Dating Again or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Myself

Now that I’ve introduced the man that changed my views on relationships, and more significantly love, I am so looking forward to telling you more about him and us. HOWEVER, before I get to any of that I first want to get practical in this post. I want to discuss the topic of dating after divorce. For anyone that knows me it was a huge deal, and NOT an easy decision, for me to even consider dating before the divorce was final. But sometimes you can’t pass up the unbelievable opportunities life throws at you. And it was time for me to take a risk.

As I’ve mentioned plenty of times before I went through an intense time of counseling, self evaluating and support group therapy during my separation. I say this again because it was the best thing I could have done for EVERYONE I was currently in relationships with (meaning friends and family) and ANYONE I would someday be in relationship with (potentially a significant other?). It was the time I took to know myself, especially in the areas of what I was doing that was harming to relationships. Relying on the other person to meet my emotional needs, for instance. Making the other person feel suffocated because of my insecurities that he would rather spend his time with anyone other than me, for another instance. Yup! I was that person! And I hated those traits about myself. So I made up my mind not to get involved with anyone else until I’d dealt with my issues.

Please know I realize I have an incredibly LONG list of issues just like any person willing to realistically evaluate them-self realizes. I did not by any means expect to be issue-free before getting into another relationship. I did however expect that I would have the particular issues mentioned above (with a few more added) at least figured out and replace with realistic expectations and appropriate responses. In hindsight, the hole in this plan was that once I thought I had them figured out I’d have to test them in a relationship since that was were they reared their ugly head to begin with. But that was neither here nor there in my thinking while I was dealing with them. I was  not interested in casually dating, nor was I ready to open myself up to the fears I had about dating again.

Fears like:

  • I haven’t flirted with a new man in 13+ years! What if I don’t know what to say? Or how to act? What if I’m a total dork now?!
  • Most of the men available are either too young, wouldn’t want to date a mother of three, are my age and have never been married which of course means they have commitment issues (I know that is not entirely true, but I thought it anyway), OR have themselves been divorced and could very well, most probably, have their own set of issues they haven’t yet dealt with.
  • What if I date someone for the wrong reason? Like security (a.k.a. he has money)? Or shared Faith (been there done that)? Or looks (but lacking personality)?
  • What if I can’t find someone that will be a good match for me? Surely someone as cool as I’d like him to be would not want to be with me! (There is that ugly insecurity monster again).
  • What if I think he’s great until we’re married and living together and I find out he’s wrong for me (like my first go around)?

Is it any wonder then that I focused instead on being happy as a single person? In a way you could say I dated myself. It removed the pressure of needing to find a perfect replacement for the relationship I’d lost. It gave me the time I needed to grieve all the dreams I had for my marriage that would never come to fruition. It allowed me to learn how to meet my own emotional needs. It gave me the chance to develop stronger friendships with people in my life. I got to a place where I knew I could be single for as long as it took and I would be okay. Let me tell you it is an incredibly liberating place to be. No longer was I dependent on another to make me happy, or to make me feel valued. I knew I was valuable no matter what anyone else thought.

That’s why when Tall Blonde finally walked up to my table at the coffee shop, I was able to have one of the best 15 min conversations I’d had with a man in maybe my life time. There was no pressure. Sure there was some anxiety because he was super cute with that smile and those dimples. And he was intellectually smart and engaging. And he made me laugh with an ease that is hard to come by in a first meeting. But there was no fear of what he thought about me. I had the attitude that if he didn’t like me that was fine. If he did then cool, we can be friends. It was exciting. It felt more like an adventure than a mission to be accomplished. And that alone was enough for me.

Mondays

Many times this week I’ve sat down to write and for one reason or another I haven’t been able. Whether it be the distracting siren call of Facebook (or more embarrassingly to admit the Bingo game on Facebook that I got sucked into), or the brain numbness that comes from being a mom of three with two jobs, or… countless other things, I have not gotten more than a few words written. Tonight however, I plan on changing that. (See? I’ve already got more than a few words written. Yay me!)

In my last post I wrote about a chance encounter that would later change my life. I promised I’d tell you more so naturally…

A few months after that day, I started spending Monday mornings in the same local coffee shop. My very progressive thinking and awesome boss allowed me to work from there since he wasn’t scheduled to go into the office until noon. So I used the uninterrupted time to look at the week ahead and plan. Not long into my Monday routine I started making acquaintances with a group of locals who gathered every morning to drink their coffee and shoot the breeze. I love the small town vibe you get from frequenting a place often and getting to know it’s regular patrons. Especially an establishment owned by a private business owner who is also a local. Needless to say I loved this place and Mondays were quickly becoming one of my favorite days of the week.

During my Monday visits to the coffee shop I again noticed the tall blonde and his friend “Red”. They would come in fairly regularly. They would get their coffee, chat with the Barista (they seemed to know them all) and leave.  I had a curiosity about them, but that was nothing unusual for me as I have a curiosity about most everyone. This went on for months. It was during these months that I was going through the final separation with my husband. I knew this was the end and I had already begun the healing process I’ve discussed in earlier posts. It’s amazing how in retrospect things look a lot shorter in time than they actually were.

It had probably been a year and a half from my first encounter with the coffee shop duo when one day they walked in and Tall Blonde had cut his hair! It had been past his shoulders and now it was just below his ears. This is significant in that it looked REALLY good and I wanted to tell him so, but I hadn’t developed any rapport with him and therefore kept my mouth shut…again! Also significant was the shift that occurred in my brain. No longer was I just causally noticing them as a pair but now I was checking one of them out and the intensity of my curious nature was heightened.

There have been many instances in my life when if I thought of something enough it  happened. I imagined several times that he would come over and talk to me one Monday. Or at least wave to me in acknowledgement since I know he saw me sitting at my laptop every week. But he didn’t do either. So when I saw him out of context one night at Walmart (of all places), I was caught off guard and waved to him. He was on the phone in the produce section and I was at the express check out. He waved back at me. Then I left…quickly.

I was sure he would talk to me the following Monday. I anticipated it all morning, but when the time came for me to head to the office there had still been no sign of Tall Blonde or Red. The same thing happened the next Monday. By the third Monday I was surprised when I actually saw them standing outside so Red could finish his cigarette. As they walked in I quickly looked down at my computer as if I hadn’t noticed them at all. I didn’t want to look desperate. In fact I was not interested in dating AT ALL. I was just curious and I wanted to appease that curiosity. Regardless, when he left without so much as a nod in my direction I felt let down, deflated, disappointed. I talked my self out of the momentary slump and went back to work.

Fifteen minutes later, right after I answered my phone for a work call, he walked back in with a copy of Independent Weekly under his arm as if he intended to sit and read a while. He didn’t stop at any of the open tables though. Instead he walked straight over to mine. I was of course still on the phone (awkward moment) but I motioned for him to sit and as politely as I could I ended the call I was on. I looked at him.

He asked, “Didn’t I see you in Walmart a couple of weeks ago?”

I replied, “Yes, that was me.”

And that is how the rest of the story begins.

Tall, Pale and Coffee

Every time I sit down to write there is a story I want to tell. I keep putting it off though. I think my hesitancy is mostly due to my administrative tendencies which dictate the necessity for a chronological order of events. BUT this whole blog is about breaking out of my box, so….tonight I will write about HIM. (Yay! Woo Hoo! Hip Hip Horay! Woot Woot!) However, in the telling of this story I will be as chronological as possible. (Isn’t it great that the second part of that word is LOGICAL. I just love that <3). Which means I will start with the first time I noticed him.

I had just gotten a new job (which was an amazing fit for me) and thanks to my new schedule I had off on Fridays. That statement alone should tell you how awesome this job was. It was the summer of 2009. I was “happily” married at the time as it was during the period my husband and I were the closest. So naturally I decided to go to the local coffee shop and journal for a while since I had an entire day to myself (I mean, what else was a girl to do? Shop? Oh don’t worry, I made sure that was in the plans for later that day. Clean? Really? I don’t think so.) That’s what I was doing when HE walked in the coffee shop with his friend. I noticed him for two reasons. The first was his appearance. He was tall and thin. He also had REALLY long blond hair. His friend on the other hand was not as tall, was stockier and had short red hair. The contrast alone was enough for them to stand out to me. The second occurred after he and his friend ordered their drinks and sat down at a table close to mine.

I was intently paying attention to my writing when I overheard a part of their conversation. They were discussing a video they were working on. I didn’t know if it was for work or a personal project but it got my attention because I was learning quite a bit about the processes of video making for the use of  promotion at my new job. It was all so new to me and I was so eager to learn that I barely stopped myself from turning around and asking them all about their project. Something held me back though. Mostly my fear of what other’s thought of me I’m sure. Instead I just eavesdropped until they left.

That was it. That was the first time I saw the man that would later change my life in a way I never expected. If my life was a book that moment would have definitely been foreshadowing. But its not and it happened that way regardless. I love how life works.

Of course there’s more to the story of him and me, but for now he was just the guy at the coffee shop. Want to know more? Good, cause I plan on telling you. Just not tonight. (Wink)