For some reason, I seemed to have developed the assumption that dating would be easier this time around. God knows why. I think, maybe, I decided that after being through something so horrific, that by the time I got to the stage where I felt ready to open my heart again I would have accumulated some kind of positive ‘love karma’ and earned myself another nice, respectable man.
I imaged that I would make some kind of grand statement (like uploading a profile on a dating website) and eligible suitors would form an orderly queue. I’d go on a couple of dates before finding someone whom I sparked with, and we’d be off.
Silly, silly widow! Why or why was I so naive? How could I not have remembered the shallow pool of contenders I encountered last time around – let alone imagined the minefield of idiots that would be waiting for me this time. To attempt to take advantage of a perceived vulnerability, or freak out and react uncomfortably at the first mention of death. Or just to basically be disappointing overall.
So far, dating ‘after Dan’ is very different to dating ‘before Dan’.
I don’t have the energy I did before. I don’t have the stamina or resilience for the game playing (is he going to call? Should I call?). I’m much more fragile this time around and now that I know the stakes and what I could potentially gain – and then lose again – I’m more cautious and reserved.
Furthermore, Dan set the bar REALLY high. As in, I'm really holding out for someone incredible. Someone who makes me light up. Now that I know what the real deal, no-holds-barred, 100% true love feels like, nothing less than will ever be tolerated. Not that it should ever have been tolerated before, or by anyone in any circumstances. But before Dan I didn’t know exactly how incredible love could and should be.
This next man will need to have a bit of class about him but be humble at the same time. A gentleman, honorable, funny, loyal and basically an all-round stand-up guy. Because, as I now know without a doubt, this is what I deserve.
Which, is another big difference to dating this time around, I have a better understanding of my own worth. Before Dan, I put up with more than my fair share of nonsense from guys who really should have treated me better. I'd been taken for granted and this had subconsciously impacted on what I perceived that I was worth. I didn't realize it at the time, but until I met Dan I think I'd started believing that love just wasn't meant for me.
And then along came the most wonderful man. He meant it when he said I was beautiful, kind, funny and smart. He taught me what love felt like and proved that I'm the type of woman who really does deserve the best. Furthermore, I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'm freaking awesome! The next guy who wins my heart is going to have to be pretty special, because he'll be getting have a very incredible woman.
In my wedding speech, I said to Dan (among many other things) ‘You’re such an amazing man. You always know just what to say and you save me every day.’ When I sat this week and pondered what being in love with Dan had taught me, I realised that he had taught me how to save myself. Never again will I find myself in an unfulfilling relationship or question my worth. He gave me that.
I’m still impatient though, I am wanting to take a step forward. I’m wanting to test the waters. I’m wanting to feel a stirring in my heart again but just can’t find the right person to make it stir. I’m scared as all get out, but I’m ready to try.
I know, I know – all good things come to those who wait. You can’t hurry love. You’ll find someone when you aren’t looking. Bla bla bla, I know. I’ve been around this block before, I know how it works. It’s just so bloody annoying that I’m going through it all again.