I didn’t think I’d be starting over. Like seriously dating or let me be honest seriously having to date in my almost mid-40s. I mean it seemed like a reasonable thing to expect myself to be partnered at this point. And although I have never been the belle of the ball or the one people were clamoring for, occasionally I dated and found myself in a long-term relationship. So, the plan was that I would be partnered by this time. It is all the messaging I’ve received all my life. I mean I thought I would have had someone to share space, time, and love with. And things seemed to be heading that way. I met a person. It was a whirlwind love bombing experience in the beginning and by the time I noticed that this was not ideal, I was really into it. Bypassing all the details and frustrations with that, I found myself finally free at 42.
And now here I am. Out here. It’s a lot. I mean I knew it would be. I didn’t expect to just go on one date and find the person I was supposed to be with. Well, maybe a little. I am a Pisces and we’re known for daydreaming a whole relationship after one meeting. So a little of me was hoping I’d just meet the best person for me soon after, but the rational part of me, the part that guides most of my behavior, knew I would not. (I wrote a previous post about my practical side, but sometimes, I need her to help temper my Pisces!) I didn’t expect it to be quite like this though.
I didn’t expect the…weirdness of it all. I mean non-existent bios. Like I get it: bios aren’t foolproof. They don’t tell everything, but one should be able to say something about themselves, right? I don’t think that’s hard. And when you finally match online, conversations seem to go nowhere. One-word answers to open ended questions. Or the person who decides to be overly solicitous and provide too much information starts heteronormative gender norms, that you’re not a fan of. I mean this is a lot of work. I expected that. I was in a 13-year relationship, so I understand that relationships are work. Getting to know each other is work, but it’s weird that I feel like I’m the only one working.
Back on the Scene
The other day, I logged into one of the apps, and I had received a super like. Nice. So I read the bio. And it says they don’t like women wearing fake hair and even said that if you were reading their bio and had fake hair to swipe left. Okay. My profile picture? I have two different shades of braids that reached down to the middle of my back. I don’t know what to do with that. Did not swipe right, despite the super like. What do you do with this?
There is quite a bit of online dating advice. I have two friends who are writing online dating stories and how-to manuals; I can’t wait to read them! I listened to one of my favorite podcasts and there was a really good segment on there on how to use your dating profile and how to make it work for you. And that was a wonderful podcast.
Even with the advice, it’s still challenging. The one piece of advice I did feel better about was the piece that said quality over quantity. I don’t swipe right on a lot of folks. Not because I’m extremely picky, but I also know what I’m looking and not looking for. One of my friends told me they had lots of dates because they swiped right on a lot of people. Even with people they have differences of opinions on politics with. And sure, that’s cool, but I would rather have better connections than more dates. I also do not feel like debating issues for fun. I fought enough in my previous relationship for the next two lifetimes!
It’s hard to be so selective because it feels quite at odds with timing. Fertility may be an issue. And now with the Dobbs decision, IVF if needed could become something that will make traditional motherhood impossible. (Yes, there are many ways to be a mother. That’s a post for another time.)
They’re not lying when they say that during your 40s you are at your horniest. My sex drive is through the roof at this point. It is real. I would love a partner (or partners) to unleash some of this pent-up energy. I’ve shed the respectability politics and I am ready to experience many things. I’d blush or pretend to be embarrassed here, but I’ve also relinquished shame. Thanks, Brené Brown!
As I think about sex though, I have things to consider. I am at that age where we didn’t get the HPV vaccine. And before you ask why, remember I’m 43. A few years after I finished undergrad, the HPV vaccine came on the scene and by that time I was in a committed relationship that was going places. We had talked about marriage, etc. Then of course we broke up.
So now I have to consider if I get the HPV vaccine or not as it is recommended up to those of 45 years. As I channel Carrie Bradshaw, am I searching for Mr. Right or Mr. Put-it-on-me-right-now? So many things to consider.
This Sure Ain’t a Rom Com
As with anything, we must do the work. Navigating this dating world after being in a long-term relationship is trial by combat whether you want it to be or not. There is constant learning and unlearning. You have to learn to go with the flow and realize everything doesn’t mean something, but some things do. You have to strategize without playing games. You have to be intentional and flexible. You have to set boundaries. Mine are pretty clear: communication even for a casual situation and discussion about consent, expectations, and sexual health.
A few weekends ago, it was romantic comedy weekend or something. NPR did a story about the best romantic comedies. All these years later, I finally watched When Harry Met Sally. It was good. What struck me the most is that there was time for their relationship to develop. This was a piece of advice from the podcast the other day that we need not rush things. The apps do make everything seem as if it must be instantaneous, but that’s a reflection of our current culture. If I take a step back let my rational part take the lead, it could be a good thing. Moving more slowly is definitely more enticing after a whirlwind situation that didn’t let the dust settle. I want to be able to see the dust. You can’t clean it up if you can’t see it.
The other thing I learned from When Harry Met Sally is that dating is sometimes disastrous. There will be a lot of missteps with a lot of other people. So I guess I’ll just keep trying. I’ll keep putting myself out there as much as I can. I will continue to be selective. Continue to work on my profile. Continue to ask questions.
The NPR story didn’t mention my favorite romantic movie, but it’s not quite a comedy. It’s a love story. And truly that’s what I’m looking for. Writing stories take time. All of the advice in the world doesn’t a story make. Writing the story does. So, I will continue to push on. I will. And then I’ll write my love story to share with the world because when I meet my Darius, the whole world is gonna know.