If you’d asked me 6 months ago about dating, I would have said absolutely not. I was just beginning to figure out who I was & what I wanted out of life after a year of divorce proceedings & I declared at the beginning of 2012 that I wasn’t going to date for the entire year. Just spend the year focusing on me, The Kids, the house, the job, friends & family.
But then a friend introduced me to someone she knew & I quickly found out that just because you’re both single doesn’t mean you should be together. Any man who starts a text with, “Yo, bitch. Whatcha doing?” should probably consider a life in the monastery since he’s going to be celibate for a very long time anyway. But it got me thinking that maybe I did want to head back out there. Toss my cute shoes in the ring again. (I don’t look good in hats.) The Joan was appalled. “You said you were taking this whole year off!” Sorry, Mom. I made it 7 months and besides, it’s not like there’s going to be a line at my door on January 1, 2013 and the phrase, “Hey, thanks for showing me where the toasters are. Want to have dinner sometime?” has never been, nor ever will be uttered by any sane person. But off I go anyway.
So as I venture out into this brave new world of meeting people, I wanted to take a good look at where I may have gone wrong in the past. This is a Mulligan – a chance to do it over. Erase the mistakes & missteps of past relationships & get it right. Well, maybe not right, but as close to it as a flawed human being can get. We’re supposed to learn from our mistakes, so what mistakes have I made in the past that I can try to avoid this time around? And the one thing that kept coming up was that I was never truly honest. I spent too much time in past relationships not saying what I should have said. Either because I figured things were good enough & I shouldn’t rock the boat or because I was so afraid that disagreeing would drive the other person away, I failed to open my mouth at times when I knew that things weren’t right. And in the end, those relationships failed even though I kept my mouth shut and probably in large part, because of it.
So this time around – why hold back? Why keep it in? I think initially we all gloss over some of the things that make us look weird (I prefer “quirky”). I don’t recommend walking into a first date saying, “I suck at math, I can’t follow directions & I can’t figure out how to change the in-dash clock in my car…. Oh, and here’s a photo of what I look like when I first wake up.” That’s third date stuff. What I’m talking about is just plain being honest. I’m old enough to know who I am and what I like and want or don’t like or don’t want. So why not say it? No one wants someone who is just going to go along. Eventually they’ll figure it out & wonder why you weren’t honest in the first place.
I can’t change how anyone reacts to me. I can’t make someone like me. If the fact that I can’t eat ice cream in the winter is a deal breaker, then so long. I can only be honest about who I am. And in the end, if they stick around long enough, they’re going to learn about how I can’t eat Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because the chocolate to peanut butter ratio is all wrong so I hold out for the seasonal versions (Peanut Butter Pumpkins are rapidly approaching!). But more than that – more than the quirks & little things that come along with everyone – I need to be honest with how I feel. As The Joan says, “Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don’t say it mean.” I need to stop being complacent the way I was in the past & be able to say what I like, or don’t like – what I want & don’t want. I don’t want anyone to have to guess where they stand with me. So people… ladies & gentlemen… join me in this. Say it.
Just say it.
Tell that person that you really like them and tell them that you’re petrified of really liking them because of your past track record. If you wonder sometimes why they keep coming back, ask them. Tell them when something they did was really sweet & touching. Don’t assume they know how you felt about it. Tell them when you can’t stop thinking about some part of your past date. Tell them you want to spend more time with them. Say all the things that you think are awkward. This is the time to find all of this out. And on the flip side – if it’s not working for you… say that, too. Don’t drag things out to spare someone’s feelings. It will just be worse the longer you delay. And for goodness sake, don’t start a text with “Yo, bitch.” Or if you do, don’t be surprised when the response you get is, “Hey, douche bag… lose my number.”
I never thought I’d be here at this point in my life. But it’s a chance to maybe get it right. A chance to start a new adventure and a chance to let someone else know exactly how I’m feeling in the hopes of getting the same level of honesty in return. But more importantly, it’s a chance to let someone in to learn about who I really am and in return, get to learn who he is, too. After all, I’d hate to buy someone peanut butter cups only to find out years later that they never really liked them. There’s no betrayal like lying about candy.