Grown up dating…

… is much more complicated than it was in high school.

I’ll admit it — I graduated from high school in 1987.  That makes me officially ancient — almost.

Also, as those of you who know me in person already know — the hubby is soon (tomorrow, officially) the ex.  My final and only words about him are that he’s a fantastic person, articulate, smart, passionate and a great catch for someone else.  He and I parted on friendly terms.  He got the cats, I kept the apartment.  With my blessing he took a lot of the stuff.  We (especially he) have been civil, compassionate and polite as we ended our marriage.  I wouldn’t trade our happy years for anything.  Many folks would consider themselves lucky to have had our so-so years.  I wish him all the happiness in the world and I hope that he finds someone who appreciates his good qualities and finds his (few) faults to be charming personality quirks.  We married when we were barely legal to buy alcohol, were on the same path for a long time and now we aren’t.  End of story…

This has been a major life change for me — and has led me to poke my toe into dating as an adult.  Since I spent the time between 1990 and 2011 married, until recently I hadn’t had a first date with a new guy since 1986.  Folks, it’s weird out there.  In high school things were pretty simple.  A cute boy sits in front of you in class.  You talk, flip your hair and maybe go out a bit.  You know his friends, he knows yours.  Your parents probably know one another etc.

In 1987 we actually had to talk on the phone to communicate over distance.  We didn’t have cell phones, e-mail or facebook.  We had no real way to check up on someone other than to ask around about them.  If they had a “bad” reputation, you decided to date them (if you’re into bad boys) or not.  There was no such thing as meeting someone online.  The internet as we know it now was only a glimmer in someone’s techy-brain and the internet itself was used for military communication.  To say a lot has changed is an understatement — and not exactly the purpose of this post.

The thing that’s different about dating as an adult is that our dates have pasts.  For a 17 year-old, last week is a “past”… that’s no longer the case.  Most single adults have been married, many have kids and other responsibilities — and how you choose to deal with those responsibilities can make you happy or sad.  It seems to me that a person is the sum of their experiences (awfully empiricist of me, eh?).  As a result, it seems illogical to want to wish away part of their life before you.  That’s, in essence, wishing away part of them.  Just like it’s important to accept a person’s family as influential on the person you know, it’s probably even more essential to embrace a person’s current responsibilities.

In other words, you weren’t with them since you were both 12 — accept the fact that other folks have had them before you and hope that they’ve learned something from those relationships.  Just as you’d accept the fact that they have friend and family commitments, accept their past as part of who they are now — today.  If you can’t hack that, then stop seeing them because the past is one thing that isn’t going to change no matter how hard you try.

One more thought — ladies, take a lesson from one of my oldest and dearest peeps — he’s not going to change for you.  Let me say it again — no matter how fantastic you think your relationship COULD be, it’s what’s in front of you that counts.. in other words, he’s not going to change just because that’s the way you want the world to be.

My peep was in a kind-of relationship.  They’d been on and off for a long time (decades, perhaps) and when it was convenient for him, he’d come around.  He was open about her place in his life — he didn’t lie to her about his other commitments – other folks came first and she was well aware of that.  In fact, she knew him long enough that she knew him before these commitments and was well aware of them… I knew him back then too — this peep and I go way, way back.

Finally, about a year or so ago, she decided she wasn’t going to take it anymore — that he wasn’t worth the stress and heartache she put herself thru.  She told him in no uncertain terms that he was no longer welcome — and her life has been significantly better ever since.  She’s in college, she’s happy, healthy and living her own life again.  She doesn’t worry about when he’ll grace her with his presence, because she knows it ain’t gonna happen…. and she’s moving on down the road finding folks who are on her path.  It’s a good thing — trust me — and my peep is all the happier for it.

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