I didn’t date much as a teenager. I got married at 20 to my first (and only) serious boyfriend. I separated the weekend of our 23rd anniversary with the realization that I had spent my entire adult life as one-half of a married couple. Color me clueless because I didn’t know anything about dating! My teenage daughter, Sweetness, and her friends have more experience dating than I do. I had to learn to be single!
I’ve received a lot of advice about dating from my friends during the last two and a half years. Some of it I really appreciated. Some of it just made me want to scream!
- You’re just not ready yet.
- Don’t focus on finding someone; focus on getting yourself ready for him.
- The best way to find love is to stop looking.
- You’re just not ready yet. (Yeah, I know I listed this one twice, but I heard it A LOT!)
- If you want to find someone, you have to treat it like any other goal. Do the work!
- Men like women who aren’t really interested.
- The best way to appear to be busy is to actually be busy.
Once I did start dating, there was no balance in my dating life. I spent months at a time with no idea how to meet someone. So, I put my training to work and researched dating sites. I got matched! I went fishing! I consulted cupid! I read everything written by Patti Stanger, the millionaire matchmaker! I made a soul mate vision board! (I wish I were making this up for entertainment value, but sadly it’s all true.)
Dating sites have provided more entertainment than actual dates. I’ve run into people from my professional life, (like a dad from one of my Guardian ad Litem cases, who showed up at my office the next day to pay my bill, and the bailiff from the courthouse). I’ve run into people from my personal life (like the fella who was dating one of my friends – awkward!). I’ve been propositioned by men who looked old enough to be my Daddy, (who universally claimed they looked younger than their age…which is scary since they claimed to be 10 years younger than Daddy but looked 10 years older).
I’d go on a date, have a great time, and then be devastated when there wasn’t a second (or third) date. (Okay, so maybe the friends who suggested I wasn’t ready yet weren’t completely off base!) But, I’ve also had a few nice dinners with a few nice, funny men.
My limited dating experience last year taught me a few things. (Things Sweetness and her friends had figured out by their mid-teens, but what can I say? I’m a slow learner!)
- Every date doesn’t lead to a soul mate.
- Trying to make someone your soul mate never works.
- Each interaction teaches me something new, about myself, men and about the process of dating.
- The lesson learned is no less valuable if it ends up being just one date than if it ends up being someone I’d spend the rest of my life with.
My dating adventure started in fear. Fear that I would be alone forever. Fear that I was too old to find someone, that nobody would want me, that I’d never be intimate with anyone again. Fear sucks the fun out of life!
Twenty twelve is my year of balance. I’m working on finding balance in my dating life; putting myself out there more, redefining my expectations, and learning to laugh about it in the process! I’m learning to enjoy the benefits of being single, while still staying open to the possibility of finding someone to share my life with. I’m letting the fear slip away, and replacing it with peace and optimism.
I’m thankful for my friends who are happily married, because they give me hope. I’m equally thankful for my friends who are happily single, for the same reason.
Question: What’s the best (or worst) dating advice you ever got? Have you found your soul mate, or are you still looking?