Saturday, 11 August 2012

Word to the Whys

So as I was working on figuring out my own guidelines for this self-imposed dating ban, I realized that it is important to not just figure out the "hows" of not dating for 365 days, but also to address the "whys".  I am sure there will be days when I see a couple walking hand-in-hand and I will wistfully dream of having that for myself, and maybe it will tempt me to do something that I shouldn't do.  In that case, I would hope that I would refer myself back to this post, where I can see in black and white the reasons why a year without men is a good idea for me.

Reason #1:  I'm not over my last boyfriend yet. How can I hope to be any good to anyone I might try to be in relationship with when so much of my heart is still invested in someone I'm no longer with?  (Let's call him "HB".) I have heard the oft-quoted adage "The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else" (and Mom, I'm sure you're reading this, and that you haven't heard it, and that you don't necessarily agree with it!) but I really don't think that's true.  The best way to complicate your life more, sure; the best way to open yourself to the possibility of a sexually transmitted disease, possibly; the best way to end up crying about your ex to someone you hardly know, definitely.  I just don't want to go there.  I'm a romantic, but not in the fairy-tale way that as soon as you kiss someone, you're immediately in love forever and forget about everyone else.  No, I spent nearly three years in love with HB, and I know that I need to move past him, but I want to do it gracefully and give myself the time I need to move through it rather than over it.  When I can look back on our relationship with fondness and gratefulness outweighing the longing, then I might be ready to have another relationship.

Reason #2:  I am starting a four-year degree in September and have to focus on school.  Granted, the first year purports to be the easiest of the four, so perhaps my timing isn`t so good if I`m planning on trying dating again as I`m heading into Year Two, but that`s the least of my worries right now.  Either way, it`s my first time back to school in a long while (aside from upgrading high school courses), and with that, work and kids, I`m not liable to have a lot of time on my hands anyway.  I don`t want to waste valuable studying time trying to find a boyfriend.

Reason #3:  My kids need me more right now than any guy does.  I am a single mom and, although their dad is most definitely in their lives, my kids have not outgrown their need for Mom.  One of my kids is going through a really difficult time right now, and I need to make sure that I can really pay attention to and deal with any crises that may come up.  I do tend to get distracted when I'm in love (not to say that dating would necessarily lead to my being in love, or infatuated, or obsessed, or any of the other things that I have been in my life...) and that won't do when I have a child who needs me.  We only have a few short years with them, after all, and I will never regret the time I invest in them.  Whereas, looking back on a couple of my relationships, all I can see is wasted investment and time.  I'll never feel that about my children.

Reason #4:  I need to get to know myself better and like my own company.  I have, actually, managed to get a pretty good handle on who I am and what I want within the past six years since my marriage broke up.  It's amazing that I have accomplished as much as I have emotionally and mentally when you consider that for most of the past six years, I was entangled in some form of romantic relationship that took away a great deal of my focus.  Again with the wasted time!  What if I had instead spent much of that time on my own?  I'd like to think I'd be much more in tune with myself.  I don't mind my own company so much but I want to be able to look myself in the mirror and say, "You know, girl: you're really actually pretty great on your own!"  My sense of self-worth should never be dependent on external validation.  For too long, it was.

Reason #5:  I'm just not good at picking guys.  A bit tongue-in-cheek there, but sadly, also true to life.  Although my first boyfriend was pretty amazing, I didn't appreciate him the way I should have, instead moving on to bad boy after bad boy.  Tell me, please: what is it with us girls thinking that the bad boy will be a good boy for us, if we only love him enough??  What is in our heads?  I've known a lot of great guys, but when I start a relationship, I always manage to latch on to the one I shouldn't.  I will not address my marriage, but after we split up, there was the one who turned out to be a cocaine and gambling addict.  The one who thought I was amazing and wonderful (and who wrote the most beautiful emails with the perfect flowery words) but who couldn't deal with the facts that I had three children and an ex-husband...or with the aforementioned cocaine addict camping on my doorstep in order to "prove" his love for me after our breakup.   The one who yelled in my face that I was crazy (and I believed him).  The commitment-phobe. The one who had carved out too much of a bachelor's life that I couldn't fit anywhere into it.  And those are just the ones I dated or considered seriously.  Just imagine who I met when I joined Plenty of Fish - that's a whole other story!  No, this time I want to let God choose a man for me.  For the first time in my life, I don't want to rush anything or push anything.

Is this him, Lord?  Is he the one for me?

Reason #6:  I want to get a concrete idea in my head of what I will and won't accept in a man.  I have a list.  I wrote a list after HB and I broke up, and on this list is everything that I want in my husband (yes, I want a husband, eventually). The problem is, when I meet a nice (-looking or -seeming) guy, I tend to get swept up in the moment and forget the list.  Then I start to overlook things because so many of the other things are nice.  I need to make a list of Dealbreakers, too, and I need to be able to recognize them and make sure I toss out guys who don`t meet my criteria.  It`s hard for me to do, but I hope I will get to the point that I see myself as a top prize who won`t settle for less.

And, finally, Reason #7:  I just don't want to always be "on" anymore.  You know how you get up in the morning and get dressed, and you're thinking about how you look to everyone else?  Or when you're walking to Starbucks or in the grocery store and you're sucking your gut in just in case you happen to run into a cute guy?  I just don't want to do that anymore.  It's not that I don't want to care about my appearance; I just don't want to care about it for the wrong reasons.  And I don't want to look at every man I see as a "possibility" or a prospective dating partner.  I just want to live my life and be happy.  If someone shows up (after this next 363 days, of course) and wants to be happy with me (and meets all the qualities on my list, of course, with no Dealbreakers!) then maybe I'll be ready for him.  For now, though, I just want to not care if my tummy is pooching out a little or if my butt is triple the size of my boobs.

I am sure there are many other good reasons for going without a date for a year.  What I'm most certain of, though, is that I will discover them as I go along.  Right now all I've got is a mission and some optimism.




  1. Well said, Lisa! All very good reasons...... I hope you achieve this! It will be so good for you!!!! Hang tough!

    1. Thank you, Danielle! I find myself thinking "this won't be so bad" and then I realize I am only on Day Three and there is a looong way to go...but I do feel very strongly about it. There is also a real sense of relief!