Even Picasso’s blue period came to an end.
Those were my friend’s helpful words when I told him that my casual-meaningful-fleeting-monogomous relationship had ended. We’d been dating for a good amount of time, long enough for it to start to enter another level of connection, but we both knew the seasons were changing in more ways than one and decided to end it.
Our relationship had started out in the most intimate of ways. He came to an event where I was speaking my heart out about death and kids and career and a dissolved marriage, in that order (and less than seven minutes).
With or without him there, I’d never been so nervous.
Not even that moment last week, when I pressed “download” on a dating app and filled out a profile with as much honesty as I presented during that talk. A few days later, I found myself sitting in the parking lot of my kids’ elementary school, on one of the last days of school, swiping through potential suitors.
I’d never experienced this kind of dating, where you scroll through photos, skim a bio and either swipe left, to indicate that I’m not interested, or right if I sense even a hint of possibility. If we have both swiped right, the phone buzzes in my hand and an instant buzz of adrenaline shoots to your brain. Someone found me alluring enough to say, “Sure, why not?”
It is in this moment, I presume, that they take an even closer look at my profile, where I make no attempt to hide the fact that I’m a mom. The most practical thing you need to know about dating me is that I have children. I just finished dating someone who had very little desire to have children or be a dad. I think he’d be a good one, of course, but I also just liked dating him, not a mother, but as a woman. There was a compartmentalizing of my life that, to be honest, fit in well with my custody schedule and what I was looking for at the time.
But as that season was coming to an end, I’d started to contemplate what an even more intimate and meaningful love might look like. One that allows for compartmentalizing — establishing a healthy adult relationship that has nothing to do with raising kids — but one that also has a capacity to grow. Expanding my own capacity for life has been my mantra for years now, ever since that day on my yoga mat when I took a breath that was deeper than any I had known. I felt my blood flow to parts of my body and my mind that had been in stasis.
That was the first day of my new life, one that now includes this very quirky thing called online dating, and I’m bringing my A game. (That’s “A” for authenticity, BTW.)
Because I’ve been adulting for longer than most women my age (having a baby and supporting a family at 23 will do that to a girl), I have a pretty clear sense of what I’m looking for. I don’t know what shape it will arrive, but I can feel wholehearted love now in a way that I could not before. I can sense when someone is in vibrational alignment with their purpose and expanding their own capacity for life.
Will that start from a buzz in my hand? An algorithmic match pairing me with a dude who has been to Machu Picchu or 1,100 more who caught a really big fish that one time on the coast? I have accepted that these sites and apps are an efficiency mechanism to improve the chances of falling in love. I know that many, if not most, people are on them — despite their bios that state otherwise — to find some form of instant gratification. Someone to help reaffirm their worthiness. Someone to make them feel wanted.
I want those things, too, but having been at this dating and self-exploration thing for a few years now, I’m so much better at doing those things for myself than I was before.
But I’m curious about what’s out there. I’m a tech-savvy millennial (who happens to be a mom who also happens to be single) who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and say what she wants, so it makes sense that online dating would be something that I would explore.
Even after just a few days being active in this space, it’s pretty easy to see who has the kind of Brene Brown-level consciousness I’m interested in and who thinks they are “playing the game” but are really just sitting outside the arena, saddled in protective gear, waiting for the ball to fall in their glove without them having to move an inch.
Never in my life have I felt so sure of who I am — which, oddly, means always questioning and growing — and confident in my ability to speak up for myself and for what I know is right and good.
As I learned when I was 10 years old and took a line-drive softball to the face, parts of this will hurt.
It might even leave a scar.
But I’m here to play.