Dating is undoubtedly one of the most difficult challenges after divorce. It is not like riding a bike. Not only does one forget what to do, but the rules and goals have changed drastically since most of us were last out in the field. There was no online dating, no custody calendars, and no confusion over what we were all looking for. When I was thirty and single and ready to settle down the goal was clear: Find a suitable partner to marry and start a family with. Given those parameters, most people were generally on the same page. In this chapter, most of my tribe has been married, already have children, and/or are past the age where they want to start a first (or second family).
So, what (and who) are we looking for?
Companionship? Commitment? Sex? Security? Most of my friends have a check list of what they want. Some of the qualifiers are legit: Honest, employed, not-married. Others are a more demanding: In-shape, wealthy, full head of hair, no young kids, no crazy exes…. Everyone is looking for the perfect person – but if any of us were even close to perfect, we wouldn’t be divorced. Oprah once said that if the dream man she was looking for actually existed, he probably wouldn’t date her anyway. True dat. Yet, we keep searching for fictional figures because we “deserve better.”
Really? Better than what?
Are we looking for a person or a paycheck? With the proliferation of dating websites, you can literally “shop” for a boyfriend/girlfriend online. You can even sort for what you want like buying clothes on the Gap website. Instead of checking “jeans” and “size 2″, you can select from a variety of religions, salary levels, procreation preferences, pet tolerannce, athletic ability and body type. I suppose in many ways this is a good thing, but something is getting lost in the equation. What ever happened to love? So back to the question of what we are looking for. There are no shortage of unicorn hunters and this should keep the dating websites in business for a very long time. As for me, I have finally learned what I’m looking for: Someone I can love who loves me back. And that – I deserve.