By Jill Rudman
Many of us have friends who are immersed in the suburban dating scene. You may be separated yourself, contemplating it, or know someone who is. Most of the women I meet are divorced and although everyone is unique and looking for their own version of true love, there is pretty much a common theme amongst these women: They want to be with a man who treats them with kindness, who is trustworthy, and has a sense of humor – someone who has his act together, as many of their ex-husbands did not. Attraction is obviously essential, but most women do not put a man’s looks at the top of their list. They are hoping to really connect with someone.
We know what our girlfriends are looking for, but what do divorced MEN want? It is widely assumed that all men prefer younger women. Are they looking to replace their wives with a newer and much younger version of her? Would they rather date divorced women closer to their own age? Do they instantly size up a woman and think about what kind of a step-mother she would be? How will they behave differently than they did in their marriage? How important is a woman’s body?
I posed these questions and many more to three divorced guys living in suburbia. I would describe all three as successful, good-looking, and kind. They are Dads who adore and care for their children. They have their shit together. Not to mention … they are all hilarious! So, what do they really want?
Paul, 43, Divorced Dad of 2
Paul married his first serious girlfriend. They dated throughout college and decided to get married in their mid-20s. They shared the same friends and had a lot of fun together. When life after college began, the relationship shifted. They both worked full-time and Paul instantly felt like he took a backseat to his wife’s work.
Their sex life went downhill. His wife went to bed early every night and he found himself feeling lonely in his marriage.
He had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right, but he let it go.
With the arrival of their first child, the relationship improved. They were ecstatic to be parents and had another child within a few years. Paul was hoping this would bring them closer. However, things soon returned to “normal.” His wife went back to work, and Paul felt that her priority was once again her career. His hours were flexible so he spent a lot of time caring for the kids and the house. He was not a stay-at-home Dad; he simply had the flexibility to drive the kids to and from school. Again, he had that nagging feeling that something was amiss, but he never spoke up. Paul traveled quite a bit for work, and from time to time he would meet women whom he found himself attracted to. While he never acted on these feelings, he knew in his heart that his marriage was over. It took him some time to finally ask for the divorce. When he did, it was as if he got a new lease on life.
Paul is an affectionate guy who never felt adored by his wife. He is a loving father who was craving intimacy and closeness in his marriage, but rarely received it.
He takes responsibility for his lack of communication during the marriage (he blames his mother – we’ll let Freud handle that one!) He is immediately drawn to a woman who is affectionate, sweet, loving and maternal. He feels that they have to have the same priorities regarding family to make it work.
For him, POSITIVE ENERGY is what draws him to a woman. It was a huge component missing in his marriage, and he is determined to find it the second-time-around.
David: 47, Divorced Dad of 2
David is your typical suburban kind of guy. He’s good-looking, charismatic, and smart. He’s a “real” man. He loves women and sports, likes to go out and have a good time and loves his kids. Immediately after college, he began what has become a very successful career. Early in his marriage he devoted a tremendous amount of time to his business. While his wife happily enjoyed the fruits of his labor — a big house, fancy vacations, and everything else that goes along with financial security, she made it clear she wasn’t satisfied. She wanted him to be around more often. She complained about his long hours and travel. It was his wife who asked for the divorce – and David was totally blindsided. When he first started dating, David immediately went for the gorgeous younger woman with no children. She lived in the city and was willing to be flexible around his schedule. He even contemplated having more children with her at one point. However, David eventually realized that was out of the question. He is a terrific father who shares custody with his ex and is very present in his kids’ lives. This woman could not accept his children being his FIRST priority.
Fast forward several years and David is still looking for his perfect match. He admits that his focus has changed since he was first divorced. Today, he wants a “Suburban Mom” who can totally relate to his lifestyle.
Looks are important and he’s attracted to a woman with a nice bod, but there has to be more. He needs someone who can easily fit into his life with his children.
Being a good mother to her own kids is something that he cares about deeply. She has to be flexible and easy-going. He now prefers someone close to his own age – he is done dating much younger women.
Kevin, 47, Divorced Dad of 3
When I first asked Kevin to describe his perfect woman, he responded: “I like fun and I like reliable, but I’m leaning more toward the reliable.” I responded that my cleaning lady is very reliable. She always shows up on time and I’m confident that my house will be spotless when she leaves. Is that what he had in mind? I asked him to please elaborate. Kevin’s divorce was mutual. After 18 years of marriage he and his wife simply grew apart. He felt that she was unreliable as a wife and mother – caring more about her own activities and interests than those of her children. Kevin, who has dated many divorced suburban women, finds there are two types, and he is looking for that perfect combination of both. The first we will refer to as FUNGIRL, who is cute, loves to go out and have a good time, and enjoys sex. She’s a nice girl who wants to be doted on by her boyfriend, but is a little too into herself. Kevin finds there’s generally chemistry with these women, but something is missing. He worries about what kind of a wife/mother she would be since she spends so much time on herself.
Then there’s MS. RELIABLE, who most likely has a career, takes good care of her children and house, and is very responsible. She’s a “good” girl – hard working and a caring Mom. Kevin finds these women tend to be lacking in excitement. They are nice girls who do everything right, but something is missing. Kevin has a successful career and it does not matter to him if a woman works or not, however, it is important that whatever a woman is doing she takes it seriously. If she’s a full-time Mom, that’s fine with him as long as she puts her kids and family first.
Kevin wants a combination of FUNGIRL AND MS. RELIABLE. Someone who is a serious, honest, and a great mother, but who has a bit of an edge to keep things interesting.
He prefers someone close to his own age or slightly younger. He, too, is searching for a Suburban Mom who can relate to his every day life with his kids.
Yes, for these men, the ideal combo is Angelina Jolie-meets-Carol Brady. In other words … the perfect woman.
While we all know that does not really exist, I would say there are three things that stand out from my conversations with these guys: 1. Men crave love and affection. 2. Men are not interested in women who spend all of their time on themselves. 3. Being a good Mom is very attractive to men.
I think married couples can learn from this as well. It’s very easy to get caught up in our busy lives and forget that our marriages need attention. Relationships can be challenging, new or old, but in the end aren’t we all striving for the same thing?
Lisa Barr, Editor of GIRLilla Warfare: Jill Rudman is not only fabulous, she is also the founder of the Chicago Social Network. www.chicagosocialnetwork.net