Jumping into dating right after a divorce is like jumping on a ship and shooting a hole in the bottom of it. Not a good idea and you’ll take down whoever is along for the ride. I know this because… I did it. Phew, dirty secret #1001 is now out there. Although I talk a lot about online dating and the weirdness that is out there, I also want to be transparent about my role. To be blunt, my first foray into the dating world was a mess and I was to blame for a lot of it.
In all fairness, I thought I was ready to date, but I wasn’t ready at all! I was a big hot mess of a divorcee with no dating experience and a luggage rack full of emotional baggage. I thought I wanted a relationship, when all I wanted was not to be alone. If you’re not sure which one you are….that’s a huge clue. For me, I wasn’t used to sleeping alone, being alone or even understanding what being single looked like in my 40’s. True confession– I had been in relationships since I was 16 years old and had rarely ever been single/alone. I was scared of being alone and feeling all the feelings that were popping up like Jiffy Popcorn. Yet, what I needed was just that – to be alone. Then you add in being in my 40’s, a single mom and this new thing called online dating = HOTmess! I was dragging my proverbial baggage along like old luggage without wheels!
Let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with dating and figuring out what you want. That is by definition what healthy dating is really all about. Taking the time to go out, meet someone and analyze intellectually if that person is a good fit for you. In fact, I believe that both parties should be doing this. My issue was me. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was feeling lost, scared, lonely and sad. I was mourning the death of my relationship and the dreams that went along with it. I was now the only adult in the house and the responsibilities felt huge. I was wounded, but needed to appear to have my ‘stuff’ together for my daughter. I had also just been diagnosed with melanoma (cancer) and was navigating surgeries with my parenting schedule, so that my daughter wouldn’t find out. I had no business dating!
I think we can agree at this point that I didn’t do the divorce, post-divorce and dating thing well. In fact, I think I probably caused a lot of my own stumbling and heartache. Yes, I went out with some weirdos (face licker, lotion in a basket guy, criminal on the run…) but I think know that had I been in a better place I wouldn’t have chosen/attracted them. What’s the Maya Angelou saying, “When you know better, you do better.” That’s most of us, isn’t it? It’s also true for dating – you learn, change and start to get it. You realize your role in the dating fiascoes and vow to do things differently. I’ll tell you right now that this time around I recognize the duds and odd ducks easier. I also will admit that I’ve gone on fewer dates, but they’ve been better quality dates. Still some duds, but no one licking my face so I feel like that’s a win.