Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's like riding a bike, they say

Here's the thing, I don't date. If you've been reading my blog for any period of time you've probably come across my philosophy on life, and the fact that I am a rarity perhaps, in being a single woman who is perfectly content with her "singledom". It's good, it's comfortable, it's stress free, and I enjoy the freedom it grants me. So, I don't date. I haven't dated in years.

When I was younger I had quite the fulfilling and entertaining social life, love life, whatever you want to call it. I have many stories to tell, even more than the few tales I've already shared in my "All The Boys" posts. I was popular with the boys, and had fun playing the field, or being in relationships, either worked for me. And yet, being single also always held a certain appeal to me, and I'd go long stretches of time between relationships on my own.

My heart would be broken, and I'd take what I used to call my "self-imposed dating hiatus". I'd recenter myself, focus on finding an understanding on who I was for a bit, and then I'd be ready to face the battlefield of dating once again.

And back then, I always enjoyed dating. I loved the attention, I loved the anticipation, I loved the what ifs, the is he or isn't he, the sweaty palms and what outfit should I wear deliberations. I lived for that adrenaline rush you received just before he leaned in for that first kiss. What a thrill.

Then, about 6 years ago, my last relationship ended. I was heartbroken, but more than that, I was discouraged. I had put so much faith on this one working out this time, that when it crashed and burned, I was exhausted. Disillusioned. I needed another of my self-imposed breaks. I stepped back.

In the meantime, I was house hunting, bought my condo, decided I needed a new job closer to my new home, changed jobs, went through some changes with my friends, and had to reevaluate those relationships as well, made new friends, and got caught up in the daily grind of life. I got busy with life. My work, my home, my friends, my family. And suddenly, the need for a man, for a companion, wasn't there. I was content, fulfilled, satisfied.

The longer I spent single, the more comfortable I became on my own. And I think at some point, a sort of complacency sets in. You get used to living your own life, and it's hard to let someone in and uproot it, you know? Through the years, there have been a handful of dates, or attempts at dates, but none have stuck past the initial "nice to meet you, goodbye". I think a part of me has been relieved by this, I didn't have to change anything about my life, I could go on about my way.

But I'm gettin older, and as much as I still feel at peace with the life I live, there is a piece of me that is beginning to wonder at the what ifs. What if I don't try to meet someone now? The older I get, the harder it'll be, and do I want to be single forever? (the answer is no) What if grow so accustomed to my life, that I don't challenge myself to try again? Will I grow bitter and resent my own decisions when I have no family to speak of later on in life? (the answer, is maybe) And what of children? Because boy do I want children! What if I wait too long, and then can't have them? What if...

So, with that focus on the future, I spent most of 2007 in a preparation mode. Preparing my mind, my heart, my soul, for the eventuality that I would have to try my hand at dating once again. Without any set plan ahead, I began the new year prepared for the challenge. Or so I thought.

After all, how hard could it be? I used to be so good at it, derive such pleasure from the game. Just like riding a bike, I should take to it with grace and agility, even after all these years, correct?

Then why, pray tell, is it that as the prospect of possibility turns the corner to meet me, my stomach is in knots? Good God, why am I moments away from running screaming from the room, locking my door and unplugging my telephone? I feel the bile rise in the back of my throat, and I think "this can't be a normal reaction".

Is it nerves? Fear? Has my complacency set in so deeply that I'm physically fighting the possibility of change?

I should be enjoying this new venture in my life. I should be looking forward to the challenges ahead, the experiences, the giggly butterflies in my belly sensation. So why do I feel like I swallowed a gnat?

Is this what dating in your 30's feels like? If so, please stop the world, I want to get off. But maybe...well...not just yet, I'll go along for the ride just a bit longer still...deep breaths, this could be fun, enjoy the view, take photographs, and blog.


Rebecca said...

So does that last line mean I'm not the only one who takes her camera out in the middle of a date? Or am I a freak who's really bad at dating?

I completely understand the dating break, I did that for about 3 years after Josh.

And yes, it's just nerves because it's been so long, and maybe this guy has more potential than the others ;-)

Jill said...

i'm glad you are preparing yourself for what you hope comes of 2008. after all, life is what YOU make it. i was the girl who was never going to get married and my hubby was slammed in my face. have you ever heard.. if you wanna hear God laugh tell him your plans..? i am through with plans.. they dont work out for me.. hanging back and being open has things working for me... i hope however you decide to face 2008, that you do it well!

ANA said...

You are supposed to feel a little nervy, a little jittery, a little skeptical...it's all part of the game, the anticipation, enjoy it. While being single is great, dating is fun as well. You'll see, just follow your heart...

Unknown said...

Oh Sweetheart, You are simply nervous because it's been a while. I'll tell you a secret, I once made plans via the internet to meet this guy for a game of raquetball. I got so nervous that I messaged him that my son was home from school ill so I couldn't go. We got together about a week later and I was still feeling those feelings you talked about. Guess what, I've been married to him for almost 5 years now. :)

It is like a bike, you just might skin your knee along the way and feel a little wobbly at first.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Your earlier thrill with the chase is not lost. You've just got a different perspective on life, now. It really is worth it to give things a try.

kitten said...

I don't know what to say. There is a lady here where I live that has never been married and she is in her 50's. She has always seemed content. She was a school teacher for several years, then she changed jobs. she is one of the sweetest people I know and I have wanted to ask her several times why she never married, but have kept it to myself. I'm also one of those that don't like them "what If's", but I don't know you personally. Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! This comment really hits home for me because my experience has been similar. I used to be popular with the guys and date frequently etc... Yes, I loved it and sometimes I miss it very much.

Now I'm more focused on my career, and settling into my own home, and taking care of family, traveling etc.. I've gotten into a habit and a routine that I just don't want interrupted in any way. I’m not willing to give up my independence. I can’t even imagine a live in partner at this point and I think that’s ok.

I also want a child. And I'm going through the "what if's". All I can say about that is “thank god for science and technology.

I have decided after having a very challenging year in 2007, that I am no longer going to make plans outside what is necessary. It seems like after a certain point in your life and at a certain age, yes, god does laugh in your face.

I completely understand where you are coming from with this post. I'll be keeping an eye out for future posts.

Hang in there sweetie, and enjoy the ride!