A girlfiend I hung out with this weekend has an album on her phone called "Dying Alone" where she screenshots losers she comes across in dating apps or people watching. Its hilarious to scroll through, but when hearing her reason for creating it, it saddens my heart. She said, "Had I known these were my options after thirty, I never would've gotten divorced". Personally, I still think someone really amazing is out there. The issue I've been running into since hitting "the scene" again is not a lack of good ones, it's the fact theyre NEVER available!
The out of towner: This is something I run into on the reg in Austin! Not only are we the next Silicon Valley and have men flying into Austin just for work ALL the time, but we're also a hub for bachelor parties and birthday party vacations. In fact, even though Austin is a "big city", the social scene makes it feel like a small town because we run into the same 100 people EVERY freakin' weekend. It never fails, i finally meet a man I think, "Damn, this guy I'd be ALL in with, hands down" and he drops the bomb he lives in California, New York, South Carolina, Colorado, Seattle, Toronto...anywhere but here.
The married guy: This is ACTUALLY way more common than I'd like to admit, but I'll find myself drawn to a guy. We chat, laugh, dance, find out we have alot in common, have similar values, were practically finishing each other's sentences and just before I get too excited he finds a way to work the word "wife" into a sentence. Argh! Yup, it' true, after thirty-five the good ones are already married.
The young guy: I'll tell you I used to think dating someone younger than me was pointless, and as silly as some young men can be until thirty-five when they hit puberty and grow up, many of these young bucks I meet are WAY ahead of the curve! In fact, it's like they know the reputation their generation has is horrible so they're breaking the mold! I met someone this past weekend who was only 26, but he was smart, funny, intelligent, successful, balanced, self-aware, and for the first time in a loooooonnnngggg time, I was treated like a normal person. Sure, he complimented me every now and then, but he didn't obsess over me. Most men are either intimidated by me and clam up and start self-depricating or they get really obsessed and cant stop complimenting me to the point I feel fragile or like a have to pretend to be perfect so I don't bust this unrealistic image this guy has created of me. But with this guy, I could be completely silly and we laughed our asses off the entire night! I forgot how much fun it is to play with someone. I felt like a kid again and sure, part of that was because he's so young, but damn, so many men just take themselves WAY too seriously around me. Blech! And, this guy loved hearing stories about my boys. He couldn't stop laughing and said he'd love nothing more than to have two little dudes to play with and help take care of. He said I'm the kind of woman he's been looking for and can't ever find...ditto, dude...ditto.
The night ended perfectly with, "If I lived here, you'd already be my girlfriend and if you lived in Colorado, I would've already wifed you up by now"...yup, major bummer...of course he lives out of state. Why are the good ones NEVER available?!
I was raised to be a wife and mother. Not only is it the Southern way, but it's what "Christian women do". From childhood I was taught the purpose of dating was to find a husband, Mr. Right, the white knight...whatever you want to call this holy grail of a person I was searching for from birth. I was also taught a series of other things that skewed my view of men, dating and relationships, but that's a post all its own. I wish I had known there were other options for leading a purposeful life and that marriage did not guarantee a happy ever after.
I wish I had the awareness back then that I have now which is that relationships are assignments from the universe. Each connection we make to another challenges us to become a bettter version of ourselves if we allow it to. A soul mate may simply be someone that pops in and out of your life to reveal another layer of yourself to you and move on. Someone you're dating, or even someone you fall in love with, may be in your life to teach you what you DONT need, DONT want, or shouldn't do! The healthiest approach to dating and love is to embrace each connection with a whole heart until it either ends or it doesn't. Reflect on your time with this person to learn more about your self, others, the world, and your place in it.
By not hoping each person we meet fills this supposed void, or somehow completes us, or rescue us (the lies we're told we as little girls), the pressure is released. We can simply be in the moment with people that catch our interest and enjoy the ride!
I am dating. I am not dating to find a husband, but I'm not opposed to it either. Marriage just isn't a life goal anymore. Instead, it's something my partner and I may, or may not, decide to do. Whatever is decided will be what is best for us. I no longer feel the need to live within social constructs and do what others expect me to do. I don't need a ring, or a piece of paper, to solidify a connection I have with another human being. I don't need a label to help me define my role in my relationship and there won't be any expectations on how we move forward in our life together. If I get married again, it will be for no other reason than to promise the person I love that I'm in it for life. No doubts, no expectations, no pressure...just love. Real LOVE. A mutual love where each partner takes care of the other's needs and a connection that cannot be broken by time, life, or distance.
So, to marry or not to marry? That is the question. The answer is for me to decide on my own.
"I am someone that is looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love" -Carrie Bradshaw
Not the marrying kind
Its not uncommon for men to ask a woman they're interested in, "What are you looking for?" This question presents itself in text, phone calls, first meetings, and always at least by the third date. Its such an odd question because there's no "coffee date" response. No 3 minute elevator pitch can sum up what a woman is looking for; especially a woman like me. Because, chances are, my honest response will likely repel you.
A 27 year old male I was chatting with last sunday afteroon over a few cocktails at a carnival themed bar (that detail is crucial...(imagine a whimsical lighthearted ambiance) looked me dead in the eye and started telling me he's looking for someone special to share his life with and he thinks that may be me. Whoa! slow down, buddy! Come ride the slide with me or lets throw bean bags around on the astroturf. I laughed (which probably hurt his feelings) and said, "You seem like the 'marying guy', honey. That's not my scene." His demeanor immediately changed and he relaxed, "I'm really not, but I thought maybe you were". That answer made things even worse and made me laugh even harder. "Dude, you can't just assume ALL women want to get married and more importantly, this isn't Sunday Funday convo with a thirty-five year old divorcee- just sayin'"
Been there. Done that. Not for me.
I didn't get divorced because I hated marriage. I had legitimately valid, life threatening reasons for divorcing. However, now that I'm on the flip-side (and older), I've realized marriage was only something I did because I felt I should. I felt like I had to. I was dating someone nearly seven years, we had lived together 85% of that time, we were both of age, why not? What else are you supposed to do, right? Ummmm....I wish I'd known back then there were other options! I wish I had known marriage wasn't the only logical next step and more importantly that marriage wasn't going to fix a bad relationship. The institution of marriage came with a heap of issues that tragically altered my relationship and subsequently me as an individual.
So, what am I looking for? I'm still looking for LOVE. I'm looking for my person! I'm looking for someone whose mind, body and soul all excite me and challenge me. Someone who has incredible goals for themself and their life and will NOT alter those dreams or ambitions because of me or for me, but rather allows me to be a part of the dreams. I'm looking for someone who will be open and honest with me and allow me into their life and become a part of my life, but together we encourage each other to live our own adventures. This person will not only adore my wild nature, but encourage it. This person will trust our connection enough that even when we're apart, they'll know we are together.
This person will also be secure enough in what we have that they won't need to legally "claim" me. This person will know I love them and they love me and it will be understood that love will always be there. We will be partners in love and in life however we choose to love and live.
This person is wild, soulful, adventurous, thoughtful, generous, kind, social, ambitious, patient, strong, gentle, warm, generous, honest, light hearted, optimistic, playful, confident, cultured, selfless, willing, trusting, affectionate, spontaneous, romantic, creative, forgiving...loving. They approach people with an open mind, approach me with an open heart, and approach life with an open soul. On our own, we are dynamite, but together we are a force.
"I'm someone who is looking for love. Real love. Consuming, inconvenient, can't-live-without each other love" -Carrie Bradshaw
Every King Needs a queen
A man in my life just bought a home. As he was giving me a virtual tour of the home he described one of the rooms as the "king suite" which made me laugh out loud and mentally take note that he didn't use the term "master suite". Internally I thought calling it a "king suite" clearly demonstrates he's staking out this home as his personal kingdom. A "king suite" implies a strong desire for independence, personal space, and solitude; a clear signal to me, as someone he's dating, that he has no interest in a relationship. I later mentioned this to him and laughed at his word choice to which he responded, "Every king needs a queen".
Now, the little girl in me felt my heart go pitter-patter because that's such an adorable thing to say, but the woman in me felt I needed to think a little deeper on this statement and figure out what that really means. What is the role of a queen for a king and what's the role of a king to a queen? Where have we gotten things twisted in regards to relationships?
He and I would both describe ourselves as anti-relationship in a "traditional" sense. In fact, I can be dating someone, good dating, and the moment a "relationship" gets brought up I feel my insides twist and I enter fight or flight. Friends say its because I haven't yet met someone I want that with, and I would agree to an extent, but it goes beyond that. Not only do I have high expectations for the person I decide to share my time and energy with, but I need to be with someone that can understand my counter-cultural view of relationships. I'll get to this...I digress...
In the game of chess, the queen has more mobility than any other piece, able to move any direction on the board. She is less valuable though because the game can continue without her; however, the king is relatively powerless without his queen. The role of the queen is to protect the king. We can assume from this a queen is to be flexible, respect her king, and protect her king from all sides at all times.
But, unfortunately, many women opt for rigid, demanding, clingy, and nagging. They demand to be treated like a "queen" but they don't behave in a way that warrants that honor. They rely on the king to make them feel like a queen, but a true queen is secure in her role and is a natural born leader. What she needs from her king is love and respect.
"Invest in your queen for she can move in ways a king can't" -Vineet Sharma
In Northern folk religion, the belief is that each man should strive to be king of his inner circle and each woman should strive to be queen of hers. They are each rulers of their own domain, but the king and queen that share a household are equal rulers of the home (their kingdom). They work together in complimentary, mutually beneficial ways, never in competition. "They are sovereigns individually with the complete ability to function independently of each other. Yet they are also able to function collectively, interactively, producing together even more than what they could independently." (KindredKreators.org/roles). The King is considered the "ruler" and expected to conduct himself according to the rules and expectations he sets for others in his domain. Without justice, there is no peace in his kingdom; therefore he holds himelf to the same standards of those he leads.
The Queen is an advocate of mercy. The queen is said to support the kings rulings and conduct herself accordingly, but also provide the balance he needs in order to rule justly. The king rules with his head, but a queen rules with her heart; both are equally important to the success of the kingdom. Logic without love becomes heartless and stoic just as love without logic can become permissive and chaotic. Together, they live in perfect balance and harmony.
"Therefore, they need each other for constructive life giving balance" (Kindredkreators.org)
Our modern day take on kings and queens is very narcissistic in comparison. We've bought into this idea that one is more powerful than the other and one should bow to the other, rather than both should give respect as equal rulers. There's the belief a man should "put your woman on a pedestal", but what about respecting the king on his thrown as well? We've designed certain roles and expectations for each partner, often unfair and unnecessary to maintain connection and strengthen bond. Far too often demands are placed on the submissive; leaving that partner confused and weak. Instead, a King and Queen should both conduct themselves as rulers of their own domains and equal rulers of their shared kingdom. They should turn to one another as trusted advisors, support each others goals, and respect each other's visions. They are not in each others lives to hold each other down, but rather lift each other up and together conquer the world.
If I am lucky enough to find a King, my hope is that he will recognize me as a true Queen, treat me as such, and most importantly trust me to rule in my own way. Together, we will be more powerful, unstoppable as a force, supporting one another's dreams, passions, and interests. Our minds will be open to all possibilities for our future and there will be mutual love, trust, respect and acceptance.
"Don't look for a princess that needs to be saved. Look for a queen willing to fight by your side" -Anonymous
Good on Paper
A good on paper guy is the one who meets all the "qualifications" you have listed in your head, or the ones your parents, friends, and society, have outlined for you. I made a list like this in a "Sex, God, and Me" workshop as a teenager at church. The goal of the exercise was to get you thinking about your future life partner and refuse to settle for anything less. Also, refuse to date anyone that wasn't what you were looking for.
Not wasting any time with someone who you don't see a future with is a wise practice. This can protect you from getting your heart broken and perhaps missing out on quality men while wasting time with suckers.
I've had the list I wrote when I was fifteen and I've added a few things to it, of corse, but now, as a divorcee I've changed the way I look at this list. I've realized it's rather easy for a man to posess many of the traits on this list; however, after experiencing a HIGHLY TOXIC marriage with a man that was "good on paper", I realized it's even more important to look at how they utilize their traits, rather than the traits they posess.
For example, I used to look for a man that was strong. I accidentally mistook aggression for strength in my last relationship. Or, humor can be entertaining at first, but is that humor used at the expense of others? If so, this may be a defense mechanism this person uses to deflect your attention off darker traits. Intelligence is also something most people look for, but does this person use intelligence to only serve themselves or are they engaging in enriching conversations, furthering their career, or helping others in need? We all know the phrase, "Actions speak louder than words" and in the instance of dating, I feel its even MORE important not to release your heart to anyone based on how they SAY they are. Take time to get to know them and observe their actions, their lifestyle, their response to adversity, and draw your own conclusions on their character based on actions, not interviewng skills.
"Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking" -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Parenting expert, blogger, inventor, single mom to twins, barefoot nomad, adventure seeker, boho spirit, advocate of play