Dating is perhaps the one area that I am most ill-equipped at (more of this later). I am a jumble of processing, speaking, feeling, reacting and facial expression that is hay-wired or prewired for disaster. So here I am in this new phase of my life full of hope and wonder, excited about opportunities for connecting with the men folk that find themselves in similar situations. Realizing I possess discernible physical and emotional features that come with age and experience, I still have much more to offer, and acquire. So how does a somewhat-to-extremely socially awkward individual break through? I have always struggled with the concept of permitting time and kindness to do this thoughtfully on my terms, and to just throw myself at any man that looks my way and shows the smallest interest and then hang on for dear life. Over the past couple of years I have happily removed my white knuckle grasp on a relationship of great strife. I am hoping to be able to coolly invite dating back onto my calendar soon. I don’t want to repeat mistakes. At this age that knuckle grasping is surely going to develop into arthritis-like symptoms.
Having never mastered playful flirting and dating with the opposite sex earlier in my brief dating career is a real problem. Having come up through this period pre-AIDs, if just by a month or two puts me in a real quandary. We were a great deal more open, easy-going, and experimental, I believe. Not every night, but generally speaking. The rules or complete lack of rules back then, were different. Things were a great deal looser. Flirting typically ended with the option to get physical, fast. I believe myself to be a bit more equipped in this realm. (Don’t we all?) This prior looseness might have interfered with the development of these much needed interpersonal skills needed for dating. Perhaps it is just my own experience that makes the rules that much more foreboding. Maybe the rules are self-imposed and imagined. I just can’t imagine how to get past my blank-faced-to-serious faced, which is really a deer-in-headlights-trauma-faced glance of terror. Such a turn off, and so uninviting, don’tcha think?
I live in an area that is extremely family centered. That makes sense, as a mother. It made even more sense as a wife with a husband and a few kids growing up. This makes it hard to find a date, however. Of course, I, and many others, believe that we live in this traditional family centric community and only a couple of us are divorced or divorcing, single, or in one way or another nontraditional and available. The fact is many, oh so many are more than likely in the nontraditional realm then we care to admit. I don’t really know why. If others could start admitting this, I would have an easier time determining my flight plan towards or away from the men folk that are out there. Could we get t-shirts or special hats? That would certainly make life a great deal easier for me. As it stands, I can’t seem to pick up my mail, go to the hardware store, go for a run or go to the grocery store without breaking into hives because one of the men I cross paths with might be a potential good time. I told you, I am a hay-wired dating or pre-dating disaster, and I wasn’t kidding.
This brings me to the subject of computer dating programs that are currently abundant. Earlier in this journey of singledom, which is still unfortunately, legally undetermined, but moving like molasses, slowly forward, a friend shared with me her secret to man folk magic. I tried to explain I don’t really have any much magic to offer, she wouldn’t hear of it. So I paid careful attention and made some attempts, at least from the comfort of my own home. I peaked. I looked a little closer. I created a profile and I even uploaded a picture with much prompting and a tall glass with ruby red contents. Much like my earlier dating experience, I froze after that. I have a few winks, a few interesteds, and a couple or 10 e-mails that have not been responded to. I have not paid to see the e-mails and I am uncertain that I want to commit. That sums up a bigger barrier for me. I don’t want to commit. I cannot yet imagine wanting to commit ever again. I don’t want to commit but I want to have fun. I don’t want to catch any STDs either, but I want to take some time to enjoy independence and single life. I am not sure why these things seem to be somewhat exclusive. Maybe it’s the on-line dating schema, maybe it’s men. Maybe it’s men attempting to impress women or tell them what they think they want to hear.
It seems like all of the men that I have looked at or been matched to want a wife, now, but yesterday wouldn’t have been a moment too soon. They don’t even pretend that they want to go slowly or find out for sure this time around. They seem to be stating in pretty clear terms they want a warm body, stat! They want a couch mate, bed made, house mate. They don’t want to waste time with anyone that is not dedicated to that end game. For me, this is the very last thing I want. I want to learn how to date, and have fun and enjoy time in between.
I think a newer computer dating system would be useful, at least for me. Something in between the amazingly bad college roommate filters that often end in fantasized death wishes and expedite college drop-outism and the current lack of mystique with comprehensive on-line dating filters. I would prefer a dating site that allowed for a bit more wild abandon. I am in no rush. I might need help renaming the sites, but these speak to what I want: How about, we didn’t do so well last time, let’s keep this light.com. Why are we in need of a perfect match so quickly.com? Maybe just, Iamnotinarush.com. Let’sJustDoTheGrooveThingWithIntegrityUntilIamReady-
ForMore.com. Maybe that’s what Craigslist is all about, but I'm not going there.
I get that we want to try to make it work with someone more compatible than the last go round, but the reality is, compatibility is not entirely fluid or easy to pin down. Self-awareness is a bit sketchy too. Outside factors and long ingrained habits play a fairly big part. I may understand the reasons I made prior choices and I can easily avoid those types, very easily in fact. I can’t be exactly certain how things will play out, knowing I have made a couple of way out there choices, I really need time and more experience before imagining for a moment my true love has simply escaped me. I also don't want to give up thinking my one true love ended up marrying someone else.
This reality that I am pretty sure I don’t make the best choices in love gets me wondering. A new strategy is in need. Every so often my eventual ex would buy me a dress that I would never have bought for myself, and it would work. It would work really well in fact. So do I throw myself into the “I would never date anyone like that” group and see what happens? It might help alleviate the hives or it might provoke a deadly outburst. God knows, the “I am attracted to a, b, and c” has not worked. Of course the a, b, and c, that I am attracted to was presented to me in spades, but lacked truth. I might still be attracted to earlier conceived attributes if they are valid and honored. How do we tease out this reality?
This is how some of the men folk are handling it: They want someone 3 foot tall 2 inches tall to 8 foot tall. (A dear, snarky friend of mine can’t help imagining the benefits to men when considering eye, or candidly speaking, mouth level of a 3 foot woman) They want someone athletically toned, average, slender a few extra pounds to the morbidly obese. I am not sure if that is expected in one woman, although I have seen a few extra large women, with chicken-stick legs, large breasts, average sized wrists, and fearful looking biceps. These men are interested in someone that never smokes, occasionally, and is in the process of quitting. A moderate drinker, socially, or never. So when they are out on a date they drink, moderately; at home with your kids, never; with their probation officer, they are trying to quit; with their friends they are all out addicted and proud of it. It could happen. The men that I have glanced at enjoy going to museums, traveling, cooking romantic dinners, camping, they play 14 sports well, and like to go to dance clubs. They are spiritual but not religious, they like plays or opera and NASCAR, they only speak English but want to learn more languages. I must say none of them profess to like shopping, so perhaps there is a level of honesty that does exist in these profiles. It seems to me they are in want of someone, anyone. Maybe, like me, they just want to avoid the initial outbreak of hives. And dating is often spoken of with dread, like those middle school years.
After my own initial outbreak of hives, I am a lot of fun, at times. I can be adventurous and I also like to snuggle at home, sometimes. Don’t expect me to be at home all the time. I won’t be out carousing or cheating, so relax, I am extremely trustworthy. I like toxic-neon-colored petit fours, Delmonico Steak and organic mixed greens with artisanal cheeses with equal measure. I have more than a couple quirky interests and desires, all of which have the potential to be charming to some very lucky, non-clingy, big, strong* man that does not expect me to be by his side at every moment. I like to bake and cook sometimes. I am a nurturing, maternally inclined being, and I have raised my children very nicely thank you very much. (My maternal instincts only work with children.) This guy I am curious about running into, enjoys the wild thing, in a discreet and respectful capacity. He might like wilderness camping, or he might need to have the comforts of home and indoor plumbing within close proximity, no worries. He is passionate about life and thankful for that grand opportunity called living. He will be able to maintain and enjoy his interests and allow me the same. In time we might decide to share each other’s passions, but we are both unwilling to give them up to please the other at our expense. But that’s not what I need right now. I just want a date now and again.
So the on-line thing might need to wait. I am heading back to school for another degree in the near future. I am heading to Gotham for a writing and publishing course. If you are a big, strong* man and you see me and I look puzzled or nauseous, just let me know if you are interested in dating or not. Cut to the chase and cut me some slack on cortisone creams and Benadryl for those hives. My snarky friend has suggested I join a gym. She is either twisted or supportive, or both. She believes the physical workouts will help me gain confidence and feel better. I might run into a man. More likely, I will fall on top of, drop a weight on, and badly injure a man, or myself. Physical routines and work outs in front of others has to be a strong contender for the area I am most ill-equipped at. Oh, and line dancing, not good. But boy can I find fossils! And fix things. I am pretty good at electrical wiring too. I make pie to die for. A few more workouts and I might qualify for athletically toned, at this point I am somewhere between slender, average and working towards athletically toned. After an especially large piece of pie, I might be temporarily in the few extra pounds range. Once I stop worrying about how to relax and speak, I can be quite funny, and my eyes are deep and twinkling. I am working on my t-shirt and hat, look for me soon, I'm the one at the gym with hives and two left feet, but oh so cute!
*big and strong may be used to describe my mystery date’s heart, eyes, spiritedness, arms and thighs, overall physique, personality-um maybe, and/or career. Any combination of such might be carefully considered.