dating like a girl

In my last post, “dating like a guy,” I related how one of my guy friends gave me the advice that I needed to stop caring so much and go back to dating like guys do. At one time, about a year ago, I was capable of that; indeed that was about all I was capable of at that point. I was emotionally bruised and pretty closed off. I could flirt and tease and have fun, but anything beyond that and I ran away. I rationalized my speedy jettisoning of relationships by pointing out that the guys in question had all messed up, which of course they had, because they’re guys and that comes with the territory. But two men who dated me during that period and are now friends have helped me understand that I was pretty cavalier and impossible to get close to. I demanded almost nothing. “Needy” wasn’t a label they ever applied to me. But they got very, very little in return, too. I guess I was just dating like a guy.

For the last 10 days, I have been taking my friend’s advice and dating like a guy again. Or, rather, I have been trying to. And here is what I have learned: I can’t. I just can’t do it. It’s not who I really am or what I really want. It was a phase in my life, post-divorce and post-heartbreak. Nothing more. I cannot casually date someone for months at a time…sharing their bed, hearing their stories, knowing every inch of their body, and revealing more and more about myself each day… and the whole time have them mean essentially nothing to me and me essentially nothing to them.  If I find someone I like, I want to date him and only him.  I want to spend some time figuring him out and us out without juggling multiple men.  If I decide that I really, really like him, I want to feel special to him. I want to feel important and valued. I want to know that I’m more than just a fun time, a placeholder until something better comes along. Maybe at my age, it’s too late to be the big love of someone’s life, but is it too much to ask to just be someone they truly, really want to be with?

I’m not saying that I want every man that I date to feel this way about me, because I sure as hell don’t feel that way about all of them. Casual dating certainly has its place, and I wouldn’t judge anyone for enjoying it. But – for me, for now – it would be nice, once in a while, to find someone who wants the same thing I do. I would like very much to have someone to shower with affection and attention. Someone to do nice things for and make smile. Someone to hold and cuddle and make love to all night long. And maybe, in the midst of all that, we’d fall in love. And maybe not. But at least it wouldn’t feel like nothing. At least I wouldn’t feel like nothing.

So, I suppose I will go back to dating like a girl. And maybe, someday, some guy will come along and decide that what I want is just what he wants, too.

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