Becoming unmarried once you have been married is a curious thing. There’s a parabolic pathway most of us walk that begins with an adrenaline-fueled commitment to living better and being better. This fervor is often short-lived and is followed by the sharp descent into the doldrums of divorce, in which you realize that while you may have disentangled yourself from one sticky mess, you’ve now landed yourself in another that — at times — feels worse. You have to tear and pull your way out from the bottom of this well, and no rope is thrown to you. It takes time, different quantities of it for each person, and a strong conviction from within to at least try to zip your pants when leaving the house. Once you are convincingly on the upswing, people begin to wonder if you might not just leave the house in search of extra large bags of Skittles or contraptions to organize your drawers.

People begin to wonder if you might want to date again.

The thing about being single as an adult who is considered too young to throw in the towel but too old to start over is that people want you to renew a relationship from your past. There’s a safety in retreating to the familiar arms of someone you’ve already relied on emotionally and to change high light bulbs. You are thought to have learned a thing or two about yourself, and surely this enlightenment can lead you back to right the relationships you bungled the first time around. You begin to hear things like, “I wonder if that lifeguard you dated in the summer between 10th and 11th grade is single?” and, “What was Facebook invented for if not to find out if Chris Woodward from Booker T. Washington Elementary School is available? And rich and handsome?”

You begin to wonder boldly about whether they could be single and no longer with braces and head lice. So you investigate, cooly typing names into search engines. You uncover photographic timelines of a life spent vacationing, and toasting at company happy hours, and experiencing male pattern baldness. No matter, though, because you, too, do not look like you did back then. And your boobs never really came in as Judy Blume promised.

So you make contact. You decide to send an email, a form of communication that likely didn’t even exist between the two of you before this moment, just to see whether your love story just needed a sequel. That first written overture is rife with peril, though. It’s imperative to strike the right tone and establish the correct intent. You need to reach out with an air of breezy indifference and smug contentedness, allaying any suspicions that you and your cats share Fancy Feast in front of old movies most nights of the week. I recommend the following statements to close the letter and assert your maturity and self-actualization:

I still fit in my college pants with a pair of Spanx and a bungee cord.

My therapist said he’d date me if it weren’t for the patient-doctor trust we’ve established.

No, I don’t listen to Toni Braxton and cry anymore… too much.

If you want to know more about my rich and blessed life, here’s a link to my blog…

A homeless man in an eye patch saw me holding my wrapped restaurant meal and told me I look like Angelina Jolie recently.

Sorry it took me 6 minutes to respond; I’m extremely busy with the demands of life and a startup jewelry business.

You may have been right about that anthropology major but I have 340 friends on Facebook and was made the honorary secretary of the PTA.

Just to clarify, I didn’t sleep with your older brother. And if that wasn’t a cloudy point for you, just forget I mentioned it.

Size 0 (the 1 is silent).

Your children look like they could use the good influence of someone who knows how to read.

At least one of us considered our yearbook sentiments to be vows.

Maybe my current boyfriend takes me on dates to the Chinese buffet where one of us dines free, but at least he takes me out in public.

Your girlfriend is pretty. If you’re into that sort of look.