Pieces of dating advice I give my friends who have lost someone:
- Give him the chance to fail you.
- Don’t anticipate him leaving before he actually does.
- Your loss(es) don’t equate baggage, so don’t treat them as such.
Number one thing I’m reminded of everytime I’m in a “thing” with a guy:
- All your own advice is hard to follow. This is hard. I’m probs just going to get 5 cats and call it a fucking day.
I know absolutely nothing about dating except for the fact that it’s messy and the good kind requires you to put down the walls you’ve been leaning up against and hope/pray that the guy you’re trusting is standing right behind you when you fall. Because you’re going to fall and most times it’s in that fall when you feel the most fear.
And, yeah, I’m sure everyone feels the fall and maybe it’s pretentious to believe that those who lost someone have a special kind of fear that’s reserved just for them, but honestly that’s what it feels like most days. When I’m texting with a guy or sitting in front of him drinking coffee, a small part of me is thinking about all it took to get me here. I don’t take for granted how normal it feels to be sitting with him because I’m convinced it’s a fleeting moment.
I acknowledge that each moment I decide to stay and sit intently is a win because I’ve somehow quieted the part of my mind that’s looking for the nearest safety exit.
I live in a reality that’s forced me to hold my breath and constantly anticipate the other shoe dropping.
There’s a part of me that’s holding on to the hope that this may be something, while the second part of me is convinced that this is as far as we’ll ever get. It’s not him and it may not even be me, it’s just that somehow having someone die on you convinces you that you only get the present moment with whoever you’re sitting across from.
So, you learn to be present in ways that nothing but death could have taught you. You notice the smallest details — the way he moves around the random Men’s Warehouse you walked into, the way he smiles at you when you’re uncomfortable, the moment he’s overcome with the simple urge to just exist because a baby or a dog called for his attention.
You learn to appreciate the moments when the bravado and the charm are stripped and all you see is his humanity, because in very simple terms — you know how hard it is to get to that moment so instead of trying to hold on to it, you just let it be.
I’d easily accept dating being hard after someone dies if only someone took on the full-time job of reminding me that hard does not have to be synonymous with impossible. Mostly because I’m failing at that job.
Meeting someone new, encouraging myself to be in the moment and to enjoy his company, these things are all doable. The problem comes when it’s the day of your date and he texts you and your first thought is that he’s canceling.
The real struggle is born when you have to remind yourself that this ending is not inevitable. It can last and if it’s meant to or if he’s worth it, it will.
But, let’s be honest, dating is hard after you lose someone because death forces you to rebuild your trust in a “maybe next time.” In a split second, whenever your person had their last breathe, you lost faith in “next time” being a reality. There was no next time for them or for you in the context of that specific relationship.
And, somehow, for me that trickled into other relationships…the “next time” is so fleeting that it’s a freaking Patronus at this point. But in the midst of a Patronus, maybe like me you decide to power through because if there’s one more thing death taught you it’s that all it takes to make it to the next minute is putting one foot in front of the other.