So clearly through this blog it has become apparent that I have had a multitude of mediocre, sad and bad dates. But what is not apparent is that I have also had some wonderful dates. Yes, in between these horrifying outings, I have managed to meet some terrific men whose company I have very much enjoyed. But I vowed to myself that I would never write about these men, as I care about them on a variety of levels. They mean something to me and therefore I would not want to publicly humiliate them. But these men and the dating relationships I have had with them sometimes confound me. Ok, they always confound me.
When last I dated a man for more than one horrid night, was way back before I was married, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. And since I am old and feeble minded, I cannot remember how these relationships went from a few casual dates to an exclusive committed relationship. It seemed to me, that either there was a natural progression to exclusivity or a real hard discussion in which the parameters of commitment were shared. But maybe I am not remembering correctly. I was in my 20's. I was probably in love or thought I was. And everything gets a little hazy. Soft music played in my head and doves floated in front of my face. Well maybe not, but young love was intoxicating and blinding.
So now, dating in my 40's with children has thrown a whole new wrench in the rules of exclusivity. One of the issues of divorced dating with children is schedules. No matter how hard one tries, it is nearly impossible to see the same man more than three times a month. So dating moves at a glacial rate. If you are lucky you have one kid free night that matches up. If the stars are aligned, your kid free weekends happen to be the same and neither of your exes needs you to cover the kids. So forget your 20's when you dashed out the door at a moments notice into the arms of your date. Now dates are planned weeks in advance sandwiched in between back to school nights, soccer games and children's birthday parties. It sucks the life out of spontaneity. But it also brings up the issue of quality time. How does one spend quality time with a man when the custody calendar is always messing with you?
Now a math problem. Don't whine, it won't be hard. If Jon and Mary are two single parents trying feverishly to date each other and their kid free weekends match up, how often can they see each other a month. After hurling in Mary's ex who refuses to keep the kids on one of his nights, Jon's ex who travels for work and then the random children's birthday dinner, Jon and Mary will only end up seeing each other twice a month. So in a six month period, Jon and Mary have gone out twelve times. And damn, that ain't a hell of a lot. This is divorced dating.
So, the question then remains, after twelve dates, and obviously sex, when does exclusivity kick in? Is it like earning a scout badge? If you make it to fives dates, ten dates, hooray, you are exclusive? What is the magic number? And in your 40's do you get a promise ring, a letter sweater or a text reading 'Baby you are the one and only'? Or is it implied that if you are having sex, exclusivity kicks in? Where is the rule book when you need it?
Divorced dating comes with baggage. In our 20's the most dating baggage we carry is that a boy in high school didn't ask us to prom. In our 40's we may have lived through a variety of relationships, stresses and freaks that for some unknown reason we married. Our fear of commitment may be stronger now than ever. What if we commit to someone and again it doesn't work out. How many times can you go through that pain? There is not enough alcohol in the world to numb the self loathing that creates. So how to know when you should stop dating others and buckle up for the ride of exclusivity.
Exclusivity and commitment are obviously two separate things. Exclusive implies I am not letting anyone else into my lady parts. Commitment means you are meeting my kids, my friends and possibly even my family. Should these things be spoken or did I not read the hand out that was given for post divorced dating. Shoot, I am pretty sure I recycled it. And if the man I am seeing wants to or thinks we are exclusive shouldn't he voice that opinion? This post divorced dating is confusing and stressful enough without the lack of communication I had in my marriage making it even harder. Perhaps from now on if a first date goes well I will hand the man a spread sheet showing where exclusivity kicks in and then when commitment starts. This way we will both know when we are to stop going on other dates and will avoid the awkward conversation. It will of course be color coded for easy reading. Although I am pretty sure if I do this, I will have very few second dates. But at least we will all be clear on expectations. The bottom line is if you want me to stop going on these horrible dates....please, please, please just tell me. I would be happy to stop getting dressed up and going out with freaks. But until you tell me, I am going to keep punishing myself, because after all I am 43 and single.