Ladies! Single life is not for people like me. Self-conscious, judgmental, opinionated, introverted, hyper imaginative and hypo perceptive. This life isn’t for people like me. But by life’s grace my husband left me for the nanny and now I’m dating men who come to me through friends and dating sites.
My husband left me is a story that requires a separate telling. He was in love with the nanny and therefore came home early and insisted I sleep as much as I could. Some of his infidelity was powered by my above-mentioned hyper imagination and hypo perception. I thought those gestures were in loving gratitude for me being a thoughtful wife. Turns out they were in meaningless servitude to the nanny for being a hot chick. I’m not complaining. I over analyze everything so of course have realized that my hair could’ve been better and my lipstick could be always present for him to not cheat but they’re all moot points now.
Single life isn’t for me also because my husband gladly granted me full time custody of my four kids, one of whom is still nursing. Initially I thought it to be his magnanimity. With time his douchebaggery isn’t lost on me anymore.
I mean all my girlfriends insisted I split custody with him. He’s a great father even if not a great enough husband and so it would’ve worked out for me. The one thing that divorce was awarding me with were a few moments of peace every other weekend and I said no? I’m not the brightest star in the sky. This was the only upside to the divorce but I clung on to my kids because my husband is a consummate junk food eater and I couldn’t have my kids eating it at his place. Come to think of it! My kids eat enough junk food at my place too. Why did I object to the custody again?
Some people suggested I dedicate my life to singlehood, lonely parenting and celibacy. And celibacy isn’t hard to achieve for me given I’ve always been so critical of myself in bed but singlehood got old really fast. I craved for a companion that I could call and chat with, flirt with and even sleep with if the mood struck. So I set out to look for a guy.
As cruel as the divorce was, nothing compared to the cruelty of the timing of the divorce. Why my husband didn’t divorce me ten years ago is beyond me. I mean he admitted later that our entire married life was studded with his extramarital affairs. If he had divorced me when I was thirty I would’ve found some eligible man in my age range. Now that I’m forty, the dating pool is thin and murky. It’s also a bunch of men with overinflated egos who want a younger arm candy.
Just before you read further, don’t think a forty year old is matched with someone in the 25-40 age range. She’s usually approached by men in their sixties. To be honest with these men, my mom is sixty, my dad sixty-five. I had never had a thing for my father’s friends or my father and so even though they are very flattering, they are not particularly desirable to me.
But somehow between swiping right and swiping left I matched with a man. Can I tell you how exciting it was to finally land on a picture that looked like it was taken with some attention to detail like making sure his face was more in focus than the rest of his body?
He texted me soon after I gave him my number. The lag time was about fifteen seconds and his text had the typical seasoned statements of non commitment . He mentioned things like “Not ready for a commitment” and “even though you’d be perfect” and “can we just hang for a bit?”
I won’t lie I was scared a little. But then I buckled up and decided to “hang”. Some modern day people say hanging leads to banging but I’m very conservative and wear my panties in tight proximity to my body therefore knew I didn’t run that risk. I decided to give him a shot.
We met in a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop where we both ordered boring cappuccinos. He told me of several broken relationships including two divorces. It was probably the financial strain of the two divorces that he didn’t even pay for his coffee. We parted agreeably, vowing silently to never see each other again.
The failure of the this date was heavy on my but I consoled myself by thinking that this was my practice run. This wasn’t going to be my guy anyway. This was my practice guy. The guy who took a few kinks from my spine out. The guy who brought me back to the scene. The guy who’d be the first Dick in a sea of Dicks to come my way.
My husband came to drop the kids in the evening. I noticed a young, very beautiful girl in her thirties sitting in the front seat. He winked at me with a grin in her direction. I raised my eyebrows. He explained she was a date. I went over to say hello. My husband asked her, much to my chagrin, if she had someone in mind for me. She recommended a widowed uncle. Conversation over. The irony of my 45 year old husband dating a matched mate versus the same matched mate recommending her 60 something year old uncle to me, a fellow woman, is a naked blistering truth to me.
As I took my kids back, my heart felt strangely empty. I didn’t feel the joy anymore. Marie Kondo probably has tips on how to retrieve joy from secret corners of her hearts but in that moment, my heart, secret crevices and all, craved for a man whom I could spend a sexually charged evening with. Instead my oldest wanted my credit card to order pizza for himself. Gratefully accepting this as all the male action I was going to get that evening I handed him the card.
But things have a way of working out and so my good girlfriend hooked me up with her brother.
Even though my other good girlfriend warned me of this guy being a serial dater and walker outer, I called myself and asked him out.
A moment of silence for all the right-winged conservatively raised introverts out there who have been brutally pushed into the dating game with no reinforcements.
You guys get it! The angst, the anticipation, the dread! The fleeting confidence! The urge to become a man overnight! The euphoria at having a prospect alternating with the doom of being turned down. You get it! It all happens while you’re weighing a prospect. Not “a” prospect. The prospect. I had no one else to ask out. So I sprayed myself with some champagne, picked up the phone and asked him if we could meet for drinks.
He was actually very nice and because he had been a serial dater he knew how to make me feel special. Which in my case was such a low bar that he met it just by answering my phone. We decided to meet the next day. I frantically searched for a baby sitter for my youngest two and went into dread mode again.
Women who date, then get into decade long relationships, then are abandoned by their partners or leave their partners, know my dilemma! I had been so out of touch that I couldn’t even put an outfit together for a first date without major jitters. I didn’t have many dating girlfriends either. I had no one to tell me what looked good on me.
My wardrobe, just like my skin, displayed signs of obvious neglect. All I had was mom clothes. Turtlenecks, crew necks, polo necks, pastel colored utility dresses, ill-fitting jeans, business casual pants and a whole lot of shorts. Baggy, unflattering shorts that I was still wearing long after their intended time, that is my pregnancy, were over.
I finally settled on a turtleneck and decided to pair it with a sequined skirt. The effect wasn’t mind-blowing. Or may be it was. I left the details to the hour before the date.
We met at a local bar. I spotted him from miles away. He stood right next to me and couldn’t find me. Such is the world of unequal opportunity between a man and a woman. I had waited for him. He was going to pass me as another ship in the night.
Finally I tapped his shoulder and embarrassedly introduced myself. He smiled like a grandfather at his favorite grandchild for being a precocious little thing. We sat down and ordered food.
The food choices when you’re dating as an older woman change. We eat ice cream at home and salmon at fancy dates. We survive on coffee but pretend like water is our sustenance. We order appetizers that we don’t touch. Then dream of them at night, lonely in our beds. It’s a shift of habit and a colossal joke on our slow metabolisms. Some man who hated happily fed women so much, he made a different body type an abomination. Some woman started the trend of being a size zero. Another went to a size zero zero. They probably get picked up. I was always just trying to order the cheapest and lightest thing on the menu.
We had a great date and ended the night pleasantly. He insisted he’d drop me. I agreed after a few fake stalls. We made light conversation about our kids in the car. I hate every conversation becoming dominated by my kids but that’s the occupational hazard of being a parent. You inadvertently slip into mundane parental dilemmas with other parents.
He decided to walk me to my door. For a driveway that is only four feet this was a huge way in which he put himself out there. The distance from the car to my door is about ten steps so obviously he had wanted to walk me so we could kiss each other goodnight. We didn’t and couldn’t. For many reasons! The chief being my kids hanging by the door, watching me aghast, envisioning a change to their already drastically altered lives. He left.
I went on many dates and met many men. Even some men in their sixties. My misgivings were just that! Misgivings. Older men were not old and boring. They were just as juvenile as their younger counterparts. They all wanted to “hit and quit” too. They were all afraid to say it though. Had they said it I would’ve gotten in the sack with at least some of them and taken better care of my loneliness than watching sad movies and eating boxes of chocolate.
While I went from one bad date to another, my husband successfully married another woman. A woman in her thirties who got pregnant soon after. It hurt that my perpetrator was roaming with pure bliss on his arm. I was cleaning the spit that had drooled from my own mouth over his wedding pictures.
I met many men. Men with successful careers and houses as big as mansions. And some real mansions too. Men who wined and dined me at the best places. Not because they liked me but because that was how they did it. None of them chose me as a partner for even one night even though I was ready for them. They were all afraid of leading me on.
I met many men. Men who told me tales of waiting for a woman who could bring them peace and quiet. Who could end the string of unsuccessful relationships. I thought they were talking about me. Then they moved on without telling me. And I realized that women who listen aren’t the ones that men are looking for. Then I realized that I would’ve totally role played a serious relationship with them if they had just asked.
The dating scene for older women is brutal and cutthroat. When I became somewhat of a veteran in the local single women’s club after two years of my divorce, I heard unsavory details on many men and women. Many of these men I had gone out with. Many of these women had set me up with these men.
After two years of nonstop first dates that never brought a second date, I quit looking for a partner. It had become a series of bad-looking men with bad-smelling breaths.
I kept a diary of all the Dicks who had met me for coffee, drinks or dinner. All the Harrys who had met me for a game and then had tried to grope me in the back of a limo, imagining me to be very desperate. There was one Tom! Just one! We slept together and I saw my red conservative grandmother’s eyes all night staring down at me from the ceiling at my “one night stand”.
But what amazed me was the number of men who still matched with me. Young men. Men with a job. Men with prior long term relationships. Men with a stable footing. I swiped right many many times as did they. But they didn’t swipe right after they met me. Was my bio more attractive than I was?
One night, out of sheer exasperation, I called a friend. We had gone to college together and even though he was totally not my type, I did sense an undercurrent of interest there. We met for drinks and ended up sleeping together. I had feared that I’d feel crummy in the morning but surprisingly, waking up next to a familiar body was exhilarating.
We said bye soon after waking up and went our way. Then somehow, without really saying it, we became friends with benefits. It’s not a relationship I had hoped to have but it’s the next best thing for me. I wanted companionship and camaraderie. I wanted occasional intimacy. I wanted frequent verbal debauchery. Beyond that, I had already enjoyed everything in my marriage. Infidelity, narcissism, lovelessness, unequal distribution of labor, unplanned pregnancies, were all hallmarks of my marriage. I had had my fill of it all.
I’m sipping my coffee and watching my kids as I’m writing this. Darryl, my friend, is away on business. He might run into someone and have casual hooking up with her. Or him. I don’t care. I dated so many men and remained married to one huge dick that a relationship lost its allure. It became risky business. As far as men go, I’ve stopped bothering myself so much. Darryl is great to talk to and wonderful to sleep with. Sometimes a great conversation and awesome sex is all that the right swiping girls are looking for. Men don’t have to get so serious about warding us off with preemptively phrased cliched sentences and situations. I was just looking for that. And was hoping for it to blossom into something but was slightly offended that men were protecting my feelings by being passive dicks without really understanding that in a man’s world a woman was daring to be herself as they dare to be themselves and live shamelessly and sexually. I’d rather take the truth. I’d rather hear “this won’t work”. I’d rather be swiped left.