Back out there, first date

The first official try at dating was a bit of a disaster.  Fearful of dating sites, I thought I would start out with someone I’ve known a very long time.  A man who had kids the same ages as mine.  I had worked with his wife years ago, and they’d actually socialized at my house, but had divorced about 10 years ago.  I knew him … so no worries about his sanity.   Call him Fred.

So Fred had asked me out several times in the past year or so, and I’d always declined.  The invitations were to stop by his place for a drink, or hey, the kids will be home on the weekend, why don’t you come over and see them.  I never felt inclined to do so, simply because he wasn’t my type.  So, one night I’m out for dinner with a friend, and my friend says to me, “The next time someone asks – go.  Don’t over analyze, don’t think twice, just go with the flow.” Ironically, after we finished dinner and as I am heading home, I duck into the grocery store, and there he is – Fred.  And, as always he says – come over for a drink.  Just a quick one, before you head home.  I say yes.

Looking back I realize that my concern had always been that by going to his house I would lose all my power.  Just like when you get into a car as a passenger, you cede control to the driver.  I am, most assuredly, a control freak.  So, it was outside of my comfort zone, especially on a sort of informal first date, to spend it in a man’s home, and yet I made it through.

As I left his house a couple of hours later, Fred asked me if we could get together again, and I said sure.  It had been a pleasant evening, we had lots in common, why not?  By the time I got home I was plagued by guilt, filled with doubt and all the emotions associated with infidelity (at least I think that’s what it was).  Was it right, what would the kids think, what was I doing, what would Kevin think, what would my friends think, was I even ready?  The emotional churn was exhausting.  But at the end of it remained the ultimate and most important question: did I, do I, want to be alone for the rest of my life?  I knew and I know that I don’t.

So I resolved to give this a dating thing with Fred a try.  A day or so later he asked me out for the second time to a party set a couple of weeks away.  I accepted, totally unaware he was taking me to a family pre-Christmas party.  Who does that on a second date?

A Question or Two

It’s odd how few people feel comfortable asking the things they really want to ask.  It takes a brave person to do so.  I mean, how often have you been in conversation with someone and in the back of your mind you have a question you would so love to ask, but you know it would likely be overstepping the bounds of good taste, privacy, or appropriateness, and so the question goes unspoken.

Interestingly, last week I had a conversation with a woman who dropped the pretence and asked me some of those questions.  It caught me off guard, but nevertheless, I answered her as best I could.  By way of background, she is married, does have children, and whether her marriage is ideal or not, I don’t know – I don’t  know her well enough.  Maybe that’s why she could ask me those questions.

She asked, “What do you miss the most?”  I answered, “A number of things, intimacy will always be high on the list, but there are so many other things.  Having a warm body to snuggle into when I am cold, exchanging a knowing glance about someone or something absurd, the warmth and banter of debate and discussion, silent companionship, having a reason to rush home … so many things.”

She asked, “What do you find the hardest.”  I answered, “Simply adjusting.  Sounds like a cop out but it’s not.  The adjusting never seems to stop.  I had to adjust to living alone, to living on less, to looking after everything – and I still am.  It all takes effort, and it gets tiring having to work at things especially when you don’t have the energy or inclination to do it.  The hardest thing for me has been adjusting: physically, mentally, emotionally.”

She asked, “Don’t you find it less stressful only having to worry about yourself?”  I answered, “It’s not that simple. I still worry about my family and friends.  I especially worry about my family; because I have had such an intense loss, it feels like at any time someone else could be wrenched from my life.  That sense of grief is indescribable, and as close to unbearable as anything I’ve ever faced.  So I do still worry.  Is it less stressful being on my own?  Sure, in some ways.  I don’t have to factor in another person’s views, needs, feelings, calendar.  It’s just about me, so that’s easier for sure, but I don’t consider this a glamorous or desirable state, because I didn’t ever want to be here.”

She asked, “Would you ever join a dating site?”  I answered, “If you are asking –  have I joined one, then the answer is no.  And, for the future, I can’t see me joining one.  Right now I’m not looking for a relationship, and I have plenty to keep me busy.  I’ve heard so many stories, and from people I know, about the predators on those sites, chatting you up and then asking for cash.  It just isn’t worth it for me.  I know that there are some good, strong relationships that can come out of them and so they serve a purpose for some, but just not for me.”

She asked a few more questions but the conversation ended pretty soon after with me gently admonishing her.  “The grass isn’t always greener – just like the saying goes.  I bet your life is a little chaotic right now and by comparison mine looks pretty good.  But trust me, I’d give so very, very much to have that chaos back.  Don’t wish your time and love away.”

And I didn’t cry once through the whole conversation.