Look, dating blows! Dating over 30 really blows. Dating over 30 post-divorce is something like a cross between slicing open your jugular vein, and stabbing small needles into your eyes one at a time. Or at least that’s what one might infer from Tracy M’s post on the topic over at BCC a few weeks back.

I don’t disagree with her…or the vast number of commenters either. If you’re reading this you likely hope to find someone intelligent, can carry on a conversation without resorting to testifying, and isn’t either looking for your uterus or your money.

Having not dated much outside of Mormonism I can’t really compare, but at least in the church it all seems exacerbated by the roles we insist on adopting. And therein seems to lie the bulk of the problems for both genders. As per Tracy M, if you’re a woman, apparently most men are interested in your child bearing capabilities…or at least that’s what women think. It certainly goes both ways! Furthermore, I think both genders don’t realize how they often perpetuate the very problems they complain about! Let me try and explain…

:: steps onto soapbox ::

I’ve observed roughly two general trends for women as I’ve begun dating post-divorce. The first type of woman got married (or had a boyfriend), got pregnant, and became a SAHM. Divorce hit these women like a ton of bricks and now they have to pick themselves up and try to create some kind of life and identity for themselves. They start getting an education, they have to live on their own, get a job, make money, fix their own cars, use a screwdriver, etc. It’s like these types of woman believed that all they needed to bring to the relationship table was their uterus! And I certainly wouldn’t blame them for thinking that since that’s the culture we create (as has been pointed out by feminists since Adam blamed Eve for making him eat the forbidden fruit). Is it any wonder that men act accordingly?

The second type of woman has her sh*t together! She focused on her education and now has a PhD in public health administration, runs a marathon every week, has led a campaign to save the whales…three times, and wants absolutely nothing to do with a divorced guy with three kids. For these women it feels like no man will ever be good enough. She has no baggage (at least she assumes so) and expects her mate to not have any either. The irony with this type of woman is that she wants a never-been-married guy that is mature enough, despite every cue in society to the contrary, to handle that she’s very possibly smarter, more motivated, and more successful than he!

Let me put it out there…I want YOU, not your uterus! Perhaps the sales pitch to a never-married guy to purchase your uterus in exchange for financial security works the first time. But I’ve debunked the uterus! I don’t want to be your sugar daddy, and I’m not even sure if I want more children! I want you to bring more to the table! I want an equal. I want someone who has an opinion and wants to discuss it. I want someone as successful (or more so) than I! I want someone who is independent, who has passions, and wants to form a supportive team so both of us can fly! And then we get to woman number two. Look, I’m not scared off by your degrees, your test scores, your political views, your income, or your career success…I can hold my own. You’re not so phenomenal that all men tremble before your success. In fact, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret…ready?…some men actually aren’t so insecure that they wet themselves because you have some extra initials at the end of your name. But the problem is you wouldn’t know that because you insist on dating guys who are often no more than overgrown teenagers!

Oh, and one more thing…you don’t have to be younger than me. I don’t need you to have perky boobs, a tight a$$, and be 5’8″ and weigh 125 lbs either. I’m not perfect…why would I expect you to be?

:: steps down from soapbox and runs and hides in a bunker ::

Here’s the thing. I know we teach a certain model for gender roles and identity. I know that being a SAHM is hard work, a noble calling, etc. Hell, I take care of three kids half the time by myself! It’s rough, but satisfying. But I already tried that model…and not only did it fail spectacularly for me emotionally and financially during the marriage, but I’ll be paying a financial price for it for years to come! At the end of the day I want someone who isn’t dependent on me, someone who wants to take care of me as much as she wants to be taken care of…and I’m not talking about doing the dishes, or cooking meals while I go to work everyday!

I admit it, I’m drawn to Mormon women. I’ve deconstructed my orthodox Mormon testimony, and reconstructed something more satisfying for me yet I remain in the Mormon sphere. That makes me simultaneously a member of the club and an outsider. I’m not fixed on the Mormon view of life after death, so I’m open to many possibilities. Nevertheless, as I’ve dated around, I’ve found myself most drawn to women from my culture despite the idiosyncracies and problems our culture creates for both genders. This creates a real problem for me. Most Mormon women aren’t in a position to accept my brand of Mormonism. Most Mormon women are surprised to learn that a woman has never prayed in GC! Most Mormon women are still under the impression that what they bring to the table is their child-bearing capabilities, and that’s their role in life – to provide bodies for God’s children. It just doesn’t work for me anymore.

We all play a role in the dynamic that creates gender inequality…and we’re all victims of it as well. Sometimes, I suppose, the gender roles we carve out work. But often they don’t, and when they don’t we all pay a price. Understanding the role we play in that dynamic can help break it as we exercise control over the only thing over which we have control…ourselves.

I know it’s not simple. I know there are great women out there looking for someone like me…I just can’t seem to find them. I know the same goes for many women…you’d like to date the right guy but the only ones who will go out with you are those in the market for a SAHM, or overgrown teenagers. I can’t speak for everyone at Wheat & Tares, but for my part, I would love to help Tracy M facilitate any sort of dating/singles site or Facebook page, or whatever to help like-minded people meet up.