Dating in my 40s hasn’t been fun. Fascinating, yes. Fun, no.
Despite what my coupled friends tell me in their oblivious, haven’t-dated-since-university-but-trying-to-be-helpful tone, “Just stay open,” and “You have to give men a chance,” and “The older men are, the more stuck in their ways they’ll be.” Great, thanks.
If I do have the patience to get through weeks of online pen paling back and forth with a man who seems like he may not be a serial killer and exhibits any sort of emotional intelligence—then comes the dreaded first date.
I know what you’re thinking…Why dreaded? Doesn’t she want a date?
Yes, I do, mostly, and (ugh) here’s the thing—I forget that the way I live my life isn’t normal. I brace myself for the awkward communication early on in our correspondence when a man inevitably asks if I want to go for a drink. I don’t drink so it’s either a show stopper or I end up serial dating “recovered” alcoholics.
Even if I’m invited out for a coffee, that becomes weird too. I don’t drink caffeine. Sure, I can order a herbal tea (if they offer that at the selected hipster coffee shop we go to), but I start to feel like I’m high maintenance and that I’d prefer to just bring my own tea and go for a walk or a hike somewhere.
If we make it through the initial “go for a coffee” date without either of us running away, plus have any sense of attraction and intellectual connection (which, let me tell ya is nothing short of a miracle for this combo to arise), then there’s the second date which will usually involve food.
As much as I feel I’m pretty easygoing and don’t have too many dietary restrictions, I definitely have a lot of preferences.
So our text conversation goes something like this:
DATE: Hey, so, how about we grab a bite to eat on Friday?
DATE: What kind of food do you like?
ME: (Lying) I’m easy.
DATE: Okay. Let’s meet at this great raw vegan place I love.
This is the moment of truth. Do I let him know that I’m partial to eating something cooked as it’s the middle of winter and my vata will go out of whack if I gnaw on raw veggies and salad all night? Or do I choose to be a polite Canadian, not say anything, and then secretly resent him for being so ridiculous to suggest a restaurant that is so un-Ayuvredically appropriate?
At this stage of my life, I’m getting good at being fairly upfront about who I am and what someone can expect if our relationship goes beyond our non-coffee-coffee-date.
So, I let him know I would prefer to go somewhere that serves cooked food since it’s so chilly out. If we happen to still like one another in the summertime when raw food is better suited to my digestive fire, then I’ll totally get behind his restaurant suggestion. (I don’t really tell him the second part but just think it in my head).
We settle on a West Coast fusion restaurant.
DATE: Does 8 p.m. work for you?
Oh shoot, now I have to explain that my daily routine mimics that of an eight-year-old child and that I like to eat an early dinner and be home for my 10 p.m. bedtime.
Clearly you can see how this isn’t an easy “just pick a restaurant and go eat dinner” scenario. In my 20s, I wouldn’t have thought twice about any of this. I’m sure I was the epitome of easygoing. Not anymore.
Now I’m a grown woman with preferences and unusual proclivities toward living a healthy life. Not because I think I’m better than other people or that I think I should be healthy—but because I can feel the difference it makes in my life. I know when I’m off and I know what takes me out of balance.
ME: Can we make it 7 p.m.?
I no longer say yes to that one glass of token wine at dinner to be socially polite because I know I’ll get a headache and feel crummy. So why bother?
Fast-forward to meeting at the restaurant.
The waiter brings two ice-cold glasses of water to the table. I don’t cringe because I’ve trained myself not to, even though I know that everyone in the restaurant is damaging their digestive fire by tossing cold liquid into their body and then wondering why they get gas or feel bloated. Oh wait, scratch that—they don’t wonder that because they think it’s normal. It is not normal. It’s your body trying to communicate to you that you’ve done something it’s not okay with. Ice water dampens the inner fire that is trying to digest that heavy meal you just ordered.
I ask the waiter for some hot water with lemon. My date orders a beer.
I quickly scan the menu to look for the most doshically-appropriate food item and then he asks me a question that makes me shudder. “Do you want to share some things?”
In my mind I’m screaming noooooooooooooooo! Not because I don’t like to share, but because I don’t like to share food. It feels like a weird race to the finish line while trying to appear like I don’t have a ravenous appetite similar to that of a 300-pound linebacker.
“Sure,” I say.
And I let him order with a few gentle suggestions on my part.
For some unknown reason, the restaurant thinks that their clientele would love to shout at one another while consuming their meal. The music is loud. It’s distasteful.
Unfortunately, Ayurveda has trained me to observe subtleties and the impact of stimuli through the five senses. I’m constantly aware of nuances. Loud crappy music, while I’m trying to digest my food, feels like an assault to my heightened senses.
But as you know, I’m so easy going so I don’t mention it. I just keep shouting at my date and pretending to hear what he’s said.
My grandma became a master at appearing to be fully coherent and engaged in conversation even at 103 years old, when she probably couldn’t hear much at all. But gosh—she knew exactly when to laugh along and nod her head to convince you that she was hanging on to your every word. I feel like those skills were passed down to me genetically and are a real asset to me in situations like this.
Shouting back-and-forth, lots of nodding, and (hopefully) laughing at appropriate times make for a phenomenal way to get to know someone, don’t they? My date kept the beers flowing and I sure didn’t slow down on the warm lemon water.
The time for dessert arrived, and my date got excited to share some chocolate chip mint ice cream. By this point in the evening, I realize I should probably stick to dating the 80-plus crowd because we’d have more in common. I could excuse myself at 9 p.m. without question.
I feel like the universe is testing me—now I have to do some spiritual gymnastics to get out of the chocolate chip ice cream proposition.
You’re likely thinking: What’s her problem? Why doesn’t she want the ice cream?
Sigh. I’m sensitive. So sensitive in fact that my cut-off time for ingesting chocolate is 4 p.m., otherwise I get wound up like a kid at a birthday party who just OD’d on sugar for the first time in their life. It’s not pretty. We also have the fact that ice cream in the middle of winter isn’t copacetic for the optimal state of my digestive fire. Cold things contract and clog the channels of the body, which Lord knows will eventually lead to imbalance.
Because I’m so accepting of others’ poor choices, I don’t mention any of this to my date. First dates are not the time to school potential soul mates on the particulars of Ayurvedic philosophy. No, first dates are the time to revel in indigestion from poor food combining, initiate a history of miscommunication as we yell over loud music, and mess up my sleep cycle because I ate the bloody chocolate chip mint ice cream and now can’t sleep.
So, I came home, popped some Ayurvedic herbal pills for digestion, rubbed sesame oil on the soles of my feet, and wrote in my gratitude journal.
Upon reflection, the date went pretty well. Better than that last guy I dated who was waaaaaaaaay too into blow for this little Ayurvedic lady.
And who said there’s no good men left out there?!