So no one told you life was going to be this way.
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, you’re love life’s DOA.
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear,
Well, it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.But, I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour.
I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before.
I’ll be there for you, cause you’re there for me too.The Rembrandts (I’ll be there for You)
Dating can be a bit of a three-ring circus. I don’t have to tell you that if, like me, you find yourself on the so called wrong side of 40, and you’ve been on the dating hamster wheel for a little while. In fact, some of you are no doubt rolling your eyes thinking “no shit, Sherlock.”
As some of you know, I suddenly found myself single at 41 when my marriage ended and now, with another relationship under my belt, I’m standing here single at 48. The Producer and I gave it a red hot go, even living together, and lasted 4 years, though in truth we were so wrong for one another. Blind Freddy could see it. I just didn’t want to.
He was the King of mixed signals and let’s face it, I was the Queen of wanting to believe it could be different (Ugh…perfect). I learnt valuable lessons from this relationship, I now realise. I could love the fuck out of someone without it being healthy. A fact I should have known in my 20’s but I seriously hadn’t known that. I learnt that codependency isn’t awesome and I learnt that a mutual value base is important to make something work. Most of all, I learnt that two people with good intentions can trigger bad things in each other when compatibility is missing. We loved each other, no doubt about it. He was both terrible and brilliant, as was I. Even after the break up, we were there for each other when needed. And then we weren’t. I have no regrets. For the first time in the 16 months since we split, and maybe because I’ve just gone through losing my mother which puts a lot into perspective, I can finally smile when I see memories of the Producer pop up on my Facebook feed, or I hear a song on my playlist that reminds me of him.
Yet, I continue to date with a sense of optimism, which is how I’m built I guess. One of my friends thinks I’m brave that I continue to open myself up to the possibilities of meeting someone, even though I’ve been very hurt…that I’m prepared to my heart on the line. Ha! Well, I’m either really brave or a little bit crazy…or probably both! If you are hoping to actually have a relationship, beyond hook ups, there are no guarantees or handbooks on the dating front. It does require a dose of courage and a measure of vulnerability. I’ve become more cautious with time, but I fight not to be jaded or scarred by the past. That’s not always easy.
Sometime after the Producer, I dated the motorcycle riding, right wing, Fox-watching American and obviously that was never going to work. I’m so left-wing, and my feminist views were too much for him. What I had absolutely learnt from my previous relationship though was that I couldn’t ignore red flags. It didn’t feel right and I didn’t feel okay about certain things, so walking away was an obvious decision. As I often say, if someone shows you who they are, believe them. He showed me he was a bit of a dick, and I believed it. You can read about the American here http://thegoodgirlconfessional.com/the-mother-load-music-mothers-and-mayhem/
Then out of the blue, along came the Strongman.
We had been work colleagues but to be honest, I hadn’t viewed his potential dating material. Though he worked in the corporate arena his passion was simply lifting heavy shit. He was offended by those that thought he was a weight lifter. No, he corrected them….he was a professional strongman. He didn’t just pump iron. Strongman competitions involved lifting awkward heavy objects. Think truck tyres being flipped, or concrete spheres, known as Atlas stones, weighing in around 100 kg (sometimes more) being lifted onto pedestals. He once carried 400 kilos in a competition, which just seems impossible. Who actually does that?
Perhaps fortune favors the brave. and when he was made redundant from work he summoned up the courage to ask me out. I was initially taken aback. It was most unexpected but since I live my life with a sense of adventure, I said yes. Why not? Now at this point, he was also adamant he was going to to live in the Uk, so initially I said no. He decided to stay and I agreed to a date at the ballet.
He was 9 years younger than me, sweet but not really my usual physical type. Sure, the Strongman was tall, like most men I date. At 6 ft. 4 inches (193cm) tall, this guy was built and big, as you would imagine. He was a bald, former red haired man, with an Irish heritage. He spent hours every day in the gym. He consumed up to 4000 calories a day on the lead up to competitions. While we were dating, he represented Australia as a part of a team at a competition overseas, where he was required to pull a bus. I kid you not. Now, I don’t pretend to understand this sport on any level, but he was extremely passionate about it and committed to it and I admired that.
I can’t stress enough that he was a nice guy. He was affectionate and kind and I really liked his sense of social justice but he was also a man of simple taste seeking a simple life. Yes, he had a dark past, and anyone playing along will know that I do have a soft spot for former bad boys.
He’d been raised as an elite private school boy, but joined the military and had served in both East Timor and survived a couple of tours in Afghanistan. Serving his country had left him with a small scar where a bullet had shattered his jaw, and, a large dose of PTSD.
Disillusioned by the military and feeling abandoned by the government that sent him to these foreign wars, when he was discharged he found himself in a bikie gang, along with an alcohol and drug addiction. Survival is a powerful instinct, and he realised that he had to do something drastic to save himself, or he was going to die.
I don’t quite know how one extradites themselves out of a biker club, but I guess there are ways. He certainly didn’t elaborate or talk about it. He walked away from that life, turned to the Catholic Church after a long hiatus, and joined Narcotics Anonymous. All of this was a huge surprise to me, given I knew him to be a caring and spiritual man who raised money for orphans in the Philippines and happily worked alongside his dad at Melbourne soup kitchens. He considered his altruism to be much needed redemption.
His hedonistic life was long gone by the time we met. As a reformed alcoholic, he didn’t drink, of course. It did get me thinking however, that the last three men I’d been with – The Producer, the American and the Strongman, all had past demons with alcohol. Former addicts.
What I soon found out was that spending so many hours in a gym was great for his soul, and a newer healthier addiction than those in his past, but it didn’t lend itself to a social life. He was in the gym at 4.00am every day so by 7.00pm at night he was exhausted and wanting to go to bed. Weekends consisted of training followed by chilling out on my couch, eating and watching Netflix. Though not always Netflix & Chill, which is an entirely different thing all together…and sometimes he was even too tired for that!
On that note, I have to say that the gentle giant and I were quite compatible when he wasn’t too exhausted. Not going to lie…it was quite lovely to be with someone who could pick me up and who would take control in the bedroom. The thing is though, I also need mental stimulation, and passion. It almost felt like the Strongman was too agreeable. If I said it, he agreed. I didn’t need a yes man. I needed a man of principle with his own ideas.
I guess I just felt restless. Life is about passion, and I love taking chunks out of life as much as he loves the gym, so I’m always out and about finding new things to do. A weekend in front of the TV was, for me, a slow kind of torture. He no longer drove, didn’t own a car and lived over an hour away. In some ways it just didn’t feel grown up. As sweet as this gentle giant was, I felt like I was dating another man-child, who had little responsibility and no plans of adopting any soon. My life was so different.
In the end, after three months, we decided that we weren’t made for each other, and mutually decided to call it quits while we were still friends. I raised it first, and after a few days he conceded. It was a lovely adult break up, followed by a cuddle. He didn’t need to change for anyone and I had no intention of doing so either.
As one door closes however, another is always certain to open. My heart is resilient, despite the setbacks, and I am the eternal optimist…having said that, if you know a grown up man who is both spiritually and emotionally evolved, who has sorted out his his baggage enough to date, by all means send him my way!
p.s He must like life, books, movies, food, cool bars and have a sense of adventure…just saying!