I was reluctant to write this article because dating is not my thing. As I’ve said countless times before dating is a dance that needs to be carefully orchestrated and choreographed depending upon the outcome you’re looking for. I guess at this point in my life I had to come to a realization that I am not emotionally ready or available to integrate anyone in my life for various reasons. Many of these reasons include the ages of my children, the businesses I’d like to start, a realignment of my life goals. I don’t avoid dating, I’m clear that I’m dating to have a break from the stresses of my life. I enjoy the experience and even with it’s ups and downs, I have found being older, wiser and more responsible has made the experience fun – an escape from the complexities and stresses of day to day life. A chance to interact with other adults and I’m not afraid to date so as I navigate the online dating world, I’m taking the steps to meet in person. It’s interesting to note I often get asked the question “How do you do it?”
I don’t understand that question but I’m guessing many women want to know how do I have the time and how do I stay so positive. I don’t have a strategy for dating but what I do have is a work in progress list of what I want to get out of the experience. My main goal for dating is to learn more about myself and to gauge my growth in the experience. Hopefully I have matured.
Why would I care about where I’ve been?
Simple, because I made some mistakes and while I don’t want to repeat them I also don’t want to miss out on a chance to truly engage and connect with someone. In most cases you gotta take the plunge and hope that you can swim back up for air. Do it or Drown! On a recent experience with the English Teacher I evaluated my reaction to his obvious dishonesty. Even though I had prayed that he could work out his issues (red flag #1), he voluntarily admitted that he could not. So of course I got “upset” but quickly got over it. Just because you can control your emotions, it doesn’t mean that you have to suppress them. True strength in character is being to express your emotions in a healthy manner. Expressing anger, sadness, joy, lust or a myriad of other emotions is ESSENTIAL for being able to connect on an emotional and intimate level with someone else. This is not drama, it’s real. Once the boundaries are clear, as I discussed in my Plaid for Women article about defensive strategies, you play by those rules – your own rules and their rules. It’s possible circumstances dictate the rules, not you.
Setting your Own Rules
I can’t reiterate the importance of assessing where you are now in life and then creating boundaries in your dating relationships. If you don’t want anything serious, express that to the other party. If you don’t get intimate on the first, third or seventh date and you want to stick to it then do so. There is no hard and fast rules or timelines for when to do things such as getting intimate, discussing the future of the relationship, introducing kids or family etc. Just know that the sooner you get physical before you get emotionally intimate, the harder it is to be able to connect and communicate towards supporting your emotional needs later. It’s also ok to change or assess your relationships periodically in case you changed your mind or you got more comfortable to get closer emotionally. Communication is key to that process. As I’ve gotten older, I set clear rules and act upon clear red flags. This has saved me a lot of heartache and grief in this process. Quit wasting yours and another person’s time.
Get over yourself
We are not perfect. Sometimes we have regrets and guilt about the decisions we made while dating. I know I have a temper, on many occasion a gentleman friend of mine has probably brought out that temper in ways that I am embarrassed about now. Get over it! We have all done it and stop punishing yourself for those things you can’t change. Also don’t play the martyr! Yes we have been through things but we should not hold ourselves hostage to events from the past. Also, I don’t set expectations on the other party. They cannot read your mind so don’t set up an expectation that they are unaware of.
So why is dating better now as a single parent?
I’ve grown up. I’ve gotten more established financially and I’ve gotten screwed over. All of these experiences have taught me a lot about what I truly want. The process of dating helps me to mature even more and integrate towards the possibility of becoming emotionally available and create the willingness to be emotionally vulnerable. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In the meantime I’m more authentic and relaxed. I had a conversation with a man I dated recently, I’ll call him Mr. Mystery. One of the things he described about me was how relaxed I was conversationally with him. I can attribute this to my newfound maturity and my honest expression about my true self. I don’t have to lie because I’m not trying to impress someone. All my fractures, scars as well as my character and strength are displayed in full glory. Mistakes and successes are open to all. This is who I am, you can take it or leave it – I have options. That’s why dating is better now . . . I truly believe that.