I don't know if it's because I'm getting "older" and still single or if all singles get asked this question but the older I get the more I get asked, "Would you date someone that...?" That ... is filled in with these kind of examples:
- Would you date someone that has been married before?
- Would you date someone that has children?
- Would you date someone that can't have children?
- Would you date someone that has same sex attraction?
- Would you date someone that is addicted to porn?
- Would you date someone that has a substance abuse problem? etc?
It's as if the older I get being single the more I am suppose to "put up with", "deal with", "accept" someone else's "baggage". I don't understand it. When I look around at my friends and family who are married they chose to be with their companion because they were fiercely attracted to them and love them completely—the good and the bad! Why would getting older change any of that?
And yet, I continue to find myself, more and more, in conversations where people ask me the would you be willing to date... questions. So I thought I would address it here.
Even though the above situations are all very different I have the same answer to all of them. Yes. Yes —but not just someone. Let me explain. I would date a specific person based on who they were, how they were handing any of the above, and if they were in a healthy place in their life.
To me it isn't about where you've been or what you bring into a relationship but more about your heart and what you've learned. I know that sounds cheesy but I am looking to date and eventually marry someone who is a healthy whole person. Let me share an example to illustrate.
Years ago I started dating a guy and after a few months he told me, "I have a pornography addiction." I listened as he explained some of his past to me, how he was currently working with a great therapist, and that he was attending an addiction group. when he finished pouring his heart out he looked over at me and asked, "Well, what do you think?"
This was not the first time I had dated a guy with a porn addiction. I said something along the lines of that's great that you are working through things and would you like me to come to group with you. He was shocked—as this is the point where his previous girlfriends walked away. Once he could relax we had an honest, and I think healthy, conversation about our relationship and his addiction. I let him know that I had faith that he could get the help he needed, trust me with his struggles, and still maintain a good relationship. I also let him know that I would support him in any way that he needed. And vice versa. I was no perfect person. I needed his love and support also.
Here's where things got sticky. I felt that as long as he treated me right and was willing to be open and honest about things—and I did the same for him—that we were in it for the long haul. However, that isn't what happened. He started lying, he got really aggressive, rude, and he was filled with shame and self loathing. He started blaming and then he started taking things out on me. That was not okay. It was no longer a healthy or loving relationship.
We broke up, not so much because he was addicted to porn, but because of his addiction he couldn't maintain a healthy relationship. At the time, he couldn't work on his addiction AND be in a serious relationship—and that is how I feel about all the "would you date someone that..." situations.
Each person and situation is so different. Timing plays such a huge part in relationships. How you feel/treat yourself is essential and key to a healthy relationship. Just as much as how you allow someone else the opportunity to be their authentic self. Addictions, feelings, "baggage" past relationships, things that happen to us or that are outside our control, trauma, grief—these are things and situations they aren't us. They only define us if we let them (or we let others define us).
And so, I would date someone that...
- I couldn't help but laugh with them
- Allowed me to be vulnerable
- Created a space of safety
- Helped me feel my very best
- Recognized my weaknesses and loved me anyway, etc.
Would you date someone that...?—Yes, yes I would!