A while back, an anonymous commenter on my blog asked why I don't write about dating. Apparently, the dating trials of a divorced mom are of some interest to those who love a train wreck—namely, my entire readership. I've always told myself that I don't blog about dating because I want to respect the privacy of certain people in my life. But since my divorce, none of my romantic partners have appreciated this courtesy. One wondered why I never blogged about him. Another (jokingly) suggested I write a blog post consisting entirely of his name, repeated over and over again. (I thought that was pretty funny, actually.)
My rationalization for omitting such a large part of my life turns out to be complete bullshit, fueled by fear. I confess: I don't blog about it because I find dating to be really, really difficult. It is rife with uncertainty, conflict, disappointment and, ultimately, failure. Failed relationships hurt. And in my little pea-sized brain, a failed relationship translates into a failure on my part. What was I thinking? What could I have done differently? And, worst of all, what's wrong with me?
I don't actually believe there's anything wrong with me. I haven't had any serious self-esteem issues for a while, at least where men are concerned. (Okay, maybe a little recently.) Were this not the case, I would be a whimpering, quivering, helpless puddle of despair at this point. But I'm not, because I know who I am, what I want and what I deserve. I lose track of that sometimes. I cling to relationships that have clearly played themselves out, because I have thrown my whole reckless, idiotic, hopelessly hopeful heart into them, and I am loathe to admit defeat. My heart doesn't always agree with my brain. My brain might see red flags all over the place, but my heart is color blind.
My other weakness is that I tend to focus on whether or not the object of my affection finds me worthy, rather than letting myself decide, over time, if he's really someone I want to be with. I think women do this more than men. I also suspect that most men spend a lot less time worrying about where a relationship is headed, unless it seems to be moving too fast. I actually envy this about men; it makes really good sense. Living in the moment and letting things unfold naturally is healthy, and doesn't involve keeping track of who called who last, or waiting to see if he'll call if you don't, or trying to read between the lines of completely innocuous remarks. All of that is exhausting, and fruitless. I'm not going to do it anymore. Really.
Then there's Grace. She seems to believe that a family must comprise at least three people. It's what she remembers up until February when we moved into The Cave, and she knows that most of her friends have a man and a woman in one house. So I wait until I'm overcome with optimism to introduce her to anyone I'm dating, and then it's on a very casual level. But it doesn't matter. She can meet someone once, someone I've told her is just a friend, yet she reads more into it than I ever imagine she will. Soon, she'll start peppering me with questions. "Is so-and-so coming over again?" I don't know, baby. "Will I ever see so-and-so again?" I'm sure you will, honey. It's heartbreaking, and I can't help but wonder if she asks her father the same thing, or if she senses in me some need to have a man in the house. I don't consciously feel that need, but she's an old soul, and often surprises, no shocks, me by talking about things she just shouldn't know about.
So a few new rules as I move forward: listen to my head at least as much as my heart; focus more on how I feel about someone and less on how they feel about me; don't worry so much about where a relationship is headed; and most important, NEVER INTRODUCE A MAN TO GRACE unless he and I are both goddamn sure we're in it for the long haul.
Oh, and I will never blog about the specifics of my dating life. I'll try to throw in vague generalities from time to time, but when it comes right down to it, it's my own privacy and sanity I'm trying to protect.