Dating when you're over 40, divorced, atheist, angry at religion, with baggage

I'm looking for some input here.


As you can tell from previous posts, over the last year I've been divorcing my increasingly fundamentalist wife who was homeschooling my two children and unintentionally sabotaging their chances at a normal childhood/adulthood. I've been married for 17+ years, since my (very) early 20s. It wasn't a great marriage. It was ok. At first. Theologically neither of us were very passionate in the beginning. As I think on my past more I realize I think I may have practially been mostly atheist my whole life. I underwent a few periods of being strongly theist, but mostly I was put out with organized religion. I kept a small god box in my head for most of the first half of my life, but I didn't use it much.


Around 2000 or so, everything changed. My wife joined a fundamentalist cult, and through a series of mishaps and poor decision making I ended up joining as well. If I jump through a few mental hoops I could blame her for it, and she did set up the scenario that caused me to join, but I'm too honest to give her all the blame. I walked through the door and made the decision to join. The reasons are complex enough to merit another blog post, but that's not the point of this one.


A year later I left. Another year after that I had pieced together what had happened to me, and finally knew who these people were. I realized that any children we might have would be indoctrinated into this cult, and I wouldn't allow that. I decided to divorce her, because I didn't expect her to leave.


But she did. Again, the story would be best expanded upon elsewhere. Next thing you know, we're both out of the cult, the marriage is doing better than it has in years, and suddenly there's a baby on the way. Yes, it was all related.


Fast forward 10 years. The marriage deteriorated again over the next 10 years, and I finally realized that she may have physically left the cult, but she never left mentally. She's homeschooling the kids, teaching them creationism, and indoctrinating them into her new fundamentalist SDA-splinter cell beliefs against my wishes. And I can't do anything to stop it. Except for one thing. So I filed for divorce.


Fast forward another year. She has my house, my kids, and roughly half my income. I have debt, a small apartment, and a lot of time to kill with my xbox. Over the intervening nine months or so since I was court ordered out of the house I had completely paid for myself (no bitterness there) I had been agonizing over the thought of dating. One can only spend so much time hiding in one's apartment all alone. Turns out the girlies don't really come knocking down your door if they don't know you're there. I was starting to feel a little Ted Kazinsky (minus the explosives).


This is where my neurosis comes in. I gave up on dating before I even got started. My life is complicated enough right now, and the thought of adding a girlfriend on top of that was just a bit too much. I consulted the great oragle Google, and Google said that dating the recently divorced was a bad idea, so I realized that far from being a great catch, I was poison. My first relationship was doomed. But I did need to interact with other humans occasionally other than at work. So X->Y->Z I found some local meetup groups related to atheism and skepticism. Slowly (very slowly) I started going.


This is when it happened. There's a local skeptics group that meets on Saturdays. I can only go to every other one because of visitation (but I'm contemplating bringing them along though). Many of them go to a local bar afterwards and just talk and drink. Personally, I think that's the best part. Outside of this group I know almost know atheists or agnositics. Before going to this group, I was pretty much alone in my beliefs (or rather lack thereof). After one, there was a girl there. An attractive girl, mind you. Context check: I had already given up on dating (without even having had one at that), so I wasn't there to meet women other than in a friendly context. She had this way of drawing my eye though. Maybe it's because she was the most attractive woman at the table. Maybe it's because she kept talking to me. So beer+actual human contact with people who believe like I do+temporary loss of inhibitions=I forgot that I wasn't interested in dating. But that's okay cause I screwed it up anyway. I got to talking with a former pastor there who went atheist about my kid's situation, and eventually she left. Turns out if you ignore a girl long enough she'll go away. I had forgotten about that...


Ok, getting bogged down in detail here. Fast forward slightly, I e-mailed, she e-mailed, we met for coffee (well, sorta. she doesn't like coffee). And we ended up spending nine hours together the next day. A couple of months later things have grown quite serious. Sparing you the gaudy details of how goofy I've become, things are going very well. She's incredible.


But then there comes those moments when I doubt myself. Usually about 11pm-1am (or later) when I'm alone in my apartment again. There's something about the middle of the night which does weird things to my thought processes. Anyway, I start to wonder, am I forcing things? Am I really just trying to fill the gap left by the sudden loss of a family? I don't think I'm doing the dating thing right, I'm going too fast, and I'm scared shitless of screwing it all up as a result.


So what I'm asking for here, is: does anybody else here have similar experience? Do you have any tips on how to not fuck up your first relationship post-divorce? Any pitfalls I should avoid?

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Comment by Herbert Philip Peters on October 13, 2011 at 10:57am

Are we atheists just rebels? Now, there is protests all around the world. Will it produce change? One reason communism failed was it was more about rebellion rather than creating or organizing something better. 

Looking back into the 70's IBM was very powerful. They would choose their customer. Customer may want an IBM but it was up to them to decide whether to sell. And i think, their taxes made up more than 12% of the US budget. 

Steve Jobs did not organize a protest, he organized something individuals could afford. Even his NExt machine sold for $5000/- was more powerful than a $1,000,000/- we purchased at Saudi American Bank Riyadh. 

Some times this Promethean path hurts, we are stuck with something that was either created or evolved. Both male and female is not benefited? Things may be very different in the west, but here in India among Catholics, the church grows both in assets and population. Very clear illustration of 'values of the poor are the needs of the elite'. What do parents get.

If i have go back, i too wouldn't want children. "Your children are not your children, they are God's children," some one said. Strategies that systematically exploit instinctive behaviour is the basis of religion and also society. 

What they preach and demand as the most important value - LOVE is nothing but an addiction. That is what i feel.

These are painful realizations to me. Hope they gel together with our topic. 

Comment by Dr. Cowboy on October 12, 2011 at 11:15pm
To borrow from Dawkins, while I believe evolution is true, I don't think it's a good model for running societies. A quick study of chimpanzee society and bonobo society shows both influences on the human psyche. chimps are violently misogynistic, while bonobos are matriarchal societies. Male chips hunt down and conquer females and often mate with them against their will. bonobos like sex. consentual sex. lots of sex. heterosexual sex, homosexual sex, and every other combination you can imagine. Basically they're the hippies of the primate family (they make love not war). If we wanted to model our societies off of one or the other, I would choose the bonobos, but we're more closely related to chimps. That's not to say matriarchal societies are the way to go. My utopia would be a completely equal society where rulings are delivered without regard to one's gender. Then again, I'm a bit of a hippie myself, so there it is.
Comment by Herbert Philip Peters on October 12, 2011 at 12:04am

We still have to learn from evolutionary biology – how different are we from other animals? Society is the result of how it is organized by the ruling elite for the sake of easy governance.

By looking around in India, families are mainly women and children. Visit a graveyard and look at the ages. Men die early and women live longer. There are of course biological reasons.

Sorry for suggesting this, but I think that the present human societies have evolved from some kind of slavery that was similar to a dairy farm. 

I am 59 and separated since 8 years. There are plenty of women chasing me. But they all belong to either religion or a political party. Especially Christian churches grow by their women marrying non Christians and converting them. My great grand father was a Hindu and he married a catholic woman. So we are all born catholic. I am the only one who left Catholic church out of more than 400 of people who followed from them. I am looking for Ernst Burgess' 2nd type of family - companionship family not institutional family.
Comment by Dr. Cowboy on October 9, 2011 at 10:14pm
In some ways the current laws are stacked to favor women. Listen to country music long enough and this will become obvious ;) This is mainly because in the past the laws were absurdly stacked to favor men, and people tried to do something about it. In fairness, in many cases this would be a fair result, but in a minority of them (like mine) you get a case where the father is actually trying to protect the children but it looks more like he's just dumping his wife and wants the kids to avoid child support. It's impossible for the legal system to call everything right every time.

I would hazard a guess that in muslim countries the laws favor the men because Islam favors men (to put it mildly). The extreme opposite is not the better answer either though.
Comment by Herbert Philip Peters on October 8, 2011 at 9:07am
My interest is to know whether non Muslim societies give more privileges and protection to females and children. In poorer countries you find men past their midlife sleeping in the streets. In Muslim communities you don't usually find this happening. Nature of societies are different. Here in India, in marriage problems, all the laws are to protect the woman.
Comment by Dr. Cowboy on October 7, 2011 at 7:12pm
If you're asking why I lost my house, sometimes life just sucks. You deal with it and move on :)
Comment by Herbert Philip Peters on October 7, 2011 at 12:45pm
Just one question about 'Why you should have lost your house?'. Is there some law? There is a contrast with the Shariah (Islamic law).
Comment by Dr. Cowboy on October 1, 2011 at 1:12am

Wow, though one. I'll be honest, I'm not sure what to tell you. Here in the U.S. the population is 80% religious, and most of the other 20% lives on the coasts. I live in Kansas. I'll be blunt, I got lucky.

Well, somewhat.

Check out For years I thought I was the only atheist in this entire fucking state, but it turns out there's actually quite a few of us. We're just a severe minority. I don't know much about the social climate in India, but I would guess there's more atheist/agnostic women around than you think. It's possible there's a social group of atheists or skeptics near you.

I'm not sure how severe things were with your wife, but many people have mixed marriages and make it work too. Whether or not you could date a theist depends on a lot of factors though. In my case my wife was too bat-shit crazy fundamentalist and between the cult and her more recent indoctrination of my children, I'm just too damaged by religion to ever consider another theist.


Hope that helps.

Comment by Herbert Philip Peters on October 1, 2011 at 12:46am
Dear Dr Cowboy,
"Women folk around alpha males and call it religion". especially after mid life too many marriage problems. I too am living along. My wife is a devout Catholic and i tried to bring my children out of religious ways out of school - i traveled a lot with my four boys. The concept of deschooling is never heard of in India. Now, my children are getting good jobs at multinationals. That is a big story.
The problem i am facing is finding a woman without religion. Any suggestions?
One advantage in India is that Hindus are not so fanatic about religion - they might want to go the temple and prostrate. It is not organized hierarchically and don't priests like Christians who control families.
more some other time
Herbert Peters
Comment by Dr. Cowboy on September 30, 2011 at 5:41pm

What went wrong in my last marriage was my wife went insane. Even so it took me years of being the frog in the boiling water to say "gee, it's kinda hot in here". That's how tolerant I am. I don't consider that a good trait anymore.


I appreciate the advice, everybody. I'm going to put some of it to use. The difference in how sane the girl I'm dating is like stepping into a fresh air conditioned room after getting out of the boiling water. She's wonderful, and to me seems too good to be true.



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