A divorced friend of mine shared a story about the very first time he ever saw his future wife. He saw her cross a room and said to his friend, “That’s the woman I am going to marry.” We both laughed at the story because he told it to me to illustrate a point that we have been discussing lately, namely that we are trying to make more mature romantic decisions in our 40’s than we made in our 20’s.
Many of us have this notion that love comes like the strike of a lightning bolt, out of the blue, with no warning, planning, or preparation, and that we must heed its call. Lightning chooses us. We don’t choose it, and God only knows that it rarely strikes twice. My parents’ ultra romantic story of being set up on a blind date and getting engaged five days later has certainly cemented this idea in my mind. And they made it 50 years so that has to be proof that love at first sight works, right?
Maybe. Maybe not. My dating coach Sheila Paxton tactfully reminded me once that I am no longer in my 20’s. I’m divorced with two kids, a community of friends, decades of life experiences, and an established career. That kind of earth-shattering love might not make the most sense. Furthermore, I’ve done it a few times now, and, well, it hasn’t exactly worked out for the best.
Sheila has been working with me over the past few weeks to make slower, more methodical, and more rational decisions instead of diving in at the first sign of infatuation. As I wrote a few weeks ago, that less fanciful approach at first seemed a little stodgy, even not so fun. Yet, as I am getting the hang of it, it is feeling more and more comfortable, and, frankly, comforting.
Sheila’s parting words to me this week were to make no excuses for the behavior of my dates, emphasizing that I should be mindful about how they treat me and how I feel with them, instead of looking at them as if they were Prince Charming. Her advice reminded me of a blog post I had just read, cleverly titled “Deal or No Deal,” in which a blogger friend MomZombie discussed what might kind of information or situation might be a deal breaker when it comes to the people in our life. In recent months, I have noticed how wonderful I feel in the presence of people who adore me and whom I adore, and I have come to believe that all of my friendships, or romantic relationships, should fill me up like that with love, warmth, and affection. Like MomZombie noted in her piece, some people are just not worth investing time in.
So as I tread lightly and slowly through my new dating landscape, I feel like I am asking myself better questions and making more mature decisions. I’m no longer interested in love at first sight. I’m more focused more on getting to know my dates, what makes them tick, and whether or not they share my core values. I can already tell that I am making better choices.
Lightning is too dangerous anyway.