Monday, January 13, 2014

Learning to Date

The first time a boy asked me out on a date I was fourteen years old. My father allowed me to go to a dance with him only if my older brother went with us as a chaperone. The moment I discovered that the boy asked me out because he liked my best friend and he hoped that by hanging out with me, he could get close to her, I lost all interest in him. The date was a dud and I never saw him or heard from him again.  
I dated three more times during high school, but only because my mother forced me to go. They were with boys who worked with her and needed dates.  I went to an HEB Christmas party, a wedding, and on a double date because of her. The guys all acted nice around her, but HEB boy stared at my chest all night long, the wedding dude tried to attack me in the front seat of his car, and my half of the double date had sweaty palms and a right leg that shook every time he looked at the hem of my mini dress.
My parents were well intentioned but very old fashioned.  They thought who they chose could be trusted with their daughter, while I knew the boys put on one face with them and acted another with me. They should have let me handle my own love life; they should have let me be the judge.  
I found myself in the same predicament the two times I was divorced. I had to learn how to date again when I divorced in my early forties and then again in my early fifties. 
Dating sucks, regardless the age, so it is best to know what you want from it.
In the first place, it is best to know what you will and will not do. My children were young the first time I got divorced so I had to consider who I introduced  to them and who I dated. My kids were grown and gone the second time I found myself single but I still had to consider who I dated.
I only dated people I liked.  Isn’t that why you want to spend time with them? And the feeling should be mutual. Regardless what the world wants you to think dating doesn’t always have to lead to intimacy. I was clear about that and it cut down on who I dated, but sometimes all I needed was a companion or an escort/date and I wanted it to end that evening and not the next morning over coffee and breakfast.   
Right before I met HoneyBunch I went on a Speed Date.  I was writing a singles column for boomer–aged women and needed first-hand knowledge. The whole experience reminded me of my high school dating life. One man was recently widowed and was desperately lonely. Another was an aging Adonis with gold chains around his neck and an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt.  A third one was an anti-Hispanic racist who told me straight out I wasn’t his type. There were some men and women who instantly connected with each other so interviewing them was a waste of time. There were two or three that seemed like legit prospects, but I wasn’t looking for a new beau.

I walked out of there that evening realizing I have always known how to date – you must respect yourself, value who you are, and make it very clear to the other person that is what you expect from them as well.  

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