While I'm away, readers give the advice.
Living just fine without hitting the Lotto of love
On making peace with being single: Some people hit the jackpot in their marriages — love, trust, respect, companionship, laughter, passion — but how many relationships really fit that bill? And if you go around needing and longing to hit that jackpot, and feeling incomplete because you don't, isn't that neediness making you vulnerable to falling for a Mr. or Ms. Wrong, who is presenting as a dreamboat but is actually a nightmare? I fell into this trap twice, and I have two sets of divorce paperwork, and a huge debt to my lawyer, to show for it.
The feeling I have developed of being emotionally independent, strong, and free from neediness is a wonderful experience, and one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. I am not closed off from a relationship, and I am not just trying to convince myself that I am perfectly fine alone. Many who have escaped a horrible marriage have this same terrific feeling. I have been out four years and although I still believe the people who have hit the jackpot have the happiest life possible, feeling that I truly own my life is pretty darned great.
To those "longing" people, I say just focus on what you can do each day to feel good about yourself and make your life meaningful. When you start feeling twinges, distract yourself. Do not dwell on them. Compartmentalize. Be tough on yourself. Do you really want the weakness and vulnerability that come with being needy?
You don't go around dwelling on the fact that you haven't won the Powerball. You don't HAVE to have it to have a happy life. I now see the jackpot relationship that way. It's great if it happens; it doesn't happen to a whole lot of people. And I truly believe it.
One bad experience could snowball, leading to others
On the stigma of multiple divorces: Recently an acquaintance was complaining about a supervisor of hers at work, and she wrapped up her comments with this: "It's easy to understand why she's been divorced two times." Since she doesn't know me well, she is not aware that I also have been divorced two times.
What I would like her (and others) to understand is not just how judgmental that attitude is, but that one divorce can easily lead to another in a way that does not indicate negative attributes about the divorcing person. Once you are divorced there are many things working against a strong second marriage: There may be children to complicate meeting new possible mates, as well as loneliness that might drive a single person too hard to make a relationship work; there are certainly repercussions (emotional, financial, situational) that may erode confidence and narrow the social possibilities that were so seemingly unbounded in earlier single days.
In my case it was basically a mismatch that some skill and confidence might have turned into a good relationship — but I didn't have enough of either to overcome his lack of skill, which ended up in abusive behavior. Now alone again, I hope that people will not judge, and try to be compassionate toward those who have arrived at a sad place, and are trying to make the best of it nonetheless.