27 May 2008

Dating

[I mentioned dating in a post a while back, but someone asked about it recently in comments, so I thought I'd address it again.]

It was about ten months after John died that someone first asked me if I had thought about starting to date.

The question was from a close friend, and I didn't mind. I actually don't mind when anyone asks me this. It strikes me as one of the many instances I encounter of somewhat oddly placed concern for my well-being. I think there's a healthy dose of curiosity mixed in, but I do think that when people ask me about dating, they are saying, "It's not easy—emotionally or physically—to be without a partner in this life, you have a lot to give, and I want that for you. Do you want it?" That's how I choose to interpret it, at least. I'm very generous with my interpretations, otherwise I could be driven quite mad by the things people say to me.

I loved being married, and I had a wonderful partner and partnership. I waited fairly long to find the right person, and once I did, was he ever right. This means that I have very high expectations of what marriage can and should be. I'm not going to get married just so that I have a spouse. I'd love to have someone else to help me out with the kids and the stuff of life, but getting married just to have that seems pretty drastic.

Then there's the time factor. When am I going to date? I don't get enough rest as it is, and I'm running at full-throttle to keep my head above water at home and at work. Not only would dating add something else to my to-do list in terms of time spent out on the dates, but there would be the associated logistics of arranging child care and such. The whole idea makes my head spin.

The bottom line, though, is that I'm not emotionally ready. I love the idea of someone taking me out for a nice dinner, maybe a movie. Sounds fantastic. But the idea of holding hands with someone or any other kind of physical intimacy makes my stomach turn. And I'm really not ready for anyone to want to be a parent of sorts to the twins. Being a dad was so much of John's identity during our time together that I can't bear the thought of someone else stepping into that role.

So for now, I wear my wedding rings and create my own "dates." Last night, I sat on the porch in the balmy, early summer weather and had a glass of wine with my (gay) upstairs neighbor. Next week I'm going to the movies with a fellow twin mom. Sometimes I ignore the laundry and the other chores around the house and have a beer and watch the Red Sox. Any time I take totally for myself—be it by myself, or with friends—suffices for now in place of dating. I'm sure that someday I'll be ready for romance, but for now, it's not like I even miss it. I've realized that it's not being married or romance or dates that I miss, exactly. It's John that I miss. Someday I will miss those other things, but I'm not going to rush it. All in due time. 

33 comments:

Giovanna said...

Well, if I weren't married, or straight, I'd so consider our movie-date a date date!
If you want....we can hold hands. :) But that's as far as I can take it. Can you hear my sarcasm?
Can't wait!

moo said...

I think you're doing it right, the right way for you. It's got to be SO HARD to get to that place where you feel ready for another serious commitment and partnership.

It's OK if you're never ready, you know. You don't have to be.

Snickollet said...

Gio--

Holding hands on our first real date?! You are bold :).

Can't wait for the movie!

-snick

Betty M said...

I haven't asked my sister this question yet. It is coming up for 2 years since her husband died (brain cancer) and I can't see her dating yet (well dating insofar as the English ever do) - no time what with two kids of junior school age plus no inclination as far as I can tell. From what you say I guess I should not ask?

Julia said...

The dad part, especially, makes so much sense. The internal need to make sure the kids grow up knowing exactly who their dad was. Letting someone else step in would obscure that. No wonder that is so troubling to you. I think I get the rest of it too, but this I feel.
Happy "dating." :)

Julie said...

Take your time, and good for you for being so self aware to do so. I think the love affair you and John had is one that would be difficult to find again, though not impossible. There are many ways to meet your personal needs of companionship.....and it sounds like you have a lot of people with which to do that. Being married to the wrong person would by far be worse than being a single parent for the rest of your life.

Anne K. said...

"All in due time" is right. I'm certainly not one to quote the Bible, so I'll think of it as just quoting the Byrds from the old 60s song: "To everything there is a season." It doesn't have to be your "season" yet. You're a wise one to recognize that.

Watercolor said...

exactly. hugs.

Snickollet said...

Betty--

I think you'll know if it's OK to ask. I really don't mind when people ask me, but I'd guess that if you haven't asked your sister yet, perhaps you sense that she doesn't want to talk about it?

-snick

Cheryl Lage said...

What a beautiful and honest post. Despite all those who so ardently care and wish happiness for you, the decision to "date" or even entertain the idea of another "special" relationship shouldn't be based on a timeline. Is "feel-line" (in a non-cat sense) a word? Keep your clear thinking -- and keep sharing your insights with us!

Anonymous said...

I have really enjoyed your most recent, in depth posts. I already felt like I know you IRL. We have VERY similar personalities and a lot in common right now, and I find myself nodding in agreement when I read your posts. I thank you again for sharing.

-Danish

buddha_girl said...

I admire your gut level interpretation of what must be one of the toughest question a widow could hear.

I doubt I'd have the ability to look at such a question without feeling defensive and mean-spirited.

If I make it to NY this summer, I'm making a stop in MA. We can have a date night! If we get to feeling feisty, I'll take you out to a bar and you can watch me heckle people. Ya know. Just for shits and giggles.

RubiaLala said...

I love your honesty.

Julie said...

It's refreshing to read a comment by someone down to earth and clear-headed about dating, for a change. So many women I know are so desperate to get married that they'd rather settle for the wrong guy than wait for one who'll truly make them happy. I'm glad that you had a beautiful marriage with your hubby. Some people wait their whole lives and never find true love. I hope that someday you will find happiness and love again, but when the time is right for you.

Krys72599 said...

My mom's been a widow for 21 years. I joke with her all the time: "When are you going to find someone? Not to replace Daddy, but to take you to the grocery store so I don't have to do it every week?" But even in the midst of the joking, which is really only 1/2 joking (I'd love for my mom to be less alone), I remember when my dad died. My mom just looked at her three daughters and said, "Now I'm all alone." There is no one else for her. Mom and Dad were Mom and Dad... ARE Mom and Dad and always will be Mom and Dad. There would never be another, and that's okay. We were all adults when my dad died, and maybe that's why it's the way it is, but I'm with you 150%. If I were alone, I'd be okay alone. It would be impossible to be with someone else, at least that's how I feel right now.
At my dad's wake, a guy friend said to me, "You know, this must be so hard on your mom." I jumped down his throat - "It's hard on me, too!" "No," he said. "It's different. You didn't choose your dad. Your mom and your dad chose each other to be together forever, they chose each other over everyone else in this big wide world - imagine finding the ONE, and then losing him. It's harder on your mom than on you."
While I don't know if it's harder, it does sort of make sense...
You'll be fine. No matter what.

Madness said...

You are most excellent.

Sandi said...

You have a gay number you can hang out with! I'm so jealous. I really need a gay boyfriend.

As for the dating thing, recently two people at work handed me the URL to an on-line dating site. They are not close friends and I actually thought it was a shitty, interfering thing to do.

mlg said...

This was such a good post. I wonder if you had processed this all before you wrote it or processed it as you went along. So many times I start writing and end up with a huge duh! moment in the end.

Which ever it was, this is so clear and easy for me to read and understand my life a bit better.

mlg said...

p.s. Gay Boyfriends are the best ever. I highly suggest we all have one (or more)! I love my gay boyfriends.

django's mommy said...

I am 9 months out on Tuesday, and find myself desperately wishing for companionship- but knowing that I am nowhere near emotionally ready to date. Besides, like you said, how the heck could I find the time?! I also had a wonderful relationship with my husband-- he was an amazing dad-- and I just can't imagine finding someone that perfect ever again. My hope is that someday I will have moved far enough along to not compare everyone to Josh- and my thought is that that is the point at which I will feel ready to date.

Thanks for such a clearly written post.

Anonymous said...

Snick,
Have you ever thought about writing a book, or turning your blog into a book?
I'm just wondering what that might open up for you. You know more about it than I, that's for sure.

Val said...

I remember reading an interview with Conan O'Brien a long time ago in which he was asked if he was going to find a replacement for his sidekick Andy when Andy left the show, and Conan said no--because he had never wanted a sidekick in the first place, but when me met Andy, he knew he wanted an Andy. :)

But I guess when it comes to any kind of relationship, eventually, if you're especially blessed, you may meet someone else who is equally special and equally a "must-have" and you try again with that person, knowing s/he's not a replacement or substitute but instead just who s/he is. Anyway, this post of yours reminded me of that Conan/Andy idea.

Anonymous said...

Snick has always reminded me of Conan

Watercolor said...

heh. I'm out there on those internet dating sites.... fodder for funny dating stories for my blog and getting my heart stomped on is all they've been good for so far....

Heather said...

You'll know when you are ready and you may never be. And that's okay. You should do what makes you feel good, not what would make others feel better for you.

Anonymous said...

I am only three months out. My husband and I were in the midst of a 10 year honeymoon when he died (I am 53 years old and this was my second marriage. Our children are grown with their own children). I was devastated. I started to go to a grief group even before he was gone a week. A fellow member of the group who lost his wife in January began to call me. I didn't answer the phone. I would drive home from grief group thinking that he was perfect for me, but I would have to wait a year before I could begin dataing him. And then he would be gone, because another woman would snatch him up. After a few weeks, I started answering the phone. Slowly and carefully we started "dating." The main similarity he has to my husband is that he has a heart as big as the universe. Somehow I know my husband sent him to me. I know my husband hated seeing me so lonely and sad and he pushed me towards starting this new relationship. I realize this is very soon after my husband's death, but it seems so right and comfortable. Everyone told me not to worry about what "people" thought, just to do what works for me. So, I'm very happy and very sad at the same time.

FairlingtonBlade said...

Wow. I wondered about what might happen when my father-in-law died unexpectedly. My mother-in-law is a wonderful lady and we're lucky to have her in our sons' lives.

P.S. We'll make sure that Kim's available for a "date" soon! Paul

Amy said...

All in good time...

Melodie said...

Thank you so much for writing this. It is exactly what I needed today, at this moment. Having a hard day. So tired. Thank you.

babybound said...

That's a really healthy perspective. Good for you!

Sonya said...

Bravo for your post. I agree 100% with your decision. So healthy. Don't ever let 'them' pressure you into a date. They're the same people that wonder why someone has not married yet. Nosy busybodies.

clueless carolinagirl said...

I don't believe you'll spend the rest of your life alone, unless you want to.

My single friends who adopted from China (as I did, so we're still emailing) say that, contrary to popular belief, kids start asking for a daddy about age 5 when they begin to notice other family structures and the daddy-daughter dances, etc. start up.

Just take your time. You'll know when you're ready. Can't push it.

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