Single Mom Weekend

It was a busy weekend without my kids, and I did practically nothing exciting. Really. The much-needed dating hiatus has started, along with napping season. Yes, cooler weather = naps whenever possible.

On Friday night, I handed my children over to their father at our usual meeting spot. My 7 year old son is not interested in long good-byes, he was fully engaged in his handheld videogame. I got a hug followed by a quick “love you” and complete detachment. My 13 year old daughter took entirely too long to move her belongings from one car to the other while she squealed with excitement about seeing her dad’s dog in the backseat of his truck. She gave me hug with whatever lovely teenager words she chose to grace me with at departure. I still don’t know what she said. Teen speak. I spoke it once myself, but lost my touch once I aged 20+ more years.

I went to meet my long lost friend at a Mediterranean restaurant nearby. She and I had worked together at a few different jobs over the years. Now that we no longer work together, we occasionally meet up for dinner, swap stories, and then don’t see each other for another 6 months. I went in, got a table, and ordered a glass of wine and an appetizer. One drink was my limit since I was driving back home half an hour away. She made her appearance, we caught up, ordered food, caught up more, and went home. I went home, watched a show on HULU, and went to bed.

My next morning consisted of getting up early for a lovely mammogram and some blood work. Not the ideal thing to do on a Saturday morning, but at least I got it done. That afternoon I got some new tires put on my car. Heck yea! It was a Saturday full of adulting activities!

After the very boring morning and afternoon, I went shopping for a little bit. Finally, some me time. My sister-in-law texted me while I was out and invited me over for dinner. I picked up some wine and headed over to their house to hang out. My niece is 4 years old and my nephew is 3 months old, so it was basically us hanging out chatting and trying to talk in between kid interruptions. My brother made burgers and we had some wine.

I have a decent relationship with alcohol. I can have one drink and be fine. I know my limits, especially when I’m driving. I can have two drinks if I’m eating. I can have more if I’m going absolutely nowhere. Although, I detest hangovers, so I rarely ever go over three drinks even if I’m home alone. The headache in the morning is just not worth it.

So that night I had about two drinks, plus I had a burger and fries. They were good-sized glasses of wine. I was definitely feeling relaxed and chatty, but I stopped after that and had some water. After a little bit, my nephew was ready for bed, and I could tell my brother and sister-in-law were tired. So I bid my farewells and ventured to my car for my 10-minute drive home. The majority of the drive is one long road, a straight shot to my neighborhood. I wasn’t sleepy, and I felt fine to drive. It was only about 8 pm.

It was a lovely evening. The cool night autumn air was refreshing. I drove out of my brother’s neighborhood and turned onto the main road that was a straight shot to my neighborhood. I was going the speed limit, I was in a good mood, and I was halfway home… I couldn’t wait to put on comfy clothes and glasses and snuggle up on my couch. As I went through a green light, I noticed lots of cones… and sheriff? … and lines of cars?

OH MY GOSH… IT’S A DUI CHECKPOINT! IN FRONT MY MY SON’S SCHOOL!

My heart sunk. I had nowhere to go. I had to go through it. There was no warning to turn a different way. Here I was, 43-years old and I’m going to jail for drinking with my 3-month old nephew on burger night.

I unwrapped a piece of peppermint gum, but I had to pull up and didn’t want to appear suspicious with peppermint aroma filling my car, so I stuffed the dry piece of gum into the side of my seat before the officer approached my window. I rolled it down, he asked if I’d been drinking, I said no. He asked for my driver’s license, I gave it to him.

He shined his flashlight around my car and onto my license plate. My heart sunk down into the pits of my guts. I kept my mouth closed as he handed back my driver’s license, and bid me good night. I said thank you, and rolled my window up.

HOLY CRAP. I’M FREE!

I get it. I get why they have those checkpoints, but OH FOR THE EVERLOVNG CRAP! Nothing like topping off my very responsible adult weekend with a DUI checkpoint. I got a mammogram and new tires, had some wine, and thought I was going to jail. Oy vey!

I wasn’t the least bit nervous until I made it past the checkpoint, and after I drove off I felt like I might crash into the nearest telephone pole just because my nerves were shot. I’ve never been so happy to pull into my garage in all my life. I can’t believe I’ve gone this long in life and have never encountered a DUI checkpoint before. I guess that’ll be the last time I do a heavy pour of wine at my brother’s house when I have to drive home.

Stifle Me Not

Solace in Not Settling

Thanks to everyone who likes and follows my blog. It’s for my own self-therapy, but knowing others share in my dating madness brings me some sort of odd solace.

My last post, about not hesitating too long, well that was a joke. I basically missed out on a great Kate Spade purse, that’s it. I gave Joe a chance and he didn’t last more than 5 days. Joe is what I like to call A Wise Old Horn Ball. He was old enough to know better, but horny enough to screw up like a teenager on a porn site. Joe would text throughout the day like an old man going out to get his mail in socks and crocs, but in the evening he wanted to have non-stop nasty talk. I’m definitely not a prude; I’m not against talking any which way with someone I become intimate with, but I hadn’t even talked to this Joe Schmoe on the phone yet let alone met him in person. Sorry buddy, if I don’t know the sound of your voice, I’m not texting about what I want you to do to me in the sheets. Flirting is just fine, but sex talk with a stranger is disturbing. Ugh.

I said all of this to him directly. I even said “hey, we could talk on the phone, I don’t know what your voice sounds like.” But did he want to talk on the phone? No, he wanted to continue texting about what types of things I might say to him when we dated of course. I finally went off on him, and he responded in a joking manner, and then I never texted Joe again. And likewise, he never attempted to text me again. So there, we ghosted each other.

Relief at its finest.

I have basically been on one date a month since May through September. I think it’s time to hibernate again. No seriously, it’s getting ridiculous. Although, the last time I took a 5-month dating hiatus, I came back to a worse dating scene than what I’d first encountered.

The time to date is in your 20s and early 30s. Beyond that, I feel like I’ve missed a main window of opportunity. Clearly I married badly. I have learned, and am still learning from that mistake. I love my children and will go to the ends of the earth to ensure they continue to have a good childhood. They will likely blame me for things I’m doing now when they’re older. Bring it on, no one is perfect. They’ll realize I’m not so bad when they have their own children, just like I realized about my own parents.

My dad met the love of his life after being married to my mom for 14 years and then being divorced for 7 years. He has now been happily-ever-after married to my wonderful stepmom for 22 years. They met through a mutual friend at a funeral. There were no dating sites then. He called her up, asked her out, they went on a date, and they became engaged 3 months later. She was 43 and he was 46. I have not been to any funerals to find dates – there’s a thought.

My mom met the love of her life after being married to my dad for 14 years. She married her second husband 4 years later. She was married to husband #2 for 7 years. They divorced, then she ended up with husband #3. It basically took her an extra 11 years after her first divorce to find her happily-ever-after. This year she’ll have been happily married to #3 for 15 years. They were each other’s “3rd time’s a charm” spouse. She worked with all three husbands at one point. I don’t plan on meeting any future husband at my work, no thanks.

I was married for 10 years, and have been divorced for 4 years, separated for 5. I waited over 3 years to even think about dating, and it has gotten me… nowhere. I’ve had one short-term relationship and have gone out with exactly 6 more guys after that. None of them have lasted more than 3 weeks without showing true colors that were a non-negotiable for me. I’ve met some interesting fellas, but I’d never want to wake up to any of them for the rest of my life.

If I was in a my 20 or 30s, this would be humorous. But I’m 43. I do not want anymore children, so there’s no rush there. I simply want a partner in crime for the rest of my life that is left. It’s half over, I’d like to make the second half count big time. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing something wrong. The dating sites, distance, boundaries, whatever… And other days, I think I’m just not supposed to be with anyone yet. Or ever?

When I think about my parents and the aftermath of their divorce, they were each miserable. I can honestly say that I’m not miserable. I’m fairly content. They each didn’t get their happy back until they ended up with their now significant others. I feel like I’m in a good place the majority of the time. I know no one needs someone, but I sure do think we all should have a special someone who knows us well and cares damnit. There I go fantasizing again.

I’ve noticed that Orange Jeep Guy hasn’t been over at Crazy Angela’s house lately. In fact, this weekend, I saw a black truck and a new guy hanging around. My son was over talking to them at one point, and I went over to retrieve my very talkative son from intruding on their business. This new guy was smoking and they both smiled meekly at me. Black Truck Guy had apparently replaced Orange Jeep Guy. It explained why I heard Crazy Angela screaming in her backyard a couple of weeks ago.

As I walked back into my own yard from Crazy Angela’s yard, all of my dating woes evaporated. I originally had been jealous of Angela when Orange Jeep Guy, but now I see that Angela is in the same boat as me. She’s trying to find the best match for her. I couldn’t help but think at least my neighbors aren’t tracking what vehicles are in my driveway last and for how long. I’ve just been doing my thing, not advertising myself directly or indirectly to anyone. Just minding my business. I’m still open to having a special someone, but I’m not willing to settle or waste my time on anyone for too long if I have that gut feeling. I guess the consequence of that is not the worst thing in the world. I will just continue to water my new fall mums and figure out how I want to display my new mini pumpkins in my yard.

I will also continue to quickly peek in my dating app for any fresh man meat, and then promptly re-pause it when I see the same batch of familiar faces that I’m not interested in starting a conversation with…

Stifle Me Not

Don’t Hesitate Too Long…

By Friday I didn’t hear much from my rainy Tuesday night date. I figured he was done with me. I don’t need fireworks, but a spark is a nice start. He reminded me of an attractive/nice co-worker that I’m not attracted. I enjoyed his company, but wasn’t interested like that. In light of this realization, I turned on my dating app again. I do this a lot you guys, I get bored and go man shopping even though I know it’s not healthy to keep doing it. Well, when I turned it on, I saw a new guy in my small batch of matches. His name was Joe. I was initially attracted to Joe. I haven’t dated a Joe yet. The next thing I know, Joe “liked” my profile.

Whaaaat?

I wait, a little stunned, because the dating app is whack and the likes don’t usually arrive that fast. I finally go back in and re-review Joe’s profile. Joe looks like someone I want to talk to. His only downside (on the surface) is that he lives an hour away. I decide I’d rather get to know someone I may have a chance with than go on lukewarm dates with nearby guys that don’t have a spark.

I’m an idiot – either there’s a spark and I jump in too fast, or there’s no spark and stay longer than necessary even though I know I want to run the other way.

I respond to Joe, and we have immediate and flowing conversation. We knock out most of the super important value-related conversation topics right away. Joe is about 4 years older than me, but not too old. Joe was hitting allllll of my dating mental checkpoints.

As I’m chatting with Joe, I get a message from the Tuesday night date guy at like 10 pm that night.

Whaaaat?

I hadn’t heard from the guy in 12 hours. I convinced myself we were going separate ways – not ghosting, but not fully acknowledging the lack of spark either. I made no commitment to this guy, so I didn’t feel guilty for texting a new guy at the same time. Okay, I felt a little bad – made me realize he actually liked me and I just didn’t like him. It sucks to be rejected, but it also sucks to reject someone else, especially if they’re a good person. Good people are hard to come by these days, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I couldn’t write him back yet. I had to respond thoughtfully later.

So Joe and I kept texting. Joe started off strong, but then I started to get a little skeptical of Joe. He attempted to cross the flirting zone. I held my boundaries, and of course he tried to act like he was being playful. I flirted to a point, but I called him out and told him I wasn’t looking for a sex-based foundation to a relationship. Men like you until you don’t agree with them or push back, then you’re just inconveniencing them. He ended up agreeing with me. Or so he said. I was skeptical, I was mistrusting. I had been here before, but I figured pushing back in the beginning would either help stop before it started, or establish my ground rules early one.

I went to bed and woke up to more easy conversation with Joe. I kept pushing back if he even tried to cross the flirting zone, and he backed off. Then he wanted to schedule a date with me already. I was not ready to meet this guy. I’d been chatting with him for less than 24 hours. I told him it would be two weeks before I didn’t have my kids and could go out. In the back of my mind, maybe I wouldn’t meet him at all.

By Saturday afternoon, I responded back to Tuesday night date guy. I told him I really enjoyed our time together, but wasn’t feeling all the feelings I wished to have at that point. He immediately thought he did something wrong. I said no. We texted each other good luck. The End.

This is exhausting.

Sigh. Now I have this Joe guy texting me and I’m not sure if I like him. We can’t realistically meet for two weeks, so I’m trying to decide if I should bail now or wait it out. By Saturday evening, the content of his texts mellowed out. I was surprised. I don’t know if he was acknowledging my boundaries or if he got tired. If he stayed like this, I didn’t mind getting to know him more. But when I went to bed on Saturday night, I was still skeptical.

On Sunday morning, I did text him first, and immediately was disappointed in myself. “Let the boy make the first move” was all I could think. Ugh. He texted me back, but he’d slept in. I had already been up with coffee, shower, and getting ready for church. I wasn’t sure if this guy was going to be compatible. I went to church with the family, then breakfast, following by a day with my family and cooking. I didn’t hear from him all day. And similar to the last guy, I thought maybe he fizzled out. Nope, he surfaced again around 6 pm.

I used to get giddy when I started chatting with a new guy. That was about 5 guys ago. Now I’m a jaded doubtful brat about it all. I hate that I’m like this. I was mad that I didn’t take a break from dating when I said I was, but I was also mad that I was even dating at all, and that made me want to rage against my ex-husband, all of those feelings just made me feel like further crap. So I went back into day-by-day mode, and I just simply texted him back.

I texted him back and told him how busy I was all day. He responded and let me know he was actually busy all day too. Here I assumed he was going to laze around on the couch all day and watch football (because I know he’s really into sports). I shouldn’t assume things. Anyhow, we chatted more, but at some point I was just over the conversation. I know I was just tired. I told him goodnight.

I went to bed, but for some reason I went into my dating app real quick. I wanted to look at his photos again on his profile, but his profile was gone. Poof! Gonzo! That only happens if the other person 1) unmatches from you, or 2) he deletes his app altogether. I just assumed it was #1. I went to sleep crying my eyes out, because I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to meet him yet, but apparently I can’t handle rejection myself. I cried and cried and blew my nose and fell asleep, not expecting to hear from him ever again.

I drove to work very sad this morning. Sad overall because nothing is working out in my dating life ever. I surrendered that part of my life a few weeks ago – I said here Jesus take the wheel – and then gave in and tried again for whatever damn reason. Shame on me for trying. It really makes no sense what my motive is. It’s not fun, even if it is for a little bit. I learn from drinking hangovers, but not dating hangovers apparently.

I started my Monday work routine. Around 8:30 AM, there was a text from Joe.

Whaaaat? What is happening? Am I losing my mind?

I responded and we had a decent morning chat. I asked why he deleted me from the dating app. He said he didn’t, he deleted the app altogether because he was sick of it already and was enjoying talking to me. I actually think he was being genuine.

I went to TJ Maxx during my lunch hour. Right as I walked in the door, I saw the perfect Kate Spade purse for me. It had all of the right purse dimensions, style, and pockets for me. I picked it up three times and looked at it closely. I never treat myself to a new purse, even a discounted one at TJ Maxx. I put it down since it was connected to a security tether and planned to revisit it at the end of my shopping trip. After about half an hour, I ventured back to the purse section, fully committed to buying the purse, but it was GONE. Someone else had bought the purse I was instantly so attracted to.

Okay, I’m getting it. Nice one. Is this a joke? Lesson learned.

I thought Joe bailed and I was sad. I lost out on a great purse because I didn’t grab it first and I was sad. Moral of the story: If you shop around too long and don’t swoop up what you want, you’ll miss out.

I’ll give him a chance. He seems to handle all of my questions and mistrust of humans quite well.

And hopefully I’ll see another cute purse to buy in the future.

Stifle Me Not

A Rainy Tuesday Night Date

Last Call guy resurfaced literally within minutes of me posting my last blog post. We continued to chat throughout the weekend. We’d been chatting for over a week, and he still hadn’t asked me out. Granted, I was sick and he had THREE county fairs to go to, to watch the tractor pulls there, so I wasn’t waving my hand for a date to a tractor pull. I have been very perplexed with his country fair fascination, but to each their own fancies I guess.

I kept the texting going with him after he resurfaced because he maintains good conversation, answers all the hard questions, keeps a positive attitude, and is fun, so I was like why not? I don’t have to marry the guy. We kept texting. I did wonder if he’d ever ask me out. I got my answer yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon, while I was at work, he asked if I’d want to get together either that night or later in the week. I said later in the week would be better. Then he realized he had plans later in the week, and we both had our own kids the upcoming weekend. So there you have it, the life of single parents trying to date. Suddenly, on a rainy Tuesday night, I had a date. Weird.

I didn’t feel a desperate need to meet him, but I was curious about who I’d been conversing with the past two weeks. I made arrangements with my kids and met him at a nearby brewery that evening. He was tall, looked good, smelled good, was upbeat and positive, wasn’t awkward, wasn’t a loud-talking aggressive person, and he was fun & engaging. We ordered a flight of beers to taste and some appetizers and had fun with it.

Overall, he was great company. If I’d met him the year before, I’d have been leaving that date as a giddy little school girl. I left smiling and happy to have met him, but I wasn’t bursting with excitement. Should I have been?

I was a little anxious to get home to my kids. I don’t ever leave them to go on a date in the middle of the week. Was that it? The older one is a teenager and old enough to care of the younger one, and I knew they were just doing they’re normal nightly routine. I promised to be home by 9 PM.

When I got home, my kids ambushed me with love. I hung out with them for awhile, and they clung to me a little. Maybe I was anxious because they were missing me? I made a mental note to not do that again, even though that was the first time I’d gone on a weekday date…ever.

I texted him that night and thanked him again for a good time. He responded similarly. And I dozed off. Not overly excited, but not disappointed either.

I realized one thing he said, which was a very small discussion in the whole night, was that he was taking his oldest daughter (she’s 18) to a concert soon. He named a band I’ve never heard of them. He laughed and said that they dress up and do a bit on stage where they make fun of the church, and the Pope. He snickered it off, and then changed the subject. It lingered with me.

It stayed, it simmered, it bothered me. It didn’t make sense compared to all of the other likeable qualities about this guy. And here I just started paying more attention to church and ridding myself of godless men. On the surface, I wouldn’t describe this man as a godless man; however, knowing that one small piece of information was enough to know this won’t be my dream man.

I’ve exchanged a few messages with him today, but my intuition is telling me what I think I already know about my rainy Tuesday night date.

Stifle Me Not

Circling Back to Where I Started

I grew up in The Catholic Church. I went to public school, but my dad made sure my butt was in a pew every Sunday, and I was not allowed to miss CCD. I was baptized as a baby, received my First Reconciliation and Communion in the 2nd grade, and in the 8th grade I made my Confirmation. Even though I didn’t go to Catholic school, I learned to fear nuns during my First Communion. Sister Mary Adolph seemed to be missing a part of her name.

My parents divorced right before my Confirmation, so I wasn’t all that into it. I was mostly a self-absorbed, but polite, teenager. I kept to myself, had my small friend group, and mostly stayed out of trouble. My dad ensured we went to church when we were with him. My mom did not. She would waiver. It depended on who she was dating at the time. Overall, I made it out of high school without making any negative life-altering choices. To this day, I credit my father with being a great male role model, even though I hated being dragged to church. I took it as an opportunity to check out boys as they walked up to communion. Why not?

I moved in with my dad my senior year of high school. I couldn’t handle my mom’s irrational decision-making (see: her new husband’s ridiculous rules, like telling me I had a bedtime at 17 years old). No thank you. I chose my own rational biological father’s strict religious household over my step dad’s ego-driven rule book from hell. My senior year was fun, peaceful, and I didn’t do anything stupid. I left for college, looking forward to an even brighter future.

When I got to college, my roommate all but declared she was an atheist. I think she didn’t say the word out loud out of respect for me. I found a Catholic church to attend right off campus and I went a few times during my freshman year. I’m not sure that I went anymore after that. I was too caught up in myself and school and friends and parties. I always believed in God, but church was reserved for when I went home during the holidays.

I met my ex-husband my senior year of college, and he was confirmed in the Catholic church. However, we didn’t go to church unless he came home with me for the holidays. When he proposed, it was a no-brainer that we’d get married in the Catholic church. Once we bought a house, we became members at the nearby Catholic church. We did our Pre-Cana classes there with a priest who could never remember my first name. Finally, we got married at my childhood church. It was an elaborate Catholic mass followed by one drunken reception.

My ex-husband wanted nothing to do with church if it wasn’t a major holiday or a wedding. Sometimes I could get him to go to mass with me on a Sunday here or there, but not often. I mostly gave up on dragging us to church, especially once the kids were born. I had them baptized when the time came. My daughter went to Catholic grade school, and she even got her First Communion. After getting divorced, I just checked out. I wanted nothing more to do with church. I didn’t have the energy to keep my son quiet at church, and my daughter was just “over” being forced to do anymore church after attending Catholic grade school. I chose to do nothing.

In 2018, my kids and I moved in with my religious dad and stepmom and we almost never went to church with them. We lived there for 1 1/2 years and maybe went to church only a handful of times. To me, it wasn’t a good use of time. It felt like I was going to an old people’s club. I had turned my attention to astrology and online tarot readings in the couple of years leading up to that. It was interesting, gave me comfort, didn’t feel so hard, and I “wasn’t sure if it was real anyway”. I had heard that these things weren’t “approved” of by Christianity, but I never opened the Bible or took any steps to lift my ignorance. Ignorance was bliss. I wanted to be left alone.

Fast forward to my past year of Adventures in Online Dating, and I’m brought back to religion. On almost every dating profile, there’s a line item for religion. You can state your religious preference and usually you can filter by it. I’ve selected everything from Christian to Catholic to Spiritual as my label and/or filter. I’ve become more and more aware of how many people identify as Atheist or Agnostic. And I’ve become more aware of how many men state they are Christian, but when it comes to their daily life, they might as well be living in the pits of hell.

When you tighten up the filters on a dating site, you are left with very few if anyone to choose from. It’s made me realize that I’m really missing something in my life: an actual relationship with God and like-minded people. All I’ve ever known is being forced to go to church, not why it was important. Now that I’m trying NOT to mess up the second half of my life, I’m discovering all of these God-less men. I don’t want that again. Been there, done that.

A few weeks ago, I went back to church. I enrolled my kids in Bible study (they aren’t happy, but they’ll thank me later). I also deleted any astrology or tarot card related links, apps, or YouTube subscriptions I had. And I suddenly have an urge to understand Bible readings.

In the midst of all this, I started chatting with a guy who seemed to check off all of the ideal dating boxes… except he doesn’t have church in his life at all. I always ask a new guy if they believe in God. His answer was “absolutely!” and he left it at that. It’s literally the only thing “wrong” with him (well, that and he seems to have a slight obsession with county fairs). If you know me, I don’t do country fairs, ever. We’ve been texting for a few days now, and he left me hangin’ last night. No more responses after we had a short discussion about what was for dinner. It’s been almost 24 hours. I have a clue that this one is over before it started, like many others. He never asked to talk on the phone and never officially asked me on a date. After the exciting “get to know you” phase fizzled out, we didn’t really click. Text messages felt forced. And he already told me he’d be going to a county fair tractor pull this weekend.

I’m sincerely not broken up about this one. He was a pretty positive individual, so that’s rare these days, but I was already trying to figure out my escape route. I had a feeling that Last Call guy wasn’t going to stick. I think he was my Last Wake Up Call to prioritize my dating standards further. Geez, and I thought I couldn’t get any pickier, but here I am: God first, Godless men get to the back of the line.

I usually have all kinds of anxiety when I decide to make a life change like this, but I feel nothing but calm. Calm and confident actually. I guess I’m circling back to where I started.

Stifle Me Not

The Pattern Continues

Every time I date someone for a couple of weeks and it doesn’t work out, the same pattern unfolds: I get annoyed, I withdraw, I try to act like everything is fine, I focus extra energy on my kids, work, working out, I overthink and write in my journal A LOT, and I can’t sleep well.

Then, as suddenly as it started, it ends. It’s like another cycle is complete, yet again, and I’m free to live my days in my usual ways. I sleep well again and don’t overthink a damn thing.

Not. A. Damn. Thing.

It’s like sidewalk chalk that gets washed away by the rain. No evidence in sight that it was there. It astounds me how indifferent I can feel about a person today, who just a week ago made me smile or laugh or cringe or cry or otherwise invoked any feeling whatsoever.

On the flip side, I can go from completely fine with being single for weeks, or months, with no care in the world to meet a soul. Then something will trigger me to “try” again. It’s like a hidden switch is flipped. And as suddenly as my life returned to the simple routine life I know so well, it flips back to the wild unknown of the dating world.

If you’ve been reading my posts, you know I must be a glutton for punishment since I keep jumping back into the dating pool. Like a freakin’ idiot. I never know what will trigger me to try again. It’s so random.

My latest trigger was my crazy ass neighbor, Angela. Angela moved in next door last year. She is a working single mom of three kids. I’m a working single mom of two kids, and at first I was very interested to meet her, thought maybe we’d have something in common and could hang out.

Nope.

I can’t stand how loud she talks, how she screams at her ex on the phone in her garage, how she yells at her kids after 9 PM in the back yard, or how her parents come over and help her with every little thing. My daughter and I exchange raised eyebrows each time we hear her voice echoing through the neighborhood, and we’ve given her the nickname “Crazy Angela”. Angela and I are very cordial to one another, but I our vibes don’t match up. She is one neurotic & passionate lady, full of the delightful kind of drama that I automatically repel, like oil and water. We simply aren’t matched to be friends. We casually say hi when we’re outside and go about our own business. No need to drink wine on the deck and share life stories.

I noticed an orange Jeep parked at her house on a few occasions and didn’t think much of it at first. Until one weekend I was home alone and noticed the Jeep never left. Then I saw a guy on her deck one morning when I was out doing yard work. Ooooh, Angela has a new man!

Welp, fast forward a couple months, and I started to see the orange Jeep more often. It seemed to appear when her kids weren’t around, and it disappeared by Sunday evening. Just in time to avoid the kids! I was so proud of Crazy Angela. There she was getting her groove on and living her best life.

After my last debacle of a dating mess, I swore off men and went back to church. I figured I’d better raise my own vibe a bit if I want to attract someone that isn’t a lying, cheating asshole. So, I’m still going to church. And, for the past month I’ve been too busy to think about dating. Work has been busy, the kids started back to school, and it hasn’t seemed like there’s enough hours in a day. Then one night, I got home from work and see the orange Jeep parked next door. And I see Crazy Angela’s kids playing outside. I see Crazy Angela, her new man, and her kids all playing together. He met the kids!

What the heck? Angela and her new man are getting serious?!

I noticed, but that wasn’t my trigger. That same night I took my kids to a store. As we pulled out of the driveway, I see Crazy Angela again with her new man, close together in her garage, as she was leaning up to give him a kiss.

And there it was. My trigger.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how Crazy Angela had a man and I didn’t. Jealousy isn’t good. It’s bad bad bad. I don’t even like Angela, so why is this bothering me? I also didn’t feel good, and that added to my brain chaos and feelings of wanting more. I’m so sick of doing everything on my own. I just want someone to rely on, someone I can call, someone I can have over and hang out with until the sun goes down.

So after having an internal meltdown, I gave myself a pep talk. “Go get yours. Your dating app subscription expires Sept 4th. No one is forcing you to keep it paused right now. “

I flipped the switch. That night I played Candy Crush and fell asleep on the couch. I woke up to a comment on my profile, from a guy I’ve seen on the dating site, and thought about “liking”. I don’t usually make the first move. I let the guy do that. And he did. I didn’t respond that night. I was too tired, and wasn’t sure how stupid I was being by letting Crazy Angela trigger me into reactivating the pits of hell on my phone again.

On Saturday morning I woke up and stared at his comment while I drank coffee. Do I, or don’t I? Every time I jump into the wild unknown, I end up with… see first paragraph of this blog post.

I’m so sick of the dating cycle. So sick of it. Not starting before it’s even begun is the perfect way to break the cycle, right? I couldn’t answer that question. I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong answer.

I responded. And we proceeded to message each other for the next 3 hours. I learned quite a bit in Day 1, and I brought on the hard questions on Day 2. He answered them all quite well. We’ve made it to Day 4 of as regular texting buddies. Usually the next step is meeting. He hasn’t asked me that yet, but I have a feeling it’s coming.

I’ll let ya’ll know if the pattern repeats itself. The spell has to be broken at some point, right? I don’t know the answer to that question either.

Stifle Me Not

Stop the Insanity, Jesus Take the Wheel

According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, there are three basic definitions of insanity:

1 dated : a severely disordered state of the mind usually occurring as a specific disorder

2 law : unsoundness of mind or lack of the ability to understand that prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or that releases one from criminal or civil responsibility

3 a: extreme folly or unreasonableness
the insanity of violence
His comments were pure insanity.

3 b: something utterly foolish or unreasonable
the insanities of modern life

I decided that 3b applies to me. This year, definition 3b must be me. And if it isn’t 3b, then it’s overridden by definition 1 or 2.

When you’re a decent woman, with children and a valuable lifestyle to protect, continuing to date after a few bad dates seems… a bit insane. After reflecting on my past two years of dating, I’ve come to this conclusion: It’s not good. It’s very very bad. If I’m not insane, then I’m quite unlucky. And it’s time to question my role in all of this.

2022 dating:

  • In July, I had four lovely dates with the The Noble Nomad who worked a great job, traveled between two states to be a great father to his son, he didn’t drink or curse or speak ill of anyone, he was intelligent with a growth mindset, and he loved sunsets. He also wanted to “get romantic” with me and still “get to know” other people he was meeting through his dating app… in whichever city he happened to live in each week.
  • In June, I went on two dates with the The Guarded Hat Man, who basically got to know me just enough be life long texting buddies, tell me about the love of his life that he’s never gotten over in 20 years, and wouldn’t disclose the status of his hairline under his ball cap.
  • In May, I had the memorable one date with The Drunk Vampire, in which he bit me and left me stranded at a winery in the middle of Amish Country (albeit my wise choice to be left behind).

Each of these scenarios could be seen as a standalone isolated instances, but I get the clue — I’m clearly not attracting the most stellar gentlemen. If I’d only been dating a year, I’d give myself a break… but then I remembered my track record the previous year.

2021 dating:

  • Winter 2021, there was Lazy Pothead Stinky Cologne Guy. He had a decent job, similar views, was nice and calm – but he routinely got high on his couch with his dog during non-work hours and wore really really bad cologne.
  • In Fall 2021, there was the Personal Trainer Gone Mad Man. He was a big deal once upon a time, and at first he beamed with his residual confidence from days past. However, unbeknownst to me, he recently acquired some health issues, which led him to snap in emotional outbursts. And sadly, he thought he was entitled to do so, with no accountability for his behavior.
  • Spring/Summer 2021, there was Millionaire Buy-My-Love Man – he was made of money and wanted me to take care of him in exchange for all he could buy me – dinners, gifts, vacations, etc. Doesn’t sound bad does it? It doesn’t until you add in his loud talking voice, him constantly repeating himself, his frequent gambling addiction, his lack of physical activity (which contributed to limping and overabundance of snoring). This was all wrapped up in a nice bow of his constant mood swings.

It’s hard enough to go down Post-Dating Energy-Reset Lane once, twice, three times… but this has been ridiculous. My family and friends love to hear my stories. They think each date “fail” is so hilarious. And they all say the same thing: “I’m so glad I’m not dating these days.”

After the sixth bad egg (for me) in two years, I decided I have to do something differently.

I can turn off my dating apps and hide in my house? Nope, I’ve done that. I can try a different dating app? Nope, have done that and each app seems to have the same characters trolling around. I can go to the bar? Nope, I barely drink anymore and I have two kids. That one doesn’t work anymore. I can look for hot daddies at the grocery store? Um, no. I can get set up with someone from one of my friends? Nope, no one seems to have anyone that they can (or want to) set me up with.

I did the only thing I could think of that I haven’t done in awhile: I went to church.

I go every so often, but not enough to be considered “religious”. I grew up going to church regularly, but strayed after moving away once I graduated. I had both of my kids baptized, but I don’t routinely make them go to church.

I decided it’s time for a change. I needed to feed my soul with something different altogether and see if it helps me help myself. Never mind attracting a man. I can do that part, I’m just not attracting the right kind. Apparently, I’m bad at this. Very very bad at this. God is going to have work his divine intervention to redirect me.

Jesus, take the dating wheel, I’m done.

Stifle Me Not

Confusion is Not a Coincidence

Careful what you wish for, or you’ll get it.

And that I did.

My wish was for more clarity around why 4-Date Guy vanished cold turkey. There are so many possible reasons for this, and I was pretty sure I wasn’t the problem. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this past year of dating, it’s that confusion in dating usually has a cause and is not a coincidence.

After 4-Date Guy stopped communicating altogether, right after telling me our 5th date was cancelled, I took that as a big clue to back off. I decided to withdraw (my specialty) and go through my usual routine that week. It sucked, but I had a feeling I’d hear from him again. I was curious if he’d resurface once he no longer had his son.

He cancelled our date on Tuesday and then he ghosted. I was the last one to communicate anything and was left wondering what happened. I tried to keep myself preoccupied the next couple of days, pushing aside the pure annoyance of his silence. By Thursday, I was so triggered that I went back onto my dating app to reactivate it. In doing so, I decided to delete his profile from my “matched” section. If he wanted to reach out, he had my actual phone number. His profile lingering on my dating app did me no good. Before I deleted it, I opened it and scrolled, just to see why I initially was prompted to match with him. I had looked at it last week, just to see if his photos resembled who I had been hanging out with… they didn’t really. He looked good in person, but not like his photos.

I noticed that one of his profile prompts was changed slightly. I noticed this because I had commented on it when we first started messaging. He had shortened it. I continued to scroll, staring at his photos. I scrolled back up to close his profile, and then I saw it – the mother of all clues: he had updated his Home Location to the city where he stayed when he was in North Carolina. Originally, his home location was the city where he lives in Ohio.

  • Stopped communicating
  • Cancelled date
  • Updated dating profile, including home location

Well shit, I felt better already. It wasn’t me. He was just a lying mutherfucker.

Now, I know what some of you might be thinking. We went on 4 dates and I’m a crazy person because I’m accusing him of “cheating” when we’ve only been dating/texting/talking for 2 weeks.

What I didn’t mention is that on Saturday, the conversation we had where he said he missed me and that I made him happy, in that same conversation HE ASKED ME IF I WAS DATING ANYONE ELSE. To which I replied, “No” … and I asked him if he was dating anyone else, and he very clearly said “No” … and we continued to talk about how each of us didn’t play to date anyone else.

We didn’t have an exact conversation of will you be my girlfriend? will you be my boyfriend? we basically confirmed we very much liked one another and weren’t dating anyone else. While that doesn’t technically mean we were exclusively dating, it was a step in that direction. I suspected that conversation would be continued the next time I saw him in person.

Right? Wrong.

Thursday evening was bad for me. The week before, I was with him during fireworks after a baseball game, but on this night I got some wine and chips & dip, sat on my front porch, and cried my eyes out while I poured my heart out into my journal. My eyes leaked tears endlessly. I didn’t want to cry over this obvious asshole, I didn’t want to waste any more energy on this guy, but I had clear it all out so I could move on. At least I knew my path now, and he wasn’t on it.

On Friday, I had the day off and took my 13-year old daughter back-to-school shopping. My daughter and I were at the mall, taking a break from shopping, standing in line for an Auntie’s Anne’s soft pretzel when I see a text from him.

“Hey, hope you’re doing well. Just wanted to let you know I had a great time with you. I’m not exactly sure where things went wrong, but I’m guessing you’ve found someone. Truly wishing you the best!”

What? Seriously? Mutherfucker. I knew he’d resurface. Confusion is created, not a coincidence. He was trying to twist his silence into his favor, trying to act like I ditched him.

At first, I wasn’t going to respond. But I decided that he had to know know that I knew he wasn’t that sly. My ego perked up and was all “No girl, you are going to let him know you have a brain.”

I waited awhile before I responded “No, I simply took it as a clue that you stopped communicating, cancelled our date, and changed your location on your dating profile.”

He went silent for a couple more hours. Then he texted back with a whopper – one of those big long wishy washy texts that’s full of excuses and horse shit. Don’t mind my annotations throughout:

“Ah, I understand where you’re coming from [no you don’t, you got caught]. I don’t remember when I changed it exactly, but definitely more than a few weeks ago [I looked at your profile last week and it still had the Ohio location, we only saw each other for 2 weeks, you’re full of shit] after discussing my situation with you and realizing relationships may be a lot less complicated starting off there, provided my atypical situation [so why the fuck are you trying to date in Ohio if it’s less complicated to date in North Carolina?]. We didn’t really have the “exclusive” talk, [No we didn’t, but we started to, then you ghosted me for days and acted like I ghosted you] but I’m not romantically involved with anyone [I don’t believe you], just having conversations and discovering what I want and need at this time [play on, just not with me]. I apologize if I offended you, definitely not my intention.” [you hurt my feelings, but it won’t happen again because I’m done]

I wasn’t going to respond again, but I wanted to make it clear that I was making the choice to not move forward with him for my own best interest. This wasn’t a 1-way street for 4-Date Guy to call all the shots.

“Not offended, more confused, which isn’t good for me. I was a little sad, but just because I know I won’t do well with you being in two states. I need more time than that. Not your fault [Yes it is]. It was fun getting to know you.”

In re-reading that, it was too nice. Maybe I should’ve been a little more bitchy. At this point, it doesn’t really matter anymore though, does it?

I didn’t hear back from him after that, and I don’t think I will. The confusion has cleared. What a coincidence.

Stifle Me Not

Dating is Stupid

Dating is stupid. It’s a rollercoaster. So is life, but whatever. That’s besides the point. I’m mad about dating.

3-Date Guy turned into 4-Date Guy by the end of last week. He asked me out on another date before my kids returned from their vacation. He said he wanted to squeeze in as much time with me as possible because we’d both be busy in the weeks ahead. That was so attractive. Finally, a guy who was planning ahead, liked me, and didn’t play any games. He took the initiative to see me as much as possible, without making me second guess. Lovely.

It was a great 4th date. We went to an art museum, then to a minor league baseball game. There were fireworks after the game. It was one of those rare hopelessly romantic nights. The night was full of great conversation, good vibes, and all of the hopes that go along with new dating.

He let me know he’d be going to North Carolina that weekend to get his son. 4-Date Guy lives in Ohio (as do I) and his ex moved to North Carolina with their son after getting divorced. They have 50/50 custody and he basically lives part-time in Ohio and North Carolina, constantly going back and forth. He works remote, so it doesn’t matter where he works. He set himself up to be as flexible as possible to accommodate being with his son. Got it. Makes sense. What decent father wouldn’t make all the effort in the world to be with his kid?

At first glance, dating someone who is in another state part-time could seem like a challenge. I didn’t give it much too much thought because he said he still very much wanted to be in Ohio since his family and friends are here. I don’t need to be with the person I’m dating 24/7, so this actually appealed to me for a moment. I like my freedom and space just as much as the company of another. What I like is consistency of communication. I don’t need to be smothered by another person on a daily basis.

After the 4th date, everything was positive. That was a Thursday. On Saturday, as he was driving down to North Carolina, he called me. We had a nice chat, he said that he’d be back in Ohio with his son that same week and he could get his mom to watch his son one night. He asked if I want to get dinner again one night. I said that would be great. He suddenly said a tunnel was coming up and he knew the call would drop soon. So we said good-bye.

He called back 5 minutes later. He said he was out of the tunnel and felt bad getting off the call so fast, and that he wanted to say good-bye properly. He then said he missed me and I made him happy. I hung up the phone, grinning ear to ear, squealing like a little girl.

That was Saturday afternoon and I knew he’d be busy from then going forward. On Sunday it’s like he disappeared. My life didn’t stop. I got my kiddos back and life kept going as usual for me. It felt odd to go from two weeks of non-stop texting back and forth with him to a cold turkey stop. On Monday, there was little texting, but I knew he was driving back to Ohio with his son.

On Tuesday afternoon, there was a little back and forth texting followed by, what I like to call, a text bomb:

“By the way, planning out the week, it doesn’t look like there will be a good night for the two of us to get together. Sorry if you already carved out the time… [for someone to watch your kids].”

Deep breath. How to do I respond to this? Quite frankly, I’m annoyed. I have two kids and can make time to text and call and even to go out for dinner sometimes. He has one kid and the world stops.

WTF? (like I said, text bomb)

This is a bigger red flag for me than him wanting to get a hotel room on Date #3. I can handle the male desire to get frisky too soon, and set a boundary about that. But I do not have the patience to be put on a shelf every other week because you can’t multi-task when your kid is around. I don’t need to meet his child anytime soon, we don’t need to meet in-person when his child is visiting, but you can certainly send a text and keep getting to know each other in the meantime, right? Right?

The answer is yes, yes you can, and I know that clearly. My response: “Oh that stinks, but I get it”

Actually no, I don’t get it, but I don’t think it’s worth it to confront this unless I’m given more context than that. Actions speak louder than words.

Maybe I didn’t make enough of an impression in 4 dates. Maybe he’s a coward and doesn’t want to change. Maybe he likes me when he’s single, but not when he’s in dad mode. Maybe I’m jaded and make up excuses for people too often, and then I get pissed when things don’t work out. Maybe I’m a fool because I rush in, or maybe I’m brave because I walk away. All I know for sure is if I’m making an effort, someone else should be too or dating them is just plain stupid.

Stifle Me Not

Owning It

After publishing my last post, I overanalyzed everything, like I always do. But then I stopped and just took action. If something is bothering me about someone I’m attempting to date, I need to talk to him, not bash them to the Internet in an anonymous blog and expect to see results.

My past experience with my ex-husband was, if I told him something was bothering me, he would turn it around and somehow make it my fault. He would never own that he hurt my feelings, even if it wasn’t the smallest little thing. He was a master manipulator. I didn’t realize that fun fact until it was too late – until I was nearly out of my mind crying everyday and heading down the fast lane to divorce. I had built up tolerance to this kind of manipulation, and learned techniques to avoid it. I developed a strong sense of what would trigger him, and would prepare myself for for his cool, calm, thoughtful response to me being a “crazy” person. Some call this “walking on eggshells”, but I just thought it was normal.

Fast forward to my new dating life. Now, when I need to confront a man about his behavior, I try to think of every angle why I may or may not be right or wrong before I push the issue. The only problem is I don’t know these men like I knew my ex-husband, so it’s harder to prepare for their reaction. If I have to put up a boundary, it doesn’t often end well. They typically get upset, even if they apologize quickly to save face, and the relationship doesn’t usually go much further after that. There’s something about putting up boundaries that pushes people away.

But then I realized, isn’t that the point? I’m always so careful about what I say and how I say it, all so I can continue to hold on to someone or some situation. But why?

This time I figured I’d rather be called crazy and quickly move on from this guy than disrupt the hard-earned peace I’ve been working on for all these years. I’m all about not wasting time, keeping it peaceful, and doing what’s best for me these days. Finally, after all of these years I just don’t give a damn.

So I let 3-Day Date Guy know I was very bothered by the context of his call on Sunday evening. I told him I was trying to dismiss it and make excuses for him, but it kept nagging at me two days later.

I braced for the blame. I was ready to retreat. I prepared for this to be the beginning of the end of yet another post-divorce relationship that barely got off the ground…

…but to my surprise, he didn’t hesitate to apologize, and he owned his actions.

He seemed genuinely sorry about making me uncomfortable, and asked if we could talk more about it that evening. He promptly called me that evening, apologized again, and we talked through it. He didn’t just apologize and move on, he actually dug into it, explained himself a little and owned it. Owned it.

I was pleasantly surprised. And I was relieved. And I was happy to be getting to know someone like him.

And then I was sad. I was sad for myself that I stressed about speaking up in the first place. And sad for my past self that I ever got to a place where I couldn’t be myself.

And then I was proud of myself for doing things differently this time. And finally seeing different results. You attract who you are. And I’m finally attracting a different type of person in my life to allow me to be who I am becoming.

We may become a couple, we may not. That remains to be seen. My goal these days is not to hang on to old ways that didn’t serve me, but to own and follow through with what’s best for me.

Stifle Me Not