I am thirty-eight years old but most of the time over the past year or so I often refer to myself as a girl. Stepping backing into the dating scene after better than a decade of no intimate male interaction, has left me feeling lost at sea, floating in a wayward life raft in a see full of sharks. I feel naïve and often confused by the world around me. I feel like a much younger version of myself.
I thought that upon returning to the dating scene I would find, in men roughly my age, it would be easy to find someone looking for a commitment and many of the trials and pretense I encountered as a youth would no longer exist. I truly believed it would be just that simple. As I discovered that was not the case I lost my bearings.
In the new dating world it is more difficult to just meet a man the way I used to. There is seldom an instance where I am introduced to someone through a mutual friend or I connect with someone at a social gathering. Today it seems that everyone has turned to internet dating, a tool I just can’t seem to make work for me. I am too dismissive and in the privacy and safety of my own mind far too judgmental to just give my online suitors a shot. I need something tangible and the pages of profiles and inbox full of messages are overwhelming, something that only exists on my computer monitor. I need to see someone, the way they move, hear the sound of their voice. I need to be able to look someone in the eye.
Still, I do manage to date. I have become far more preoccupied with aesthetics and far more willing to concede when it comes to moral character or like values, like a silly high school girl who is more concerned with appearance than substance. Sometimes I get lucky but my taste in men has changed so drastically since I was a youth that I still feel like I am assembling a list of what I need and want in a relationship, often failing to effectively communicate what is important to me as result.
Dating is just silly, confusing and sometimes painful. But it is also an amazing adventure. I have learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of. It can be tiresome. At times it genuinely feels like a chore but I like the fun aspect of it all. I like the maybe this is it moments, the optimism. I like the thrill of the first few dates, the moment where you realize you have finally relaxed, the first time you wake up in someone’s arms and want to freeze that moment forever. I try to focus on the positive.
I am learning as I date. I know what I don’t want and need to stick to my list of what is unacceptable. I need to concede less. I need develop a core list of what is most important to me and not overlook it when someone doesn’t meet the basic requirements. I need to approach dating with the mindset that I want a partner and not just hope that something develops from something I deem fun. That hasn’t worked well for me so far. I need to date like a grown up.