The Sunday morning blog-in-bed extravaganza is coming to an end. But before it does, since this is mostly about me dating, there is a story I need to recount.

It can be sad and hard and real and gut-wrenching to look for love. It can touch us deeply, whether we come up empty-handed or are sitting next to our true love.

Yesterday, I sat on the side of a boat with my feet dangling in the water, talking to a smart, accomplished, handsome, gray-bearded, blue-eyed man who was probably just right for me. We had almost dated, but he got back with his most recent partner before we had a chance to meet and we were only on his boat because he couldn’t stop wondering if I was the one. Who got away before he’d even met me.

I would never get together with someone still entangled, or recently split. Some of the dogma and warning about red flags is true and needs to be honored. So my heart was well-hidden and not about to make a legit appearance. Still, meeting a friend and splashing around on a boat – all good.

He had come to think that the woman he was with was not ultimately going to be his life-partner, and she, after several months, seemed to be questioning the same of him. A handful of partners before that, when his marriage was ending, his wife of twenty-five years told him that she had never really loved him.  He told me he had always loved her, and had always been faithful, even when the marriage was hard. He told me that he thought that jumping in head first, and giving it his all is the only way he knows how to approach love. He had apparently done this enough times since divorcing that despite a steady job and a reputable lifestyle, his address had changed at least eight times in as many years. He wasn’t proud of that or ashamed. It was just the way it was, or had been for him.

Usually I am the sad one in a story, but this man eclipsed my own flashy pain. Even though he described himself as always upbeat, never really depressed, and I believed him, his eyes and heart were heavy.

He told me he just wanted someone to really love him. He brought things to the table that made women like him well enough. He sounded helpful, handy, dedicated and caring. I liked him. I felt he was sincere. But what he wanted was intense passion and connection with one person, forever. The greatest love story imaginable, every day. He had the grit, the tolerance for household chores, the patience and the commitment and loyalty to realize it all. He just hadn’t found the right person and for him it was all about one right person. The person. All it takes is one.

Thanks to my own recent whirlwind romance and on-line dating absurdities, I had to tell him that right now, I do not believe in love at first sight. I am very unlikely  to lose my cool over someone I’ve just met. I’m becoming more of a “show me the money” kind of a girl. Measure twice, cut once.

So when he confessed that he had wanted to meet me and perhaps fall in love and maybe have that end his dilemma with this other woman (all on a Saturday!)  I felt like I was reading a book or watching a movie, but in no way did I feel that a plan like that could involve me.

I have a hole in my heart that needs filling too, but I have been vaccinated recently against the quick fix. Quick fixes have long tails. And I am fed up with being on the tail end of some harebrained idea. That doesn’t mean that I might not move fast again one day, but at this moment nothing sounds more romantic than getting to know someone slowly in little packets. Nothing sounds sweeter than quietly warming up to a person.

He made me feel sad because this man has a big heart that he has been throwing around, wishing and looking for a place for it to happily land. By the end of this day his girlfriend was wondering when he was coming home and that made me cry because all of it was just so not right for any of the players, me included. We were all a little sad.  Everyone seemed to be suffering just a bit.

**     **     **

A man has come back into my life. We have only been out a few times, and he is quiet and unassuming and an amazing gentleman. He is raising two boys and he is affectionate and funny. He is someone I can get to know slowly, and someone who treats me well. He is also twenty years my junior.

Dating at fifty-four is meeting a man who wanted to fall in love with me yesterday, in a day, and seeing a man who probably can’t fall in love with me tonight (unless he wants to be eating off the senior menu at Denny’s when he’s forty).

It is heartbreaking and imperfect and I am doing everything I can to cherish every  person who for they are,  for where we are, and not for where we’d like to be, and not for who we aren’t.

It is possible that I am a little bit smarter than I was before, after so much dating and push and pull. Maybe I’m just relaxing and taking a load off. Maybe one day I’ll risk it all for something ill-advised because it can be fun and sweet and rewarding.

Or maybe I’ll learn to take it easy and slowly. It certainly looks like that’s where I’m headed. Maybe love is going to have to boil me slowly like a lobster to get my attention. We’ll see.