Being single does have its advantages. I certainly could never take the epic road trip with a young family. Even as a couple, I cannot simply roll out of bed and hit the road within a few minutes so I'd have to cut back on some of the sight seeing. That said, given the choice, I'd rather be married at this point in my life. If the blood donation and liver treatments are successful, I will put myself on the market before the Holidays. As of now, my biggest problem is lack of confidence but that changes IF HEALTHY! Like many others, I will open up more quickly to some people than others but I really can't say what it is that makes me feel more comfortable. I'm convinced that ease of conversation will not be an issue with the right person.
Based on personal observations, being married does NOT necessarily make you a better all around person. In particular, losing touch with single friends is NEVER a good thing. My 2 best friends got married/engaged last year and not surprisingly, we've drifted apart considerably. I am quite sure that I never offended them and we still have a good time when we do get to see each other but those times are rare. One of them turned me down flat out because in his words "nowadays all I want to do is hang out with my girlfriend." He knew I was struggling at the time and I was hurt. I've felt this way since back in college. I knew several people who were almost always super nice but when they got around their significant other, it was as if nobody else at the table existed. It's great that you like each other so much but you can see each other every day. I'm not going to be at your table every day especially if you ignore me. I'm not alone here. I've talked to many others who are just as bothered by it. I made myself a promise right then. Yes, she will be my best friend and the most important person in my life but not the ONLY important person in my life. I'm afraid that too many people feel pressured into marriage because all of their friends are hitched and it's time to do it themselves. As a result, they settle for a less than ideal match and end up divorced.
I anticipate that I may make a few rookie mistakes but there is one in particular that I will avoid and I will expect the same in return: Be honest about your feelings early.
If somebody is into you but you don't have any feelings beyond friendship or don't see it getting serious, you need to say so. Yes, there might be a little bit of hurt feelings but if you lead somebody on and don't really mean it, it's much worse in the end. I don't see anything wrong with occasionally hanging out as friends in such cases as long as you enjoy the company. I've done it a few times myself knowing that there was no dating relationship in our future but it needs to be understood by the other party as well.
Once the decision has been made by either party, I will NOT go back. I think I've only see one "off and on" relationship turn out well. The vast majority of the time, it ends up VERY BADLY for both parties. I will take the time to mourn then pick myself up. I've been through worse and believe that I can take that kind of rejection. If she's just not that into me, that's a lot easier to take than being rejected by someone who actually does love/like me but can't take my chemical issues. Staying friends with a serious ex-girlfriend? Usually not a good idea. The only possible exception is if you were friends prior to dating and mutually decide to end it on good terms.
The 3 non-negotiable issues remain Active Christian, Support my cause, Healthy lifestyle. I don't think that is too much to ask. Of course, the one that goes without saying is we must love each other unconditionally. Here are a few things that are negotiable that might surprise those who know me well:
Could a conservative like me date a Democrat? It would depend on what kind. A tax and spend liberal who is moderate on social issues? Maybe. An SJW type who would march in a Trump protest? Hell no! Then again, those types are rarely active Christians.
I am open to inter-racial dating. I've had several close friends who are not white and almost never even thought about it. Of course, dating goes to a much deeper level with the family aspect if we got serious. I expect that I will naturally gravitate toward somebody with a similar background and life experiences. I would be surprised if she is not from the South and at least somewhat country.
Again, active Christian is the most non-negotiable of the 3 but I've always been open-minded about theological issues and dislike debates on the subject. I'm confident that we can work around those differences if they arise.
Divorced with kids:
Given the scope of my situation with a genetic basis to my illness, I've flip flopped in recent years on this issue. I now believe it might be the best situation for me and believe I could be a darn good mentor to a teenage boy. I don't think I could date anyone under 30 now and in Alabama, it's hard to find one that age that has never been married. Still, I will be awfully leery about a woman who initiated a divorce without a good reason (abuse, neglect, adultery, drugs). 70% of divorces are initiated by women and sadly the 2 most common reasons are not among the above. Rather, the reasons tend to be money and emotional needs. More on that later. Two previous divorces? I'm afraid that is a deal breaker unless radical change took place between now and then.
I am open to dating someone who is less educated. High school dropout? I don't think so. Somebody who did not attend or finish college? Maybe. Again, I expect to naturally gravitate toward someone with a college degree because that is my experience. Here, work schedules could present a problem. I work a regular 8-5 M-F so somebody with different hours will cut into our potential time together. She's got to have at least 1 weekend day off and the opportunity to join me on a long weekend road trip every now and then.
One of my friends recently had to choose between a relationship with his father and seeing his girlfriend. He chose the latter. I've met her before and I approve of the relationship. I don't have much in common with her but she certainly seems to be a good and caring person who "gets it" when it comes to the nature of my illness. When I heard about that, I made a pact with my parents that NO source of conflict (girlfriend or other) will EVER ruin our relationship. Both my mother and father quickly got on board. I say barring drugs, cheating, abuse or another severe character flaw, parents have got to accept their son or daughter's significant other.
Being married could be a source of great happiness or great misery so I will NOT take the decision lightly. Nobody is perfect but I will not settle for less than an EXCELLENT match. I want her to bring out the best in me and I hope to bring out the best in her. I'm not sure I believe in the concept of a soul mate. Rather, the one that I marry is one of several women out there who COULD be compatible with me. There will be some compromises on both sides to make it work but other issues are non-negotiable and must be resolved BEFORE the marriage. Now on to the potential conflicts:
Money- I am a bit on the thrifty side when it comes to material possessions. I do spend quite a bit on food and supplements but those are necessary to keep me healthy. All I need to be content is a roof over my head in a safe neighborhood and a reliable car. I prefer a condo to a house because I dislike yard work. I'd probably be willing to bend a little in a few areas but will not live beyond our means or go into debt. Rather, I prefer to spend more on experiences such as an epic road trip or international travel. If a woman is more interested in material things, it's asking for trouble.
Emotional needs- I really dislike this one as a reason for divorce. I suppose it could be valid only in extreme cases such as a man who comes home then barely talks to you for days at a time. That could cross the line into neglect. I do need to ask you this: What about my feelings? What about my emotional needs?
Coming home to someone who loves me unconditionally and will support and comfort me if I am struggling (which I hope is rarely) is a great source of happiness. You better believe I'll do everything I can to make sure she is happy as well. On the other hand, coming home to someone who is sarcastic, verbally abusive and controlling yet thin-skinned herself would be miserable. That's a toxic combo that must be avoided at all costs for both men and women. If faced with that situation, I probably would have a tendency to withdraw rather than fight back. Don't complain about your emotional needs if you treat me badly. I know that's harsh but it's how I feel.
Communication is key to resolving this source of conflict. Don't keep your anger bottled up. If you feel that your spouse's words or actions are hurtful, you need to say so. Perhaps your spouse is not aware that you are hurt or doesn't know the depth of it. I know I'm not perfect and I don't mind a little correction especially if it's done in a gentle and loving manner. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, if you did hurt your spouse, swallow your pride. Apologize and do your best to set things right. Nobody is perfect so keep expectations realistic as well.