When I blogged about my first date after my divorce, my friend Rafa, a single man, was fascinated. I talked about things he'd never considered. One of them was how I had an aversion to mens cologne. Most men seemed to douse themselves in it. I thought it was rude and a way to leave themselves on me. I had to ask first dates not to wear any or very little.
A year and a half later, I ran into Rafa and he asked me how dating was going. I said that I'd have to blog an update for him. There's a lot to say, but for now, here we go.
The first thing that I want to say is that after 10 years of being married, I was completely unprepared to be single again. I used to love dating but after the disappointment of losing my ex husband who I had loved so completely, I had no desire to be out there. My heart was not just broken, it was mangled and completely unrecognizable.
I have concluded that a broken heart should be set in a cast-like state until it is completely healed. We have no business playing on it until then, even though running alongside someone else looks appealing and easy. You risk permanent damage. A broken heart is a "premie" and cannot breathe on its own. Another person is a temporary respirator and when yanked away, it can be fatal.
I ventured out a few times briefly only to reset my heart back in its cast and just sit still. Handsome smiles and "whatcha doin'?" texts started up and stopped, making my phone seem empty.
Tell yourself that it's not loneliness, that it's time to let the noise of arguments die down. It's time to hear your own thoughts emerge. It's time to get rid of toxic friends. It's time to let the compliments set in permanently. It's time to fill doing things you've always wanted to do but couldn't because it didn't work for the relationship. Go to sleep and wake up alone. Be the third wheel with happy couples. Pray. On your knees works best.
Being single again, I found myself standing in the midst of a dating culture of older men going out with younger women and the vice-versa "cougar" thing. Younger men approach me, some knowing my age and others who do not. Yes I look much younger than I am but I have a 25 year old beautiful daughter that would cause a dilemma for most single men of any age if my daughter and I are in the same room at the same time.
In my experience, I've found that the younger man is not jaded. He hasn't been through the trauma of losing his own family to divorce and having his income garnished for a good part of his career. He is ready to have a great time, spend his money, prove himself better than a man my age in every way. He throws himself into a situation without much reservation and is grateful for any attention reciprocated. Even just "Hello" is a big deal. If he doesn't think to pick up the whole tab it's mostly because he hasn't been taught to. He smiles a lot. His wears his heart is on his sleeve.
Younger man to me: Do you date younger men?
Me (after deciding to date again, my own age only): I'm not into the "cougar" thing.
Younger man: I approached you, so in our case you're not a cougar.
A man my age is cautious. He moves forward with well thought out calculations. Even though he's divorced, his ex wife still holds a big place in his life. This is usually because she's the mother's of his children and he respects her place. He may still love her. A big chunk of his income goes to this woman. He's insightful. He provides a peek into other the side of your unanswered questions about your own divorce. He is vulnerability just waiting to happen. It'll take time. Sudden movement may cause him to hide. He knows what works. Things around him are handled. He always picks up the tab.
Exes, even from many years ago don't get the "ex" part.
If I met an ex today, I would not date him. I've changed, he hasn't. It's ok.
A person who is "separated" is technically married.
Recent DUIs, living at home long term and cocaine are deal breakers.
If a man says "I'm not that guy," count on the fact that he is.
Sex is sex. Love is love. Don't confuse them.
As I spoke to Rafa the other day, I realized something. It's not cologne that have an aversion to. It's the person wearing it.
After two years, my cast is off. I'm enjoying the sites that one can only take in if we walk. I'm out there again. Some days I skip.