowed to only date men who identified as feminists, but in venturing down this path, I encountered a slew of other hurdles, principally so-called performative wokeness. This term, which has recently entered the popular lexicon, refers to people who publicly claim to care about social justice, they identify as allies to women, people of colour, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. In some of my liaisons with men who identified as feminists, their behaviour during our relationship ultimately did not match the values they purported to hold. Behind closed doors, there’d be micro-aggressions like gaslighting and subtle ways of patronising me that made me question my own intellect. 

In reality, it’s far more complex than simply the choices I make about the type of guys I go for. Humorist and author Blythe Roberson, author of How To Date Men When You Hate Men, says dating is hard for everyone, but “dating as a straight woman is complicated by the fact that the gender you’re attracted to has vast systemic power over you.” 

“This can manifest in large ways, but also in more insidious ways I used to brush off: men saying they could never be in a relationship with someone more successful than they are, or men treating me as frivolous for thinking and writing about dating at all,” says Roberson. 

“They think, ‘Oh, this is the one I’m gonna fuck, but I’m not gonna take home to meet mum and dad.'” 

My experiences are, of course, not representative of all men. Nor do they represent the experiences of all women. Trans women who date men face a different set of challenges when dating, chief of which is being sexualised but not respected. 

Paris Lees, a trans activist and columnist at British Vogue, says there are some men who are happy to have sex with trans women, but feel shame about dating trans women in a serious capacity. “It’s really interesting when you tell guys that you’re trans because immediately it’s like, ‘Oh we don’t have to treat you with as much respect now.’ Not all of them, but a lot of guys, they think ‘Oh, this is the one I’m gonna fuck, but I’m not gonna take home to meet mum and dad.'” 

She believes the conversations surrounding whether or not trans women are “real women” have heightened misogyny for trans women. “At the height of the ‘are trans women real women’ debate in the British media about a year ago, I was actually dealing with bullshit from a man and I just remember thinking, ‘This is bullshit,'” says Lees. “Seriously, these people are telling me I’m not a real woman, and I’m out here getting all the misogyny.” 

Indiana Seresin, an academic specialising in feminist and queer theory, says she believes that “heterosexual dating is often just tiring for women.” 

“Dealing with issues like men’s entitlement, the unequal division of physical and emotional labour, and men’s ignorance about women’s sexuality is exhausting,” Seresin tells me. “As a queer woman I can confidently say that we don’t face a lot of these issues, thank God. On the other hand, there are still cultural norms that we’ve regrettably inherited from heterosexuality, one of which is the couple form itself.”

Rebranding the trope of the single woman 

The hegemony of the couple form is something we, as a society, are struggling to shed. And it’s standing in the way of our perceptions of what it means to opt out of traditional dating structures, like not participating in dating. When we look back on the pop culture poster girls for singledom — Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Bennett, Carrie Bradshaw, Bridget Jones, Kat Stratford — all their stories end happily with them finding Mr. Right. The story ends with these shrewish bluestockings finding a cure for their ailment — and that cure is a man. Not only do I not want to take this medicine, I know for a fact I’m not ill. 

This notion of single women needing to be fixed is one that frustrates sex and wellness writer Maria Del Russo. “I feel like there’s still this idea among women that ‘single’ is a negative state of being instead of just another label for society to slap on you,” Del Russo tells me. “When a woman is single, there’s something wrong with her, and she needs to fix it. There’s this idea that single folks need fixing, and it’s pretty messed up.”

Not only do we think of single women as broken and waiting to be fixed, there’s also the stereotype of the ‘sad single gal’ (think Bridget Jones in her PJs singing Céline Dion’s “All By Myself” on her sofa). 

“If women have more financial choice, trying to shame women for making the choice to be single is another way that patriarchy tries to control them.”

Roberson says there’s “definitely a trope of sad single girls or frustrated single girls” — a label she feels has been applied to her. “I think a lot of people conflate my book title and my relationship status with me being, like, an incel,” says Roberson with a laugh. 

Don’t villainise women who don’t date

Dating shouldn’t be considered a compulsory module in the curriculum of life. Roberson says women’s “increased access to education, jobs, birth control, abortion, and divorce means women don’t have to structure their lives around men.” 

“So, if women have more financial choice, trying to shame women for making the choice to be single is another way that patriarchy tries to control them,” she says.

This shaming can manifest itself in what Seresin calls “faux-concern” — something that many single people might be familiar with. Think about the moments people have cocked their heads to one side and said, “oh you’ll find someone” or “he’s out there” when you tell them you’re single. 

“Women who opt out of dating will be villainised by the broader culture (even if that comes in the form of faux-concern),” says Seresin. “I think the important thing is to see that villainisation itself as proof that you are doing something radical.”

“Our society is still terrified by women who realise they don’t need heterosexual partnership,” she says. “But this is actually a major trope in early science fiction. Lots of this literature features worlds that have developed technology to reproduce without men and realise men suddenly have literally nothing to add to that society.” 

When a woman says she’s happily single, believe her 

In the same way that childless women are stigmatised, we’re also socially conditioned to think that single women are tragic figures deserving sympathy, not admiration. In some cases, that social conditioning makes us disbelieve our own happiness when we’re single. Lees says she feels very conflicted about how her views on other single women tally up with her own experience of singledom.

“Deep down at the back of my mind if I’m completely honest with you, I never really believe women that they’re happily single,” says Lees. “I have been single for the past year and honestly I am so happy. It’s like I couldn’t believe the evidence of my own life?” 

Lees even found herself thinking that she was only telling herself she was happy to make herself feel better. But, over Christmas she did some stocktaking of her life and thought to herself: “No, maybe you are happy, Paris.” 

Question who society prizes as icons of singledom 

In our pop culture celebrations of singleness, we need to think about how race also intersects with those we herald as the forerunners of the single-by-choice movement. “There’s everyone going crazy over Rihanna saying she isn’t looking for a man, or that video of Eartha Kitt laughing at the idea of compromising for a man,” says Seresin. “They are both amazing statements that I totally agree with, but I think we need to be aware of how our culture frames black women as patron saints of singleness, because black women have always been excluded from mainstream narratives of romantic coupledom.” 

“In romantic comedies, for example, there is the role of the single, ‘sassy’ black best friend of the white woman who gets the man. By having Rihanna and Eartha Kitt be the major voices of refusing heterosexual coupledom, we are forcing them to play that role in the culture at large,” says Seresin. 

Throughout history the single black woman has been vilified. In the 1960s, the Moynihan Report — a report on black families authored during U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration — essentially blamed black women for the demise of the traditional family structure. In 1976 and 1980, Ronald Reagan stirred up racist rhetoric by using the term “welfare queens” — a label historically applied to single black women — as a cautionary tale against people defrauding the welfare system. As our culture slowly re-calibrates its position on the palatability of single women, it’s important to recognise the cultural legacy of scapegoating the single black woman.  

See relationships as a side order, not a main course

It’s hard not to think about dating and relationships when they’re such a ubiquitous theme in mainstream culture. Love is on our TV screens, on the pages of the books we read, in our Instagram feeds, and in the conversations we have with friends. We might not be able to do much about the wider cultural fixation on love, but one thing we can try to change is how we, as individuals, prioritise relationships. 

Del Russo, the sex and wellness writer, says that “until the culture as a whole changes, and stops selling us this package of relationships as a goal to clear, people need to start changing their own perceptions.” 

“I’ve started to think of a relationship the same way I think about a scented candle. (Stay with me.) Is it a nice thing that makes the space a little nicer? Sure. But is the space still a complete space without this scented candle? Absolutely,” she says. 

In order to start trying to change our perceptions about the importance of relationships, Del Russo advocates posing yourself two questions: “Why do I want to be in a relationship? What do I think a relationship could give me that I couldn’t give myself?” 

The weight of society’s trepidation should never have to fall on just one woman’s shoulders. And, as Seresin says, “no woman can change these things on her own — you can’t be a one-woman revolution.” 

What we, as individuals can do, is interrogate our preconceived notions about dating. Like the idea that single women can’t possibly be happy on their own. Or that even our most iconic single leading ladies eventually will succumb to love in the end. 

Love or no love, I know I’m already complete and that’s all that matters to me. 

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Huge Moto x Zero: An electrifying new design language?

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Custom Zero FXS electric motorcycle by Huge Moto
The One Moto Show is a cornucopia of analog delights, gleaming with metalflake and raw, hand-beaten bodywork. But there was an interloper lurking amongst the chrome and carburetors: this futuristic Zero from Huge Moto of San Francisco.

As soon as the Zero was revealed, it starting popping up everywhere on social media. So we dropped a line to Huge Moto’s boss, Bill Webb, to get the story on this surprise hit—and the very 21st century design process.

Custom Zero FXS electric motorcycle by Huge Moto
“Zero reached out to us a couple years ago, after you featured our ‘MONO RACR’ Honda CBR,” Bill told us. “We ended up working on some projects together, and hopefully some of our design influence will be seen on the next generation bikes.”

Then Bill asked Zero if Huge could build a custom bike as a side project. A 2018 FXS soon arrived, along with its CAD files.

Custom Zero FXS electric motorcycle by Huge Moto
The FXS is Zero’s entry-level model: a commuter bike with supermoto styling that costs just $10,495—a little less than a Sportster 1200 Custom. Range in the city is somewhere up to 100 miles (you can get models with a much larger range) and weight is a commendable 293 lb (133 kg).

Bill and his team slowly began to work on concepts for the custom. As the bike began to take shape in CAD, there was growing interest from Zero HQ in helping to finish the FXS and get a public reaction.

Custom Zero FXS electric motorcycle by Huge Moto
Brian Wismann, Zero’s VP of product development, heard that the tire company Shinko was looking for a bike to display at The One Moto Show. So the famous Portland show became the target, and Huge fired up their computers.

“It’s far from the sexiness of welding and hammering away in a fabrication shop,” Bill says. “The Zero was mostly conceived sitting at a CAD workstation, after hours, and switching between hardcore 3D design and loose napkin-grade sketches.”

Custom Zero FXS electric motorcycle by Huge Moto
The design goal was to create a flow across the top of the bike, drawing eyes away from the electric components and frame, and focusing more attention and ‘visual weight’ on the front end.

“A design that feels futuristic, seamless and lightweight,” Bill adds. “Bruce Lee was our philosophical inspiration: Lean muscularity with agility and speed!”

Custom Zero FXS electric motorcycle by Huge Moto
The first basic design was fully detailed in CAD, machined out of ABS thermoplastic polymer, and then mocked up on the bike (above).

“Once we got the parts back, it was clear which aspects were working and which were not,” says Bill. The design was tweaked until every millimeter and every angle felt ‘right.’

Custom Zero FXS electric motorcycle by Huge Moto
It certainly looks good to us—and we see hints of the Husqvarna ‘Pilens around the ‘tank’ area too. (Maybe these ‘shoulders’ on tank covers will become the defining design aesthetic of the 2010s?)

Attention then switched to the lower frame section, below the bodywork. “The biggest challenge with electric drivetrains is the lack of visual interest,” says Bill.

Custom Zero FXS electric motorcycle by Huge Moto
“You’ve got big rectangular shapes and flat, unbroken surfaces don’t evoke the same feeling of an air-cooled cylinder head or clutch cover.”

New, dark-colored panels now flow with the upper body, and there’s a belly pan lower down—not only to protect the underside, but also to add more visual weight to the front of the bike.

Custom Zero FXS electric motorcycle by Huge Moto
The styling isn’t the only change to this FXS, though. You obviously can’t upgrade the carbs or fit a free-flowing exhaust system, and the brief forbade cutting into the frame.

So this FXS gets a fillip from a high-end Fox Racing shock, and new wheels all round: 17-inch Sun rims custom laced onto off-road hubs from the Zero FX. “I’d guess they are significantly lighter than standard,” says Bill. “They are made for racing, and the wheel builder specializes in supermoto bikes.”

Custom Zero FXS electric motorcycle by Huge Moto
According to reviewers, the Zero FXS is a blast to ride. And although the bike looks perfectly acceptable in stock form, the new design work has lifted it to a whole other level.

“It’s a design that takes some of the ‘raw’ influences from gas bikes and mixes them with the seamlessness, solidity and cleanliness of electric,” says Bill. And we’d agree 100%.

Any chance of releasing this as a kit, chaps?

Huge Moto | Facebook | Instagram | Zero Motorcycles | Images by Aaron Brimhall

Custom Zero FXS electric motorcycle by Huge Moto

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Teenage Engineering OP-1 synth is back in stock, here to stay

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It put the boutique Swedish maker on the music map, and helped usher in new interest in mobile devices and slick design. Now the OP-1 from Teenage Engineering is back in stock, and its makers say it’s here to stay.

Updated: price increase? Yes, €1399 is a surprise to me, too. The OP-1’s gorgeous design never seemed to be quite backed by the kind of volume that would justify all those custom parts. BUT even given that, the premium price is a shock. So I do understand why readers mah balk – and simply leave the OP-1 as a fascinating oddity. Like a DeLorean of synths or something.

There is at least reason to appreciate the first Teenage Engineering synth product. Sure, the OP-Z has some fancy new features, but it loses the all-in-one functionality and inviting display on the OP-1. And Pocket Operators – both in their original mini-calculator form and now in a line of inexpensive kit modular – well, that’s for another audience. The OP-1, love it or hate it, is really unlike anything else out there. And someone must want it, because it’s been in demand a full decade after its first appearance.

Teenage Engineering shared today they were resurrecting the OP-1 ( under a headline “love never dies,” for Valentine’s Day). Here’s that announcement:

after being out of stock for more than a year with rumours of its demise, we are very happy to let you know that finally, the OP-1 is back and here to stay!

so what happened?

during our nine years of production, we have been very lucky in having a steady supply of the components needed for the OP-1. but last year we suddenly found ourselves without the amoled screen needed and nowhere to find new ones in the same high quality. but after a long time sourcing the perfect replacement, we have finally found it, and we will now be able to fulfil the demand that’s been growing for the past year.

Hmm, maybe the Teenagers want to start a side business reselling that display part? I’m interested.

Anyway, you can buy an OP-1 new now if you couldn’t find it on the used market – or watch for used prices to come down accordingly. Let’s celebrate with a little OP-1 reminiscence, as I know for some of you, Teenage Engineerings’ other stuff just doesn’t compare.

Also – shoes!

TĀLĀ is right – Teenage Engineering OP-1 is a great desert island synth

Teenage Engineering: Opbox Sensors and Shoes, OP-1 Drums and MIDI Sync

Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 Instrument: Hands-on, Videos, Why it’s Different

Someday I hope Elijah Wood says nice things about me:

https://teenageengineering.com/products/op-1

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