And so began the wee adventure that was my dating drought-breaking Tinder ‘dance card’.
For the first time since returning to New Zealand, I actually had something that looked a lot like a social calendar…even if it did consist mostly of guys who I was meeting for the first time!
Being such an old-fashioned girl, I never asked any guys out – but if they asked me to meet up I usually said yes, and it was always in a public place during the day. There were a couple of times when I declined, usually because I wasn’t getting a good vibe from someone’s communications…but I was always polite about it, and I didn’t cower to anyone trying to make me feel bad for saying no.
At first, turning down someone asking me out was quite stressful. It was really new to me, actually saying what I did and did not want. Actually saying no. I hated saying no, I hated the potential conflict that it could cause. Conflict was a major phobia for me, and often made me physically ill.
I also realised that for my entire life up to that time, I had subconsciously believed I had no rights in any of my relationships, even in my friendships. That I should be grateful for any time and attention that anyone, particularly any guy, was going to throw my way. So I’d better not mess it up by bringing my needs and wants to the table if they didn’t fit perfectly with the other person, or if I didn’t assume the role in a relationship that the other person thought I should.
By saying no when my instincts were telling me something was off, I learned that I deserve to be listened to, especially by myself. I learned that I do have rights. I have a voice. I have every right to say what is and is not good for me. By not doing this my whole life, I had effectively abandoned myself. I had treated myself as though who I was and what I wanted was irrelevant. I had shown myself the ultimate disrespect. I now know why I had felt so disrespected by men for so many years. How could they respect someone who had so little regard for herself?
So I began to honour my instincts and faced down my fear of disappointing or displeasing someone by just being me. No fear. No apology. Just me. Meeting new people and shooting the breeze about everything from obscure words (pulchritude, rambunctious, anyone?) to what the off-side rule really is and why should we care to worst dates ever to making a case for why teetering around in 5-inch heels all day and still smiling at end of it is a genuine indicator of a delightful nature and good character in a girl. And enjoying every minute of it.
Every date, every person I met, had something wonderful about him. Being laid back. Being cheeky. Being super bright. Being super sporty. Having a vocabulary that (almost) matched mine. Being a motorcycle nut. Being a go-getter. Having a sense of humour. Wanting to save the world. Being amazing, devoted fathers. So much about each of them that was awesome. I realised that when I relaxed about being myself, and forgot about myself, it made space for me to see the person across the table so much more clearly. And with no judgment, just respect. I met some really decent guys.
And something interesting started happening.
These guys kept asking me out again. And again. And again.
After a few weeks I had in my phone what I called my ‘Tinder family’. A sweet collection of lovely guys who were great company.
And that is just from talking to them, cracking jokes and hanging out and being a bit of a smarty pants, which apparently, I am when I’m comfortable and relaxed. No kissing, none of the physical stuff. It had been a long time for me on that front so I wasn’t kissing every boy I met or anything like that at all.
Until I found myself sitting across a table from one guy who, on a second date and after several hours of diverse, engaging, entertaining conversation, challenged me to break my 23-year kissing drought.
Ummm, yeah. Let me think about that for just a minute.
The girl be growing up. At the ripe old age of 43 🙂