It has taken me a long time to appreciate being single. Ever since my divorce almost 14 years ago, I have been trying to find that elusive Mr. Right. Not really to replace my Ex (though I longed to make him jealous…as if). But I compared every man I dated to him…as if he were the prototype of Prince Charming.
Many times, especially when something went wrong in the house – blocked up sink, finding a mouse running along my kitchen counter – I was the damsel in distress hoping to be saved.
I wanted a man in my life to share the housekeeping, maintenance and expenses.
Of course there was the intimacy. But that was far from being my top reason. I needed a man to make me feel more alive! I wanted to fall in love again (and still do). I wanted to belong to someone. To fit in a world made up of couples.
I began online dating in my forties, at a time when it was considered creepy and for losers. Nobody dared admit they had a dating profile on line.
Yes, I joined all the other desperate people out there. I must have created and posted a hundred different profiles throughout my “newly single” years.
As the years went by, online dating sites flourished. These internet-based services grew into a billion-dollar industry. Dating on line became socially acceptable and went from “creepy” to trendy. I no longer felt like a pariah.
By then, I was well into midlife. Different story. Different playing field.
Today, Online Dating Magazine estimates there are more than 2,500 online dating services in the U.S. alone, with an additional 1,000 cropping up every year. Some estimates say there are 8,000 competitors worldwide. Add to that figure the numerous books and services promising to reveal the secrets of finding a quality man, or telling you how to dress to find the man of your dreams, as well as dating coaches, and how-to-date gurus.
I am a woman in my sixties. It’s no secret that men my age (and older) want women half their age. It’s become the norm. And get them they do. Or hope they do. Look at Modern Family’s Jay, played by the talented and funny Ed O’Neill – not exactly someone who would inspire women to immediately click on his profile. Yet, the producers cast the sexy Sofia Vergara as his wife. Of course, Jay has something a lot of men his age don’t have. Success and money.
Because I was afraid of ending up alone, and especially because I was insecure, I reduced my criteria. Told myself looks weren’t important. Chemistry wasn’t important. What was important was that I had men (even if unsuitable) wanting to date me. Now my family, friends, colleagues, and strangers wouldn’t consider me a total loser. See? She has a boyfriend.
Naturally, these “boyfriends” didn’t last. All I possessed was a box filled with photocopies of the profiles of men I had dated, with little notes attached.
I had enough material for two books.
I used some of that material in Getting to Mr. Right, a novel on midlife dating and the Prince Charming myth. In the novel, one of the characters, Missi, is unexpectedly dumped by her husband and has to face the daunting prospect of dating again in midlife. Her disappointing dating experiences became a parallel book entitled Missi’s Dating Adventures. Although the book is not biographical, I drew on my own dating experiences, as well as those of my girlfriends.
Missi is your everyday middle-aged woman, who is suddenly thrust into an online dating world after years of married bliss … whose journey through the disillusionment of disastrous dates helps her to find out who she really is and what she really wants. She may not find the perfect match on line but she regains her self-identity and self-respect.
Writing the second edition was a lot like renovating a house. Walls (chapters) were torn down, and new extensions built. Most importantly, in this edition, Missi learns a valuable lesson with every unsuitable date.
In this version more emphasis is placed on Missi’s growth and evolution as her own woman and how discerning she is becoming through her dating adventures.
Included in this revised version are the lessons which Missi learned from each dating experience. Surviving disappointments in her love life made her stronger, and the bad dates, the many encounters with Mr. Wrong, gave her more confidence and a better appreciation of who she is.
This edition deals more with the perks of being single. I’ve also emphasized Missi’s embracement of being single. How she faced her fears of being alone:
I sat in the silence after the song ended. Life as I knew it was gone. Maybe I’d never find that special someone to replace Max.
As a nameless fear took shape, my spine stiffened. What if I stayed single and grew old alone?
Would my corpse be discovered like that woman on the news, whose body was found in her apartment three years after she’d died?
You can read one of Missi’s adventures here.
In the end, Missi gains a new appreciation of herself and feels more positive about being single, much like Carrie in Sex and the City:
Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you.
Now it means you’re pretty sexy, and you’re taking your time
deciding how you want your life to be
and who you want to spend it with.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post from Carol Balawyder. She was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec and now lives in Montreal. She taught ESL and criminology for many years. Now, retired, she concentrates her time on writing crime novels, memoirs and women’s fiction. She is the author of Open for Business, Windows on Sci-Tech and her stories have appeared in Room Magazine, The Anthology of Canadian Writers and Mindful.org. You can visit her at www.carolbalawyder.com