by Julie Robinson
“Y ou’ve got to be picky and patient,” an ex-boyfriend oh-so-helpfully explained after telling me about his new girlfriend that he met two weeks into being on the dating website Plenty of Fish.
“How many dates did you go on before you met Ginny?” I was curious what his version of “picky and patient” looked like.
“Oh, two or three maybe.”
I could see the smoke coming out of my ears, so I was glad we were having this conversation over the phone. “I’ve been on hundreds. We broke up a couple of years ago—remember?”
“Right. I know—I read your blog—you need to be pickier. Didn’t you go out with some guy who wore make-up?”
After we got off of the phone I couldn’t help but begin to feel sorry for myself. I was happy for Curtis, but the differences between our dating experiences were definitely troubling. (That, and there’s always a bit of a sting when an old boyfriend has truly moved on.) Curtis is a nice looking, super sweet guy who waited two years after our explosive break-up to put himself back out there in the dating world. Once he did, he found a woman in a few weeks who is now his girlfriend. He is happy, content, and in a good place.
I, on the other hand, threw myself on the scene without proper time for mourning. Soon after Curtis kicked me out I got caught up in a whirlwind romance that allowed me to fall into old, bad patterns; settled on being a Friend with Benefits even though I was in love; got dumped when he found a legitimate girlfriend; and am now dating regularly again (one year later) with my best prospect being an adorable guy who wears his keys on his belt loop and gym shoes every time we go out. I am frustrated, concerned, and in a troubling place.
While it’s true that Curtis and I had our issues, I do miss the kinds of interactions that come with knowing someone really well. Routine chores like getting groceries at Costco and quirky compromises like going to see really bad Hollywood movies probably brought us closer together than things you would usually associate with intimacy. And that’s what I miss. I wish I had someone asking me to pick up a pack of Vanilla Frappuccinos for him on my way home.
I don’t want the life Curtis and I shared together a few years ago, and I probably don’t want the life he is now moving toward with his new girlfriend Ginny. What I do want is that connection with someone where you feel the same ease sharing deep, dark secrets as you do when sharing an ice cream cone. I want to wake up together and plan out a day involving nothing in particular. I want to move beyond dating and into the realm of togetherness.
And while I do not believe that Curtis is speaking from experience when he says I need to be picky and patient, I do agree that his advice has some credence.
Moving away from quantity to quality involves a new outlook and a To Do list. Here’s what I plan to do:
1. Take myself off of dating sites and meet men organically while going about my day;
2. Have the courage to politely say “No” to men I don’t want to date instead of going on mercy dates;
3. Focus on living in the moment instead of my weight gain;
4. Go out with girlfriends more;
5. Stay in more;
6. Stop worrying about the fact that I don’t have a boyfriend right now;
7. Invest time and energy in hobbies and interests;
8. Nurture myself—by being kinder to myself not with a makeover to attract men;
9. Have a generous spirit with those around me.
I find it amazing how a short, simple conversation with Curtis can help me realize that if I want to move forward, sometimes it’s important to glance back and relish the mundane.