Lessons from divorcees

Dana Adam Shapiro penned the divorcee manifesto.

The Dana Adam Shapiro of a few years ago would not have ordered a steak while out on a first date with a vegetarian. But after spending years interviewing divorcees for his new book “You Can Be Right or You Can Be Married” (on sale Sept. 4), the Shapiro who ordered the juicy slab of meat was a changed man.

“That was a very tangible effect of the book,” he admits. “So much of the dating process is theatrical. … You’re sort of auditioning, and when you’re doing so you’re not really being yourself. … The inevitability is that your real self is going to come through, so you better do it sooner rather than later.”

This is just one of the lessons the author took away in the writing of his book. He interviewed dozens of anonymous divorcees who offered unvarnished accounts of their own heartbreak. From there, he extracted a few near-universal truths that he offers to Metro readers:

1. Cheating happens because of complacency: “[Divorce happens when] people aren’t putting that effort in any more,” Shapiro observes. “That’s probably the worst thing you can do. You really do just have to re-earn it all the time.”

2. We often expect problems to solve themselves: “One woman said to me, ‘A man marries a woman hoping that she won’t change and a woman marries a man hoping he will change and he doesn’t,’” Shapiro says. “We bury a lot of the problems in the hopes that they’ll just get better.”

3. There is such a thing as compromising too much: “I think a lot of people try to be the ideal spouse, but sometimes it’s at their own expense,” he adds. “You wake up 10 years later thinking, ‘I’m not me anymore.’”


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