Navigating The Commitment Game

This week’s blog post is a guest post, written by NG, on getting back into “the game” after a divorce:

When I rejoined the ranks of singles at the age of 38 due to divorce, I turned to internet dating. I was astonished to find that options that I had thought would be unavailable were being offered on a silver platter. Want a marriage-minded guy? There’s a site for that. Want a large family? Need someone who shares your love of Worlds of Warcraft? Ditto.


And I discovered something interesting. When I first dated in my mid 20’s, it was a given that the women were looking to settle down, to start families. The guys I dated in my 20’s were looking to move ahead in their careers, upgrade their cars and have a good time. This time around, it was the opposite. There were scores of men, to paraphrase Beyonce, lining up to put a ring on it.


I was amazed to read profile after profile that said the man in question was looking for someone to:

–        start a family

–        share hobbies and fitness activities

–        be ready for a committed relationship/marriage

–        share nights at home after he cooks dinner

–        be willing to potentially be a parent to his kids


At first I just thought that guys were just writing profiles with what they believed women wanted to hear. But the sheer volume of guys saying the same things in different ways, on different sites, for long periods of time convinced me otherwise.


On one hand, I see this as a hopeful sign, that we are transcending the social limits of the past to create individuated, non gender based social roles. On the other hand, why were these guys in such a freakin’ hurry to get married? Or at least nail down a commitment in some way?


After a few months, I quit the dating site. I realized I had more work to do before I was willing to share my time and self with someone else.  But I did take away a valuable idea.


In spite of being in multiple committed relationships or marriages, these men had pursued educations, careers, had children, bought cars or homes over the course of their relationships. Although I cannot imagine that there was no compromise in those relationships, it seems evident that in their opinion, it was an acceptable (even profitable) ratio of loss to benefit. What those men seem to have done was compromise on what they were willing to offer, but not on their self. Somehow they retained the parts that made them who they were and are.


The idea that none of us has to compromise our self for a committed relationship (or marriage) is a good one. It’s something I didn’t know how to do when I was married. Many of the limits I had in my marriage were self-imposed, based on my willingness to give up what I wanted, needed and believed.


That’s the great thing about relationships. They help you be a better version of who you really are.


An interesting stance. Comment, anyone?  Is this true:  Do relationships help you be a better version of who you really are?

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3 Responses to Navigating The Commitment Game

  1. Noca says:

    I do agree that there’s quite a bit of dead-wood on the dating websites and you have to carefully prune through it as you can get hooked up with a real disaster of a human being. But, you can do that outside of the internet as well. After I became single again I turned to a dating website. In my case I wasn’t looking for anyone to be in a long-term relationship with, I was done with that, I wasn’t interested in cruising the bars (I work at a university, bars here have my students in them, that is a no-no) but I was looking for some NSA sex. I had just had a hysterectomy and I wanted to see what sex after that was like. Lots of guys on these sites are looking to get laid and they feed you a line that they think you wanna hear, some of them are skeezy and some are potentially nuts, you get a feel for what their lines are and such. You have to do things with a careful eye and ask a ton of questions. They tip their hands eventually and you can make your full decisions with time.

    But, as I’ve discovered (to my surprise) you can’t discount them all on the dating websites there are some men who are looking for relationships, they aren’t out to just get laid, and they mean what they say. The guy I settled on as my post-hyst investigation dude turned out to be a pretty darn good guy, one I plan on keeping around for a bit. I’m not saying love of my life or the person I’ll be with forever on from right now, but a really good person who didn’t feed me a line of BS for his own ends.

    So, go in with your eyes wide open, don’t be a Polyanna about it (there are bad people everywhere, that’s not pessimistic, that’s realistic. The guest writer was a bit Polyanna), know what you’re looking for and don’t jump into things too fast. Everyone tips their hand eventually, you just have to be sure you see it when it happens. And who knows, maybe you’ll find a decent person that you want to spend your time with. It’s the same advice for all venues where you’re doing the mating dance.

  2. Michael Ann says:

    Yea, not sure I agree the internet is full of men who want to get get married again. And I agree with what the above commenter wrote…they still lie to get sex. After 8 months of separation, I am learning the ropes of dating again and yes, I’m using the internet. I have dated a lot of men. Most have been just as confused as I am about what they want. In hindsight I wish I had waited at least 6 months before starting to date. I had been very lonely in my marriage so I was really ready to try to meet a good man. But I don’t regret it either because I am really learning a lot about who I am and what I want. I’m realizing I like being single and having the choice to be with someone or not, when I want. Still….I can’t say it is FUN. First dates are always nerve-wracking. If one person is interested an the other is not, it is awkward and hurtful. It’s hard to know if you should stick with one man for many dates (serial monogamy) or date many men at the same time. ALL of it is hard!

  3. Janine says:

    This post comes off to me as slighty Utopian. First of all, can you please tell me the dating site that IS NOT filled with middle-aged men looking to sow the wild oats they feel they missed out on sowing in their 20s? I’m just not seeing these marriage-minded, morally upright souls who’ve come out the other side better men. I’ve seen everything on internet dating sites, but what I often see is men who DO in fact write on their profiles what they think we want to read, then deceive you into entering a sexual relationship only to drop you a few weeks later for no reason, leaving you bewildered and shellshocked. And no, it’s not just me. MOST men on dating sites are looking for easy sex, but they are still under the illusion they have to lie their asses off to get it. I made a decision to give up the emotional trauma that had set in after multiple episodes of that crap, and these days I just recruit the occasional 20- or 30-something for a brief and mutually satisfying fling. Best thing I ever did. I too realised I prefer, for the most part, living single, and always will. When you come to that realisation, you are finally happy. Internet dating can be the worst thing you’ll ever do, if you’re deluded about the outcome.

    I believe she’s right about women forcing compromises upon themselves that aren’t necessary and which, I believe, are no longer appropriate given women’s advanced status in the western world. I find this a very interesting admission, because modern women seldom do admit it. It begins when they voluntarily change their surname – something hugely symbolic, in my opinion. And it IS usually voluntary. It says, to me, that from here on in, in our marriage, I will happily lose part of me to honour you. How often do I still hear of people describe a “great woman” as one who’s amassed the most compromises in a marriage. Moved to the middle of the Outback to live out hubby’s dream of running a cattle station, stood by her man through a humiliating political scandal? But it’s a notion I find outdated, and I’m perplexed as to why wives think that all this suffering and martyrdom is what it takes to be the “good wife”. Only women can change that. So let’s change that.

    HOWEVER, the idea you don’t have to compromise at all in a relationship is ridiculous. The compromises begin the moment you start dating a guy. Everything revolves around access weekend, the ex is making demands, he doesn’t like the food you eat, you’re vego, he’s not, he works crazy hours, he wants to make love at midnight, you go to bed at 10. It DOES NOT END. If you aren’t making SOME compromises, news of the day – you’re not in a relationship.

    Lastly, the idea that a relationship makes you a better version of yourself is highly debatable. This only occurs in a GOOD relationship, and how many are unhealthy and dysfunctional? My one significant relationship made me a worse version of myself, because I resented him. I was forcing myself into a situation I should never have been in. It’s like that Billy Bragg song, “I hate the asshole I become every time I’m with you.” As a single, I hurt nobody but myself while I stay single. As a cougar, I’ve given a few of those lads the time of their life. As a potential wife, I was a disaster on legs. Everybody is an individual and has individual needs and wants. I think generalising about relationships, marriages, internet dating, etc, is unhealthy. It makes us all think we can have some Utopian ideal, and what I’ve learned is that what’s one woman’s heaven is another’s hell. But good luck finding whatever it is you NEED in life, ladies.

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