I Believed in Love and Got a Second Chance

Even after divorce, I couldn’t give up on love

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Second chance at love. A couple walk along a beach at sunset on a romantic date
Couple walk along beach. Photo by rushay on Adobe Stock Images.

I leaned against the kitchen bench, typed and then deleted a message into my phone, struggling to find the right wording. Lately, I’d found myself thinking up reasons to get in touch with Ben and now felt as good a time as any. He’d been a friend for a few years, but in the 5 months since my divorce, I hadn’t seen him. I’d gone off the radar with most of my old friends. People seemed judgemental of divorce in my small town, and I didn’t know where he stood with that.

I hung out with new friends—people I’d met after divorce, who’d never known me as someone’s wife. Who didn’t think of me as a broken half of a couple. People who didn’t interrogate about what went wrong or look at me with sad eyes.

But I was slowly healing and I missed my friend. So I sent him a text.

I suspected finding love in my 40s would be very different than in my 20s. The world was different. The way people dated had changed (Tinder seemed far too scary). And I certainly wasn’t the same person. Like many other divorcees, my expectations of love and relationships had been forever altered.

I scrolled Facebook, joining several divorcee groups hoping to find solace and guidance. There was some of that, but mostly I found dozens of people who’d lost faith in love. Some of them embraced the joys of singleness, but many just sounded bitter.

As much as love had let me down, I couldn’t bring myself to give up on it. I was still a believer and was willing to risk heartbreak again to have a second chance.

Before long, Ben and I were casually dating. I’d only recently learned certain dating terms, like what ‘Netflix and chill’ meant — I’d been married since my early 20s; it was like emerging from a coma into a new world — but to me it sounded like a bad way to get to know someone. Ben made an effort to plan actual dates, and it impressed me. We went to concerts, hiked mountains, and talked on the phone late into the night.

One gorgeous spring evening, Ben arrived after work with a familiar sparkle in his eye. “Want to have a picnic on the beach?” he asked. I tilted my head, wondering what he had planned. “Sure.”

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Kelly Eden | Essayist | Writing Coach

New Zealand-based essayist | Personal Essay Workshops | @ Insider, Mamamia, Thought Catalog, ScaryMommy and more https://becauseyouwrite.substack.com/