How Strange to Date a Stranger: Becoming Friends with “Mr. Right”

I kid you not, sparks fly every single time I meet the one…birds sing, my heart does this flip-floppy thing, I get weak in the knees and I just can’t stop smiling. The only problem is that the one always seems to be a stranger.

At 37 and having had the confusing pleasure of meeting the one over and over and over again, I’m coming to the realization that something just doesn’t add up; if the last one was really, truly the one, why isn’t he still here? Is the one only meant to be the one for a certain duration, for as long as the floating-in-the-air feeling lasts?

As tends to be the case these days, I started waxing philosophical and romantic and lyrical….thinking, musing, wondering…..who is this elusive, almost mythical (think unicorns and leprechauns) creature? Where will I stumble upon my one true soulmate (one out of about 7 billion….I know, the odds, right?) Who is this person who will understand me better than I understand myself (not really that tough!) . Where is he? What does he look like? How will he find me? How will I recognize him? Surely after all these dating years I must know what I’m doing? Or mustn’t I? Could there be something I haven’t tried?

As I ponder these serious global issues (I guess in the larger scheme of things - global warming, food security, gender inequality- not all that serious?) it finally dawns on me; one just cannot and should not date a stranger.

Those of you who are parents and those of you who’ve been kids before (just to be clear this includes everyone) know all too well that you shouldn’t talk to strangers. So if I tell my mini me not to talk to strangers, what business have I got to go out and date a stranger? Why are we just handing our hearts over to these strangers? How can we be so sure that this amazing, out of this world, never felt before feeling (never?) is the real deal? After all, this is a stranger. Isn’t it in fact incredibly strange to conclude that our current Don Juan who doesn’t even know us and isn’t even a friend could be our one true soul mate? Well, yes, off course he may well be our true soulmate but we just don’t know yet. Remember, we did just say that the one knows us better than we know ourselves and so it would follow that he’s had that chance to get to know us.

A few years ago ( maybe 3 or so) my then 7-year old daughter decided to educate me and tell me what a boyfriend is ( she must have realised I needed some tips on this!): “A boyfriend is a boy who’s your friend”. Could it possibly be any more straightforward? If she knew this at 7 why is it still a struggle for me at 37? Shouldn’t we strive to know, I mean really know, this person who gives us that weak-in-the-knees-feeling before we conclude that the universe wants us to be together ? Is that gut feeling and the first night chemistry really enough to base a serious relationship (assuming that’s what you want) on? Absolutely not.

We are jumping in and out of a series of short (albeit) intense “relationships” with total strangers and hoping for a forever happy ever after epic love story. Let’s slow things down, really get to know this guy and make sure he really gets to know us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we should be “just friends” forever, but rather, that we should start by building a friendship and then seeing whether, and what else, may or may not develop thereafter. Yes, believe it or not, true compatability is much more than chemistry (and biology!). What have you got to lose? I mean if you really like someone, isn’t it better to know that you’ll have them in your life as a truly awesome friend rather than have them in and out as a quick but old flame? Perhaps we need to reassess this whole dating thing. Maybe we need to pre-date before we date? Perhaps we could start building the kinds of genuine friendships that we have with our other close friends and that are based on certain fundamentals such as laughter, shared experiences, sincerity, honesty and a genuine interest in each other’s day to day lives. In any event, if the one doesn’t want to take the time to get to know you before jumping into a relationship with you, it’s very likely that he’s just another one and not really the one. So where do we go from here? In our search for something more profound, we owe it to ourselves to get things right by really getting to know Mr. Right before we conclude that he is in fact, er, right . Stay safe and remember- stranger danger is real! ☺

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