To say I was completely unprepared for my recent breakup is an understatement. After 10 months together, just a couple months before we were planning to move into a new place, I was blindsided by something I felt, and still think, is a preposterous reason to end a relationship with someone who is your soulmate, someone you claim to love with all your being.
Impervious to my pleas to talk about resolving the issues, ignoring my apologies about something for which I wasn’t entirely sure what I was to blame, my sobs and shock turned to frustration and yes, a bit of anger. One of his own very good friends said he was foolish for letting something so trivial end something so powerful that he seemed to have been searching for all his life. If our relationship—something he had always described as so strong, special and sacred—wasn’t worth fighting for, then clearly it didn’t carry as much weight, or have as strong legs, as I thought it did.
After I spent time mourning, I decided that fighting the inevitable was pointless. I still knew who I was. I still knew what was important to me and what I wanted, both in a mate and from a relationship. If anything, the breakup emphasized how important certain things about communication and relating to your partner were to me that had been a little off-center with us.
So, to the surprise of family and friends who thought I was moving too quickly, I decided to re-activate my OkCupid account. To be completely honest, I first signed on to see if there was still hope—I was another year older, life had struck another blow, and I wasn’t even sure I would see anyone on there who would interest me enough to get to know.
I was surprised to realize I still attracted not only older men but significantly younger men too, divorced men with kids and men my age who have never been married, corporate businessmen and world-traveling teachers. I also realized that there were still so many interesting men out there to learn about and potentially meet, though I wasn’t in a rush to do the latter.
With the knowledge that there still were formalities of the break up to deal with—things to return to each other, letters of closure finally received and occasional pangs of “did this really actually happen?”—I knew I had to make some promises to myself. I wasn’t going to go just out with an ex who still has hope that we’ll eventually get back together seven years and a kid (his) later. Nor have a fling with a former FWB. And I wasn’t going to jump into a relationship with the first guy who I felt a great connection with, no matter how strong.
That’s where the 7×3 formula came along. They are relatively arbitrary numbers, 3 and 7, but I’ve called them my lucky numbers all my life. So here’s the deal: I have to go on dates with at least seven different guys before I make a final choice to pursue a relationship with any single one. Any contenders must be dated at least three times. No hanky-panky is allowed; kissing is welcome to assess chemistry.
So this week I agreed to a date with one of the fellows who has been writing me. He’s intelligent, socially conscious, thinks ahead, seems kind and has strong and influential women in his family. He’s a father of two young children, has lived all over the U.S., and he’s experienced some pretty cool things over his lifetime. I always looked forward to his emails, and while his looks didn’t make me swoon, I decided the personality attracted me enough to meet him.
In the meantime, another guy dramatically came on the scene. We rapidly exchanged long emails about our travels, teaching and our similar mindset about life and relationships at this point in time. He very quickly asked for my number, expressing desire to meet each other sooner than later. The day before date #1 with the other guy, Mr. Wanderlust asked if I wanted to go to a coffee house for a snack at the last minute. Going with the whim of the moment, I agreed.
Despite his admitted nerves, the date was non-stop conversation. We looked at travel photos and talked about whatever came to mind while we had dessert and tea, followed by a light dinner of wraps. He also really made me laugh—not from the absurdity or ridiculousness of what he said, but because he was sincerely funny. It was exciting to be around his energy and his enthusiasm for life—it didn’t hurt that he was very open about his interest in me, enough to ask for another date before this one ended.
Next day was the date with Mr. Left Wing (he’s the son of a radical feminist and is a proponent of radical social change). The night started off oddly as he attempted to psychoanalyze me, and I took his extreme mellow demeanor as a blasé attitude toward life in general. But soon our masks were off, and we were engaged in deep conversation about life-changing experiences. He revealed quite a bit more than I did, whereas with Mr. Wanderlust, I felt there was a much more even exchange. Yet I enjoyed our time together and was surprised by a goodnight kiss.
I’ve decided the new formula is perfect in instances where you meet several interesting people who you want more time to get to know, while also having several comparison points to keep things in perspective. I have a feeling eventually I might not want to go through all those first dates, but I think it will be healthy for me. And if I decide I’m just overwhelmed all-around and need more time to try to make some kind of sense of my last relationship, I always have the choice to just stop everything and go back into my dark bedroom and mull over things—or better yet forget about men entirely for a while, and just enjoy my friends, my family and my career. I’ll keep you updated.