So I've been dating again. I still think about The Marine almost every night before I fall asleep, as I say a prayer that he's safe and happy, but his job has made it impossible for him to be in contact. I don't know if that's a story that will be continued eventually -- though I spend hours daydreaming that it could be -- but for now there's nothing there to build upon.
And because I realized that I could either sit at home on the evenings and weekends I don't have other plans, feeling lonely and heartbroken, or distract myself with drinks out with a man who might at least marginally resemble the pictures he posts ... I decided I might as well enjoy a cocktail or two.
I'm the first to admit that I'm a hopeless romantic. I still hope to find that person who can combine everything that was right in my past relationships with everything that was missing in them as well and know that I finally found someone I can spend a good chunk of my life with. I really do believe that's still possible and I genuinely don't stress about being too old to find that.
But I've been wondering lately, about the other obstacles that make that tougher and tougher to come by. I'd be lying if I said I'm still the same girl I was at twenty, when I fell in love for the first time. I wasn't even that same girl when I met The Dude, but he was so patient and so loving that I really believe he undid a few years of the damage my first ex did. I was sad after things ended with The Dude, but I wasn't bitter and scarred. I was ready to find something new.
Now though, almost 18 months later? I have been on so many dates. And you guys, I put myself out there almost every single time. I look for the good in every one of the men I've been out with. I try to picture how we can work together and I give it a chance. But all that shiny hope I had feels tarnished now. My friends could tell you how quick I am to jump to a "he's just not that into you" conclusion. I'm so used to the disappointment that I think I almost preempt it in some situations.
And the thing that worries me is ... I was never that girl. I don't know if that's going to go away, or if that's just my handicap now. Do we each start out with a finite amount of trust we can bestow, and lose a little of it each time we're hurt? With The Marine, nothing even went wrong, per se. But I still see how afraid I am to open up and trust someone new, not knowing whether it will last. Maybe looking at it from the other side, it's about fear. When you're young and you've never been stung by a bee, you don't shy away from them. You might even chase them. But now that we're older, we have a tendency to freeze up or cringe when a bee flies too close.
I miss that hopelessly naive girl who didn't feel a need to sniff out the signs of impending rejection. I think she would probably tell me that while I might still get my heart broken, I'm also missing out on some fun in the meantime.