We live in a culture preoccupied with romance. You’d be hard pressed to find a recent pop song that doesn’t deal with a satisfying relationship, a failed relationship or even a potential relationship. Most movies have some kind of love angle. Millions of Americans are involved in thousands of online dating services. Much of this attention is targeted toward a younger demographic, those in their early 20s and 30s looking to find the right person and start a life together.
But what’s a person to do when the life they’ve spent so many years building, ends? How does the recently divorced or widowed parent reenter the dating scene, something that has probably changed drastically since they first got married?
When marketing representative and Agua Dulce resident Stephen Hemmert separated from his wife of 16 years, he experienced exactly this. What started as a personal memoir of his relationship failures and triumphs has since become Dating and the 50-Year-Old Man, a book he hopes will help other singles like him navigate the world of dating.
Hemmert’s story started like so many others. He met his wife while pursuing a music career in Los Angeles. They married and had two children.
“I was the average guy,” he recalled.
After the divorce, Hemmert was involved in another five-year relationship, until that, too, ended. His memoir chronicles the four or five years following. They started merely as a way for him to express his feelings.
“We human beings have to be able to process the things we go through, whether it’s writing them down, speaking them, putting them in a song, or whatever,” he said. “We have to process this somehow or we become angry, we become frustrated or we become depressed, hurt by virtue of things not working out the way we anticipated they would. My choice was to write these things down.”
The idea for a book didn’t occur to him until a playwright friend read the memoirs and realized their relevance.
Hemmert remembers her saying, “You’ve got to do a book about this, because this is so poignant. It is happening to everyone. The dating scene is a nightmare.”
While the book deals with a very popular topic, Hemmert would be the first to tell you that it doesn’t give any formula for finding love or three steps to a pain-free relationship. What he does encourage people to do is keep an open mind and follow their instincts rather than over-thinking and missing opportunities. He believes that this can be especially hard for the middle-aged, divorced community.
“Most of us have been through a divorce or raised kids on our own—had traumatic things happen to us, …sometimes being jaded, sometimes being overly choosy about what we’re willing to tolerate or not tolerate or accept, and that puts us in a bad spot, because we’ve become so jaded or so acclimated to wanting everything to be perfect, that we actually shut ourselves off from finding the right person.”
Dating and the 50-Year-Old Man deals with the ins and outs of online dating as well as meeting in person. Both can be tricky, Hemmert believes, because people often put up a façade.
“Ultimately if you’re dating for a little while, the mask has to come off,” Hemmert said.
Hemmert believes the book is especially relevant to the local community, because many of the events he records take place in the Santa Clarita Valley.
He has also noticed that “Santa Clarita is… a very family-oriented and a very family-driven community with a lot of divorced and single people out here. I know there are a lot of people who are going through what I went through.”
And despite what he has been through, Hemmert remains hopeful: “It might be [I’ll] meet someone whom I’m desperately and incredibly in love with and in love with me and we do get married. That would be a wonderful scenario. But the jury’s still out on that at this moment.”
Dating and the 50-Year-Old Man is available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle editions. Click here to order.