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Read part one of my dating journey and beginning of our love story here.
Now, I realized I am ready to date.
Something clicked in my brain that I was ready. It felt like all of a sudden I could consider a talking to someone new, but I also had no idea where to start. How do I even begin to find someone, a new love story?
As a 30 year old single mom of three in the suburbs, I entered the unknown and treacherous world of online dating apps.
I was COMPLETELY overwhelmed.
It felt weird to be talking to someone that wasn’t my husband, but also exciting. It didn’t feel wrong, just awkward since I had been with the same man for 12 years! I didn’t know how to qualify or how to say no so I was just inundated with conversations.
It felt good to have attention, and confirmed what my dad had told me. I was desirable. It sounds silly, but I had built up so much in my mind that no one would understand me, and to see people wanting to talk to me was reassuring. I felt like my online profile would have an asterisk next to it that would heed a warning *WIDOW WITH KIDS! DANGER!* And honestly, sometimes I would lead with my insecurities first. Like “nice to chat! Oh by the way I am a widow.” And expect them to run. Which some did, because I was leading with what I knew would scare some people away.
So I chatted with a few, then got the courage out to actually go on a date. Truthfully I went on TWO dates in a week after talking to these guys for a couple weeks. The nerves I felt were UNREAL. I am a generally confident person, but the newness of being taken out by someone I didn’t know too well was all consuming. I can remember sitting at the bar meeting this guy for lunch and just not feeling myself. Was I wearing the right clothes? This feels like a business interview. Was I saying the right things? Am I doing this thing right? Is this how you do it? Was I going to scare him off by telling too much of my story? Do they realize I have kids and I love my late husband still?
It was a fine time, don’t get me wrong. But it reminded me that it was going to take me a minute to figure out who I was as a single person, how to be engaging and fun and learn how to talk to a new person. I had the advantage of a good experience as my previous relationship, so it wasn’t so much comparing as it was contentment knowing what I could “settle” for.
A few days later I went out with guy #2 to a nice date to the Museum of Art in Boston. Again, a great experience! Much less nerves, but still more awkward than I am generally as a person. Lots of sweaty armpits and second guessing every word that left my mouth.
What I began to realize it that my grief did not define me. I was still myself, a desirable young woman. A woman who just has a big story and a whole lot of love left to give.
So, I continued to date.
The more people I chatted with taught me how to qualify better. I learned what questions to ask, how much to divulge until some trust was established, and how to say no thank you when I knew it wouldn’t be a good match. Dating not out of desperation to be with someone, but knowing that God created me to be a part of a relationship. And knowing that my children being as young as they are, really do need a father on earth to help raise them.
I had some great dates and honestly some fun experiences. I had some terrible ones (which make some great stories…), and I had one scary one (trust your gut ladies!!).
And you know the biggest lesson I learned?
Just put yourself out there.
Know what you want, and do not accept anything less.
That sounds super presumptuous and like I am sitting in front of a screen with a pompous attitude, but I assure you it isn’t like that. It is simply the perspective and reality that I am 30, a mom, and am not willing to partner up with someone who doesn’t share a similar view on life. It meant that I knew what pain was, but I also knew how precious life is. I know God, and my relationship with Him is important. And if I want a partner in life, he needs to share some basic similarities for our conversation to even begin. And a new love story would be perfect and unique and exactly what God intends for me and my children.
So I dated online on and off for about six months before I realized that this mode of dating just wasn’t going to work for me. Now hear me out, I am not saying it won’t work for you, just that the kind of person I was looking for in New England did not exist online. If I was younger, maybe I would have more success. But I found that most of the people I talked to were online because they lacked that certain “je ne said quoi” to be enthusiastic and ambitious in life. They were online because they were wounded from a previous relationship that they were allowing to filter into a possible new one. Or they just had no game. And the reality of the northeast is it is extremely unchurched, so to find a single guy in maybe his mid 30s that had a genuine relationship with God was slim to none.
And I wasn’t willing to give that up. I did not want someone who would just go along to church with me because I said it was important, because we all know that when the newness of a relationship wears off, so will that attitude. I wanted a man who had a relationship with God on his own, and then we join forces and become a force for Jesus TOGETHER. Not because of me. I have children, and the way I want to raise them is a serious calling and not something I would waiver on.
So then entered a period of time where I didn’t date much at all. And I was honestly sort of OK with that. I knew my next love story would happen in God’s timing, and I knew I couldn’t force that. I ended up going on a date from a recommendation from a friend (LOVE that! People, introduce your single people to each other please!). And I went on a date with someone who I knew from my childhood church. I found that those type of dating scenarios were much more genuine and feasible than what I had experienced online so far.
And again, this is my story and not what is going to be yours. I have met so many people who have dated online and have had success! I would just say consider what works for you, in your phase of life, and in your area.
Now are you curious to hear how Dustin and I actually met?!
ONLINE. Kind of. I know I have mentioned finding your community a million times, but I’m telling you, my widow friends are absolutely invaluable. There is something about talking to someone who has walked a similar path, especially when it is a unique and complex one. Anyway, a widow friend that I met through the Never Alone community told me about this Christian blogger who runs this matchmaker type service, now on the instagram platform. The way it works is that you put up a profile of yourself with some pictures and a bio, and let instagram do its thing. So I put mine up and talked to some nice guys! And it felt completely different than my experience with the dating apps. This group of people were actually serious about talking to someone for a reason, not just dating just to date. And the majority are true Christians, something that was really important to me.
So then this guy pops up. He’s handsome and I can see that he has a daughter (a plus for me! You really get the whole kid thing, and I have a few…).
So I hit follow.
And the love story will continue later…
Special shout out to Kelly at Kelly’s Korner for her ministry! Thank you for your help with the challenge dating is for singles and honoring God by helping them! And thank you to my friend Ashley, who has been a constant source of encouragement. There is nothing like stepping out into dating when you’ve been widowed, when you have your kids all to yourself. Thank you for walking through this journey with me. Love you, friend.
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Photo by Bekah Scadding
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