Relationshipping

Relationshipping

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Relationshipping…
No, it’s not really a word. I made it up yesterday. Here’s an example of its proper usage. Please use your context clues.

“While the forty something year old woman was adept at relation-shipping, she loathed the prospect of dating again after years of being married.”

I like the term relation-shipping better than “dating” because it’s more specific than “dating.” You see, dating I have decided, is way different than relationshipping. Dating is the honeymoon period prior to the actual relationshipping, especially if you are my age and already have three children.

Dating is much less complicated than relationshipping. Dating should be … he picks you up at the door at 7 pm (or you meet him somewhere if you’re afraid he may be creepy), you go out to a lovely dinner and a cocktail, and there are no little people that call you “mom” running in interrupting you every five seconds. Dating is like a Polaroid picture. It’s an isolated time frame in a controlled environment.

Photo of Person Holding Polaroid Camera

 

Actually, maybe it’s more like a selfie… a photo-shopped selfie…You know, your most flattering angles, and you’re only going to show off your “good side.” I mean, who answers the, “So, tell me about yourself” first date questions with a detailed description of your most annoying personal flaws? No one. We’re all putting our best foot forward. In dating, you’re getting to know someone, and that someone is the very best version of themselves.

I think I’m really good at dating. Most of us are. On a date, for example, you can most likely actually focus all of your attention on the person sitting across the table from you. Newsflash…This is not reality!

Reality is you, in the kitchen after a ten hour work day, stirring spaghetti sauce with one hand and texting your teenager with the other to verify pick up time for her after school choir rehearsal. All the while this is occurring, your five year old is whining like Stewey on family guy over and over and over, “Mommy, mommy, mommy! I’m hungry! Mommy!” Which you know may be followed by a complete meltdown if you can’t pull dinner together soon. There’s a laundry basket full of unfolded clothes on the couch, a cat on the window ledge outside staring at you and meowing incessantly because everyone forgot to feed her, toys all over the living room, and you’re yelling something like, “Calgon, take me away!” Only no one even knows what that means because your mid 1980’s commercial references are so old they are pretty much irrelevant. That, my friend, is real lifeNow who wants to date me? You feel me people? Who wants to jump into this hot mess of a scene? These are the moments when I think maybe I’ll just be single for another ten years until my kids are grown up.

I know I’m reasonably attractive, so actually procuring a date is not impossible for me. I’ve even been referred to as, “hot,” which according to my gynecologist would be literally accurate as he explained my night sweats away as a symptom of being pre- menopausal… That’s right, menopause! Sweet. So even though I may be, “hot,” the majority of every day life is far less than sexy, and not everyone is looking for real life.

It’s a whole different ballgame dating at 40 with three kids than it is dating in your 20’s or 30’s with no children in the picture. I mean what if “hot date guy” were to see you in the middle of the after school reality scene? Would he still be interested in sticking around, or would reality be too much for him? Is he just interested in dating, or is he looking for something real? These are the questions I have.

So many questions.

So few people with any solid advice based on real life experience.

So many opinions.

I’ve noticed a pattern when it comes to people trying to give me advice on dating post divorce. The advice I’ve gotten typically goes one of two ways and is always given by married people since most everyone I know is still married. Here they are.

1. “Just have fun! Date around! Why in the world would you want to get serious with anyone? Enjoy being single!”

2. “You need to be alone… like for awhile…”

As you can see, this advice while well meaning, is both contradictory and annoying.

Let’s start with the, “You need to be alone” advice shall we? Here’s what I say in my head when someone tells me I just need to be alone. Let’s just break it down. “Hello? Are you kidding me? When was the last time you were alone? 1998? Like in the eighth grade for a month between boyfriends? Plus, here’s the thing, I have already been alone for awhile…like a long while. I’m over it.

Now granted, I completely agree that while separated and newly divorced, taking time to heal and work on yourself are better done alone.  You’re also way more likely to make poor choices fresh out of a relationship. So, to some extent, that is great advice, but for me, two years of not having a real partner, friend, and lover is getting pretty daggone old.

I really do get that what people mean is you need to fix yourself, and I have definitely gone above and beyond when it comes to seeking out learning the lessons I needed to learn from my failed relationship. I’ve focused on healing. I’ve gone to therapy. I’ve done two rounds of a Bible study and support group for divorced folks, and I have a mountain of self-help books related to the topic I’ve read the past two years. I’ve chased down healing like a girl on fire.  I’ve developed my own interests and hobbies, and most importantly, I’ve pursued strengthening my relationship with God. I’ve learned to never give my power away to a man or put him in a position in my heart and life that only God should hold. Now, I would really like someone to move forward with. While alone isn’t a bad word, it’s not what I want for my present or my future.

The fact is I don’t want to be alone anymore, and the other fact is, fun is great but I want something real. Better yet, I want something fun and real.  I guess I also have to accept the fact that it is going to take patience and time to build something real. It simply takes time to get to know someone.

You don’t know each other yet when you first start dating, not really. You don’t know that when I’m in a rush I have a habit of inadvertently leaving cabinet doors half open. You don’t know that if we need to be on the road at 5:30 you need to lie and tell me 5:15 because it may take me about ten to fifteen minutes longer to get ready to go out than I think it will. You don’t know how to tell when I’m on the verge of hangry or tired and need chocolate to prevent a weepy moment. You don’t know all the little things about me that you may eventually find annoying but that I really hope you’ll find quirky and slightly adorable in their eventual annoyance.

These are the little things you know about someone you are in a long-term relationship with, things no one else knows. You also don’t know all the amazing little things about me that make me great. You don’t know that I have killer dance moves in the kitchen when the kids and I break it down during a random dance off or that I am an excellent bed time story teller. You don’t know what a hard worker I am or the hours I pull between my 4:30 am wake up and my 11:00 pm bed time.  You don’t know that when I can’t sleep it usually means I need to get up and write a song or at least get a few lines down on paper.  There is so much a stranger sitting across from a table in a restaurant from you meeting you for the first, second or third date just can’t know about you, and this is what I hate about dating.

It’s the starting over from the beginning. Explaining yourself. Talking about yourself, your childhood, your education, your family, your job, your work history, your exes, your marriages, your divorces, your kids, and on and on and on. God, it’s exhausting.  I miss the comfort of being with someone who just knows you. This is exactly why I never planned on getting divorced a second time. This is why I wanted to do anything possible to salvage my marriage.

I mean, I just can’t bear to keep up the old dating “pitch.” I’m done pitching myself like I’m some saleswoman desperate to close a deal. I’m not desperate, and I can’t deal! I’m not cynical. I’m just…so…tired. If someone is going to fall in love with me, they’re going to have to fall in love with the real me, not some sales pitch version of me.

The truth is, no one is perfect. The truth is, no matter how hot and interesting the guy or girl is you’re so excited about now on these first few dates, the shine will eventually wear off. Let’s be realistic. It always does. So, it doesn’t matter how this person appears at the beginning, what is going to matter in the end is are you still going to like this person one year, five years, ten or twenty years from now?  Is it possible to find someone loyal and honest that you simply cannot live without and who simply cannot live without you?

How do you figure this out? Time and observation.

Watch.

Wait.

Listen.

Learn.

This is the frustrating part of being at this stage of life and being single. I want someone beside me at the choir concerts, soccer games, track meets, and awards ceremonies. I want someone to plan a family vacation with. I want someone sitting next to me at church on Sundays and someone sitting next to me at the holidays. I look around and see families everywhere, and I realize that I am alone. I am beginning to get used to it, but it does make me sad.

This is why I have to remind myself to be patient when it comes to dating and finding a companion. Like the great Stephen Covey says, when it comes to people, slow is fast. It just takes time to build something the right way.

I think I have finally come to the point of giving up, which I see as a good thing actually. I have pretty much decided that I just don’t really want to seek out someone to date. The way I see it now is that if God wants to bring me someone to share my life with, well, He is going to bring me someone to share my life with. I’m done looking. He’s going to have to hit me over the head with a holy relationship hammer and a flashing neon sign with an arrow pointing at this man.

I’m not perfect, but I think I’m pretty damn good, and I feel certain that one day, God is going to plop a person right in front of me that is equally imperfect but pretty damn good too.

I’m also certain that the next love will be my last, and I’m counting on the hope that God saw way, way ahead of me and fixed it ahead of time to save the best for last. This won’t be like a young love because let’s face it, we’re not young and that’s becoming more true with every passing day. The next love will be different, and I think it’s going to take my breath away. God’s just like that isn’t He? He’s full of surprises and redemption and such great grace that I am trusting He knows exactly who and what I need. So, like Carrie Underwood sings, “Jesus, take the wheel! ” No, seriously. Take it. Like now

This is hands free relationshipping.

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