The Curious Case Of The Newly Divorced Man

A few years ago, I wrote about navigating the boundaries of a friendship with a married man. My first guest contributor, The Single Married Man shared a firsthand account of the confusion of being in transition from ‘married’ to ‘divorced’.

I am finding divorce in every by lane of my social circle these days. Over the years, I’ve bemoaned relationship breakdowns with girlfriends and together we have learnt to deal with it. For some reason, when I was in my 20s, we tended to seek solace from others of our own sex. But these days I find myself in more conversations with men about their failing/failed marriages.

Perhaps it’s because the boundaries between the sexes are blurring. Maybe it’s because marriage is a complex universe involving families, landlords and the law so one can’t afford to be picky about where one finds one’s support. Or maybe like I once predicted would happen, the men of my generation are just finding it harder to cope with the realities than women.

Image via Unsplash/Thomas Lefebvre
Image via Unsplash/Thomas Lefebvre

They are all men in transition. They have been independent and intelligent, they’ve believed in gender equality and love and commitment. Now with their worlds tattered, they’re rebuilding how they see the world, life, the opposite sex and themselves. I can see them struggling to fit me into relationship models familiar to them.

One of them propositioned me. I deflected him gently so it wouldn’t bruise his ego. “But you’re the one who told me to get out and have some fun!” he said. I meant it would be good for him to loosen up and experience the lighter side of interactions with the opposite sex. That could include casual sex. But I didn’t like his taking it for granted that I was offering myself up.

Married people, especially those who were not single for very long, often tend to take a superior stance on the single life. Marriage is a lot of work, they tell us. What they don’t realise is that being single is a different kind of battlefield. It’s not all days of How I Met Your Mother/Sex and The City style apartments, hitting the town each night and regular Tinder hookups. It’s constant loneliness and never being sure, it’s eating for one, knowing total strangers have the ability to hurt you and constantly evaluating how lonely you are versus how little your options appeal to you. Recently divorced people have a lot to learn, this is true. Welcome to the world of ONE.

One friend threw a tantrum last month because he felt like meeting me for dinner and I said I was busy. I had to be firm, patient but also subtle in conveying to him that I was not obligated to meet all his needs. It really hit me even more painfully then.

Many of these men, even the most independent, thoughtful ones, by virtue of our Great Indian Family Culture have never been allowed to deal with difficulty on their own. They have been mollycoddled from disappointment and insulated from Nos. They have no reference for what to do in a world that does not have time to meet their every demand. Their families are older and possibly less able to be their shields. Often, the families are showing their humanness in bringing in their own prejudices. What is this boychild in a man’s body to do?

I am also noticing some of them lapsing into cynicism and active hatred of women. It’s a scary thing to be around. Most women know that a man who doesn’t get what he wants, is a dangerous man. At what point do I stop being supportive and decide to walk away? When does one decide that this person, this friend of so many years is more dangerous beast than friend?

Take socially sanctioned male entitlement, sprinkle in a vague flavour of independent thinking, throw in some outraged sense of betrayal and mix liberally with confused East/West value systems — that is the brain of today’s recently divorced Indian male.

I do not intend to fall into the common trap of playing mommy to any one of them. Life and the system has extracted its own pound of flesh from me. But they are becoming different people because of their divorces and our relationships are changing too. I guess I’m afraid of what that could mean for them, for us and ultimately, for me.

Image via Unsplash/Daniel McInnes
Image via Unsplash/Daniel McInnes

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10 thoughts on “The Curious Case Of The Newly Divorced Man

  1. Remember one married man telling his wife, “he just wants to get into your pants”. After years I realised it is partly is an integral part of our psyche ,it cannot be removed or suppressed as it is the basis of our being. So how ever much I thought we were just friends was true till there came a time of sexual thoughts.
    The imbalance of males to females has made these normal feelings treated as unusual.this is rarely the case in societies where there is a healthy ratio of males to females.
    They will be called manboy ,mommy’s boy .facing straight proposition constantly from so many men will always being on similar reactions.most of these men will find woman who will say yes.woman who were also probably blogged by male bloggers called daddy’s girl or a loser in relations as she was not mature enough to keep her marriage or relationship together.
    Navigating the relation landscape where there are imbalances is tough and those who dare take a chance has to be slapped,called names before they hopefully find the right partner

  2. That’s a smack bang post, Idea Smith and enjoy reading your observation. I am child in a grown up body and as far as marriage is concerned, I am not into this thing. Well, my space is sacred.I’ll prefer to be a live-in relationship rather than be confined socially into an institution that I do not really believe in. A construction by society with its own biased yardstick, fuelled by the capitalist movement.

    1. @vishalbheeroo: My primary problem with it is how skewed it is in favour of men. Yes, I know divorce law is supposed to benefit the woman more (though I’m inclined to believe that’s meninist propaganda). Wedding rituals, the giving up of one’s name, the excessive demands by in-laws, the normalisation of disrespect to a woman’s identity – these are all things that the institution of marriage brought us.

  3. I read your other post (The Married male friend), and (admiteddly) skimmed thru this.

    This is not a gender thing. I feel strongly about that. Because it isn’t.

    I kind of identify of with the psyche that you talk about, I think that I may have to come to terms with a “love”-less life.

    In the same refrain, you may like this Youtube channel; “The School of life”.

    It isn’t all or nothing. You have to A: Decide if you like the cards that you’ve been dealt and then B) work with them… (or against),

    “Relationships” per se are a relatively modern, western construct and society tries hard to sell it to us but to make it work is usually a pipedream.

    And please leave me out of the “Great Indian Family Culture” as you describe it, I am talking about Asian girls… My most recent girlfriend seems too good to be true, but I can not “take it to the next level” because I’m inherently suspicious of her, what’s so good about me (I am insecure/suspicious) other than ____ & ____, it’s a leap of faith. If you want to do that, go for it. It comes down to priorities.

    If you want someone to be besides you, they may want to play by the social rules and conventions. They romanticize companionship.

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