Getting a "do-over" with a second 'only' child is one thing, but getting a another shot at the dating game after some decades off the playing field is a ball of wax of a whole different color, let me tell you. (And it's every bit as dicked up as that metaphor.)
Firstly -- you may wish to sit down for this -- dating in one's late forties is not the same as in one's late teens. Hard to fathom, I know, but things have changed a bit since this and this and this. Unfortunately, one thing that didn't change is my level of dating experience. Scary, huh? A 17 yo trapped in the body of a 47 yo... yeah, no problem I'll sit here and wait while you go get a pencil to stick in your mind's eye.
Here's another newsflash: Dating experience is not the same as marriage experience. Those credits don't transfer one-to-one.
Let's just say I wandered into the arena with a few handicaps.
Probably the hardest thing to deal with has been something I fondly* call Great Expectations. I had my tidy little mental model of the way people (read: guys) are supposed to behave in the early stages of a relationship. Through forty-some years' experience watching movies and reading books and magazines and a nearly thirty-year tour of duty in a failed, yet not completely unsuccessful, Long Term Relationship, I thought my expectations were pretty up-to-date, well-informed, reasonable, and realistic.
(In case you missed it, the key word there is "thought".) Snort! Ha! I kill me!
In those early, heady days with Mr. B there were behaviors and language I expected to see and hear but didn't. Those unmet expectations generated quite a bit of angst**, as unmet expectations have a tendency to do. Obviously failings on his part, right?
As it turns out... not so much, or at least not exclusively.
Reading over our early emails with the benefit of a year of Mr. B experience, I can see things now that I couldn't then. Some really wonderful things. It blew my mind. And, as a bonus, it made me feel like a bit of a jerk.
But how, oh how could my expectations have been so out of whack?
With the benefit of my 20/20 Hindsight GogglesTM (patent pending), I can see now that I'd been set up for a perfect storm of cluelessness. In addition to using a seriously flawed model*** to generate my expectations, I was trying to apply an outdated Extroverted Feeling Guy Universal Translator to an Introverted Thinking guy****. Combined with my atrophied dating skills? Well, there's yer problem, lady; your Instant Angst Generator is on.
Even worse, while I was flailing and wailing about what was or wasn't happening, I missed out on being fully present for, and almost bailing out of, the beginning of something wonderful. Somehow, despite myself, I managed to catch hold of the caboose of the clue train as it whizzed past.
Lessons learned? Lots, and I know that there are still a butt-load# of expectations left to wrestle into submission. But hey, reasonable expectations in an LTR? Now that's something I know all about! Double snort! Gag! Cough! No, I'm OK, really.
Should be a piece of cake... right?
* Not really.
** I'd like to say the support ticket on this issue has been closed... but I'd be a-lyin'.
*** Yes, I'm looking at you, Popular Culture and Media.
**** Even if you don't speak the language, I'm sure you get the point. It's a lot like using a faulty Hungarian phrasebook in a tobacconist's shop. Say no more, say no more.
# Larger than a shitpot-full but smaller than a fuck-ton.