D-a-t-i-n-g. Six letters. They seem so simple, yet arranged into that one little word are anything, but simple. Frightening. Anxiety-producing. But definitely not simple. And somehow, it is a word that is interjecting itself into my life more and more these days.
It’s been quite a bit of time since I was actually actively dating. Sure, P and I had “date nights”, but that’s not the same. At all. At the end of those nights, I knew we were going to our home together. I didn’t have to worry about whether or not he was going to ask me out again because we were married. He didn’t have much of a choice. Okay, well I suppose we know that he thought a bit differently about that, but let’s not get sidetracked. The point is that there wasn’t a ton of anxiety and fear of rejection wrapped up in those dates. It was simple. And fun. It was easy.
It’s not easy anymore. Now I spend hours worrying about what to wear and whether or not the humidity is going to wreck my hair. I worry about what the other person will think about the things I say or the sarcasm that I use frequently. But before I can even worry about those things, I have to go through the process of even meeting someone worthy of a date. (Yes, I said worthy. I am allowed to have standards.)
There is so much pressure with dating, yet it’s unavoidable if I don’t want to spend the rest of my days solo. I remember driving to Florida on Spring Break with my friend Sarah a couple of years ago and telling her that I was meant to be married. I believed it then and I believe it now. So, I date. Because, yes, I want to be married again.
Over the past two years I have gone on some good dates, some bad dates, and some boring dates. I have met some awesome men who have turned into friends and some men who I would rather forget. I’ve made the mistake, at times, of comparing other men to P. That’s unfair, I know. And I’ve also made the mistake of giving unworthy men too many chances. It’s been a learning process.
But here’s one of the greatest lessons I have learned. I’ve learned to be honest. I don’t mean that I was lying to men. I just wasn’t being open. I wasn’t being true to who I am . So, I started being honest. And it’s been rewarding.
Last week, I had a date with someone I met briefly six years ago. We had come back in contact unexpectedly and decided to meet for drinks. What I have learned about drinks is that you aren’t over-committed to the date. If it’s not going well, you can leave after one. It’s a nice little escape plan. Dinner is different. You’re in it for the long haul. Anyway, we decided to meet for drinks and, while I was looking forward to it, I was nervous. Not so much about the date itself, but rather the part where I walk into a place alone and then have to search for him. It gives me so much anxiety. Silly? Perhaps, but it happens. I was getting myself worked up to the point that I needed to address it or I was afraid I might back out. So, I put on my big girl pants and told him how I was feeling. I told him I had some anxiety about the night. Not because of him, but because of my own quirks. See, I told him because I didn’t want to back out and I definitely didn’t want to show up overly anxious and make him wonder if it was because of him. It’s that whole honesty thing I was telling you about earlier.
I told him. And the strangest thing happened. He understood. He even asked about ways he could make it better. And he did make it better. He waited for me at the door and then, after we got comfortable, shared his own anxiety about the night. My honesty and vulnerability made space for him to be honest and vulnerable. It had been a while since someone shared that space with me. It made me feel like maybe, just maybe, I don’t need to worry so much about what I am going to wear or whether my hair is going to cooperate. Or if my nails are perfectly manicured. So, I ordered the second drink and, man, was that a good decision.
Dating is frightening. And anxiety-producing. But maybe it is simple, too. Maybe I just need to be honest. And vulnerable. A little less scared and a little more open to what could be if I allow someone to see who I am. You see, it’s hard to let someone new into my space. It would be easy to hold on to the anxiety and shield myself from the chance of being hurt. But then I think of what I might miss. And that scares me. So I choose honesty. And vulnerability. And then I have hope for that second drink.