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Trying to date without labels is a challenge for me.

I never dated much. I had few boyfriends in high school. There were crushes, sure. But not a lot of reciprocal affection during my teen years.

College was a little better. I got pretty serious about a guy freshman year and thought he might be the one (spoiler alert - he wasn't). He was the first to break my heart. He took a little while to get over.

I didn't want to commit to anyone after him - not for a while. So thus began my first attempt at casual dating. I made up my mind that I was going to accept any date. Because, you know, historically the boys were just lining up to date me. <insert sarcasm font here>

I ended up dating two guys for a month or two. One was semi-local (ie in the Dallas area) and one was in Austin at school. And they knew about each other - I wasn't trying to hide anything or go behind anyone's back but eventually it just felt too strange to me. Even though I wasn't cheating on anyone, it felt like I was. So I decided I had to choose one. I chose poorly - choosing geography over preference. Sorry Jason.

I always sort of regretted that decision.

Bryan and I were an item for a while...but I always knew I didn't love him. We had fun but I knew he wasn't the one. And when he broke up with me, I was fine. No broken heart.

It was nearly a year before I went on another date. Not because I didn't want to, but no one asked. But finally I like someone enough that I felt like I had to ask him out because I wasn't willing to risk him not asking. We were together for nearly 15 years so I guess you could say it worked out. Until it didn't anymore. That's probably another post.

When that marriage ended, I just sort of assumed I would be alone the rest of my life. I was prepared for it. But then, like now, I was lonely so thought I would give a try. I went on a couple of dates. Then I met John whom I affectionately referred to as my Boytoy since he was 10 years younger than me. We dated for a few months.

Let me tell you something right now. When your husband stops finding you desirable, it is a nice ego boost to have a handsome, younger man pursue you. Unfortunately it was long distance because he was in Buddah and I was in Dallas but we saw each other every other weekend. But it was definitely casual. And even though I wasn't seeing anyone else, I knew that was not going anywhere. And I was fine with that. It was exactly what I wanted at the time. What I needed.

And then there was Daniel. We'd been friends for awhile and finally decided to officially take it to the next level. I really thought he was the one. We moved pretty fast but I thought I had learned from my previous mistakes. And he at least let me think it was mutual.

Somewhere along the line I guess it wasn't anymore. And he was the second man to break my heart. Into so many pieces I don't know if it will ever be whole again.

But I'm trying.


And once again I find myself single. And lonely. And I want to try casual dating but to be perfectly honest there really aren't a lot of options out there. At least not in the places I've been looking so far.

But, as you may know, I have made a good match. Rob is handsome and smart and kind and funny. He thinks I'm beautiful and sexy. He understands that I've been through a lot this year and that I need time to sort through things. He's patient. He is fine with taking things at my pace and not putting labels on it.

I mean, is he even for real?

I'm having a difficult time not defining whatever this is. It's easy to say no labels. But he's the only one I'm seeing (and vice versa - he says he hasn't even opened Hinge since meeting me). And on the rare occasions I do get hit on I compare them to him. And so far, no one is coming close.

I really enjoy spending time with him. Or texting. I missed him when he was on vacation last week.

Sounds like a relationship, doesn't it? Why am I so reluctant to put a label on it? I'm happy. He's nice. What more do I need?

I know a big part of my hesitation is I don't know if I can trust my feelings right now. How do I know I don't like him just because I am lonely and he's the only one interested?

How can I be sure I'm not just using him to fill a void? He's a great guy - he doesn't deserve that.

How will I *know*?

I know what you're probably thinking. I need to calm down. If he is ok with how things are and how things are is exactly what I'm asking for, then what is the problem?

Damn Suzanne. Let yourself be happy.

Brandi said it perfectly tonight...I'm fighting the old me that went from relationship to relationship and this new me that craves a relationship but is scared of being heartbroken again and thinks the answer is casual dating. But I've been the old me for 48 years.

New me is just a baby.

But it's also because I thought I had it right. I knew we weren't perfect but we were pretty damn close. At least I thought we were. And I want that. I want it for real.

Doesn't everyone?

Tomorrow night I am taking Rob to meet my friends at the Pub. I've asked them to help vet him. NOT that I will allow my friends to dictate who I do or do not date. But they can see him with a clear perspective that perhaps I currently lack. Tell me if they get a good or bad vibe from him. And then I can take that into consideration.

And I can go from there. Labels or no...

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