When I first started dating after fleeing an abusive alcoholic husband in the wake of getting diagnosed with cancer, I wanted to do things right. I made a few pledges to myself about the kind of man I was looking for:
1. No signs of alcoholism or substance abuse. I am fine with a guy who drinks occasionally, however, drinking and alcoholism are two very different things. So I promised myself to carefully watch a guy's alcohol consumption. If alcohol changed his personality in any way, no thanks. My ex husband would wring his hands, get fidgety, disappear for awhile, or get incredibly cranky like a three year old in need of a nap. It was so laughably ridiculous and anything that's even remotely similar is a warning sign for me to run away fast
2. Kind and thoughtful. I was not going to rush into a relationship with the first guy I found. Instead, I would take my time, get to know someone, and let things progress slowly and naturally
3. Honest. No excuses
4. Ample time after a split with his ex wife. Everyone needs time to heal and adjust after a breakup and just jumping back in to another relationship shows that a guy is emotionally very sick in the heart and head. (I've gotta say-- any woman who dates a man who's straight out of a marriage is crazy. She's just getting a very sick, wounded, and troubled man and nothing good can come of that. That's how I found my ex husband-- he'd just split from his wife just weeks prior. Of course, he lied to me about the date of their split or there's no way I would have been dumb enough to have dated him even once. Oh well, bygones are bygones, right? Never trust a liar, hence see #3.)
5. Great relations with his children. No apologies or excuses for the fact that a man has failed his kids
6. He must not talk poorly about the mother of his children. Of course, relationships break down, hence a divorce, so telling war stories about a failed marriage is expected, but saying horrible things about her character is entirely another. Hey, you made children with her, you should at least respect the fact that she's your children's mother and have the self control to keep be respectful
7. Able to handle stress well. Having some healthy coping mechanisms to handle life's challenges is imperative. No taking those stresses out on the innocent bystanders around him
8. Not scream or raise his voice at me. I've developed a total fear of raised voices
Well, in summary, my list above was basically the opposite of everything my ex husband is to ensure I don't end up with a guy just like him (although, truth be told, I do believe my ex husband is in a class all his own). Plus I had picked up a woman's trash once before (my ex husband) and no way in hell was I about to do that again (I know Terri was laughing her ass off at my expense while I lived in her trash's cesspool of alcoholism, temper tantrums, and deceit).
My next Big Question was: How would I handle my illness? Do I tell a guy upfront? How do I tell him? Would anyone want to date me? And, really, if he didn't want to date me because of my illness, oh well! That was my new reality. All those questions aside, I knew I'd rather be single than just take anyone. So I've become very picky. Like crazy insanely picky.
Jay, who eventually became my stalker, was the first man I dated. I told him about my illness right off the bat. He didn't care. In fact, he was totally supportive. He went with me to chemo appointments, brought food to my "clean apartment" when I had a food craving, and made me organic soups from scratch. But the minute he became too demanding and showed signs of getting angry with me, I was done. The fact that he then followed me everywhere I went and wouldn't leave me alone is a whole other topic, which I've already written about on this blog
A few months later, I started dating Andy. I told him that I was sick but didn't give him the big C diagnosis right away. I decided that it was my story and until I knew someone well, I didn't need to divulge the details until I was ready. Andy was great, like I had butterflies in my stomach when I would see him. But then I saw a few things I didn't like (which I'll keep private for his sake). Despite liking him a lot, I let my head prevail over my heart and I cut him loose too. He wasn't very happy and it was hard for me. But I made the right decision and never looked back.
Then I started dating three men around the same time: Todd, William and Rod. I told Todd about cancer on our second date. But Todd had drama with his kids and his ex wife-- like mind numbing horrible. Like almost as awful as the things my ex says about me (all of which are outright lies) so I just couldn't listen to it. Plus he had drama with his kids-- like one of them didn't even like her dad. Wow, if that wasn't total deja vu (my ex husband had a daughter who didn't like him either). I ended it. He tried several times to come back but I was just done. I never told Rod about my true diagnosis and he traveled all the time and I got bored with him and so that was it.
Then there's always been Michael-- a guy I've dated off and on since 2007. When I moved here, Michael moved not far away from me. He knows me very well. Since being here, he is one of my best friends. He knows about my illness and he doesn't care. We have fun together. But I can't say that I'm in love with him so we're in this cool holding pattern and I absolutely adore him.
And, lastly, William. I write enough about him on this blog so I don't need to add to it right here. But I didn't tell him about my cancer diagnosis initially. One night about a month after meeting, he told me some very private things about him and I reciprocated. The timing was right.
So far, my battling cancer and dating hasn't been a problem. I don't have a standard answer on when to tell someone intimate details about health. I take it on a case-by-case basis. If a man doesn't want to date me because of it, that's perfectly ok, I wouldn't want him anyway. I'm enjoying dating, getting to know my partners, and getting to know myself. Rushing into a relationship isn't something I'm willing to do. Finding a great guy is far more important and I'm enjoying the very long ride.