This is all so stupidly obvious that even I understood it at a conceptual level right from the start, but nevertheless, I didn't really get
it. It's like an undertow. The danger is there, but you discount its pull.
What am I talking about? Dating for the wrong reason(s), of course. In my case, the wrong reason being to prove to myself that I am in fact appealing.
Having never dated in high school, having married the first woman I ever kissed, then having been thoroughly cuckolded by her, left me feeling, well, like a total loser in the romance department. Add to that that I was a shy, bullied kid, and you're left with a guy who's felt used and not valued, and wanting very much to feel desirable. Then there's the almost crazy-making long period of 5 years on the bus, nearing 50 years old, and having had only one sexual partner in my life. Tough to separate lust and ego in those circumstances.
I was aware of these things, but, I also had valid reasons for dating (or so I thought). I wanted companionship, and felt like I had a lot to give.
Thing is, when you have multiple motivations, it's awfully difficult to accurately weigh how much influence they have at an individual level.
I sometimes wonder if I succeeded at "proving" myself, would it have been wonderful? Would I have ridden a great high and settled into a beautiful relationship? It's possible. It's also possible I would have broken someone's heart.
It's sucked that in order to come to terms with these reasons for dating, I've had to eat heaping helpings of humble pie, over and over, until I finally accepted that I'm not "all that," romantically speaking. What did that realization buy me, when I finally accepted it? A really nice answer: "So what?" A relationship can be a pain in the ass. I'm not so sure I want one, after all. All that compromise, all that angst over whether feelings are reciprocated, complications when there are children to consider, etc. Who needs it?
I don't have much energy around it any more. Right now, dating would feel like a regression, like repeating some part of my life that I'm relieved is over and done with.
So, I'm not motivated right now, and I'm feeling more at ease around the whole thing. Better not to measure myself or pressure myself by inventing some "right of passage" around romance. Life has enough other yardsticks that actually matter.
Maybe the "bad" reasons for dating have finally burned themselves out my system, or maybe I'm just worn out for now and will fight this internal battle again later. But I'm hopeful that I've learned enough that I won't dive back in until I truly know what I want, and more important, appreciate fully all the wonderful low-hanging fruit all around me.
[This message edited by OnceInALifetime at 7:24 PM, May 1st (Wednesday)]