Dating. Uggh. I hate the term. The whole concept is new to me, even though I have been divorced for six and a half years. I met my last significant boyfriend (another term I hate) shortly after Bob and I separated. My new beau and I began a four-year relationship soon after my divorce.
Since my break up with my post-divorce beau, I have had two "pure" dates. The first was magical and it led to a short intense 3-month relationship. The second date was a disaster. The fellow met me at a strip mall Mexican Restaurant and only ordered an appetizer. Needless to say, I did not order an entree over $9.95. Since he ordered beer, I stuck with cheap wine. This gentleman had been married three times, worked the night shift at a local cigarette factory, and was living with his mother. The date lasted two hours as he nursed his one beer and I my one wine. Afterwards this man told me that I was special and that he would like to see me a second time. No thanks.
Yesterday I held a 4th of July party and invited 14 people for a cook out. One of my guests was my ex beau, the one I met shortly after my separation from Bob. We broke up two and a half years ago. He, his son, and his son's girlfriend arrived, and it was like the years fell away. My old beau stoked up the grill, his son helped to entertain the guests, and I cooked the meal. The day was so cozy and comfortable, with them moving about my house easily and interacting familiarly with my other guests. But as the day came to a close, I found myself alone with my dog.
Last night, bittersweet nostalgia swept over me. My old beau and I truly care for each other. In fact, I can honestly say I love him and miss him. He loves me too and he obviously wanted to stay. So what was the problem?
Not that I necessarily want to get married, but if I am going to sleep with a man, I expect exclusivity. And that loyalty just wasn't there. My sweet, wonderful friend is eye candy to women and he, like the Warren Beatty of old, loves them all. And that was the problem. My wonderful handsome friend is a serial monogamist. He flits from woman to woman, and is committed to one at a time, usually for two or three months or so. The fact that I lasted four years astounded our acquaintances. Oh, he's slowing down as he gets older, but he is still open to the possibilities of exploring a relationship with women he has yet to meet.
And I am too proud and fastidious to put up with that.
Because of my old beau's good looks and his sweet ways, women are drawn to him like monarch butterflies to a butterfly bush. He is irresistible. And so he has no trouble flitting. So, sadly and with regret, even though I received the invitation to, ahem, spend a splendid night of passion, I let him go home. He received my gentle no as a gentleman, not begging or playing games. Then he simply hugged me and walked away.
I let him go with only a slight pang.
We are friends. That is all. Deep, loving, mutual friends. I cannot tell you the number of times we have come to each others' rescue since our break up. This kind of friendship IS possible between a man and a woman. Don't let all the naysayers tell you it isn't. Oh, sure there are sexual overtones, and when we are seeing others (more about this later) we don't interact. But when we both are free with no significant others lurking in the background, our friendship reverts to the easy old ways. It took us a year to arrive at this juncture, and it took some mental gymnastics on my part. But when a friend of mine wisely counseled me that life is too short to lose someone you truly love and respect, her words freed me.
At this stage of my life I would rather spend time with a dear friend than with a stranger who is a lousy date. It is that simple. Oh, and lest you think I am a fool for love, we rarely communicate with or see each other. Only when it counts.
So, as you begin to date again, remember that not all the men you meet are going to be potential spouses. Some are a lousy date. Some are potential mate material. And some will simply make the best friend you will ever have.