July 21, 2021 (393 words)
When this summer’s low-key quest to find a new female companion first began, I thought it was important to leave my past behind. Because a common refrain of women on internet dating sites is how they are not interested in a man “with baggage.”
As a result, my focus going into this was fairly straightforward: Try to build rapport, find a shared language, and establish mutual points of reference. All while talking as little as possible about where I just came from, in the commitment department.
I soon realized that is all wrong. In trying to establish a new relationship, building rapport and finding a shared language is only going to be half the battle. The other part of this will be continuing to come to terms with the recent demise of my 35-year marriage (and 39-year relationship) in a way that allows me to engage someone new with an open heart and an unencumbered mind.
And naturally any potential partner will have to do the same with her past. We all have that past, and it’s not going away. Especially when there are children – grown, in this case – involved. Birthdays, holidays, weddings, funerals – all manner of family gatherings. It’s not like you or your ex will be entering a witness protection program and moving to another state under an assumed name.
Not only is referencing your previous relationship and its tangible fruits okay, I now see it’s sort of mandatory. How you are able to talk about this stuff becomes the measure of whether you have processed and understand the problems that led to the just-concluded break-up. Which, in turn, is a prime indicator of your capacity to attempt a new relationship in a healthy frame of mind.
In executing this about-face on how to handle my ‘baggage’, I have benefited greatly from the insights of a woman I’ve only recently met, who is proving to be practical and wise in matters of the heart. She also just happens to be cute as a button, in an age-appropriate sort of way.
As the two of us have agreed to try and get to know each other better, she has expressed concern I might find her too vanilla. Meanwhile I worry she might tire of my tendency too overthink everything. We’ll just have to see where things go from here.
Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr
July 21, 2021