No Sugar Added: The dating hiatus

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Approximately 6 months ago, being of sound mind and body, I made the decision to go on a dating hiatus. My youngest son, Charles, through a fortuitous misinterpretation, turned it into what friends and family now know as the “date-us-hate-us,” which is actually not a completely inappropriate descriptive phrase.

If you or anyone you know is single, and are not in this position on purpose, you know how trying the dating process can be. Especially in a state where, shortly after having moved here with my three kids, one of my first (married) Maine girlfriends pointed out: “You don’t move here unless you already have a man.”

This did not make me feel particularly hopeful. Especially in light of the fact that the ink was barely dry on my mortgage documents. Had I been in possession of this information, I might have kept renting.

When choosing an area to move to after being widowed, I really did not put much thought into the availability of men. In my age range. Who might be single. And actually be compatible with me. I was thinking ocean and pristine white snow and pine trees and lighthouses. I had romantic visions of walking on the beach at sunset. I figured George Clooney would just be inexplicably drawn here at some point and move into an oceanfront cottage with me.

The fact that I am a spontaneous person and not a planner/researcher clearly did not work in my favor in this situation, for had I Googled “single men in Maine who are appropriate for me” I would have seen that there are approximately 13 men who fall into this category. And it only took me 1.5 years to date them. All of them.

At the time I was deciding where to move, I had unlimited options. Too many options, actually, and although it was a traumatic time in my life, it was also filled with the promise of possibility. Although, the possibility that I would never find another Prince Charming was not something I seriously considered.

Of course, single life has its perks. But single life with Ophelia, Harold and Charles is not always perky. I look at some of my divorced compatriots, and I fantasize about having an “every-other-weekend-and-every-Wednesday-night” ex-husband to rent. I adore my kids, but when Drew went and died on me, I did not fully absorb the fact that I would never have anyone to take over the care of our children, unless they were being paid a large sum of money, or were a kindly family member.

Back to my “date-us-hate-us.”

So, dating after burying the man you loved is not an easy feat. Not for me, and sometimes not for the men who voluntarily sit across the dinner table from me. I didn’t hate my husband. He didn’t ditch me for a 23-year-old nanny. He just got sick and died on me. So I harbor no ill feelings on his behalf. I also try not to hold him up on a pedestal, which is easy to do with a dead person, since they are no longer here to do all of those things that used to annoy you. I try to remember his imperfections and flaws and all of that good (bad) stuff.

Yet, I am still having trouble with the dating thing. And the low number of date-able men in Maine (as compared to other more populated states) is just plain depressing. I find myself either re-dating men I already know to be unsuitable, or fantasizing about the day when I can have a condo in Boston or New York and be in date-able men heaven.

Although my hiatus has now come to an end, I remain a huge proponent of the “hiatus” concept as an intermittent mental health tool. It’s a vacation from the emotional exhaustion of dating. A palate cleanser. A fresh start. A time to replenish one’s dating energy reserves. A time to just breathe.

Of course, I had rather a lot of fun on my dating hiatus – some of it, with men.

Clearly, it’s because I wasn’t dating them.

I’ll check back in with you in 6 months. Wish me luck.

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No Sugar Added is Cape Elizabeth resident Sandi Amorello’s biweekly take on life, love, death, dating and single parenting. Get more of Sandi at irreverentwidow.com, see her art at Silver Crayon Studios in Portland or contact her at sandi@irreverentwidow.com.

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