After two marriages and two divorces, John McElhenney is finally ready to fall in love again.
Do I light you up?
Wait … What I want to say is, I don’t want to reveal my hand too quickly, but I really like you. I can tell we’d be great together … What do you say?
Do you long for the intoxication of love again, like me? I can feel it in my bones, growing stronger daily, as I grow stronger and more confident. And the more clear I get about 100% or nothing, the easier it is to make decisions about my time and efforts. Dating and a relationship will be a core part of my life again. Today, not so much.
And I can still recall twice in my life, the thrill of that moment when I realized my heart was spinning out of control and there was nothing I’d rather do than be with this other beautiful person. Whew! Only twice? Dang, that’s inspiration enough.
But some people, I’m sure, get addicted to that new rush. As the ennui of a long-term relationship sets in they begin looking for something, some spark, outside that relationship. It doesn’t always have to be sexual. Maybe it’s an outside hobby, like running or tennis. Perhaps it’s a work relationship focused on a difficult project. When your heart is complacent or bored, you might begin to look outside your relationship for that jazz, that new energy, that excitement.
That’s a miss.
In my marriage, even as things were trending poorly, I was committed 100% to my wife and my two children. I had the confidence that we would weather the storm and the financial difficulties together, as a team of adults, cheering each other on. And I believe I held up my end of the agreement. I stayed firmly, confidently, even joyously in spite of the hardship, in my marriage. I was, even when struggling, a happily married man.
Perhaps my then-wife had different ideas, different fears, different strengths and weaknesses she brought to the marriage. Even her family of origin had a lot to do with her relationship DNA, and the hopefulness or lack-of-hopefulness she brought into the later years of our marriage. As things were frosty between us, I cheerfully puttered along with daily details of life. I had an innate confidence that we would rejoin, reconnect, and rekindle the flame at a less chaotic time. Some how, she didn’t share that same optimism.
So maybe in this new landscape, of dating as a single parent, having been through two marriages and thus two divorces, it is conceivable that I would be more cautious about the idea of deep love, passionate love. Perhaps logical love was more what I should be looking for. Except I’m not wired that way.
I tend to lead with my heart. Sometimes this is a liability. In business, for example, I have been shredded for caring too much about a project, or worrying about the overall health of a team, rather than simply focusing on the delivery of the product. In relationships, I’m the same way. I want to strip down to the bare essentials and determine if we’re a jolting fit right away.
I have to admit I long for that moment. And I’ve not experienced it for over 15 years, when I ran into an old high school friend sparked up a conversation and fell flat ass head over heals in love. We married, we had kids, we broke up. Ah, the modern family.
So you’d think I might be afraid to go so deeply into a relationship again. Maybe just “dating” is the thing. Yes, that may be the case. Initially. But I am sensing and seeking the potential for that rush, right at the start. Believe me, I’m going to try to go slow. I’m going to hide the love poems that you bring to mind, so as not to scare the bejesus out of you. I’m going to attempt a slow reveal. But what I really want is for you to come along for the ride with me.
I’ve had two “relationships” since my divorce. Both of them were amazingly instructional.
In the first relationship, the woman adored me. In fact, she adored me so much I got a bit freaked out in the beginning. “It’s just a crush,” she would say, reassuringly. And I went with that idea. I mean, how in the hell was I to understand what I was feeling, in the first few weeks. But I knew. Something deeper than our courtship and quality time, something deeper than having someone say how much they liked you, was missing. The element was my adoration back. I struggled to kickstart myself into loving this woman. I talked to my therapist. I wrote about it. I talked to her about it. But there was something, something intangible, that was not present for me. She was beautiful, stable, adoring… “What more could I want?” I kept asking myself, mentally and out loud to a few of my friends.
In the second relationship, I adored what I knew of the woman, and we had a great time together. She, on the other hand, continued to tell me she was not ready for a relationship, she was not interested in long-term. And to demonstrate her resolve, she would break up with me about every two weeks. After the first one I learned to roll with the emotional, knee-jerk punches, but I was not taking in the message. She really wasn’t in any condition to be in a relationship. And the closer we got, the more stressed out she became at her own indecision, and her own emotional struggles with her ex and their strained engagements over their 11 year-old son. Okay, so she wasn’t ready, and just as she was trying to tell me she was ready, she blew up at me in person, and I saw, “Wow, she’s really not ready for a relationship.” Okay, so I learned. I move forward.
And in the next relationship, I hope to combine the best of those two relationships into some sort of partnership that is established on genuine joy at being together, and mutual goals for what’s next in our lives. I’ve charted out maps and written strategies. I’ve sent off hundreds of love poems in hopes that she could be called in, tracked, or designed. But I stopped looking in November. I didn’t give up, I simply returned the focus to my work, my joy, and my livelihood. When she appears it will be a result of how I am walking and dancing in the world, not because I’m a poet or an articulate romantic.
And guess what… The universe is responding.
Will I go slow? Yes. At least, that’s the plan. Will I be listening for that rush? Always. And will I know it when I feel it? I will at least know that I am spiraling into an altered state, from which my judgement as well as the laws of space and time will be significantly altered.
Sure, I’m willing. Let’s jump to light speed.
back to Dating After Divorce
- Action Not Intention Will Determine How Long I’m Single
- Offline Dating: Setting Intentions and Actions in Real Life
- Why Online Dating is a Distraction and Not a Solution
- The 6-Step Relationship Strategy
image: couple on the beach, eric michael1, creative commons usage
Adding a NY Times article I read this morning.
I know the eyes are the windows to the soul or whatever, but the real crux of the moment was not just that I was really seeing someone, but that I was seeing someone really seeing me. Once I embraced the terror of this realization and gave it time to subside, I arrived somewhere unexpected. – – To Fall In Love with Anyone, Do This
No. 37, Big Wedding or Small? – The 36 Questions used in the study – NY Times