According to research by matchmaking service ThePicnicProject.com, more than half a million women would rather date a mature divorced man than someone younger than them…and 30,000 single Aussie women are actively seeking men with a failed marriage behind them.
Qualities that make divorcees more eligible in the eyes of a Puma include greater relationship experience, the likelihood they will be more sensitive to their partner’s needs, and that they have demonstrated serious commitment in the past. Sceptics would argue a Pumas’ outlook is more one of hope over experience, as while these men have proved their willingness to walk up the aisle, they have failed to make marriages work and often come with a lot of baggage.
Whatever the reason, Kate Slogget, founder of The Picnic Project, an elite dating agency which charges members upwards of $5,000 a year, agrees demand for men with relationship experience is higher than ever.
She says: ‘Being divorced no longer carries the stigma it did in previous years. In fact we’ve noticed more and more female members telling us they want a man with experience, be it a divorced man or someone older.’
High-profile Pumas include Brian Ferry’s second wife Amanda Sheppard, who, at 29, is 36 years his junior, and Paul McCartney’s third wife Nancy Shevell, who is 51 —17 years younger than the former Beatle. Sabine has never been happier in a relationship and hopes she and Steve — who has a 21-year-old son from his first marriage and a two-year-old boy from his third — will one day marry and have children of their own.
‘As a divorcee, it’s easy to see how things should have been done differently,’ he says. ‘The best way to learn is through experience, and if you’re still in the market for finding love again, you’re likely to work harder next time around.’
According to Denise Knowles, a relationship counsellor with Relate, divorcees are often more open to settling down than those who have never been in committed relationships, which may be what increases their appeal to women when their biological clocks start ticking. ‘And if you’ve been married, you know how good it feels to be someone’s special person — even if it didn’t last — and are likely to want to experience that again,’ she says.
‘Going through a divorce leaves men with a clearer idea of what they do and don’t want from a relationship and may make them more willing to talk about it, which can be appealing on a date. However, women need to be prepared for the fact that dating a divorcee, especially if there are children involved, can be complex.’
Sometimes, a man only becomes a real man when he’s a father and has been through a bit of heartache, such as divorce.
Dr Alistair Ross, a chartered psychologist specialising in inter-personal relationships at London’s King’s College, says that some divorcees can be more wary of committing than those who have never married.
‘Divorce can take some getting over but most remain optimistic about a happy future with someone else,’ says Dr Ross. ‘And with divorce rates rising, women looking to settle down with partners in their 30s and beyond are having to consider divorcees because there are many more of them about. On the plus side these men already understand what it is to set up home and have joint bank accounts, whereas there are many men in their 30’s nowadays who have never known responsibility. To a woman thinking of settling down and maybe having kids, a divorcee might seem like a better bet.’
Relate’s Denise Knowles says divorced men are only a good bet if they have carefully considered the reasons their marriages failed. ‘Better still are those divorcees who have worked out ways in which they might have avoided the divorce courts,’ says Knowles. ‘They’re the ones who can really bring experience to a new relationship.’
by Susan Floyd