Top rules while dating

I felt immediate and overwhelming relief: Oh good, it wasn’t me! I would put on my Florence Nightingale uniform and zip over to his place and nurse him back to health.

No sooner had I heaved a sigh of relief when the caretaker in me kicked in. The feel of my hand on his fevered brow would certainly do the trick and he’d realize I was the woman he’d long been looking for.

Rule #2: When in doubt, I will remind myself of my assets.

Even when I’ve done that, though, I still can’t stop checking email like an obsessed idiot, as if the concreteness of my assets requires someone else to confirm them.

The protocols and practices of dating, and the terms used to describe it, vary considerably from country to country and over time.I separated from my husband of 25 years a few months ago.After living with bone-crushing aloneness within that relationship for a decade, followed by months actively grieving that loss, I found myself ready for some companionship.But when he didn’t call or text the next day, I started to stew. I soon decided that pending illness hadn’t ended the evening brusquely. I found this odd and disconcerting because in my regular life, I’m a content and competent woman. So why, then, this instant and deeply convincing I-am-flawed response?The truly flawed nature of my being must have somehow become visible. Who would possibly want to go out with a woman four years his senior? Who did I think I was to believe, even for an instant, that someone like that would be interested in me? I am educated and smart; I work as a graduate-school professor and author. Is this the core shame at the center of every human, that hideous inner knowledge we spend as much of our lives as possible trying to keep hidden? And how, please God someone tell me how, was I to be free of it?