I never imagined that I would find myself in my mid-30’s, a single mother of 4, fully immersed in the dating world once again. While I was pretty certain that my marriage wasn’t ever going to last I never projected far enough into the future to see what it potentially might look like to be single again.
It’s an adventure, to say the least. I think I’ve learned more about myself over the last 2 ½ years than any other time period of my life. I guess one of my biggest “take-aways” from being single is that life is constantly offering us choices…”do you want this or do you want that?” I’ve finally figured out that just because something is in front of me doesn’t mean I have to pick it up and carry it around with me.
The way I see it, dating in the “second chance” world is like walking into Baskin-Robbins…”31 Flavors”…which one will you choose?
The cool thing about Baskin-Robbins is that you walk in, look at the many flavors before you and they actually let you sample the ice cream before you order it. You know those cute little pink spoons that have just enough on them for you to know if this is a flavor you might want to take a few more (or a lot more) bites of or not. Sometimes, when they put the ice cream on the spoon you know right away…”this one is NOT for me.”
The girl behind the counter hands you a little pink spoon with blue ice cream and some funky colored candy in it. Now, if you’re 6 this might appeal to you, but at 36 probably not so much.
Or perhaps the spoon includes something with NUTS and you’re allergic to nuts or you just don’t like ‘em so much. Or you’ve had them before and they leave you with a funny ich in your mouth afterwards. A simple “no thanks.”
This is like the coffee date where you walk into Starbucks, set eyes on the dude (or chick) and consider turning around and walking back out. These are what I call the “hell no” dates…the ones when he doesn’t even have to open his mouth and you know it’s a definitely no-go. This date is the pink spoon of bubble gum ice cream that I’d rather feed to my 5 year olds than put in my mouth. (or some strange blue stuff to my 8-year-old)
Now, let’s say you try the sample on the pink spoon and it’s kind of yummy but you’re still not sure if you want a full serving…possibly the kid size but you definitely know that you’re going to need a few more bites before you know that you like this flavor enough to order a cone full of it. This is the 3-date-wonder. I’ve learned that by the 3rd date (or encounter: be it by phone, in person, email, etc) you usually have a good idea if this is someone you’re interested in pursuing further…as in, do you want a full waffle cone full of this yummy goodness or is it really not so yummy after all? There are a LOT of these…and by a lot, I mean a
LOT. And in my experience, by the 3rd encounter they have met one, if not several, items on my DQ List (disqualified).
Alright, so let’s face it, by the time you are at or approaching mid-life, chances are the people in your dating pool are going to come with some kind of baggage as we’d like to hope they’ve done their fair share of living. That baggage could be kids (I don’t mean that with ANY negative connotation), scarred by an ex-spouse, ailing parents, chemical dependency, etc. We all have baggage…what are you willing to deal with? There are bags that I won’t touch with a 10-foot-pole. The bags that give me the “same church, different pew” vibe are the bags that I run from…as fast as I can! I find that I am personally more inclined to deal with a person whose baggage is in the form of people rather than unattractive behaviors. For instance, a man who comes along and asks me what I would be willing to change for him has just put himself on my DQ List giving way to the man who has 6 kids (okay, totally not ideal, but it wouldn’t be a deal breaker as would the man who wants me to change for him on our first coffee date.)
In 2 ½ years I’ve dated a lot. I’ve dated so much I could write a book about it. What I have learned is that each person that is in front of me is a choice. It’s like walking into Baskin-Robbins…”Julie, do you like this? Do you want more of this? Do you want to eat a jumbo bowl of this?” Yes please! Or No, Thank You!
I find myself saying “No, thank you” a lot these days. But the great thing about that is that I’m not settling. I’m choosing to be single because I am happier being ME than being with the wrong person and trying to be someone they want me to be.
I figure with every “Nope, that’s not him” signal I sent to the Universe I am one step closer to the one that IS “him.” And I am convinced that whoever is coming my way is one seriously amazing specimen of a man. After all, they say good things come to those who wait.