Monday, February 28, 2011

The Dating Game

Well, I'm ready to start dating again....or for the first time, I guess.  Yikes.  I've been thinking a lot about how to go about this, whether to blog about it, how much to share online, etc....and I don't know that I'll make the right decisions every step of the way.  In fact, I probably won't.  I've never gone through this before, so it's silly to think I'll do everything right the first time I try.

For those readers who don't know, I started dating my husband when we were teenagers -- I had just turned 15; he, 17.  He died a little over a year ago, when he had just turned 31 and I had just turned 29.  In the past year, I've sold my house, moved a thousand miles away to Austin, and I'm starting an new career (entering the field of real estate after practicing law for five years in Iowa).  I'm just getting settled in this new life, and thinking I'm ready to add someone to it.

In the interest of honesty, I am currently casually dating someone now who I met through a mutual friend.  He doesn't live in Austin, though, and for the time being it is not looking like it is going to become serious anytime soon.   We have agreed that we are both free to see other people and that is something I plan to do.  I don't plan to air all -- or even most! -- of the details of my dating life, but I guess I wanted to let you know I have put my toe in the water already.  I'll call this fellow "Antonio."  It's been nice dating him because it has given me just a little bit of experience without any pressure to get serious.  In addition to Antonio, I have been on exactly one date.  I thought it went very well, but he hasn't contacted me about a second date, so who knows?   

What is interesting is that I just don't know what I'm getting into -- I don't want to make every first date about Brian, but it's hard to talk about about my life to this point without doing that.  I have to choose words carefully to avoid getting into that area.  It's not that I want to hide my past or lie -- in fact, the problem is that I'm usually too open and I share too much, and then I realize I'm on the tightrope where one more sentence will give me away, and that's what we'll have to talk about.  (By the way, this probably means I talk too much; maybe I should work on being a better listener and asking more questions!)  I am just tired of dealing with the awkward pause, silence, and then the quiet, stammering apology for my loss.  Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying people are reacting inappropriately; I'm just saying that I'm tired of having that weird conversation and then thinking about whether that information is going to be rolling around the back of my companion's mind the whole rest of the evening.

On top of pulling out an elephant and sticking it in the middle of the room, there's also an information disparity that will naturally occur.  Knowing what happened with Brian pretty much sums up my whole romantic history, so once someone knows that, there isn't much else out there that's unknown in that department.  At the same time, it's not considered okay to ask about exes or past relationships, so it's not like I have the ability to know an equal amount about someone else's past without being really nosy and inappropriate.  That's too bad, because I'm naturally curious about that and I think one's relationship history is somewhat telling on whether they are good relationship material.

I know, I know....I'm griping.  Suffice it to say, I am aware that dating will be different for me than it will be for the average single gal.  On top of those differences, I'm sort of ill-equipped even for "normal" dating because I've literally never been in that scene.  I don't know the rules -- is it okay to go dutch?  How do we go about sharing a messy appetizer?  What do I wear?  What if I don't like him - how do I decline another date?  Who calls whom, and after how long?  What if he shows up in a truck with a "Peeing Calvin" I have to get in, or can I feign sudden illness?

Nevertheless, I'm putting fear aside and I'm ready to give this thing a shot.  I've signed up for an online dating service.  Of course, that brought some worries of its own for a small-town Iowa girl -- is it safe?  Will they know my last name?  How many dates until I give them my phone number and full name?  What if a crazy slips through?  It seems a lot of people my age don't go on dates, per se, preferring instead to meet people through friends.  Yet I don't want to contaminate my friend pool if I date someone and it doesn't work out.  I like having some people as friends, especially when they are key members of my "gang."  I really love my friends and my life right now, and I don't think I want to mess any of that up by mixing romance in at this point.

Finally, what will be interesting is the process of figuring out what I want in a partner -- I haven't thought about that in so long.  I just know what I had, and that I loved him.  I loved the whole package of Brian -- he was a perfect fit for me as a person, and now I'm being asked to think about what specific "qualities" are most important.  That's hard to say, as I'm not used to compartmentalizing physical and personality traits that way.  I think it will be daunting, but kind of cool, to figure out what kind of person suits me now.

First, though, I have to find someone to go on another first date with...and then figure out what to wear!


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