I’m Dating for the First Time in 10 Years and I’m Ready

I want to know who I am with someone else

For my thirtieth birthday I decided to go skydiving. At the time, I was working three jobs, which still weren’t enough to make a dent in my student loans, and living in a very messy house in a bad part of town, because it was all I could afford. I was also single, with no kids, but I’d been single for so long that it didn’t bother me anymore. I was too poor and overworked to care about dating. I stared down the last few months of my twenties, searching for something to celebrate.

Lucky for me, my mom was happy to bankroll the skydiving trip. The decision to parachute out of a plane saved me from a whole lot of anxiety surrounding that birthday milestone. Instead of dwelling on what I didn’t have (husband, kids), skydiving was a reminder to conquer fear, keep searching for new adventures, and be grateful for what I did have (freedom, family).

In addition to being too distracted to care, there was another reason that being single didn’t usually bother me. It was my choice. A few years ago, I made the absolute and conscientious decision to stop dating. Not out of desperation, but rather as an act of faith. God had created me as a loving, passionate person. She wouldn’t give me those qualities and then deny me the opportunity to practice them.

I’d had a few online dating experiences and felt it was the wrong way for me to make a meaningful connection with someone. That’s not true for everyone, of course, but the dates I went on felt like job interviews. Useless job interviews because before the date we’d already seen all the interesting life stories on each other’s profile. I needed some romance, some tentative flirting, spontaneous conversation, surprise. Online dating did not provide any of that. So I quit and embraced being single.

We’re led to believe single ladies live a glamorous life: going out, shopping, traveling. The perks of adulthood without the obligations. But in the movies, those single ladies all have single friends. All my good friends are married, and it’s been hard making new ones. At some point, my choice to be single started feeling more difficult. I started greeting wedding announcements with a mournful, “It was nice knowing you,” acknowledging another lost friend.

These days, my friends are very busy with marriage and young kids. I get that. I’m busy, too. But it’s not impossible for me to squeeze in some time for them. So why is it impossible for them to make time for me?

Over time, I could feel myself getting closed off to people. This past summer I decided to fight against that; I needed to have some other creature to care for. I got a dog. Simply having someone else to be accountable for is practice putting another’s needs before my own. I have to get up early to let her out; I have to come home in the evening. She keeps my heart open, and she reminds me of what I have. She makes sure I don’t shrivel up.

I’m trying to stay open to new adventures, too. Recently, I was traveling (by myself), and I remember thinking how nice it would be to have a husband travel with me. In that moment, I prayed to God: “I’m ready.” The day I returned home, I looked at someone I had seen many times before, but this time, for the first time, I felt a wave of attraction. SURPRISE!

I spent the rest of the day telling myself to snap out of it. I could not like this person! But he says things that surprise me and makes me get out of my own head. It’s exhilarating. There is tentative flirtation. The funny thing is, if I had seen his online profile, he’s not at all the person I would have chosen. There are many good, sensible reasons for this not to work out. But I don’t want reason. I want passion.

My whole adult life, I’ve been single. I’ve been to movies by myself, danced by myself, traveled by myself. I’ve explored all my strengths and weaknesses… by myself. I’m grateful for that time I had. For that space to explore. And now, I want to know who I would be with someone else. Am I capable of compromise? I don’t know, I’ve never had to do it. Will I ever be able to trust someone enough to share a checking account? I’m ready to find out.

I don’t know if this new relationship will work out. But I am open. I’m not shriveling up. I’m ready to jump.

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  • Amy March

    Love this. We need more acknowledgment of the range of feelings between “desperate to find someone” and “loving the single life.”

    • rys

      Yes, yes, yes! I’m late to my blog reading today, but this piece contains such an important message and feels quite emblematic of the feelings many of my single friends and I share regularly.

  • Erin

    This reminds me a lot of where I was when I turned 30, only my decision to stop dating was less conscious. But a few months after that birthday I started a new job and found myself opening up to a lot of things again after I met someone there I was attracted to. It didn’t turn into a relationship but it made me determined not to shut off that part of myself again. I had just moved to a new bigger city and went back into the online dating pool knowing there would be more choices for me this time. And six weeks later I had my first date with the wonderful man I am now planning a life and a wedding with. That first date wasn’t perfect, and figuring out he was the one was its own adventure, but it all started with making the choice to open myself up after years of being firmly locked up. I wish you luck with your new relationship, your skydiving and your 30s!

  • Amanda L

    Honey, if you aren’t ready for a relationship, no one is. Your last paragraph – My whole adult life, I’ve been single. I’ve been to movies by myself, danced by myself, traveled by myself. I’ve explored all my strengths and weaknesses… by myself. I’m grateful for that time I had. For that space to explore. And now, I want to know who I would be with someone else.” – should be what we require women to be able to say before they commit themselves to another person.

    On another note, I have a good friend who had the exact same light bulb come on about a long-time friend. They’ve been happily married for years now, and have three beautiful girls. Listen to your gut :)

    • M.

      In a month I am marrying a friend I knew for 8 years before the light bulb came on — never in ten million years would I have guessed I’d be attracted to him, let alone want to spend my life with him. It’s like the author said — I did my own thing, learned and grew, and when I was ready, I was open to so much more than a checklist of what my partner should be like. I’m excited for you, OP, because it was such a good feeling, to have taken care of myself and known that it was a good thing, to feel so secure and confident going into an unknown space.

      Someone posted a reading in the open thread recently from Wendell Berry, and even though this piece isn’t about marriage, I think it applies to all relationships that you are ready for: “Where you alone think you want it to go, it is not going to go. It is going where the two of you – and marriage, time, life, history, and the world – will take it. You do not know the road; you have committed your life to a way.” You’re ready to try out this way, and that is wonderful :)

      • scw

        my FH and I were best friends before I realized it was meant to be, and now we’re coming up on our seven year (dating) anniversary. it’s so funny how it can work out that way.

    • Lindsey d.

      Totally agree! My husband (still exciting to say/type) wishes we had met ten years ago, instead of three. I tell him that I wouldn’t have been ready for him ten years ago because I was still busy dating myself and figuring out what I want/need/am in life.

      • Amanda L

        I feel really strongly that the right person at the wrong time is actually the wrong person. My DH was married and divorced before we met, so I know that meeting him earlier wouldn’t have helped either one of us. All things in good time!

  • joanna b.n.

    You are awesome, and I hope that your open heart is rewarded with this new person taking great care of it!!! :) Thank you for sharing. Since you are clearly so self aware, I have to ask the burning question that rose in me when I read this sentence: “I started greeting wedding announcements with a mournful, “It was nice knowing you,” acknowledging another lost friend.” … can you help me understand why this is? I am married, but I still love shopping, travel, and going out. If I was your friend before I got married, why can’t I still be your friend afterwards? I ask this because I know that several of my single friends viewed my wedding in just this way, and it broke (breaks) my heart that it means we had to “say goodbye”. Help??

    • Syrah

      At least in my experience, it’s been because the married people are just always… busy. Going to family celebrations, it seems more often than before. Or their spouse’s family celebrations, or work things, etc. None of these things should technically be different than when in a serious relationship… but it does seem that they are in practice.

      And then once kids come, they’re only free between 9 AM and 1 PM, because at 1 PM the kid goes down for a nap, then dinner, then bedtime, and then they’re stuck at home and don’t want to make noise and wake the baby. And even if they did hire a sitter, they have to wake up at 5 or 6 AM with the baby and so they don’t really want to stay out past 9 anyway.

      I don’t think anyone ditches their single friends on purpose. But as an unmarried person I find that I have to really work hard to accommodate my married and parenting friends’ schedules.

      • lady brett

        back when i had a posse, we had a 6-week new relationship rule. you get six weeks to disappear from the face of the earth (or into bed) with your new shiny relationship, and then we come in and drag your ass back to reality/hanging out with us again (relationship included).

        i think the general concept is something to keep in mind in these other transitions too – new things are exciting and easy to get lost in (and new babies are *hard*), but you *can* come out the other side of that – it’s just something that you have to make a conscious decision to do. and probably a conscious decision to communicate (from either side).

        i mean, the other thing is that marriage and kids *are* transitions, and sometimes transitions drastically change you. getting married didn’t change much for me, but for some folks it’s a powerful re-alignment. having kids changed *everything* for me – it put my priorities in really stark light, and i realized two things that turned my (already rather puny) social life upside down: 1) i didn’t have time/energy to devote to bullshit, and i cut a lot of commitments/people out of my time because they weren’t worth it, 2) my family is my priority, so even people i *love* and love hanging out with are going to come second (which mostly, for me, means if you want to hang with all of us, come on over! but i’m unlikely to ditch the kids to hang with adults). that’s just me, the details will vary greatly, but the general concept that people change is often true (and if it’s not true to you, tell your friends that – they might be assuming you’re like me).

        • Syrah

          That makes total sense. At the same time, I am significantly less interested in my friends’ kids and kid-talk than I am in the kinds of discussions we used to have pre-kids (and that are impossible to have with kids present) – like talking politics instead of potty training. Kid talk gets tiring really fast, and I really do like my friends’ kids.
          I am just not as in love with them as their parents are. :)

          So kid-free time with my friends who are parents really means the world to me, even if it’s just an hour for lunch.

    • Amy March

      I don’t think it’s done deliberately or maliciously, but I do see it happening, and have been on both sides. When I was single, I had lots of free time to fill- evening phone calls, Saturday mornings watching House Hunters and skypeing, all of my vacation time. And now that I’m seeing someone, I spend a lot of that time with him. I don’t consider my boyfriend my best friend, but he sure does use up a lot of the time I had to spend with her, and adding a baby in the mix reduces that even further. I don’t think that makes me a bad friend, I don’t think she’s mad about it, but something can be normal and natural and understandable and still be a source of sadness.

      • macrain

        I don’t consider my fiance my best friend. He’s just not! I love him so much, but- no.

    • jashshea

      Not the OP, but I married later than many of my friends, so I feel like I might be able to get close to her answer. Please note that I sound like a horrible brat, but I’m actually quite delightful ;)

      For me, it was about knowing that I wasn’t anywhere near #1 priority anymore. I wasn’t the one they were going to call first when they got amazing or terrible news. And since I didn’t have that other person to call yet, I pulled back so that I didn’t take up too much of their time with my stuff. And it’s self-fulfilling at that point: there’s a shift in the relationship because you really aren’t sharing the things you used to share.

      The funny part of all of it is that with my two closest friends, they were DESPERATE to hear about single-life stuff after they got married and moved to the burbs. Eventually we reached a stasis point because we all insisted on continuing to be important. I am something that their husband isn’t and they are something my husband isn’t. All these years later, we talk at least weekly (and we spoke more frequently during their new-mom phases, oddly).

      I think the progression we went through is somewhat natural – we were HS and College friends navigating early adulthood together and that forms a pretty cohesive bond. Eventually there needs to be a little more space in a friendship to allow for new people/experiences/etc.

    • Sara

      In my personal experience, its all about schedules. When you include a third persons family/personal schedules to the mix (plus everyone’s ‘lazy days), its hard to pin down a time that you can get together. And once kids are involved forgettaboutit. I have a standing girls night with one of my married buddies that works out because her husband has a standing guys night. But if we miss it or something comes up, we could go weeks/months without seeing each other. And I literally live five minutes from her.

    • Jenny

      I think it depends a lot on your before relationship friendship. I definitely had people that I enjoyed spending time with and we went out together and talked about dating and being single, we saw movies together and went out for dinner, but our relationship was more of a pleasant human interaction than a deep and abiding friendship. When I starting seriously dating someone, those friendships fell off the way side because I didn’t have our main thing in common anymore (being single). They went out with other single people, I hung out with my boyfriend/fiance. Sort of like after I graduated from my masters program I didn’t stay in touch with all the people because we no longer had the common ground of classes and school to talk about and in common anymore. But my closest girls, I think it’s about the same. Sure now we plan get togethers farther in advance because you have to take into account 2 sets of people friends who are getting married, and family vacations etc. We don’t email each other on the gmail thread 5 times a day, more like 5 times a week.

      • I think you make a really good point about the distinction between those enjoyable, fun interactions with good people and deep, true friendships. Sometimes I confuse the two in my head and feel disappointed in myself for letting the former fade away when really it was just the natural course of that kind of relationship.

  • Lucy

    Thank you for writing this. It is so satisfying to hear that a single girl can be single without it being your fault, or something you should be trying harder at, or ‘you just need a relationship now to be a proper adult.’
    I have been a long time reader of the site whilst perpetually and happily single (which seems a bit strange I know!) I was single not necessarily because I chose to be, but because I wasn’t willing to compromise my full, exciting life to go out with someone for the sake of it.

    Just before my 30th earlier this year, I met someone (online dating) and for once I felt exactly the same as your comment, that this person was worth pushing my boundaries for, to see if I could compromise and make space in my very full life to accommodate someone else.
    I don’t NEED to be in this relationship but I find this time that I want to try this and see what happens…

  • This is awesome. But I DO want to say that going on online dates doesn’t have to feel like a job interview, and surprises still happen!

    I met my boyfriend online. I wasn’t really interested in meeting him originally–his pictures were mediocre, his profile was kind of boring, and his messages weren’t particularly playful or thought-provoking. He chose a place to meet that was a five-minute walk from my apartment, which was one of the reasons I went. (That, and a free meal, if I’m being honest.) I was very pleasantly surprised when I walked up, and almost a year and a half later, I’m still finding out new things about him that an online profile could never reveal.

  • april

    This resonates with me a lot, even though my situation was/is not at all like the writer’s. I met my husband in college. We were good friends for a year before I realized I wanted to date him (then it was another 6 months or so before I convinced him that was a good idea). We began dating, then moved in together for 3 years, then got engaged, then promptly began what I still think of as our “trial separation.” He moved across the country for 2 years of grad school, and I moved into a studio apartment for 2 years of living by myself for the first time in my life. I wasn’t really single during that time, but I experienced many of the things this piece talks about – I went to movies and out to dinner by myself, I traveled by myself, and I struggled to maintain friendships with my coupled friends.

    Ultimately, I’m really glad I had those experiences. I learned a lot about myself during those 2 years. I became more independent and more confident as an individual, but also more sure about my relationship with my faraway fiance. I really do think that knowing who you are alone is essential to figuring out who you will be in a relationship.

  • Anne Schwartz

    I could have written this post word for word. Thank you.

  • Sara

    I feel like I could have written this. Most of my friends are married and are just starting the ‘are we ready to have kids’ conversations. I’m single, and not necessarily unhappy about it, but I don’t want to be left behind. I like my company, but sometimes it would be nice to have someone elses. :)

    Also, I totally feel you on the online dating. That’s exactly how I’ve described my experience to friends that have tried it and enjoyed it.

  • Moe

    I could have written this. I almost thought someone had written my story! I led an epic single life, and after a really bad short relationship I took time off from dating to pause, reassess, recharge and give some serious thought to what I was doing.

    I had an odd moment of clarity in Las Vegas of all places. While holding a drink in crowded club wearing a sparkly dress I thought to myself “I don’t want to be here, I want to be settled at home with someone.” I met my future-husband online shortly after that. When I finally went on a first date with him I was jaded, guarded, and in my soul I was really weary. Luckily for me, it was my last first date and we got married…in Las Vegas. Weird. I know.
    I think that there’s something pivotal in that moment when you decide in your heart to take a leap in life. Not just at the start of a new relationship but in any new endeavor. You let go of the past and all things comfortable and predictable. It’s risky, scary and exhilarating at the same time. But it really is what life is made of and the reason we’re here in the first place. Enjoy your adventure!

  • Amanda

    This was so, so beautiful. Especially this: “These days, my friends are very busy with marriage and young kids. I get that. I’m busy, too. But it’s not impossible for me to squeeze in some time for them. So why is it impossible for them to make time for me?”

    This line is oh-so-true. It’s a tough lesson to learn but some people just aren’t willing to prioritize friendships. I’m in the process of learning/accepting the same truth. I’m engaged to a wonderful man with a 14-year old son that lives with us 50% of the time and even though we’re planning a huge 200-person wedding from 500 miles away, caring for a high school student, working more than 60 hours a week each, maintaining a house and somehow finding time to make working out and eating healthy part of our everyday life, we still make our friends a priority. Whether that means, long conversations on a Tuesday night when they need advice or flying across the country for their child’s first birthday. However, we are realizing that even though this a priority for us, it is not for everyone. Even though it can hurt being the person on the other side, I suppose this is fair. Everyone has to have their own priorities. We are now trying to spend more time investing in friendships with those people who view the importance of friendship the same way we do.

    • Cleo

      As someone who doesn’t prioritize friendship in the way I know I should, I’d like to share my story.

      I have a very busy schedule and while building my career, I stopped prioritizing maintaining friendships. It also became harder once my besties, who were my roomies, all started living with their S.O.’s, building their careers, and new friendships. And some other moved away. Taking that first step to rekindle a friendship is hard and brings up a lot of insecurities: what if it’s been too long, what if they’re mad at me, what if they don’t like me anymore and that’s why they’ve stopped contacting me, etc.? I’ve started surmounting that fear, but it’s SO hard. I don’t want to disappoint anyone I care about and I feel like I’ve disappointed all of them.

      To remedy this, I’ve taken to organizing one friend date a month with people who I’ve lost touch with while I’ve built my career. I honestly don’t have the time and energy for more, especially because my job includes many after-work events and I have a very limited amount of time during the week to spend with my partner because of our demanding jobs and commutes.

      Anyway, it’s tough, and I feel for you, because it is SO hard when friends disappoint us (and I’ve been on the receiving end).

      • Amanda

        Oh goodness, I so, so, so understand! It is extremely tough on all sides because, I think, if given unlimited time and resources, all of us would prioritize friendship alongside everything else in our lives. Naturally, everyone has to make choices and I think it’s important to be able to recognize that and accept it. But I also believe that if you are someone who has an opportunity to focus on friendship and that’s something you want to do, then you should make a choice to invest in friendships with people who are able to accept that and reciprocate that. Not that you cut everyone else out but it’s hard on both people when there is sort of an unbalanced friendship. I think a lot of times one person feels rebuffed and the other person feels a lot of guilt/pressure and that’s not fun for anyone!

        I think it is REALLY great that you have had the courage to reach out to your friends again, I know that can be hard. I’ve been that person too! I think and hope you will be so pleasantly surprised with how much your friends have missed you and been waiting to catch up with you again!

    • Kara E

      Can I add a yes, but? I think it might depend on whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert (and how much). I totally value my friends, but right now, that means a check-in email or text every once in a while and not a long conversation (or a phone call at all). It’s not that my amazing friends aren’t priorities, it’s that I can barely get through the week right now, much less commit to an hours long conversation or dinner. We’re trying, really we do, but don’t write off us overwhelmed introverts.

    • z

      Wow. Sure, I see a lot less of certain friends now that I have a kid, but that doesn’t mean I’m “just not willing to prioritize friendships.” I really object to that statement. Friendships are still a priority, there’s just a lot less time and energy to devote to any of the things on my priority list. If anything, I put more energy into friendships than I did before, because it’s about a million times harder for me to make friend time happen. I have to be a lot more conscientious about keeping in touch and making plans with people, and I think an hour with a friend means a lot when it’s my only child-and-chore-free hour the entire weekend. Sure, certain friendships have faded out, but that does not mean that friendship overall is not a priority.

      One of the unexpected blessings of motherhood has been a wealth of parent-friends whom I really enjoy. I would enjoy them even if we didn’t all have kids, but I truly feel a special connection to them and rely on them in so many ways. My new cherished friends take away time from my old cherished friends, and I’m sure my old friends are aware of that change, but it doesn’t mean friendship isn’t a priority for me overall. I just have new friends too. If anything, the experience of parenthood has underscored the importance of friendships. It takes a village, people.

      There is no denying that some friendships just didn’t make the cut– the ones that weren’t that strong, or were fading anyway. The physical logistics, everyone’s busy schedule, money, sheer exhaustion, etc. etc., or if you just don’t really care enough. If a friendship is already foundering, parenthood can push it over the edge. No hard feelings, it’s normal to have friendships come and go as you move through different stages of life. And I find it very, very difficult to maintain relationships with people who won’t meet me in the middle on logistical issues, or who are unrealistic as to what parenting small children actually involves. But changes in some of my friendships doesn’t mean I don’t prioritize friendship in general!

      True friendships can survive deployments, living abroad, serious illnesses, all kinds of things that interfere with the relationship way more than parenthood does. When my friends enter the valley of the shadow of toddlers, I know I won’t see them much for a while, but I’ll welcome them with open arms when they emerge. Because I prioritize friendship.

      I no longer spend time on friendships with people I don’t truly care about, and parenthood caused me to make that change, but frankly I wish I had had the courage to do it years ago.

      • rys

        It’s clear to me from your post that you value friendship, but perhaps it’s also possible to see how shifts in friendships from changes like parenthood might affect different people in different ways. As you’ve expressed it, you’ve retained your true friendships and made new ones. But it’s possible that the friends you’ve left behind valued your friendship more than you valued theirs. Friendships aren’t always balanced or symmetrical, so the impact of setting aside a friendship might be bigger for the other person. When this happens a lot, as I think it does to single friends (either more permanent friendship endings or temporary delays that come with parenting but whose ends aren’t clear, it can feel like a huge loss. You have your new cherished parent-friends, but what do the old friends without those new friends have?

        Basically: it’s complicated. Most of my close friendships have survived the uneven dynamic of one person parenting and me not, but those relationships have changed. I can be happy for friends as they marry and have kids, maintain rock solid friendships, and still mourn the loss of the previous version of that friendship. I think this is often what contributes to single women in their 30s feeling left behind (something I feel more acutely now than I did in my 20s). Managing that–since I’m not the one gaining a partner or a child–and trusting that friendships will survive is often tough.

        • z

          Well sure. It’s a loss for me too, I really miss my friends, even though I knew this would be the result of choosing parenthood. And it’s always sad when a friendship is lopsided or no longer works for one person. I’ve been on the other side of that, and I always try to be sensitive. But friendships end and people feel left behind for all kinds of reasons like grad school, new jobs, joining the Merchant Marine, whatever– it isn’t unique to having kids. My old friends have their other friends, and the new friends they might make in the time they’re no longer spending with me, and all the fun activities that I don’t have time or money to participate in. They’re probably having a great time. I can’t maintain a friendship just to spare someone’s feelings, and I wouldn’t expect anyone to do that for me, whether they had a child or not. I try to be nice about it, but friendship transitions are a normal part of life and they are grown-ups who can deal.

          I just don’t think it’s fair to say someone doesn’t prioritize friendship overall, because a particular friendship or even a category of friendships falls by the wayside. I know it hurts to lose time with a friend, even temporarily, but it doesn’t justify the sweeping accusation that they don’t prioritize friendship– that’s a really harsh thing to say!

          I also think I prioritize friendship in the time I spend helping my kids maintain their social relationships. Coaching them on social skills and character development, and schlepping them to playdates and stuff– I do that because I want them to have friendships, and to be great friends themselves. My pre-baby friends probably don’t notice or think about that. But it is a way in which I prioritize friendship overall.

          • rys

            I’m certainly in no position to assess whether you (or anyone who is outside my friend orbit) prioritizes friendship or not. And I think it’s situational for everyone: we all have times in our lives when the work of friendship (because there is work involved for everyone) is more or less important or more or less viable. We all have moments when we prioritize or deprioritize. No one can make everything and everyone their priority all at once, and at different moments of our lives, the order looks different.

            I’m simply trying to explain the sense of loss that I and many other single people feel when our friends marry and have kids and recalibrate the time allocated to friendships. It’s the experience of this in the aggregate that contributes to the overall sense of loss. It looks really different for each person, and as I noted, most of my good friendships have persisted. But there is nevertheless a re-ordering of priorities that can be tough to swallow when you’re the one left standing as other people shift into new and different modes of living and being in the world.

            I’ll also note that some of my parent-friends make an effort to spend time with me and other friends sans kids as a way of modeling adult friendships. These are also friends whom I spend time with their kids. So again I don’t think friendships have to be lost because of kids. But it takes time, effort, and planning, and some people choose to do this and others choose not to. Expressing a feeling of loss for a past version of a friendship need not be taken as personal critique. The experience of that isn’t the same for everyone, and I think it’s important to be able to empathize with the friend who may celebrate a wedding/baby and still lament the change it signifies.

  • I decided when I was 31 and still single that I’d give myself skydiving as a gift for my 32nd birthday. I’d always wanted to do it and while I was still single and childless felt like a good time (and after I had health insurance). I had all the same questions at the time about who I would be with someone else. I was worried I was too independent and set in my ways by then to be able to compromise. By the time I jumped out of a plane a couple of weeks after my birthday, I’d been dating a promising guy for two months. Letting myself fall in love with him was by far the scarier jump for me, but four and a half years later, we’re married and I know that me with someone else is a better version of the single me I had so many years to get to know. Turns out we’re both capable of trust and compromise, though it took some time.

    For anyone else who may be considering it, I can say that while some of the dates I had with guys I met online did feel like job interviews and a couple made me wonder if we were being secretly filmed for a prank TV show, a few were pretty nice, and one had lots of flirting, some romance, and led to so many nice surprises.

  • Not Sarah

    I love this! My boyfriend and I have been friends since college, so we’ve known each other for 6-9 years at this point and have been in a committed relationship for one.

    If we met online and went on a date? I would have pegged him as yet another workaholic with no hobbies and too quiet to get any conversation out of. But being friends for so long means that we already knew how to communicate (and can talk about anything!) and have already accepted each other for who we are. His spending habits and work hours mostly don’t actually bug me, like they have with exes. All of his strange behaviours are worth having him in my life like this. And here we are, about 10 months after friendship turned to maybe are we dating? and we are planning on moving in together. It’s amazing how life changes when you give it a chance.

    • Emma Klues

      Yes yes yes! Agree. My now-husband and I had a similar path. I would not have looked at him twice online or at a party but here we are! And yes, moving from friendship to dating is a fast and furious adventure but it turned out amazingly!

    • Kaitlin

      On paper/online, I would not have ever picked my husband but luckily we met “in the wild” and just clicked. It wasn’t love at first sight, we just had a great time together that night and again every time we hung out. I kept telling myself that we’d keep going until it stopped being fun because we were so different. 5 years later we are married and have a kiddo. I think online dating probably hinders as much as it helps b/c it is easy to overlook someone who doesn’t fit your ideal!

  • Daniella

    I love love love the honesty and openness of this! Sending you good thoughts :)

  • Claire

    Marriage hasn’t really changed my relationships with my girlfriends. But having kids definitely does.

    At this point almost all of my girlfriends either have a small kiddo (or two), are pregnant, or are trying for a baby. While I am overjoyed for them to be building the families of their dreams, a small part of me has a silent moment of selfish sadness with every new pregnancy announcement. Because I know our friendship will be fundamentally changed by the new addition. This brand new human will come into the world and instantly become the most important person in my friend’s life. Adding a kid to the mix, dramatically reduces the time and energy my friend used to spend with me doing friend stuff. Her life will now revolve around the baby (at least for most of them) and she will stop inviting me over and start declining almost all my invitations. I can kiss our spontaneous get togethers goodbye.

    I get that this is not a bad thing! It’s totally understandable and healthy for them to prioritize their growing family. But it is a change. And I do miss the friendships that I had built and enjoyed with these awesome women. I used to have a standing Monday night fem-date with a good friend – every week, same time, same place. Now that she has three kids and is pregnant, we have a quarterly fem-date. And I’m truly grateful that she has prioritized our friendship enough to carve out that time for us. She is still my good friend but it’s a different dynamic now.

    I have finally made a few girlfriend who are similarly child-free and treasure them. We’re always on the lookout for the “white unicorn” of cool chicks who aren’t planning to have kids. Not because they are better people than women with kids, but because they are available in ways that most mothers are not.

    • Channa

      I second this. As a married woman with no kids who doesn’t plan on them, I’d love to have more single girlfriends to hang out with.

  • Amanda Otto

    I am in the opposite position of this where I wish I had some friends around, but I am raising an 8 year old, working 9 hour days, and taking care of my household. I live in the suburbs and most of my girlfriends are in the service industry, living in the city, and going to bars late at night. I also gave up drinking, so that makes that even harder. Maybe offer to go for a stroll in the park with your friends with kids? They probably are DYING for adult interaction.

  • Lindsey d.

    Husband and kids aren’t going to change my friendships, which are already a mix of single and married people. It’s moving 15 miles away to the burbs that will kill them; it’s hard to convince people to drive out the 30-45 minutes and I’m ready to go home when I get off work at 4:30, not hang around aimlessly until I can meet my friends for dinner at 6:00. I so hope we can stick to our plans of moving back into town in two years.

    • Channa

      I can’t speak for everyone of course, but for me, my friends moving to the ‘burbs hurt friendships because it wasn’t that I was unwilling to drive – it was that I didn’t have a car. They didn’t want to take the metro into town, and I couldn’t get out there…and yet they’d always say “hope you can come out” – uh, no, I can’t. :(

      • Lindsey d.

        It will definitely go both ways… The car thing isn’t an issue where I live. Everyone has cars and public transportation isn’t really used; it’s an issue of traffic and time and people not wanting to leave their comfortable bubble to see another part of the world.

        I’ve experienced this in high school, too, when I went to the local Catholic school 40 minutes from my house. One person who lived “in town” literally told me they couldn’t come to my house because they only had half a tank of gas. I would have laughed at their idiocy had I not been crushed.

    • honeycomehome

      YES. This. The married and/or kids hasn’t impacted my friendships much, except that it tends to take longer gchat/gmail threads to make plans, now. It’s my friends moving to the suburbs that makes me so sad. Having to drive 45 minutes wrecks any chance of a quick happy hour drink after work or getting together for coffee/dinner/Mad Men viewing on a weekday night. Trying to fit every friendship into weekends alone is impossible. Working around kids’ or partners’ schedules is doable if it didn’t require an hour and a half on the road!

  • ART

    “God had created me as a loving, passionate person. She wouldn’t give me those qualities and then deny me the opportunity to practice them.” That one got me in the gut! I remember thinking something really similar at one point, though not so eloquently articulated. I tried internet dating, too, but got very little from it except some cringeworthy stories. When I really felt like I was ready, I guess I let people know somehow, and got set up by a friend…here I am three months away from marrying an amazing man whose online dating profile would never have come up in my searches (and vice versa) – we’re so not what we expected to find in a partner, in the best possible way.

  • macrain

    I love that this brings up the tricky waters of navigating friendship as we get past college and post college years. I have struggled with this tremendously. All of my relationships are different now, whether friends are married or have kids or what. I have always, my whole life practically, depended on a small and close knit group of friends. What I try to do (but don’t always succeed at) is be gracious and understanding, and when I do get to see those friends it’s a special treat. I don’t need to worry that our bond is still there (altho admittedly, sometimes I have those worries).

    One thing that ROCKS about this age, tho- less expectation about going out past 10pm, which I was over pretty much in college. More daytime gatherings. Less drinking. I never thought I would enjoy less drinking so much.

  • Channa

    Thoughts from personal experiences: find friends who, married or not, aren’t planning on kids. I know they aren’t that common, but we’re out there and we want friends to hang out with! I have lots of friends, some with kids, some not, some single, some not, but I do feel that as the only married-with-no-kids-and-no-plans-for-them woman, that my single friends forget to invite me out because they think “married lady” = “won’t come out” (NO DUDE I TOTALLY WILL, I’ll even drink just enough to ride a nice buzz all night), and my married ones have kids.

    So I inhabit this weird netherworld where I’m married, and people say your life changes a lot after you marry, but for us it hasn’t, and my life is more like that of my single friends than my married ones…but neither group quite gets that.

    Wouldn’t change it for the world – we really don’t want kids – but it is how it is.

    Find us! We exist!

    • joanna b.n.

      Yes, this is me. Exactamundo!

    • Claire

      Channa, let’s be friends! I’m alway on the lookout for child-free women to befriend. They seem to have more time and energy to invest in their friendships and are just more available than my friends who are also trying to raise a small human.

  • Rebekah

    That’s totally how my relationship started too. I was settled and single and fine with it, and one day I looked at my friend at a group outing and there was a spark. I spent weeks in denial, but we’re getting married in 5 weeks. My prayers for you as you move forward with your impressively honest life, wherever it leads you.

  • Kara E

    I finally got to that stage of embracing being single a year or two
    before meeting my husband. It was so freeing, if sometimes a little
    conflicted. As for making time for friends without partners/kids. I want
    to see you too, but for a few years, I think things are going to have
    to be on our terms and because of that I’m incredibly grateful for the friends
    who are willing to hang out at our house for brunch (even better,
    bring something potluck style) or be willing to hang out on the deck
    with a bottle of wine (especially being ok hanging out on the deck without me while I get the kiddo to sleep). I get that some people can pick up and take their
    kids everywhere, but for a while, I’m feeling hostage to the nap
    routine and the babysitter’s schedule for my kiddo who is going through a VERY shy stage. Makes me even more grateful for my kid-free friends who can be flexible than before. Even more those who aren’t hurt when my kiddo wants nothing to do with them for 90% of the time that they’re there (even though it breaks my heart).

  • Anonymous

    I’m the married one in my group of friends and I feel like I have to overcompensate for it by being extra flexible so I’m not accused of disappearing. It’s frustrating to feel like my “lifestyle” is not as respected as those of my single friends who are working crazy hours and have shifted their priorities to put career before friendship. Yes, I’m married, yes I live in the suburbs now. But my friends who are the ones who flake out at the last minute, who have difficult schedules to accommodate, who never really check in about my marriage while I listen endlessly about their dating lives. I feel like I’m trying harder than them to maintain the friendship.

    I’m sorry to vent, but this is definitely something difficult to talk about with my friends IRL without sounding condescending, like “you’ll get it someday when you’re married…”

  • Lizzy

    This may be one of the best posts I’ve read on APW. Thank you for writing it!

  • laddibugg

    “I spent the rest of the day telling myself to snap out of it. I could not like this person! But he says things that surprise me and makes me get out of my own head. It’s exhilarating. There is tentative flirtation. The funny thing is, if I had seen his online profile, he’s not at all the person I would have chosen. There are many good, sensible reasons for this not to work out. But I don’t want reason. I want passion.”

    Holy crap, this is my relationship right here. We were friends–FWBs to be exact–who fell into a relationship. I mean, if I saw his online profile (actually I *did* see some old profiles), I wouldn’t have thought we clicked. I used to say I liked guys who knew when to use their, there, and they’re, and he doesn’t always use them correctly. But you know what? It doesn’t matter in our relationship–I understand what he means when he writes to me, and we have an agreement that I will handle outside correspondence ;-). He’s smart, funny and not so nice that I feel like he’s a yes man.

    I think some of ‘us’ just need to get into relationships this way. The dating game works for some, but I think there is a segment of the population who really just need to find their lobster (Friends reference FTW) by accident.

  • Anna

    This has dropped into my life at exactly the right time, and I’ve come back to reread this post several times over the last few days. I just wanted to say thank you, that so much of this resonated with me. I plan to read it over whenever I feel my sense of faith and open-mindedness wavering.