Guest Blogs

“Choosing a Partner When ‘Dependable’ Seems Dull”

I’ve jumped back into the dating scene, after a divorce and a long break. But how do I pick an appropriate mate when I thrive on the thrill of different, erratic, and unpredictable?

It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write. A whole season passed in the blink of an eye. I’m at the same job — by some miracle — after a huge round of layoffs in a fluctuating industry.  I’m in the same city, a tiny town with a stagnant population in the shadows of two larger cities.

Nothing is new. My day-by-day has taken on a routine of sorts. Yet, in my love life, everything is new again.

It’s been a year since my divorce, and I decided it’s time to jump back into the dating scene, not without trepidation. I threw myself into the merry-go-round of dating apps, which, similar to slot machines, the likelihood of a big win is nearly nil.

[Why We Crave the Drama that Sabotages Relationships]

I grumbled. I was disappointed. I marveled at how the quality of men could be so consistently so poor.

And then, I went to a cocktail party. I met a guy, who, like me, is fairly new in town, a transplant from a big city, and has a college degree — sometimes a rarity in small towns. Off the bat, it seemed like a perfect (or at least better than the dating apps) match.

He’s a fellow history buff, with a penchant for the finer things — like designer watches and pens. But after a few dates, I discovered he’s looking more for a warm body next to him than for a long-term commitment. He won’t make plans. His favorite phrase is, “We can play things by ear.” He may show up. He may not. He may call. He may not.

He’s totally charming, but maybe he’s a Casanova. He’s like a rainbow or a comet — beautiful, mysterious, and a wonder that may never return.

My girlfriends tell me he sounds like a classic jerk, a narcissist. They remind me, “You can do much better.” My aunt tells me, “Jane, you want a nice guy who is dependable and reliable — a man of his word. You want someone who might even appear dull.”

[“I’m Not Trying to Drive You Crazy, Really”]

The thing is, I’ve date a couple dull men before. The conversation is mostly stagnant, like trapped air on a muggy summer day. I thrive on the thrill of unpredictability. I like color, and spice, and get bored with the repetition of 9-5. The variety and erratic circumstances that seem dizzying to the normal person are where I feel most at home.

Yet even my rainbow analogy doesn’t impress my aunt.  “You never know when even the best rainbow will pop up again,” she said. “Reliability and commitment are worth gold. Plus colorful conversation is like a DJ or a salesman, it all sounds good in the beginning and then they use the same lines over and over again. It’s like a one trick pony.”

“Dump him,” my friends recommend.

Yet the ADHD in me says, “This feels natural.”  It’s hard to let go of what’s engaging, to shift gears and force a chance of heart — even though I know it’s for my own well-being.