After being married for over 19 years it was pretty dramatic being back in the dating field. But, hey, you either sink or swim. I have tried every type of dating: online, offline, blind dates, friend hook ups, guys from the church etc. Lessons I have learned from 2006 to the present have definitely been because of failed relationships. These are some of the important lessons I keep in mind:
1. Don’t take anything at face value
I don’t take anything at face value; I research, and question everything. Let them call you a detective, CSI or NCIS. You have to protect your heart. Lesson learned # 1 is people will lie and deceive. I met a presumably nice gentleman at a club. I didn’t see a ring but I still asked “are you married?” He said “no.”… well, you know what? He was married for over 3 or 4 years when the truth finally came out.
2. Are they making room for you in their life?
Lesson # 2: When a person wants you in their life, they make room for you; they accommodate you in time and in their life events. For example, are you included at weddings, family reunions, or work place functions? It’s a lesson learned if you are being treated like a secret. They are not just wanting you all to themselves they are probably hiding something- maybe a dead body! Just kidding!
For example, I met a guy and we dated at least eight months. He had met my mother, sisters and children, and yet never introduced me to his sister or children, even though they were local. I decided if I had to be a secret he was not for me.
3. Are they controlling?
Failed relationship lesson # 3: if you are too demanding and everything has to be your way, you are SELFISH and controlling. That is not healthy or cute. I had a boyfriend who was always, always calling me, checking on the time I got in from work, shopping, and working out. He would want me to cook for him all the time, and yet never taking me to dinners, plays or movies.
4. Do they support your dreams and hopes for the future?
Failed relationship lesson #4: it’s time to be concerned if they’re not supportive of your dreams or visions of any kind. I was dating a guy and we had been dating for over 2 years; I had become an empty nester by this time and things I had put on hold because of being a single parent and not having a lot of time to pursue certain things I begin to pursue. One of those things was to write a book.
I wrote my first book and family and friends were excited. I remember going to the mailbox and the hard copy of the book had come from the publisher. I was jumping up extremely excited and I showed the book to my then boyfriend. He picked up my book, looked at it and put it in the box and said “hmm”. No congratulations, No “good job, baby”, just “hmm”. I broke up with him; if you can so easily step on my dreams you are not the man for me.
5. Will the age difference be a factor to consider?
This next one you may agree or disagree with, but here it is: really consider whether you should date someone substantially younger or older than you. I have done both, and truthfully it didn’t work for me. With the younger guy, he had never been married and had never had children. The first question I asked was, “do you want kids one day? Because I have three and my shop is closed.” But people can lie or maybe when they want someone badly they risk being misleading. We dated about a year and half and he said he was not ready to give up the idea of having kids. This was right after I was freshly divorced, so I was crushed. But it taught me to look for bad signs early and to take what people tell you with a grain of salt.
The older gentleman I could write a book about, but my main gripe with him was he was extremely controlling and always talked to me like I was a child. I learned that I needed someone with which I could be on equal footing, in terms of our thoughts, ideals and major goals and beliefs.
6. Be wary of manipulation
I learned these lessons from the above dating scenarios. Don’t advise your new love interest of all of the stuff you are looking for in a mate, and all the drama you experiences in your other relationships. Why, you ask? Because you want someone to genuinely get to know you, rather than giving them a road map to manipulate you.
I dated a guy who tried to be the opposite of all the things I said above that didn’t work for me, but as my grandmother Mary says “time will tell it all.” By the end of six months, I was not getting the support for my events, I was being ignored for football, and all the other warning signs of a relationship going south.
Now as you can see from the list above I have experienced some true life lessons over 10 years and I can happily report that I learned from them all. I learned what I needed for myself. I must admit I was not ready to date for a long time after my divorce; I really needed time to forgive and heal. I also grew and changed from the young naive lady to a beautiful mature, smart lady with so much to offer the world and a very lucky man.
I won’t keep you in suspense:, yes, knowing all of the above about my failed relationships led me to a great guy! He is handsome to me (that’s important if I have to see you all the time), but I got to know him as a friend first (which I didn’t do with any of the above). He’s very supportive, we have lots in common and when we don’t have something in common we can respect each other’s opinion. Without these lessons I believe I would still be looking for the right one for me.