It’s been nearly six months since Doc announced he no longer wanted to be married to me and I’m toying with the idea of dating. Some might think six months is not long enough to recover before jumping into that pool again – that I should take time to be by myself and to learn that I can live without a man. But, here’s the thing – I’ve been alone for a long, long time. Even while we lived together, Doc was emotionally distant – as was I, more often than I like to admit. We also had issues with physical intimacy – I wasn’t much of a hugger and Doc really wasn’t into sex, especially towards the end. So really, I’ve been alone, both emotionally and physically, for nearly a year now.
I joined an online dating website about a month ago – just to see what my options might be. Initially, I was pretty disheartened. Men my age are OLD! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I’d never looked at other men in that way while I was married. Plus, I had become used to Doc, and HE didn’t seem old to me (I guess because we were aging together). I wouldn’t have a problem dating a younger guy (within reason – say 5-10 years), but most of the men on the site seem to be looking for someone younger, and skinnier, than me. Those men that did express an interest in me just didn’t seem my type – when I looked at their pictures my heart didn’t flutter, my eyebrows didn’t raise, I never said to myself, “Hey now, that’s more like it!”
I realized that what I wanted was someone with a full head of hair, a relatively unlined face, and a body that was trim and firm.
I realized that I was being incredibly shallow.
Did you ever watch that reality television show Married at First Sight? Basically, the concept of the show is that professionals – a psychologist, sexologist, sociologist, and spiritualist – match three couples who have never met, using all sorts of scientific parameters and testing. The first time the couples meet is at the alter – at their weddings! Then the show follows them for several weeks, on their honeymoon, after they move in together, as they adjust to each other and married life. It’s a social experiment of sorts, to see if science might work better than the heart when it comes to finding true love.
One thing that really struck me about the show was that there was one woman who went through with the marriage, but immediately felt she had made a huge mistake. She just wasn’t physically attracted to her new husband – she would never have dated him in a million years! She spent most of the reception crying and shying away from her husband when he got too close. At the beginning of the honeymoon, she was downright rude to him from time to time and it was obvious she was incredibly uncomfortable with him. Then, something interesting happened. As she got to know her husband (who I have to say, was the kindest, most understanding guy), she started to like him. She started to see that they were compatible on every level –except for that pesky physical attraction thing. And then, as they spent more time together, she started to love him and to find him attractive! She was still a bit leery – she had witnessed and been part of some horrible relationships in her life – she was afraid to trust and to give her heart to this man she had only known for a short time. But still, at the end of the six weeks, they opted to stay married – and, more than six months later, they still are married and thinking about having babies!
When I watched the show, it reminded me that you can’t judge a book by the cover. Years ago, my daughters and I took a trip to Las Cruces, about 4 hours away, so that my daughter could see the university there. There also happened to be an outlet mall about 45 minutes out of town, so after the tour, we decided to head there to do some shopping before turning around and coming back and then on to home. About the time we got to the outlet mall, my car began to overheat. I told the girls to go shopping and that I would call a tow truck, have the car serviced, and then I would pick them up late that afternoon. It didn’t quite work out that way.
The auto repair shop let me know that my radiator needed to be replaced. They didn’t have the part, and as it was Saturday and they were closed on Sunday, they probably wouldn’t be done with my car until Monday or Tuesday at the earliest. I freaked out a couple of reasons – I didn’t know if I could trust the mechanic, as I did not know him – and it was a crap load of money! Plus, I would have to pay another crap load of money for a hotel and food for the three of us for three or four days. I just wanted to get home and have my regular mechanic take care of the problem, so I loaded up on water and antifreeze, collected the girls, and hit the road.
By this time, it was dark and between the outlet mall and Las Cruces (where the university was located) it was totally deserted desert. Of course, right in the middle of this desolation, my car began to overheat again. I totally lost it! I pulled off at the next exit, where there was a gas station/mini-mart and I literally started wringing my hands and gnashing my teeth. I was panic-stricken – I had put myself and my daughters in a worse situation, in the middle of nowhere, late at night – and there were no hotels or auto repair shops anywhere close by. How would we get to the nearest town – let alone the 300+ miles home?
My kids went into the mini mart to get a Coke – and when they came back, they were followed by three, very scary looking men. These guys were dressed in old, dirty clothes. They had kind of greasy hair and beards, and they badly needed some dental work. I stepped in front of the girls – and then the man in the lead smiled and greeted me in a friendly, gentle voice.
“We overheard your girls talking about the problems you’re having with your car. Do you mind if we take a look to see if there is anything we can do to help?”
The man had such a gentle voice and he seemed sincere. I realized that, if worse came to worse, at least the mini-mart had witnesses who would probably hear me if I screamed. I nodded and popped the hood for them. They clustered around and poked at some things, conferring and nodding. Then one of them ran back to the mini-mart and came back with several gallons of water. They started to add the water to the radiator and quickly realized that it was pouring out nearly as fast as they could put it in. Another trip was made into the mini-mart and this time they poured a bottle of Stop Leak into the radiator, and then some more water, getting down on the pavement to watch the leak as it slowed.
Finally the first man turned to me and said, “I think that should hold you as far as Cruces. Keep your windows open and run your heater to help it out. But you should stay there for the weekend and take it to the dealership on Monday.”
I offered to pay for the supplies they had purchased, but they all shook their heads and smiling, took their leave. I have never been more grateful for the help of strangers – scary looking strangers with hearts of angels.
So, yeah – I know that you can’t judge someone just by appearances. The kindest, most loving men may be in a package that might not initially appeal to me. So, I’m going to lower my expectations in the looks department, but keep my requirements high in everything else that matters – kindness, honesty, integrity, intelligence, a sense of humor and adventure, and the ability and willingness to have conversations about issues that matter (and those that don’t). I don’t know when I’ll work up the nerve to actually meet one of these online guys – I’m severely out of practice in the dating department after 26 years of marriage – but I’m working on it.
Have you ever tried online dating? Was your experience good or bad? Have you ever dated someone you were not initially attracted to? Did your views changed once you got to know them?