Dating?

As I start my year of hope, I am also considering the dating scene.  It is daunting at best.  I spent my entire adult life married.  The last time I was single, there were no cell phones, home computers, online dating sites, or even an answering machine at my house.  It was a simpler time.  People met and talked.  If they liked each other, the man asked the woman out.  The women would worry and fret until the man did ask them out. It was that simple.  It isn’t any more.

First, at 52, what do I know about dating?  All of the flirting skills I once had are long gone.  I do not even notice it when people pay attention to me.  for 25 years, I lived for the way my Phil’s eyes lit up when I walked into a room–and they did even after all of those years.  Phil used to joke that I had blinders on.  I would be at the gym or in a swim suit, people would be checking me out, and there I would be eyes straight ahead and totally into my working out.  In the military world, I am old.  I work with young people who my children’s ages or younger.  At 52, not only am I considered old, I feel old in terms of life experiences.

While I have had to deal with the horror of traumatic death, planning a funeral, and walking my grief path publicly, I am ill prepared to date.  Since my network is very provincial because my friends are all married for the most part, I signed up for an online dating site.  After seven months, I am still too afraid to meet anyone.  I feel like the men wait for the women to do all of the pursuing and work and the women tend to be very forward.  My style is to wait for the old fashioned custom of the man asking a woman out first.  I do not contact men first, nor am I a chaser.  I am not content to spend months e-mailing.

The next issue is that I feel like the online dating contributes to men looking for the next best thing.  I hate feeling like I am part of the meat market in terms of stacking and racking based on looks.  I am further scared off because the scammers find anyone who will respond and I am not looking for someone who wants a sugar mamma or who needs to be saved.  I just want to be better with someone than apart.  I am athletic, educated, live clean, walk in faith, and I will always be involved in military loss, yet sometimes I wonder if I am looked at as broken or undesireable because  of a life I never thought would be my life.

I know that part of dating is putting my heart out there again.  Risking my heart breaking in another way other than death is terrifying.  I have watched my other widower friends.  We all know how short life can be.  There is a certain transparency and vulnerability in all of us.  We know exactly how short life can be and we leap into living because there can be no other response.  Part of that living life and wanting to love well again often leads to us giving relationships too much validity.  We overlook behaviors and tend to jump in too quickly.  We assume that because we are loving well that the other person feels the same way.  When our investments are not equal and the relationship ends, that loss breaks us more than we would have been broken in our younger days.  Does it mean that I will not put myself out there?

I can’t stop living.  The last face to face conversation I had with Phil before he deployed was the what if talk.  I wanted nothing to do with it.  I made jokes about Raul the Pool Boy.  I do not know any Raul’s and I do not have a pool.  Phil got exasperated and asked me one simple question that stops me still, “Linda, would you want me to be happy again if you died first?”  Well, yes, yes I would.  He drew me in his arms, kissed me, and said, “That is what I want for you.”  He then dressed, got into the cab, and drove off as I watched from the balcony.  Half way up the road, the cab stopped and Phil came sprinting back.  I thought that he had forgotten something.  I opened the door and he kissed me one last time.  I laughed as he said, “A year is not that long.  I will be home.”

A year isn’t that long, but forever is.  I am who I am because I was loved well for what would have been 25 years.  I loved well and we were better together than apart.  I want that again, but I have no idea where to start.  As I leap into 2014 and my year of hope, I am taking steps to find out who I am without my Phil, where I want to live, what I want to do, and I am going to take steps to open my heart to a chapter two.

 

Comments

  1. Dating is certainly a daunting opponent now a days. I find myself constantly confused and lost as i try and make my way through the maze hoping to one day reach the end and find love. What i always grew up believing and expecting was that women wanted exactly what you explained above. But somewhere along the line between your generation and mine that all changed. In highschool i tried to be the nice guy who would ask girls out on proper dates. The responses i received ranged from “ew”, “get real” and “that’s too forward, no”. Girls now a days don’t like straight forwardly asking for a date or heaven forbid romantic gestures such as flowers on the first date. They prefer to stay casual for as long as possible.
    I learned this in college. Instead of going on a date, they would prefer to “hang out”. This allows them to find the next best thing quicker, because they can “hang out” with multiple guys in a single day and see which match is the best. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t allow feelings to form, there is no intimacy. For me i prefer the date to be something that you are both anxious for, something where you are doing your best to impress the other person and show them your best side. I dislike the current dating scene because this intimacy is lost. I also dislike the dating scene because it is too easy to cheat. Guys can “hang out” with a girl and spend the entire date flirting. If he is good at flirting this easily makes the girl like that guy more than the other guys she is “hanging out” with. The problem with this though is that flirting is not communication. The guy wins the girl in the short term but is unable to maintain it. Essentially preventing each of them from finding someone who they are truly compatible with.
    As a result I have reached the point where i am sick of the dating scene. At first i started off sucking at it, then i picked up the secret that you have to ask a girl to “hang out”, and if you flirt your ass off and make her feel good then you win and she will “hang out” with you again. Unfortunately you can only flirt for so long before actual conversation has to enter in somewhere. When it does one of three things happens: You are compatible and it works out (very rare), you both struggle through this communication supplementing it with physicality and more flirting until you both realize it just isn’t working, or some other guy the girl is “hanging out” with is flirting with her and its newer so it’s more attractive and she stops “hanging out” with you.
    By no means is the fault all on the girls side of things. The exact same process is repeated by most men in the dating field as well. I have no idea when dating changed from the way the movies and all my grandparents and parents stories depicted it as to what it is now. But i will say that i am not a fan. The few good women there are in this world are deceived by this dating process into ending up with a foul man and in the process end up getting hurt when he leaves them for a more interesting girl. Thus damaging the few good girls there are and causing them to turn cynical. The same goes for the good guys out there. I am by no means the same caring man i was when i entered the dating scene. I used to try. Brought flowers on my first date, got laughed at. Tried to do some sweet gesture to show my affecting like bringing coffee to the girl before her morning class and get labeled as desperate/creepy because we are only “hanging out”. As a result i no longer do any of these things, because it shows too much commitment, and that is apparently a scary thing for this generation. This then conditions those good guys to not show affection for fear of rejection, just as the girls are conditioned the same way. Affection now a days is considered a red flag, it means you are desperate, and this really shouldn’t be the case but it is. It makes me sick.
    I have no clue how helpful any of this is in understanding, at least my generations dating scene, but these have been my experiences thus far. Take or discard what you will, i can only hope that it will be of some use.

  2. Andrew, the right girl will love it. I am still stuck there, but dating shouldn’t be stupid games or bad manners. When a friend brings me coffee, that is a good friend. When a date brings me flowers, then that would be worth me opening my heart more because it shows thought, effort , and investment into me. A relationship should be the mutual investment into the relationship. Keeping one foot out of the door will never work for me. While I realize that most dates will only be dates and that they will not result in the long term, I am not going to date more than one person at a time nor am I going to sleep around. Hang in there and know I am hoping for you!

  3. In rereading this and knowing our shared experiences (even when years and miles apart), I am just so Blessed to have seen you, Phil, and the all five children blending into such and amazing family with such love, appreciation, and spunk. My few interactions with Phil were always so positive, and I knew you were happy in the chaos that is family. In so many ways, I would love to sit with you and I back in those days and share a cup of tea, or coffee with those young moms. I wish we could have known that we should love each other better Linda. I do know this, I loved that you enticed to me to try Water Aerobics (more fun than aerobics in a gym!), and that is how you loved on me. Some of my most vivid memories of New Mexico are being in the great outdoors, in the pool with like minded women (and a couple brave men), viewing AF fighter planes above and mountains on the vista, while we worked out in the pool beneath a blue sky. You have always been an inspiration in my life. I am glad that technology, time, and our journeys keep us connected.

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