This past year was a whirlwind of change and new experiences for me, many of which were brought about by my divorce. It was most definitely an emotional time. I felt a full range of emotions, everything from pure elation to the deepest of fears. I also learned a lot, mostly about myself. As odd as it may sound, I have the world of online dating to thank for much of my introspection and personal growth this year.
Yes, I really did just type that last sentence without laughing. It's true. While this list isn't comprehensive, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge some of the men who played pivotal roles in the life lessons that shaped me in 2013. After having been out of the dating scene for about 18 years, I can tell you that it's a completely different world from what I remember. Add the variety and immediacy of the online sites, and you've got a potentially overwhelming situation. I know I made some missteps and probably could've handled various situations differently, but I have to say that I was always very selective about which men I actually chose to meet with in person. This selectivity is what's led me to walk away from my foray into the dating world this year with an overall positive experience and a wealth of lessons learned.
Sincere thanks to:
The Ivy League PhD
I thought I'd hit the jackpot with one of my very first online connections. Anyone who knows me well knows that intelligence is my primary criteria for a partner. I appreciate being able to hold stimulating conversations with someone who has a deep understanding of the world. Also? A big brain is a huge turn on for me. Huge. When I met him in person, it became immediately apparent that the connection with "Harvard" was genuine on many levels. That man showed me what it could be to truly dream. We had many conversations about the kinds of things we ultimately wanted in life. He encouraged me to look beyond my current situation and that the things I wanted for myself were within my reach. Before meeting him, it had been a very long time since I had allowed myself to be open to all the possibilities life has to offer and to know that I have what it takes to actually attain them.
The Man Who's Stronger Than He Knows
Around the very same time I met "Harvard," I was also getting to know a man with more internal strength and fortitude than anyone I've ever met. You see, this man has certan physical limitations that would cause many to give up. Once I started to know him, I took the time to do some research. I learned from the personal stories of others that this man has accomplished what a number of them weren't able to do. He pushed himself to live independently, and that's a bigger achievement than many of us realize. I'm pretty sure it's a bigger accomplishment than he even realizes himself. This guy is not only strong, he's incredibly sweet. That's the word that always comes to mind when I think of him, so I will refer to him as, "Sweet Man" from here on out. This "Sweet Man" and I have so many things in common. Most prevalent are our core beliefs. Connecting with him allowed me to be myself and to speak freely on so many of the issues that are important to me. Ultimately, we found that there were some key differences in the ways in which we approach the world; however, I'll always love him and still hope to be able to maintain a friendship with him in the future. Thank you, "Sweet Man," for showing me what it means to genuinely connect wtih someone again, as well as reminding me just how strong I can truly be.
The Sensual Literature Professor
In every woman's dating life, there is that one person who is just hot. At least, in my opinion, there should be. Otherwise, what's the point in dating? For me, "The Lit Professor" was that guy. I met him on a dating site. We got together in person very soon after we started talking. Let's just say I didn't approach this relationship from a practical perspective. There wasn't a lot of thought about whether this guy and I had a lot in common or even whether we had much to talk about! He was beautiful and sensual. Being a professor of literature and writing also meant he had a way with words. Did I mention he was beautiful? Um, yeah, what I was saying? Right. Thank you to "The Lit Professor" for reminding me to focus on my sexy side, as well. Having held the roles of "wife" and "mother" for so long, it's easy for a woman to let that part of her fade away. I am happy to say I'm quite confident this is no longer the case for me.
The Sexy Guy Who's Seen Celebrities Naked
Uh huh, I said, "seen celebrities naked." He works behind the scenes in television and film and was in Pittsburgh for a short while doing a show. I came across his profile on a dating site and had originally thought there'd be no point in contacting him. He was only going to be in the area for anther month, and he was from Los Angeles with this incredibly glamorous seeming job and lifestyle. The beauty of online dating, however, is that it really doesn't take any courage to contact someone. There's no worry about facing a personal rejection. I've made it my rule to contact anyone whose profile speaks to me in some way. So, because this guy's profile was so interesting and we matched highly, I dropped him a line. Boy, he sure took his time in replying. But when he did, it was apparent he'd be a fun person to know. When I got together with "The Southerner," as he's indicated he'd like to be called, I knew right away there was something there. Despite the fact that he'd be going home to LA soon, I had no reservations about just going with the flow and seeing where things took us. "The Southerner" taught me to really be in the moment. Above all else, he reminded me of what I wanted in any future interactions with men. He was my "a-ha moment." Being with him made me see what it was like not to settle in any way. When I was with him, there was no little voice in the back of my mind telling me that something didn't feel right or that I could do better. There was no nagging instinct reminding me that things with this person were headed nowhere or that I was only here because I felt lonely or because I was looking for the validation of another to feel worthy. Sure, part of that may have been because I knew my "Sexy Face," as I like to call him, was leaving soon. But, overall, I believe it was because of the honest connection we had. Despite the short time he was in the area, this one really stepped up to show he's one of the good ones and has given me every indication to believe I have a true friend. Honestly, that's the epitome of what I hope for in any of my dating interactions.
The One Who Proves Appearances Can Be Deceiving
Finally, I'd like to round out this list with the most recent man I've met through online dating. This man contacted me not long ago, knowing full well there was a criteria of mine he did not meet. The fact that he reached out to me anyway, along with the confident way in which he presented himself, went a long way toward my accepting a date with him. And am I ever glad I did. "Coach," as he tells me he'd like to be referred to in any blog posts, definitely proves that appearances can be deceiving. He's adorable, don't get me wrong. But his look doesn't give any indication of the depth that lies beneath. This man has made me think more than any other. He's given me reason and encouragement to explore my boundaries. He's very communicative. I always know where I stand with him, and that is definitely something that's been missing in my previous relatonships. I'm beyond excited to see where this one goes, but I'm also very content to just enjoy the ride. So, "Coach," thank you for instilling confidence in me to know that it's safe to push myself and to let go of my need for control, while at the same time providing a certain stability I've been missing.
So there they are - my dating highlights of 2013. Overall, I'd say I did a pretty damn good job, having jumped into the dating pool after all these years. I definitely accomplished my goal of meeting new and interesting people that enhanced my life and helped to make me an overall better person. I'm looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings!