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I probably should not have put the exclamation point on there, my first date since I became single was not that exciting but it was a pleasant experience and was a good way to break the dating “ice”. ¬†ūüėÄ ¬†However, it is my first date in over 21 years so the exclamation mark stays!

Jamie was the fourth guy to message me on the dating app and even in our initial chatting I knew he was not my forever after but he was polite, thoughtful and easy to talk to.  Since my primary goal for joining the dating service was to practice talking with guys with the goal of possibly finding a boyfriend he was definitely perfect for that so I kept responding to his messages.

In an ironic twist of fate I was two states over shopping for nail supplies and visiting my best friend from high school and he was nearby for a job interview! ¬†So he texted me and asked if I’d like to meet for lunch. ¬†Of course I said yes and I even had a particular Italian restaurant in mind (but I didn’t mention it since it was farther away) and we settled on a different Italian restaurant and I met him there. ¬†Except that it wasn’t open for lunch. ¬†so we picked another, nearby Italian restaurant and got back into our separate cars to meet at the new place. ¬†Here’s the thing though, I walk up to the door of the closed restaurant and he is standing there, facing the door with his back to me, looking at his phone (starting to text me and let me know it was closed). ¬†I say “Jamie?” and he turns around, gives me a professional smile with no joy or excitement at meeting me for the first time, shakes my hand in a business-like fashion, explains the restaurant is closed and do I know where this other place is? ¬†It’s been 10 years since I’ve lived in this town so I did know the place he was talking about but it took me a minute to remember exactly where it was and how to get there. ¬†I missed my turn because of all the one-ways downtown but did manage to notice that this new place he selected was also closed. ¬†But this time closed as in gone. ¬†As in Not There Anymore. ¬†Just as I’m pulling into the parking garage he texts me “I’m at the restaurant”. ¬†I’m confused, thinking the restaurant must have relocated nearby so I responded that I had gotten turned around on the one-ways and was trying to find ¬†a place to park as I’m pulling into the parking garage. ¬†I pass him in the parking garage! ¬†He’s walking towards the elevator while I’m driving, trying to find a spot to park – he’s not at the restaurant at all!

This tells me something significant¬†– the fine details are not that important to him, and that generalities are okay. ¬†Hmmm…

I roll down my window, wave, say hi, and he says he’ll meet me by the elevators. ¬†Very businesslike, no real warmth or emotion in his voice. ¬†The parking garage was so full I had to go up another three levels just to find a spot. ¬†He texts again, “I’m guessing we’re not on the same floor, I’ll meet you at the ground level of the elevators”. ¬†I hurry to an elevator, thinking we’ll just have to get back on the elevator together to go to the second floor where I’m guessing the restaurant relocated but I get out at the ground level and hear a voice behind me “I’m here” and he walks briskly towards me and then past me, clearly expecting me to follow him, which I did. ¬†We walk outside back towards where our second eating destination was supposed to be located but I know it is not. ¬†He pays no attention to the fact that all of the green awnings have had the restaurant name peeled off of them, leaving an un-faded spot of brighter green against the weathered, faded green of the rest of the awning and I chose not to say anything at this point because he is clearly In Charge and I’m interested in seeing how he handles this. ¬†We walk around two sides of the building, filled with these logo-less green awnings over the many windows, to get to the main door and it is only then that he realizes that the restaurant is no more.

Well then. ¬†Clearly, details are not his thing. ¬†But he is jovial and remarks that it has been some time (although less than 10 years) since he had lived in that town as well. ¬†I suggest another restaurant located right next door to our second choice and he says that’s fine, he hadn’t even noticed that it was an Italian restaurant too… ¬†Yep, not a detail man. ¬†Strange how much that bothers me, huh. ¬†But here is something small¬†that tells me God loves me and is always looking out for me – the third and final Italian restaurant that we wound up eating at was another branch of the one I had wanted to eat at in the first place! ¬†I just didn’t know they had a downtown location or I would have suggested it. ¬†God is so good!

We walk back to our final destination and I noticed that he did not take care to place himself between me and the road, something I believe marks a true gentleman, and another mark under the “Nope, this one is not for me” column appears. ¬†He chooses to sit in the bar at a tall table, a little awkward for me but not terribly. ¬†We each order food and I study him. ¬†He is obviously confident in his own skin, good-looking but not quite handsome, built a lot like me, short and stout (although in his case I’m positive it’s mostly muscle), and he’s outgoing. ¬†Friendly without being charming, brisk without being obnoxious. ¬†His military career has definitely made a lasting impression on his life outlook and mannerisms, not so much in a bad way but more in a keep-your-distance-and-always-stay-professional kind of way. ¬†Combined with some of the things he had told me about earlier I think that would be hard to break through and am not finding myself motivated to try and accomplish this. He mostly talks about himself and only asks me a few questions, easily and quickly rabbiting off onto tangents that pertain to him once I’ve given an answer. ¬†A couple of times he mildly chastised me for forgetting information he had told me through texting in the days before we met but when he forgot things I had told him in those same conversations it was no big deal to him. ¬†More marks under the “Not for me” column show up.

In the end, he didn’t offer to pay for my food or my parking, got up from our dinner to go to the sushi restaurant next door to get more food “to go” and reached out to shake my hand goodbye, once again, very businesslike.

I skipped the handshake and gave him a hug, which clearly surprised and pleased him, but only a little. ¬†He gave me a decent hug back and we parted. ¬†Just the experience of being able to identify that someone was not for me was worth a hug and I was grateful to him for it. ¬†He texted me while I was driving to the nail supply store and we went back and forth for a half an hour or so, just pleasant conversation between friends. ¬†He wound up getting the job he had interviewed for and moving out of Montana for it. ¬†I’m glad. ¬†He texted me one final time as he was leaving Montana to say goodbye and I wished him well. ¬†I hope he finds a lady who is good for him someday soon. ¬†But it isn’t me.

Well then. ¬†In the 14 days since I signed up I have had 169 men view my profile, 30 guys have said they want to “meet me” and 12 guys have sent me a message. ¬†The messages sometimes don’t say anything, ,just “wink wink” but a couple of my favorites were “Well Hello Red” to “Your hot baby”, lol! ¬†The only scary one was the guy who said, after my gracious brush-off, “You’ll like me and I’ll like you with your red hair”… ¬†That’s a little creepy, I “will” like him. ¬†No thanks!

The first few days made me feel really good about myself, I mean who wouldn’t get excited about getting lots of messages and want-to-meet-yous? ¬†But reality set in when you actually start messaging people and talking to them on the phone. ¬†Here are the top contenders:

Chris – the first day we started “talking” we messaged for 12 hours. ¬†The next day it was 4 hours and then the day after that it was another 12 hours. ¬†And then a few more days of 4 hour chats… ¬†We are so very similar that sometimes I felt like I was talking to myself when I was messaging him, we are damaged in a lot of similar places, have a lot of similar likes and dislikes, it was really fascinating. ¬†I felt like we really connected, I could totally see having a long-term relationship with this guy. ¬†He lives 100 miles away and we exchanged phone numbers and started texting. ¬†A day or two later we made arrangements to talk on the phone but when the time came he begged off, saying he didn’t feel good went to bed and then he didn’t seem interested in calling me after that either… We texted for another day or two and then I asked for his honest opinion of me and we ended up deciding to be friends. ¬†The texting has completely stopped, he never responded to a text I sent him so I let him go. ¬†If he ever manages to come to town and wants to meet me I’ll let him take me to dinner and we’ll see what happens but I suspect that he has written me off because my last text to him was a picture of me with my new I’m-in-beauty-school short haircut and fantasy color, knowing that he likes long hair… ¬†Whatever, he won’t even call me on the phone, I’m not going to change a single thing about me for someone like that.

Mark – I responded to this gentleman’s message because it was more than “Hi” and he didn’t say I was hot, lol. ¬†Mark is not much of a talker, has bad spelling and worse grammar but he had a kind face and was interested in coming into town (he also lived 100 miles away) to meet me right away. ¬†But he also got sick, cancelled his trip and hasn’t messaged me since. He may message me again later and I’d go to lunch with him, we’ll see…

Jeff – This guy was fun and only lived 20 miles from time, we had snappy, witty messaging conversations and joked with each other and were getting along really, really well. ¬†But he didn’t ask me any questions about my past and only a few questions about my present. ¬†He answered my questions with brief replies and several times said we should meet but never even tried to set up a time. ¬†When we finally spoke on the phone it was the most awkward 20 minute conversation I may have ever had, lol. ¬†I think we are both more shy in person than we are in written words but he didn’t even give me anything to work with! ¬†He spent the 20 minutes talking about himself, his job, his brother and his parents. ¬†He didn’t ask me any questions and didn’t give me much of a chance to ask him any questions either. ¬†When he was done talking he said goodnight and hung up. ¬†I messaged him that it was nice to talk to him, he messaged back that he was going to bed but it would be nicer if he had someone to snuggle with… ¬†I never responded.

And there it is, the top three contenders in the first two weeks of my latest online dating venture! ¬†It’s not all I was hoping it will be and I have until the beginning of next month to decide if I want to pay another $30 for another month of this. ¬†Maybe I’ll switch services, ha, ha.

In other news my ex-husband remarried last night. ¬†I thought I would feel something, peaceful, happy, upset, sad… but instead I didn’t feel anything at all. ¬†It’s like they’re two strangers who don’t affect my life at all, imagine that! ¬†However, I am happy for both of them and hope that someday we can all be friends in one form or another. ¬†I was worried about my younger daughter who had to attend the wedding even though she didn’t really want to AND her father put her in the center of the front row, causing her a great deal of anxiety on top of what she was already dealing with. ¬†Both of my brothers drove down to attend the wedding and while I do have mixed feelings about that I am so grateful they were there because they ran interference for her. ¬†She told me after she got home that they stood close by, if somebody started talking to her and she looked like she was getting overwhelmed they would come up, ask if they could borrow her for a minute, walk her away from the person, give her a hug and let her go. ¬†I was so grateful and proud of them! ¬†It means they listened to me and actually heard what I said when I talked about her. ¬†It means they really do care about her and I take that as they really do care about me too. ¬†Which, I knew they did before, but this feels like rare proof of it. ¬†Thank you brothers.

 

So I’ve decided to brave the wide world of online dating once again and signed up for an app on my phone. ¬†Talk about feeling on top of the world! ¬†I probably had 10 messages and “so and so wants to meet you” notifications in the first 24 hours. ¬†That’s an amazing self-esteem boost right there… ¬†just sayin’. ¬† So the first person to send me a message impressed me with his complete sentences in the initial¬†“chat”.

All the other guys were just like “hi”, “hi”, “hello”, “hey babe, you’re hot”… ¬†Really guys? ¬†Come on, you can do better than that… And seriously men, why are you not smiling in your main profile picture? ¬†I’m fun, you need to look like it’s at least possible for you to have fun too! ¬†Ahem… but back to my story…

It took us about three days to finally get online at the same time but when we did we messaged each other for 12 hours. ¬†Yes, that’s right. Allllll day! ¬†He was funny and then he was serious and then back to funny again. ¬†He asked good questions and gave me real answers in return. ¬†When we finally called it a night I wasn’t all swept up in euphoria or even twitterpated, I felt almost like I had been to one of those all-day informational seminars and was overwhelmed with everything I learned… I actually needed some time to decompress before going to bed. ¬†I had shared something really important – and personal – regarding what I need to feel safe in a relationship and he came back with an excellent answer. ¬†He didn’t make me feel stupid for feeling the way I did and he agreed that what I described should never happen and if he had lived in circumstances like what I shared he would feel like a slave.

That made me sit up straight… When it comes right down to it I did feel like a slave many times…

Later he shared something equally personal about himself and it blew me away. ¬†First that he would share something so big on our first day of getting to know each other and second that it was so important to him that I know about it right away and he said he would understand if I wanted to “run away now”.

Let’s just say that we are both very broken people and many of our breakings are in similar places emotionally. ¬†With the few things he shared that he’s been through it is a near certainty that he is even more broken than I am in those areas…

While he was sharing about his broken places my heart recognized him as if I was looking at my own face in the mirror and my soul sang out exultantly “I found you”. ¬†Which is totally weird and freaked me out a little bit because that’s never happened before. ¬†I kind of looked sideways at my soul and said “Really? ¬†Seriously?” ¬†I’m definitely not “in love” with this person that I have only talked to for two days and¬†I’m still so broken myself is really it a good idea to be in a relationship with another, really broken person? ¬†The answer to that is no. ¬†I know this, everybody knows this…

But everybody is broken some way, somehow.

My ex-husband was just as broken as I was when I married him although our breakings were mostly in very different places. ¬†I knew some of his broken spots before I married him and I foolishly thought to myself that if I loved him through those broken places that he would become whole and would be forever grateful and therefore would never stop loving me. ¬†So I allowed him to push me into having sex before we were married and then I married him out of a combination of being¬†positive that nobody else in the entire world of “good Christian men” would ever want to marry me because I was no longer a virgin, and, I still wanted to help him.

I want to help everybody, what can I say? ¬†That is one thing that even though it was smothered and squashed for years it never went away. ¬†I love helping people and have an incessant desire to “fix” everybody’s problems. ¬†This is probably why all of my younger daughter’s good friends call me “Mom”…

After we were married, whenever I tried to talk about our marriage and specifically our relationship my concerns were turned around and became my fault and all of a sudden he was the victim and I was the mean one – he never did anything wrong. ¬†After 7 or so years of this I quit trying to fix our marriage and focused on surviving it instead, because that was the “right” thing to do.

I can’t be a part of another relationship like that again, I can’t! ¬†I won’t! ¬†I don’t have to be! ¬†Whew… calm down girl, this is the New You. ¬†You are confident and brave in measures that you never had before. ¬†You can walk away any time you want. ¬†This is, well, it’s not even dating, it’s before dating so stop holding your breath and relax. ¬†Just. Breathe.

But I’ve never felt my soul claim anyone like that before. ¬†So this is very strange to me and I’m not sure what to do. ¬†I decided to write a letter, here, that maybe someday I will show to him but most likely I won’t. ¬†I just need to say this for myself.

Dear Broken Man,

I like you very much. ¬†Even though I know I barely know¬†you I like you. ¬†You’re funny, you’re easy to chat with and my gut tells me that you’re honest in what you’ve told me. ¬†All of the things we like that are similar tickle me. ¬†The fact that you so frequently mention helping other people and seem to enjoy helping others like I do astonishes me. ¬†We have intelligent conversations, you use good grammar and punctuation – and I have no idea why that impresses me so much – you’re not afraid to ask me the deep questions or give me deep answers when I turn deep questions (yours or my own) back around to you. ¬†And our answers to those deep questions are very similar even though sometimes you answer first and sometimes I answer first. ¬†All these things make me like you very much.

The multitude of “coincidental” things astounds me and the sheer number of them makes me think that meeting you was much more a “God thing” than any whim of fate. ¬†Just to name a few: ¬†even though we both live in Montana we both have an out-of-state phone number – from the same state. ¬†We both wear a CPAP – which honestly is a huge answer to prayer because I’m so self-conscious and insecure about having to wear mine, how could I ever possibly look sexy to a future partner while sleeping in a CPAP? ¬†But you have to wear one too! ¬†Our emotional issues are extremely similar despite having different causes and I have been through where you are at now. ¬†I understand where you are now, I “get it” and I know how hard it was for me to get from there to where I am now – but I know that you can do it!

I am realizing that your personality, and how do I say this, is “softer” than mine? ¬†And I wasn’t sure that was possible to do… ¬†It is entirely likely that at this point in your life you are even more gentle than I am in relationships – and while I feel like that is in part due to some of your broken places it also has to be a big part of who you are or it wouldn’t be there to come out so strongly now.

Because of this gentleness combined with the brokenness I think I may have overwhelmed you in my excitement to have found you. ¬†Perhaps for the first time in my life I get to play the part of the blossom and you will be the butterfly. ¬†If you want a friendship with me I’d like that. ¬†If you’d like to take me on a date I’d like that too. ¬†If you’re not sure what type of relationship you want to have with me that is also OK. ¬†We live 100 miles apart and while that’s not actually a lot it’s enough to be a good excuse not to meet if only one of us is super excited about it. ¬†I think that whatever happens, right now I am enjoying being your friend and I know that we were supposed to meet. ¬†You proved to me, right off the bat, that you are nothing like my ex-husband and therefore good, single men DO exist! ¬†And once again God has confirmed that He will bring me the right one when it is time. ¬†Maybe it’s you, maybe it is not you. ¬†Maybe I’ll end up adopting you as another one of my big brothers – because everybody needs a little sister, don’tcha know? ¬†<wink> ¬†All I know is that talking with you is very nearly like talking with myself and I really like whatever this is we have right now.

I wish you peace, joy and healing for the road ahead and have hope that it might include me, even if it is just in a friendship.

Sincerely,

Me.