I feel like I’m always busy, always pulled in so many different directions. On a normal day, I rarely stop to think about what I’m going to wear. When I’m driving my kids around, running errands, etc; I want to look cute and feel pulled together. But I rarely spend the time thinking about it. So I end up grabbing the same baggy sweatpants or leggings and not feeling great about how I look. I took the time to put together a couple of outfits that are both comfortable (bc comfort is sooo important to me!) and look good.
It all started the weekend I was celebrating my 40th birthday. I threw a party at my house on a Friday night. I had a blast! Then I went to bed alone and woke up alone. I spent most of Saturday at home all by myself. I didn’t like this feeling of alone. So I decided I wanted to put myself out there and try to meet someone. How would I do that? My life circles around my kids & work. I don’t ever meet anyone. I don’t ever go anywhere to have an opportunity to meet anyone. So I signed up for a dating app, Hinge to be exact.
I’m taking a moment for a deep breath… signing up for a dating app was my first mistake. I have tried them before in the past and it always turns out bad. I’m not sure why I thought this time would be different.
I chatted with quite a few people. But every time it got to the point of meeting up, I would flake out and say no. Finally after 6 weeks of doing this I committed to a date. Ready or not, I forced myself to get out there and try.
I agreed to meet this man at a the restaurant. He was new in town and asked that I choose the restaurant. I arrived on time, he was 10 minutes early. When I got there he was not waiting for me by the door or the hostess stand. No, he was at the bar with a drink in his hand talking to 2 women.
I should have walked out right then. But my curiosity got the best of me. Someone once said to me: “a mans confidence is both impressive & horrifying all at the same time”. It’s so true! Where do they get the nerve to act certain ways as if it’s okay. I kinda wanted to see what else he would do. Plus, I was dressed, out of the house and hungry.
We sat down at the table. I ordered a glass of wine and we ordered some appetizers, then entrees. The conversation was interesting to say the least. He went on and on about his meal prep and how he is not used to eating this kind of food. Keep in mind- he requested I pick an Italian restaurant. He ordered pasta, then complained about the pasta and how he never eats pasta!
He complained about the vacation he recently took with his son. About the weight of the bags, the charge for bags, the charge for seats on the plane, etc. Complained about his move to Tampa, complained about his neighborhood, the amenities, how the community pool has rules he doesn’t like. He is unable to hang his tv or art and couldn’t get anyone out to his house for another week. This is a huge turn off for me. I need a man who is handy and can do simple things around this house. I can hang a tv and art and drapes all by myself. I need a man who is able to do more around the house than I can.
He complained that his ex wife is crazy. Oh, he has 2 ex wives. Didn’t know that! He can’t make it past 6 years of marriage for either one. He bragged about how much money he makes and that he gets Botox to stay looking young. He expects any woman he is interested in to have the same mindset about looking good.
He talked so much I barely said anything. But the worse thing he said is that he choose to relocate to Tampa, leaving his son in Indiana. He has lived in the same city as his son his whole life. But now that his son is 13 he choose to move across the country. He tried to sell me on this idea like it was a great thing for his son. I want no part of a man that can up and leave his child. He made it clear he had a great job in Indiana and choose to get a different job and move. For no other reason than him wanting to be in warm weather.
He kept saying how he was having a great time and he can’t wait to see me again. Towards the end of the meal he seemed to be in a hurry but kept asking me what restaurant we were going to next time. It didn’t make sense. If he wanted to see me again, why do I feel like he is rushing to leave. I can’t count how many times he asked me what night next week I am free and what restaurant will we go to. The whole thing was off.
He ate his entree so fast. Then got up and went to the bathroom, while I was still eating my entree. I think that is such bad manners. Do not leave me sitting at the table alone while I’m eating my entree. Wait until I’m finished then get up.
Then the thing that pissed me off the most!!! When the server brought over the dessert menu, he immediately said no and did not give me a chance to answer. Do not deny me dessert!!! What if I wanted dessert?! What if I wanted to order every dessert on the menu and take one bite of each and just look at them. Never decide for me whether I will eat dessert or not!
As we were leaving the restaurant I asked him where he was parked. He never asked me. Then he leaned in for a side hug and tried to kiss me. My body jerked back in shock. Like WTF!!?? I said good bye and walked off. He basically ran off in the opposite direction. He never offered to walk me to my car or asked me where I parked to make sure I was safe.
When I got into my car and thought it was all over… 20 minutes later he messages me “just got here, where are you?” He was meeting another woman after me. That’s why he was in a hurry to get going but kept asking to see me again. When I wrote back and confronted him about it, he lied. He said that message was meant for me and he sent it earlier but the app messed up and sent it late. LOL!! How dumb does he think I am?! I understand how online dating works. Most people are talking to several people at a time, going on several dates a week. I don’t care. But don’t schedule someone immediately after me.
After I let him know he was lying, he never messaged me again. I went home and deleted the dating app.
I did see him 2 months later while I was out to dinner with friends. It was obvious he was there to meet someone. I saw him from across the restaurant, I don’t think he saw me. A man like that should not be going on dates.
Although the date was sooo bad! I did get in my car and laugh all the way home. I truly am amazed at how ridiculous some people can act.
I have been a Mother since the age of 25. Well, I had Sofia when I was 25. I have always felt like I was born to be a Mom. I have dreamed my whole life of having children. It’s all I ever wanted. I was married at 20, started trying to have a baby at 23. I had some complications keeping a pregnancy before I had my children. Read my journey here. Then I was blessed with two beautiful healthy children.
I have always been very intentional about being a Mom. I have taken this role, this responsibility, this privilege very seriously. I have always felt like God has gifted me with these two beautiful children. It is my honor to raise them into the best people I know how to.
I have always been focused on enjoying the present and not missing a moment. And at the exact same time, focusing on how I can help raise my children into the best adults. Towing this line is a dance.
Every phase they are going thru is wonderful; even if that stage is challenging. I always find the beauty in it. Because I know once they have outgrown that phase, it’s gone forever. I take it all in, I enjoy every moment. At the same time I’m also focused on the future. How is my parenting and their behavior going to look when they are adults?
If there is a behavior that I find unacceptable, I do not focus on how to change it for the immediate future. I do not focus on changed behavior for 5 minutes or for a day. I focus on instilling values that will shape who they are as people. I want them to choose the right path because they want to, not because I’m telling them to. Much of this comes from me having conversations with them and explaining the Why behind everything.
There are only a few short years I had with my kids at home where I got to see everything. Once they are off to school all day long, 5 days a week; there is so much I do not see and I’m not in control of. And the older they get the more true this is. I don’t know the conversations Sofia is having with her friends at school. I don’t know a lot of things my kids are doing because I’m not actually there to see it. I have to trust them. I have to trust I have raised them to make the best choices.
My goal as a Mom has been to raise confident, independent adults. I want them to always know I love them. I want them to chase after their dreams and never settle. I want them to reach for the stars and run after it so aggressively, knowing that I am their safety net. I want them to know how to take care of themselves and not be completely clueless to simple life tasks.
Recently I can see I am being successful. It is the most proud and most heartbreaking thing. I am watching my children be so independent, so confident, doing so many things on their own. They don’t need me to make them breakfast or pack a lunch or do their laundry or help them with homework. They know how to do it all!! And that’s so amazing!!
I know they will always need me. But not in the same way. It all shifts as they get older and start doing things on their own. They may not need me to make them breakfast, but I know they love it when I do. It’s just different.
I am so very aware of this change happening. It’s like I can tangibly see it right in front of my eyes. And time keeps going quicker. I am soaking up every single moment I get with them. I know I’m going to blink and I will be driving Sofia to college. Then Caleb is just 2 years behind her.
This last Saturday morning I woke up before them. I got my coffee and got back into bed. As I was sipping my coffee and reading, Caleb woke up and came into my room. He crawled into bed, under the sheets and got cozy. He still had that sleepy, just woke up look. It was so precious. Then Sofia woke up and came over. The three of us, and Phoebe, sat in bed for at least 30 minutes talking and laughing. During that time I took a pause. I looked at each of them and the moment, I took a mental picture. I told myself to always remember this moment. It’s moments like these that make life so beautiful.
Then that night I found myself sitting alone watching a movie while they were hanging out with their friends. This is the part of parenting I was not prepared for. I spend a good amount of time alone, sitting around in case they need me. The older they get the more independent lives they have. Their friends, their activities, their social life, their plans. This is exactly how it should be, but I was not ready for it to happen.
I can feel this pulling away. This desire to have more independence separate from me. I feel is especially from Sofia when she started high school. I can’t hold on too tight just because I’m feeling emotional. I have to let go a little. Let her practice flying while she is still living at home and I can catch her if she falls.
My greatest joy and proudest moment is when she will be able to fly high and soar all on her own. But it will also break my heart to not have her in my nest any more. And that is why the greatest parenting success is also the most heartbreaking.
A first date has so many emotions. There is the excitement and hopefulness of the possibility of what could be. Am I going out for the first time with the man I am going to spend my life with? Will it be terrible and I’m looking for an excuse to leave? Or will it be blah; didn’t love it or hate it, just part ways never to see each other again. With all of the nerves and emotions racing thru my body, it can be easy to overlook things on a first date.
One thing to always remember, he is on his best behavior on a first date. He will not improve or get better with time. Pay attention to the small things, those will become big things later. And when he shows you something about himself, believe him. Never make excuses for him.
The older men get the easier it is for them to hide their flaws. Someone could be a total narcissist or liar and you may not pick up on it right away. It’s important to ask the right questions and listen to his response. Don’t get caught up on how cute he is. Or the compliments he is giving you. And remember, he’s not going to act like a complete jerk where it’s extremely obvious. It will be more subtle, so pay attention.
- His ex is “crazy” or “high maintenance” or “drama” or any similar word. This one word can be slipped into an upbeat conversation so easily that you could miss it. The reason why this is bad is it shows that he is not emotionally intelligent enough to handle normal female emotions. Even the most relaxed, chill girl will have a bad day and have “crazy” emotional moments. I want a man who knows what to do in those situations and doesn’t add fuel to the fire.
- He acts like a victim. Pay attention to how he tells stories. Is everything someone else’s fault? Is there a consistent theme of problems in his life due to what other people are doing to him?
- He talks only about himself and doesn’t ask any questions about my life. Of course I want him to talk about himself because I want to get to know him. But is he only talking about himself. Is he not giving me a chance to talk or asking me any questions. And worse, interrupting me to talk more about himself. Also, what kind of topics is he talking about? Do they all have to do with his self image? Is he only talking about working out, meal plans, clothing, his haircut, etc. He may be putting to much of a priority on his image.
- He’s not polite to the server. There is a difference between being rude and not being polite. If he is rude that is an obvious red flag. But I also think it’s a red flag if he isn’t polite and acts as if the server doesn’t exist. When the food is delivered, the water glass is refilled- did he acknowledge the server and say thank you.
- Doesn’t have a good relationship with his child/children (if he has any). This can be a difficult one to discover on a first date. Most men are not going to speak badly about their kids right away or be honest if he doesn’t have a good relationship. So make sure you are asking the right questions and pay attention to the response. I always ask- how often are your kids with you? If it’s less that 40% or 50% I ask why. Typically if the kids are with the Mom 80%-90% of the time, there is a good reason. If he isn’t being a good Dad to his own kids, he certainly won’t be a good role model to mine. And what kind of man doesn’t want to be a good father to his children? Not a man I’m interested in.
- He talks negatively about anyone in his life. This could be an ex, a boss, family member, etc. If he speaks negatively about anyone this is a problem. His ex wife may in fact be a raging bitch, but he should not say it on a first date. How someone speaks about others, says a lot about that person.
- Make sure you get home safe. A true gentleman will care about your well being and safety. Even if the date showed you aren’t compatible, he will still want to make sure you get home safe. He should walk you to your car, or watch you walk to your car, ask you to text when you get home, call to check that you got home safe. There are many different approaches. The bottom line is he cares about you getting home safe.
- He’s over critical. Is he finding the one small thing to complain about when there are 100 good things to talk about. This shows me he is a negative person and will complain about anything. One simple way to find this out is asking “how was your day?”. If he starts complaining about work, or someone cutting him off on the highway, or the dry cleaner ruining his shirt; you know he likes to focus on the negative.
- Isn’t close with his family. What are the family issues? If you are dating to find someone to spend your life with, his family problems will one day be your family problems. And there will be many conversations between the two of you on how to handle it. It can cause a lot of stress in a relationship if you disagree on family and can lead to a deal breaker. Another reason why this is important is because typically how a man treats his Mom and sister is how he will treat his girlfriend/wife.
- Inappropriate topics. This is a first date. You are just getting to know one another. He should not talk about sex, make extreme jokes, too much foul language, or anything that makes you uncomfortable.
- Drinks too much. If he’s willing to drink too much on a first date, I don’t want to know what he’s willing to do 6 months from now when we actually know each other. Keep it classy and keep it to 1-2 drinks max.
- He is not a gentleman. This one has gotten me into trouble before when I have talked about it because there are many different view points. So I will start with saying, this is personal preference rather than a straight forward red flag for all. I am old fashion with the way I date. I want a man to be a gentleman and have manners. Chivalry is not dead, it’s just hard to find. On a first date I want to feel like I’m being courted (very old fashion term). If he is picking me up, he comes to my door on time, preferably with flowers. If he meets me at the restaurant, he is waiting by the front door for me to arrive. He pulls my chair out, opens the door, lets me walk first, order first, asks what appetizers I want, if I want dessert, and I’m going to say it… *gasp* pays for dinner. I want to feel taken care of, safe and protected the whole night.
- He needs to be “fixed”. As women we are natural caregivers and feel compassion. When we hear a problem we want to help. But it is not my job to fix a man. I want a partner, not a project. The older we get the more complicated and complex our lives can be. When I was 20 it was so simple. Now there are all the questions about divorce, kids, why are you 40 and never married, commitment issues. At this age, everyone has baggage. It’s okay to have a carry on, not an overweight checked bag. If you spot a problem on the first date you think you can help fix, run!
They say our friends see us 20% better than we see ourselves. For me, I know this is true. I actually think my friends see me 100% better than I see myself. When my friends give me a compliment or tell me nice things about myself, I almost feel like they are talking about someone else. I definitely don’t see myself as great as they see me. Is this humility? Or something else?
I am a person who is very hard on myself. I expect a lot! It’s very easy for me to see my flaws and my negatives. I put a lot of attention on trying to improve my areas of weakness. Because my viewpoint is constantly looking at myself thru a lens of needing to improve, I have a hard time seeing the good in myself. If I’m not seeing the good, I decrease my value. And in turn, I automatically, without even realizing it, lower my standards.
As I was reflecting on this whole concept this week, here is my realization: I am confident as a mother, as a friend, as a family member, at work, etc. But I am so insecure when it comes to men and being in a relationship. I turn into this woman that I don’t even like. I am constantly bending and compromising. I rarely stand up for myself and voice an opinion. This isn’t my personality at all! I am strong and bold and loud; in every area of my life except men. So why do I become this meek insecure woman? Am I afraid of being alone? Am I afraid no one will love me? Am I afraid of rejection?
Then it hit me what it is- I don’t think I deserve the best. I see all my flaws and I know I’m not perfect. Therefore, I accept flaws in men that I don’t like.
Let that sink in….
Do you decrease your value? Then lower your standards?
I have spent some time reflecting on myself and thinking about my positives. It’s wild how I can be everyone’s biggest cheerleader. I am always so positive and encouraging to the people around me. But when I stopped to think about my positives, it was actually very difficult for me to look at myself that way.
I forced myself to sit in this place and really think about my positives. If I were on the outside looking in, what would I say to me? I am always so encouraging to my friends. It is time I am a good friend to myself. I know it may sound kinda weird, but this mindset helps me so much! If my best friend or my sister was going thru exactly what I am going thru, what would I say to her? How would I encourage her? I guarantee I wouldn’t call her lazy or ugly or fat. I would call out her positives and encourage her. A loving friend is so powerful.
I made a list of all my positives, what are the good things I have to offer and bring to a relationship. As I began thinking from a loving friend perspective, I realized I have a lot more positives than I have been giving myself credit for. I have been selling myself short for so long, but this will no longer continue! This gave me back my confidence and strength, I feel powerful inside! I can finally stand tall with my shoulders back, truly knowing who I am!
Now that I truly know my value, it’s time to set my standards. Here’s the fun part! I wrote out of list of my must haves in a man/relationship. I also wrote out of list of my absolute deal breakers. These deal breakers are things that I will not bend or compromise on at all.
I encourage you to do this. Search your heart for what you want and what is important to you. Everyone’s list will be different, because it is unique and custom tailored for you. EX: If it’s important to you that he brings you flowers every Friday to kick off your weekend, then write it down. No thing is to big or to small. Paint a picture of the man and relationship you want.
The final step- I know my value and I have written out and set my standards. Now I have to believe that the man I described, the relationship I want; is out there for me. And I need to be patient while waiting for it. When I say patient, I don’t mean sitting at home bored. I stay very busy doing the things I like to do. Being patient means not settling for someone who doesn’t meet my standards just because I don’t want to be alone. I believe with all of my heart the right man is out there for me. And when the time is right, we will meet.