The last time I went on a first date, the year was 1998. My future husband walked into a party I was at with a bunch of friends from work, leaned against the door wearing a checkered flannel shirt, and said, “Hi, I’m Frank.” Then I didn’t see him for the rest of the night.
Well, not until I was about to leave, and he decided to join me on the dance floor.
A few weeks later, he called and asked me out to dinner. He said his friend had told him he better go get a dance with me before I left, and that he almost didn’t because he felt shy, but was so glad he did. After that night, we were exclusive. I haven’t put my hands on another man since.
My ex has started dating again, which prompted my daughter to ask me if I was ever going to. She was curious about what kind of man I would like.
I told her not for a while, and laughed — partly because it was awkward, but mostly because I’m at a loss when it comes to dating these days.
“Good, I can’t imagine a greasy guy walking around here,” she said, as we stood together in our kitchen.
I am sure the dating game has changed a bit in the past two decades; especially for a woman in her 40s who has three kids. And I just … have so many questions.
Does this mean I have to start waxing again? I hear through the grapevine it most certainly does. What if I want to sleep with a man just for the sake of having great sex? Is that acceptable for a woman like me — a mom with three teenage kids? Believe me, I’ve asked around, and was met with the same answer I got about waxing: it most certainly is.
At this point in my life, it all sounds very appealing; but it also feels so foreign. How nice would it be to meet someone for a cheeseburger, have an afternoon delight, go our separate ways, and meet up again if we both want to? You know, without all the complicated stuff that gets tangled up in dating and relationships.
If you ask me, very.
You see, it’s the “dating” part that I’m just not sold on. For starters, I don’t think I could ever date someone who lives too close to me. What if they stop by on a random Tuesday, or think I spend too much time working, or with my kids, or that I have my ex over for dinner too often?
I’m not sure if it’s a general lack of interest, or if I’m just being selfish. Or lazy. Or worse, maybe I’m just scared to death that I suck at relationships altogether.
Honestly, it’s probably a mixture of all of the above.
I realize I don’t have to figure this all out right now, and that meeting a handsome man in a diner or out for a drink will only lead to dating if we both want it to. But there are days when I strongly feel I’ll just never get to a place where I am ready, and I wonder if maybe that’s because there’s still some left-over hurt standing in my way. Hurt that I haven’t yet dealt with.
Right now, I’m enjoying being alone; my focus is on my kids and my career. I am comfortable here. And not only am I afraid that feeling won’t go away, but I’m afraid that if the feelings do go away, I’ll just talk myself out of putting myself out there, because I am really bad at giving myself to another person. A failed marriage can do that to a person.
Sometimes I think I’ll just wait this thing out, and go back to dating when my youngest goes off to college — eight years from now.
When I said this to my sisters and a few close friends, they told I was being ridiculous. “If you want to date, you should,” they told me.
I mean listen, don’t get me wrong — I rather enjoy men; they are delicious and fun. They smell good, and I like it when someone I’m attracted to puts their hand on my knee while we’re in the car.
I like cooking for them. I like facial hair and boxer-briefs.
It’s just that right now, I am exactly where I want to be. Right now, I like not having to wax. I like not wondering if some guy I just met will call, or what I should say if I want to have a wild time with someone, but don’t want to do the sleepover thing.
Right now, I like being alone with my three kids and putting on my pajamas at 4 PM if I choose. Right now, I need to find my happily ever after with myself before I can invest in another person.
There will be plenty of time to figure it out, and when I am ready, I will know.
But that day is not today.