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…so are the endless days of dating.

I’m still “talking” to Blake, that guy I met through online dating. The emails continue — back and forth like a helpless tennis ball at Wimbledon. Did I ever tell you about that time I interviewed the amazing Rod Laver for my county newspaper? I digress…

Plus side: I’m getting to know Blake. He seems like a nice guy. He seems open to answering my questions. He seems genuinely interested in learning more about me.

first dateDownside: We may have covered every topic in life before we meet face-to-face. I can picture us now, sitting at a nice restaurant in silence before I finally resort back to kindergarten by asking the only question that hasn’t been discussed: “So, what’s your favorite color?”

By default, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about timing. It’s a funny thing at first, this whole time thing. But the humor sure wears off over the years. With every wrinkle, with every body ache, with every absent-minded person who tells me that statistically it isn’t smart for women to have babies over 40. (Meaning, delivering babies after the woman is 40 years old, not delivering 40-year-old babies. I’m pretty sure the latter is definitely not smart, though I do know a few men that fit into this category.)

When I was younger and more carefree, dating wasn’t so stressful. I met different guys around my former stomping grounds in Nashville and just rolled with it. Coffee meet-ups, dinner dates, picnics in the park, movie nights. It was fun! Then each adventure eventually came to an end (as evidenced by my current relationship status), and I moved on. No dire heartbreak. No pressure. No race to the altar. Life went on.

Fast forward a decade or so and the atmosphere surrounding the dating experience has changed. It’s all a little more urgent.ย I’ve got friends my age who are married with two, three, four children. People younger than me have already been divorced and are on their second marriages. How is that fair? (Not making light of divorce here, but the life-experience-to-age ratio just seems off, as unreasonable as this comparison may be.)

Now every coffee meet-up, dinner date, picnic in the park, movie night might just be the one that spurs a relationship that will last forever. Dating in my thirties is like dating was in my twenties, but in a pressure cooker. If I don’t get married and make babies soon, I will miss my window. Time’s a ticking.

What a terrible way to date.

Are the days of actually enjoying dating over?

hourglassIs dating now just a matching game set to a life timer, where we better find ‘the one’ before the last grains of sand fall through the hourglass?

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Please say it isn’t so.

I admit I fall prey to this line of thinking sometimes. But there are several sides to the story. While I’m hoping to speed things along with Blake, it isn’t because I’m not enjoying the process. And it isn’t because I just want to see if he’s the one I’m going to marry already. There’s another side to the dating coin.

As a thirty-something, I also know myself better than I did in my twenties. And I know better what I want in a future relationship, marriage, family, career, faith, etc. These are good things that can only happen with age. So as much as I’d love to be married, I also know, very clearly, what I am not willing to sacrifice just to be married.ย So it takesย less time to discover whether or not a man is a good match for me for the long term.

But so far as I know myself, I know that sitting around in frustration waiting for Blake to work up the courage to ask me out was only causing me more anxiety. So a few days ago I took the advice of 70 percent of you and I dropped the big “I’d love to meet you” hint. Too forward? I don’t think so. Too desperate? Who cares?

Dating is as much about the overall experience as it is about my individual experience. I need to make it work for me. If that means taking a break from online dating for nearly two years like I recently did, so be it. If it means adjusting standards and expectations as I learn and get older, so be it. If it means nudging a guy along who might just need a little push to make the move, so be it.

I mean, I ain’t gettin’ any younger.

~Ruth

P.S. Blake and I are meeting for dinner this Wednesday. ๐Ÿ™‚