Ask Sarah – Damaged Goods

damaged goodsDear Sarah,

What is it about dating today that feels so awkward?  Sure, I spent more than half my life with one woman who, comes to find out, was nothing more than a cheat and a liar. But why does that seem to automatically place me in the “Damaged Goods” bin?

Are damaged goods defined as a man who placed his wife and their children first? A man that made every decision, both personally and professionally, with them at the forefront? Who today is bouncing back as a single dad with a terrific son in college and a precious daughter in high school who lights up my life with her smile…is he really “damaged goods?”

As my daughter and I like to say to one another, “We didn’t choose this life, this life chose us,” and we are making the best out of our situation. This is our new normal and now my daughter has pushed me back into the dating waters because she wants to learn from me a lesson on regaining happiness.  Unfortunately, she seems to have lost faith in happiness and true love after the hell we suffered through.

I know there is a special woman who waits for me and I pray I can find her sooner rather than later. This woman needs to have a smile that can brighten my day, a laugh that can shake a room, and a heart that beats in sync with mine. She can’t be afraid to be who she is, because I seek a woman who can challenge me to be better.  A woman who can think for herself and share with me what she wants and accept it when I offer ideas so we can help one another get to where we want to be; who isn’t afraid to show me her true emotional self, and can embrace that from me, because I’m an emotional man. I guess the crux of my point is this: Is the idea of finding your true soulmate too hard to find anymore in this instant age of Facebook, Twitter, eHarmony, and all the others?


Dear “damaged goods,”

First of all, it seems to me like you’re asking two questions here:

  1.  Am I automatically seen as ‘damaged goods’ simply by virtue of the fact that I’m divorced?
  2. Is it even possible to find the love of your life these days and in this place in life?

I’ll tackle the first one today.  …watch for the next one next week


To answer your first question…..…. We are ALL damaged goods!
I think it’s just a matter of HOW damaged you are, if you know it, and how you deal with your own damage.  Let me unpack that.

Everyone is imperfect.  We all have ‘issues,’ fears, insecurities, …broken places.
Does that make us ‘damaged?’  Perhaps.
But, if so, then we have an equal playing field full of broken people.  The better question isn’t “am I ‘damaged goods,’ but, how am I dealing with my personal damage/baggage/hurt.

If you’re still wallowing in bitterness, resentment and anger about your divorce, then – yeah – probably not your time for the dating world.
Because all you will do is cling to the first person who shows you something remotely close to love, whether s/he is the right person or not, and project your broken places onto him or her.

But, if you’ve taken the time and emotional energy to work on yourself – to acknowledge the places where you bring some baggage with you – then you can (hopefully) own your own junk.  You’ll also be better at communicating your wants and needs with a potential partner, including letting him/her know in which areas you’re more sensitive/fragile.
As someone with a background in counseling, this is one of those places where I think EVERYONE could benefit from a session or 12 😉 with a licensed therapist.  Yes, your BFF is totes amaze… but a neutral party and professional, who is used to dealing with post-divorce emotions, is an invaluable asset to those of us who have gone through the pain of divorce.

damaged goods 2

So, no – being divorced does not automatically make you less-than or unworthy – it is simply part of your story.  A really sad part.

[Side note:  Divorce is never a good thing.  Please don’t hear me saying that.  It is a natural product of a broken world where people are self-serving rather than sacrificial; and chase after momentary pleasures rather than see marriage as a marathon of hard work and surrender.  So – yes – being divorced is – by virtue of the fact that it means the end of promises made to love someone for life – bad.  I don’t ever want my words to sound like I think divorce is just another option in a large sea of life choices… neutral and without consequence.  I think it’s sometimes a necessary evil, but evil nonetheless.]

So, I guess the real issue here isn’t whether you’re “damaged goods” because you have a failed relationship in your past… don’t we all have one or two of those?  The better issue for examination is – WHERE is my damage/pain and what am I doing to work on that so I can be a better partner to the next person I love?

2 thoughts on “Ask Sarah – Damaged Goods

  1. Kari K

    Good analysis. Everyone has baggage, but we have a choice of how stuffed it is. Is it carry on or does it belong in a steamer trunk? Sometimes it’s difficult to unpack some of it, but when you do, you realize you have room for much more.

    BTW, glad to see you back, Sarah! I missed all your musings and the creeps that make us laugh!


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