I’m the first to admit that my dating calendar has always been sparse. It’s not like having Rheum ground my full social calendar to a halt but it has definitely changed how I approach dating.
First, I have limited energy and good days. I do not want to waste them on someone who isn’t worth it.
Online dating is a minefield.
A horrible sad depressing minefield.
I’m 34 and as was mentioned to me on twitter the other day, to be my age and not previously married and childless is kind of unusual.
So my dating pool, ages 30-45, is full of recently divorced men, some with more than one kid. Or it’s the rare man who is finally looking to settle down and have kids with someone. I have problems with both groups but the ones who want kids…I don’t even bother.
I can’t anymore. Kids aren’t in my future. It’s so odd because last summer I talked to my doctor about having my tubes tied. I was sure then. I’m sure now but when I was told that a recent medication meant no kids for years it still felt like a loss…I digress…dating.
Having Rheum means I bring certain baggage to the table from the get go. Dating brings a lot of those big life issues to the fore. Is it fair to engage with someone who wants kids knowing that I can’t have them and that even adoption isn’t reasonable for me with my health issues? Do I bother with the guy who seems compatible but loves to go hiking every weekend?
This past summer I went on two dates with two different men back to back. The British Guy was more my “type” older, uninterested in kids, divorced, living and loving his job. The Awkward Boy, poor thing, a little younger, too obsessed with his suped up car, and so socially awkward that I bailed after 45 minutes. He couldn’t even talk about his job, in HR to me, common ground!
If I’m going to meet someone – I would like it to be a “real” date. I understand that in recent years (I’ve done this too) the dating world has been reduced to meeting for coffee or a drink or hanging out but if I’m going to take the energy to get dolled up I hope it’s not *just* for a drink. I have issues with the “hang out” attitude that younger guys I’ve engaged with seem hell-bent on clinging to.
(Call me old fashioned or a bad feminist but there are just certain things I appreciate when dating. I like when the man asks me out – picks a date and a time. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate I’m not a high maintence woman but first impressions count. I will always offer pay my share but I like when a man picks up the cheque the first time. I will certainly return that favour if we have a second date but again first impressions. I will just make an observation: all the men I’ve ever dated over 40 have, without hesitation, paid for first dates. I also make it a rule if said first date has tanked and there is no hope for number two to pay my own way.)
Texting me to say lets meet up to hang out in 20 minutes does not work. I may very well be sitting at home doing nothing but that doesn’t mean I have the energy to spring up to go be social. One guy, I’ll call him Lawyer Guy, got annoyed when I kept putting off his spontaneous hang-outs. I didn’t tell him I had Rheum, we hadn’t met yet. I even suggested that we make plans to meet on a certain day, to give me time to plan my energy around that…he wasn’t into it. He kept persisting and finally I said, “I can’t go out with you tonight I’m going to inject myself with chemo, take some pain meds and go to sleep.” He got the message but we didn’t speak after that.
So when do I disclose my illness when it sometimes impedes even the earliest interactions with someone?
I have a friends with benefits, The Film Guy. We starting chatting last summer and met for the first time in August. We actually talked on the phone for over a month before we met because he was on location shooting (yes, he legitimately works I’m film). He was the first sex I’d had in *months* and the first person I’d slept with who was new to me after I’d been raped (yes that adds a whole other layer of caution and skepticism around dating and sex for me). So all of this was discussed the rheum, the rape, everything before we were even face to face. He was understanding and sweet and weird and kinda twisted. It works for us. When he’s in town we go out on dates – he took me out for a special birthday dinner last month before we got down to dirtiness. Our relationship is limited because of his circumstance. He’s not in a place for a steady relationship and that’s ok because we’re clear on our boundaries.
So I have some dating in my life but I want to find something more permanent but who wants to take me and my baggage on? Some times I think it would be unfair to ask anyone to love me because of the depression and the rheum, life is hard enough as it is when people are healthy.
I want to believe someone will think I’m worth it and won’t mind sleeping in a bed with a heated mattress pad, the pill cases, the need to rest after walking around the mall, the expense, being childless…
I know that I have a lot to offer the right man but I feel like Rheum limits my appeal in the dating world. The average dater has a fair bit of self-consciousness to begin with but this feels like a whole other layer…so I date less. I put myself out there less. I feel like I deserve it less.
I’ve been single awhile – it can be awesome – but I want a relationship. I’ve been good company to myself for the better part of 10 years now (yes there were relationships in there just none of them lasting or necessarily good for me). That’s enough. I want an emotionally healthy, reciprocal relationship – that starts with dating, in the minefield.