Even though I had read the Big Book of Red Flags before dating, after my divorce, it didn’t help.
I was blindsided by my own lust, libido and sexual liberation. I thought as a middle-aged woman I’d be immune to the power of adolescent hormones, feelings and behaviors.
I was blissed out on sex and feeling sexually confident, free and empowered. It’s not how I felt as a teen, young woman or wife.
I got doped up on sex and love. I blame no one but myself.
I didn’t know it was possible to enjoy steamy one-night stands and flings for months or years without diving into relationships. After decades coupled I was used to thinking of myself as a “we.” I’d grieved the end of my marriage before dating, but hadn’t embraced my identity as an independent single woman, parent and home owner.
Too often, I’d move to “we-town” in my mind out of sheer habit. Plus, sometimes I ignored my intuition and reason, because, I was having fun.
I was so parched for joy, I gulped it up like a thirsty dog drinking seawater.
And like that dog got sick as hell—later.
“It’s your experience to have,” my best friend would sometimes say, instead of “Wake up stupid head.”
I appreciate her kindness and patience while I learned to navigate dating as an extreme sport. Here’s the times I overrode my instincts and gave second and third chances. If, unlike me, you learn from warnings.
10 Times to set the GPS to “home” to eat and drink alone.
1. If the drunk best friend of a date puts his arm around you at the bar and says, “Don’t tell him to quit drinking,” take his advice. Don’t. Slip away instead.
2. If his kids say, “I hope my dad doesn’t screw up this relationship too”—run. They know him way better than you do. If they throw him under the bus, do not crawl underneath to fetch him.
3. If his sober friend says, “He doesn’t deserve you,” he is probably right. This is not a compliment. It’s a warning.
4. If he records himself giving speeches at AA to share with you to prove he’s serious about getting sober, and then goes to a bar, “let go and let God.” Remember you are not God. It’s his journey. He’s got the 12-step pamphlet. It’s not up to you to make him use it.
5. If he asks to borrow money before he knows your middle name, close your purse, mouth and thighs. Quickly.
6. When he confides to you how much he misses ogling girls while you are naked in his bed, do not tell yourself, “I’m so lucky to be with someone so honest.” Sit up, get out and go home.
7. If he says, “I love you” more often than “How are you?” be afraid. The soil that grows perennial love needs to be nurtured with concern and curiosity—not rose petals that have been plucked and will dry soon.
8. When he tells you he saw an infomercial that can help you improve your (anything)—enough said.
9. If he tells you he prefers women skinnier than you, even though he is 40 pounds overweight, you can admire his self-esteem after you are out of contact. Leave the tantric sex birthday book on the bed stand and take your flabby *ss home where you can please yourself.
10. When he starts talking about getting exclusive and you feel bugs crawling under your skin, these are not the “butterflies” people speak of.
Looking back, I was like a dental patient shot up with Novocaine trying to eat at a buffet. I almost bit my cheek off when it was only safe to sip water and even that was messy and dribbly.
Feeling and taste will come back after divorce or Novocaine. It’s wise to be patient. Sometimes trying to take a bite of life too soon will make for bloody cheeks and broken hearts.
Turning a Friday night appetizer bite into a meal isn’t necessary. It might be a spicy deep fried treat but not fit for a daily diet of consumption.
It’s okay to shop the aisles and try the samples or pass over some options.
In my eagerness to feed my hunger and passion, I sometimes binged—and choked.
Eventually I learned, thankfully, that there will always be enough food and time to enjoy filling that buffet. Even if one container empties for a while it will get refilled. There’s no need to panic.
You can go home alone and try again another day. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for yourself and another is set the GPS to Home.
Author: Christine “Cissy” White
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock