DATING AFTER DIVORCE
Claire’s character represents a middle aged divorced woman, who has taken to online dating to find a partner. Claire enjoys many activities, spending time with her children, and generally being an independent woman who knows what she wants. When handling this character, I wanted to look precisely at how age impacts dating online. For younger generations, online dating seems to be the default, I know many young adults who would never dream of approaching someone in person to ask them out on a date (and definitely not whilst they’re sober), thinking it might be weird, or come across in the wrong way. However, online dating only became popularised from 1988 onwards, with only 4% of Americans meeting their partners online between 1994-1998, scaling up to 23% between the years 2007 and 2009. This means that whilst Gen Zs (anyone born between 1996 and early to mid 2000s) and anyone younger have been socialised into online dating, those older might have never online dated, or move into it later in life, potentially after the separation from a long-term partner. In an article about online dating as a woman in her 40s, Remona Aly described her experience as “trawling hundreds of profiles that pass in a blur of torso selfies, confusing group photos and grinning men in their 50s holding out large fish (this choice of profile picture is one of the many mysteries of online dating). I don’t know whether to feel flattered or fatigued by the hundreds of swipe-rights on my profile.” It has been found that middle aged and older men on dating apps are less likely to be looking for women of a similar age, with “men in their 40s [likely] to want a partner in their 30s or 20s,” due to their “reproductive viability.” 49 year old Helen James, an author and single mother, stated that she has to “shoehorn dating in between mothering,” and instead of traditional dating, she had to move into online dating, creating “options” for herself, she now has three men that she meets every few months, instead of a single partner that she is committed to. As Claire is a divorced, I felt it important to understand more about what divorce looks like for middle aged women, and how it effects their relationships with both themselves and others. According to Midlife Divorce Recovery, the main feelings that arise from divorce are shame and guilt: “we feel ashamed and embarrassed and guilty, either that we married the wrong person, or that we couldn’t keep our family together, or that we stayed too long or that we just weren’t enough, and hundreds of others things we feel guilty about.” To work through divorce whilst being a single mother and to continue to look for connection is commendable, and I want Claire to represent this.– Issy Stephens, Director
SOUND COLLABORATOR STATEMENT
Claire advances towards the camera and supposedly switches it off… This was my interpretation that triggered the whole idea about an online conversation being interrupted by a burglary. It suggested variety of sounds that could make the sound design for this episode particularly vivid. I found one more element to consider though: the point of view of Claire’s camera. Is this a web camera? If Claire is talking with someone over an online platform, what would that person be able to hear? He probably wouldn’t be able to hear the burglars, but he might hear an alarm going off. Surely it would be a bit muffled though… These possible interpretations of a rather laconic animated scene resulted in the sound design of the Claire-episode. Important aspect of the work was how little the sound designers knew about the characters and the situations they are in. The aim, supposedly, was to provoke various interpretations, even if they are completely wrong in relation to Issy’s authorial intention. However, I believe her intention was to provoke unbiased creative response by the sound designers, based exclusively on their own understanding of the scene. In that sense, I would admit that the concept for the film, of which I was aware, served me as a tiny hint. As a film which more or less tackles online dating, it was inevitable to presume that Claire might be talking with someone via this camera. That basis gave me the necessary boost to think of what could happen in this situation. The rest was pure dramaturgy through sound. Since it was a matter of personal interpretation, I would share in conclusion that it would’ve been really interesting for me to see (oh wait – hear!) how the different sound designers would interpret one certain scene. However, Issy’s project is already quite exciting for involving so many sound designers in first place. It was a pleasure to be one of them.Alex Milchev, Sound Collaborator for Claire
- Disrupting the Divorce Experience. Defining Your Next Chapter. | Sadie Bjornstad | TEDxOakParkWomen – a TEDx Talk by Sadie Bjornstad, 2017.
In her TEDx talk, Sadie discusses her own experience with marriage and likening it to a bridge and the perfect life, but when things started to go wrong her world started crumbling and the word divorce sent her into intense feelings of failure and shame, unsure how to move forward from it. She dove into research and learning, figuring out what was important to her, finding people that shared those values and using them as an example of how to move forward, defining what looks like success for her. From her experiences, both personal and through coaching other divorcees, she finds herself constantly asking the question: ‘How can divorce get with the times?’ She puts forward ideas of communal homes, looking at housing that is built on our fundamental needs for community and social interaction, rather than the individualistic American Dream, stating the co-parenting was one of the best choices she made.Issy Stephens
I no longer equated the end of my marriage with failure. I had somewhere along the line made an unconscious decision to flip what I thought was a failure into an opportunity to create another perfect life.Sadie Bjornstad
- The Heartbreaking History of Divorce: Historian Amanda Foreman explores the other side of love and marriage – an article by Amanda Foreman for Smithsonian Magazine, 2014.
This article was really interesting as it covers the history of divorce from the 1500s forward, specialising in Henry VIII’s attempts to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, changing the landscape of religion and churches in doing so. It talks about how divorce or annulment needed to be proved through adultery or some other crime, however ‘over the years, women learned that brutality, rape, desertion and financial chicanery did not count.’ I wanted to include this article because I think it’s important to look at how divorce was created and who it was created for, and how we have carried this ideology into the 21st century.Issy Stephens
Multiple studies have shown that women bear the brunt of the social and economic burdens that come with divorce. The quickest route to poverty is to become a single mother. This is awful enough, but what I find so galling is that the right to divorce was meant to be a cornerstone of liberty for women. For centuries, divorce in the West was a male tool of control—a legislative chastity belt designed to ensure that a wife had one master, while a husband could enjoy many mistresses. It is as though, having denied women their cake for so long, the makers have no wish to see them enjoy it.Amanda Foreman
- Hope and heart-sinks: what it is really like to date online as a woman in your 40s – an article by Remona Aly for The Guardian, 2020.
In this article Remona Aly talks about her experience dating online as a 41 year old, as well as talking to other women about their encounters. It’s a witty and real article where she covers a lot of ground, looking at how women are redefining what single parent dating looks like, the ages of partners they choose, and how community for single women is so important.Issy Stephens
At this stage in my life, as opposed to in my 20s or 30s, I know myself better, I have a broader notion of happiness and I approach dating with a far more open mind than I did previously. Dating – either online or in real life – requires courage, resilience and willpower. Being yourself and opening yourself up to the universe, whatever it chooses to give back, is something I will continue to embrace.Remona Aly
- Infographic: A History of Love & Technology – an Infographic by POV, 2013.
I love an infographic. This one charts dating from the printing press to mobile apps, looking at how many people have met their life partners through different apps and years. It’s got some great facts and statistics, and enables us to see how the landscape of dating has changed over hundreds of years. It also has a list of resources at the bottom for more research.Issy Stephens