I’ve always felt that I missed out on having a normal dating experience. I got involved with my ex-husband when we were 19. We were on and off for a bit, moved in together at 21, were married at 24 and by the time I turned 27, I was newly separated. I immediately got involved with a very horrible man because I was lonely and he was the exact opposite of my ex. I’ve heard this happens quite often. I still can’t believe I did it. I moved across the country at age 28 and was single in a relatively small town for the next three and a half years.
I don’t think the dating experiences I had in those years were quite what I would have had if I was ten years younger or even if I was in a more populated area. It was certainly fun at times but generally frustrating, exhausting and a heck of a lot of effort with very little results. However, I do feel that I learned a lot of very valuable lessons about not only men and dating, but about human beings in general and especially my own self and how to recognize and prioritize what is important to me.
A major lesson learned was: something is not always better than nothing. It took a while, but I came to realize that watching a whole season of The Sopranos in bed with my dog might feel lonely, but it’s a whole lot better than sitting through dinner with some creep who keeps saying “I’m so pleased with how good looking you are. You are even better looking than your photo. I’m so pleased…” Yuck.
Also, physical attraction and chemistry are very important and it doesn’t make you shallow or selfish to want it. I had a brief phase of online dating (okay maybe not so brief) and almost all the guys I met were nice and had potential online or on the phone but I’d show up, shake his hand and wish I could say “Thanks but not thanks” and go have a cocktail with my girlfriends instead.
Through these experiences, I learned to listen to my intuition in a way I never had before. Things that were red flags early on almost always turned out to be just as significant as I suspected, even if I thought initially that I could deal with it or if my friends thought I was being too picky. For example, he didn’t go to college because he can’t decide what he wants to do. Or, he won’t neuter his dog because he doesn’t want to take away his manhood. Or even worse, he doesn’t like dogs at all.
The man I’m with now is an incredibly good match for me. I feel that I’ve finally found my mate. And while I experience so many feelings of love and appreciation for him, I am still occasionally flooded with a sense of relief that says thank goodness I am finished with all that searching.