I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine recently about dating in your 30’s. When she asked me about my dating life, I told her, “I feel like dating in your 30’s involves rejecting a lot of good people. I’m rejecting kind, smart, handsome men for the sole reason that I just know that they’re not right for me long-term. I mean, what is that?”
To which she replied, “I think that’s what they call progress.”
For the most part, dating in my twenties was very “exploratory.” I dated a wide variety of people. I was open to any and every new experience, and drank each one up with a straw. Although much of the same can be said about some of my dating experiences in my 30’s, when I was younger I had more time on my hands. Even if I knew someone wasn’t quite right for me, I’d date them anyways just for the story. When I had to reject someone, the signs were glaringly clear and lit up in big, neon, letters (which often I’d ignore anyways, once again for the story – or worse love.)
Back then, my reasons for breaking up with someone usually sounded something like, “He didn’t call me because he was in jail” or “I think I need to dump him. He keeps getting drunk and throwing up in my roommate’s car.” However, in your 30’s the impetus to reject someone is more like a whisper – the reasons often more subtle, but so much harder to ignore.
Lately I’ve noticed a pattern in my dating life: I’ll meet someone I like, things will be going well until BAM! This one thing reveals itself – call it a fatal flaw or what-not – and it suddenly becomes abundantly clear that things won’t work out. It’s like that Amerie song, except the “one thing” that’s got you “tripping” is BAD.
For example, Donald was perfect on paper but I just wasn’t attracted to him, Donny was a dreamboat but unreliable, Young Guy didn’t want a girlfriend and The European already had one – and Fitness Guy, well, I don’t think there was ever any room for me in his life. With the exception of maybe Fitness Guy, none of these guys were bad dudes.
There was just this one thing….
Vancouver Guy and I met a few years ago through mutual friends and have since stayed in touch online. We met up for dinner this past summer when I was in Vancouver for a work function. I’ve always found Vancouver Guy cute, however all I was expecting from our night out was to get to know each other better as friends over some really good Chinese food – which is pretty much exactly what happened.
As we sat across from each other, chowing down on delicious handmade dumplings and noodles and discussing everything from startups to dating, I was overcome with how much I really enjoyed Vancouver Guy’s company. He was smart, driven, thoughtful and shared my passion for culinary adventures. It was an unusually warm, mid-summer night. Not wanting the evening to end, I suggested we go grab a drink at a local rooftop bar.
By the time Vancouver Guy walked me back to where I was staying, I knew that I wanted something to happen. However, before I had a chance to make a move, he grabbed me and kissed me. It was a good kiss. Very, very good.
The kiss wasn’t an anomaly. Half an hour later, we were back at his nearby apartment frantically making out on his couch. It was clear that we had undeniable chemistry.
When I went back to the island, we stayed in touch. Soon we were talking all day, everyday via text or the phone. Vancouver Guy made sure to text me every morning to wish me “good morning” and every night before I went to wish we “good night.” After things had ended in total radio silence with Young Guy, this man was refreshingly attentive. Through our correspondence I learned that we shared similar values, as well as a life-long fondness for the Muppets. When my phone would ping with a text from him, I remember thinking excitedly, “This. Could. Be. Something.”
However, then life happened (as it does.) I went on a trip to visit my family. While staying with my relatives, I noticed my text correspondence with Vancouver Guy was cutting into family time, so I pulled back a bit. Soon after, I got really sick with bronchitis and my asthma kicked into high gear. My daily focus became work and literally, breathing. During this time, Vancouver Guy’s bi-hourly texts, became difficult to keep up with. However, when I pulled back, it seemed like he just tried harder.
When I was well enough to catch up with friends, and Vancouver Guy knew I’d be out for the evening, he’d text me trying to initiate conversation. Sometimes he’d send me messages that said stuff like “Don’t drink too much, Missy!” (ugh) or worse, inappropriate sexts when he knew I was going to be out with my girlfriends. When I wouldn’t reply to him within a few hours, he’d send a “Did you forget about me??” message accompanied with an emoticon of a happy face bawling it’s eyes out. (Which, I might add isn’t exactly a turn on – especially from a man in his mid-thirties.)
Long story short, what had once seemed sweet and romantic, started to feel annoying and smothering. I like attentive guys, but I also need some breathing room. We weren’t even in the same city and yet, I felt completely cornered.
Later he would apologize in earnest and admit, “I was just trying to keep the momentum going.” However, the damage had been done. We’d made plans for me to visit him, however when it came time to plan the trip I bailed at the last minute.
I liked him, however all I could think was, “If this is what he’s like now, what is he going to be like when we’re in the same city?” Although maybe things could have been salvaged, I felt so frustrated that I made a judgment call and ended things.
Although I really thought there was potential between Vancouver Guy and I, my decision isn’t one that I regret. I love hard and strong, but I also need to feel free. Instead I felt smothered by Vancouver Guy – and we weren’t even a couple! In this sense, we didn’t mesh.
It was just this one thing…
I know I have gone out with men who thought I was smart and lovely, however surely went back to their friends after our date and told them, “Things were going great until she pulled out photos of a half naked GI Joe.” Whether it was my fondness for irreverent doll photography or something much more personal – they spotted my one thing and decided I wasn’t for them.
I’m sure an outsider could argue that we’re all just being too picky. However, I think it’s just a case of getting older and having a better sense of what will make you happy.
We all have our one thing (or many things), it’s just a matter of finding someone whose flaws work with yours. In other words, someone who not only appreciates your imperfections, but revels in them and vice versa.
I think that’s called love.