Just be who you are, whoever that is…. Ever heard that saying? Well, what if who you really are, is an asshole? Or how about, “there are no stupid questions.”? Uh, duh, yes there are. Plenty. So how about ” there’s no wrong way to do X.”? These are just lies circulated by well-meaning mothers (including me) and the Hallmark channel.
I was dating wrong. I was in desperate search for a wife. Date like that for awhile and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Worse yet, I was looking to replace the husband and father that was a fantasy. I blame Disney and the Hallmark channel.
If you’re dating, or single, or in a bad relationship, everyone has dating advice for you. ” you’ve got to be ready before you can find love” or “there’s a fish for every hook” or ” you’ve gotta love yourself first.” Or ” create a vision board/list/seashell mosaic of your perfect mate. ” and these things work, some times, by chance mostly I believe.
Because my last dating experiences, before “the marriage”, occurred when cell phones were carried around in ten pound bags, I assumed I just had a learning curve. All this technology! And it’s true that the language of dating has changed, or rather the platforms through which we communicate have changed. ” Last night was great! LOL” but the basics are more or less the same. I did have to stop looking for true love for it to land right in my lap.
In the beginning, the second beginning that is, I wanted so terribly, hopelessly, to replace (as quickly as possible) the relationship I imagined I’d lost with my husband. A space where there were brochure-worthy vacations, holidays with perfect turkeys, enviable Facebook posts, family yoga, homemade bread, Boggle games, picnics with dignitaries, dry camp sites, fire station visits, softball tournaments, bean bag chairs, dog parties, clam bakes, matching outfits, seaside family portraits, gardens, ferret adoptions…
The point is, I discovered rather immediately (at least twice) that that wasn’t what I wanted at all, well maybe dog parties…. But I wasn’t adept at sharing the charge of my daughters. I’m kinda a careworn frontier woman in this respect. Maybe that was something I longed for a decade ago, but I’d failed to let that fantasy go when reality took its place. So those forays into relationships were heartbreaking partings, and maybe it wasn’t a wrong way to date, but it certainly was agonizing.
So, I did what I could figure out to do, go on match.com and power date. It’s like looking for a new car: I like these features, I don’t like these features, pick a couple of options, test drive and put down an offer. But people are poor substitutes for cars. And cars are terrible substitutes for soulmates, except maybe my Mini Cooper. I’d probably marry her, though she’s terrible at doing dishes and the one time I asked her to plan a dog party…wow, did she ever fuck that up. But I digress.
I considered the vision board, but in my house finding a glue stick that isn’t dried out and a pair of scissors that opens AND closes isn’t really an option. I thought about making a list and pondered singles cruises, but the whole situation had exhausted me, so instead, I just sat.
I stopped expecting something, stopped imagining that I was ready to know what I wanted, or needed. I can hardly order lunch some days and I am fully aware of exactly what kind of food I want and need. Why did I think I knew who was going to fill the chasm in my heart? I decided to sit alone. Because if I had to go on one more horrible date and make small talk about beer pong, I was going to jump a slow-moving train to Vinton.
And confidentially, no one will ever fill that chasm in my heart, or be the imaginary genius Dad/husband that I kept checking for on Tinder. Knowing this was the most freeing thought I could have had. Hearing this allowed me to breathe and sit . And one day, I found myself sitting in the right place with the right space to allow something beautiful to grow.
So here’s my unsolicited dating advice for you, gentle reader…lose your list of expectations. What you think you want, maybe isn’t what you really need. It’s probably something you never imagined, or could imagine, like the distance of Pluto from the earth. And maybe it’s helpful to start with knowing who you are. Me I’m a complicated mix of hilarious and needy, generous and bad at home repairs, honest and a decent dancer, a mother with a teenage heart. So you, go ahead, be who you are, even if that’s a total asshole, you’re in good company. I hope you find your asshole soulmate and you both play out the rest of your days tossing waded up love notes to each other at your dog’s birthday party.