my dating story

Earlier today, The Plankton was lovely enough to post a little something I’d written about my recent relationship and break-up. I was surprised at some of the commentary it received, and reading some of those comments really made me think about the entire dating experience:

Months ago, actually about a year ago, I started dating. I think I thought I was looking for something special. I think I thought I’d be ready for something special if it came along. I think I thought I’d end up going on three or four dates with a few different blokes before deciding to share more time with a single one among them. I think I thought I’d have some varied experiences against which to measure a man. I think I thought it would all begin a little more slowly. I think I thought it would take time to meet someone special.

So no one was more surprised than me when a gentleman asked for an exclusive arrangement early in our dating relationship. And it turned out he was pretty darned great!

Looking back, I’m a bit surprised how quickly a few weeks became a few months and then suddenly it was six months. And, looking back, I had no idea how difficult it would be to keep my life in balance with children and other obligations, especially starting a new job. And he, too, started a new job and, rightfully, wanted a supportive girlfriend…which I was sometimes available to be.

From what others tell me, six months seems to be a new magical number in adult dating, one I hadn’t realized before. That’s apparently when things “get serious” or don’t. And, life being what it is, I realized that I’m just not ready for a serious relationship right at this moment. Even with a great guy. I haven’t really dated or had any other relationships since my (obviously) unsuccessful marriage.

I’m not sure I was mentally or emotionally prepared to fully embrace the possibility that the very first person I really dated since my divorce could be the person with whom I’d want to spend the rest of my life.

My failed relationship lasted, give or take, a dozen years. And, despite the ambivalence I feel about having a serious relationship right this minute, I do genuinely desire partnership and hope to find the mate with whom I’ll spend the rest of my life. Given my family’s genetic make-up, that could easily mean spending more than forty years with someone. So I’d like to consider carefully, take my time, and be healed and whole enough to make a better choice than I made last time around.

I think I could have gone on dating and enjoying and being with a man — this particular man — for much, much longer, in a sort of dating status quo. If he’d asked, “Do you want to stay together? Do you want to continue to spend time with me?” my answer was simple: “Yeah, for sure. You’re wonderful. Why wouldn’t I?”

But he was looking for a different answer to a different question. He wanted to know: “Woman, are you as crazy about me as I am about you?” And he was looking for a resounding “YES!”

I still believe it’s possible that my “Yeah” would have grown into a “YES!” over time. I didn’t need the knock-kneed, butterflies-in-the-stomach feelings of infatuation to care deeply for and share physical excitement with this man. I wasn’t seeking perfection. I was willing to take time to allow my feelings to grow and blossom naturally.

In the end, he thought I’d had enough time to know. My having been honest about how I felt, he chose to venture back out there in search of that woman who is absolutely, positively crazy about him. And I can’t say that I blame him…because who among us doesn’t want that?

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