In my quest to find a committed relationship, I am forced to date. I say forced because I don't do dating well. While my friends encourage me to enjoy the getting-to-know-you part of falling in love, I prefer the comfort that comes in already knowing someone well. I like the familiarity that allows a relationship to feel real, and I enjoy the security (as much as there is security in life and relationships) in knowing a partner will be there for me.
After two years of dating, I have come to the conclusion that dating sucks. Maybe it's where I'm at in life (mid-30s or, more likely, Los Angeles), but whatever the reason, I find myself continuously wondering why I can't seem to find a right guy. Most of the guys I date ask me why I'm single, but then, when I want more, the ones I want tend to want less.
Maybe men are more practical, and when they see a potential "dating hazard" (like commitment), they make the appropriate adjustments to deal with the situation before it gets out of control. Maybe I'm too much of a dreamer, or an optimist, thinking everything will figure itself out in time. Whatever it is, I know I'm a grow-er, not a show-er, meaning guys don't generally fall in love with me at first sight, even though I usually get a second date. Men like me more as they get to know me, so I just expect they'll continue to keep liking me more and more if they let themselves get to know me better.
The problem is they get stuck in some middle space. And then, when we're in dating limbo, I get frustrated, too. When he can't commit to just dating me now, or when he can't get over something his ex did, I can't stick around either. Whatever it is, men need to claim their own baggage too and deal with it.
My problem may be that I know what I want and knowing what I want scares some of the men that I date. I want a partner, not a part-time lover. And yes, I let the men I date know this, too. As someone who facilitates conversation around sex and relationships, I'm not being honest with myself if I don't let them know that I'm not looking for casual sex anymore. It may be my timing. I may let them know too soon (within the first month) and that could be the deal-breaker. But if a guy can see the potential too, why can't he just go with it anyway?
I've heard stories from other women my age who talk about similar situations. In the early stages of a relationship, a guy drops the "you're too old" card, or the "I don't want a family" one. Or he just plain gets up and leaves and never phones again.
Recently, a smart, well-educated, grounded man told me that he was afraid he'd hurt me because this relationship wasn't going to last forever. And so I asked him, what lasts forever? Maybe uranium or plutonium, but what human experience lasts forever?
How difficult was it for you to find your right man? Are you still looking?
Image via Noël Zia Lee/Flickr