WARNING: Skip this one, Mom and Dad. Really.
I've taken to blogging about dating faster than I expected. Part of it is out of sheer necessity, because after being with John for eighteen years, then experiencing two sort of doomed relationships, I'm dating again. Casually, because I'm not up for a real relationship; I'm still licking my wounds from the last one. But when opportunity knocks, who am I to say no? The problem is, I don't know the new dating rules. I'm lost in a sea of confusion over how to best navigate these murky waters. Full of questions, and short on answers. So, you singles out there, I ask you: what are The New Rules?
I've had a few good experiences, but admittedly, I'm interacting with the male of the species with my guard up. I'm wearing my wounded heart on my sleeve, whether I realize it or not. Maybe it's because I tend to put the whole divorced-and-recently-out-of-a-relationship bit out there so everyone knows what's what. Decent, perceptive men sense my skittishness surprisingly quickly, and don't seem too crazy about the odds. I can't force myself to be vulnerable again, though. Should I fake it?
Communicating with men these days is like trying to learn a foreign language on the fly. No one seems to use the phone anymore. Email is rife with the possibility of misunderstanding. And texting? Please. It can take me forever to send one simple sentence. And what is the etiquette surrounding texting? If I have not asked a direct question, should I expect a reply? (And vice versa.) Should we take turns? If I want to share a random thought, but have yet to hear back from him after my last couple of random thoughts, am I text-stalking?
Not to put too fine a point on it, but when do we have sex these days? I'm forty-three. My basic philosophy is that I can have sex whenever I feel ready, as long as I'm safe. But are we still playing the waiting game? Am I supposed to ignore my own instincts so he doesn't think I'm some sort of slut, even when he's giving me the full-court-press? (That ship has already sailed, to keep the water metaphor going, but I'm still curious.) I can't help but feel that old fear: once we've had sex, is he going to disappear? I'm not talking about casual sex, mind you; that's not how I roll (ha ha). But let's face it: even casual dating can lead pretty quickly to physical attraction if there's any sort of chemistry involved. And making out on the couch seems so... high school. What's a girl to do?
Finally — and you can file this under TMI if need be — what's the protocol around farting? One boyfriend handled this beautifully. We were hanging out not too long after we met, and he looked up and asked, "Are you ready for a real relationship?" Every muscle in my body clenched in fear as I stared at him. Then he just let one rip. It was hilarious, and perfect. But not too many men have that particular sense of humor, and I can't walk around with a stomach ache simply because I'm afraid to rock the boat (ha!) with a little wind. If there are going to be overnights, is farting allowed?
I have many more questions, of course. But some advice on these burning issues would help steer me in the right direction, for the time being.