I started writing my blog, ‘Divorced & Dating at 30’, in 2017. Inspired by everyone’s entertainment on hearing my dating stories and with some gentle encouragement from friends, the blog inspired the book. What started as just the blog in book format snowballed into a 6 year memoir of me rebuilding post-divorce and getting back into dating. Many of the stories from the blog are in the book but there’s also a lot more about my personal growth and struggle, and other areas of my life – not just the men – in the book.
The book is highly personal and honest, I’ve not attempted to sugarcoat anything and hope my self reflection allows readers to relate to at least one if not many parts of the book. And while allowing myself to be so vulnerable within those pages was difficult, and at times resulted in me crying into my laptop in Starbucks, arguably the harder part has actually been knowing where the line is drawn between telling the stories that are mine & telling someone else’s story.
My approach to the book, and choosing to include the stories and people that I do, is that this is my life story, this is my experience of the events I talk about and I attempt to be as unbiased as possible. But as they say every story has 3 versions: your version; the other person’s version; and the truth. So what I’m offering is my version and I don’t doubt the people involved in these stories, particularly when it comes to the men, may have different versions of events. I tell the stories of the dates from my perspective. After all, it’s all I have.
However there is a line that exists, which I’m trying to stay on the right side of and ensure I’m not attempting to offer up explanations for someone else’s behaviour or hazard guesses as to why someone’s character is the way it is. That is not my place, regardless of my interaction with that person, all I can talk to is my behaviour and my character. If this was a fiction book I could run wild with assumptions and distanced analysis but these are real people and I’ve always been firm in my want to respect them as much as possible, despite the outcome of our dalliances.
Some of the men I’ve written about both in the book and on my blog have read their sections and it’s been fascinating both to see them register my thoughts on the situation but also to hear theirs. No two people truly ever see a situation in 100% the same light, even if both do see it positively! It is simply part of the human condition. It’s like that question that keeps me awake at night – how do you know what you see as the colour blue (for example) is what everyone else sees as the colour blue? That’s a rabbit hole that’s kept me up for hours.
People may also argue it’s not my place to include these men in my writing without their consent, or at least knowledge, but the fact is these stories are mine, and providing the context of the dates and the men simply allows me to make commentary on life, dating, myself, gender stereotypes, and a whole host of other topics. But their privacy is still paramount and so I ensure I’ve always used their nicknames and never given too much detail about them that would make them recognisable or Google-able.
I have met some fascinating men, some beautiful men and some incredibly wounded men – all have taught me something. And for any of the ways the stories have ended, I am eternally grateful for the experiences and lessons those men have brought to my life.
While I have chosen to forgo my anonymity, my hope is the men will forever be just a bunch of John Doe’s.