Your Mid-life Manic Pixie Dream Girl

A sneak preview of an article in the works:

He had told me he needed to leave over an hour ago, but he was still here. A battle of wits was in full swing. I was winning, and I could tell he liked it.

The banter continued, the chemistry, obvious. He finally paused, studying my face. My chest tightened. I knew that look, and I knew what was coming.

“You are, I don’t know, I’ve just never met anyone…”

I stopped him before he could finish, “Are you married?”

He laughed, clearly taken aback, then looked down.

“No. I mean, not technically. Or I guess technically I am, but it’s been over for a long time.”

This is now one of the first questions I ask if I’m interested in someone. And this is what I’ve learned: “no” usually means yes and “getting a divorce” means I want a divorce, but I’m not yet and won’t be for an indeterminate amount of time.

To be clear, I’m not seeking out men who are married. But as it turns out, being 40ish and newly single seems to be the status quo. It also turns out that single or even just available is open to interpretation.

When I first got divorced, one ex-boyfriend after another started reaching out. I was a bit naïve in the beginning, thinking they just wanted to catch up. I quickly realized that even if we aren’t the type to keep our married status current or obvious, social media can be telling if someone’s paying attention. It can also be very deceptive.

When the one I never quite got over showed up, I, of course, scoured his social media. His status? Married. There was a good amount of pictures of his kids and family vacations, so I reasoned he must just want to catch up.

After a drink or two, however, I got “the truth.” He’d been separated for months, the marriage was over and had been for years, his situation was complicated: the kids, the house, the finances…But he was finally ready to move on.

This all made sense at the time. My divorce was painful and not immediate. But logistically, it was relatively simple and finalized within a few months. In short, we didn’t have children.

So I listened. I listened to him tell me that he loves his kids but wondered if he made the wrong decision, that the reality is, he’s thought about me all this time and has never met anyone like me…

I believed him and we plunged in. I had the person I thought I was meant to be with, and he had an exciting distraction from the painful reality of his day-to-day.

Therein lies the tragic flaw. For men in the thick of a mid-life crisis, I’m a distraction from reality, existing in the realm of a fantasy they conjure up.

I’ve become their manic pixie dream girl, the female version of a night in shining armor who “…has no reason to exist except to cheer up one miserable guy.”

This is it, in a nutshell: (explained by Hugo Schwzer)

I thought less about her and more about how it was she made me feel… As unstable as she may be, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl not only senses a young man’s potential in a way he can’t, she intuitively knows how to lead him to his destiny. She knows him better than he knows himself, or so he believes. That convenient assumption allows the young man both to adore the MPDG and to avoid any responsibility for reciprocity. How can he be expected to give anything back when she has this magical intuition about the world that so vastly exceeds his own?


21 thoughts on “Your Mid-life Manic Pixie Dream Girl

  1. That’s an exceptionally insightful excerpt, Brooke, and one I’m sure will see publication in it’s entirety. I had my own midlife crisis around 40 (doing much better facing 50!), but, luckily, no one got hurt. 😉 I understand exactly what you’re saying, and I’ve seen friends go through this very thing. I’ve wanted to be the one to tell them “no! this ain’t working!” but it’s hard to intervene and, regardless, it seems no one is in the state to listen.

    Hopefully this will help folks. Can’t wait to read the whole thing! 👏👏👏

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Tom. Good to hear that near-50 is less crisis-like. (fucking better be!) And you are right, we won’t listen. It all seems to make sense in the moment. It also seems we go into selfish mode- trying to fill the voids and unmet needs we had from unfulfilling or painful relationships- not thinking about consequences or the bigger picture. As I’m sure you know, it’s extremely hard to find someone we connect with, so when we do, it’s so easy to ignore the inconvenient or impossible circumstances. But I’m finally learning, Maya was correct, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Period. I’m covering a lot of ground here, but ‘lessons learned’ abound these days. Big hug and so happy you don’t have to navigate any of this anymore!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, just know, as you navigate these perils … you are not alone. ❤️ Life is an evolution, and every pitfall a lesson. You are clearly gaining the wisdom you will need. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, since I was lucky enough to hear the author read this out loud and in person to me earlier today, I feel the need to make a comment. This subject is a huge piece that has not been discussed quite as much as other “mid-life crisis” subjects have been. The baggage is very heavy. This is a great post. Love you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You wrote about a world I know nothing about, but made me feel the agony that comes with the revelation that you are an MPDG. Just another example of your insane talent with words and innate ability to make people feel. Personally, I don’t understand how people can so easily toy with the hearts of others, but, that’s just the way life is and the hurt and shit we all have to face at some point. This issue is wide-spread, to be sure, so there are many out there who will benefit from reading what you have to say about it. Can’t wait to read the finished product, hopefully, splashed on a page of a particular paper that’s, you know, kind of a big deal. Brilliant post, as usual, Brooke.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, T. I’m so glad you don’t know ‘this world’ (at least this particular part). And yes, it is agonizing to realize the reality of you doesn’t quite cut it. In retrospect, I know it’s not because something is wrong with me. I’m just not exactly conventional, which in reality, is what most want. All to say, I know I’m not the only one of ‘us’, and I do hope this will reach others who keep getting their hearts hurt by people who want what they can’t have… or better said, have what they don’t actually want. Biggest hug ever.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad you wrote this down; I think it’s overdue for you to share and others to hear. It’s a lens on the mid-life breakup response most don’t pause to look through. I agree – a lot of hearts get trampled in the process. Then again, maybe the process isn’t completely bad, or even unnecessary. And the problem is not really that it happens, we revel in the ‘other’ – MPDG or it’s many other manifestations (Man Who Can Take Care of Me, Mother I Never Had, etc…), and maybe that’s necessary.

    Perhaps it’s just a waypost we pass, those who travel this path. But, as in all situations I reckon, a bit more outward facing consideration for others, a bit less selfish reaction and some patient introspection would do us all some good.

    Hoping to read the rest on my old-timey broadsheets. Good luck, well done old friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading, Kreighton, and for your insight; I know you know this scenario intimately. And, I think we actually agree on this subject. 🙂 It’s normal to want to find someone who fulfills our needs or has the qualities we want and were missing in our previous relationship. But I’ve realized ‘our previous relationship’ is the crux of the issue. I’m just as guilty. I rebounded too soon with someone I knew on some level wasn’t my person. But shit, it’s scary to be alone after decades of having a partner. And yes, distractions are welcomed when we are in the thick of falling apart. But as you state so articulately, taking time to reflect on our intentions and the impact they might have on the other person is necessary and just the kind thing to do. I’ve had my heart trampled enough times to be clear about that. Fingers crossed you will read the rest on your broadsheet very soon.
      “Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.” (Terry Pratchett)


  5. I like your style gypsy. Was hooked the entire way and I think you are lovely. I appreciate your feedback, thanks for stopping by blog recently. Could really use more of your input. I’ve got a short called Lizard Guts and I can’t wait to hear what you think. Hope to see you soon and I look forward to reading more of your work

    Liked by 1 person

  6. An incredibly perceptive piece, especially seeing this from your point of view as I think your definition of some men in the thick of a mid-life crisis, this is exactly what they are looking for ~ the distraction from reality and for the most part very disengage with life. They are looking for a fantasy, believing it will become reality. I even felt a little guilty, as a man, as I could see just how the thought process works… a little scary :-). Definitely deserves to be published and admired, great prose and Beyond the great rhythm in your writing, the content goes beyond most things I’ve read. Wonderful work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, that means the world to hear, (not the guilt part!) Although the point is to make you think and feel, I suppose. Regardless, your response fed my soul, especially after reading your engaging, brilliantly written post this morning. I’m excited to read more and glad I stumbled upon your site!


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