Dating While Dead: An Intimate Personal Essay

I often cheer for the delinquent, the misfit, the misunderstood, the unstable, disenfranchised, disillusioned, disheartened, the despaired. But, I don’t date them--at least not on purpose, and never for real.
At times I am attracted to--but not committed to--improbabilities. I am, at least for now, selectively single.  
It took me a while to realize I was hurt by my ex-husband’s affair. And so, for a while, I didn’t.
I am not one of those women who wonder why with all of the attractive, successful, “eligible,” single men around the Beltway, I remain single.  As a “self aware” woman, I recognize, admit, and acknowledge certain flaws, characteristics, strengths, and traits, and yet, I cannot self diagnosis my own injuries.
Which does not mean I don’t self medicate.
I pop men as if they are tiny, dispensable, candy-coated cough drops.
For the past few years, I have substituted relationships for “relationships” with various built in trap doors.  I often admit my attraction to absurdities.  Eventually, when playthings and fantasies turned into reality, my attraction to absurdities became a sort of addiction to them.   
I have dated improbable men. I have been seduced by the obscure, by the experience of living and the pursuit (though I didn’t recognize it then) of inevitable endings. I remain fascinated with goodbyes. 
We all have our vices.
For a few weeks, I dated a man going through a divorce.  As someone who rarely talked about divorce even when I was going through one, I was often shocked by his addiction to disclosure.  In person, over the phone, through texts and IM’s; I learned so much about his marriage that I recommended he stay in it. I also recommended he talk to his friends, therapist (a bit too subtle of a suggestion that he seek therapy) and his lawyer. I recommended he talk to anyone, but me, about his divorce.
He didn’t take my advice.
My final suggestion came midway through texts about his recent discussion with his wife--she wanted him back. I recommended he take her up on it.
“I just can’t do this,” I texted.
Two texts of 140 passion-filled characters (he always had passionate discussions about his marriage) streamed across my screen, then silence.
 I only regretted the way I said goodbye.
Each of my relationship experiences, though departures from my norm, were necessary for me to realize I was hurt, temporarily broken (well, not broken, perhaps a bit worn) for a rather long time. My instinct was not to hurt others (though I did); it was to protect myself (I did that too).
I was emotionally isolated, DWD: dating while dead.
Now I recognize my condition and I allow myself to be temporarily hypnotized by hot guys in fast cars with dark windows (I’m still rather shallow) as they speed closer and closer to my reality.
Does this mean I am ready to commit? No. It means I am ready to commit to dating--for real.  


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