Columbia Star

Hope is an emotion for the brave

“Hope is for the brave” and “Only the strong make themselves vulnerable.”

I’m not sure if I read these quotes somewhere or if I made them up, but either way, I like them.

I’ve been chronicling the tales of “mature” dating. Some have been mine. Some have been tales of my friends.

The big question: what exactly do single women in their ’50s want? Some are looking for “the one.” They can’t wait to find a man and settle down. Specific websites exist for people ready to tie the knot. That’s not for me, but I tell my friends they are brave and strong to even let themselves think about getting married again. Hoping for a happy ending at our age? Only the bravest and strongest hold out for that.

Some women just want a fun companion. It’s nice to have a “plus one.” A comfort to have a go-to guy.

Some of my friends make no bones about it. They want help around the house. Whether it’s a handyman or just someone to take out the trash, they long for a help mate. The young want good looks. For older women in this category, handy trumps handsome.

I’ve been dating about a year now. My original goal was lots of first dates. None of my friends understood why I would want first dates with no repeats, but it made perfect sense to me. I was neither brave enough or strong enough to let myself think of more.

If I were only “first dating,” I wouldn’t get attached. If I were only “first dating,” I couldn’t get my heart crushed like a bug. Going out on a first date was a baby step, but it was an important step.

If a nice man crossed my path, I was quick with an excuse. I was too busy, too overwhelmed, too tired. Looking back, I would choose a different adjective: scared. I was too scared. That’s more accurate.

Starting to date at 50 was a little scary, but I did it, and I survived. If you are 50 and single, you’ve probably had your heart broken at least once. Divorce or death, they both change you. The thought of trying one more time, of opening your heart and taking a chance on getting hurt again is scary stuff – whether you are 50 or 15.

Another summer has rolled around, and I am re-evaluating my don’t-get-attached plan. “Hope is an emotion for the brave” and “Only the strong make themselves vulnerable.” I’m thinking about those phrases a lot.

Last summer, I put myself out there. I made a decision to live my life and not sit home “bingeing” on Netflix or Cherry Garcia. As I find myself trying to navigate these dating waters frought with potential heartache or humiliation at every turn, I’m proud of myself.

A coward would sit home every night watching old episodes of Scandal. A weak woman would claim to be busy rather than accept a second date. I don’t want to be a coward, and I certainly am not weak.

Another quote that’s been popping up lately: “It’s never too late for a happy ending.” In little bitty baby steps, I’m letting myself think maybe that could be true. It’s happening for my friends. I’m not there yet, but I am starting to feel a little hopeful.

This time, I get to define what my happy ending looks like. Maybe I find someone to help around the house. Maybe I find an occasional dinner date. Maybe I find “the one.” (My fingers had trouble typing that sentence.) Or, maybe I’ll learn that I’m pretty happy being single.

Either way, I’m moving forward. Not looking back. Allowing myself to live life and making sure I always, always choose happiness.

Am I scared? I am. Am I brave? It’s not easy, but I’m trying.

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