When I was in my early college years my expectations for dating were very simple. On the surface I wanted someone cute, super fun, and could stay out and drink all night with me. If we were going to actually date he would have to be someone who valued family. This description at the age of 20 covered a lot of guys. Oh – and taller than me. They ALWAYS have to be taller than me.
The X certainly fit that mold. Boy could he party. It was so much fun. Never mind the dramatic fights extremely influenced by alcohol. He was funny, and we were in love. I often think back to those early days now that it’s over and (because I am who I am) analyze every detail to find the warning signs. When did I know that it was wrong? Did I always know? Was I completely blind until I felt it was too late? Or was it just that they were simpler times? He took me to dinner, partied all night, had a bunch of friends, and wanted a family some day. Good enough. At 20 years old, these are the things that were important to me. At 33 years old, all of that has changed. I can buy my own dinner, while I still love to party it can be overrated, I have my own friends, and I have two daughters.
Some things are the same. I am a family person and always will be. My family is super important and if the guy I am with understands that, odds are he is close with his family too. Other than that very important detail, I have NO CLUE what kind of man I belong with. I didn’t think this would be difficult to figure out. After all, I am an adult who knows who she is. After getting divorced, I do however know exactly what I do NOT want. I don’t want someone who chooses a football game over my birthday dinner…EVERY YEAR. I don’t want someone who drinks excessively every time we go out to the point where I am always worried about it. I don’t want someone who backs away from me when I am being affectionate. I don’t want someone who says things like “changing diapers is a woman’s job”. Call me high maintenance.
Naturally I thought I wanted the man who covers all the things on a standard checklist. He comes from a good family, is well-educated, has a great job, has plenty of friends, loves to travel and has good taste in wine. He sounds like a dream. I’ve met him. I went on a date with him. He is so boring. He also claimed to be 5’7″…uh, no. Not even on your best day pal.
I went on to find another one. He works in the IT industry, as do I, so we were off to a great start. He was at least as tall as he said he was, and could hold a conversation. We had a great time, a hot make out session and talk of a second date. It all seemed normal and promising….until he mentioned that he likes to tie women to the bed and classifies himself as a Dominant (but don’t worry, he doesn’t like to make women bleed!!). I think every part of my body was frozen excluding my wide eyes blinking away. Oh! and he was in an open marriage for 5 years….and she is still living in his house. While I am admittedly curious about the Christian Grey fantasy, I cannot get along with the live-in ex-wife. So far we are finding more of what I DON’T want.
These are a couple of the better dates I have been on believe it or not but they all end up the same. That uncomfortable feeling. I fight with myself to say I could go on another date with him, but I know for certain there wouldn’t be third so it fades. There is only one guy that still lingers in my mind. I think about him every time I am on my way to meet someone new, and again when I leave that date at the end of the night. For the sake of this story we will call him Junior.
Junior was one of the first guys I had a connection with since being separated. He was different right from the start. For starters, he complimented my daughter before he complimented me. Nothing flatters me more than someone telling me how beautiful or great my kids are. Secondly, the day we started talking online he asked for my number, which I took as, it’s easier to text than to be on the dating site. Nope, he CALLED me. The only people who actually call me are my mother and grandmother. It was a little scary, but incredibly refreshing. Before we even got into the standard “get to know you” conversation he laid out some very important ground rules. He was upfront about his divorce not being final yet (but at least they were in separate homes!) and he made it very clear that his daughter comes first and I would not be meeting her any time soon. The X could have learned a few things from this guy. I liked him already at that moment. We talked on the phone every day, which graduated to FaceTime. FACETIME???!?!? I work from home daily. I usually go to the gym some time around lunch. By the time he would call I looked about as rough as it gets. That first surprise FaceTime call was terrifying!! So naturally as we got into that cadence I was prepared. Hair down, and just enough makeup to look like I’m not wearing any but at least I don’t look like the Crypt Keeper!
Because I am me, and I never learn, I quickly got attached. Big Time. I couldn’t wait to put my kids to bed at night and call him. I loved seeing that gorgeous smile and I could listen to him ramble on about literally everything in life for hours. He has this energy and this fire in him that is contagious. He explained to me at one point that he cares hard and he loves hard. Something I can completely identify with.
One night just before our scheduled date the conversation turned sexual. I consider myself a pretty sexual person but this was a bit outside my comfort zone. Still we ended the night way too late like usual and with me grinning ear to ear as I hung up the phone. Now I was in trouble. I was excited about a guy who ignited something in me that I had been missing. He had passion that I had been craving for years. Not only did he get me in ways no one else could (he too was left for someone else) but he was constantly improving himself and made me want to improve myself…and now I knew the sex would be great too. And we hadn’t even met yet!!!
So clearly my rational brain told me that I should flip out. My insecurities got the best of me and suddenly I was terrified that he might not actually be that excited about me in person. So the wall went up. I told him things were getting a little out of hand and we need to just take a step back. His reaction was one of confusion and I was probably off-putting as I allowed this crazy, dramatic person take over my body. But after some serious back-pedaling we went on our date anyway. It was awful. I was so nervous and not myself. He was quiet and reserved. I think we both tried to make the best of it but the whole thing was tainted. And yet I still felt more passion in one kiss with Junior than I ever felt with the X.
I didn’t hear from him after that. I made a few attempts to reach out and….nothing. It was probably for the best since the very next day my world exploded as the X announced to the world that he and his girlfriend were out of the “dating closet” and my kids had a new mommy. I was in a dark place that I certainly didn’t want anyone to see so I put him out of my mind for a while.
Just in time for him to resurface. Out of the blue he messaged me again and even called me one night. What?? Now I’m confused. I approached it with a sort of friendly expectation that maybe we could just be friends (who was I kidding?) and I could talk to him about divorce and kids and dealing with all the bullshit. Which of course he delivered spectacularly and pumped me back up with encouraging words. He was back to the way he was before we met. He even got me to join Crossfit which has completely changed my life. I feel prettier and stronger than I have in so many years.
I don’t know if I will actually see him again. We have talked about it but it very well could be empty promises. And that’s okay. While I would love more than anything to have a second chance with Junior, he has already been so influential in my journey. If nothing else, he has served this purpose – setting a new standard. My standard is not the perfect on paper guy that you find in a movie. My standard is higher than that. I want and deserve the guy that makes me want to be a better person. It sounds cliche but it matters. I want the guy that puts that fire in me – someone who is passionate about life and about me. I want someone who isn’t afraid to kiss me like that EVERY DAY. And I am worth at least that.
I am starting to believe it….