Last time I wrote here, I described my romantic type. He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s ambitious, but he’s also grumpy, critical and maybe a little mean. I wrote about how a man like that, given the man that was my father, is my fate, at least in this lifetime.
You know when you say something out loud, you voice a belief, and then the very fact of it being in the air makes you hear it, makes you step back and consider it? I’ve been thinking about my own beliefs lately, particularly the limiting ones. And wondering if they’re true or if they have to be.
Back in September, I took a look at my beliefs about my body. Old belief: the fifteen post-divorce pounds aren’t going anywhere - losing weight is hard and my life is hard enough, I love my wine, peri-menopause, etc, etc. Then, one day, I braved the scale, caught my breath in horror, and downloaded a calorie-counting app. My goal: two pounds a week. In reality, it’s been much slower than that. But here, months later, I’ve lost that fifteen and am still going. I’m fit (lots of exercise to earn the wine) and getting dressed in the morning is fun again. The negative loop of “you can’t” has turned into “you can, you will, you did”.
Another belief: I’m never going to meet anyone online. Internet dating is demoralizing, time-consuming, and ultimately fruitless (never mind that I’ve met men I’ve had relationships with in that milieu). I’m not going to meet anyone online and I’m certainly not going to meet anyone by chance here in the married suburbs. There are no men for me.
A few weeks ago, I downloaded Tinder and Bumble (again). But this time, I decided that I’d be generous with my right swipes, and I’d meet just about anyone in person - taking the internet out of it as quickly as possible. I’ve met, in person, seven men in that time. My rule with myself is that if there’s anything interesting about them, I’ll see them again. So far, so interesting. They have been remarkably intelligent, accomplished and attractive.
The final frontier of negative belief: my type. What if I changed my type? What if instead of chasing a man that was hard to please, I allowed a kind one to come to me? What if I chose someone open, someone warm? Someone that was ready to meet me in the middle?
And so, the primary characteristic I’ve been searching for in this new round of dating is kindness, emotional availability. I’ve had some mis-steps already, for sure. It’s hard to know what kind looks like when it’s unfamiliar. Someone might self-report kindness and maturity hopefully but mistakenly.
I’m in new territory, I’m uncomfortable. In the process of interviewing potential partners, I’ve gleaned a daily admirer. We “met” on Bumble but he lives here in town. He has visited my shop every day for two weeks, always with an offering. The first day was flowers, the second a giant lollipop, the third still-warm home-baked butter cookies (and they didn’t even have rufies in them). Every day he has brought something. Every day he’s told me, in one way or another, he’s smitten. He’s probably not my guy but he’s definitely my newest friend. I’ve accepted these gifts (actual and metaphorical) with as much grace as I can muster - receiving presents, particularly from men, is hard for me. I’ve sat in this delightful discomfort, an exercise in having an open heart.
Because here’s the hardest belief to break. Let’s say I do choose wisely, I do choose someone who can love me. I’m going to have to be brave enough to let him. I’m going to have to share some space in my dusty, spider-webbed heart, light a fire where it’s been quiet and cold. Maybe I can figure out how to do that this lifetime, I won’t have to wait for the next. I almost believe it.