I’m a pretty upbeat girl.
I’m not a big complainer. I believe that life is glorious. I tend to see the glass as half-full (and I’m capable of pouring more vino if it’s not). And I have become adept at picking myself up, dusting my LulaRoe leggings off, and moving on after a messy fall.
And then there was 2016.
I’ve been dating for three years now, after a 20-year marriage and a subsequent 5-year relationship, and I’ve met some wonderful men. Charming, smart, funny, witty, delightful, handsome men.
And then there was 2016.
When I started this blog a few years ago, I dubbed it “Dating is a Bitch” with my tongue firmly in cheek, thinking, “I’m sure being single after 20-plus years of coupledom will be a challenge, but please–how hard can it be to meet a nice, attractive gentleman who wants a grown-up relationship?”
And THEN there was fucking 2016.
I believe I swam in the shallow end of the dating pool this year. Where the leaves and algae collect in the corners and the two-year-olds unleash a steady stream of pee.
I even went to a therapist halfway through to make sure it wasn’t just me–that all the mishaps and miscues and miscommunication and mistakes and misogynists I was encountering weren’t all my fault.
“No, Sienna . . . it’s not all your fault. Sometimes dating is just a bitch,” she told me. Huh. Seems I’ve heard that before . . .
I started the year with a hot Latino who charmed the pants off me. But he couldn’t promise that he wouldn’t charm the pants off this one, that one or the other. I swear he has a harem around the Bay. Or the country. Probably the world.
Then I dated the hot pool guy who shared my love for the Warriors, sports and edamame. But he had a bad habit of talking about his “crazy” exes. The zillionaire who flew him around the world in her private jet; the 20-something who engaged in oral sex with their dog (WTF, TMI and HOLY SHIT); the woman he married but divorced soon after he discovered she was hiding meds for bipolar disorder; and the one who got offended when he told her to clean out his fridge. On their fifth date. He thought that was “ridiculous.” I called Uber and never looked back.
Then came another hot Latino, just as charming as the first. And yet different. He expected exclusivity after our second date–on my end. He told me I’m “fucked up” and raged when I mentioned having a glass of wine with a male friend. And he loved to play control games over over the phone. “I couldn’t text you for 24 hours because *fill in a random name* had to go to the ER.” Everyone in his whole damn extended family went to the ER. Five times. In two months. He also told me, “I was in Afghanistan during the Gulf War, but I have worse PTSD from you, you’ve hurt me so badly.” Cry me a river, asshole.
And then there was The Still Married One. Great guy; bad dating material. Separated for a year and on the road to divorce, he seemed ready to date, and I spent three months growing attached to what seemed to be a really wonderful guy. Then he moved back in with his not-yet-ex-wife (for financial reasons?) and it became clear that all he was really ready for was either fucking with no strings or the friend zone. I wasn’t interested in either, so this one ended with a thud.
I’m not a lesbian. But sitting here the end of 2016 with a slightly fractured heart, a bruised ego, a barren iMessage app and an overhauled Match.com profile, I might be persuaded. Not really. But maybe. Well, no. But never say never.
There are a hundred theories as to why dating at mid-life is so difficult, and my guess is there’s a little truth to all of them. Everything from “people have more baggage” to “there are simply fewer singles” to “you know better what you want, which weeds people out quicker.” These all make sense. Mostly.
But here’s the one theory I believe to be 100% accurate: The most important relationship I will ever invest in is the one I have with myself. So right now, dating is not a bitch in my world at all. Because, right now, dating has ceased to exist.
Next week, I’m taking myself to Barcelona for New Year’s Eve, then to Italy for a week of wine, pizza, pasta, art and shopping. I might even splurge for a gondola ride in Venice if some hot gondolier will pose as my Italian boy toy and take a sweet selfie with me on the Grand Canal. Next week, I will be dating myself and only myself. I will indeed be exclusive. For ten glorious, wonderful, adventurous days.
And then I will come back and start over in 2017 . . . with a clean slate, fewer contacts in my phone, several empty-but-hopeful texting threads and the anticipation that the next year will be better.
If it’s not, well, then it’s a good thing I’ve embraced my role as a badass single woman, perfected the art of pouring wine when the glass is, indeed, half empty, and have several other badass single girlfriends on speed dial. After all, nobody should have to stomach unsolicited dick pics all on her own.