I have dated and become friends with many divorced men over the years, and I think I have a pretty good idea of some characteristics that a lot of them have. Now, a new play is taking viewers inside the minds of divorced men. “Boys in the Basement” is an Evanston play that was written by John N. Frank, who of course, has gone through a divorce. In this week’s Love Essentially, published yesterday in Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press, I write about my interview with Frank, that includes what he hopes men and women will get out of his new production.
Evanston Play Offers Insight Into The Divorced Man by Jackie Pilossoph
Although it has been 22 years, John N. Frank still remembers how painful his divorce was.
“There’s a sense of failure, and ‘How do I ever come back from this?’” said Frank, a father of two who had been married for 16 years before he got divorced. “Everyone you know stops talking to you, married people distance themselves, and I felt invisible and rejected and lonely.”
Driven by the need to help other men and women facing divorce, Frank is telling his story in his new Evanston play, “Boys In The Basement,” which opened Friday, Nov. 6.
I recently talked with Frank, a former business journalist turned playwright who remarried in 2007 about the “dramedy,” in which he is also playing a major role and co-producing.
What is “Boys In The Basement” about?
It takes place in a suburban apartment building where mostly divorced guys live, and there’s a group that gets together at night in a storage room in the basement to drink and talk. Into the group comes this newly separated guy and he is in denial, saying this is just temporary. He doesn’t know how to cope with the fact that his marriage is really over.”
In your opinion, what are some characteristics of divorced men?
The divorced man is in denial and he doesn’t want to talk about it. He feels rejected and is trying to figure out how he is still a man. Often times, he is angry. Divorced men are also struggling mightily with how to be a father when they don’t see their kids as much.
How do men cope with divorce differently than women?
Men banter and women talk about feelings. Men shut down. We have been trained all of our lives not to show emotion and not to cry. Men are pretty simple. They think, ‘I’ve been rejected and I need to prove I’m a man.’ They might do that by drinking heavily, turning to casual sex, or coping in other unhealthy ways.”
What advice do you have for men going though divorce?
There is hope and you can rebuild your life and find happiness again. You do that by not pushing so hard. I went through a frenzy of dating for two years straight and it was fun, but I realized I had to get used to being alone and just being me. You have to be comfortable with who you are and gain the courage to open yourself up again to someone. Therapy helped me.
Frank said he hopes the play – through humor and heartfelt dialogue – will give men hope, and help them realize they can get through it. He also said he thinks “Boys In The Basement” will help women understand the mindset of a divorced man.
Funny he brought that up. I have been divorced for eight years and have met, dated or become friends with many divorced men. While every person is unique, I have my own take on most of the divorced men I’ve met through the years.
I think many are fragile and scared for a long time. They want to be loved, but not smothered, creating a fine line when it comes to the affection they crave. Divorced men almost have a look of being tired – tired of fighting with their ex, missing their children, going through the divorce process and stressing about finances. That is why they don’t want confrontation or any added anxiety producing stress, and quickly end relationships that remotely cause these things. For example, I know a divorced man who just ended a relationship because he said the woman “picks a fight with me every two weeks.”
Newly separated men tend to date a lot of different women, but I will say this. Click here to read the rest of the article, published yesterday in Chicago Tribune Media Group.