So, right after I posted that status around 11 days ago, I got an email from someone on the dating site. This was unusual because the site that I am on asks that you go through various Q&A sessions before you get to the email phase. I think because I've done another site where email is the main communication method, I went ahead and started talking.
Well, within two days, I'd met the guy for drinks.
And, within five days, I'd had three dates with him.
Yes, that many. That fast.
Then, we hit my nice, built-in relationship speed bump of kid custody for five days.
To summarize the three dates, I'd say this:
1. A nice meet-up for drinks. I feel like there is chemistry. This could be good.
2. A great quick movie with him. We managed to talk during previous and there were a lot of smiles. Clear chemistry. Even hand holding. Sweet guy.
3. Romantic awesome official date. Lots of deep conversation and sharing of our pasts. Huge chemistry. Didn't want the night to end. He was a gentleman. Wow, did I feel romanced.
After this experience, I was feeling good. This guy was clearly outgoing and became very flirty on text. He was very direct about thinking I was very attractive/sexy/wonderful. He was almost so complimentary, that I felt warning flags go off. But, he seemed sincere and said he was a very romantic guy. He asked if I would consider not "shopping around on the site" and seeing if we could have something, if he agreed to do the same.
It all sounds perfect doesn't it? Fast. But, good?
But, what all of this doesn't say, is that in my head I was dueling between the warning flags I saw before me and the incredible words he was feeding me. One by one, those warning flags...or questions got answered. But, there remained one huge one that did not. It nagged and nagged in the back of my head.
Through the weekend, he texted. Five days of sweet talk, sharing how he couldn't wait to see me again. Several phone calls where we laughed and learned more about one another. It went well and I got very excited about what our next day would be like.
But, the nagging question just would not go away.
I have since been told by friends that I have complete justification in needing to know this information and in it bothering me. Single male friends have agreed that they wouldn't be offended or bothered by what I said and did.
Basically, I bluntly asked the question by phone the night before our fourth date.
And, I hurt his feelings.
I didn't mean to, and told him as much right in that moment. Told him that I could not get closer to him, without getting an answer, and that I was trying to be smart and open and up front. It tried to get him to relate to why a single mom who has been hurt in the past would need to know these things.
He nicely kept the date and defensively gave a response, but didn't give me any valid answer. Not really.
Then, today, he changed. His sexy flirty texts became just plain disrespectful and rude. And, that's where it all came unraveled faster than it started.
After finally getting tired of the innuendos and disrespectful talk, I basically said I'd had enough. He seemed to be pushing this over the top evening that was going to be way more than I was ready for, and I even called him out on that. He admitted later that he had been hurt by my question on the phone. Whether he realized it or not, he was clearly lashing out.
This resulted in a long series of texts with questions, blended with jabs towards me.
And, I was done. I was completely attracted to this man, and I was not going to make concessions this time. And, I told him as much. And, as he took his last jab, I waited and sent him a text that basically told him I knew he'd been hurt just like I had and that I felt he was a good guy. But, this wasn't going to work.
Was I heartbroken? Maybe a little. Yes, I cried a few tears on my drive home at the fact that he had seemed the most close to what I'm looking for than any man I have dated since my divorce. But, I wasn't flattened this time. And, that is worth noting.
What have I learned?
Well, for one...that I have grown.
Where I used to try to make the guy fit what I want/need, ignoring deal breakers and big flags along the way, I did not do that this time. Clearly, this guy has some baggage that he was hiding.I could have waiting around growing more attached to him, to find out the real deal, but I decided I did not want to risk that hurt.
Second, I learned that I can trust who I am and what I need, and stand by that.
I don't need to budge on certain things, even when I find myself incredibly attracted to the person. Those are my morals and they aren't out of whack. They are what I need and what God wants for me.
Finally, I have come to a place where I know I am worth more than a cheap quick fling. And, more importantly, that my dating life as a single mom has to be different than a single woman. I have two kids who depend on me. I cannot introduce someone into my life without it impacting theirs, even if I don't plan to introduce them to anyone for a long time. A risk I take, could hurt them. And, that's just not OK with me--even if it means I stay alone for a very long time.
A few weeks ago, my son asked me rather suddenly while on a drive what I had done for Christmas. By his expression, I could tell it had just occurred to him that I had spent my Christmas Eve and Day completely alone, while he was celebrating with his Dad and his Dad's extended family. I watched a look of worry come over him.
It tugged at my heart, as I tried to reassure him that I had been just fine. I will BE just fine. And, I am fine.
But, I also realize that it is important for me to be back out here trying. I deserve to find someone. My kids even think so. I have a lot to offer. I have developed a good confidence in myself the past few years, that wasn't around before.
And, while I had an immediate and quick failure with this attempt at online dating, I didn't want to retreat into non-dating mode again as I had when the last relationship failed and I ended up hurt. I wanted to keep trying. Tonight, I got back on the site and sent several smiles out to interesting profiles.
A good friend of mine described our experiences as caring, good people sincerely looking for the right person, as being like swimming in a pool of sharks. We try, we get hurt by the sharks inevitably, but we keep looking for that right fish out there to match us. We are just swimming with sharks and it is going to hurt for awhile until we find the right one.
I really related to this. The past three years, my inner motto has come from a forgetful blue fish from movie fame. Dory the Bluefish from Finding Nemo, always said, "Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming." I have learned to paddle through the hardest of times, sometimes feeling like I was too exhausted to even tread water. But, I kept on growing and learning from my failures. And, today I am a content, financially stable woman with a successful career, and a much more positive outlook on life in general as a result. I am happier than I have ever been!
This dating thing really doesn't have to be any different. I'll just keep swimming and maybe I'll find my way eventually.