Some Assembly Required

Some Assembly Required
By Melinda Truitt

Dating at 40 is like a card game…could be any of these:

Go Fish - obviously
Slap Jack - no explanation needed
Solitaire - if it doesn’t work out
Hearts - If it does

I see your intention….I’ll raise you a steak dinner. It’s like dating at 20 except with emotional baggage from a divorce or long term relationship. And I don’t travel light.

Dating at 50 is like a chess match. There’s more strategy involved. Some people are getting serious about finding the right person with all the qualities they’re looking for. The following moves could belong to either party in this dating scenario:

You see the King coming and some days you’re the bishop, racing diagonally across to get the hell away. Other times you could be the knight. Intrigued, you jump 6 squares opposite like a dressage horse showing off his moves. If you’re the rook you can whiz around in straight lines taking your living quarters with you full of memories, good and bad, of your last relationship.

Which is a mistake. Nobody should have to fix your past.

Newbies to the dating world are the pawns. They’re on the front lines getting eaten alive by the masters of the game. You know the ones. The guy with 2 profiles and 2 names but uses the same picture. “No, I’m not shady or cheating on my wife. I’m just careful.”

Yeah? Good for you.

I was remembering my first few dates when I joined the online dating cornfields. One maze after another.

My first date told me I weighed too much so my already shaky self-esteem took over and what progress I’d made on my eating disorder at the time was burned at the stake.

My second date brought a manilla folder to dinner and laid it out on the table like a menu. Inside was a printout of my profile, a picture of his daughter and a list of more in depth questions. I felt like I shouldn’t talk to him without my attorney present.

I spent the evening of my 50th birthday having dinner with a man I saw a total of 3 times and each time he admitted to me he had yet to give me his real name. I ended up with 3 dinners, three names and yet one man. Go figure.

One date confessed to being in anger management classes while another told me I was worthless if I didn’t cook well. Since those early dates I’ve still had to call the police to encourage one to leave the premises, cry my way out of a first kiss that turned aggressive and decline an offer to be hypnotized with the help of my cell phone. All true. I was beginning to question my ability to attract the right person. It’s funny, now, looking back.

I was very naive in those early years after my divorce. Just like you might be now. Don’t worry it gets easier.

Probably the funniest story was me showing up to work one morning in tears because I had been trying to send thank you notes and respond to everyone who had contacted me. Anyone who has been on a dating website knows that newcomers, men or women, get a lot of attention. It’s the equivalent of throwing fresh meat into a cage of wild animals. They’ll bite first and then decide if they like it later.

I was totally overwhelmed. My girlfriends at work were sympathetic but cracked up at me. I actually called my ex husband in an act of desperation telling him of my profile and asking what to do.
“OMG….take that £%#¥ down” was his reply.

It has been a journey. Funny. Poignant. Maddening. Ridiculous. I’ve been in relationships that have ended for one reason or another. Mostly because I wasn’t ready. So for now I’m taking some time for myself. To think. To laugh. To learn what it is that I really want and to the delight of my mother, finally learn to take care of myself and not look to a man to take over which is what I thought I wanted. Maybe I still do on some level but I need to know that I’m able to offer him a whole person and not bits and pieces of one that he needs to glue together.

Some assembly may still be required. Just not as much as before.

Keep laughing out there. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Enjoy the ride. It does get easier.

melinda truitt

Author of 5 children's books. Blogger of the Cotton Ball Syndrome on Tumblr. Divorced since 2008 after almost 24 years. Making sense of my new life through tears, determination and humor.

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