I’m going to admit something to you that may sound a little odd, but…when do I not???
The main reason I started dating after my husband died was just to see if I could do it.
I mean, the last time I was “out there” was when I was a freshman in college. Don’t even get me started on the things that had changed since I had been swimming in the dating pool. Now I had to worry about whether or not my date would wonder why I had to take an extra 20 minutes in the bathroom (thank you, Spanx). I had to meet a date in a luxury minivan instead of a cute little beater of a car (although, I did once hear that guys like girls who drive vans. But I think the guy who told me that was envisioning shag carpet and a lava lamp. Not Cheerio crumbs and carseats that would take 2 hours to remove before the party could get started).
And Gravity and I had had a falling out a few years ago when I yelled at her for what she did to me after nursing 3 kids. She can be a real bitch sometimes.
At the time that I started dating, I wasn’t really thinking long-term. I wasn’t thinking that I wanted to get remarried. I wasn’t even thinking about a…let us say…less “shallow” relationship (remember…my mom reads these).
I just wanted to see if this old girl had it in her to get a free drink every once in awhile.
I had no goals when I first started dating, which I actually think was a huge mistake. I hear from a lot of people that they’re unsure of when to start, if they should start, or if they’ll ever start. And the best advice I can give you is…if you think you’d like to start dating…know what you want first and then test the waters. You need ask yourself if you’re looking for something deeper than happy hour…or if you’re more on the “shallow” end.
I did not do that.
I can envision myself now…like Dorothy walking through that scary forest trying to get to the Emerald City, I tip-toed into the world of dating seeking a good conversation and someone who would be at least willing to go dutch. Instead of the Tin Man and Scarecrow by her side, I only had lipstick and a prayer. And instead of meeting up with the Cowardly Lion, I ended up sitting across from a series of finance geeks who never tired of talking about how horrible their ex was/is.
The body hair was about right, though.
By the end of the first year, I was done. No…I mean D-U-N…DONE. Really…once you’ve exhausted the “ex” topic and they’ve asked you enough insensitive questions about your situation…what’s left to talk about? And why are you making me buy my own wine?
This is when I hit a very bitter patch. Why am I doing this???? I am supposed to be happily married, in bed by 9, listening to my husband snore. Not sitting across from some stranger over cheese fries wondering why in the hell anyone would buy a shirt that looks like that.
But, never the quitter, I decided I wouldn’t join the convent just yet. I would just slow down and take my time.
After that, I noticed a pattern that I seemed to develop. I would not date for about a month, get my bearings, and then go out on ONE date. That was good enough for me for about a month. Then I’d get my bearings and go out on another one.
Not only that, but I decided that I would stop dating what seemed like the same guy, over and over again. I would try something new. If I met someone who had a hobby or profession I knew nothing about, I would agree to a date. My hope was that then we wouldn’t be short on conversation.
I once told a friend of mine that I was doing this, and she replied, “Well, it’s nice that you’re now treating your dating life like trading cards. I don’t have one of those so I guess I’ll go out with him.”
I hate to say it…but she was just about right.
The good news is…I loved it. I really didn’t go on any of these dates expecting anything more than conversation about something new and different. I’d got out, meet new people, and usually have a good time. Not only that…it was a good way to steer clear of the landmines that are the “previous relationships.” This meant that there was less of a chance of someone saying to me, “You are soooo lucky you don’t have an ex to deal with!”
I guess what I’m suggesting is…if you’re thinking about venturing into the wide world of dating…don’t take it too seriously. Look at it as the potential to meet someone new. Suggest a restaurant that you’ve never been to before and that way, if it’s a total bust, you’ll at least have tried something different. And…if it’s completely horrible…you’ll walk away with a funny story to tell your friends (nothing entertains my married friends more than when I start off a story with, “You will not believe the guy I went out with the other night!”).
Not every date has to have you thinking, “Could he be the one??” In my opinion, if you get through dinner and ask for the dessert menu, you’re doing pretty good.
And before I wrap this up, there is one more helpful tip that I’d like to leave you with.
If at any point during the date, you start feeling sorry for the other person’s ex-spouse, just walk away. That’s never a good sign.