I’m starting to feel bad for anyone who’s followed this story. It was only a week ago that I came out of hiding to say that I was seeing someone. Everyone was happy for me. Relieved, even. A few hearts were warmed.
I was happy too, but not in any kind of delusional state where I thought happily ever after was in the bag.
Still, I didn’t see this coming.
But I’m not surprised.
Dating is getting harder and harder. Whether it’s the online aspect of it, some cultural shift, or something related to being over fifty, I can’t say. Maybe a little of each?
There’s a lot that’s been written about modern/on-line dating and associated atrocities. I’m not going to go into it all again except to say that single folks can get pretty beat up and bruised or end up wasting buckets of time and energy and plenty of nice, rational and otherwise upbeat people decide they’re just not going to do it anymore. Or like me, they flip-flop, periodically giving it another go and then retreating when they just can’t take it another minute.
I’m interested in the part about dating as an older person, or dating after divorce and a few long relationships, because it’s definitely not the same as dating was in my twenties when the world was fresh and new.
What I’ve noticed is that it’s hard to tell the difference between baggage and accumulated wisdom.
Older people, besides being ratty and worn out, come with heaps of both. It can be hard to know if you’re being prudent or playing old tapes when an issue comes up and you decide to let go of someone.
You can look at a situation and decide that it portends badly for things down the road and that decision might be based on lessons learned from the past. Or it could stem from fear of what you think might happen based on a past that you feel doomed to repeat, if you’re not careful.
The question is, when it comes to being careful, are you not gonna repeat the past because you’re going to end things now before they get ugly, or are you not going to repeat the past because you’re going to manage whatever it is that comes up with this new person better than you have in the past?
So you make a choice.
I don’t always make the right choice, or maybe I do. It’s hard to know really.
In the five or so years since my last long relationship ended I’ve been in a series of several-month things and had long runs of being single – and it’s been no picnic at all. It’s felt choppy and disjointed and like I’m in some kind of limbo or purgatory-lite.
In my quest to be fine on my own I’ve ended up a little jumpy about things to the point that I’ve lost the idea of sharing my life with someone as a given, the way it used to be. I used to know that I’d be with someone eventually. Now, I’m not so certain.
The older me doesn’t find it as easy to like people, so even finding someone I want to date can be a lengthy process. And now that I don’t want to on-line date, finding someone could stretch into eternity. Especially if I don’t want to make it a life goal and constantly go to meet-ups and stuff. Which I don’t.
Being older with more relationships behind me has given me the gift of being fundamentally insecure in any relationship because I know how easily they can end. Also, people die. Not to be morbid, but nothing lasts forever.
I miss relaxing into something stable, which is not the same as dating. I’ve said it before, dating is not my thing.
I prefer living with someone. I like the rhythm of day in and day out, and the comfort of having my person close by at the end of the day.
I don’t like the rhythm of dating with all the navigating of where and how and what. It’s disruptive and agitating and every good-bye feels like a little death. Hellos aren’t always easy either. Sometimes I’d rather stay home. The whole thing takes so much psychic energy that it’s hard to see an upside. Until you meet him.
The things I want from a relationship are things that might take years to build.
So once again it’s like I can’t get to where I want to be (cozy on the couch) from where I am (single lady in bed). I think I’d do pretty well if I was just there already but there’s a legit process you gotta get through before you can make your bed for two and feather your nest.
Some of me thinks I want to be someone’s wife again. I fantasize about being an actual important person and a priority in someone’s life – someone who’s stood the test of time.
Knowing the reality of how many marriages turn bad though, I’m not overly eager. But if I could have a good one I’d be all for it.
I said to Tom2 that if he could bear to let me go, then he should.
What I meant is, if you think I’m someone you can go the distance with, and that’s something you want, great. But if you can just as easily walk away, then do it.
Because whatever the case, a relationship is going to need to be fueled by a strong and insurmountable desire to be with someone. And if you don’t have it then you aren’t going to be able to navigate anything but the sunniest of days. You gotta be all in to be willing to stretch and learn and grow with someone.
I’m not destroyed or devastated and perhaps I should congratulate myself for letting it end before I could be destroyed or devastated.
Still, I’m not altogether certain that we gave it enough a chance, and that is a little annoying. I don’t know if we made a smart decision, because actually there was a fair bit of promise. We could have enjoyed a lot more together than we did. Shame. Or maybe not. There’s no way to know.
I’m pretty terrified to be single again, so I’ve decided I’m just not going to do it. I’m thinking of having an imaginary boyfriend. I’ll write him letters and pretend he’s somewhere, because he actually is. He won’t really be imaginary, he’ll just be unknown to me right now.
So no one has to worry about me. I have a boyfriend. I just haven’t met him yet.
Being a bit old and tired of dating, that is the best I can do right now.
I’m sorry to have gotten your hopes up. I really had no idea I’d be back here so soon, but like I said, I’m not surprised. Dating is really, really hard and fairy tales hardly ever happen.
The problem is, sometimes they do happen, and that’s a mighty carrot on a stick.