dating methods

One of the themes that runs through The Girls from Ames (which I just finished last night) is dating, finding the right and wrong men, marriage, divorce and more dating. As far as women have come, and I am told it’s a “long way, baby”, much of our lives is eaten up in the pursuit of coupling. The author notes the “girls” boyfriends and romantic ups and downs as far back as elementary school.

I don’t have a romantic past that stretches back that far. I crushed on guys certainly as a girl and teen, but I was shy, very fat and too ambivalent about the whole thing for there to be much to talk about. College was pretty much the same. I thought, and I don’t think I was unique, that someone would just “find me”. See me walking or in class or dancing in a club and know that I was the one for them. I hung hopefully on the edges and, of course, nothing happened. The few times I stepped up and laid my cards on the table – I was rejected – which is ironic when you consider that by stating my feelings and intentions openly I wound up married – twice. I was ahead of my time, I suppose.

One of the women in the book, Karla, was married and divorced with a baby in her mid-twenties when she met her second husband. It was one of those “just sorta knew” relationships. The other women in the book hold her relationship up as the ideal. It certainly is a meeting of partners where each one is more concerned about the other than themselves and see downs times as just as normal and necessary to a relationship as up times. Ebb and flow. If you can’t float a boat on both, failure is a given.

Two things that dovetailed this morning, one was an FB status update about Camp Widow. Some of my FB friends belong to a bereavement group that holds yearly “conventions” to deal with widow issues. Two of their speakers, according to the update, will be talking about the “how” of recoupling. There is a “how”? Specifically? Hmmm.  And I read a widow grog that seems to be mostly about dealing/rebuilding and much of what the bloggers there write about are the disappointments and challenges of rebuilding. The post today dealt with the anger and frustration of dating again. Mostly about comparing. I am probably just revealing my too practical side here, but why compare at all? Or make lists?

One of the girls in the book divorced in the last five years and is searching for the kind of marriage that Karla and the others seem to have. Operative word being “seem” and has a list, comparison dates/shops. But how can you find someone when you after assessed yourself and let go of who you were?

That’s key to moving on and new love, isn’t it?

I didn’t compare Rob to Will. Even if there had been a basis for doing so, I made up my mind to put Will and our relationship in the past. Nothing good would come of my trying to recreate that time or using my old self as a basis for future happiness.

There is the sutra argument that our true selves are eternal. Regardless of our current perceptions of who we are, which is based largely on the world around us, we are always us deep down. It’s necessary then to not rely over much on past actions, relationships, and such, as touchstones. The past has limited use in determining present day direction.

I knew long before Will died that I needed to be married again. I felt unfinished in a way that transcends the ability to put the feeling to proper words. There was someone out there and I was meant to love again. So when the time came, I put Will in his place in my past and I left him there. He had no purpose in my future. He was done, another piece of my foundation.

One of the things I loved about Karla’s story was the way her second husband, Bruce, totally embraced being her daughter’s father. I am puzzled by people who don’t dive in as a parent or people who refuse to allow their new spouses to be parents. Like a child can have too much parental support and love? My own opinion is that a potential spouse who can’t love your child isn’t a good pick and that children aren’t mature enough, or have the ability to see past their self-centeredness to know what is best for them sometimes. Loving a person with children means committing to parenting too. Otherwise, forget it.

All the talk – on blogs and talk shows and in books – about the need to be single, find yourself, learn to be you, blah, blah, blah – is directly contradicted by the fact that we spend most of our lives searching for love, maintaining/nurturing love and lamenting/longing for it when it ends. I don’t think this is a dysfunction. It is human. Alone is not the norm though it certainly can be unavoidable given the way society works anymore.

I identified with the girls in the book who felt there was something wrong with them as teens and twenty-somethings searching, putting their hearts out there and being rejected. I know better now. There is nothing wrong with me. I was being me and the rejection wasn’t personal really. It was steering me – too slowly it felt like – to where I was meant to be. We can be so impatient. We think we are ready and we’re not, or we think we need someone who is merely a want. Needs and wants stubbornly don’t match up a lot because our true selves are hard-hearted on our behalf.

I totally believe that we choose our destinies for whatever reason yet to be revealed and that it’s the human imposed perception of time that keeps us from realizing that we have so much more time in the larger scheme of things. Even if I live to be 110, the years are a blip in terms of my true self’s existence. The time I have spent on this plane with Will and Rob is just a drop in the bucket of the time our souls know each other, and we must carry little bits of each other around or else how would we know each other again?

Forgive the rambling. I am in the throes of yet another allergy attack. Two nights in a row. It appears I am allergic to cleaning solvents which is going to make cleaning a challenge and avoiding them in the world a priority – though how I am going to manage, I haven’t quite worked out yet.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the whole love and relationship thing. Without them, do we have lives at all really?

The latest Oprah has an article by widowed freelance writer who found her current husband and soul mate by making a list of 100 characteristics that she wanted in a mate. Okay, that’s a bit too succinct. She visited a psychic some time after her second husband died because she’s had no luck dating and wanted to know if she was meant to spend the remainder of her life alone or not. The psychic instructed her to make a details list – “down to his socks” – of what she was looking for in a soul mate. The woman went home and did just that – right down to the “gray socks”. I don’t think the psychic meant the sock color thing literally. She just wanted this woman to really put careful thought into her list of preferred attributes in a potential husband. It was her theory that the universe will give us what we want if it knows what that is. And I guess there is something to that. Many of us really don’t know what we want. We only seem to know what we don’t want and that is usually after we have something or someone who turns out to be wrong for us.

I know many people who subscribe to the “list” approach to dating and mating. I remember that Rob was all set to write up a list of his own and told me about it during one of our early IM chats. I think he got the idea from another widow he’d met via a melanoma group on the Internet which is where he learned about the YWBB and came to meet me. If I am remembering correctly I teased him a bit about making a list but pointed out in all seriousness that lists are good only as guides and that a person shouldn’t be so set on a specific criteria that they let a perfectly wonderful person get away from them. Rob never did get around to writing a list as it turned out. But I actually had a list. Well, not a written down list but just things I had thought about myself and where I was and who I had become.

I am not sure that the universe divines our thoughts as much as it is driven by plans that we all had a hand in drafting in the long, long ago. Perhaps what list making really does is help us remember what it is we’d decided and agreed to do and helps us get positioned properly.

There are those who don’t believe the universe cares one way or another about what we want or don’t want. I don’t believe in the theory of random chaos. There are no accidents. Willful missteps – okay. But I don’t believe that any of us can avoid our “destinies” for very long because we authored them.