Dating 101: Saying You’re Sorry

I think it is both unnatural and invigorating to date in middle age. I am 47 years old and truly surprised to still be dating. I’m not a good dater.  I am great in a relationship, but meeting new people, dating, and the time spent dating to see if there will be a relationship is hard for me. I am open and honest, a master communicator, and aware of what I want and what I am looking for.  Even with this knowledge, it is difficult.

I was divorced in my 30’s and didn’t date because my son was not even a year old and my focus was on him. As he got older I dated and it was brutal. I am easily turned off, easily offended, easily spooked, and quick to know if I want to go on a second date. That happens rarely. As a single mother I can determine on a first date if a man is going to be worthy of meeting my child and so I can weed out the unsavory quite quickly. Thank God. There is no point in wasting my time or theirs. It is just dating, not rocket science.

My son has been the silent ruler of my dating life.  When he was young I was so focused on being a mom that being a woman took a backseat.  I was alone for a long time and when I got back into dating I was looking for both my son and myself.  I think that is how it should be, but I probably missed out on some fun because I was approaching dating with an end goal of a relationship, rather than just enjoying the company of a man.

Not every man you date is going to be a boyfriend or husband.  Some men can just be fun.  I think when it comes to dating I have skipped over some of the fun.  I am unsure whether I am dating as a mother or a woman and it is causing some confusion.  My son is almost 18 and I want to be with a man he can respect and love.  He will love who I love of course, but he is at an age where he has an opinion, will share it with me, and I trust him.

The problem is that I am so clear on what I think I want, I am not being fair to the vision that a man may have for himself.  I have been dating a man with a child and my focus and approach has been all about what is best for me and my son, not necessarily what is best for him and his child. As parents we know what will work for our kids and the goal is to meet someone who respects those choices and find a way to meld theirs with ours.

It is hard to meet someone that I want to spend time with beyond one date, so when I do come across someone wonderful I guess I panic.  There is self-sabotage of course, but that comes from a place of fear not a place of crazy.  I think I need to approach my dating life with a broader perspective. I want to share my life with someone and a slight adjustment of how that looks could be beneficial to how I view men and the art of dating.

I had a tentative date on Friday night.  It was not set in stone as we both have kids and things change.  In the end he spent the evening with his daughter and I got upset.  Not that he was with his child, but because I was not going to see him.  I feel very bad about my reaction because it was not fair.  I would cancel dinner with the President if my son wanted to hang out with me.  He is everything and my number one priority.

I have always dated as a mother, and yet this time I reacted to my dating life as a woman. I was disappointed and got all pissy about something that was ridiculous.  Cancel a date for a football game with your buddies and a little irritation is justified, but cancel a date because your child needs you and there is no discussion to be had. I know better and am rolling my eyes at myself for behaving like a selfish bitch, not a mother.

I am struggling with what I want as a woman, who I am as a mother, and what I want in a man.  I want a man who wants to spend time with me.  I also want a man who is going to put his children first because if we end up in a relationship, he will then put my child first also, and that it the man I want in my life. No matter how old my son gets, he is my baby and I want someone who gets the profound love and support I have for him.

They say that love means never having to say you are sorry, but I would argue that love requires you to say sorry a lot.  To my date on Friday night, I love who you are as a father and I am sorry I behaved like a child when you were taking care of your child. Dating is hard, schedules are busy, and pressure comes from many places. I want you to know I understand, am aware of how new and foreign it all is, and I think you are lovely.

There are always obstacles when dating, with rules and boundaries that need to be learned.  One can only hope that when you make a misstep you are able to talk about it, work it out, learn, forgive, laugh, and keep going.  In the end I don’t really know what I am doing and so I do the best I can, extend my hand and hope someone will take it and guide me. Stumbling is easier when you are walking hand in hand, and keeping the faith.