race fast until your underwear falls off

When we took my kids to school, we browsed radio stations without arguing – for once. Radio 1 felt too loud, too bombastic for 8.20am, and we weren’t in the mood for Classic FM either. My son, sitting in the front seat, rolled the dice, pushed down the digital arrow on the car radio and landed on a station called Magic Soul. Seventies disco mixed with soul and funk, it’s the kind of station you hear in the back of an Uber at 3am. At 8:21 AM, John Legend’s soft voice finally relaxed the car. The bustle of the school melted away.

“This isn’t the honeymoon. Beyond the infatuation phase… this time we’re taking it easy,” Legend sang. I asked my son to turn up the volume. Our cramped Citroen shielding us from the outside world, a frown crept across my face. Who does Legend refer to is the question I would have asked if there had been an adult sitting next to me. Legend wrote Ordinary People in 2004 and it’s beautiful, but I didn’t believe his dreamy voice.

Take it easy? New. Racing fast in a race car until your knickers fall off is my experience with dating, regardless of age, or knickers (except on the dates when you accidentally wear the big, white pants that reach over your stomach). Perhaps we have been conditioned to believe that a quickie with someone we like “very” will one day lead to marriage and cohabitation? A few dates are over and we’re already in a fully committed relationship for life – well no, not always for life, as is certainly true in my case, but it’s often the “dream” we set our sights on. Despite the divorce courts never being busier, we love the idea of ​​being in love and marriage feels like an essential part of an unspoken plan. A plan laid out in early childhood, a time of bedtime stories and fairy tales, of knights and princes and damsels in distress, of long hair thrown from towers. Pass the scissors.

Dear John, no one I know has ever entered a relationship and said “let’s take it easy”. Not one person. In my younger years, and now, people tend to go to hell for leather and end up in a committed relationship after sleeping together twice. In my newfound experience of being single in middle age, I’ve only been on two types of dates: casual and committed. When a date claims to be looking for a “casual” relationship, what they really mean is, “I’d like to spend the night and not call after that.”

Then there are the devotees: Freefalling into long-term relationships without thinking or thinking might be doable in your 20s and 30s, but after marriage with kids? Forget it. I struggle to grasp the nuances of modern dating, but I know I’d like my love life to settle somewhere between committed and casual. What does this even mean? For me it means never getting married again, no more intertwining my finances with someone else, not getting involved in raising other people’s children and vice versa. It means living alone and being independent and putting myself first, not being selfish – I want intimacy and emotionally caring for someone and being taken care of in return – it’s just the classic relationship trajectory that feels archaic.

When I get married for the second time, please crumble this column and throw it at my head – but could I possibly be part of the first generation of divorced women who are financially stable enough to cope on their own and who are not interested in get married a second time? Imagine what that could lead to – maybe never getting married?

Feeling alone in my Modern-Day Midlife Love Plan, I went to Google and typed “no strings attached, committed relationship type.” There has to be a name for the life I want to live, and there it is – it’s called ‘solo poly’, as in polyamorous. Oh wait, no, it’s called single poly. Or is it just polyamorous? That’s the problem with Dr. Google; it may yield more answers than questions. Finally, I came across a real paper in the form of a PhD and professor of human sexuality at New York University, Dr. Zhana Vrangalova. She provides relationship advice on how to shape your ideal love and sex life through blogs, a course and a newsletter. Whether in an open relationship with a long-term partner or exploring alone, from what I’ve been able to gather from her website, Vrangalova works to define clear boundaries so you can enjoy a love life and all what excites your wicket without hurting those you’re involved with. After reading several blogs and questions and answers, I soon parked exciting thoughts on polyamory, realizing that I don’t want to share my lovers with other women or men. Which brings us back to committed – but not.

I spoke to a friend who has been in three steady relationships since her divorce three years ago. She’d rather be in a relationship than no relationship, which is fair enough, and she’s open to all kinds of different men. This may be where I’m going wrong – I find them rambunctious and dangerous (just kidding, Mom and Dad). Also, she tries not to put any pressure on the relationship in the long run, for example by avoiding daydreaming about getting old with the person. This may also be where I go wrong – I like to daydream about rocking chairs, fires, retirement and lap dogs.

Has my friend found the solution to my dilemma? Love comes in many forms and many times over a lifetime, so relax and don’t worry about things? Is it okay to be committed, faithful and honest for now, without worrying about lives getting so entangled that we lose our independence?

Legend wrote Ordinary People about his parents splitting up when he was a child, only to remarry 10 years later. Perhaps we will live and learn. Maybe we’ll crash and burn. Maybe you stay, maybe you leave. Maybe you will return. Maybe, who knows, but if you’re out there in the single wilds, why not step back and catch your breath, take your time, go slow? I need to tune into Magic Soul FM more often. John Legend, you were right all along. Naturally.

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