Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

The Dating Game

Monday, April 23, 2012
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As widowed people, we seem to receive well-meaning encouragement from family and friends that we should start dating. “You should move on.” “You should start dating now while you are still young and attractive.” “Any man would be lucky to have you”….. blah, blah, blah.  They think these comments are encouraging when really they can be almost hurtful.  What if I’m not ready to move on yet?  I don’t want the pressure of aging to push me into the dating scene.

This year, as a New Year’s resolution, I thought, OK, maybe I will venture into the dating scene.  But where do I start?  I couldn’t handle the bar scene and none of my friends had anyone they could set me up with.  So I signed up for an online dating website.  After a few intimidating weeks, I connected with a nice, cute guy.  We went out a few times and we really hit it off.  I slowly started to remember what it felt like to be a couple, to hold hands with someone of the opposite sex (that is not your child), to get those butterflies in your stomach like a high schooler.  I started caring about my appearance.  I got rid of those “mom jeans”.  I started to feel like a woman again – not a mom, not a co-worker, not a daughter or sister, but just me.

But then it happened.  The guy says that he has to break things off with me because an old girlfriend had reached out to him and he decided to reconcile with her.  He handled it very gently and I don’t hate him for it.  A non-widowed friend told me that this was a great first dating experience-- a nice guy who treated me well and then let me down gently.

But man, I was crushed.  I was not ready for the flood of emotions that hit me.  I felt like I lost all of the momentum that had started to build up my self-confidence.  I wasn’t sad that I lost this specific guy (although he was pretty great).  I was sad because it reminded me of what I once had with Joe.  I was alone again and I didn’t want to be.  This triggered a waterfall of tears.  I realized I had compartmentalized all of those feelings and emotions and shoved them so far down into a place that I never thought would surface again.  I thought I had guarded my heart so well by taking things slowly but I did not guard it well enough.  My mind was ready to date but obviously my heart was not.

A few days later, I had a dream that I was back in the first house where Joe and I lived when we got married.  We were in the process of moving and I was trying to pack up all of our stuff.  My focus in the dream was not that I was back together with Joe as if nothing happened but that I kept finding more and stuff to pack in boxes.  I just kept opening rooms and finding more bags and boxes.  When I woke up, it was pretty obvious to me that my mind was not so subtly telling me that I still have a lot of “baggage” that I have to deal with before I move on and start dating again.

I haven’t given up completely on this dating thing but I think I need to give my heart a break – oh, I mean some time off.

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