Friday, January 13, 2012

Midlife Dating 3.0

Finding out recently that I was listed in some guide as a top-10 online source about midlife dating certainly took me aback. Me? An expert? I smiled at the irony, as I never felt expert, felt more like a guinea pig, and now I am no longer doing that. Dating, that is.

The truth is I am now building a relationship with what shall I call him? A boyfriend, a man-friend, a man-in-my-life, oh come on, just say it, a man I am absolutely crazy about and spend an awful lot of time with. In just over four months, my social life has changed from being out looking and wondering if dating was futile, to being amazed on a daily basis at what midlife love can look and be like. But I digress.

Because I met this wonderful man online, I am now getting lots of comments ranging from "oh really?" to "tell me the secret" to "can you help me with my profile?" And what I do know is a few things, and they all matter. I have dated a lot over the past couple of years, and many of the experiences were like a learning laboratory for me, a place for me to better understand who and how I am in a relationship, and what I did and did not want. Fresh out of a long marriage a few years ago, I thought I wanted nothing more than a new long-term relationship, and (wo)man, was I not ready for that! But I did a lot of soul searching, and I pursued meeting men and dating like a 2nd full-time job, gaining lots of experience, knowledge, headaches, heartaches, bruises and scars.

By the time I read this man's profile online, I had enough self-knowledge and experience to suspect that if in person he was as advertised, we might really enjoy each other. And it turned out to be the case. I was ready to meet someone because I was finally ready to like me, to show up as me, and to be me for myself, whether alone or with someone else.

The other night we looked up our (since deactivated) dating profiles on the site where we met. That experience, going back online for only a few moments and not because I was looking for a date, was like a punch in the stomach, a reminder of my life not very long ago, a reminder of the yearning to meet and connect with someone. I didn't like it, and quite frankly am happy to be out of the dating world. Whether I find myself back in it again is something I neither know nor agonize about, but I guess I do, in fact, know quite a bit about. Surprise!