You Asked, I Answered: Dating Again

(For those visiting because of the Homies, hello there!  Welcome.  Things get weird here fast.  Keep up and you won’t regret it.  I think.)Get ready for a long post!When I asked you guys to fill out a reader survey, I expected you might ask me about my status as a single DIYer.  Does that mean I’m not dating at all?  Do I even have time to have a love life?  And what’s with the teaser photos on Instagram?

Okay, I made up the last one because Jami from What the Graham is obsessed with my love life.  And I like messing with her, so every time I hang out with a buddy of mine, I take a picture of him and post it on Instagram to keep her guessing.

But as for my love life?  Really?  Oh, what the hell – let’s get into it.  And just because it’s fun and will let you get to know me better, I’m splashing some of my favorite quotes all over this post.

Let’s back up for a sec though

When I bought the Ugg-Duck back in 2009 (just before New Years, 2010), I was already living in an apartment with my boyfriend, Scott.  After closing, we moved into the house together and had some interesting first nights discovering what homeownership might be like.  But for those that are curious, it was always my house (his name was never on the mortgage or the title).  He basically paid me rent and utilities so that we could split costs 50/50.  I paid for all of the renovation projects from my own pocket (since he owned no equity in the house, it didn’t seem fair in case we ever broke up for him to sink money into a house he didn’t own).

We lived in the house, worked on a few projects together, and did the normal things that two people sharing a home do.  I started a blog about all of the funny realizations my new house subjected me to; Scott started a new job that he fell in love with.  After another year of living together, traveling together, and everything else, the lives of the people around us were changing.  Most of our friends were now married; some were having kids; my sister got engaged.  And I realized that with all of the changes going on around us, it was something I wanted, too.  I changed jobs.  I was ready for taking next steps and building a life with someone.  But I also realized that the relationship I was in wasn’t making either of us happy anymore.  We’d been together for a long time, but we didn’t see each other with the same eyes anymore.  After a long discussion, we both saw that it was time for us go our separate ways.  It was sad.  And it was really awkward for me to announce to a bunch of strangers and friends on the internet.

Just before Scott moved out, he began applying to grad school and got me interested in the program I’m in now.  So when it comes to relationships teaching you something, an MBA is a pretty nice thing for both of us to walk away with!  We are still friends, still have a lot of the same mutual friends, and have lunch every once in a while to catch up (we did just last week, actually).  I sometimes miss saying hello to his family, and really miss his dog.  That furball left such a hole in this house, I had to get my own.  That’s how I wound up with Charlie, and my life wouldn’t be the same without her.  She’s my family.

Let’s fast forward

Six months after the breakup, it was still hard for me to blog about.  When talking about the house to family and friends (most of whom were mutual friends), I almost always mentioned a project I’d worked on with another person who was no longer living there.  It was awkward.  And talking about my hobbies to someone new?  I love talking about the house, but referencing one’s ex is weird and seemed unavoidable until I got a few solo projects finished.

I was also starting a new chapter.  I would be starting school again and on my way to a graduate degree.  I’d meet new people, start new friendships, and most importantly, I’d be doing something I knew would be worthwhile.  “MBA by thirty” would be crossed off the bucket list.  My career had somewhat plateaued thanks to a struggling economy and no future opportunity of promotion at the company I was working for.  I’d found a new job, but I was starting over again.  And after spending years in a long-term relationship that had also ended, I felt like my entire life was in need of a jump start   Something to make me feel like I was moving forward again.

I wasn’t really in a head space for dating again.  I was more sure of what I wanted from a relationship than ever, but every time I came around someone I was attracted to (a rarity), I felt like I’d shrunk.  I was intimidated and nervous, which is not like me at all.  I don’t know of a better way to describe it than to say I felt smaller.  Not filling out my own skin.  But that feeling only seemed to exist in the dating part of my world.  Everywhere else felt like I excelled.  I got into my grad program with only an interview (I didn’t have to even take exams before acceptance!).  My clients at work were happy and some were even making comments to my supervisor to give me a raise (which is always nice to hear!).  The blog was receiving new interest and I lined up my first few sponsors.  I committed to attending my first-ever blogger’s conference where I’d meet tons of like-minded, passionate DIYers.  And all the while, the house and pup were happy and hitting their own milestones.

Six more months…

The blog was growing more.  The house was moving sluggishly along with my new school commitments, but I was doing very well in my grad program.  I began working out and discovered how much I enjoyed bikram yoga and running.

I sang in the shower (and the car, while painting… pretty much everywhere) again and put a fresh smile on my face.  I went to the salon, bought a few new clothes, and found genuine satisfaction in the way I presented myself to the world.  I felt confident and attractive.  I was completely out of my breakup funk.  I paid more attention to making time for long-starved friendships.  I got asked out occasionally, but not by anyone I clicked with.  Strangely, I was hit on more than a few times at – of all places – gas stations (it happened enough times to suspect it was an elaborate prank being played on me).  There were a few situations where guys I was not interested in wouldn’t stop asking me out, and the one or two guys I was interested in didn’t notice me.  Ha – isn’t that how it goes?

Don’t read too much into it

An old acquaintance says hello on an ordinary day.  He asks me out; I say yes.  We have a great first date.  We have a good second one.  We don’t see each other much (school, job, conflicts, etc.) over a few months but I have a good time when we do.  I realize I have expectations I’ve never had before and am easily disappointed.  I admire new things and am also less stubborn than past relationships (so, hooray for that at least).  I believe more than ever in love but don’t see it in our future.  I convince myself that wanting more isn’t a character flaw.  Then I remember how easy it is to fall for a guy I really click with.  This wasn’t it.

Now(ish)

I don’t meet a lot of new people who aren’t already married (that’s including my grad school program; it’s designed for me to see the same 25 people all the time for the entire two-year period, save a few elective courses).  My female friends are mostly married and many of them have children.  They also drop hints at wanting to set me up; I just think it’s awkward.  Not because my friends’ friends aren’t probably great people; but “He’s awesome!” is the new “He’s got a great personality!”  Not. Fooling. Anyone.

I tried online dating briefly at about the nine-month post-breakup mark.  I tried it for only a month.  I felt so uncomfortable and weirded out by it that I don’t think I could ever do it again.  I know plenty of people who are happily married thanks to meeting online; I just don’t think it’s for me.

Another personal preference thing:  even if I’m interested, I don’t ask men out.  I’m kind of old school about first dates.  Dropping a hint or two is usually enough.  I’ve tried asking a guy out before, sure.  But I know myself.  Experience has taught me that if he’s not taking taking the lead on a first date, I’ll only wind up frustrated in a relationship with him, too (Sidenote: the way my ex asked me out was simply to look at me deadpan and state, “We’re going out Friday night.”  He sounded so sure that I believed him).  And this has absolutely nothing to do with a guy being the quiet type or not.  I like the quiet type, the rugged type, the suit and tie type… I guess that means I don’t really have a type.  But I know it when I see it. :)

I’m not mending a broken heart, but I do sometimes feel loneliness and want to find someone to share my life with.  Pretty sure I’m ready for that.  I think feeling lonely from time to time is a normal part of being single (and living alone with a dog and very little social life).  This has been the longest I’ve ever been single, though.  I think that’s also (probably) normal when you’re more sure of what you’re looking for.

What I know I want

  • That whole pitter-patter-I-can’t-stop-smiling-even-when-I-try thing.  Butterflies in my stomach.  I vaguely remember it.
  • Someone who is kind.  Someone who makes me want to be kinder, too (and is both patient with me when I’m not and who I am uncharacteristically patient for in turn).  Especially when a pipe is still leaking and I’ve had my fourth meltdown of the week.
  • Someone with a working brain.  I think my biggest pet peeve lately is the moment when I realize I can almost see the things I say whizzing above a person’s head (funny, that didn’t matter as much in college…)
  • Someone who is comfortable with themselves, flaws and all.  I admire the hell out of fearlessness (that goes for women too; most of my closest friends are badasses in their own unique ways).  There’s just something about a person who accepts that they won’t make everyone happy and they’re okay with that (but doesn’t purposely try to piss people off; that’s obnoxious).  I act like a ten-year-old around the people I trust most; knowing that I can just be me is pretty damn important (because they’re not going to get me to be anyone else either).
  • Someone who plans for the future but doesn’t shy away from the fun of not knowing what comes next.  Who likes traveling and trying new things.  Who understands how much I like surprises (even though I constantly seek control).
  • Duh – someone who gets my sense of humor.  I like a guy who makes me laugh, sure.  But I like making someone else laugh, too.
  • This one may seem weird, and in many ways, it’s merely symbolic:  Someone who I don’t have to ask to hold the camera.  Sharing my life with someone = I’m a part of it.  Not just the one snapping photos of the other person having all the fun.  Looking back on my life, I want to see that I was there!

Basically, I’m looking for someone who is looking for the right person too.  Something worthy of the time it takes to combine my life with someone else’s.  I’m stealing this quote from another single DIYer’s bathroom wall because it sums it up nicely:

I don’t consider my home and all of the other things going on in my life to be something that interferes.  I think if I met someone I’d like to spend time with, I’ll make the time.  I always have for the things that really matter.  But until then, and even after then, I’m going to continue doing the things I love.

Comments

  1. says

    Hey! I thought I would chime in here with some advice.

    I have been single for 6.5 year. 6.5 freaking years!!!! I date, but I still havent met the right guy for me (FYI- we share a similar taste in men….hmmm). I also own my own place!

    Honestly, hun, you get used to it. You come to enjoy your own company and you learn a lot about yourself and what you like and dont like. I know that feeling of wanting a partner in this crazy life, but for now just get to enjoy this time of doing whatever the heck you like. A guy will come in time and when he does you will be more prepared for showing him the REAL you.

  2. says

    Sarah,
    It is so good to hear about YOU! I came to your site (not sure how???) a few months ago. I check in to several blogs before I start my mom/etsy/errand duties. The first few visits to your site referred to working on your house and drinking beer! I am entertained by your hard work and determination while working on your home. I loved to hear about your past, hopes, dreams, and interest in finding the right person. You have a great head on your shoulders, are hard working, smart, beautiful….when the time is right he will appear. It sounds like you have been going through a much needed transformation that is good for YOU! For now, keep on!

  3. says

    Sarah – this post is fantastic! The right guy is out there – don't settle for less. Unless he offers you a bacon bouquet, because I think that kind of guy would be pretty hard to pass up.

    • says

      Right? Did you watch the inauguration? That “poem” was super weird/creepy (and looooooong). I use quotations because in my head it's not a poem unless it rhymes. Or unless it involves bacon.

  4. says

    Oh my gosh! Thank you so much for sharing and being honest. As much as I love everything DIY, these heartfelt posts are the best. It sounds like you are doing everything right and are an incredibly strong person now.

  5. says

    This was a great post. I love reading your blog because it is so unique and I love your humor. I really believe it happens when it happens and enjoying every bit of life and keeping yourself open to new opportunities is the best thing you can do. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Anonymous says

    This really is hitting me hard. I'm 7 months out and have just sold our house. Thank you for posting.

  7. Chrissy says

    Great post. So well thought out. Congratulations on all your successes and working so hard on you.

  8. says

    Oh. My. Gosh. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS POST! I think I've found a blogger kindred spirit in you. LOL :) I found myself nodding and “uh-huh-ing” at the majority of the paragraphs in here and had already saved more than half of those quote images you posted to my PC before I even found this. I'm holding out for love too, lady! I hope it finds us both sooner than later!

  9. says

    Such a great post! Love you and love your last “what I want” about a guy who will pick up the camera. I'm going to tell my husband that, because that's what I want too! Thanks for putting that in writing.

  10. says

    Great post, Sarah. Hope you find a great guy – I'm sure you will! Hope to see you at a blogging meetup sometime soon!

    -Erin @ DIY On the Cheap

  11. anna parker says

    You are right. Wait for the right guy. Never settle for second (or third or fourth) best!

  12. says

    As someone once told me during my four year relationship drought, “When it is something (or someone) you really want, nothing will stand in your way from making it happen!”

  13. says

    This is the turning point everyone needs to reach: the realization that you don't need to be with someone to be happy, but that you need someone who will support you and share your happiness. Sadly, many people jump the gun and get married too early out of fear of being alone or under pressure from those around them. While some get lucky, the divorce rate tells us how many don't.

    I'm in the most loving relationship of my life (eight years and married at this point) and not a day goes by when we don't express our love to each other and our appreciation of each other and what we have. We often do that several times a day, no kidding! We had both reached the stage you describe; no more relationships for the sake of being in a relationship. We were both fine alone if it meant not dilly dallying. We met when we were 34 and 35.

    We both think the magic ingredients are the following:

    -It is a meeting of the minds. We have never and will never stop talking about things that interest us. For example we mutually pondered pro sports as a form of consumerism. Neither of us could have had that type of conversation in past relationships.

    -We like each other. That sounds silly, but it's often overlooked in favor of the “mad, passionate” above. Liking someone is like a slow and steady simmer, where the “mad, passionate” side of love is more like throwing steaks on a grill. Both are good, but the faster, crazier emotions can end just as abruptly as they started. The question to ask is “do I really like this person too”–and that involves sharing the same values, the same types of goals in life, and having enough in common to have conversations as stated above.

    Mutual respect–this ties into all of the above. It's good to have all of above and to realize that you can't be exactly alike, that the little things don't matter (like which way the TP is hung), and that your combined ideas and skills can form something like a super hero group. ;) It's this factor that makes taking on life and the world in general bond you even more.

    And the king of all good relationship traits is communication. We take special care to make sure we understand each other if we think something was not communicated properly. We're attuned to each other when life in general might be getting us down in some way and we encourage each other to think/talk about it. The person you love should be a refuge from the world, a place to regroup and come back a little stronger when you're feeling low.

    This may sound random, but if you do marry someday, marry a feminist. I'm not kidding! Men who self identify as such tend to be emotionally in-touch and they are not afraid of your success, your dreams, and your future plans. (Note to people who think feminism is man hating: it's not. It's all about equality for both genders. It just recognizes that eliminating sexism directed at women is key to liberating men too.)

    Good luck! Have fun getting to know yourself. You're at the perfect age for it. You have a lot of mad skills to accomplish a great deal. And most important, it may feel lonely at times, but if you look around you, you're never alone as you think. (Find a club, start a club, take a fun class when you have time)

  14. says

    I'm really impressed that you're able to articulate so clearly what it is you want in a partner. I think my favourite one is someone to hold the camera. My husband and I definitely share the same life–and we love it and each other–but when it comes to certain things, I still have to ask him to “hold the camera.” We've been together for 15 years (5 of those married), and we've changed so much over that time. So yes, there will be a pitter-patter feeling, but it may take a little time to develop. Good luck.

  15. says

    Apparently there are dating sites for mac people, for dog people (checked that one out, think the girls must’ve been a better market for this) we need a site for young, single, DIY’ers! It gets old dating guys that are in awe that a woman can hang sheetrock. Be impressed, fine, then pick up a power tool. :)

  16. Lauren says

    I came across your blog this afternoon and I’ve been enjoying reading through it. I felt the urge to write you and thank you for being so honest and putting yourself out there.

    I was in the same situation you were. I purchased the house and my boyfriend at the time helped me pick it out and worked on it tirelessly for months and months. It takes a while to really feel like it’s “your house” even though it was all along!

    I sadly, have had a very rough time with my breakup still (after 10 months) I hope one day I’ll be able to truly feel over it and gain the confidence back to date without comparing everyone to him.

    Thanks again! You’ve gained a religious reader :)

    • Sarah says

      Glad to have you reading along. One of the best things about writing this post was that I knew others were going through it and just might be able to find some comfort that they weren’t the only ones. And I’m sorry that your breakup has been so hard. I’ve found that “sawdust therapy” really helps, as does having a network of like-minded homeowners around to relate to. So, new friend, you’re in a very good bunch!

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