Life After Divorce . . . The Stench of Desperation

By Lindy Earl

Okay, so we’re all in this together.  In theory, we are all equals in this game.  Nobody is innately better than anyone else . . . yet, some people, because of their background or ego or insecurity or whatever, might have an overly inflated opinion of themselves, or an unnecessarily negative image of themselves.  The latter is what a friend, when he went through his divorce, called the Stench of Desperation.

If you remember back to teen years, dating was hard!  We all remember the good parts, but there were tears and fears as well.  There were signals we thought we were sending that were completely missed.  Overtures were made that were completely ignored.  Some people were interested but didn’t show it, others thought we were interested when we weren’t.

Is it any surprise that much of that stuff remains true when we begin dating again?  The difference is that, for many of us, we have at least some level of success in our lives – maybe our first marriage ended, not necessarily happily, but not miserably; or it ended by things beyond our control, because some people find themselves single by being widowed.  Dating remains hard, but we do all have our drivers license now and no curfew.

They say treat her like a queen, but what does that mean? Does that make the guy a King? If that’s true, I don’t think Royalty ever chases.  I dislike the analogy.  First, guys are getting the short end of the stick.  Maybe women should focus on treating him like a king.  Remember the line, he’s the king of his castle?

Back to the stench of desperation.  This is a sad story, but may be what we need to hear.  No names, of course . . .

I went out with a guy, one time, a year ago.  In truth, he had to talk me into it.  I just didn’t see a connection.  When I admitted that I was watching a football game alone one Sunday, it did make sense to meet the gent at a local tavern to watch the game.  End of story.  We never went out again.

He recently resurfaced.  I gently dissuaded him.  I strongly encouraged him to find someone else.  His response: “Stop it with there being a girl out there for me.  I know what I want and I know it’s you.”

This, people, is the Stench of Desperation. I’ve made it clear that I’m not interested.  I’m flattered that he likes my conversation, and he obviously finds me attractive.  Okay – but now I’m feeling sorry for you . . . and this is where the stench is realized.

Now, just because you find yourself dating again, you do not have a stench about you.  You’re in the game with everyone else!  It’s all good.  So what separates those with a stench around them from others who are just back in the dating world?  I have a few ideas.

First, if someone remains hung up on their ex, they may have a stench of desperation about them.  For instance, if you go on a date, and can’t stop talking about your ex, we may be talking about you.

Second, I think we all emerge from a broken relationship at least a little battered and bruised.  I don’t think I would like a person who came through unscathed, because that would suggest a lack of feelings or sensitivity.  Logically, this may lead to low self-esteem.  Feeling bad about ourselves, manifesting itself in low self-esteem, is not by definition a stench of desperation.  If you, however, choose to wallow in that muck and mire and remain negative and complaining – there’s your stench. You are creating it.  Another option is to realize that you’ve been through a bad time but realize that you’re a survivor, not a victim.  Victims have a stench of desperation.  Survivors have an air of victory.

Some people simply live better within a committed, romantic relationship.  These people may be SO desperate for a relationship that they settle, or give way too much of themselves.  What starts as kindness and compromise deteriorates into a cesspool, and there’s your stench.

It’s sad.  It’s also unnecessary.  Nobody needs to continue to feel bad about their situation.  We can make a decision to be okay.

Here is another question, though: What is wrong with us for dating these people?  When I agreed to watch a game with this guy, I had to be aware that he had some stench about him, since he kept asking for a date after I gave him a gentle no.  Did I really expect him to go away after that? Or did I expect the smell to become a lovely aroma?  Maybe if we avoid going out with these people, then they will remove themselves from the sewers in which they now live, which is causing their stench.

Please know that I began the notes for this column a few months ago.  That’s often how I write. I was motivated to work on it by the re-emergence of this person in my life.  Even as I’ve been working on this article for the past hour, I have received over a dozen texts from this guy, five of which I haven’t yet read.  I’m wondering if you can smell his stench of desperation from where you are.

That’s Life After Divorce.

            Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant.  Contact her at to speak to your Church, Organization, or Company.  You can find her on Face Book and join her single again support group: Single Again . . . From Desperation to Dating.