What I would do Differently… If I Ever Date Again

I have found myself once again inspired by Single Dad Laughing’s blog. He has done a 2-part post on ways he blew his marriage. You can find the first 16 ways here. You can find the next 15 here. These two posts went extremely viral and people commented like crazy.  I read both and as a woman with a divorce and a broken engagement behind her, I thought they were fantastic.  Both posts were heartfelt, honest and courageous. It had to be so hard for Dan, the author, to share his most inner thoughts like this.

Several men commented saying they would love to see a woman write such an honest post. I’m not sure if I can put myself out there quite like Dan did but I’m willing to take a stab at it. I know I wasn’t perfect in my marriage or my engagement. I think that I get better at relationships as I get older. I realize that might sound crazy considering I’m getting ready to turn 38 and still single but I really do think I’m better at relationships. I am honest with myself and the other person, I don’t continue dating someone just so I’m not alone, I realize bad situations and I’m much more confident.

There are a lot of things that Dan mentioned that he did wrong… many women do the same things so I don’t want this to just be a repeat of his list. For that reason, mine probably won’t be as long; however, I might use some of the same items but from a different perspective. I’m also not going to steal his exact writing style. I will be talking about things that I could have done differently in the two relationships that have had the most impact on me – my marriage to T and my engagement to B. I do want to be clear; I don’t think T or B were the right men for me to spend my life with. So my post is a little different than Single Dad Laughing’s. I guess mine is a little more about… well, let’s find out:

1.       Don’t marry young

I should have never gotten married at 20. If you are not old enough to have a drink at your own reception or rent a car in your name, you probably are not old enough to make the decision to spend the rest of your life with someone. You need to figure out who you are before you give yourself to someone else.

2.       Know that fighting is not passion

T and I fought a lot when we were dating. Most people   knew it. My friends would even ask why I was with     someone who I fought so much with. At 19, I would explain that it was because we were so passionate about each other. Passion doesn’t really mean fighting so now I would find a different way to show my passion, which would not include whipping a roll of quarters so hard through the house that it was stuck behind a wall. If I ever date anyone else, I would recognize that fighting all the time is not healthy and decide whether the relationship was right for me.

3.       Be confident

In my teen years and early 20’s I was very insecure. Most people who knew me then are probably surprised by that statement. I always came off strong, confident and as a girl who fought for what she believed in. I fought for everything but myself. Honestly, confidence is sexy and most men will like that. If they don’t like you being confident then they probably aren’t the right man. I also learned that an insecure girl shouldn’t be in a serious relationship, let alone getting married. If I am ever to date anyone else, I will examine my confidence and self-esteem level. If it’s not where I think it should be, I will realize it’s not the relationship for me (or him).

4.       Don’t be cocky

I was very insecure when I met T, however, I was a little cocky when I met B. I was much older, was in a good place emotionally, had a good job and wasn’t looking for Mr. Right. Well, I guess that’s good because I found Mr. Wrong. I was just out with friends the night we met. I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone and even told him in a very cocky way that I didn’t expect anything to come of it. I knew that he liked me more than I liked him in the beginning and I think I made it clear that I knew. If I ever date anyone else, I will appreciate someone’s admiration for me, even if it’s more than I’m able to give at that point, instead of being cocky about it.

5.       Be flexible

B and I had been dating a few weeks when I told him flat out that I’d be difficult to date. At that point, I was so busy with kids, enjoying being with my friends and was very aware of the fact that I’m an over planner and overachiever. I probably had the next six months of my life already scheduled when I met him. Now in my defense, I stopped scheduling so far in advance once we met but I wanted to keep my commitments. I was and am also the Girl Scout Leader and the PA for my daughter’s soccer team. I wasn’t willing to give up my volunteerism, miss school events or soccer games or give up anything else. I also don’t think I should have been asked to miss or give up anything that involves my kids. However, my time was extremely limited, which is hard in a new relationship, and I’m sure I could have freed up my schedule some in order to spend more time with him. If I ever date anyone else, I will be more flexible with my schedule.

6.       Truly listen

I have a degree in journalism and communication. It shouldn’t be difficult for me to listen to someone, I mean truly listen, and realize when they aren’t saying everything. But it was. Well, maybe it was because I didn’t really want to hear what was being said. Between the two of us, B and I have four kids. His two boys are about the same ages as my daughter and son. I was renting an apartment and B owned a small two bedroom, one bath home that needed a lot of work. There was a laundry room that he also threw a bed in but that doesn’t really count as a third bedroom. At first, B didn’t do any work to get his house ready to sell saying he didn’t have any money. He honestly didn’t have any money but some of the stuff was labor he could do himself. Eventually I ended up paying with my money for people to work on the house and I did a lot of labor myself. My kids even helped. I’m very practical and was just trying to get it done so we could start our lives together. He fought every step of the way. He didn’t want the fire place painted, the closets cleaned out or the kids’ room organized. It made no sense to me. He constantly complained about having it clean for showings but would tell me how he couldn’t wait to marry me. It wasn’t until the end of our relationship that he finally flat out said that he didn’t want to sell his house and just wanted me and the kids to move in there. He worked hard for that house and wasn’t ready to give that up. I was not willing to move in that tiny house with four kids and two adults but a lot of arguments could have been avoided if I had truly listened earlier on. If I ever date anyone else, I will make a point to truly listen and try to be more aware of underlying issues.

7.       Talk instead of becoming resentful

I often did not speak up in any of my relationships. I would hold things in to avoid disagreements, which only resulted in me being resentful. Dan mentions in his posts that he should have never stopped holding his wife’s hand and should have shown affection and not just because he was trying to have sex.  I started withholding sex (oh I hope my parents, aunts, brothers, cousins and kids are not reading this) because I was not getting the affection and hand holding I needed. If I would have just spoken up, when it wasn’t at that moment that he wanted to get intimate, I may have avoided a lot of arguments. If I am ever to get married again (because I would never have sex without getting married; right mom?), I would remind him that I needed that attention more often than at bed time. I would also show him more affection.

8.       Do not let exhaustion get in the way of intimacy

Just so you know, I am really uncomfortable talking about intimacy of any kind. Anyway, I would often be so tired from work, kids, sports, etc. that the idea of being intimate at bedtime was the last thing on my mind. I knew that he often felt rejected but I let my LOVE for sleep get in the way. If I was ever to get married again (because I would never be intimate with someone without getting married; right dad?), I would try to head to bed earlier, drink an extra cup of coffee or get a quick nap in at some point in the day. Or I would just suck it up and get a little less sleep from time to time.

9.       Do not be bullied or bully him

I think most of us never think of ourselves as being a bully but it does happen. We want something really bad so we can up with ways to manipulate our significant other into doing whatever it is or giving it to us. I know I have been guilty of it. He would often tell me “but it’s important to me. How can you say no if it’s important to me?” This included things like wanting me to change my last name, cancel things with my friends who were in town because he wanted me to do something, missing my own events for his work events, etc.  FYI: there is a difference between being important and being important to you. If I were to ever date anyone again, I would be strong enough to discuss how I feel bullied by those kinds of statements and I would not use manipulation to get my way.

10.   Be honest with yourself and him

There was a point where I knew our relationship was falling apart. I knew he wasn’t being honest with me about finances, kid issues and more. I would ask if everything was okay, he’d say yes and I’d accept that. I knew this wasn’t the case. I also knew that I wasn’t okay. At one point I even told him I’d consider moving in to his tiny run-down home even though I would have never actually done that. I just told him because I wanted to stop fighting and didn’t want another failed relationship. I even told him I wanted to change the location of the wedding (from my parents’ backyard to??) in hopes of postponing the date. I don’t know why I didn’t just say I needed more time or whatever was on my mind. I guess I was trying to not hurt his feelings but everyone was hurt in the end. If I ever date anyone again, I will be honest with myself and him because no wins when you lie, even if you think you are telling the truth.

11.   Keep the surprises coming

When relationships are new and exciting, both people tend to surprise each other with little getaways, flowers, cute little outfits, candle lit dinners and much more. As the relationship becomes “comfortable,” the surprise factor seems to stop or become a lot less often. If I were to ever date anyone again, I would make a point to surprise them regularly with little gifts, cute little outfits, dinners, trips and other cool stuff because it keeps things interesting and shows that you are thinking of him.

12.   Support each other

B worked at a job where he had A LOT of events. I went to a lot of them but there were things I missed. Although I don’t think I could have gone to every single thing, I needed to prioritize better. He didn’t seem to care as much about certain ones as he did others. I should have been at the ones that were really important to him. On that same note, he should have been at things that were important to me, which he rarely was. I think in a way I decided if you can’t go to my things then I’m going to skip the stuff important to you. If I ever date anyone again, I will prioritize and support them in work and family life. I will also make it clear that it’s important that he shows me support as well.

13.   Rub his damn feet

This has to sound nuts but in three of my long-term relationships, I have had fights over feet rubbing. I love to have my feet and shoulders rubbed. However, I HATE to touch feet. I seriously have a phobia. I think men’s feet are so gross. I know women’s feet can be nasty too but not mine. I take care of mine by getting pedicures once a month. I seriously don’t want to rub anyone’s feet but my goodness if it’s going to avoid arguments; I need to get over my phobia. If I ever date anyone again, I will invest in a lot of brand new socks and then ask the guy to wear them while I rub his feet.

I could go on and on I’m sure but I’m going to stop my list here. Again, I don’t regret ending these relationships; however, I could have been a better partner. If we are going to be in a relationship, we should be considerate, caring, supportive and just plain nice to each other. If we can’t be these things, we probably need to end it. Actually, after writing this, I’m a little disappointed in myself. I think my next post might be “Things I have done Right.”

What do you think of my post? What did I miss? Is there something you wish you would have done differently in the past or plan to do differently in the future?

Written by: Gina Holt

P.S. Check out Single Dad Laughing. Hilarious! And he did a much better job with this than I did.