So it’s Monday, yet again. As we all know Mondays can either make or break a week. Well this week I decided I wasn’t going to let anything mess up my positive flow of having a great week. We all know how much of a damper it is when Monday morning the alarm goes off and you have to get back to reality. Well I’m here to send a little humor your way and if nothing more give us ladies a reason to walk with an extra pep in our step. I know we can all relate to this humor on some level…so, you’re welcome.
You should always have hope. Yes, it’s really that simple. Just kidding! I fooled you didn’t I? I mean seriously I don’t care how optimistic you are in life there comes a point in time when that hope just flies right out the window. I’ve always thought of myself as a glass half full type of girl but in the world of dating I often feel as if I may be looking at the wrong portion of that glass. Take my most recent escapade for example (yes I am using the word escapade). I went on a date with a guy from the online dating site I am a member of. He contacted me first (I feel like that may matter at some point) and we exchanged messages for a few weeks before taking it to the next step of texting. He stressed right from the get go that he was a busy guy, working two very time consuming jobs. I took it for what it was never considering how busy one could really be or say to be. We planned to meet for dinner that following Friday night, a few days after we had begun texting. He met me much more than halfway (good) and we had a GREAT time right from the start. He was charming, interested in what I had to say, asked questions about my job, family, etc. The conversation never once had a lull. It was as if we had been long time friends just catching up on life. He paid for dinner (good) and walked me to my car (also good). He was very polite and thanked me for joining him and gave me a hug before we parted ways. I was on a cloud (mind you this was prior to me not attaching those expectations I talked about in yesterday’s post) and I couldn’t wait to hear from him. So, that night I received a text when he got home to tell me he had made it safely. We texted briefly and he invited me over to watch football with a few of his friends that Sunday. I was still on a cloud and now never coming down. I couldn’t wait.
Sunday came and I made the trek to his house and spent the afternoon and evening with him and his friends, and their wives/girlfriends, watching football. After they all had left he and I spent the rest of the evening eating pizza, talking and really enjoying each other’s company. The night eventually came to an end and I made the trek back home, not first without a good night kiss (yay!). I was officially in the second date success zone. I knew for sure there would be a third.
I was right, obviously! Of course, not without over a week of not hearing from him first. When I finally heard from him he told me how busy he was with work and traveling and what not but he really wanted to get together again so I agreed. I mean why wouldn’t I? I was still stuck on that damn cloud. The next Friday (two weeks shy of date one and two) we met for dinner. I got stuck in traffic so I was late (oops). When I finally made it to the restaurant he greeted me with a big smile and a hug. Immediately we chatted about our weeks and never stopped talking for a minute. The waitress even had to come over four times before we were ready to order. He apologized and stressed again how busy he had been and would be for the rest of January but would have some more freedom the following month (whatever that meant). He then proceeded to tell me he had worked an overnight at the hospital and hadn’t slept in over twenty four hours! I couldn’t believe he hadn’t cancelled our date. He mentioned he was eager to see me though so that’s why he didn’t tell me. So, after dinner I wasn’t at all (okay maybe a little) bummed we had to end the night early so he could get some sleep. He walked me to my car and hugged me (a long one) and kissed me (twice) before saying he would contact me over the weekend to make plans again. There I stood in the freezing cold parking lot not even caring because I had once again dominated the date (number three!) and there would be a fourth. I drove home that night feeling like a million bucks.
Well here we are, bringing you up to speed, almost a week since the last date and I haven’t heard anything from him except for a quick “hi” text on Saturday morning. I caved and casually texted him on Wednesday with no response. So, this is where I ask the questions. At what point do you trade in that hope and move on? At what point do you say this isn’t really worth my effort to make something work with someone this “busy”? Do you ever give up that hope or just simply tuck it away for later use if he contacts you? Without adding in those expectations, where do you draw the line that three successful dates and little to no contact in between means nothing? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t lose hope at all and you just distribute that hope in other places. Maybe you direct that hope not so much at this situation playing out the way you want but to another that will soon follow and take its place. Yes, lets do that. Lets shut that window before our hope flies away and grab onto it tightly knowing that hope is what will get you through. It’s what will keep you pushing forward when three dates means nothing. It will push you through when you feel like no guy will be worth the effort. Hope is what will keep you moving on to find the one that will grasp that same hope just as tightly as you.
Well here I sit, waiting. Waiting being the operative word lately. It’s a game…let us call it ‘the waiting game’ (how original, I know!). When you embark on this dating adventure waiting becomes a huge part of it all. We wait for the initial contact, whether it be a message through an online dating site or to be set up through a friend, we wait for the day the first meeting arrives, we wait during the date for that feeling of a connection, we wait for that text or call after the date (assuming you want that to happen) and we wait and wait hoping for a second date. It doesn’t even end there, oh no, you continue to wait for date number three and so on until that time comes when you can officially consider yourself to be off the market, if it even gets that far. Why do we as women put such strain on the situation and WAIT? Why do we become obsessed with waiting to hear from the other? To tell you the truth, it’s our own fault. Truly. We, as women, are thinkers, we dissect everything from the moment that date is initialized all the way until you part ways at the end of date one. Sadly, we will continue to dissect the opposite sex and their actions forever after that. This dissection process is similar to that of that frog in biology class (gross, I know) but it’s a perfect example of what we do. We meticuously slice open and examine each and every tiny piece of the puzzle so that we can create one solid answer to it all. Does he like me? Will he call? What was he thinking? And so on. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but that answer won’t be found inside your science project. That answer is found in ourselves.
Let’s stop for a minute and think back on your last good date. It was one of those nights you just never wanted to end. You spent hours prior fixing your hair perfectly, applying just the right amount of makeup to look great without looking overdone, not to mention the entire week you spent trying to find the prefect outfit. So there you are, looking fabulous and having a great time over dinner. You probably even ordered something you normally wouldn’t have just so you wouldn’t look like one of THOSE girls that orders a salad and a water. The entire evening the conversation flowed from one great topic to the next with no awkward pauses in between. “Could it really be this perfect?” you wonder. Once the date comes to an end and he gives you a hug good night and sneaks in a awkward quick kiss on the cheek that’s when you immediately fall into the trap. What trap, you ask? I’ll tell you. It’s called expectations. We all do it every single time. Once this fabulous date has come to a close we set these expectations of how things are meant to be. When they don’t manifest the way we expect we immediately think they had a bad time, they didn’t feel that connection like you did, you said or did something wrong, and the list of doubt goes on. Well, ladies, once again bursting your bubble, generally speaking that is not the case. We all know men don’t think like we do but we also need to set that frog aside and leave him whole for a change. Once we can set aside these expectations we can let things fall into place how they will whether we worry or not. This waiting game won’t seem nearly as daunting and you’ll be able to eat and sleep in the meantime without a brain of mush. I promise.
So, let’s construct a few guidelines to tuck away in our back pockets the next time we primp and prep for that date;
1. Know that you brought with you the best you. Never doubt yourself on a first date. Be you and no one else. If you want a second date show off the real you the first time around, heck even order that salad if you want it.
2. Know that once the date is over whether he calls (or doesn’t) the situation is ALWAYS in YOUR hands. You have a choice. If he’s worth that second date it will happen. If he isn’t, there really is a better fish swimming around out there for you.
3. Don’t bring the frog on the date with you. Go have fun because that’s really what it is all about!
For obvious reasons I won’t use his real name. I’ll just call him “C”. I met “C” during a rough patch back in October. During this time I had been trying to save an ever crumbling marriage, picking up all of the tiny pieces like shattered glass carefully trying to glue them all back together where they belonged. I was hopeful I’d be able to reconstruct the relationship just like it had once been an eternity ago. I was fighting a losing battle on my own, no army, no shield, no sword, no castle to return to to pronounce my hopeful victory. I was empty handed and shattered like the glass of my marriage. For about a month prior, I had been seeing a therapist unknown to my husband. On several earlier occasions I had suggested a marriage counselor with no success so I decided to give it a go on my own. So there I was, every Monday morning, on my way to the therapist’s office hoping she’d have answers. She was a calm woman with glasses, a small pad of paper and a pen. She always made me think she preferred things the simple way, no technology or complicated procedures, just her and her gentle demeanor. I would sit on the couch across from her optimistically waiting for answers. She would talk, I would talk, she would ask questions about how every tear, every fight, every word he spoke made me feel. Every time it was the same answer, sad, lonely, angry and yet still hopeful. She was intrigued that I always seemed so hopeful as miserable as I was. I guess I really always knew what it was I needed to do to be happy once again I just half wished the answer would come out of someone else’s mouth, not mine. That hope stuck with me though at every session no matter how many tears I cried while I was there.
It was mid October when the tears stopped coming and hope shined even brighter. This particular day she asked me why I seemed so positive today. I think she wondered if things were looking up at home. I told her they were the same but for some reason I had woken up that morning feeling a sense of numbness. That I didn’t fully understand anymore why I was no longer sad. It was as if my heart had just checked out, went on vacation and left a note saying “call me when it’s over”. She scribbled on her pad, pushed her glasses up over her head and looked at me cautiously. “I’m going to suggest a group for you that is made up of men and women who are going through similar marriage issues. These people are all privately invited by a group of us therapists. You might find it helpful in understanding your own feelings.” She handed me a piece of paper that in gentle writing offered the name of a private Facebook group to those in need of marriage advice. I was immediately skeptical. I didn’t want to spill my troubles with strangers. It was hard enough telling my therapist.
That night, out of curiosity, I logged onto Facebook and scoped out the group. Knowing my own page was private I felt better that no one could snoop around in my business. My mouse hovered over the “join” button a few seconds too long before I clicked it. Instantly, posts and conversations appeared from both men and women discussing cheating spouses, bad divorces, how to move on from a broken marriage, fears, regrets, worries, etc, etc. My heart hurt reading through everyone’s thoughts and comments. Yet, I felt so relieved that my thoughts and concerns also belonged to others. I went to bed that night with even more hope than before. I WAS going to be able to get through this. I wasn’t alone.
“C” was part of this group. I didn’t find him. He found me. I received a private message a few days later that he had sent introducing himself as a husband who had been married only a couple of years and trying to stay afloat in a sinking marriage. Something about his approach to expressing his feelings that were similar to my own reeled me in and I needed to know more. I was curious to hear the opposite side to the story. His story. A male perspective. I replied with a general message that introduced myself and briefly opened up about my own scenario. I’d say the rest is history but that’s not the right term…
Let’s say “C” has since become something of a close friend. His marriage crumbled shortly after mine and our friendship grew to a type of support system. We can confide in each other through email, text and phone conversations. It is like he understands my every tear, my every complaint, my every reason for leaving. He gets it more than anyone. It’s become, he’s become, a friend I never knew could even exist. I have become the same for him.
The interesting part to this story is now, over 3 months later, we have never met though I feel like I know him better than I know most of my friends. He is my friend. Is he more? Could he one day be more? I’m not sure…I often wonder though. We have a connection that seems slightly impossible. How can two people, close in age, not living too far away from each other, with extremely similar stories and everything in common stumble upon one another in almost a one in a million way? Does this stuff really happen? It brings me back to my online dating. How easy is it to find someone you can truly connect with? Is it easier than we think?
“C” has become a part of my daily routine between our morning texts to our evening phone conversations about our days to my most recent need of dating advice. I wonder where all of this will go. Will it just fizzle away when we each find new love? Are we in need of each other for the sole purpose of strength until we find it within ourselves? What will become of this friendship? It’s a question I wish I had an answer to but like every one you meet along the way in life they all have purpose. I guess we will wait and see what the true purpose of “C” really is.
Until then, I suggest a book which “C” had recommended to me. This book has since become a part of my own journey through all of this, “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.
So, here I am a month into this online dating endeavor and I’m like “why aren’t there directions for this thing!?” I mean I guess in today’s world dating goes without any rules and regulations. It certainly doesn’t abide by the the laws it used to. I mean unless of course there’s a new rule book hidden among some secret dating society. Online dating, lets just clarify, isn’t for everyone, yet neither is dating in general. It’s a lot like an extreme sport. Lets use skiing as an example. There you are, all bundled up, adrenaline beginning to build under your skin, skis tightly snapped to your boots as you approach the chair lift. You sit comfortably, or as comfortably as you can, with your body covered in gear head to toe. The chair lift slowly creeks its way up the mountain as you dangle your feet in the breeze. You watch the other skiers gracefully glide down on top of the fresh white snow. Higher and higher you climb to the top as you feel the excitement building and your heart begins to beat faster. The chair lift drops you off at the top and you approach the edge of no return. “You got this” you think clenching your poles and curling your toes in your boots as if to grip on to anything you can. You descend. Picking up speed as you go. Back and forth you glide just as the other skiers did. The wind pushing against you as you go. “This is great!” you think as your heart races and you feel invincible. Now here’s where it gets tricky. At any point as you descend your luck could change. Worst case scenario you fall and hurt yourself. You hope you don’t, but it crosses your mind. You hope it’s as easy as picking yourself back up and continuing on the path to your goal. You must dodge the obstacles as you go like trees, other skiers, etc. while remaining upright. You can only hope that luck is always on your side.
I compare this to online dating as it is very much the same thing. As you create this profile that is meant to outline you as a wonderful, one of a kind, great catch of a human being, you get that feeling of nervous excitement. You hear those stories about people finding true love online and think, just as you watch the skiers descend down the mountain, “I’m going to do it exactly like that”. Once you hit that ominous “submit” button you’ve begun the long windy glide down the mountain. Here’s where the obstacles and your hope begin to surface. This journey of finding a match online is like trying to dodge a monster of a pine tree on skies. You’d either better a be a damn good skier or be able to bounce right back up when the going gets tough. It takes a lot of work to online date, searching through profiles, messaging, winking (I don’t know what the point is), holding a conversation through messaging, setting up a date (if it gets that far), meeting, hoping it goes well, hoping he calls if it goes well, worrying if he doesn’t call, wondering when is he supposed to call, feeling like you’re never going to find the one when he doesn’t, and the list goes on and on. It’s exhausting. Just as if you’re being pushed back by the wind on your skis. You just want that moment of calm when you can take a deep breath and know you’ll make it down okay.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why is it that meeting someone as you get older becomes more of a challenge than learning to tie your shoes as a child? If only that was still our greatest challenge. We build up this hope as human beings that the fairy tale exists and that the trip down the mountain will be a obstacle-less journey. Though we all know it really won’t be that way at all. Do we enjoy the challenge? Do we enjoy the ups and downs that finding love brings? No, we as humans can’t possibly enjoy such torment. Instead we carry with us the optimism that there is someone out there for each of us. Someone whom we view as “the one”. This someone whom we choose to seek out online as with our busy lives we may never meet otherwise.
So, a month into this moutnainous decent I start my journey. I should also point out that I’ve only ever skied once in my life and as a child. Like so many even experienced skiers, we all travel down the mountain with the same question, “what will this journey be like?”. I’m optimistic to make this trek with an open mind and continue to not let the obstacles deter me from trying. As a “newbie” and having only been on a few dates I already feel the overwhelming sensation of “how does this all really work?” and “what am I supposed to do now?” What are the rules to dating, really? Do we call? Do they call? When should they call? What does it mean when they text what they do? Yes, as we all know texting is the new calling. What makes the process the right way to date or the wrong way? These questions have all been flooding my mind since I started this endeavor. I’m beginning to think there may not even be one specific answer to all of this. I’m hoping through this method I will be able to learn and guide others in the process. My goal is to make it down the mountain not only in one piece but to answer these questions, skis still attached, a smile on my face and proud I will have reached my goal.
I feel like I need to set the scene. Just like a script where the pages are mapped out and all of the actors know their roles, I know mine. I’m a 30 year old (just hit that milestone), newly single female with a guarded heart, high hopes and fairy tale dreams. The setting is this, it’s January and the bulletin of New Year’s resolutions for 2014 sits in a crisp new journal next to my bed. On the first few pages are goals both big and small. I can only hope to achieve even half over the next year. Like many single, young females, on that list, near the top, states this or something similar, “find true love”. It’s whats expected of us reaching that age of “not a young woman in your 20’s anymore” but rather a woman who should settle down, marry and start a family. I mean who doesn’t want that right?
I should back track a little and explain the “newly single” in my character description. I married, checked it off my list in 2012 and unchecked in it 2013. Back to the drawing board so to speak. I mean this happens everyday, to any age couple and to anyone, or so I’m told. Growing up a woman you envision this fairy tale life of an adoring husband, a house with a picket fence, happy, healthy children and maybe even a dog. At least that’s what I wanted, what I had grown to need. After being in a relationship which turned into an engagement I thought I had found the right kind of love. Maybe at first it was the right kind of love for my growing self. Maybe it was the kind of love that helps write these award winning tales. Yet, maybe once that tale is written that actor can change and is no longer fit for that role. Well that’s what happened. Like a dark storm or a fire breathing dragon it slowly crept into my story and tipped my world upside down. My hopes and dreams of a happy ending unraveled before my eyes and that chapter ended. My relationship lasted seven and a half years, a year and a half of it were spent married. The end.
So here I sit, back at my mother’s house, who along with my family, were able to pick up my unraveled self and put me back together. My heart remains slightly askew and what has been pieced back together, like a jigsaw that doesn’t quite fit, now has a new view on this so called fairy tale and what the next chapter will be. My chapter following the break up began with a solitary blank page and a pen. I knew I had to make it a good one. I mean my story can’t go on forever. I’m only given so many pages to write. A particular quote inspired me to view it this way;
“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” -Brad Paisley
So, as the start of a new year has begun I took it upon myself to start again, finding love, finding me and what it is that truly makes me happy. I’m beginning this process at a new age and with new experiences that I’m able to take with me along the way in filling in my book. My new story will be about the bumpy road to finding true love, what really makes true love so hard to find and most importantly how to pick up and mend the pieces of a torn heart so that real love won’t slip through its cracks. We all have those tiny openings created by our pasts and through my journey I hope to give those cracks of yours reason and meaning to mend. So, just like Carrie Bradshaw from the ever so popular show, Sex and the City, I will write to you with an honest heart and true journey of what it means to finish your fairy tale.