There was a defining moment minutes before I walked into divorce court, when I fully realized that I was actively making a decision to end my marriage. Once I made that realization and let go of the victim mentality, I freed myself to begin dating. The 6 months after the divorce I dated all types of guys. Guys from 22 to 42 because I wanted to figure this dating thing out. I was dating up to 2 guys a week. I was not ready to really find “the one” because I had no idea what that even looked like.
This Thursday will be the 1 year anniversary of dating and the anniversary of my divorce. Through this year I have learned quite a bit and here are my biggest lessons:
Dating Shouldn’t be Work (at least at first)- Every marriage has it’s ups and downs. So when I was in a down moment, my ex-husband and I worked together to bring us back into an up moment. So with this history I had the mentality that as long as the guy I go on a date with is a “good guy” and has the same morals and values I did, we could make it work. What I didn’t remember (because it had been so long ago) was that there needs to be that spark to come back to. There is a reason why in the beginning or any relationship there is this gigantic spark that ignites when you have found your special guy. It is to help you through those down times. When I’m working at the beginning to build that spark… it isn’t the right guy.
Dating is Work- Okay! I hear you? What? Didn’t you just say it wasn’t? Yes, Yes I did. But finding a guy with that “spark” is tough! The work is in sifting through all the nice guys without spark , the losers that message you trying to hook up and asking your bra size, and the guys that seem nice but you don’t find attractive. Certain dating sites do lend themselves to the guys just looking to “Netflix and Chill” but the truth is that all of the dating sites have that element to them. Just as much as all the dating sites have an element of “I want to marry someone” in them.
You have to sift, you have to message quite a few guys, and you have to have the time to devote to dating. On average I message 5 guys for 1 date, 10 dates for 1 spark, and been up to 3 sparks now and not a boyfriend out of them. If you think of it as a casual thing, that you’ll get to the dating sites when you want to, you’ll be single for a while and will be annoyed at your results.
I’m NOT a “Cool Girl”– This is one I’ve learned very recently. When I was going through my divorce I had the best of intentions to remain friends with my ex. Afterall, this was my “go to” person for 14 years. I quickly learned this is not my path… at all. I realized that my goal is for my ex and I to be the BEST BUSINESS PARTNERS. We have a mutual business– raising our child. I am not trying to figure out his personal life and he is not figuring out mine. I wish him the best in life.. but I’m not trying to figure out what that is.
This realization helped me get through the awkward moments that happen after divorce. Meeting the new girlfriend- Just shake hands and say “Hello! I’m Jill”
Now, I’m not going to say this was without lessons or missteps on my side. But in the end, this mentality has helped me keep perspective.
Recently I’ve learned this also applies to guys that I have liked. For so long I would say to guys “I’m not on here to make friends”. Then I had a few guys that I dated and they ended things with me. So, I tried the friends thing. It was always the best of intentions, but I realized it is too hard for me. I need to cut the contact pretty early on or things get confusing. I start to read everything like a “sign” because I want things to work out. The truth is this… they won’t. There was a reason why it ended and I need to accept it versus trying to delay my heart realizing it.
I will get my Heart Broken – I never realized that getting to know a guy for only a brief period could break your heart when it ended. I thought this was for those weak girls that you see in the movies with a tub of ice cream. “Man, I got through a 12 year marriage ending in divorce! This will be cake.”. The truth is it your heart can break more than once. I have had this happen 3 times in my recent dating experience. The first time, I cried a little and moved on. Luckily, I gave this guy “we’re not going to be friends” speech. The second time, I tried to stay friends so my heart was broke many times. The third time (and the worst time), I’m still trying to figure out how to move on fully.
I’m Missing Something Big– I have always been the tough one. We had a family situation recently where the conversation of my emotions came into play. My very close family member said “I don’t know why you’d expect Jill to cry… I think I had seen her cry twice throughout her divorce.” This conversation had me reeling! Am I heartless? Am I a sociopath and don’t know it? Am I someone who just can’t feel? I started the google search trying to figure out what was wrong with me…
So during my very next counseling session I brought this up. I am tearing up as I’m relaying her the story. (Funny because it’s about me not being emotional). Then she said to me “Jill you are not not emotional. You love your daughter intensely and get excited about things. What you aren’t is vulnerable.”
She recommended a book to me called Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown. I ordered it on Amazon and had planned to read it the moment I got it.
Well that was the plan at least… I got the book and it sat on my table.. and sat.. and sat. Until 2 weeks later I am about an hour before my next counseling session. I realize “Damn! I need to read this.” I didn’t want to go to the counseling session not having done anything to “fix my vulnerability” so I look it up on Google and find the below Ted Talk by the same Brene’ Brown.
I watch this 20 minute video an hour before I have to leave and I cry, I cry, cry, and cry some more. I realize that this is me.
The things I do because of this:
- Write very business like (cold) even to people I really like
- Create timelines for relationships to help me feel comfortable about the outcome (The reason for the end of “Jack”)
- Avoid any feelings conversation
- Not put myself out there (the reason why I hate competition)
- Prepare for the worse (He won’t like me like that… I’ll just focus on being friends. Maybe I’ll help him out with his dating profile for other girls)
When I went into my counselor and told her my reaction to the video. The conversation wasn’t “why do you think you have this issue?” Instead it was “why the hell wouldn’t you?” I look back at so many of my potential relationships and realize how I was in the wrong with the way that handled them. Since then, I am reading this book and am also giving myself time before just sending a message. I know I need to add some emotion into my messages. I have it but I hate being rejected. This is something that I will be working on for some time.
I will have FUN!– It’s funny because I don’t get nervous before dates anymore. I realized it’s just an opportunity for me to get to know someone new.
I have met so many different guys in the process. I have met different professions, backgrounds and races. I love the excitement of learning about people and their history. What lessons have they learned about dating that they could share with me? I have asked over 100 questions to guys about what they do for a living. Who wouldn’t want to ask a police officer what he does if his uniform gets dirty in the middle of his shift? Or a trash guy…What does he think about the idea that he may be throwing away evidence to a crime? A bug guy, do you ever get creeped out in someone’s house?
Dating is meant to be fun and while I’m trying to find my Mister Right.. sometimes I really need to just enjoy the journey as it is now and not think of where I’ll be another year from now. Who knows? I could be writing a blog about finding Mr. Right (Now) 😉