I began dating again at age 44, more than 2 years after I decided to end my 15 year long marriage. I didn’t actually CHOOSE to start dating again…(more on that later). I really had NO interest in men. At all. I used to tell people “I just got rid of one. WHY ON EARTH would I go looking for another one???” (Yeah, the marriage wasn’t all that fun there the last uh…7-8 years!) Anyhoo…
Let me tell you something. Dating in your 40’s is a PITA. That’s “Pain In The Ass” for those of you who don’t text (or have a love of acronyms). Having not been in the dating world since the 90’s creates one ginormous learning curve for starters. Honestly I don’t even remember HOW we met people to date when I got out of college.
It started in January with a man 12 years younger than me asking “What are you doing later?” My mind began to play a list of what I might actually be doing later that day (laundry, cooking dinner for my kids, yoga, maybe writing…) before I realized that he was asking for a date. Gah! I politely declined his advance and thought he was cute for putting himself out there like that.
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What happened over the next 48 hours completely blindsided me! ALL MY PAST RELATIONSHIP STUFF CAME UP… doubts, fears, insecurities, my “failures”. Then the questions… What do I really want anyway? Do I WANT to start dating again? Then I landed on “Why the hell not?” I didn’t see any of it coming!
To speed things up I’ll tell you that I decided to spend time with that man for almost two months. One day when something juuust didn’t feel right to me, I called it off. Then I found out he had a girlfriend all that time. Then I found out his girlfriend was really his WIFE. So that was my ﬁrst dating experience after divorce.
As reeling as it was, the experience catapulted me into a space I’d never been in before. I was reminded how a good kiss feels. I remembered that I enjoyed the company of a man. It was exciting to learn about someone new. And I wanted MORE.
So began what I affectionately refer to as The Year of Dating 2022. I met a lot of men online, even though at ﬁrst I was completely opposed to it. I had some varied results, as is to be expected I suppose. Interestingly, the results changed for me over the course of the year, in 3 “phases”.
During phase one I was entirely out of control. Well to a degree. All I wanted was to feel that “high”. You know, the baiting, the hook, that ﬁrst touch, kiss….etc. etc. It was like a game. It was thrilling! It made me feel sexy again. Wanted. Until it didn’t. I got my heart hurt. A couple of times. So I stepped back, assessed my behavior and went back in for phase two. It was better. I felt like an advanced player. I knew a little more about what to do and what not to do. I created rules for myself. After a couple of months, I was crying again, cursing the whole process.
It took me a few weeks, after swearing I wasn’t going “out there” again, to enter phase three. This time I totally changed up my approach. I looked at it more like an experiment. I chose not to care as much. I decided to stand in my own power more. The craziest thing happened! The men that started to message me and seek me out were altogether different than the ones before that. The conversations were more intelligent, more substantial, and the “creepy” guys virtually disappeared. What??? What WAS this magic? Phase 3 turned out to be much more fun and I felt so much better about myself while dating during this time.
Well, at the end of the Year of Dating 2022 I did quite a bit of reﬂecting. What came to me in a very clear way was that in that last “phase” I showed up completely differently than I had before. My energy was not that of a woman needing a man. It was conﬁdent, relaxed and in fact more authentic. I chose to respect myself more than the man on the other side of the chat box. If something, anything, felt “off”, either I didn’t respond or I deleted/blocked the person.
What I learned is this: YOU choose how to show up online for potential dates. If you want to sleep around and not expect much from your matches, then post sexy extra cleavage pics and ﬂirt a lot. Don’t be shy. You’ll get exactly what you want. (No judgment here by the way. I ran that course.) But if you are looking for a life partner or someone to really value you as you and not just a play thing, then you MUST communicate that through your words, pictures and energy online. It is ALL about what you put “out there”. It will come back to you like a big ass, in your face mirror. And be honest about what you want. I’ve heard from a lot of men that women online say things like “No hookups” but then they post revealing pics and send suggestive messages to them. That isn’t honest. It’s manipulative. Don’t do it.
Online dating is what you make of it. Decide what you want. Communicate that in a genuine way. Create some guidelines for what you are willing to allow in a conversation, a date, and beyond. Honor your decisions and guidelines. (You can change your rules whenever you want to of course.) Remember to stand in your power. Then have fun!