Why Dating is Hazardous to a Woman's Health

I woke up this morning with a cold, and I thought- this is proof that dating is hazardous to your health.

Colds are treatable and go away fairly quickly. Feelings, not so much. 

Some morning, I’ll wake up with feelings.
That morning might have been yesterday morning, or this morning.
It may have been a morning eight months ago.
And those mornings will always, always be far more hazardous than waking up with a contagious disease.

Let’s face it- dating in mid-life is friggin complicated. Hazardous, even.
We’re old enough to know better. 
We’re independent enough to not “need” anyone. 
We know what we want. 
We’ve got our shit together.

And supposedly... 
We middle age single women are liberated, free, powerful, and mature enough to do what we want (as in, eh-hem, cover your eyes, Mom... casual sex).
If we’re looking for something more, we know how to weed out and avoid dead ends.
We know how to gauge and measure our feelings, and we know to not let them develop too quickly, or in the wrong circumstances for the wrong people.


I’ve discovered over these last several months of singledom, that those things are simply not true. At least not for many of us mid-life single women.

After being in a committed relationship for years, eight months ago I first learned the hazards of mid-life dating. I dated a guy who practically handed me a bouquet of red flags, and like a bull, I saw red and charged right in. Because I thought I was that woman, the one described above. The one who knows how to weed out the non-potentials and dead ends, and who knows how to meter her feelings. 
I was surprised when one morning I woke up with feelings. And unfortunately, even more surprised when a few weeks later they were hurt.

I've also learned that, even in mid-life, many men still don’t know what they want.
Or, they do know... casual. They want casual.
Some make that apparent, some don't. Either way, it's ultimately up to us to accept that risk.
We intelligent, independent, "got our shit together" women truly believe that we are wise enough to manage our feelings. That we are liberated and powerful and secure in our ability to “be casual.”
And then, quite suddenly and unforgivingly, we are taught that our feelings are still very much at the surface. As if we were adolescents all over again. 
And we discover that our ability to be casual melts away with the sunrise.


But, how do you reach the “end goal” while avoiding the hazards? Has anyone found a way yet?  

I have suffered loss, tragedy, and heartbreak, much like many others have.
But given it all, I am still a hopeless romantic. I still have Disney-edge notions of love.
And I know I'm not alone in that. Many of us middle-age single, supposedly fiercely independent women want the same things. The things we've always wanted.

I want to laugh in the kitchen, dance, make a mess, kiss, watch him cook (because I hate to). Maybe I’ll help. But mostly I’ll make a mess, and slap his butt, and just generally get in the way.

I want to go on weekend getaways, or afternoon road trips, to the lake or the coast, or to a big city, or to the middle of nowhere, anywhere...

I want to have quiet, unspoken moments. Watching tv, or reading, or walking, or driving… but always touching, and always connected.

I want flowers at work, or to find love notes in my car.
I want to have engaging, meaningful, intellectually stimulating conversations.
I want passion.
I want to look down from the stage while I’m singing, and meet the adoring eyes of my biggest fan.

Jeezus. Where did all this mushy crap come from?

See??? Hazardous.