When you are afraid, you’ll do anything to remain comfortable. After a series of unfortunate events, my husband and I were living separately and “working” on our marriage, but I was restless. I wasn’t exactly happily married while he enjoyed the comfort of another woman. I just hadn’t gotten around to cheating given our other priorities.
During our 5th anniversary dinner, I introduced the idea of dating other people while we were separated. (This should have been a clue that it was over, but who knew?!) It was really important for me to model the honest, open dialogue that I hoped would allow our marriage to thrive one day. I also thought he’d be open to this idea since he’d already been in a relationship. I told him that I was going to try on-line dating and wanted to get ahead of any awkwardness if mutual friends saw me online. I don’t know if it was the hypothetical nature of my sharing or the content, but the conversation fell flat. With that, I put up my profile and the 40-year old mom of three was officially online dating without a clue of what she was looking for!
Swiping was fun, but I was scared. I had no idea what I wanted from another human being. I was fragile and had very little to give to someone else. I also had the body of a woman who bore three children with little exercise in the last decade. My fears and insecurities were rampant, but I kept swiping. I spotted a guy who was friendly with my husband. What do I do? They weren’t close and he was an interesting dude. In my effort to be transparent and respectful, I told my husband that I was interested in meeting up with Khan. Somehow his indifference turned into anger with this new information. Nevertheless, I swiped right. So did Khan. It felt like a safe way to dip my toe into the dating pond.
Khan reached out to ask if I was divorced, separated, or in an open marriage after spotting me online. Overtime I shared the details of my situation and I confided in him my fears around being “in these streets” at my age. Through our conversations, Khan was able to cut to heart of the matter in a way that I hadn’t fully grasped. He said, “Take care of yourself. You are more than a mom/wife, employee/employer, and sisterfriend!” Whoa! His words literally stopped me in my tracks. I had taken on so many identities without figuring who I was in the process. Truthfully, I also hid behind these titles. The real work of defining and redefining myself was inevitable in that moment.
Epilogue: No, Khan and I didn’t ride off into the sunset together. I gained a valued friend my first time at bat which is worth more than gold.