As she cruised OKCupid with her own dating agenda, a friend of mine came to a screeching halt on a profile that brought me to mind. Excited, she said the suited-up piece of younger man-candy wore a mask over his eyes, touted that he was into “50 Shades type stuff,” and listed a guide to anal sex as one of his favorite books.
Everyone but me, it seems, is ready for me to date.
“You could have fun with him,” she said. “And he’s wicked-cute.”
Of course I rolled my eyes dramatically, but still, I had to chuckle at her enthusiasm. I told her that it wasn’t enough to even make me quirk an eyebrow. And it wasn’t. If anything, it made me resist the idea of dating again that much more.
That Christian-Grey-wanna-be-type is part of the reason behind the tightly wound ball of anxiety in my stomach when it comes to dating. I know they’re out there, so many of them, waiting to exact their so-called dominance. Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather stay home on a Saturday night alone, drinking vodka out of my Queen of Everything coffee cup while binging on Netflix.
I’ve actually given a lot of thought to the idea of dating lately. Not actually doing it, perse. It’s more like I’ve taken every common reason not to date I’ve ever heard and adopted them as my own. And there are a laundry list of them. Reasons like I don’t have the time to write an irresistibly witty profile, my focus is on work, I want to lose a few pounds of fluff first, I have a mountain of junk mail to shred, and people are stupid. Okay, so they’re more like excuses than legitimate reasons, except for the last two, but what it all boils down to is the idea of dating makes me nervous.
When my marriage imploded four years ago, I didn’t date–I fucked. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted, but I was finally free to sift through the complex pieces of my past–my confusing sexual history–to make sense of who I was, who I had always been. And I did make sense of it, mostly. I didn’t want a relationship, and I damn sure didn’t want love. Then I met Mr. K, a play partner turned boyfriend who unlocked a door deep inside of me that I never knew existed, and for that, I will be forever grateful. Over the next three years, we indulged each other’s fantasies. We fucked with abandon and we loved hard, but did we actually date? It’s hard to say.
What is ‘dating’ today? But more importantly, what is dating when you’re 45? Do you connect online and make plans to meet at a coffee bar? A wine bar? A pressed juice bar? And how does a sex blogger date? When is the appropriate time to say “Hey, man-I-possibly-like, I write about sex ON THE INTERNET, and you too can read every kinky detail of the group sex, anal sex, and sexy sex I’ve had!”
See what I mean? Total anxiety.
Most of my friends clearly don’t understand my worries when it comes to dating, or me for that matter. They say things like “You should just go to the places where your people go.”
I’m sorry, what? Where my people go? What the fuck does that even mean? Or I’m told how hard dating is because someone always seems to have this one friend who is drop-dead-gorgeous and can’t get a date, but it’s probably because she’s so beautiful.
I’m pretty sure that translated into “You’re ugly and will die alone.”
There’s always the old-fashioned way of dating, or happenstance, I guess. But I refuse to go out with anyone I meet in a bar. Been there, done that more times than I can count. It rarely develops into anything beyond a one night stand, maybe two. Those days are long gone for me. And I can’t meet people through business outlets since I work from home and most (all) of the men at the events and luncheons I attend are gay. And in the grocery store, I’m too focused on condiments to really notice anyone who might try more than once (3 times) to strike up a conversation with me, apparently.
I love this bottle of BBQ sauce so much that I can’t possibly notice you or even say hello to you, handsome man passing by me three times in the aisle. -Heather
Oh, stop judging me, Heather.
But seriously, when it comes to new things, I’m all for giving it the old college try. Sashimi? Sure! Peeing in my mouth? Of course! Dating? Wait, what? I watch my single friends go through the motions of online dating, the string of disappointments, and I’m like nah, I’m good.
Truthfully, I know why I’m hesitant to date again. They’re called feelings and I’m super protective of them. It’s incredibly difficult for me to open up to people; to trust. I don’t do it lightly. Have I been jaded by my past experiences? Probably, but I know that’s something I need to work on. I know who I am this time around, though, and I know what I want. I want first date jitters, butterflies, and hand-holding. Am I a bit of a romantic? Abso-fucking-lutley. But most importantly, I want to not only feel like a priority, I want to be a priority.
I could go on forever about the things I don’t want in a relationship and partner attributes that make me throw up a crucifix shouting “Be gone, demon!”, but I think that’s the problem. I spend so much time focusing on what I don’t want, it’s holding me back from making myself available to the things I do want, if that makes any sense.
I took time off to take care of myself in a healthy way after my relationship with Mr. K ended, which is something I’d never done before. I took a lot of time, actually, and by doing so, I let wounds breathe and heal instead of recklessly covering them up with booze and unfulfilling sex as I’d done in the past. It was one of the most responsible decisions I’ve ever made and one I’m damn proud of. But I’m afraid I’ve reached the point where my time off has become another excuse to hide behind. For the most part, my heart is open to dating again, I think, but my head is still working to catch up. It’s getting there, slowly, and one day soon, I’ll finally take that step forward into the dating pool, and when I do, I’ll refuse to settle for anything less than extraordinary, because I fucking deserve it.