When you’re sick and tired you’re truly just sick and tired. My marriage was no longer and I had been single for six years. The ‘I’m just doing me’ phase which included a bit of “heauxing” was fun for probably like, two minutes (ok, maybe three or four), but trust me that time had long passed. The seemingly endless duds from online dating had gotten old real fast. So I had a list. A long one at that, two whole columns. Full of what I convinced myself were the ‘desires of my heart.’ “These are not expectations,” I remember emphatically telling my girlfriends when they laughed at the line by line details of my “perfect mate.” But I was convinced if I held out, I would have what I wanted.
‘Must be 6’2” or taller, Great smile (code word for ‘all of his teeth and none of them brown OR gold’), only 1-2 children, preferably ages 8-16 at the time of meeting, etc, etc, etc. Yea, the crazy list really did go on and on!
Then one day I was approached through direct message by one of my sorority sisters, whom asked if would like to meet her cousin. “Not really,” was my reply. “I’m just not really interested in a relationship right now.” Of course I was telling LIES!!! I had literally been praying that morning that God would send my companion and send him soon. She was persistent. “Girl, he’s a really nice guy. Just go to dinner. What can it hurt?” I reluctantly agreed after seeing his picture. He was handsome, just not my average type of man I’d shown attraction to in the past. He was visibly older (ten years to be exact), and I held a record with my friends and family for being a notorious cougar. From her description though, he seemed nice, had a great job, and had his own place—without a roommate or a hidden “wife!” Dinner couldn’t hurt, right?
We opted to chat by phone within the next few days after our e-introduction. Conversation was lightweight and cordial. He asked me to dinner for the upcoming weekend. “Sure.” I responded, already feeling like I’d held true to my word with my soror. Upon arrival at dinner, as the elevator doors opened from the parking garage I saw a man with a slightly nervous smile, awaiting me with the most gorgeous red roses. He greeted me with a genuine smile and a very appropriate hug. “It’s so nice to see you; you are quite beautiful. Shall we head into the restaurant?” I thanked him for the flowers and followed him to dinner.
Our conversation during dinner was different from any other I’d had with other men. He wasn’t trying to be smooth. He wasn’t trying to put off as though he was king of the jungle, the city, or even the table. He was actually pretty corny. But he was genuine. He was honest. He was forthright with anything I asked—and I do mean anything. He was a breath of fresh air. Mid-bite of my soft shell crab fried rice I decided…He’s cool. I’m going to go out with him again...if he asks. He did. The second date brought on a third, and a lunch date the day after. Four dates in I thought, “OMG, we’re actually going out regularly, getting along, and enjoying each other’s company. Could this be? Is this going somewhere? Is this what I want? This is REALLY going somewhere.”
Even after knowing things were moving in the direction of more than dinner and patty caking on the phone, I was still shady and reluctant. I just couldn’t believe this guy was all the things on my ‘list,’ and REAL. My mind begin to replay all the wonderful aspects from my former marriage and other relationships, then zoomed past all of those attributes and went straight to the bad parts. Ugh…I don’t want to deal with foolishness again. I don’t want to get all caught up with this dude and then find out he ain’t shit! And I certainly don’t want to grow closer to him, possibly allow my daughter to get to know him (something I’d held out on with everyone else), only to be let down in the end. But he seemed different.
Now all of those thoughts crossed my mind, but thank God for the still small voice I felt inside simultaneously telling me to slow down, calm my nerves, and breathe. I reminded myself of the main fact: we’d just met, it wasn’t that serious…yet. That exact reminder helped me process through my approach to the new ‘friendship’ and operate the months ahead with these thoughts:
1. Doing the work to heal from my marriage and past relationships was complete and successful. Therapy, prayer, tears, ‘get ‘em girl’ sessions, and moments of just sitting with the truth of my reality, had all been a part of my journey to healing. It was not an easy road, but worth every minute. I didn’t rush through the process.
2. My healing made me stronger.
I knew the process to heal would be difficult and it was that and more. There were days when I screamed, cried, yelled and just sat in disbelief. When I felt like cussing, I did. When I felt like crying, I did that too. Therapy let me know all those highs and lows were normal and ok. Ultimately, I came up with a plan for self-care that was specific to what I needed for healing and spent the time needed to go through each part of it.
3. I was confident in my desire/ability to love.
I reminded myself regularly the uniqueness I carry as a woman gave me the ability to love. My desires gave me the wherewithal and the confidence to get there. A partner who matched my ‘fly’ was going to be the recipient of me and vice versa…that was amazing.
4. Enjoying each phase of getting to know each other without rushing anything was important.
Although after a few dates we begin to speak daily, I didn’t change any plans within my regular schedule to spend extra time, and neither did he. We went with the flow. We compared schedules and came up with a mutual day of the week we could hang out. We were able to take the pressure off and grow from there.
5. My tribe was dedicated to supporting me and holding me accountable.
My homegirls and guys were super happy to celebrate the potential of love with me, but they were also quick to tell me when I was being extra, too much, and in need of “Girl, BYE!” reminders! Giving my crew the space to speak into my life was key on those days when I needed to be checked, or reminded I was worthy of love.
6. I was clear and realistic in my expectations of myself and him.
After surviving quite a few instances of having my time wasted, I was able to be clear about what I wanted in a relationship. With my past relationships triggers behind me, I was also able to advocate for myself on my deal-breakers, areas I was willing to compromise, and places within myself that still needed work, outside of him. He didn’t have to pay for someone else’s mistakes with me. That was a blessing!
7. I was open to having fun, getting to know him, and accepting what came of it—even if it was ONLY friendship.
More than anything, we were both dedicated to having fun! There was chemistry, which helped, but ultimately we accepted the differences we brought the table and agreed early on—if nothing came of the romance, we were cool and interesting enough as people to keep the growing friendship.
Thank goodness while we are yet building a friendship, there’s a budding romance that remains! Time will tell what happens and it certainly feels good.
Until next time,