After a long, hard, back-to-back streak of you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me-with-this-crap relationships, I purposely decided to be single. I took a long look in the mirror and didn’t recognize the reflection staring back at me. “Screw it,” I said, “I’m done with it all.”
Now, it’s not that I didn’t try to get back into the game after a year of being single. However, it became clear I was still attracting needy, unbalanced, toxic, and incompatible options. I sat down and made a commitment to myself: selfishly remain solo. Giving myself a chance to look back on all the broken yokes of (really) bad choices, it dawned on me that something is foundationally broken inside. If there was a lineup of great relationship choices with one dumpster fire, guess which one I selected? Every time.
This wasn’t a snap decision. Again, over the past three years, I’ve been approached, or thrown together, by willing (overly eager) candidates. Friends, acquaintances, and even coworkers have tried to either set me up or suggest I should get back into the game. There was the cyber security cyclist who attends the same annual Labor Day soiree every year, who is always breaking up with the latest cupcake during the party via text. Finally, he worked up the nerve to mention his (minutes old) singleness to me in front of a group of partygoers as he stared at me, drooling. (You know that “I feel naked right now” sensation when someone looks at you; yeah, that’s the one). Strangely, his compadres were none too happy with me as I politely yet firmly turned him down as I searched for a trench coat to cover up my (imagined) nakedness. In fact, this (well-meaning, I am sure) couple openly called me a bitch in front of our mutual hosts and scolded me for not scooping him up moments after his “Dear John” text. Um, can you spell rebound? OK, nope.
Then there was the friend-of-a-friend who did a piss-poor job of “selling” me on the idea of considering one of her colleagues. He was like me, picky, short, and very lonely, she said. Um, OK, two out of three, perhaps, but I’m alone, not lonely. “Come on Mia! You’ve got to kiss a few frogs,” she said as she droned on about her own marital woes. “Um, nope, I’m good and I’ll pass. No froggin’ here.” I raised my decadent alcoholic beverage in her direction.
I tried online dating and got very close to considering a date: close to my age, highly educated, adventurous, avid outdoorsman, and photographer—a British lawyer transplanted near Houston for work—just far enough away that I could sustain my singlehood freedom. We met online through a shared photography group, and we began chatting via phone. But something bothered me, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, so I went back and scoured his profile and bio for clues and that’s when I saw it. Atheist. Nope, out. I quickly disconnected (OK, ghosted) without a trace. I make no apologies that spiritual alignment is a requirement. Unknowingly, I spent ten years in a relationship with a man who did not believe in a Higher Power. “You knew this.” Uh, no, I didn’t. Unraveling the web of a “nice guy” façade (OK, lies) took years of recovery and made me doubt my discernment abilities; the hefty trash bags filled with unpaid bills years after he moved out was the confirmation I needed. Truly, I did not know that man. Yes, I may have sage-smudged the house (at least twice) and burned anything he left behind. Not again.
More recently, a friend of mine tried to set me up with a friend of his. While I truly appreciated the gesture, the guy was just not my chemical compound. Funny, professional, educated, and polite, he too did not share my belief system, and if I’m honest, was a little too proud of all the beautiful ladies he’s landed in his past. I got to see them all on his phone, so I showed him my modeling pictures to prove I was equal to the task, just not interested. (I hate to be the one to tell him, it’s the yacht and the cash, not his dad bod they’re chasing…awkward pause.) Nevertheless, I indulged his company for the sake of my friendship until this cash-flush gent openly announced how much he liked me (tongue-in-cheek proposed to me), and I knew I had to shut it down before he eventually asked for the digits. Upon suffering the second pass of “gotta get these two to light the love match.” I had to speak my truth.
I texted my friend and educated him on the sitch: I do not want to be set up, period. I get to choose my own (trainwreck) dates. Why? Because I’m working to choose what is better for me. I’ve spent nearly 30+ years in (bad) relationships while raising children, building a career, and completing my educational and, often backburner personal pursuits, and frankly, I’m tired of making everyone else happy. So, for a time and a season, I am choosing me.
When I do decide to get back into the dating scene, I want it to be with someone who gets it. He’s had a few mishaps, some wins, some dumpster fires, and preferably some time on his own to really think about what it is he wants out of life and a life partner. Ideally, he’s done the work, some soul searching to identify his contribution to his failed missions in life and takes ownership and responsibility for fixing himself. He’s not desperate; he’s not chasing; he’s living his life in hopes he finds someone he can sit with on the patio, stargazing, to talk through their (shared) past journeys and talk about what was learned. At the end of the evening, he goes home—because that’s what gentlemen do.
He’s kind. He’s generous. He’s successful (I didn’t say rich, now did I? #noyachtclub). He’s willing to establish a (platonic) friendship first and is patient with the process of letting things unfold. He recognizes I’ve been through a lot because so has he. Together, we figure it out and we move forward, with understanding, compassion, and forgiveness towards the twits—I mean people—who helped us to damage ourselves along the way. He’s willing to keep things quiet until we’re both certain we want to take next steps and establish a “dating” label. Old-fashioned? Yes. But isn’t that how courtship really works?
Want to set up your single friends? Just don’t. Instead, put them together in a group setting to see if something naturally transpires. No pressure, no sales pitch. If nothing else, they’ve gained another friend. Protect their privacy and their peace. Most importantly, respect their season of singlehood.
Besides, we already know you married types are just jelly of our status anyway.
@Home – being single in my updo curly hair and underwear!