I recently decided that reentering the dating world, after the disintegration of my 15-year marriage, wasn’t humbling enough. I thought I could really step up my game by also writing and sharing a “tell-all memoir” documenting my process. I’m sure it sounds odd to hear that I am on a journey of self-discovery through the most unlikely source—online dating—but I really truly am committed to finding myself during this adventure! You can read about how my adventure started with two lists (the Fuck-It list and the Get Un-Fucked list) and has progressed up until now here.
Photo by J W
Divorce, Dating & Thanksgiving: 4 Men & A Woman
As the holidays (and Thanksgiving) approach, I find myself experiencing a few more ups and downs than normal. This seems to be a hard time of year for divorcees as families gather, and it becomes even more apparent than usual just how fractured a broken home can be. Although I’ve spent time exploring and investing in myself as an independent woman this year, I’m still a mother.
I am a mother who is attempting to help my children navigate the divorce process themselves while coming to terms with being a single mom. Fun new elements like deciding who gets the kids for which holiday and how to coordinate living in different states is not something I anticipated or planned for on my wedding day. As I watch my friends and family post on Facebook about all of the things they are grateful for, and about all of their whole intact family holiday plans, I can’t help but take inventory of just how much my life has changed this year.
As I always do, I’ve made my own list of gratitudes this Thanksgiving, and although it looks drastically different this year, I think it just might be my best gratitude list yet! So this year as I reflect, I am grateful for:
- My children who have been through hell this year and have become so much stronger through the trials and tribulations. I’m so proud of them!
- My parents who graciously allowed me to move back home while I finished my divorce.
- My Family, including my ex’s side, who have been so supportive and who told me that they discussed it and decided that once the divorce was final that they were keeping me.
- My therapist who is helping me develop a really cool box full of new tools.
- My forever friends who cheer me on during each new adventure, and who never judge me no matter how crazy my most current idea may be.
- An editor/publisher who has pushed me to share my story, and has shown me the power of my voice.
- My new friends who have welcomed me in and given me a place within their tribes.
- My 36 and 1/2 first dates who, each and every single one, has helped me walk a path that has brought me one step closer to being whole.
- My freedom and sovereignty!
- The ability to be brave and explore.
- A growth mindset that has blown my world apart.
- Great sex! Who knew that taking responsibility for my sexuality would be so transformative?
- A new way of doing and being.
- Self Love—if you haven’t tried it, just DO IT!
- My mentor who has patiently coached me through hours of conversation; held me while I ugly cried; and showed me how to be transparent, authentic and how to love honestly without attachment.
- A million new opportunities that seem to multiply each time I lean in and say yes to trying new things.
- A closer connection to source and a deeper trust in the universe to support me and always have my highest and best interests covered.
- A new life that although scary, seems to fit me so much better than my old one did.
So, on to my next five dates!
Photo by Edgar Chaparro
Date 16. Slam Dunk Seth
A recently divorced man-child who is completely obsessed with balls—basketballs you perverts! Fascinating in his ability to be quirky, self-deprecating, immature and cocky all at once. He gets chatty when he gets nervous and speaks much about nothing. A talented graphic designer, sports enthusiast, dedicated father to teenagers, and overall a kind and docile man.
Nothing screams classy like a 45-year-old man showing up at a nice restaurant decked out in Blazer gear. Our conversations flowed because I took mercy and was willing to engage in topics of very little interest to me. A highlight of the date for me was listening to how he has taken on the role of supporting his high school daughter who came out as a lesbian this year. There is almost nothing sexier to me than listening to someone speak about something that they are passionate about! Seth was able to help me cross off a one-night stand from my list. So that was exciting, even if the sex wasn’t. Overall I would give Seth:
What I learned about myself:
I am super stubborn (go ahead and laugh number 12), and often resist things that don’t make sense or come naturally to me. I have been working on leaning in and really embracing acceptance, especially when something doesn’t make sense!
Chemistry doesn’t make a lot of sense to me still. Why is it so important? Can we have decent sex without it? Even though this date wasn’t my favorite, I decided to see how sex could be with limited chemistry, just to explore it. I don’t think I need to explore that one any further. I have also decided that I will steer clear of dating anyone who is indirectly linked up with any organizations where we will have to bump into each other later… like a basketball coach within the association that my kiddo plays for. I most likely don’t need to learn this lesson again, but who knows?
Date 17. Itty Bitty Blake
How does one set about describing an absolute shit show? Blake was a little bit twitchy, but I totally was giving him the benefit of the doubt and hoping it was just nerves. Unfortunately, it wasn’t nerves, he’s just a super strange guy—what I would call AQR (ain’t quite right). A professional musician who writes music for advertisements, he did a poor job of making himself marketable in the dating world.
It was a never-ending dinner date that was only marginally tolerable at best. I swear that Blake’s voice had a whining quality to it, everything he said sounded like a little bitch fit was in mid-progress. Let me be completely honest with this specific date…the man had sent me a very unflattering naughty picture and a big part of my reason for accepting this date was straight up curiosity. What would he be like? How would he present himself? Would his tiny little problem be apparent? What I really didn’t understand is why someone would send a dick pick if said person had a very tiny…? I honestly was so curious that I felt a need to go check out said person and see if maybe he had some other bigger, better redeeming qualities. Unfortunately, he did not. Overall I would give Blake:
What I learned about myself:
If curiosity was a drug, I’d be an addict. If curiosity was an attractive person, I’d be a stalker. If curiosity was a double cheeseburger, I’d be 400 pounds. Ok, you get my point!
Too much of anything is unhealthy, and often my relationship with curiosity gets me into all kinds of ridiculous, unnecessary, and wasteful experiences. I am embarrassed to admit that I recently spent an entire afternoon attempting to create an algorithm for screening potential viable dating candidates prior to meeting up, based on Tinder conversations. It consisted of specific key questions, analyzing initiation ratios, wait time for responses, suggestion of date activity and place, number of sexual innuendos, duration of time it takes to request a phone number and face to face meeting, use of emojis and pet names, etc. etc. etc. Although my curiosity is what often leads me to create new ideas—like 50 first dates—I need to get a little bit more focused on which endeavors are a worth while use of my time. Tonight’s date is case in point.
Date 18. Confidence With Steve
A statuesque, beautiful man of mystery. His perfect teeth flashed like sunshine against the ink of space. I quickly memorized the planes of his beautiful face, the swell of his full delicious lips, and the way his large dark eyes depict a quiet focused intensity. An old soul trapped in a 30-year-old man’s perfectly muscled body, his voice had a melodic quality that immediately put me at ease. A flicker of humanity and compassion waged war with a deep sadness that all shared equal space on his beautiful face. A traveling man who found comfort amongst strangers.
Steve was in town from Florida on business. We chatted back and forth for several days and decided that our connection was one that required at least one meet up before he flew off for his next destination. We met for drinks the night before he was scheduled to leave and quickly thereafter took our party back to his hotel room. He was absolutely lovely and the connection and conversation was delightful and natural. He made me laugh—like really laugh—and seemed to hang on my every word. He inspired feelings of confidence in my own beauty and uniqueness. I will leave some things for the imagination but will say that I crossed a few more things off of the Fuck It list and that both my mind and body were completely blown. The things this man could do with his body made him deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize as far as I am concerned. Overall I would give Steve:
What I learned about myself:
This date was a game changer for me in a lot of ways. Not only did we have an absolutely unique connection, but also I was able to accomplish some things that up until this point had been elusive for me. One of the things on my Fuck It list was to have totally self-confident sex, which I know may sound odd, but when one is still fumbling around in figuring out their own sexuality, it’s hard to feel confident. For whatever reason, the way that Steve looked at and talked to me made me feel so very sexy and confident. I wish I could bottle the experience up and sell it!
So although I can’t actually bottle it up, I sure as hell can pull up the way I felt and bring that into future encounters with me. There is something incredibly sexy about confidence, and I want it!
Date 19. Alex the Antichrist
An interesting fella who stands at 5’11” and had recently learned that he is a “Sagittarius Dragon”. He has a noteworthy face with full lips, thinning hair, and large eyes that seemed to dart all over the place. He is self-employed, with very few friends, and no family in the area.
Our date started out somewhat typical with easy “get to know you” conversation over drinks. It quickly got derailed when he informed me that he moved away from Utah, where his family lives because they truly believe that he is the Antichrist. He decided to move away because he had firmly decided that he was not, in fact, the Antichrist and that he needed to remove himself from their negativity.
He tried to laugh it off by saying “This could make a really great chapter for your 50 First Dates book, call it Chapter 13-dinner with the Antichrist. I’ll even write the first few lines for you…” He continued, “When the dinner bill came to 66.60 at Applebee’s, I should have snuck out of the bathroom window and jumped into an Uber, but I kinda wanted to see the Antichrist’s apartment.”
I very calmly looked him in the eyes and let him know that I could absolutely have gotten over the Antichrist part, but that inviting me to Applebee’s was a total deal breaker. A girl has to have standards. Overall I would give Alex:
What I learned about myself:
I’m not too proud to admit that sometimes I am a bad person, and that having interactions with people like dear Alex make me feel so much better about my own life! I mean honestly, when I am having an absolute shit day, all I have to do is remind myself that my family doesn’t believe that I am the Antichrist, and I swear things start perking right on up.
Date 20. List Loving Liza
Liza is a beautiful 35-year-old woman with curly blonde hair and bright blue eyes. She speaks in a way that reminds others to slow down and pay attention. A bit of a tomboy, with a heart two sizes too big. A woodworker by day, wild horse trainer by night, and lovely soul at all times.
Liza and I met in a cute little restaurant where we hit it off right away. She was warm, engaging, adorable and fun. She knew how nervous I was and did her best to make things as comfortable as possible. She answered all of my millions of questions with patience and understanding, without an ounce of judgment to be had. Over all I would give Liza:
What I learned about myself:
So dating a woman was on my list and felt like an important piece of self-discovery. The energy that exists when two women are engaging romantically is totally and completely different from what happens in heterosexual dating. Women are so sensual and interact so differently.
Kissing and touching a woman was not what I expected at all. I think that sexuality is very fluid and that anyone can be attracted to almost anything that they focus on. Our minds are by far the most powerful organ involved in attraction and sexuality.
The part that I struggled with was the emotional attachment that was formed on her part. I was very clear about what I did and didn’t want out of the exchange and when she didn’t keep up her end of the bargain, I felt disappointed. It made me wonder if maybe dealing with a woman romantically was more than I can handle. I have felt the same way when a man has shown too much interest in me as well, but for some reason, it seems less harmful for me to reject a man than a woman.
I was honestly shocked at how many sexist, gender-based values that I subconsciously had. I am embarrassed to admit that under my feminist façade, I still harbor some deep wounding surrounding female sexuality and biases that I am now actively working on healing and overcoming. The lessons I learned were immensely valuable.