I’ve wandered the streets of Hungry sightseeing alone. I’ve been part of a few combat patrols on deployments. I’ve bungee jumped over shallow water in a foreign country. Yet, my biggest adventure to date has been looking for love.
We all seek it. If someone says they don’t, they are a liar. It’s a basic human need to want to be appreciated, cared for, and touched. It’s in our DNA. Sure, some of us avoid love. But we typically only do that AFTER we have tried love and been hurt.
I can understand that. Heck, I have even done that. It makes sense…for a awhile. If you don’t take the risk, you cannot get hurt. So you don’t talk to people outside of your bubble. You don’t go anywhere without your friends. You don’t make eye contact with strangers. You just stay safe…and alone. I did all of this and more, and it was lonely. I avoided love like it was a shark. It was dangerous. It was scary. And frankly, it was downright, just not worth it cuz love just hurt.
But something changed in me. I got tired of hiding. I got bored of waiting for life to happen. I got tired of being sad. So, I started going out. Not to night clubs or whatever. No. I was too old for that. Plus, I had a daughter attending college in town. How awkward would that be to be out and someone say, “Hey Alexis, isn’t that your mom over there?” That would have been a big MOM FAIL. So no, there were no nightclubs involved.
What I did do though was find life, and in the process, I learned to love me. I went out to movies. I read my book over cocktails before attending the symphony. I tried a paddle board yoga class. I signed up for a kayak trip. I discovered new restaurants. I attempted maneuvering through a mountain bike trail. I wandered into new cities to take pictures. Sure, some of it felt awkward as I sat there by myself while couples seemed to surround me, flaunting their love. Eventually though, I got used to it. At one point, I was comfortable enough to just relax and enjoy the moments. It was ME time. I was trying new things, having fun and discovering life.
Friends would ask me, “How can you do that by yourself?” My response was typically, “Well, if I sit around and wait for someone to invite me, it may never happen. So, I just go and do it.” They would always comment how brave I was. I didn’t feel brave though. I felt alive. I felt like I was awakening from a deep, dark sleep. It was like I had put my dreams and desires on hold. I had forgotten who I was, what I wanted and where I wanted to go. It was invigorating.
With all that said though, I still never stopped wanting love. I’d see a couple somewhere walking hand and hand and feel a touch of sadness. I’d see a man hand his lady a tissue at church and think, Why can’t someone hand me Kleenex? Even though I was having the time of my life and discovering myself, I still craved love. I still longed for someone special.
So I started to take risks. I made eye contact with people. I gave out my number occasionally. I made a Match.com profile. I flirted when someone expressed interest. I went on some dates. I entered into various uneasy levels of relationships: we-are-just-friends, not-really-dating, just-hanging-out, friends-with-benefits and boyfriend-girlfriend.
And you know what? It sucked. OH MY GOODNESS, IT SUCKED. Some of it was downright awful and heartbreaking. Just so you have some context, here are a few examples of my dating adventures (some may be the same person as I am a slow learner):
- One Match.com date asked me, in the first hour of our only date (while we were sitting across from each other), “Can I touch your butt?” My response – “How does that work? I am sitting on it right now?”
- One guy said he’d come over on some holiday…then never showed up.
- One guy would get jealous of my time with my children.
- One blast-from-the-past flirted with me for months and invited me to come visit him. So I did. Then he just stopped talking to me. When I asked why the sudden change of behavior, all I got was, “Well, I guess we talked a lot before because we were catching up.” I guess my purchase of a flight got us all caught up. No need to carry on. Silly me.
- One guy told me he loved me and then stopped making an effort to see me with no explanation after several months of talking and visits.
- One guy threatened to kill himself when we broke up.
- One guy forgot the difference between the separated-and-divorce-pending status and the still-married-and-no-damn-paperwork-even-stated status.
- One guy text me relentlessly and would get upset if I didn’t answer right away…even if I was at work or a movie with my kids.
- One guy broke up with me via text while I was at my mother’s funeral weekend at home because he was “tired of begging for my attention.”
I think you get the point. It is a crazy damn place out there in the dating world. I saw a hilarious video recently that summed it quite well.
Bravo Miss Arbuor! You explained it perfectly, and with such humor. Consider me a fan and follower.
Now comes the weird part though, I still don’t regret it – any of it. Sure yeah, I wish I could have avoided crying on my bathroom floor like I was in an episode of a Hallmark movie where I was literally dying of a broken heart. And by all means, I certainly would not want to relive the conflicted emotions of whether I was talking an ex-boyfriend out of suicide or putting myself in the perfect place for a murder-suicide scene. Yeah, I would change those details if I could. But the fact is, I can’t. And even though some of those things sucked big time, there were other moments of fun, and lessons learned. I took something from each relationship, each experience. I became a better person. For example, through all this dating craziness, I —
- Started blogging.
- Got more involved in my photography.
- Learned to say no.
- Realized my worth.
- Refused to be a victim.
- Got the courage to try new things.
- Developed more confidence.
- Learned to trust my gut instincts.
- Traveled to new places.
Overall, I learned to love me first. And frankly, I truly believe this: If you can’t love yourself, how can you expect others to? So I kept doing what I wanted and kept playing in the game of love when an opportunity popped up. And you know what? It eventually stuck, but that is another story, or should I say, a blind-date fairytale. Whatever you call it, it has almost been a year since I met the man of my dreams and I am glad I took the risk in the adventure of love.