Treading Water in the Dating Pool
Not once in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be back in the dating pool in my 30s. If someone had predicted 5 years ago that I’d be looking for a new relationship I would have said there was a better chance that I’ll be trampled to death by elephants in my own home than contemplating my profile on Match.com.
But that’s where I am. In the dating pool. The deep end.
Now, I realize that there are a lot of single parents out there who are like me…looking for love at the McDonald’s playground on a Friday night. Or maybe glancing over at a naked ring finger at Wal-Mart and then trying to look as fetching as possible in your worn out college sweats. Seeing someone out of the corner of your eye at the park who has three kids in tow, thinking about the fact that you have three little angels at home…and wondering if you have it in you to raise a six pack.
I also realize that there are people out there who are looking at their own current relationship status, wondering if it’s time to move on. I know that you’re reading this, looking at dirty underwear on the floor just shy of the laundry basket, putting off tackling that “yellow jello” in the bathroom, and thinking, “Can’t I do better than this?”
There is always a little part of us that wonders if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
But I’m here to tell you from personal experience: That grass is balding, working out a custody agreement that won’t be finalized for another 10 years, and has no appreciation for stretch marks.
When I decided to start dating a little while after my husband passed away, I think I grossly underestimated how hard it was going to be. At the time…I just wanted to see if I still “had it.” After not dating for 9 of the 11 years I was married (that was a joke) and then suddenly finding myself widowed with three kids…I felt like it was time to see if the old girl still had it in her to turn a new pair of jeans into some free drinks.
That’s right fellas. My baggage is about to become your bar tab.
It’s hard to get back into the swing of things after not dating for a long time. To go from wearing sweats on a Saturday night to wearing shoes that will not allow you to have more than 2 glasses of wine (or you’ll hit the pavement)…is hard to get used to. Walking into a restaurant and biting your tongue before you blurt out, “Hey! Kids eat free on Tuesdays! We should come back!” is a whole new world. And sitting there listening to someone complain about their ex (and starting to feel sorry for her) sometimes makes you want to become the first wine-drinking nun.
Don’t get me wrong…dating can be fun. I’m a people person and I think my next career will be as a professional mingler. I try to keep things as light and cheerful as possible when I’m sitting across from someone at dinner, hoping that he’ll let me pay my part of the bill so I won’t “owe” him another date. And as I always remind my single friends: Your date may not be the man of your dreams, but his best friend could be and he’s sitting right over there.
It’s all about networking.
Internet dating has completely changed how we operate, too. I remember (back in the day) when online dating was something the “undateable” did to meet each other. It seemed so taboo and “uncool” and if you met online, together you would come up with a new story about how your relationship began: Some fictitious mutual friend that no one knows but who was able to change both of your lives in a single introduction at an event no one else was invited to.
When, in reality, your love connection started with an email that just said, “Hola.”
I am actually one of those rare people who thinks that internet dating is pure genius and I wish someone would come up with something similar “off-line.” It would be such a time saver if you could walk into a bar and glance at someone’s personal resume (which has been conveniently stamped to their forehead) and know immediately if you had a shot at making this work before you even said, “Nice tattoo.”
For example: If his stamp says that he has “4+ kids” and is excited to have more…you would know right away to down that Mojito and bolt.
My favorite thing about online dating is the ability to people watch from the comfort of your own home. Think about it. Years ago we would have to go to the airport for that kind of entertainment and now we don’t even have to leave the house. There is nothing better than getting into your p.j.s, grabbing a glass of wine, and turning on the computer to see what the world has to offer in the way of available men. Or, as the case may be, unavailable men who just forgot they were attached for a minute while they took that shirtless picture of themselves with their webcam.
(Just a side note: Please don’t do that. It makes you look green and creepy and like you should be posting a profile on SerialKillers.com instead of EHarmony.)
The weird thing is that it seems like every dating site has the same inventory. It’s like the men out there are part of some secret club where you upload a profile and it gets distributed to 50 different websites. And it can be very discouraging when you start emailing back and forth with someone on one site and really think you have a connection…and then he starts hitting on you on another one.
C’mon, buddy. I’m signed up under the same username. Can’t you make an Excel spreadsheet or something so you can keep track?
My internet dating experience has been a huge source of entertainment not only for me…but for all of my married friends as well. In fact, my sister has made me promise that even if I should find the man of my dreams, I will never give up my membership.
All of my buddies look forward to their daily email updates. You know…the guy with the username “DUIOffender” who is out there looking for his soulmate. Or the one who forwarded his picture and, much to my dismay, had a nice set of bangs to go with his mullet. The email I received with words that I didn’t understand, but I think the upshot was that he was offering to make me a princess in a country I’d never heard of. And then, my personal favorite…the one who was “climbing the corporate ladder” but couldn’t spell “am.” He spelled it “aim.” Three times. In one paragraph.
Hope he’s in accounting.
The good news for me is that, in my case, if I ever start dating someone and I feel like it’s not working out…I can always pull the “widow card” and back out because I’m finding myself “not quite emotionally ready yet.” Or, “I’m widowed and can’t find anyone to watch my kids so I probably shouldn’t be dating.” And then there’s my personal favorite: “I’m widowed and if you don’t leave me alone, you may find out what really happened to my first husband.”
Works every time.
Catherine Tidd is a writer, widow and mother of three. She is the founder of www.theWiddahood.com, a free peer support website dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other and has a Facebook peer support page under the name Widow Chick. Along with being published in several books on grief and renewal, Catherine is also a humorous motivational speaker who focuses on ” finding joy in a life you weren’t expecting.” She is also a volunteer speaker with the Donor Alliance of Colorado.