The Contestant

Have you ever dated one of these? I mean “dated” like, you are a contestant on “America’s Got Talent.”

You know you’re on a date with one when the opening line sounds something like “I have a dinner party at 7:00 pm, I’ll need to leave at 6:30.” Quick math, I have 90 to impress the socks off him, then maybe I’ll get to move onto the next round. Who knows, maybe even HOLLYWOOD (code for going steady).

Quick to jump into the good stuff, I start with “been married, have children?” “No and no”, then fatal error on my part; eye roll. Oops that just slipped out. I quickly follow it up with, “but I’m not judging, no judging here, just curious as to why at 44 you’ve never been married.” Just for the record, totally judging. He responds “I guess I just haven’t the right one.”

Okay, “who is the right one?” I ask.

Blah, blah, blah, “smart, cute, funny, active,” more blah, blah, blah.

I counter with “character, integrity, strong faith in God,” blah, blah, blah, BLAH! I’m losing ground here with the Contestant Judge, it’s time to pull out my best talent, going deep. I dip my toe a little deeper, he stops me and says, “This conversation is getting really deep, can we bring it back to a more lighthearted discussion.”

Okay…moving on, now we’re talking about hiking. We all like hiking, his dog likes hiking, I like hiking. Cool. Head nods all around. Moving on…

We’re both the same age, how about favorite 80’s shows. Eureka! He’s a Brady Bunch Trivia buff! I know some Brady Bunch stuff too, “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.” Now comes his fatal error, eye roll. Everyone knows that. How about something NOBODY but the Judge knows. The name of the cousin who came to visit occasionally. Hold onto your seat folks, it’s Oliver. Yep, okay, more head nods…

At this point I’m losing. I’ve already received two buzzers, he’s gotten one. What now? Clocks ticking, think fast… I know, I’ll impress him with my… I got nothin’. Final attempt, final buzzer, game over, exit stage left. After all, who can top Oliver in the Brady Bunch.

Stage 3 Clinger

Welcome to my life. It’s a peek into what dating looks like at 43, with two kiddos, a mortgage and a career. If you find yourself in similar circumstances, take heart. We’re in this together.

“Stage 3 clinger” has become a new favorite.  We’ve all dated them, right? The guy who’s super into us right away., ready to jump into commitment. He hangs on our every word, texts several times a day, waits patiently by the phone until we call. And when we don’t respond he laments on our voicemail “I hope you are okay, I thought I’d hear from you by now.” We’ve watched in disbelief as the bachelor is dismissed without a rose on the first night, crying out “but I thought we had a connection, those five minutes were so magical.” You know that guy because you just ended it over the phone 15 minutes ago.

And, we’ve all been the girl on the other side. At our first encounter, we’re flying on a magic carpet ride only to find out later he was just meh :/ about the whole evening. You wonder later “were we even on the same date? And what was with that hug at the end of the night? Was it really necessary to stroke my hair so tenderly if he didn’t have ‘romantic feelings’ for me? We are the ones waiting patiently by the phone until we can no longer stand the tension. Once word finally comes down, “I’m just not that into you” we are the ones crying in the back of the limo “but it was just so magical”.

Yes, it hurts. Yes, it stinks because I know you. You fast forwarded in your mind to going on a hike this weekend, then to your wedding day and how cute he’ll be with your kiddos at their graduation. Ladies, here’s my encouragement to you, cry your tears. Scream out in anger, “but I just feel so STUPID”, eat your giant smashburger and fries. Call your bestie for a friendly voice. Then, GO.TO.BED!! I mean it. When you wake in the morning, please do yourself a favor and laugh! Let me tell you why we can laugh. The problem lies in perceptions. The perception of “being clingy” all lies in the eyes of the clingee. The clingee determines if we are clingers. We are only Stage 3 Clingers if they aren’t really that into us. There’s no way for us to tell, until he finally fesses up. You see, it’s completely out of our control the label we’ll be given. We’ll either be “Ya! She’s into me!! or “Man, she’s a clinger”.

Dating is just plain crazy. What a conundrum we are all in, wading through the jungle of attraction, feelings, emotions, mis-perceptions, misconceptions and just plain being human. We’re in this together, you and I. We are going to laugh and maybe cry just a little, together.