Dating Discoveries (December 16, 2011)

Clearly when I wrote this post on October 18th, I was a little premature in declaring myself “back” to the blogosphere. Trying to manage a full-time job, part-time position and a seat on a woman’s journalism board has wreaked a little havoc on the intervals and desire for pursuing personal writing projects. This is not a complaint. A year ago, I was an unemployed author wondering if I would ever be able to provide for myself. I have been blessed this year with a number of opportunities to do just that.

At the same time, finalizing a divorce and attempting to figure out my new, unanchored place in the world has borrowed a significant amount of emotional bandwidth. As all of us creative types can attest, writing is a physically and spiritually exhausting activity. If you come to the table drained already, your finished product will reflect it. With that disclaimer in mind, consider yourself warned. I am one rusty blogger.

Anyway, that accounts for my intermittent presence, but I am here today to talk about the life of the singleton. As strange as it sounds, at the age of 33, I am experiencing the world of casual dating for the first time. Historically, I have been what they call a serial monogamist. Since the age of 16, with only sporadic periods of solitude, I have been in one committed relationship after another. Until April of this year, I never lived alone.

The impact of facing the world without a reliable mate and someone to come home to has been jarring and uncomfortable in some ways, refreshing and enlightening in others. The bottom line is that by keeping myself aligned with another for most of my life, I failed in my due diligence to get to know Becky. For better or worse, I’m forcing the issue now. I’m going through a delayed adolescence at warp speed.

Since the middle of this past summer, I have been on some dates and experienced a couple of short term relationships. Some of these situations ended with unpleasant resolutions, but not one of them has been a wasted experience. Here are a few takeways thus far:

I am more traditional in my approach than I believed.

I am a capable, independent woman who enjoys her freedom but that doesn’t mean I don’t get all warm inside if a man inflates the tires of my bike, fixes my loose shower head (no, that is not a euphemism – get your minds out of the gutter) or opens doors for me. Initially, I took my attraction to these behaviors as an appalling sign of weakness. I have since come to recognize that after a lifetime spent putting my own needs last, there’s nothing wrong with indulging a little TLC.

If a man over 40 only communicates with you via text message and makes no effort to invite you over, or introduce you to his friends and family, something is probably rotten in Denmark.

At this point, a number of you are probably snorting at my naivete, but I have always been a late bloomer and in keeping with my personal history, I had to learn this one the hard way.

If a date embarrasses you in front of your friends or makes demeaning jokes without any attempt to apologize, run like hell.

Once again, I figured this one out through trial and error. People are traditionally at their best at the outset of a relationship and if you encounter this level of disrespect before you’ve opened the closet to have a look at the rest of the skeletons, there’s probably no need to do so.

A disappointing number of single men like you to be attractive OR smart, but certainly not both. And don’t dare have a past.

Ok, I confess: I am engaging in gross generalization here, but it’s my personal experience of recent months. I have been out with men who professed to be floored by my intelligence and wit, but balked at the idea of dating a woman who attracts physical attention from other quarters. It made them paranoid and insecure. At the same time, I have had dates who thought I was pretty but wished I would talk far less.

Without fail, the dudes with whom I have stepped out have had some objection or another to one or more of the following: a rough childhood that was certainly not my choice, my conversion of religion away from Christianity, a divorce, a career and life’s work that asks me to expose myself, an aversion to moving to the suburbs and having babies, the number of exes with whom I remain friends. Here’s a newsflash: I am 33. I am not a virgin, nor have I lived in a bubble. You thought it was cool that I was a writer until you realized that was a semi-public profession? Your problem buddy, not mine.

After a very recent breakup and with the approach of the New Year, I am taking a breather from dating. It is, in a word, exhausting. It certainly creates a lot of material for farce and melodrama, but I don’t have the wherewithal for the time being. I suppose for the moment, it’s gratifying enough to realize the opportunities will be there when I want them again.

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