The Quandary That is Dating

When is too soon?

Right away?

One week?

One month?

Two months?

After we file for divorce?

After the divorce is final?

One week after that?

One month after?

Two?

There really is no right answer, which is very frustrating. After a year of being separated, I’ve obviously begun dating, although not as obviously as my ex-husband who was Facebook official with his new girlfriend before he’d even signed the divorce papers. I’m not quite there yet, but I have gone so far as to (gasp) join a dating site. I went out with several comedians, but I worried that if I put my rod in the same pond(metaphorically, of course as I have no rod – fishing or otherwise), I’d get the same kind of fish (which is actually not true at all). I also worried that I’d be the kind of female comic who always dated other comics. I didn’t want a reputation, so I cut it out and started dating on Match.com. That went terribly. Although, I’ve had one or two good dates, and too many stories that found their way into my set. Awful and Boring are the two categories which come to mind when trying to describe my dating history. Unfortunately, it’s a balanced scale.

My standards are possibly unrealistic. I have truly been in love once with someone who was my best friend. When I think about our relationship during the good times, it’s exactly what I want for my next relationship.  We couldn’t get enough of each other. We always had fun together. We supported one another. When people looked at us, they knew we were in love. I loved him so much, I thought my heart would burst and I had no need to look at anyone else. It was exciting to be with him. He is still someone I care a lot about, who cares about me. He knows me in a way no one else has before or since. When it came time to part ways, when we finally admitted that we weren’t right for each other, it was very painful because there wasn’t anything *wrong* outside of us being too different to make it work. Nonetheless, when I think about our relationship, I feel happy. I was truly loved by someone I was in love with. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

I knew being married was wrong when I didn’t feel that way. I mourned often that I knew what true love was and I wasn’t in it. I don’t know if it’s realistic to believe or hope that I will find someone I love as much as I loved much as my ex-boyfriend. He and I even had a conversation last winter about how the likelihood of our finding someone else who will be able to be as special in our lives as we were to one another. Can that kind of relationship exist more than once in a lifetime? Yes, of course it can. But, can it exist more than once in a lifetime for me? Honestly, I don’t think so. I hope so, but it’s easier to believe that it won’t because when I reach the end of my life having only had one true love, I won’t be disappointed. I’ll be right. And then I’ll be smug about it, which is one of my favorite feelings anyway.

But if I really decide not to believe it or hope for it, in my heart of hearts, then why date at all? I’ve said it before and I try to believe that I don’t think I’ll find someone, but I don’t think I’m meant to be alone. I don’t really know what to think/feel. I won’t “settle” for something other than wonderful because settling for something less than wonderful was how I found myself unhappily married in the first place. To be clear, my ex husband was not less than wonderful, but what we had together certainly was. I wasted good years of my life on a relationship that made me miserable, and I imagine he feels the same way. We were two good people who joined together in a bad decision.

This past week I’ve been thinking about two men that had always held pretty special places in my heart as guys I had never, for whatever reason, entered into a long-term, monogamous relationship. I was relatively disappointed to discover that one had a serious girlfriend and the other, while happy to hear from me, couldn’t forgive me for getting married.

Reader, I’m not sure if that needs to take some time to sink in for you. He can’t forgive me for getting married? Well, that’s a laugh. I haven’t forgiven myself. Join the club.

In no uncertain terms, but with a very heavy heart, I told him that I hoped he never made a mistake so grievous that someone he deeply cared about was unable to forgive him or move past it. It is surely another level of regret. I continued, saying that despite what he thinks of me or other divorced people, I am so much happier and better for what happened. It’s taken me all year to get here and I don’t need to apologize for that anymore. I like the place that I’m in now, and I would never be HERE if I had been on another trajectory which didn’t include marriage and divorce, depression and recovery, darkness and light. If he really can’t forgive me, that’s fine. But I don’t need another friend who doesn’t have the grace to accept me for who I am now.

It’s the very first time that I owned my mistake in a way that wasn’t full of embarrassment. I also think this was God’s way of clearing my head. Get rid of everything that I once knew so I can stop looking backward. I might have been missing something that right in front of my face the whole time, or will be soon. Maybe God had nothing to do with it, and wasn’t even paying attention and life just turned to be this way. But, it’s much easier and more comforting to believe that God had orchestrated this little heart break in order to get my attention.

I’m not sure what this means for my dating life from here on out. Maybe I should take a break, as was suggested by a friend. Focus on me. Focus on where I’m going and the path I’m taking to get there. But, I don’t like the lonely path. I want someone’s hand to hold.

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