Dearest Rachel –

It’s a challenging thing to try to navigate the ocean that is the dating pool. I chatted with a woman who seemed frustrated that the men she was meeting didn’t seem to know what they wanted out of a woman. Since I didn’t see her as a potential match (and therefore was released to speak freely without fear of rejection – gotta be able to accept that out here), I pointed out to her that if any of us – men and women alike – put together a comprehensive list of all the things that we wanted in our ideal mate, that dating pool would dry up to the point that the Mojave would offer it a refreshing beverage in sympathy. We can’t afford to die on every single hill; otherwise, we would guarantee that we will die alone and unloved. We have to accept certain deviations from the ideal, and determine what issues we can live with, and what ones are absolutes.

That being said, it’s more difficult that I had hoped it might be. The majority of the profiles I’ve encountered have been of divorcées. This is troubling on two fronts. First of all (and bear in mind, this is a Christian dating app I’m using), if I want to be strict about it, there are injunctions against marrying a divorced woman – Jesus Himself equates it to adultery. Granted – and I’ve spoken to my father about certain individuals at our church – there are plenty of cases in which one spouse simply leaves the other, and the latter spouse is essentially blameless, in which case I don’t think this prohibition applies. The problem with that is, I expect that to be the case in a minority of divorces. And of course, I won’t know the story with any of these potential partners, and odds are, should they even volunteer their story, it will likely be spun to make them look better. That’s not a criticism of them; that’s just an acknowledgement of human nature.

Secondly, even if they are blameless in the divorce, there is the question of how they might see me, and if their defenses are up from square one. As humanity, even relating to God is tinted by our own experiences: in picturing God the Father, our view of Him is colored by what our actual, human father is/was like, for good or ill. So how much more so will any potential partner or mate already be knocked down a peg by their experience with a previous faithless partner? Will they be able to trust me, when they couldn’t trust the one they said ‘I do’ to? The thought that they wouldn’t – however understandable – is unsettling.

And there’s the title drop, more or less, and it’s about the fact that the girl I would prefer to match up with be one who had never married, but that’s the rarest of the rare at our age. Not that there aren’t never-married people in their forties and fifties, but the fact of the matter is, at our age, we are settled into our lives. We have put down roots, we have found communities in which to circulate… and for the most part, I suspect those that haven’t found anyone are content with their lot by now. Consider Ellen or Erin, for instance; the idea of another person in their life would just throw their carefully-crafted world into an upheaval that, let’s face it, is probably more trouble than it’s worth for them.

Of course, the ones putting themselves out on this app have determined that the upheaval is worth it – or haven’t considered the measure of that potential disruption in the first place. The thing is, by attempting to find someone out here in the ether that we’ve never met, we have to understand that the Venn diagram of our life experiences have essentially no overlap. Oh, we may have listed a handful of things we enjoy that we have in common, but each person’s interpretation of those things renders those rather nebulous. I may list that I like Pop music, for instance, but I’m thinking of the stuff you and I listened to back in our college days (including all those mix tapes we sent back and forth to each other) and at anime conventions, whereas she might be thinking of current Top 40 stuff that I’ve no clue about. It’d be Bowling for Soup all over.

“1985” by Bowling for Soup, from A Hangover You Don’t Deserve (2004)

And even that song is now seventeen years out of date now. Her “two kids in high school” have doubled in age by now. If that doesn’t make you feel old, nothing will.

Well, you might ask, what of those who describe themselves as widows?

It’s a fair question, to be sure. The way I see it, there’s a little bit of both problems involved. No doubt, I would wind up being compared to their late spouse, just as they would to you. At least, that would be a little less likelihood of a negative impression that would’ve been attendant upon a divorce. At the same time, they too would have a circle of life experiences and preferences that may not intersect with my own. Again, one has to learn to ascertain what is essential in a potential life partner, and what is not. It’s all on a case by case basis; and that’s even before getting so far as meeting anyone face-to-face.

I really wish I didn’t have to go through this. I was happy being settled, even though I’m doing things that we always wanted to but never could bring ourselves to, like cleaning and renovating and what have you. But now that upheaval is upon me whether I wish it or not, I might as well go all in.

As always, honey, wish me luck.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

One thought on “Unsettled

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