A Gentleman’s Guide To Attending Your First Public Function Together…But Apart

A Gentleman’s Guide To Attending Your First Public Function Together…But Apart

Congratulations. You made it through your divorce. But at some point, you’re inevitably going to need the “Gentleman’s Guide” to attending your first function together post divorce. Sure, you show up to a function and discover – your Ex. It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. It’s painful. You don’t want to be there with her but then again, your attending this function to see old friends and acquaintances or maybe your own child at one of their functions.

While it’s perfectly normal to feel weird and uncomfortable, you need to suck it up and get through it.  Here are four easy tips to make the process as painless as possible.

The Gentleman’s Guide for the Divorced Man

Stay Classy. Plain and simple: stay classy. What does that mean? Keep it clean, keep it elegant. Look and feel your best, carry yourself in the best way possible.

Classy also means your demeanor. Even if you hate your ex or the person she may have brought along, staying classy means that no one should be able to read your mind based on your body language or the look on your face. Pull one from the politician playbook: you’re walking around shaking hands and kissing babies, being so very gracious. How will you know if you’ve succeeded? When you hear people sincerely say with a bit of amazement in their voice, “Wow, you look really good.”

Be The Bigger Man. Unless you lived in a cave prior to this outing, it’s highly likely that the rest of your social circle are also aware that this is your first venture out in public, together yet apart. It’s also highly likely that they feel tension and are dreading the possible negative outcomes. While some may root for a cat fight, others would rather avoid any and all drama. You have the ability to play to the second group by being the bigger man.

The Gentleman’s Guide would suggest this is a public function and neither of you are the focus of the attention. Any and all tension will be diffused by your taking the initiative, and approaching her with a greeting, a polite hello, a firm handshake to her guest perhaps, and then moving on. Then, wham, it’s over.

How will you know when you’ve succeeded? When you hear people, maybe even her companion, sincerely say with a bit of amazement in their voice, “Wow, he is a really cool guy.”

Stay Distant. Now that you’ve diffused any tension and gotten over the hump of the first greeting, you are going to keep things civil by simply keeping your distance. Find something else to do. Find other people to talk to you. The greetings have been made and that’s enough, this time. Maybe next time you can make small talk, but for now just leave well enough alone. Maintain a healthy distance. Don’t spend the duration rubbernecking to find out exactly where she is, simply trust your instincts. You were married to her, you can sense her whereabouts. Stay out of her force field and carry on as your usual, wonderful self. Keep in mind the reason you came to this function in the first place and make that your focus.

How will you know when you’ve succeeded? When you hear people sincerely say, “I’m so glad you came, I know this had to be awkward. Thank you for making the effort.”  Then, you’ll know the Gentleman’s Guide was right.

Stay Sober. This is easily the most important of all four points from the Gentleman’s Guide. Even if you ignore the other three final boarding calls, you will miss your flight entirely if you disregard this advice. A drink might very well help your nerves…but anything beyond that will not. Instead, it will demolish all of the other stuff we’ve talked about: instead of keeping it classy, you will be the drunk hot mess stumbling around with his clothes disheveled, spilling on yourself and quite likely on someone else; instead of being the bigger man and making a good impression, you will overstay, overplay and overspeak; instead of staying distant, you will hover, invade her space with either your person or your comments. You will decide that you have very important, very personal things to say and you will tell them to everyone who will listen and you will repeat them at greater volumes to those who won’t.

Just stay sober. This is the only time you will ever have to handle your first public function apart; do it like the  Gentleman’s Guide suggests and all future functions will be that much more enjoyable.

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The Holidays After A Divorce Surviving Your First Holidays As A Single Dad, Post Divorce

The Holidays After A Divorce Surviving Your First Holidays As A Single Dad, Post Divorce

The holidays after a divorce are never easy. Fraught with endless uncertainties, the holiday time period is disturbing and unrelenting in emotional turmoil for the newly divorced, regardless of gender. The holidays, book-ended by Thanksgiving and Christmas, or other religious holiday, are a seemingly unending challenge for who will have the kids? For how long? Will they be able to stay over? All this, creating endless worry and stress for the newly divorced as they suffer through their first holiday period without the kids and their significant other.

The Holidays After A Divorce and Without the Kids

Yeah, the first holiday after a divorce is a scary one. It’s not normal to be without the kids. They’ve always been around and there is great comfort with their presence. But, now, the divorce is over and the kids are with Mom. More importantly, they are not with you. And, it hurts. Wrestling over who will have the kids and when they’ll be over is a great struggle as we try to reestablish some degree of normality. We are resetting or establishing new traditions and new norms that hopefully we can count on and rely on for years to come. That’s what makes life bearable and predictable.

Divide and Conquer. Your first option when it comes to any holiday is to divide and conquer. And by this I mean the day itself, not your ex. What this means is that both you and your ex, and presumably your extended families, get to see the children on the day in question. While this sounds like a win-win for the adults it can be exhausting and confusing for the children, particularly if they are still quite young. Dinner times need to be negotiated. If the unwrapping of gifts are involved, schedules can be very tricky. If a tradition such as a parade or the attending of a service needs to be factored in, your entire day may be spent looking at your watch, clipboard in hand as you wave people on to the next event.

If your children are under the age of 10, the idea of divide and conquer will be even more difficult for them to understand. Offering explanations to the escalating question of “why” can be extremely difficult when family is watching. Consider the holiday from their point of view when answering why they have to leave now when they just got started playing with their cousins, or just unwrapped the coolest toy ever, or they’re just having fun and don’t want to stop. Travel time can be a hassle, weather conditions may come into play and children who fall asleep in the car will not be at their finest when they wake up in a new location, out of sorts, tired and wondering where the other parent went.

If you think you are going to outsmart your ex by taking them earlier rather than later, remember that they will likely be exhausted from the night before. Anticipation of the big day may have kept them awake later than normal. Do your little angels morph into screaming hot messes of taffeta and shirttails when told they have to leave? Do they throw caution and their little backs to the wind when told it’s time to go? The question of “why” now carries much more weight, more syllables and is likely asked at a pitch that makes cats leave the room.

If you think taking them second is the way to go, remember that there will be no naps that day. Let the full implications of that statement settle in before you make your decision. Consider also that whatever festivities you have in mind will have to follow their earlier predecessor. While your little bundles of joy may not be able to fully and adeptly make comparisons, keep your self and your own sanity in mind as you field questions that start with ‘well how come you’re not” followed by any number of innocent queries. Is this is a box you want to unwrap at Grandma’s house?

Concede. If the picture of sugarplum meltdowns sounds a bit much for you during these holidays after a divorce, there is the option to concede. Concede the holiday completely to the ex in the name of peace and tranquility for your children. Allow them a full day of relaxation and enjoyment and allow them to just be where they are. No schedule, no split day. Just presence. The trade off for conceding an entire holiday is that they really do grow up so fast. Phrases like, “No that was the one we spent with Mom, not you.” will happen. While this may be par for the course when the ex lives in another city or state, it may be very difficult to spend a holiday in the same zip code as your children and know that you won’t get to see their smiling faces. Which leads me to our third option. Dust off your tutu and get ready to declare it so.

Declare It So. The silver lining to your first set of Reverse Firsts when your children are young is that you get to make the new normal. You get to decide which traditions stay, which go and the level of enthusiasm and normalcy with which these changes are presented. I call it the Tooth Fairy Effect. Whether your child comes to you the next morning having found a nickel or a hundred dollar bill under her pillow for her lost tooth, your reaction is the same. Your reaction is that she has shown you the most exciting thing ever. And based on your reaction, she will agree. Declaring it so means that you are declaring your own market rate as it pertains to holidays. If you want to celebrate 1 day or 1 week later, then so be it. Just do it with all the enthusiasm and gratitude you can muster. And if you need to wear a tutu, so be it.

 

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Has Divorce Made You a Couch Potato? How to jump start your heart and get back to life

Has Divorce Made You a Couch Potato? How to jump start your heart and get back to life

Are you the poster child for couch potato? Does your life consist of a back and forth volley of work and couch? Has “couch” become a verb for you? “Nah, thanks for the invite, but I’m actually going to couch it tonight.” 

It is incredibly easy to get into a brain and heart-numbing pattern after a divorce, mindlessly flipping through channels. After all you’ve been through, going into your man-cave is totally natural and necessary, but the key is to avoid getting so comfortable there that it’s a permanent change of address, rather than a temporary getaway. Luckily, there are several options from which to choose to breathe life back into your life.

Adrenaline Junkie.

We start with the most obvious of choices, and the shortest distance from the couch potato position to the front seat of life: if you want to know what it feels like to be fully alive again, come close to death. Kickstart your heart the old fashioned way and scare yourself. Jump out of an airplane. Bungee jump. Skydive. Run with the bulls. Anything that makes you kiss the ground in thanks once it’s over will suffice. Feel your heart in your chest and the adrenaline rush that let’s you know you’re alive. Repeat as necessary.

Sports Junkie.

The next obvious choice is a good old-fashioned sporting match. A couch potato watches the game on T.V. You can do better. But don’t just go to a game; go to a pinnacle of an event, featuring the best of the best. Attend the World Cup. Feel the full impact of a rugby match. Get up close and personal at lacrosse. Any sport where the athletes are true athletes and fans have more than just the game on the line is a great choice. Attend a sporting match where you are a part of something larger than yourself, where you find yourself surrounded by fans for whom bragging rights, loyalties, and the blood, sweat and tears of generations are at play. Remember that life is about being a part of something greater, and let the energy of the moment lift your spirits.

Rockstar Junkie.

(No, not the usual kind.) Does the thought of singing in front of thousands get your adrenaline going? If you can’t stand-in for the front man of a major band, no worries: go sing karaoke. Don’t laugh! You’re not just gonna simply sing karaoke, you’re going to rock. Big difference. Does your heart start pounding and palms start sweating at the thought? Awesome. That’s a good sign that you are not, in fact, dead. There’s hope for you yet.

If getting on stage terrifies you to the point of inaction, go in front of one instead. Buy the next available ticket to a band in town and just go. Get in front. Feel the bass reverberate through your chest. Get jostled around by people who are swept up in the fervor. Dance. Feel self-conscious? Guess what? Nobody gives two shits about what you’re doing. They are in the moment feeling the music. You can be too.

Altruism Junkie.

This is the least obvious of the four choices, but one that may have the most impact on your heart because, in the long term, it has the least to do with you. Find an activity that allows you to look at life from a different perspective, any other perspective than that from which you currently stand (or rather, sit, if you’re a couch potato). Find a cause that matters to you and volunteer; be a big brother, work with rescue animals, deliver meals to shut-in seniors.

Volunteer at a hospice or visit someone in a nursing home. Understand that there are those that don’t have as much time left on this beautiful earth as you do; maybe it’ll be just what you need to realize life is precious and it’s time to start participating again. Speak to those that are further down the path of life than you are. Listen to their stories of love and loss and understand that you will love and be loved again. Donate blood. Build a house. Anything that is not about you, but that will make you feel alive again.

It’s okay if your pace has slowed to the point where Mr. Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street could run laps around you, but now is the time to take matters into your own hands and resuscitate your life.

If You Need a Couch Potato Intercession

If you can’t muster the energy to make it from the couch to the car alone, email this article to a friend and type “Help” in the subject line. They’ll know what to do next. Getting out the door is the hardest part.


(c) Can Stock Photo / ocusfocus

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Emergency Roadside Kit For The Newly Single Dad How to Create Your Household Rules Post Divorce

Emergency Roadside Kit For The Newly Single Dad How to Create Your Household Rules Post Divorce

You’re now a newly single dad. What was once a two-parent household with a one set of rules is now two households and to say only your lifestyle has changed would be an understatement. Life post-divorce brings a new routine, new systems and new rules.  Adjustments will be made by both new households as the dust settles as life gets back to what will be the new normal.

Manage Your Single Dad Expectations 

Take a few extra steps ahead of time and be mindful of what may come to pass. Prepare yourself for emotionally charged events that could put you into a tailspin of guilt-induced decisions. You’re a single dad packing an emergency roadside kit to handle what lies ahead.  Let’s hope you don’t have to use it, but it’s nice to know you have a flare in the trunk should the need arise.

But Mom Said We Could. 

The age of your children will impact their ability to adapt to the fact that they now live in two sets of households with varying sets of rules. It will also impact the pitch and level of whininess with which their protest will be delivered. Save time and your eardrums by giving some thought to your rules, boundaries and abilities ahead of time. Communicate those rules to your kids with a tone of understanding and compassion. They’ve been through a major life event.  Knowing what they can expect from you and their new life will help them settle in more comfortably.

If you’re in a new house, it may be awhile before you allow their new friends to come in. If your work hours have changed, Saturday night sleepovers may be out of the question until things settle down. If you need some time to yourself, it may be lights out at 8 now instead of 9. Calmly, firmly and in a neutral setting, explain the new changes to your children at an age appropriate level. The younger the child, the less of an in-depth explanation is needed. Expect tears, exhaustion and allow yourself a heavy dose of patience as they, and you, adjust to your new routine.

The advantage of explaining the new rules to older children is that they have a better understanding of the divorce itself. They may have less difficult questions than the younger children as they have seen your marriage unravel. The potential downside to older children is their ability to verbalize their displeasure with varying levels of sarcasm, guilt and the occasional door slam. What flies as their mom’s house may not at yours.  It’s neither good nor bad, it’s just what’s so. Explain the logistics behind your decisions and they will be better suited to understand and come up with creative solutions that will help everyone’s new life run smoother.  They are your kids after all, allow them to surprise you with their brilliance and understanding.

Because I Said So. 

Have you heard that come out of your own mouth yet? If not, just wait. It’s only a matter of time. And you know what? You’re damn right. You know why? Because at the end of the day, you’re the adult. What you say, goes. Period. I cannot stress this point enough. Yes, you are a divorced single dad. Yes, you have put your children through a life event that likely hurt them. Yes, you are likely carrying some guilt along with that, no matter how good your intentions were or what potentially hellish situation you left behind in the hopes of a better life without your ex.

Do not, I repeat, do not, allow a spinout by letting guilt control your new life and the decisions you make surrounding your children.

You are doing the best you can and that’s all anyone can ask for. Remind yourself of that fact on a daily basis and you will avoid tremendous amounts of unnecessary, battery-draining guilt.  There will be times when the answer is no and it will stay that way, regardless of the methods of persuasion on behalf of the brilliant and understanding fruit of your looms.

Stay Out of the Pit 

Keep your hands firmly at the ten and two position and avoid the possibility of allowing your children to pit one parent against the other, run rampant or be bought just because your marriage didn’t go the way you planned. When they get older they’ll understand, once they have your degree of life experience. At their age and with their vantage point of life, they simply cannot. Remember that and stand firm in your decisions. You are the adult. You’re in the driver’s seat

Remember that this is an adjustment period for everyone involved. At the end of what will surely be a long day in the not so distant future, pour yourself an extra glass of patience.  You’re learning. You’re new to this whole single dad thing but you’ll get the hang of it. You’ll be a kick-ass single parent and you’ll hit your stride again very soon. Go easy on yourself in the meantime. And go easy on the kids too. Just remember, you’re the driver. You’re in control. Oh, and send up a flare if you need to.

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How to Tell You’re Dating a Gold Digger When to Cut and Run

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Congratulations! You’ve met someone. She’s incredibly wonderful. Attractive. Laughs at all your jokes. Even the ones your friends roll their eyes over.  Is she really that into you, or are you dating a gold digger?

When you’re in the room, it’s as though no one else exists. She’s everything that you ever dreamed of, a nd more. And yet, something feels off. Not quite right. You wish you could put your finger on it, but even if you could who would you ask? 

She take my money when I’m in need

Yeah, she’s a triflin’ friend indeed

Oh, she’s a gold digger

Way over town that digs on m

Gold Digger

Kanye West ft. Jamie Foxx (2005)

 

Seriously. How does anyone who hasn’t dated one know they are involved with a gold digger?

Know What You’re Dealing With

Your friends? They would either tell you you’re imagining things and she’s the best thing that ever happened to you, or to dump her. You don’t really want to hear either. Better to know what you’re dealing with and then make a decision. Your female friends, well, they’re another story. If you tell one, you may as well tell them all as they rush to warn the rest of your tribe to be on high alert on your behalf. Better to decide of your own volition first, rather than taint the proverbial friend waters with your suspicions.

Which is to say, if you prefer privacy but still want to know if you’re dating a gold digger, you’ve come to the right place. 

Suspecting You’re Dating a Gold Digger

First off, let’s declare your suspicions. Let’s just say it out loud. Gold. Digger. Now let’s say it together: gold digger. Now let’s look it up.  Merriam Webster offers us two definitions, “one who digs for gold” as well as “a person who uses charm to extract money or gifts from others.” 

Next, let’s eliminate. Unless her panning kit and sluice boxes just arrived from GoldFeverProspecting.com, we can assume she does not fit the first definition. But what about the second? How does one really know if one is, in fact, dating a gold digger? Let’s look at key areas, and if an alarm goes off in any, just like with a metal detector, it may be worth having a closer look. What you find may be valuable to you, for a number of reasons, in the long run. 

Let’s begin by establishing a baseline. In order to be concerned about a gold digger, one must have gold to dig. Firstly, let’s assume you’re an interesting guy with much to offer the right woman. Your attention, your adoration and if so inclined, your financial support. There is cause for concern because you have assets, both emotion and financial, that you would like to remain intact. Or at the very least, shared with a woman who cares about you, for you more than for what you can do   for her. Ideally, by a healthy margin.       

Can you pay my bills

Can you pay my telephone bills

Can you pay my automo’bills

Then maybe we can chill

 Bills, Bills, Bills

Destiny’s Child (1999)

Time for A Gut Check

Does your possible gold digger adore everything you do? As in, everything you do? Is it as though you can do no wrong in her eyes? Zero. Nil. None. Are your responses to simple questions fielded as though you were about to spill the beans on the coordinates of the Fountain of Youth? If you could go so far as to casually mentioned your mother married an axe murderer and she smiles sweetly, sets her chin on her hand and bats her individually-applied eyelash extensions at you as though you had just divulged the cure for cancer… your buzzing metal detector may be trying to tell you  something.     

Does your alleged gold digger really listen? Is the level of sincerity in her responses remotely on par with the information you’re sharing?  It goes without saying you’re a fascinating guy, but are you riveting all of the time?  A woman that has ulterior financial motives will go out of her way to ensure that being with her gives you a high, a payoff, quite literally a buy-in. She will make you feel like the epicenter of her universe. Absolutely wonderful if it’s organic. Quite the opposite if by design. Potentially catastrophic if she is looking for financial reward.   

The best things in life are free

But you can keep ’em for the birds and bees;

Now give me money, that’s what I want,

 Money

Barrett Strong (1959)

Her Status Matters 

When dating a potential gold digger, status matters. Initially, yours. A gold digger is looking to elevate her status by her choice in a man. In this case, possibly, in you. This subtlety may be difficult to ascertain at first, especially for the seasoned gold digger who will be adept at adapting to the upward mobility your lifestyle offers. Which is to say she will walk into your world as though she belongs there, and will do her best to cement her place immediately.  

A tell-tale sign is her outward displays on social media. Has she made, say, an Instagram for the two you very early on? Does the esthetique appear as though she’s gunning to be a lifestyle brand influencer? Be sponsored by a travel blog? If her photos re ad like an Upscale Collection page with just as many followers, your buzzing metal detector may be trying to tell you something.      

‘Cause the boy with the cold hard cash

Is always Mister Right

‘Cause we are living in a material world

And I am a material girl

Material Girl

Madonna (1985)

 Eventually, if not sooner, when dating a gold digger the focus will turn to her status. Are you sponsoring her, namely in all things external? Nails, hair, makeup, massages. Obviously, it’s another thing entirely if you’re sponsoring her, internally. After  all, self-development, education, things that will improve life for both of you are, well, improving life for both of you. Meanwhile, if what you do is accepted graciously while one eye is perceptibly on the next biggest, brightest and/or newest… take heed. If, over time or sooner, your sense of abundance shifts, the gold digger warning is in full effect, as what you do, who you are, and what you are able or willing to provide will never be enough. 

You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ’em.

Know when to walk away, know when to run

You never count your money, when you’re sittin’ at the table.

There’ll be time enough for countin’, when the dealin’s done.

 The Gambler,

Kenny Rogers (1978)

 

If You’re Happy and You Know It

When dating a potential gold digger, there are many fa ctors to consider beyond whether or not she ever reaches for her wallet when the check arrives. While her actions matter, so does who she is as a person. Is she contributing to your life? Does her presence bring value? Are you happy? Do you feel supported? It is said that time is money. And such, the money you spend is a representation of yours, especially if you earned it. That said, is she respectful of it? And by proxy, respectful of you? A woman who is with you for you, and not just for what you can do for her will respect both. And others. When all else fails, the ultimate test for a gold digger is how she treats those that are in no position to do anything for her. If she fails that test, you’ll know it’s time to walk away. Or run. 


(c) Can Stock Photo / creatista

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