Viewing entries tagged
Relationships

On Loving Again: Knowing How to Love After Divorce

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,

~k

I promise I’m not dreaming of my guy…well, maybe I am, lol. Photo Courtesy of KSLewis Media

I promise I’m not dreaming of my guy…well, maybe I am, lol. Photo Courtesy of KSLewis Media

Swiping Right!

Swiping Right!

Online dating.  It’s a thing.  But who knew it was suuuuuccchhhhh a thing?!  I swear less than five years ago I thought this was reserved for folks who literally could not get a date to save their lives.  Those who seemingly were at the point of ‘I-have-no-choice-but-do-this/last resort status.’  Now however, it’s as normal as choosing between the meat selection at Wegmans and the produce aisle at Aldi.  Technically, it’s all food—some considered high quality and some will spoil within the hour—but hey, gotta eat, right?

I’ve never been big on clubs.  Much like most singles, I visited the local spot with my homies, held up a corner of the bar or a table until I could no longer shun the advances of men I had absolutely no interest in talking to beyond that night. I could usually resist having to dance with them through engaging in conversation, but in those moments when I ventured out onto the dance floor, my tried and true two-step was an acceptable substitute to the slow drag.  On those rare (and I do mean rare) occasions when someone with potential approached me, I floundered through small talk until we exchanged numbers and went on our merry ways for the night. 

Enter the new age of online dating.  I don’t know how this way of choosing a boo became so popular but it’s here and nearly 50 million people have found themselves ebbing and flowing within its tides, including me.  Most days it can be interesting, funny, even weird.  In fact, it’s easily one of the most quickly misconstrued, awkward, and glorious ways of dating ever created.  I’m smack dab in the middle of it.  Very regularly. With no regrets.   

Aside from the excitement of the automatic attention (and I’m talking from real potentials, not hookie-doo with the gold tooth), there are of course, pros and cons to this dating phenomenon.  The ultimate pro being the possibility of finding long lasting, amazing, love.  The cons on the other hand, grow by the day—and they never cease to amaze me.   

First, there are so many sites to choose from.  Based on interests, much like the days of being in the club, there is a site designated for everyone: people of color, Christian, gay, straight, young, mature, farmers, shoot, I think I even saw a site for clowns once—and that was actually pretty scary.  Point is, it doesn’t matter if the interest is widely popular or seemingly pin-pointed, there are groups dedicated to the same inklings, with the hopes of finding a match amongst themselves.  If I’ve learned anything through the online dating craze, I’d say it gets easier to sift out fakers.  And I’ve come up with a few good pointers…want to hear ‘em? Here they go:

Profile information—there’s a fine line between piquing someone’s interest and sending them running for the hills.  A nice intro paragraph strikes a balance between showing an honest, yet mysterious side, enough to start and keep a conversation going.  The accompanying pictures (yes, there should definitely be more than one pic) needs to be a mixture—one close up with a nice smile (preferably with a little teeth), one on location (maybe an easily recognizable vacation spot?), one in clothing that looks fantastic, and a full body shot.  Extra points for at least one action picture like running a race, horseback riding, or rock climbing. HA!  Pictures NOT to include: those with other people or kids, pictures with b*tchy resting face or at the club with drinks in hand.  On the flip side, when looking through others’ profiles—don’t take anyone seriously who doesn’t smile in ANY of their pics, always posts selfies from the bathroom or their car, or the shot is so far away a clear view of their face can’t be seen. 

Connecting—take as much time as needed solidifying initial connections in order to feel comfortable.  If the conversation is flowing and taking it offline feels like a natural next step, go for it.  If not, wait until the time is right.  Don’t feel obligated to move to phone conversation or even a face to face meeting unless chemistry is present.  Don’t be rushed because the person pursuing asked right away (some will ask in the introduction).  Some people exchange numbers within days, even hours, while others take a few weeks—again, go at the pace the works for the situation.  Opposite: don’t be afraid to stop a conversation immediately if it’s going in an uncomfortable direction.  The beautiful thing about phones—they can block people.  I’ve stopped someone mid-sentence before and hung up with no second thoughts. 

Hit ‘em up—talking on the phone for the first time is kind of a big deal.  It can be a make or break situation.  I’m usually pretty nervous and I have this crazy little cough that always rears its ugly head—but I know it’s my nervous tick and I work on it.  What if the person of interest has a high pitched or squeaky voice that in no way matches their looks?  What if they breathe heavily while talking?  What if they’re just…weird?  It happens, so decide how to respond and maintain that stance throughout.  For example, I have an aversion to men with soft, ‘Smokey Robinson-like’ voices.  Now, I love Smokey—but he’s 77 and I’m not trying to date him.  Nothing wrong with men who sound like him, they’re just not for me.  I’m also not checking for Barry White’s twin either.  So I need a man with a firm, yet balanced voice that will capture and hold my attention.  In times when the type of voice I like has not been present, I’m polite enough to finish the initial conversation, but afterwards, I’m blocking that number.  Quickly.  I have nothing for him.  Sorry, I just don’t. 

Other reasons I will block after the initial convo—saying hateful/disrespectful things about God (he gots to know and love Jesus); also saying hateful/disrespectful/violent things about women, family, his ex-wife/baby mama (particularly for men who have children), being combative, talking about sex, or talking so much about himself that he has no concept of me at all, like I didn’t get a word in edgewise.  Lastly, sending me a d*ck pic after our first conversation.  Now really good sir????? Is that necessary?  I’m not a hater…I just don’t want unsolicited pictures after hearing someone’s voice one time.  Give me a while on that one! Honorable mention here: I usually will block someone if he tries to carry on more than two full blown conversations with me through text and it’s not during work hours.  I’m over 40; I’m okay with texting while my availability is limited, but that is usually short, sweet and to the point.  Anything longer or repeated daily through text from someone “trying to get to know me”…I don’t take him seriously. 

Meet & Greet—much like the phone number exchange, this can be as quick or slow as desired.  Keep it simple.  A quick drink at Starbucks; an hour or so together at a favorite happy hour spot will suffice for a first meeting.  I’m not a fan of going Dutch, although I know many women who prefer it.  Having enough cash on hand to cover what I consume is a practice I began long ago, so (ALTHOUGH I SERIOUSLY SIDE EYE A MAN THAT LET’S ME PAY), solo is always an option!

Getting together like this is a great opportunity to gauge the chemistry.  I love sitting at the bar for meet and greets because we’re able to sit in quite close proximity and it allows me to get an idea of how the man I’m with is enjoying my company, along with how he interacts with other folks around us.  Do we capture each other’s attention, or am I thinking of my grocery list?  Is he looking at every other woman that passes by and I’m cutting my eyes at the dude at the end of the bar?  Are either of us making extra trips to the bathroom?  Only one way to find out and that’s being in each other’s presence.  If he’s rude to the bartender or another patron sitting near, it’s seen right away.  It’s a great way to measure the comfort level, chemistry (or lack thereof), and get a feel for whether or not my date is someone I want to see again.  Flipside: There are ways to leave when it doesn’t feel safe, appropriate, or worth the time. If EVER a date is going south and getting out needs to be handled discreetly (as opposed to just walking the heck out!), there is a distress signal most, if not all bars, have recently put in place.  Order an “Angel Shot,” one of the three ways: Neat and the bartender will gladly serve as an escort to your car, With Ice to have the bartender call Lift or Uber, or With Lime for a call to be made to the police.

Once the meet and greet happens the sky really is the limit.  It can be the start of a whirlwind romance with endless nights of phone convos and fun dates, a short fling, the early stages for a life-long friendship, or back to the virtual swiping board!  Regardless, learn to enjoy each phase for exactly what it is, be authentic in needs and intentions, and have fun! 

Until next time,

~k

Photo courtesy of Dora the Explorer incolors.club images

Photo courtesy of Dora the Explorer incolors.club images