Ahhh the fairytale romance……
“And they lived happily ever after.”
These magical words have always made me feel warm inside. True love conquers all. The happy ending. Oh, how I love the happy ending. As a consumer of chick flicks and trashy romance novels galore (and author of the same – but not too trashy), I’ve always been drawn to the fantasy of that”perfect” love and the happily ever after. I subscribe to the notion of why pay to watch a sad ending or invest my time in reading a novel that ends in despair. There is enough of that in real life. I want to escape into a feel-good world. The idea that somewhere in the universe that perfect love exists gives me hope. However, the realist (cynic) in me knows real life is much harder than that. Relationships take work. People change. Humans are imperfect. Life is NOT a romance novel. Fiction is NOT fact. I get that. I really do. So, that’s why I’m embarrassed to write that deep down I secretly hope it could be real. Now that I find myself a single woman, I dream the love story could be mine. It’s exciting to think somewhere out there my soulmate is looking for me and swoon, we’d fall in love and it wouldn’t be hard. If only….
Navigating the dating world, let alone actually finding someone compatible, and nurturing that relationship beyond the initial butterflies is not easy. As a single mother with a full-time job in a middle-aged body, I know this beyond a doubt – more than ever before. I’ve tried online dating, but that is a part-time job in and of itself. Crafting the perfect profile that’s intriguing, but still true to me, finding the photos that make me look young and fun, writing flirty messages and going on disappointing first dates. I can see that he viewed my profile, but he never responded to my message. What’s wrong with me? He’s online, but takes 10 minutes to give me a two-word response. Swipe left or right? This feels so shallow. Should I initiate a text or wait for him to text me? Should I offer to pay or let him? It goes on and on ad nauseum.
Dating should be fun right? Instead I find it makes me feel worse than being on my own. Online dating especially makes me feel “less than” when I know I am “more than” enough. I’m naturally a glass-half full person that finds the silver lining in a situation. I’m trusting and try to see the best in people. But online dating has left me feeling jaded and disenchanted. Do I really need to know my profile is “not popular?” or that the guy I messaged didn’t find me attractive enough to respond to me? Did I say the wrong thing? Was I too aggressive or too passive?
On the flip side, it doesn’t make me feel good to ignore messages or tell a perfectly nice man that I like him, but don’t want to date him? I feel cheap messaging multiple men at the same time, not to mention going on dates with more than one person. I break into a cold sweat just thinking about it. And that’s just a cup of coffee… Then there’s sex. On the first date? After three dates? When I’m in love? Isn’t there some in between? My intellect says it’s okay for two consenting adults to connect physically, but my overthinking mind and fragile heart holds me back. I want to be that laid back woman, but in the end I’m that uptight girl.
I vacillate between wanting to find that special someone, a companion to share my life with and giving up on that fantasy all together. I don’t want to rush into a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship. My friends tell me God will put the right man in my path, when the time is right, when I least expect it. Could he wear a sign around his neck, so I know it’s him? I don’t want to be like the person on top of a roof as the flood waters rise, turning away the boat and the helicopter that God sends to the rescue and end up dying in the flood wondering why God didn’t save me. If God sends a boat my way, I want to jump in. On the other hand, maybe I’m destined to be a crazy dog lady (I hate cats so I can’t be a crazy cat lady). In the end, I am confident that I am happier in my “aloneness” than I ever was or could be in the wrong relationship.
But still that “what if….” whispers in my ear. Take a risk. Be vulnerable. Life’s a journey…
780 words later I’m no closer to an answer.
Can anyone else relate?