From Being a Girlfriend Again to Being Single … Again

Photo by Chayene Rafaela on Unsplash

After my separation and divorce a few years back, I’ve had the opportunity to revisit what was important to me in regard to being in a relationship with someone. During the time that I wrote, re-wrote, and edited before publishing this piece, I met someone. We met the same way couples meet nowadays, through a dating app.

I’ve never had a problem with meeting people. I’m an outgoing person and enjoys being able to to let my hair down. I’ve been told that I’m the marrying type, the kind of woman a man would be happy to be in a relationship with. It just also happened that I found myself connecting with individuals that didn’t see me someone to be with, just something to do. That being said, I stopped it with the dating apps at the time. I focused on me and my children, human and dog, taking the best care of us possible. All the while, the fates had something else in store for me.

There is something to be said about putting what you want to attract in your life out in the atmosphere. As I was going through the process of separation and divorce, I found myself asking myself what I wanted to attract in a mate when I was ready to traverse down that road again. For me, I needed a place to start that didn’t seek out just the physical traits, but asked the hard questions of how I wanted to feel in a relationship with a person. I needed both biology and chemistry to work with me, not against me. I had to think inside out. And the more I thought about this person inside out, the more I asked myself how much of this is me. I took the time, really thought about it and I created the list, THE LIST. All of you know what I’m talking about, it is pie-in-the-sky, rom-com Hallmark heavy and the only person that can meet the characteristics of this list only exists in another realm. I also had to keep in the forefront of my mind that it just isn’t me I have to think about, I have my child and dog to consider. Slowly and surely, I began to whittle away all that was non-essential to get down to what was necessary.

MM, as I will call him henceforth, had something about him that I recognized in myself. From his profile, he was direct and clear about what his intentions were on the dating site and that was to get to the point with a person to no longer need to be on it. Fair enough, I thought, at least he is well aware of an endgame for himself. Most seemed to engage with dating sites the same way one gambles at a casino, with reckless abandonment, hoping they don’t lose it all after a few hands. We chatted it up for about a month on the app, he formally asked me on a date one morning as I was driving to work, and I eventually lost interest in talking with anyone else. Even before we had our first date, dates number two and three were already planned out, with us asking questions about our upcoming holiday plans. We celebrated both Christmas and New Year’s together. I was smitten, taken, and shook simultaneously. I pretty much floated on air from Thanksgiving to 2019 to Valentine’s Day 2020. We’ve met each other’s children. He met my family and they seemed to like him. It wasn’t until this week, after getting past all of the major couples holidays and the big introductions, I’ve been able to stop long enough to ask myself a very important question … how is it, really, being a girlfriend after not being one for over a decade? The answer? Well … I have some thoughts.

When we were children, becoming significant to someone else seemed simple enough. You passed a note in class, you asked the question, your question got an answer, and if you played your cards right, BOOM, you were a couple. You connect over the things that you’re both interested in. You learn likes and dislikes. Eventually you settle into a nice groove with one another. As I’ve gotten older, the rules now are very different and even more complicated, especially now that I have been married, divorced, and a mother to a young child.

There are days when we are right in sync with one another, everything makes sense. He’s the peanut butter to my jelly, we fit together well. Then there are other days when I wonder for myself if I should slam on the relationship brakes and re-evaluate the situation. For as many things as we agree on, there are plenty more where we are opposites. I vote, he thinks it doesn’t change anything. I’m a regular tipper when it comes to services, he doesn’t tip. I am very aware of what’s happening in the world as it relates to public health, politics, and medicine, and use common sense when discussing it, he’s more conspiracy theory driven. I’m a God-fearing woman, he’s an avowed atheist with an interest in the metaphysical. There are so many things that I have an appreciation for about him. He brought sunshine where it’s been dark and dreary. There are many interests in life and relationships that brought us together, but how we are in this moment could tear us apart. I get that opposites can and do attract, but I have to ask myself if I am willing to turn my back on the things that are important to me in order to be with someone? I’ve done that before and I don’t want to go through that again, shrinking myself down so that he can be seen. The conversation that ensued after I answered this question for myself ended with our demise. Guess who’s single again after being a girlfriend for all of not quite three months?

So back to my initial question and now restating it, how did it feel to be a girlfriend after not having been one for a long time? It’s confusing and filled with angst, is the short answer. To have wanted to be in a healthy and loving relationship for a long time to now wishing I’d not moved so fast showed up hard for me. I’m not sad that I’m single again, I’ve learned some things while journeying with MM. I’m sad because the hardest lesson of what I will and won’t accept happened soon after he met my child and my family, I wish I hadn’t exposed them to him. It’ll probably be a couple of seasons before I can even think to do that again. Sometimes it takes just when you’ve turned a corner with someone that how they are is really revealed. He’s a good man, he will one day make a woman very happy and she will be over the moon for him. In the meantime, I’m giving myself some time to navigate this new terrain. One thing is for certain, I am glad to have listened to my intuition, pumping the breaks and evaluating my own heart and mind where being in a relationship is concerned.

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