This is a tough topic for me… because I have made one mistake after another in this area. I often joke that I could write a book containing everything not to do while dating. Yesterday, the K-LOVE Morning Show posted on Facebook their question of the day which asked, “What is the most stressful thing about dating someone new?”
The world of online dating makes it difficult to figure out who is genuine or not. Dating apps are primarily filled with scammers and those looking for sex. Usually it becomes clear very quickly (whether online or in person) if a person is just looking for hook-ups… but not always. Online daters become good at matching the other person’s energy and become fluent in saying what the other person wants to hear. Those who are truly looking for an actual relationship have to learn to read between the lines and look for the red flags that may not be so obvious from behind a screen. The traditional way of meeting new people for dating is almost obsolete. I think this can be attributed to our fast paced busy lives but also to the instant gratification of chatting via online apps.
As a divorced mom of 3, the majority of guys I have met in person did not last past the first or second date and every dating relationship that lasted longer have ended in disaster. So, what stresses me out about dating is the constant wondering how someone new will screw up or if I am self sabotaging a relationship because of the walls I’ve built to try and protect my heart. I have experienced the combination of both throughout the last two years of dating.
I realize that there are two perspectives to every story…and know that I am not completely without fault when it comes to why relationships have not worked. For most, I knew for sure after the first or second dates that there was never going to be a dating relationship. Either they ended it or I did. There were several that I know I came on too strong trying to force a relationship that neither I or the guy was ready for. And I know that I have at times carried baggage from previous heartbreaks into new relationships. Others the red flags were obvious… personality clash, parenting styles and/or stages were very different, complete immaturity, no in person connection, the focus was physical instead of deeper connection, different lifestyles, different religious beliefs, etc… and often a combination of several of the above mentioned flags.
There were a few that I was hoping could turn into a long term relationship but something has always gone horribly wrong. I fell in love, got attached way too fast, and ignored the red flags. Or, I did not allow myself to go all in because I knew in my spirit that it was never going to work.
Every time I tell someone about the guys I’ve met and/or the relationship disasters, that it is very obvious to me that these relationships would not have lasted. I still way over-think every encounter… wondering what I did wrong and what could I have done differently. And when I realize that the answer to both of those questions is usually to not have met them at all, I beat myself up for making bad choices. No one is harder on me than myself.
There are a few that I still have a friendship with after meeting/dating. There are a couple of guys who I am very grateful are in my life and I value their friendship and guy advice. For the guys I still have contact with that ended with me being hurt, I choose to learn the lessons, forgive, and be a friend… with boundaries.
Dating after divorce is especially hard because we are trying to redeem the pain and loss of the former marriage.
Unfortunately, some of us get wrapped up in the addiction of receiving emotional and physical attention. As we long for the companionship that comes with a relationship, we focus on the immediate satisfaction instead of the long term consequences. We often settle for those less than worthy of our affections. And in the path of destruction, we get more damaged and shattered with each storm.
Don’t get me wrong… I definitely needed to experience what I call my “mid-life dating crisis.” I have learned a lot of difficult lessons the hard way. And I have learned a lot about myself… what I need and want in a relationship. I still hope that God will someday bring a soulmate into my life… but if not, I am learning to be content in my singleness.