As 2018 closes, I am glad you took pictures.

I never liked taking pictures, but you did.  I’m very glad now to have them.

Felecci knew a side of me most people don’t get to see. The side that isn’t afraid to be silly. She also loved to take pictures, and I most certainly didn’t. It’s good that one of us did though. While I can’t look at many of them because of the emotions it brings up, I do smile when I find pictures like this. It reminds me of what was great about our marriage.

I sometimes wonder if our marriage would be the same had we met later in life. We met in college and we were still sort of kids / sort of adults. There was no pretext to our relationship. She didn’t need to have a baby within 1 year or be married within 2 years. We didn’t have our entire lives planned out before meeting one another. And we most certainly didn’t need dating profile pictures with Instagram filters applied to hide our imperfections.

Try dating in 2018 and often you start to notice some things. And it doesn’t exactly matter between age either. I’ve dated both older and younger women, and while not universally true, many people already have an image of exactly who it is they are looking for. It’s like they saw their perfect match on TV and are going out onto Tinder shopping for it.

I wasn’t looking for any relationship in particular when I started dating Felecci. We sort of fell into it. As we grew closer together, we started to discuss (negotiate if you will) what our futures would look like. I imagine if we had critical issues then it is possible we wouldn’t have worked out. But we were compatible. We figured that out over a long time. We weren’t sure about it after 2-3 dates.

We were friends who were attracted to one another. We became what I would describe in modern terms as “exclusive best friends with benefits”. We had a connection and we enjoyed one another’s company. The other stuff got worked out along the way as our lives unfolded. Sooner or later we got married. And if it wasn’t for cancer, I am sure we would be complaining about 2.5 kids and New Jersey property taxes right now.

These days, a high number of people seem to have their relationship search boiled down to an exact set of specifications. “Meet these minimum requirements or you can’t date me.” Or, they suffer from buyers remorse. They test drive one person, but they can’t stop looking online for a newer, better model.

Surprisingly, so many people have trouble telling the other person that is going to work out. The whole concept of ghosting was a foreign idea to me and someone had to explain it to me. Assuming the other person isn’t nuts or dangerous, don’t we owe the person the courtesy of breaking it off? I mean, how hard is it to call or text someone that you don’t wish to take this any further?

I knew dating would be weird for someone who is in my situation, but I really can’t wrap my head around just how fickle a number of my encounters were. People were almost grateful when I was a mature human being and declined further dates as if I was doing them a great favor by talking with them and breaking it off clean. Others seemed to be 100% into me only to break up via text the next day out of nowhere. Making me think I missed some sign or something. Oddly (and hypocritically, I guess) enough, I found myself grateful that I got a text at all. Not left wondering for a week if we were still dating or not.

I don’t remember dating being so complicated. I’m not sure if the information age has not just amplified our insecurities and flaws and made us way more judgemental of one another.

I mean, I am ok with someone not liking me. I had a great marriage and I took care of Felecci for a long time. I know what type of person I am and if I never get married again I will take pride in the type of husband I was to my grave.

I am actually worried for some people that I’ve met though. You can see from their profile and then by meeting the real them that they are struggling with who they are. You see a photo, but that isn’t really them. It has 20 filters applied to it, in person, they sort of look like their picture but it’s hard to tell really. Are we all really trying to deceive one another into liking us before we even meet them?

And some of the personalities. I mean some folks come to the date downright angry at the world. You can tell that they have had some negative experiences in the past and they are going to hate dating, in spite of the fact that no one is forcing them to show up. I mean chill out, I didn’t apply a Jason Momoa filter on my face to trick you into coming here. Have a drink before telling me how terrible your life is and how many people in your office you hate.

Who knew the hardest part of dating wasn’t going to be finding dates, but it was going to be dealing with all of this human insecurity out there. While I’m not going to pretend that I am god’s gift, I am ok with who I am. I don’t get the impression many people who are dating feel the same way. And it makes for tense people who worry too much about what went wrong on a date instead of just chalking it up to two people simply not having any chemistry.

Advice to widowers dating for the first time: you might think you will be the one who doesn’t have your shit together – but trust me. You might have your shit together better than some folks out there. Don’t sweat it if the date doesn’t work out, sometimes you just don’t click. Don’t get your hopes too high or too low, people are fickle out there. Take your time and enjoy it, and when it gets to be annoying, take breaks.

To those dating in general, I’m not sure some of you are cut out for marriage. Consider changing your status from long-term relationship to hookup. Because some of you don’t realize it, but you have no idea yet what it is that you want. Date casually, don’t put so much pressure on it. Try to let it flow. And if your bar is really high in a bunch of areas, you may be creating requirements that no one can meet. Be sure those requirements are genuine, and not just you being really picky.

Finally, be yourself. There is literally no one you date who isn’t going to figure out who you really are sooner or later. Better they figure it out at the profile reading stage and spare you and them the trouble. While I don’t lead with the fact, I state that I am a widower in my profiles. It for sure reduces the activity pool, but I don’t want to date casually. One of my requirements is that someone is ok with my past and that they are supportive of it. If they can’t cope with my history, then they aren’t right for me.

I’m on a break from online dating, and frankly, I’m enjoying my break from it right now. My tolerance for other people’s bullshit is low in general. I’ll be back in the pool before long, but it’s nice to have a breather when it stops being fun and starts feeling like a chore.

Here is to hoping 2019 has more easy going and silly people out there. Because I had a great one, and she told me to find another when I was ready. Too bad she didn’t leave me instructions on how I did so well in catching her in the first place.

Have a safe new year everyone.

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