Dating is so interesting, you learn so much about yourself as well as other people.
It’s been a few years since the marriage ended and I’ve been on my own. Though I’ve dated here and there, I finally feel like I’m ready to go back into a long term relationship if I find the right person. Of course, I’ve felt this way before, jumped in, then realized – nope, not ready. Thought I was, but I’m not.
I like reading things about relationships. When I was in my marriage and things were bad, I read the Talk About Marriage forums. You see people in all stages – new and excited, new and disappointed, old and loving, old and burnt out. I also like dating advice sites like Evan Marc Katz, who is the perfect advice columnist for me – practical and from a man’s view, but understanding what a woman wants. I will sometimes read The Rules Revisited for brutal honesty or The Spiritual Rules of Engagement for kind truthfulness. (Great book, highly recommended, btw). Apparently, it’s a thing for divorced women to be bitter, which I don’t get.
See, I don’t fear getting hurt. It’s like, bitch, I ended a 15 year marriage after years of soul-searching and desperately avoiding my sadness. You think a 3 month relationship that ends will destroy me? Oh, boo hoo. It might hurt a little, but compared to the emotional Holocaust of divorce that I survived, it’s nothing. Bring it. I’m not afraid. What I am afraid of is hurting someone else – I’m learning to accept that in my search I might hurt someone else without trying to.
When I was a teenager and feeling in despair, I started reading books on relationships. I figured that if I ever managed to get married, I was going to be worth be married to. I was going to make my man happy. I was going to be the awesomest wife. I read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and learned people want to be accepted, listened to, and loved as they are. In a marriage be kind – and be up for sex because it means more than you think. Never criticize or humiliate a man in public. Be respectful, easy going, and generally happy, don’t dump on a guy when he first gets in the door. It may have been written years ago, but I don’t think men or relationships have changed that much. And I was a pretty decent wife.
But it still ended. Good people, both of which deserve to be loved, can still make a mess of things. Sometimes people end up going on different paths, growing in different directions. I forgive him. I forgive myself. What I didn’t dare to think of though for a long time is what I want. What do I want in man? I knew intelligence, kindness, emotional strength, humor were all musts, but I avoided thinking about physical attributes. It seemed so crude. I didn’t really know what the hell I wanted. I wanted to be desired, I knew that. Our marriage lasted for a long time because he never stopped desiring me. I was always sexy to him. But we fought about sex all the time! Years of fighting about sex, god, that sucked. And it became a pivotal pain point because I never wanted him as much as he wanted me, and I couldn’t admit that even to myself, though he knew the truth in his bones. I didn’t know why I didn’t want sex – there seemed no reason. I thought he was handsome, smart, funny–but I just didn’t want it. So I felt terribly guilty all the time and he, terribly frustrated. Both of us continually compromising and both of us unhappy. Both of us feeling like we were shitty people, just by being ourselves.
This is one thing I admire about men. If they can’t see themselves having sex with you, they won’t approach you for a date. It is completely pointless. But it’s only one attribute. It’s akin to the first step in screening resumes – typos? Not even worth the time to look further. Not sexy to me? Well, that’s it then, we’re done. And usually it only takes a few seconds for a man to decide whether physically he could see it working or not. Of course, women can still wreck it. You can be hot, but be stupid or mean or shallow or entitled or psycho and that’s it for a man that wants a meaningful relationship. Being hot is not an automatic in to a man’s heart. Just like being a hot man is not an automatic in to a woman’s heart.
We get caught up in our options and stop focusing on the goal. Isn’t the goal to have a shared partnership in life? One where you share your body, your time, your dreams, your soul, your fears and your joys? All of it? You only need one good match to get there.
The problem is the options. We have a problem with accepting truth and working with what you’ve got. And we have a problem with the approach of observing how we feel around a potential partner instead of trying to check off certain boxes, as though that will ensure happiness. There’s an old joke that women want the three 6’s – 6 feet, 6 figures, 6 inches. But checkboxes don’t encompass a good match!
So what if he’s 6 feet? The best sex I’ve had was with men shorter than that. (I have a hypothesis that people who feel like they’ve been marginalized tend to be better lovers – once they get a person to bed, they make damn sure s/he has a good time. [Not a theory since I have too few data points, but look for my scientific paper: “Bald, Short, and Hairy: Your Best Next Lover” 😉 ])
Six figures? Great, but what if he has no generosity? Six inches? Okay, I’m not going to lie, that’s nice. But really the point is can you feel your man inside of you? It’s pretty much a yes or no question and if it’s yes, there’s no problem. And that’s a two-to-tango attribute in any case.
These are the things that really matter: In the early stages, do you want the same kind of people that want you? What do you have to offer a potential partner? How does a potential partner make you feel? How do like to be loved? How does a potential partner want to be loved? (Check out The 5 Love Languages on how you prefer love to be presented. I used to prefer the poetry, flowers, and songs. Now I want the guy who will take my car and get the oil changed. 🙂 Ooh, ooh and dinner is good too. My stomach has always led to my heart, ha!) And the killer question that I’ve been wrestling with as a straight woman – what kind of man would I still want to have sex with 10, 20, 40 years down the road?