I’ve never dated. I mean, like really taken my time to get to know a person before becoming exclusive with them. Or dated more than one person within a certain time frame. Or dated as a means of exploring myself. You know? Like, as a means of figuring out what I like and don’t like, or what I want and don’t want. I’ve only ever dated with heavy intention.
Typically: I meet a guy. Spend a lot of time with him early on, develop a new routine with him (ie. good morning calls, lunch time calls, afternoon meet-ups, weekend dates, etc.), and then by the time I look up we’re exclusive. And for me, that exclusiveness (in my twenties) led to marriage.
Now, in my thirties I’m practicing scaling back on those intentions. It’s a process, because old habits die hard. But I know that something has to change if I want to have a different outcome the next time around.
Over the past several months, I’ve removed intention and expectation from the equation when dating someone new. I think it helps that I’ve been married before, and so I don’t have that longing looming over my shoulders. I imagine that if I wanted a husband, my approach would be different.
I mean, essentially, that’s what I was doing before. Approaching dating as a means to finding a husband. And I think that’s okay. I wanted a husband then, and I got one… (I’ll just sit that right here.)
Now, I’m dating as a tool (not THE tool), but a tool to dig deeper into me. I’m still exploring me. I’m dating for my own self. I’m dating to enjoy myself and be enjoyed by someone. I’m dating to have good conversation and explore new ideas. I’m dating for adventure and good memories.
I’m dating to figure out what I want out of a partner, and what I have to offer him in return. I’m dating, because there are a lot of great men out here who have something to teach me about the world, and people, and ideas, and art, and literature, and music, and restaurants, and life, and love, and so much more.
And I’m in love with the richness of that.
I can honestly say that I’ve met some really great people, who have added so much positivity to my life. And whereas before, I’d be gearing up to walk down the aisle, I am now able to send them back out into the world and retreat back into a little world of my own. And I just take the good memories with me as opposed to signing up for a whole lifetime with them.
This is nice.
I’m enjoying it.
I think I had a fear of being alone before. I was afraid of what the void would feel like. We are made for relationship, right? I mean we’re not designed to be alone, and I’m aware of that. I’m not rebelling in the least.
I’m just grateful to not be afraid of the void anymore. I’m grateful that I’m learning how to take my time. I’m learning so much about waiting.
You know what else? I’m learning that I can have what I want. I’m learning that I decide!
That I don’t have to accept anything less than what I feel I deserve. So, he can be amazing in a million ways, but if he’s not amazing in the million ways that are important to me, he’s not for me. And that’s okay.
The thing that has me so in Iove with dating is the idea that I can and will change the whole story of love. I’ll be able to write it in the way I want. And I’m quite sure he’ll appreciate taking part in making the plot colorful and unpredictable. Never boring. He and I will find the sweetest climax and extend it as long as we wish (because it’ll be our story and we’ll be the writers), and so we’ll get the most out of that high. And when we decide to come down… if ever, we do… we will take it on into happily ever after.
I know this, because he and I will be equals. We will want the same things, and go about getting them in very similar ways. I’m not going into another relationship where our view of the world is vastly different. I just won’t do it.
That’s why I’ve removed the intentions and the expectations from the way I approach dating. The truth is: I could be in a relationship right now if all I was expecting or needing was consistency, routine, predictability, a nice guy, blah blah, etc.
I want a deeper connection, and I keep getting all these hints and reasons to believe that it’s out there.
This post was just interrupted by a call from a very handsome gentleman. Very, very handsome. He wears suits daily. Not just any suit. Really nice vintage suits that he’s had tailored. When he called there was some vinyl playing in the background. I know, because that’s all he listens to. Tonight's listen is Abby Lincoln, he says.
No lie, when I was moving into my new place and needed some boxes moved from upstairs to downstairs, he came over… in slacks, a blazer (sports coat?) (whatever it's called. lol), tie, and some sweet shoes that brought it all together. My girls and I were looking at one another like, “really tho…?” LOL. He’s a nice guy times ten. A light. Smart, talented, and oh the list goes on.
And I’ve known him for a little bit now. We’ve hung out. Talk often, etc. And as handsome as he is, right? We’ve never kissed (cheeks don’t count here). As well spoken as he is, we’ve never discussed a future. As responsible as he is (professional in the city), I’ve never once thought of combining my life with his, you know?
And that’s the art of dating.
It’s painting a picture. With different strokes and brushes. No real plan. No time frame. No particular theme or pattern or color scheme.
Just an experiment.
A way to see.
A way to learn.
A way to know.
A way to eventually make the right choice in a partner.