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?


 The Kids, Her Perspective

I am sure my previous article published in the Washington Post pissed a lot of you off.

Perhaps you think I am selfish, completely discounting the feelings and perspective of his ex (or soon-to-be, as I thought at the time). This is anything but the case. There is no question my ex and I handled things terribly. We fell in love and plunged in without fully considering how it would impact her. We should have waited until their divorce was finalized. I convinced myself that concealing our relationship was ‘protecting’ her and his kids. But in retrospect, this was not my main motivation. I just wanted to be with him, and I knew on some level that we would fall apart if she knew. We did.

This might have been the reason for our demise, but it’s irrelevant at this point. It wasn’t meant to be and we caused so much unnecessary pain for everyone involved. I now understand this, and it feels terrible.

Clearly the guilt, regret and residual heartbreak have resurfaced since the article was published. And as I was responding to comments, grappling with all of this, I came across this article, strategically placed right beneath mine.

Beautifully written by Samantha Shanley, it addresses the same topic, or at least one that is intimately related, but from a very different perspective.


She relives the experience of ending her marriage while trying to keep her family ‘together’. She and her husband took a situation that can be so loaded with anger and resentment, choosing to treat each other with love and compassion instead. The grace with which she handled everything literally brought me to tears.

Her is the link to her website. I highly recommend reading more of her work. Her writing is extremely moving and powerful… and I kinda want to be her friend. 🙂

Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to share in my excitement about being published. It truly blows my mind, especially when I read articles like this.

How do you keep a family together after a divorce?


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