Coming back to home base is never easy. Astronauts are well aware of the complexity of returning to Earth's atmosphere. Immigrants resettling in the homeland must face the challenge of unlearning new ways while relearning the ones from childhood. And (deep, deep sigh) singletons are faced with the momentous challenge of rejoining peers after a significant period of snug interdependence ... aka marriage.
Life with a mate, as wonderful as it can be when a relationship is harmonious, tends to encourage some degree of dependence. Yes, it certainly can be healthy interdependence where partners weave their strengths and weaknesses into a fully functioning relationship, and lean on each other's strengths to complement their weak points.
When marriage ends, each person is back to the independent life, aware they must rely on themselves for every decision. By now they're older and — presumably — more emotionally mature. Hopefully, some inner resources have developed, but in many ways they're plunked cold turkey back into the dating games remembered from high school and college days. Reentry is a bumpy ride. Dating rules have changed: The climate is certainly more distrustful and aware. Yet almost anything goes. And adjustments take time and thought, plenty of both.
Catapulted into the single life by court-ordered divorce, men and women now on their own seem to live out predictable stages of reentry. The first few months of being single again are "crazy time." After years of monogamy, having a limitless menu to choose from is dizzying. And stimulating. (This is the bed-hopping stage, far from the committed — and somewhat boring — marriage bed.) These are the early days of being unattached, when different partners bring with them new ways, new tastes, a variety of erotic sensations. Even without stimulants, a fresh bod in your bed is quite enough to stir the libido!
Around six months of one-nighters is when the dark side of variety begins to emerge. Bed hopping begins to pall, and casual sex is revealed as unsatisfying. The flesh still hungers, but the heart and soul are starting to reclaim the spirit, now hungering for more. Something more than junk sex is craved. A deeper need begins to assert sovereignty. Most astonishingly, the comfortable sameness of the marriage bed is looking more satisfying each morning!
(Part two next time.)
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