This wasn’t the plan. After getting a divorce and spending nearly a year in therapy, I wasn’t expecting to hop back into the dating world as a single mom only to shortly after be ordered to stop going out on dates. The universe had its own plan – and here I am, quarandating.
One date. That was it.
On this date, we spent an entire Saturday together exploring Austin and having the best conversations. It was enough time for both of us to know we had found someone special. We decided to keep dating each other, and then the universe neatly folded up our brand new relationship and tucked it away in a twilight zone container. We spent the following weeks talking on the phone like two fourteen year olds that aren’t old enough to drive anywhere alone. I’m not sure what was worse – not knowing when we will ever get to see each other again, the awkwardness of being a thirty something mom dating like a teenager or feeling trapped because I, understandably, can’t ask anyone to watch my kids during a worldwide pandemic so I can go see my new boyfriend from a distance. All of these feelings were uncomfortable and annoying. Living day to day constantly irritated was not ideal, so we decided to view this quarantine as a gift. I firmly believe that perspective is power and the smallest change toward a better mindset can shift the quality of life drastically.
Here were my biggest takeaways from the gift of quarandating:
- We learned to let go of the things that we could not control. Instead of allowing ourselves to get consumed with disappointment and grief from not being able to see each other, we deliberately focused on the things we could control, and we chose to find joy in that. We read books together. We hopped on our Pelotons at the same time and raced each other. We downloaded a meditation app and woke up at 6:00 AM to meditate together. We found ways to be together when we couldn’t physically be in the same room. He sent legos and craft activities for the kids to keep them busy and to, more importantly, give me a break. I ordered meals for him when he was working long hours and forgetting to make lunch. We sent goofy Marco Polo videos to cheer each other up when we were having a rough day. Learning to love these unique ways of connecting helped us keep our hearts full of gratitude instead of grief.
- I had to become comfortable trusting while I waited. During the six weeks a part, I frequently became anxious about our physical connection, overthinking whether or not we would have good chemistry whenever we finally saw each other. Despite our friendship growing quickly and our emotional connection becoming deeper, it was still virtual. There was another level of connection that I longed for, and I found only when I saw a friend six feet away from me. I think we can all agree that there is power in the presence of another human BEING that cannot be tapped virtually. I longed to feel this energy, curious to know if it matched how I felt about us and the depth of our relationship. Wondering this became a guessing game that would send me down a rabbit hole if I thought about it too long. So I had to let go again, and trust the process of how life was unfolding our relationship inside of this quarantine container. Learning to trust, this was something that divorce therapy could not teach me. Life had to. It still is. Quarandating was a safe platform for my heart to learn how to surrender anxieties, fears, and false beliefs about men and life partners and in time, learn to trust.
- Even though we were stuck in an odd pause, quarandating moved our relationship forward fast. We didn’t have a second or third date to put our best self out there, but instead we were instantly thrown into real life. The quarantine fostered the ugliest and the most glorious part of me simultaneously. When I realized that he could see both even when I couldn’t see the pretty part, and he still loved me unconditionally, I knew I found someone special.
Like most moms stuck in the quarantine homeschooling their children and working full time, I lost my sanity on a few occasions. When this happened, I would end up on the floor weeping out of exhaustion from the weight of responsibility on my single shoulders. My life felt like it was unraveling quickly with every new demand and adjustment in the quarantine. I was working on negative time, if that’s a thing. When I wasn’t working, I was helping my grade schooler understand what cause and effect means and finishing a scavenger hunt project with my kindergartener. And then all of the normal house chores quadrupled because we never left the house. Scrambling to manage my life, I didn’t bother spending time fixing my hair or changing my shirt from the day before. I nearly forgot how to put makeup on. I was a frazzled mess. At least, that is how I pictured myself.
Yet he stayed.
Not only did he stay, he encouraged me, supported me, and told me I was beautiful. He didn’t withdraw or run off thinking this divorced mother is one of the crazies. He leaned in. He listened and showed empathy. He thought I was brave, strong, and sexy for the very things I thought made me look messy and weak – an old sweatshirt wearing, single mom hustling to do all the things and forgetting to brush her hair. As a single mom not wanting to waste time on the dating game, this quarantine became the best gift. It was a clear testing ground for character in and out of the relationship. We both witnessed how the other person reacts to change, new stresses, uncontrollable realities, and giving/receiving help.
Last March, he told me, “If we can get through the Coronavirus, we can get through anything.”
I think he is right.