10 Jun

Dating when you are unencumbered by a bunch of responsibilities, priorities, and kids is easy-peasy!  I was also in the Navy which meant a bunch of young kids serving their country and ready to have a good time doing it. Don’t get me wrong, being a service member is hard work and we work a lot, but we have a tight-knit community of people and since life could end at any given moment, we enjoy each of those moments to their fullest! At least that was my experience in Pensacola, FL, Millington, TN and most of all…San Diego, CA! In San Diego, there are bases galore. Even though I was at the Naval Air Station, there was 32nd Street where the ships dock, the Naval Amphib Base, and north to Oceanside was my favorite base belonging to the Navy’s land force…the United States Marine Corps…OOH-RAH! Seriously, while there were Enlisted Clubs at each of the bases and the legal age to drink was 18 to keep us out of Mexico was 18 (though, we still went to Mexico!), the one at Camp Pendleton was 3 clubs in one–a rock/pop club, a country music club and a hip-hop/dance/techno club. It ROCKED! Hard bodied men who were taught to respect women–most were just out of boot camp so they hadn’t lost this appreciation, yet. Getting a date and meeting someone was easy to do.

When I got married to my husband in 1994, I was 22 years old (and no, he was NOT a Marine; sadly!) and I never thought I would have to worry about dating again. Ahem! Scroll forward to where I am now barely 37, just moving into a new place and sharing 50/50 custody of our 3 children with my soon-to-be ex. Soon after separating, I was ready to be done with that part of my life and move on to what was next. So how does one date in the 21st century?! Online, of course. Meeting a guy at the bar is not the way to meet quality peeps unless it just so happens to be a networking event or a group of friends getting together where you can somewhat trust the quality and caliber of the people with whom you are mingling.

At 38 and quickly rounding the corner to 39 in a little over 6 weeks, with all of the responsibilities of a grown-up woman, dating is no longer as fun or easy. And having kidS in the mix makes it even more challenging compared to those days when you are young, loving life without excuse and have few responsibilities and no one relying on you and watching and learning from you….yeah, a little more complicated to say the least! Plus, it all depends on what you want at this age and stage of your life. The big thing for me is that I am not interested in casual sex. I truly believe that sex is something shared between a man and woman out of love and commitment to one another. What I am challenged with is will I wait until marriage or will I wait until love. I don’t have that answer. As a Christian and a woman who’s been wrong about a man (or a few) she’s loved before, I know all the reasons to wait until marriage as that commitment. So as not to set any false expectations within a  relationship, I get the fact that I don’t do casual sex right out there when I start talking to someone. That weeds a lot of people out right at the get go. All that to say that I even got to the talking part. In some cases, based on online dating scenarios, the fact I have kids–let alone the fact that there are 3 of them–is more than many men are interested in taking on. Though, I do point out that only two live with me every other week; my teenager chooses to see me when he wants. To top it all off, I have certain things I want in a partner as well.

When I first got divorced, I made a list of the things I wanted and did not want from a man with whom I would have a relationship:

Characteristics and qualities I will NOT put up with for the next guy I chose…

  1. Lying or lack of honesty with himself or with me
  2. Cheating
  3. Lack of integrity/ethically dysfunctional
  4. Financial irresponsibility
  5. Passive or passive aggressive
  6. Someone who makes me feel worth less than I am either directly or indirectly
  7. Someone who is an “almost” good fit—I am not looking for perfection, but I don’t want a repeat
  8. Not an angry or jealous man – understands that men and women can be friends and not every man has an agenda for getting into my pants
  9. Cynicism or negativity
  10. Someone whose sex drive doesn’t match my own

Must-haves – the things a guy’s got to have if he wants to get close to me…

  1. Faith in God and that Jesus is His one and only son…or at least a willingness to make that a priority
  2. Good sense of humor
  3. Knows I have kids and wants to be a part of their life knowing they already have a father
  4. Understands that I don’t want to have other children
  5. Desire to travel (locally, nationally and internationally) and to vacation with the kids from time to time
  6. Ability to laugh at himself or quickly get over it when he makes a mistake or we have a disagreement—let it go and let’s move on!
  7. Someone who makes good money…I don’t want to carry the financial burden again
  8. Someone who will pursue me and desire me as their partner
  9. Someone who is very affectionate and wants to take care of me (emotionally, physically, etc.)
  10. Learned…I want someone that I enjoy talking to and with whom I can talk about anything – sex, religion, politics, my work, his work, the future, our faith, etc.
Those things still stand true today. Am I flexible on them? Yes. I can be. For instance, #1 in my must haves is flexible because I know that just because someone isn’t a believe right now doesn’t mean they won’t or can’t be. While I don’t want to have other children at this stage in my life, if it was something that was important to my husband, I would certainly not deny him this if he never had children of his own. I am not getting any younger, though, and with each year that passes, this is going to become less flexible. #7 is subjective. A man doesn’t necessarily need to make money equal to my own, he just needs to have a job, work regularly and not think I am going to be his sugar mama. Regarding #9 and taking care of me, we all have needs and I know very well what mine are. First and foremost, acts of service (doing something for me just because) and physical touch are my two top love languages which means that I feel loved when love is given to me in those ways. The next most important thing is understanding that I need a man who can handle me. Marilyn Monroe’s description of herself sounds right on for me as well, “I’m [a little] selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” That said, I need a guy who can handle me at my worst because I am way worth it even at my not so best 🙂

Lysa TerKeurst just posted what she called “the right questions to ask before spending time with a friend boy. (And yes, that wording is intentional.)” on her blog. This is part of a book she’s writing for teen girls. Thing is, I think it’s important regardless of your age–especially if you, like me, haven’t always been good at choosing the right guy:

Worship- Who or what does he worship in the shrine of his heart?

Words- Do his words (spoken and written) build others up or tear them down?

Character- Who is he when no one else is looking?

Personality- Who is he around other people?

Interests- What kinds of things does he do to recharge?

Feelings- Do you feel better about yourself when he’s around?

Attraction- Is your attraction to him centered around something that will stay over time?


When asking these questions about a boy you are interested in don’t ask based on what you hope will be in the future, ask these questions based on the reality of today.

That last statement is KEY. People can change, but only when they want to and choose to. Every day we have to choose our attitude, to love, and to be all that we are and all we want to be. If we don’t choose, we don’t become anything different than we are right in this moment. Dating is not an easy task. It is complicated by life and all that comes with it. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth it, though. In the end, dating is the beginning of forever with the right person. Just take it one person and one step at a time to see where it goes. There’s no rush as there’s no finish line for this one. Enjoy the ride!


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