I have talked a lot about what I don’t want when it comes to the opposite sex. I have gone over a lot of the bad or negative things about dating and a plethora of pitfalls as it relates to the men I have dated or gone out with. I honestly don’t believe that all the good men are gone or married. Or gay for that matter. I mean, seriously, there has to be at least a few of them left and maybe, just maybe, I will be fortunate enough to find just one of them. So, instead of listing all the bad things about the men I have come across, perhaps it would be nice to address what I do want, because I have been thinking about that a lot lately.
- A gentleman. A true gentleman, not just one that likes to say he is and then forget his manners as soon as he gets comfortable with me. I want a man to open my doors, go out of his way to treat me like I matter to him, speak with kindness, not just to me, but everyone he comes across, even when he doesn’t necessarily like them. He should have at least some basic understanding of manners and etiquette and be good to my kids and my family.
- A man who is proud to be with me. I am not a super model. In fact, I am about the farthest thing from that, but I want whoever I am with to be okay with that and to be proud of who he is with, because in spite of my physical shortcomings, he thinks I am still an awesome person and a great catch.
- A man that isn’t afraid of feelings. Oh my gosh, it would be nice to be with someone who is not only okay with my feelings but doesn’t mock or belittle others who have them. It would be nice if he shows and shares his with me because he cares about and trusts me that much.
- Someone who realizes and is okay with the fact that I fuck up. Because I do. Monumentally sometimes. I want someone to push back when I push and fight when it’s necessary. I want him to not puss out when I mess up and talk to me about why he is angry with me when he is angry with me. He should be able to engage in conversation when things go wrong and not just walk away. A good man sticks around when things get difficult. A good man will get that I am worth it even when my insecurities and baggage get the best of me.
- Someone with a good work ethic. Maybe that sounds a bit trite, but I want him to work hard. I also want him to play hard. Lazy is good at the right time, but I really want to be with someone who not just says he likes to hike and swim and go to the gym. I want someone who actually does and encourages it in me when I am too damn tired to move. I want someone who says “let’s go!” and grabs me by the hand and drags me to the car to go do something active when everything in me says “no. Let’s just watch Netflix”.
- Lazy at the right time. Yes, I realize that I just said I wanted someone active, but there are times when I really need to relax and just chill. I need to recharge my batteries and I want someone who can honestly tell when I need that and help make that happen. Sometimes I really just need a day when I can sit on the porch, wrapped up in a blanket or a hoodie, drinking hot cocoa, either enjoying a good book or watching the rain fall. Some days I really need to just breathe and little else. The right man will know this and enjoy the quiet with me.
- A good sense of humor. I love to laugh. If a man can make me laugh so hard I snort, he just might be a keeper. I love all kinds of humor–jokes, sarcasm, off color humor, dry humor, nerdy humor, geeky humor and (gasp!) dirty humor. If he can make me laugh, he is ahead in the game already.
- Someone with a past. This might sound strange, but I want someone with a past. I am not so sure that someone will accept mine if they don’t have their own. All those flaws I sport, the baggage I carry and all my scars are a part of who I am. They have built my character, made me strong, given me compassion and taught me things a clean and trial-free life could’ve never done. Someone with a past will understand this. They will see mine and not be afraid to share theirs.
- Someone who encourages me. I have always been able to take care of my self, but it would be nice to have someone who is willing to be my cheerleader. In relationships, I do my best to encourage and cheer my partner on, but rarely is my effort reciprocated
- Someone willing to be gluten free. This may be the hardest one to find. If one doesn’t have to be gluten free, why do it? I mean, who knows if this is something I could do if I didn’t absolutely have to. I would like to think I would, but it was hard enough doing it out of medical necessity, but when it’s not? Good luck. A man willing to give up his beer, bread and anything else gluten filled may be a unicorn indeed.
- Someone who wants to live. I am tired of men that want to be comfortable staying at home all the frickin time. I want to go camping and fishing and out to movies and for walks. I want to travel and see the world. I want to hang out with other people and go dancing and play. I want to have fun and I want to be with someone who wants to do those same things. I don’t want to spend my life working and then coming home to cook and clean for someone else and then watch Netflix until bedtime. I want to be with someone that isn’t happy in a bubble of comfort. I want to do things that scare me or challenge me or change me.
- Someone intelligent. I have always been kind of a nerd so I value intelligence in a partner. Maybe I need to ease up on that though because often when I find a super intelligent one, they kind of turn out to be, how shall I say this? Less than fun. Lacking anything resembling exciting.
- Someone that is good to my family and kids. If a man can’t get along with my family, there is really no point in pursuing a relationship because, while I don’t see them as often as I would like or I should, they are very important to me. The last man I dated and the only one I have introduced to my children or family since I dated my ex-husband, did a bang up job of completely pissing off my entire family, save my dad. “J” was absolutely rude as shit to my sister and you just can’t be rude to her. “M” (my sis) is a genuinely nice person and does her best to make people feel at ease and engage them in conversation. You can’t treat my family like crap on the bottom of your shoe and be in my life.
- Someone creative–I don’t care how he is creative (unless he is out creating new STD pools and offspring with a bevy of other women), I just dig creative–woodworking, drawing, painting, putting things together, building things. A man that works with his hands is a huge turn on. Watching a man work with his hands, however/whatever he does, can be mesmerizing. And actually kind of therapeutic.
- Someone adventurous and young at heart–If a man can turn even the most mundane of activities, such as grocery shopping or errand running, into an adventure, that is someone I want to spend my time with. I want him to see the world through the eyes of a child and be just as giddy as I am over things others take for granted. I want to watch the clouds float by, count the stars, wonder at the beauty found in seemingly ugly and dirty things.
This list probably sounds like a lot of demands and high expectations. It is. I am no longer willing to settle for “meh” any longer. I mean, there is a little wiggle room in there somewhere, but this really is my ultimate “wish list” for a partner. As high as my expectation is for the next, and hopefully final, man in my life, I hope his expectation is just as high for me. We should challenge each other, fight for each other, take care of each other, cheer each other on, and, God willing, go on a million adventures with each other. If that isn’t possible, and just “meh” exists, then really, what is the point?
2016 regrettably found me back in the dating pool. I went back and forth on whether or not I was really ready to date post-divorce, but at the coaxing of a friend (read: pushing) I went ahead and put up a profile on Plenty of Fish. I am still not sure what made me think that online dating would be a good idea since online was where I met my ex. And Plenty of Fish? Well, much to my chagrin, it’s mostly a bunch of horny douchebags and douchebaggetts looking for nothing more than easy, semi-anonymous sex, friends with benefits (which generally means benefits with a little friendly conversation) or easy non-challenging relationships where one party gets what they want, when they want, how they want it and immediately loses their shit when the other party actually has a mind and opinion of their own.
Please don’t get me wrong. I DO NOT think that all parties on said dating site are bad people looking for the above-mentioned things. I have met some really nice men online and some of them, while no romantic connection was made, are now friends, at least on facebook where we occasionally chat or make plans that never really come to fruition.
But–if you have ever attempted the online dating thing, you know what it is like and how disappointing, and sometimes even frightening, it can be. And not all bad dating/relationship experiences are confined to online dating either. I have had some of those in the real world where we have been friends or acquaintances for a very long time (high school, or, in my case in the army immediately after high school as well).
So, here are just a few things that might be helpful to know or watch out for when considering stepping back into the cesspool that is the dating world.
- Benching “happens when someone repeatedly leaves you on a bench to wait around hoping they may choose to play you again. (Similar to what happens in sports games.) They might want you, but they aren’t quite sure if you are good enough, and there may be someone who they think is better right now. Or they are afraid of love, and they get emotionally scared, so they leave you in a position where they can pick you back up and use you when their interest spikes—or more plausibly in the dating world: when their ego needs a boost” (Elephantjournal.com). Who knew that, in your forties, this is still a thing and even has a name? By your forties, you should be mature enough to know what the hell you are doing and enough to not do something so disingenuous and hurtful to someone else. This happened to me with someone I knew in the army. We have known each other for over 25 years and, while he lives in another state, we decided to engage in a long distance relationship and,after a month or so, began discussing him moving to be closer me to actually have a real relationship. A little over two months in, he flips out and suddenly can’t be away from his family and whatever the hell is in his state of residence. So, on the bench I go. Fool me once, shame on you. Almost 2 years later, the discussion comes up again. Thinking he may have matured in that time, maybe knows a bit more about what he wants (me?), I fall for the bullshit again. Very quickly in, he gets very icy and distant and conversation from him becomes very calculated and careful. Fool me twice, shame on me. Benched twice and I have learned my lesson. It will not happen again with him. Ever. My advice is if you get benched once, don’t let it happen again. The big, bad love/relationship thing will more than likely scare them again and you will have wasted your time, energy, effort and affection that might otherwise be applied toward someone who actually deserves those things from you.
- Ghosting. “The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels” (urbandictionary.com). This hasn’t really happened to me in the real world, but occasionally happens online when you have been conversing with someone for an extended period of time and they either meet someone they clique with or you say something they don’t like. In the real world, based on what a couple of friends have shared with me, it usually happens when a. they have sex once or a few times, or b. when they meet someone else who gives them what the first party hasn’t yet or isn’t willing to give them (and I don’t necessarily mean sex). I think that you really need to pay attention to dialogue, attitude and language. If they are obsessed with the topic of sex, and I mean beyond normal guy obsession (is that even possible?), evasive or vague, you might have a potential “ghoster” on your hands and you might want to reconsider giving them the time of day.
- Self centered men. These men are looking for someone to be their on-call playmate and expect you to mold your life around their schedule and do the things they want to do, when they want to do them. They have little regard for your schedule, family obligations, job, needs etc. If you don’t mold yourself around their needs, you will be seen as a problem and will be left at the curb rather quickly, but let’s face it, that curb in all it’s mundane “blah-ness” is a damn sight better than being with someone who is incapable of giving you even a tiny percent of what you deserve. Case in point: I had been messaging a guy for a couple weeks (what can I say, I am wary and need to talk to someone and get to know them before I hand out my personal info like email or phone number). We had been trying to make a meet date but for some reason our schedules were always conflicting. We finally had a date to meet for coffee on a Friday. Turns out his son had a football game that day and he said we would either have to reschedule or we could attend the game together. Now, I have this policy (or rather my ex and I do) that until something is serious, the kids don’t meet a significant other and definitely not casual dates. I won’t do it to my kids and I won’t do it to someone else’s. It creates confusion and it is unfair to parade a bunch of men in and out of their lives. So we rescheduled for breakfast the next day. I get a text that his brother came into town unexpectedly and we would need to reschedule again. My friends said “Red flag! Don’t do it!”, but because my family is a priority, I assume his is as well and I give him another pass. Reschedule for Monday. Coffee in my town at 5pm? No, he had kid stuff going on starting at 5. We decide to meet for pizza right after I get off work. Meet. Talk. Spiral. Seemed nice, but not immediately comfortable. True nature comes out about 30 minutes in. My kids are my priority so I don’t care who you are, if you don’t get that, it’s not going to work. If you have kids at home and they aren’t your priority, again, it’s not going to work. So, because of the number of days I have my kids with me, my dating availability is limited.This gem told me that because I couldn’t make him my priority, having just met, I was using my kids as an excuse. I was a little dumbfounded. An excuse? They are my offspring. I brought them into this world and I am responsible for them. Things rapidly deteriorated from there, and the date ended abruptly when I got up and walked out on him. My kids are an excuse, but him rescheduling twice and then my schedule having to accommodate his was okay. I have zero respect for a guy (not even a man) who would treat my kids as if they were disposable or an inconvenient option. When I make them a priority, it is an excuse.
You’ve heard that the tip of the iceberg is just that–the tip. What lies beneath, is so much larger and more expansive than what is immediately visible to the eye. That is kind of the nature of this subject. There is so much more to discuss than just these specific types or problems. I thought I knew what dating was going to be like and what kinds of pitfalls I would run into, but being naive has always been my problem. A little foolishly optimistic too. I kind of expected that the good in people would outweigh the not so nice or honorable. What I am finding is that there are a lot of creeps out there, but I still have faith that there is a gem worth waiting for. Somewhere out there, is a diamond, I just have to sort through a lot of stone and dirt. Someone please pass me a pick and a shovel. And possibly some dynamite.