Back in the Game

By Nicole C.Z.

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This year I went from a 7½ year relationship to being single again. In the last few months, I have gotten back into the "dating game." How do I feel about it? Scared, excited, angry, blissful, disappointed…it depends on the day. But I am coping and hopefully learning along the way.

When you are with someone so long, you take on a certain identity. You are part of a couple. You factor someone else into your thoughts, your feelings, your activities, your future. Things are shared - whether that is your joy and sorrows, or something as simple as your cup of coffee or grocery shopping. All of the sudden, there was just me. I wasn't a part of anything anymore. Who was I?

After some time spent healing my heart, and figuring out who this new person was in the mirror, I ventured slowly back into dating. Some people I met through friends. Others I met through business contacts. One or two I met over the Internet. I was petrified. I hadn't gone through the motions of dating in almost a decade. What do I say? How do I act? Just be myself, right? He has to like you for you…those first weeks of dating were the worst.

It has been a few months now. And I have to say, it hasn't gotten any easier. I wonder if dating is really this frustrating, or if it is just because I am rusty at it. The last time I dated I was 18, and I am 26 now. Before it was a movie, maybe dinner. Walking hand in hand at the mall. Now it's "What are your career plans?" and "When was the last time you had an AIDS test?" I question people's sincerity and honesty. I question whether they are what they seem. It is nerve-racking.

I had quite a few discouraging and uncomfortable experiences. One guy began to send me a million emails a day, including various pictures of himself. Countless poems of a deep and sexual nature...he only knew me a week. Then he looked up my work number and began calling me there incessantly. So long.

Another guy dated me for a while and then dumped me because I "wasn't Jewish" and, "How would we raise our children if I believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and he thought he was a carpenter?" Turns out I was the only Christian he had ever dated. Although I respected his opinions and beliefs, I couldn't help but think...when did we get married? Did I miss something? And what about just seeing where things went, and then if we fell in love...we could work out the church/synagogue thing later. Was I being too idealistic thinking that when you love someone, you can work through the rest? Maybe.

The last guy I dated I really thought I connected with. For a brief while, I thought, wow, I found something amazing. He was intelligent, expressive, talented…then he got weird. It went from cuddling and insightful conversations about our lives and our goals, to a few phonecalls to some scattered emails. I tried to talk about it, but it didn't help. It made things more tense. I think he just wanted to be friends, but was afraid to say it. I had to let it go.

I did have some great times though. Being someone's date at a wedding where we danced the night away giddy on champagne. Sitting on a rock in front of a waterfall in the middle of the woods, holding hands, talking, and then just quietly taking in our surroundings. Walking around NYC at night, then taking the train back snuggled in someone's warm and inviting arms. Being introduced to new things - photography, the writings of Tagore, a TV show called BattleBots. The thrill of being with someone new for the first time, touching their skin, tasting their mouth.

So the dating continues. Just as scary as ever. I am hoping that one day it will get a little easier. That I will just be talking and laughing and suddenly click with someone. Because although my life as a single person is fine, I do miss being a part of something. I miss the sharing. I miss holding someone's hand as I walk down the street. I miss having someone to talk to at the end of the day. I miss listening to someone else's day. I miss going to sleep curled up next to someone that I really care about. I miss thinking about someone throughout the day, and knowing that there is someone out there thinking of me too.

Sometimes I feel like I may not find that certain someone again. It can get kind of depressing. My heart actually aches at times. Especially when I take a look around and everyone seems to be getting engaged, going away for the weekend with their guy, buying the perfect Christmas presents for the one they love. But I am hopeful. I would rather wait it out, and find the right person. I am not settling. I have a lot to offer, and I am not going to just dole it out to anyone. And I am sure that there is someone out there thinking the same thing. I hope we find each other. Game on.

If I hit a nerve with anyone, cracked a smile, or if you'd like to give some feedback - I'd welcome it at

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