3 Great Dates, But Keep Reading, It Gets Weird

Last weekend I went on yet another date. I figured the odds should be in my favor for a good guy to surface any time now. I just need one good one for me, right?

A guy reached out to me on the good ol’ Dating App of Lost Souls, we started messaging, graduated to exchanging numbers and texting, and then he called me a few days into it. Everything flowed, good conversation, he had an intellectual side, a sense of humor, values seemed to align, and we each have children and are divorced so that whole understanding was there. He asked me out to dinner fairly quickly.

Awesome. Great. Fantastic. Another date. I was pleased at the pace this was going – not too fast, but not time-waster slow. Just right. Let’s meet and see if there’s chemistry in person.

On Friday, I arrived at the restaurant. I looked up and there he was smiling in the parking lot. I was relieved that he looked more handsome in person. We greeted each other, he handed me a birthday card and some chocolate (my birthday was the day before) and we strolled into the restaurant. We instantly started chatting. The date started at 6:30. The next thing we knew the restaurant was clearing out and it was after 9 PM. He suggested going somewhere for ice cream and I agreed that was good. We headed down the street for ice cream and more conversation. Before we both knew it, it was after 10 PM and it was time to part ways.

I was so pleased with how the evening went. We agreed to meet up again on Sunday and we went out separate ways.

On Saturday, we started texting in the morning. He knew I was meeting up with my sister later that day, so he conveniently asked if I’d want to meet up for lunch at a place that was close to her house beforehand. I agreed, and it was a lovely afternoon. We had lunch and chatted each other’s ears off, genuinely interested in every word. I found him to be very attractive, interesting, smart, funny, and calm. He was a much-needed change of energy from other guys I’ve dated. He seemed to feel the same way about me. After lunch we went for a walk at a nearby park. He held my hand and we both truly enjoyed each other’s company. There were some shy moments, but nothing awkward or weird. I was once again so very pleased to spend time with him. He even gave me a little kiss good-bye.

On Sunday, we met up in the afternoon to go kayaking, but it ended up being too windy and they stopped renting kayaks. We went hiking instead, walking and talking for 2 hours straight. We learned even more about each other. We even both shared that each of our top love language was Quality Time. Yes, ironic. We then drove to a nearby restaurant for some dinner. I was, once again, completely pleased with him and everything I had learned about him. Even more importantly, I was pleased with how I felt about myself. I felt good to be with him, whether we were hiking, driving in the car, or eating together. This is typically when my female brain starts to over activate.

Well, I didn’t do that. I decided to embrace it and felt I finally deserved the company of a genuinely great man.

He drove me back to my car, gave me another kiss, and we parted ways again. I was not love drunk or walking on cloud 9, but I was completely happy with how things were going. I’ve been trying to live in the present and not get too attached to what could be – simply appreciating the moment for what it is. I started driving away, windows down, music blaring, and smiling as I reflected on the afternoon.

—>>> This is where it gets weird. <<<—-

Weird you say? But how, after 3 great days, could it get weird now?

As I got closer to home, about 5 minutes away, my phone rings. I see it’s my new favorite guy I just spent 3 great days with. I answer and he sounds odd. He sounds like a mixture of worried, anxiousness, and maybe some desperation… the phone connection kept going in and out, and my navigation system kept interrupting us, so the conversation was choppy, but the gist of his call was this:

He had just sent me a text (which I didn’t see while driving), and he was calling to clarify… or umm, explain his reasoning for the sending the text.

The text said “Too late to just meet up halfway at a hotel somewhere?”

If I had I seen this text without talking to him, I would have taken it as a joke.

It wasn’t a joke. He was calling to explain his reasoning, about his strong feelings, for sending it.

I was speechless. My smile faded. I was tired from the long walk, about to shit my pants from the gyro platter I just had, and my period was about to start. Sex was the furthest thing from my mind. I remember looking at the navigation at 9 minutes left and picked up the pace so I’d get home to my bathroom on time.

My heart sunk during this phone call. It was so disappointing. I thought he was different than the rest. I thought he could be patient enough to not want to just focus on my looks and instantly react to great chemistry. Nope, it was pure 100% testosterone driven sex reaction. I wished to be flattered, but I wasn’t. I was disappointed.

I told him I wasn’t ready for doing that just yet. And I clarified that I wouldn’t want to just go to some hotel. It should mean something and I should at least see where he lives first – I made this sound like a joke, but it was the truth.

He quickly got off the phone after I rejected his terrible awful no-good-for-me idea. I told him I’d give him a call later.

It bothered me, but I tried to push it aside since we had a great 3 days. Yesterday, he didn’t communicate much, which was fine. I needed a recovery day. And today he’s been texting, but keeping it pretty quiet.

I don’t know if he feels justified in his offer, or if he’s embarrassed or what. We’re supposed to hang out again in a few days. I plan to bring it up whether he likes it or not.

I’m not sure if this was the good one I was looking for, or if this was just a case of very bad judgement (on his part). I’m really sick of giving all of these men the benefit of the doubt. I do nothing but be myself, and the reaction I get is a proposal for sex at a hotel.

This wasn’t my idea of ideal Quality Time after only three days of getting to know each other.

I guess there’s still time for him to redeem himself, but he’ll have to do it. I’m not making excuses for anyone these days.

Stifle Me Not

Quality Time

You know when you just know?

After my sniffling meltdown on my drive home from my last date, I perked up the next day. I can’t stay in that negative space for long. The next day I felt the residual effects, but I concentrated on getting my kids back. Once they came home from their dad’s, they lifted my spirits. My little lovebugs were chatty and tan, and they kept hugging me because they missed me so much. My priorities. I don’t like wasting my time on things or people who aren’t my priorities.

I exchanged a few texts with The Brooding Man I was attempting to date on Friday and Saturday. And then I had a little light bulb moment. After three weeks of observing his behavior, I caught on to a pattern, one that mimicked a couple guys I’ve dated in the past.

It goes like this: He works his butt off to the point of exhaustion. This typically gets my attention as a good sign, but I’ve come to find this can also be used as a distraction to deal with… well, life. He works his weekday job and then always has something he’s preoccupied with after work until he finally sits down in the evening and marinates in his exhaustion to doze off early. On the weekends, he also becomes preoccupied with a project, but its tenfold. His weekend evening routine is similar. He’s so tired he has no down time to think or form relationships with anyone. Just to sleep and do it all again the next day.

This annoyed me at first, but then I thought Oh, he’s just hardworking, of course he’s going to be tired. And I’ve let these last few weeks slide by, not really getting to know this man because how can you get mad at someone for being tired? This seems like an innocent hard-working man problem, doesn’t it? It does, until you pair it with someone who also:

  • Claims he can’t ever sleep well, and
  • Refuses to answer any question that remotely dives into getting to know him on a more personal level

We all have nights when we can’t sleep, but to never be able to stay asleep is a sign your subconscious messing with you. If you’re a normal healthy human, you’re awake at night because you need to clear something out of your psyche or your sleep environment sucks. Deal with the crap that keeps you awake at night and you’ll be able to sleep. Speaking from experience on this one.

Similarly, we all have personal areas off limits to others at first. But this guy was extra special when I tried to veer from surface level chit chat. He did not want me to get to know him personally, and he did not ask me any personal questions either. It was confusing to go on a date with him and have him pour his heart out, but then be blocked from asking questions as soon as we were back to texting. As far as I could tell, he wanted to be safe texting buddies with a few dinner dates.

To say this guy’s dating pace was slow, is an understatement.

On Saturday night I was scrolling through the dating site and kept seeing people with prompts about their love language. I’ve always hated the 5 Love Languages book because of my past experience with it. My ex and I used it when we were trying to patch up the ol’ marriage with counseling. I couldn’t remember what my own love language was, so I took one of those online quizzes just to see. Apparently I’m a close tie with Quality Time and Acts of Service. And then the light bulb that went off earlier… it kept getting brighter and brighter…

I’m frustrated with this guy because I want Quality Time and he apparently could care less about that. He’s clearly attached to some past trauma, and no matter how understanding I am, I can’t fix it. Only he can fix it. I want and deserve Quality Time from whoever I date.

Welp, I decided to make one last-stitch effort to see if he would open up and I sent him a link to the 5 Love Languages online quiz. We’re a month into this texting-dating situationship, so I didn’t see this as crossing the line. Maybe it did for him.

That was at 9 PM on Saturday night. I did not hear from him again until 3 PM on Sunday. This was sad and amusing to watch play out. I had a hunch he would avoid taking the quiz, or responding back about it. He did just that – he waited until enough time went by so that he could send a very surface level text the next afternoon that simply said “How’s your afternoon going?”

Well, there was my answer. He was never going to open up, let alone spend any quality time with me. I responded “I thought you’d ghosted me”… and he did not respond again for a couple of hours, to which he replied “Now why would I do that?” Answering a question with a question… where have I see that before? hmm. Clearly, this is not a man equipped to deal with even subtle confrontation. I accept that.

I didn’t have the will or energy to continue. I had my answer. He was as closed off as they come. I’m no savior, and I’m not here to make it my life mission to have this guy open his heart. And I didn’t want to either.

I had many things I could respond with, but his maturity level wouldn’t have been able to handle it, so I stayed silent. This morning, as I dropped my son off, I discovered another text from him… “Morning” he wrote.

My initial thought was to text back “Nope”. But I didn’t. I will just let him feel the frustration of being too unimportant for me to waste anymore of my Quality Time on him.

Add another one to the dating dump.

I’m not sad about it. I’ve already met another nice guy who is very interested in getting to know me as I am interested in getting to know him.

Stifle Me Not

Feeling Lack

It’s been a long two weeks without my kids. They’ve been with their father for a long period of time. They’re having fun. Enjoying their summer. Being kids and living their best lives.

I, on the other hand, am having an identity crisis. I’ve gone from Single Mom of Two Kids, to a Single Lady with Nothing But Her To Do list… and too much time to think about dating, or lack thereof. Sometimes I think I should just get a pet.

The first week the kids were gone, I was concentrated on work so it wasn’t too different. Just quieter. By the time the long weekend rolled around, I got bored and made a To Do list. It’s now all done. My Independence Day long holiday weekend went like this:

  • Felt sorry for myself and cried on Friday.
  • Power-washed the house on Saturday.
  • Visited family for a 4th of July party on Sunday.
  • Stained my deck on Monday and Tuesday.
  • Cleaned my kitchen floors, and descaled my Keurig coffee maker on Wednesday.

I thought I’d be able to use a couple of days during this time to get the know the new guy I met in the middle of June. We had a great first date, and have been regularly texting ever since, but never met up again because of our work and kid schedules. This whole time I haven’t had kids, but he had his son. Before I knew it, it was my last day of “free” time from my kids. So yesterday, when he asked what my plans were for that evening, I took the opportunity to see if he wanted to hang out again. He quickly agreed. I was a little annoyed that he couldn’t just ask me out on his own.

We met up at a Mexican restaurant. It was a little more of a subdued date than last time. The margaritas helped get conversation flowing. It was light chit chat and mostly me asking questions and him talking. I can tell he is guarded. He will freely talk when asked questions, but he doesn’t ask them back. Any information he knows about me is because I offered it up in conversation. I can tell he’s sensitive with a rough exterior, but it’s been a little frustrating trying to get to know him.

To my surprise, with how guarded he’s been, he suddenly opened up about the first love of his life. He told me the whole story, which was emotional, and I think he may have even teared up a little. I went from smiling and nodding to getting a little depressed about the whole thing. He seemed to still be in love with this person 20 years later. I was a little shocked that he went from surface level chatting to such a deep topic without much warning. I was left speechless. It kind of explained a lot about why his relationships have gone the way they have so far in his life.

After that, you’d think he’d asked more about my dating history. He didn’t. I offered up a little info, but he didn’t bite. I felt complete lack in that moment. Lack of someone wanting to get to know me too. The date was good overall. Not great, not bad. Just good. It was better than sitting at home texting him – I got to know him a little better. But like I said, did he get to know me better?

I thought getting to know this guy was a smart move because he was far from what my usual dates try to do – which is typically love-bombing to start, followed by complete good times, and ultimately manipulation of some sort. I’m done with that type of rollercoaster, but he was a complete 180 from that. It didn’t feel good. It feels like it’s not worth it. This is where I’m caught in the gray space of wondering if my perspective is twisted because of past relationships, or is this feeling of lack a legitimate red flag? I feel like I’d know how to give advice about this to someone else, but since it’s me, I’m double-doubting myself.

We walked outside the restaurant, bid farewell with some banter and a hug, and each walked to our cars in opposite directions of the parking lot. I sat in my car for a minute, bewildered, and looking for an appropriate playlist to fit my mood. It was an odd mood. Raw. Sad. Unsatisfied. Tired.

As I drove away with the windows down, the summer air smelled like it should be filled with good times, but tears streamed down my face for the whole drive. I couldn’t stop them. I was a sniffling idiot. I was trying to figure out why I was crying, because the date was not bad, but I was too tired to care. I let the music cover up my sobs and the wind dry my face as I gave up on making sense of anything.

Stifle Me Not

When You Try for Yourself and No One Else

“The Date That Never Was” led me to almost give up on dating for the 276th time… but I left the dating app on “active” on for some reason after bidding the last turd farewell. It was pure disappointment in the days that followed, but life is stupid and doesn’t get better if you don’t try. I guess leaving it on “active” was my version of trying.

One Friday afternoon at work, I facilitated a very long group meeting . Afterward, I was spent. My energy was at zero. It was a good meeting, but I was ready for a weekend of doing absolutely nothing. I had no hopes or dreams for that weekend except to rest and play Candy Crush. After the meeting, I saw the dating app notification that someone liked my profile.

Here we go again, another one. This oughta be good…

I reviewed his profile with little to no expectations. Attractive. Check. Seemingly normal photos and profile posts. Check. And he didn’t live too far away. Check.

So I responded. And that led to some productive conversation over the weekend. Which led to him asking me out later the next week. I think this is how it’s supposed to go.

We met up at a low key restaurant one evening and spent the next three hours talking and getting fully lost in the date. It was such a pleasant date. He was talkative but not over the top, he was more attractive in person, and he paid. We both agreed we’d like to meet again. I was pleasantly surprised. I guess I’ve become pretty jaded since “The Drunk Vampire Date” over a month ago.

I drove home with a smile on my face for once, and all I could think was finally… now what’s the catch?

That was more than a week ago. And I’ve discovered the catch… he moves at a way slower pace than what I’m used to. Also, I’ve discovered that I am still more jaded about my past than I realized. This threw me for a huge loop in the week after our date. I wanted to get to know him better, but it seemed like there was stalling around every corner. I was beginning to be suspicious.

  1. I was excited to plan something in the next week or so. My kids went with their dad for two whole weeks (and he knew this), and I thought for sure he’d jump at asking me out while they’re away. Days went by, and he didn’t say anything. Not. A. Peep.
  2. His texts became less and less throughout the days. His schedule is much earlier than mine. He wakes up very early (4 am) and falls asleep pretty early (sometimes by 8:30 pm). But I started to wonder… was his schedule an excuse?
  3. I decided to get creative and asked him “what are three words your mom would use to describe you”… I just really wanted to get to know him. He came back and said “I honestly don’t know.” I was shocked. How could you not know what your own mom would say about you? I thought he was trying to get out of letting me get to know him.

I thought, because he didn’t immediately want to plan a second date, and wasn’t communicating all that great, he wasn’t interested. I get that the novelty wears off, but I genuinely thought he wasn’t interested anymore.

Yesterday, I had it. I couldn’t understand why he hadn’t asked me out, and there was no logical reason because every other asshole under the sun has come back and wanted a second date if the first one went well. So, me being an impatient one, I unpaused my dating app and drafted a message to him, basically telling him “I get it, I’ll leave you alone.”

But before I could send anything, he texted me something that made me stop in my tracks. It made me reconsider my mindset about the whole situation. I had responded sarcastically to him saying that he couldn’t think of three words his mom would use to describe him , and he said he really didn’t know his mom well even though he sees her… he said she’s closer with his other siblings that he doesn’t really talk to much either.

It occurred to me that this guy’s perception of relationships – with family, friends, or a significant other – is way different than what I’m used to in my own life. I finally let my feelings spill…for no reason than to make myself feel better, not to hold on or to make him feel bad… it had nothing to do with him anymore, I just wanted to feel better for once and voice my side.

I told him I was confused, was getting the feeling he wasn’t interested because we hadn’t planned a second date and there hasn’t been as much communication other than crappy texting. He also has kids, and our kid visit schedules have been opposite each other. Furthermore, our work schedules are different with his being much early than mine. I said our schedules are just different and it’s frustrating that I can’t get to know him better.

To my surprise, he rolled with my punches. He pointed out facts of our schedules too, without getting defensive, and reassured me that he liked me. He was very nice and understanding about it. And then he said “we have time.” I don’t know if it was the “we” part or the “time” part or what, but that helped. It just did. I thanked him for hearing me out. I was truly grateful for the way he responded. Real adult conversation.

I spent the rest of the night crying. I was happy, I was very happy. But I was sad for myself. I was upset that I have been holding in too many feelings for too many years. I haven’t found anyone that I can speak my truth to without them turning the tables on me. It’s been years and years of feeling feelings and keeping a big girl face about it. And finally, after years of doubting myself and building myself back up, all I needed was for one person to listen, understand, and accept that I had feelings (even if it was just a misunderstanding that caused them).

I’m glad \I spoke up, even though I was tempted to simply walk away. I stopped trying a long time ago, when it comes to men and dating. This time I tried, but it wasn’t for him, it was for me. Trying for yourself can sometimes be worth it.

Stifle Me Not

The Date That Never Was

After surviving the drunk vampire date last month, I hopped back on the dating app this past weekend. Mostly out of boredom and curiosity. Plus it was time to dust off and get back out there. I reactivated my account, and a number of “likes” and “smiles” came through. It’s interesting to see how people describe themselves in their profiles. I’ve become more of an observer lately rather than getting too emotionally attached to possible outcomes. It’s quite interesting to see how someone describes himself and then, if you respond, see how he ends up communicating.

Communication is key. If they can’t communicate well, it doesn’t go very far. My brain can’t handle prolonged communication with someone who is not confident, awkward, or just plain not smart. I give them a chance, but my patience wears thin after awhile.

I ended up messaging with two guys. One guy didn’t make it far. He took the negative route too soon, and I wasn’t about to go there. The other guy kept conversation going at a decent pace, had a splash of interesting, and was attractive. He also had a decent job, lived nearby, and was involved in his own interests/activities. We kept messaging to the point where he asked for my number and we kept texting outside of the dating app. Good start.

Somehow we got on the topic if ice cream, and he asked me out to ice cream on Sunday night. Since my kids were away, I agreed and figured a harmless ice cream date was just what I needed after my date debacle last month. As Sunday afternoon rolled around, I let him know I was available and going shopping for a little bit – I told him to let me know a time and place, and I could meet him after I was done shopping. I asked if it was too soon because I didn’t want to rush him and asked if he was busy now or if we should meet later. This was around 5 pm, so it wasn’t too early or late. He kept responding as if he was ready to meet soon. Then his responses got more and more delayed. I was done shopping and needed to either go back home, or have him answer so I could go meet up with him. I was sick of waiting in a parking lot for an answer on if he was ready, and where we would meet.

He finally responded that he was running behind and was about an hour and a half away helping out family. An hour and a half away? What? Why continue to message me that you’re picking a spot to meet at soon, knowing I’m only 20 minutes away? Why not mention sooner that you’re out of town?

I was so confused.

That’s when I stopped. I wasn’t going to make excuses for this guy. If I’m confused, there’s a problem. I’m smart, educated, and have a decent level of social and emotional intelligence. If I’m confused, I’m either missing valuable information or the other person is being an idiot.

I drove home in a confusion fog, and I started to get angry. This is the same type of feeling I used to feel when my ex would make me “confused”. He always seemed so well-intentioned and convincing, but what he was really doing was manipulating the situation to fit his own agenda. It can be intentional, or not, but it is what it is, and I don’t like it.

I got home, mad. I was more mad at myself for having wasted time waiting around in a parking lot when I should’ve given up. I told him we should reschedule and he could call me later. I needed at least a phone conversation for my sanity to see if this guy was legitimately interested or blowing smoke.

He called around 8 pm. I don’t know about you all, but 8 pm on a Sunday night is getting near by bed time since I wake up at 6 am on Monday morning. He asked if I still wanted to meet up.

Uh, no.

I said no thanks, and we continued chatting about work and other stuff. I was feeling defensive, but trying to just learn what was going on. Suddenly, he had to take another call that was coming in and said he would call me right back. I honestly didn’t care if he called me back, but I was curious if he would or if it was a tactic to get off the phone. I went and did some chores for awhile. When I returned to my phone, I saw that he called back, left a voicemail, and also texted. Alright then.

I had no energy to call him back. I called my friend instead. While I’m talking to her, he texts “Let me take you to dinner tomorrow.” I didn’t respond and asked my friend’s opinion. This didn’t seem worth it since I was already frustrated and hadn’t even met him yet. She said “Eh, what else do you have to do? Just go and see what happens.”

I waited until about 10 pm (when I was about to go to sleep) and texted him back that dinner would be nice. He responded right away and let me know that he would be home from work by 6 pm. Okay fine, I figured dinner would be good after all that confusion.

The next day comes and goes. We texted throughout the day, but he never said anything about a time or place for dinner allllll day. When I was leaving the office at 5 pm, I sent him a message asking what he was thinking for dinner, where and when?

He asks if I want to meet after work or after a workout about 8 pm. I say after work because I have a bed time. He says he has a bed time too. And continues to NOT answer the question.

This was similar to the day before, where he wouldn’t fully answer or would respond to my questions with a question. I pointed out that he was dodging the question. He asks “How?”.

How? How?? By not answering the actual question!

He didn’t even say the classic line “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” to give me a chance to pick a spot (if the case was that he was having decision anxiety). He quite simply was not answering me, or responding with more questions.

There I was again, back in confusion land. And that was the nail in the coffin for this date that never was. I simply responded that I was no longer interested in meeting up with him.

I did get a response from him that he still wanted to take me out. The problem is, if you can’t figure out where you want to go, you can’t go on a date. It’s actually quite simple.

Stifle Me Not

Uphill Battles Aren’t for Me

I was invited to a friend’s event this past weekend. It was a commitment ceremony. They didn’t want to go through the legal process of being hitched again, and they both aren’t religious, but they wanted to celebrate their new start together. I was happy to support them.

For some reason this day had me all in a personal debacle. Call me old-fashioned, but I guess I had a set of expectations and it just didn’t match up with the reality of the day.

To start, the invitation said no gifts. I’m of Italian heritage so, no matter what, you show up with at least a small meatball to offer as a sign of thanks or congratulations for attending. This gave me angst until I gave in and went to a local winery to buy some wine and “his and hers” wine tumblers. I figured I’d call it a house-warming treat if she resisted.

Next, the invitation said “parking can be tricky” and there was a link to click for more information. I suspected a map would open. Nope. It was a video of her fiancĂ© driving the route of the entrance of the neighborhood to their home. It was roughly a minute and a half of him instructing guests not to park on the main road, not to park on their road, and not to park in the driveway. He points out one possible side road along the way where we “could” park.

This gave me instant parking anxiety. I watched the video like five times. My anxiety worsened each time I watched it. I gave myself the ol’ self-talk of “you’ll figure it out when you get there”. Deep down though, somehow I knew it would be a problem.

I left for this event at what I thought was a decent amount of time to arrive on time, or possibly fashionably late. The time on the invitation said 4:00. I pulled into her neighborhood at 4:05 and thought about parking at a nearby park, but the route to her house was uphill and about a quarter of a mile up the street. I decided to forge ahead to find the side street that he pointed out in the video. I turned on that road, and there were no cars parked on the street at all. [insert wide-eyed emoji here]. I was so confused and was now driving around the block trying to find a any spot to park that wouldn’t cause me to be towed.

And my friend starts texting me, asking if I’m still coming…

Oh my gosh. How many people are attending? Is she waiting for me to start? I was mortified.

I finally found a row of cars parked on the street at opposite end of the street (it seemed near her house, but it was just as much of an uphill walk), so I just parked and hopped out, started hiking uphill and forgetting about the gift I brought.

She texts me again! She asks if I need help. I say no and I’m walking up to the house. OMG

Her fiancĂ©’s son greets me at the end of the very long and steep driveway. Meanwhile, I’m doing some serious work hiking up this hill, and starting to lose my breath (and I’m in decent shape). The son, who appears to be in his early 20s, claims that his dad is an idiot and should have planned for better parking. Ya think?

As I reach the top of her very steep driveway, she opens the front door and greets me.

What the hell? Why am I the one holding up their ceremony? I want to die: 1) from hiking up the hill and 2) from embarrassment.

She greets me excitedly with a hug and ushers me through the house to the back deck where there was a canopy and about 40 people seated, waiting for the ceremony to begin. I slid into a back row, greeted one of my old work friends, and proceeded to catch my breath — wishing that I was already sipping chardonnay.

The ceremony was cute, and short, and made me feel a little sad for myself. Weddings do that. I’m glad I haven’t been to any lately. But it also gave me hope, as she was once in my single shoes and found her second chance at love. So I observed with an open heart and happiness for her new start.

Next was social time, drinks, and food. I was happy to catch up with my old work buddy and her husband. We drank and ate together. After a while her husband wanted to go, and I was sad to see them leave. I didn’t feel like making new friends with strangers. Sometimes I can do this with no problem, but the uphill battle to get here (all puns intended) had already gotten the best of me. I was longing for home and comfy couch. I stayed a little while longer, while they cut the cake, and then I bid my farewell. I felt a little guilty for leaving so soon, I thought she may have seemed disappointed when I left. Maybe not, but I just felt the need to go.

As I walked out the front door, I realized I’d have to walk down the steep driveway, and then down the steep road to my car. And I remembered that I never brought the gift. I made the journey downhill to my car. I was then full of every bit of reluctance to retreat back uphill with the gift. Even if I drove up the driveway, the maneuvering I’d have to do to get back out of the driveway would have been a spectacle.

So I did something I’d normally never do, and I gave up. I left. I did not go back with the gift. I gave up early and in complete relief. I reminded myself that the invitation specifically said “No Gifts Please”. My mind started circling on how I could meet up with her later and give her the gift, and then I just stopped. I put the windows down and I turned up my music and cruised home.

There are just some things that aren’t worth it, that includes going uphill twice for no gain of my own.

Stifle Me Not

Re-evaluation

This weekend, I went on a date. It was not good. In fact, it was horrible.

I’m not broken up about it. I must’ve had that sixth sense that things weren’t right because my excitement never really manifested in the first place. I couldn’t see the actual red flags until I met him in person (and then that was more than obvious), but I had something instinctual going on. Too bad it wasn’t enough to have fully avoided the situation.

We talked on the phone in the evenings and texted throughout the day for almost two consecutive weeks. I thought this would be a “safe” date. Meaning, not an immediate letdown, and literally not unsafe. This man was educated, well-employed, has three kids of his own, had life experiences that knocked him down and he got back up again, and he seemed like an all around honest hardworking divorced man who just wanted to find a good partner for the second half of his life. He seemed similar to me.

He lived quite a distance from me (about 1 1/2 hours), so he planned a date where we’d meet somewhere halfway. We each drove about 40 minutes to a restaurant for lunch and then we were going to a winery for live music. I finally asked where were going exactly so I knew what to wear, well, that is when the red flags began. Let’s review, shall we…

Red Flag #1: The restaurant he picked was Applebee’s.

I admit, I am somewhat of a food snob. I have hung out at Applebee’s with my kids on occasion, and maybe for a date in high school. But going to Applebee’s prior to a winery seemed…odd. It felt cheap and not a good first start. However, I figured he was trying to keep it simple since it was a first date and we both weren’t from that area.

Red Flag #2: He wasn’t 6 feet tall

His profile said he was 6′. When I got out of my car and started walking toward him in the parking lot, he was not as tall as I expected. He barely seemed taller than my ex-husband, who was just over 5’11. I don’t care that he wasn’t 6 feet, but I do care that he lied.

Red Flag #3: He wouldn’t make eye contact with me until he had a margarita

He walked up and immediately asked if he looked like his photos. He started to flex his arm. We went into the restaurant and the server greeted us. I noticed that he wasn’t making eye contact with me. He was distracted by everything around us. After she walked away, he asked why she was looking at him funny. She wasn’t. I was confused. He then spotted a guy in a “wife-beater” tank top across the restaurant and preceded to say how he hated when guys wore stuff like that to show off. Umm, ok. He then said he had to order something healthy and watch his calories. He ordered healthy food, but followed that up with a big frozen strawberry fishbowl margarita. I was in awe at the whole start of the date.

Okay, so from the restaurant, we drove in his car to the winery. It was about 10 minutes away. I didn’t even think twice about this because of the short distance, but hindsight is 20/20. I should have just followed him to the winery.

Red Flag #4: He just wouldn’t stop drinking

We get to the winery and it is a fun atmosphere. There was great live music playing and it was sunny and warm outside. We went in to do some wine tasting, and then he bought a bottle of wine and we went outside to enjoy our wine and the live music. It was a all good. We were back to having nice conversation like we had on the phone that last couple weeks. My hope was back. I thought maybe he had just been nervous. I was relaxed, it was a nice day.

He went and got a second bottle of wine. The little voice in my head said that should be good, but no more. By the end of the second bottle of wine (which he drank more of than I did), I ended up sitting next to him (instead of across from him) because the music got louder. This is when things went south. He started getting a little frisky. We were in the middle of a public place, with many people were around us, so I wasn’t too worried. He chilled out for a moment and said “I could just bite you.” I was turned toward the singer at this point, and said “please don’t”… but I thought he was kidding… and then next thing I know there is searing pain up the back of my arm. He literally sunk his teeth into my arm.

I yelled and moved away, because, well… he bit me. Did he really just bite me?

I became uncomfortable for sure. I got up and went to the bathroom. After I came out, I went on the other side of the building and needed a minute to collect my thoughts. I looked for an escape route. I thought about calling an Uber. I looked for a ride in my Uber app, but I was at a winery in the middle of the country. There was not an Uber driver anywhere nearby. I finally decided to go back to him, but he was becoming a drunken mess. I could see him sitting, but hunched over himself. I imagined he might have a case of the spins. I went back and convinced him that we needed to leave, that I needed to go back to my car.

He was slow to agree, but he finally got up, swaying as he moved his large body from the the table toward the parking lot. We got in the car and he turned on the air conditioner and opened the windows. He then leaned his seat back and rested there for a very long time. I asked him if he was okay. He said he was. I asked if I could drive. He said he would be fine. I asked him what he needed, he said nothing and that he would be fine.

After, what seemed like eternity, I got out of the car and sat in the grassy area in front of where the car was parked. I sat there and took in the beautiful scenery and contemplated my next move. I finally called my brother and asked if he could come help me out. He immediately said yes and put on his location map on the phone so I could track him. My date came and sat next to me, on the grass, not really talking, just drunkenly existing next to me. I wondered how the last hour went downhill so fast, but then I remembered all of the red flags earlier, and of course it did.

Red Flag #5: He left me, and blamed me

I told my date that I had a ride coming to get me. He acted confused and questioned me. I said that my brother was on the way to get me and he was free to go. I said “You can go.” He got angry, stomped off, turned around and came back to tell me “No wonder you’re single”, and then he got in his car and peeled off. I was relieved he was gone, but sad I was alone. And I was thankful to see that my brother was getting closer. I walked around the winery for a bit, wondering if I should cry but I didn’t, and bewildered by the whole day.

My brother arrived, drove me back to my car, and then followed me home. He’s the best. I need a guy that will do anything for me the way that my dad and brother do. But I know better, I don’t think that exists.

I got home and immediately called my sister to vent and made some pizza rolls. After being home for about 15 minutes, I got a text from my date that said “You are a dumbass b!tch, no wonder why you are single f#^*&d up”

I blocked him and ate my pizza rolls.

Yes I’m dumb, because I went on a date with that guy had a slew of red flags to start. And yes, no wonder I’m single, because I won’t put up with crap like that.

It’s time to re-evaluate dating altogether. There has to be a better way.

Stifle Me Not

Dating Revelation

I think I’ve finally figured out, with actual words, why dating has been so hard for me. I’m a goal-oriented person. I’m used to working toward trying to achieve something, toward meeting a goal. At least that’s how I am in my work life. Throw me into a dating pool and I try too hard. Even if the other person doesn’t catch on that I’m trying too hard, I’m on overload with what the final result will be. I’m used to trying to achieve something, not focused on myself.

When dating, each person you meet is not the goal. I am the goal. Me finding the fit for me is the goal. This is not rocket science, so why is this such a revelation to me? While I practically know this, I ultimately fail (in my own ideals) because I’m not playing the game the way it’s designed. I’ve been playing by my rules instead of based on how it really is.

I recently heard some memorable advice: Don’t attach yourself to the outcome. Date and have fun, but don’t have an outcome in mind. You’ll know the outcome once you get there. If you visualize a certain outcome with dating, you’ll just set yourself up for disappointment.

So I logged back into the dating app with that mindset. No expectations, no attachment to the outcome. No chatting with someone and working toward a goal. Just be. Just play for the sake of playing, not the end goal. Take it all in and decide what’s good for me, leave the rest behind. I even reminded myself not to get excited when the dopamine rush kicks in from a “like” or a comment. Clear the mind, and wade through pool floating on a ducky.

At first I was looking at matches on my dating app and throwing them away right and left because of one criteria or another. Too far. No kids. Single vs. Divorced. Etc.

Finally, I expanded my search properties and took my hands off the wheel. There were a couple of guys I noticed (but didn’t reach out or remove) from the list. Without talking to these guys, it seemed like a logical move to dismiss them already. Then one of them reached out to me.

I hesitated. Like I always do. But I recited my new found advice and responded to this man, without attachment to the outcome. Just have fun, just have fun… If you don’t like him, you can run.

He responded back rather quickly. This was followed by a flow of discussion into the night, and into the next day. And then we started talking on the phone the old fashioned way.

It’s too early to tell anything yet. I’m still not attaching myself to the outcome. I know how quickly things can go sideways. But I find it funny that when I finally opened up my perspective just a little bit, the sun shined through just a little bit brighter.

To be continued I guess…Just have fun, just have fun… If you don’t like him, you can run.

Stifle Me Not

3.0

When I first started this blog, it was an outlet to help me cope with the newness of my divorce and the many challenges that followed. One challenge included a surprise case of head lice. Fast forward 4 years and we’ve come a long way. However, my daughter’s head is apparently still a hot spot for critters. When my 13 year old daughter started itching her head a lot on vacation a few weeks ago, the first thing I did was check her head and neck for nits and bugs.

I saw nothing of concern. However, my vision is… horrible. She kept claiming her head was just oily, or dry, or this, or that . I checked her head again at least twice more, even used a lice comb. I almost went to get lice shampoo because I couldn’t understand what else it could be. She swore up and down that it had nothing to do with bugs. She said she had combed her head for them too. She’s 13 and takes care of herself way better these days, so I had no real reason not to believe her.

We got home from vacation, and two weeks later she was still itching. I took her to the doctor because I’m beyond confused at this point. And low and behold: he points out nits. Hello hair bugs 3.0. We were both horrified and confused all at the same time. How had I checked her multiple times and missed this?

We both knew what to do. I started mentally preparing myself for the long haul of weeks of combing. The doctor knew the enormity of this task as he surveyed her beautiful, thick mane of hair, and he quickly called in a double prescription of “the” shampoo.

I dropped her off at home and went to get the prescription. My son was instructed to stay in his own area, I fed him, and let him play on his tablet. He was fine. My daughter started stripping bedsheets and doing laundry as she prepared her mind for the long haul as well.

To my surprise, she didn’t want me to help comb her hair. I gave her some instructions about the shampoo, she asked a few questions, and went to work while I cleaned the house. There was an unspoken team effort. I checked my head and her brother’s head, and by some miracle from the God-Sent Sanity Fairy, we were good. I have checked our heads regularly every night since. I put sheets on all of the couches and assigned seats for the next few weeks. Everyone agreed, and we’ve been living in harmony for the past week.

All is stabilizing, but I’m still on edge.

I kept thinking “where did I go wrong? why did I let my guard down? I know better, I know better…” My past came back to haunt me, and it occurred to me that I was beating myself up for something that could happen to anyone. I was looking for someone (me or another) to blame to make sense of it all.

I wanted to cry, but all I could think was “this too shall pass.” Because it will. We’ve been through it before, we’ll get through it again. And this time I was let off the hook from combing, so I’m thankful for that. I’m so very proud of my girl.

After she got done combing out her hair that first night, she calmly came to me and said “How did you do that when I was little, mom? How did you comb my hair out for me for weeks the two different times that I had it?” And I simply shrugged and said “Who else was going to do it? I did it because it had to be done.” And she gave me air hugs from across the room.

I’ve been looking for the lesson in all of this. From challenges come great lessons. And I think this lesson was more for my daughter than for myself. I have learned, I have grown, I have tried to pass on my knowledge, but some things she must learn on her own no matter how many times I try to tell her or show her. That thought made me sad. I can only help her to a point. All I can do is be her support system.

This too shall pass.

Stifle Me Not

Weak Moment

I had a weak moment.

I took my kids on a beach vacation. It was nice weather. Our flights (there and back) were delayed quite a bit, but overall we had a nice trip. We live in the north, so basking in some much-needed warm southern sunshine was such a treat. I have never taken my kids on vacation by myself. I flew one place with them last year (for a funeral), but we met up with other family members, so I wasn’t all alone as the only adult. This time I was the primary adult, and it was fine. Everything went just fine.

Everything was fine, until mid-week, after observing family after family with kids, a wife, and a husband. I remember those days – having a husband. The husband has certain roles – carry the heavy luggage, drive, watch one kid while the other one preoccupies your time, grill food, etc.

After watching so many families, I had that feeling return: loneliness and longing for a partner in crime. So what did I do? Yep, I fired up the dating app again.

This hasn’t worked out well in the past, so you’d think I would learn my lesson by now…

I started chatting with one eligible bachelor who seemed very nice. We chatted for four days, and then it dwindled. Maybe because I returned back to my usual life? I don’t know. The rush from the first conversations on a dating app is mind-boggling. And it’s amazing how it can fizzle out so quickly.

When I’m home and in my typical routine, I do not want for anything or anyone. Even when my kids go visit their dad, I truly enjoy the extra peace and quiet to myself. Occasionally I’ll get restless, but not life-changing I-Need-a-Man-Now restless.

So, due to having extra time on vacation, I had a weak moment of wanting someone to help carry a suitcase upstairs, grill me a burger, and drive the rental car. Ugh.

I’ve paused the dating app again. And I won’t be traveling anytime soon, so I should be safe from meeting random strangers online for awhile.

Stifle Me Not