How Dating has led to Self Discovery
Date is a Four Letter Word...and other epiphanies
I've been dating a long, long time. I should go back and say that I've been married and divorced, and remarried and widowed. But, there were many long years in between marriages and prior to the first of a lot of Dating.
I've had my share of weird and unpleasant dates and maybe even more than my share of truly awful dates! I had coined the term "Date is a Four Letter Word" in my 20's after realizing that I just wasn't destined for great things to come from dating. It always has felt to me that dating was something other people had fun with and that I somehow was relegated to pulling myself up by the boot straps after yet another disaster of a date only to declare, yet again that I was "done with dating". But, over the course of several decades of singlehood, here I find myself again in the dating world. I would love to say that over the many years of my life that Dating has changed radically for the better; or that it has changed at all. But, alas, dating still is a ritual of going out with a semi-stranger and trying to have fun. While this can be fun, it can often be as arduous as a job interview, or as miserable as a trip to the dentist.
What I've learned in my latest foray into Dating is that I'm learning a lot about myself! And that is a wonderful side effect that I hadn't anticipated. So, follow along with me as I share some of the wonderful insights that I'm getting into the person I am and the person I wish to be, via my adventures in Dating.
Dating for Sport, or Seriously dating?
I guess one of the first life lessons I got since beginning to date again in my 6th decade of life, is that there are many people who date for "sport" and then there are some of us who are dating as a means to an end.
I am in the latter category, but find that there are probably more people in the former category. At least it would be that so far, the men I'm meeting to Date are in the former category, that of dating for sport. What I mean by that is that there are people who date simply as something to do without much regard to any outcome from the date in the long term. That is to say, that they are able to simply meet up with another person whom has sparked their interest on some level and not put a lot of concern into whether they will move any further into a relationship.
Now, there is no judgment here against these folks; particularly when they are honest about their intentions to their respective dates! Why not go out with a fellow singleton and experience dinner, or a movie or even both and just have a good time? I see nothing wrong with this approach. Still others in this category are just hoping that they will find a like minded individual to do things with, but without any hope or expectation of ever becoming exclusive with one another or moving the relationship into the next level. Again, there is no problem here; keeping in mind that people are free to come and go and do as they please.
I have found that perhaps I'm in the minority in that I am dating more as a means to an end. While I'm quite happy to get out in a group such as the Meet Up program; meet like minded adults of both genders and share in activities that are mutually pleasant; I'm hopeful to meet other people who would like to date and perhaps move to the next level of becoming a relationship. This is not apparently the most common denominator. I am learning that people seem to be much more interested in casual dating and casual shared experiences than they are in actually creating a relationship.
But, this has me questioning if this is truly the case, or simply that I'm in groups of this nature and just haven't found my tribe yet? I think that maybe I need to dig a little deeper to find a group of people that are more interested in dating to find a life partner than in dating for sport. Surely I can't be all alone in my wish to find a person to have a relationship with? I just don't think that is the case. So, my first lesson is to find my tribe! They say our "Vibe attracts our Tribe" so I think I need to look outside the box I've explored so far.
What lights you up?
One of the bonuses of dating recently has been in finding out what makes me tick; or what lights me up! I love finding out about who I am because only when we truly know and love the person that we are can we possibly attract that which will bring us further happiness. Or put another way, we have to be happy and complete in our own skin if we wish to attract a partner for a relationship that will compliment us on our journey.
I didn't really know until I started my latest dating journey what I wanted. I was sure that I was lonely and tired of spending most evenings at home with only the company of my beloved dog and cat and a few episodes of Modern Family on the TV. But, besides that, I really wasn't sure of what I truly wanted to happen further on in my life.
But, then I joined a few Meet Up groups and met a few nice people and a couple of men that interested me and the next thing I know I'm actually going on a Date! I had become pretty self sufficient and pretty comfortable spending much of my time alone. But, I felt that I was growing stagnant and what better way to liven my life up than by spending time with people that were interesting to me?!
It has been wonderful to again experience the energy of a Date on a Saturday night. I had forgotten the anticipation of meeting somebody new for a dinner out; conversation and the whole "getting to know you" stuff that first dates are made of. I was so pleasantly surprised that while I'm getting to know another person, I'm also getting to know ME! What a delight to find more of what makes me tick through this process of dating!
For instance, I had a date that I wasn't even thinking of so much as a date but just meeting to go have some fun. But, in the course of this "non" date I felt like I was on a truly awesome date that was remarkable because of my dread and loathing based on dates from my past. While I was busily having this "non-date" I was relaxed enough to find this person making me laugh, making me see myself through their eyes and really liking the reflection! It was one of the nicest times out I had in a very long time.
Then, I had another Date with another man I met. While this Date started out as a traditional date and one with those expectations, it lacked the spontaneous joy and fun of the first date that started out feeling just like an outing. It was kind of like a textbook example of what a Date should look like; pick up person; walk them to the car; open the door; select restaurant and suggest specific foods; pick up the check.....and so on. While the person was very polite and reasonably good company, it didn't have that flow of just going with the mood and the spontaneous joy that my first date had. It even ended with the obligatory "first kiss" and when I came inside my home, I found myself telling the dog "He just isn't the one".
I am not going to say that this wasn't a nice man, or that he did anything wrong. Only that I learned that I am not looking to date for sport, but to find somebody that I can ultimately make a relationship with. At the end of the day, I don't want to keep Dating, but rather have special moments with a special person who lights up my life and makes me feel happy to spend time with them.
To Date or not to Date that is the Question
For me, it has been a wonderful journey of discovery to again begin Dating. It is through this process that I have come to recognize that while dating can be fun, and does not have to have big strings attached, for me it is a means to an end. I just am not built for Dating as a sport, but rather as a "test drive" if you will. I feel that Dating has allowed me to take a new person out for a "spin" and see how we fit. If the fit is good, then I'll keep seeing the person and hopefully over time, in a much less formal, structured manner and more of a "spending time" sharing common interests type of way, versus a traditional date.
I think Dating can be a lovely way to connect with other people and the beauty is there is no right or wrong way to do this! If one is looking to just go out, meet a lot of people and have fun without expectation then serial dating or dating for "sport" might be just the ticket.
If you are more like me, and hoping to meet somebody that you can actually form a future relationship with, then Dating can still work; but it's good to be honest with yourself and your respective dates. I think if you are honest, then you avoid many of the pitfalls of dating and keep your Dating Karma positive. I know now that I want to find someone that I can stand still with for a while. Somebody who get's me and I get them and that we can have fun together and maybe even build a little future relationship. While dating has been instrumental and I do plan to continue to explore my options via this tool, for me it will be a means to an end. I choose to use Dating as a way of exploring the options that life has to offer and to find somebody that I can settle down with for a while.
So, whether you are dating for sport, or for the long term big picture remember that you can learn a lot about who you are in the process. Enjoy your Dating Adventures!