Dating at any age can be brutal. It is a roller coaster of ups, downs, diagonals, sudden stops, backward moves, and loop-to-loops. In my 20’s I could buckle up and muscle through the ride and see that thing through to the bitter end; even when I knew I should have bailed a few twists and turns back.
Cut to my mid-30’s, two kids, a career, and an ex-husband later...no more “thrilling” roller coaster dating for me! No ma’am! I wanted things to be easy. I longed for simplicity and quiet. So, naturally, I started dating a high school football coach (in season, I might add) who lived 90 miles away from me.
Generally speaking, dating is the time when the guy pulls out all the stops. Dinners, movies, special little surprises, flowers, concerts; it's a romance overload.
Let’s be real ladies, even though we generally eat way less than what we actually want throughout this stage of a relationship, we love it! I’d love to tell you that dating my Coach was filled with long weekends of romance and that we spent hours talking and getting to know each other on a spiritual level. But that’s just not true, and I want to give you the raw truth here, girls.
Dating an in-season coach in my 30’s was unconventional, new, difficult, and at times frustrating, to say the least, but I learn a lot during that season! We both had full and complete lives with kids, bills, exes, all of which bring their own complications. And on top of everything else, there was football.
The long hours made it difficult to see each other and I most definitely had a learning curve where things like watching film were concerned. Picture it: Saturday afternoon and all our kids are at their other parent’s houses. He was up late at the game the night before so I take one for the team and get all dolled up and drive the 90 miles to his house. Hair on point. Makeup banging. Tight jeans and my suck-it-in camisole putting everything where it’s supposed to be.
YES! It's a date with Coach, all to myself! I walk in and I'm greeted with a big hug and kiss. I follow him into the kitchen where his laptop is open on the table. He sits down and says, “I’m almost done babe and then we will go”.
No problem, right? Two hours later, he’s still doing whatever they do on Hudl and I’m flipping channels getting more frustrated by the minute on the couch. Hair is falling, lipstick is fading, my jeans are so dang tight I can’t breathe! I’m so hungry that at this point a dinner salad isn’t going to cut it anymore, I’m going to have to order a full-on entree, which defeats the purpose of wearing the suck-it-in camisole and tight-fitting jeans! UGH!
There were several weeks of this routine until I just decided enough was enough. I sat him down and we figured out how to meet both our needs. It was then I realized that when dating a coach transparency is not just a suggestion. It's a requirement.
There literally is no time to be anything but honest and clear about how you feel. Otherwise, you’ll be spending the little amount of time you do have together arguing or growing bitter. As time moved on I learned the lay of the land and also discovered that unmet expectations are the devil.
It was spring (out of season) and on this night it was his turn to plan the date. I’m assumed we are headed to a nice dinner and movie. Nope! Instead, we arrived at a high school soccer game because football coaches need to support all sports.
I was bummed...for a second, then I realized what was going on. I got a tour of the facilities, and he proudly introduced me to trainers, coaches, parents, admin, and co-workers. He was integrating me into his life. Afterward, we went for chicken wings and beer (sans suck-it-in camisole) and it was a wonderful night. It was also a milestone in our relationship.
So yes, I traded movies and dinners for Friday night lights and chicken wings. I've learned to prioritize our time together and focus on quality over quantity. But dating (and marrying) a coach in my 30’s has taught me more about myself and opened my eyes to what honest, true, devoted love is than any of my previous relationships.
Dating a coach isn't for everyone. Nowadays, when my man runs onto the field with his boys and stops, finds me in the stands, and throws up our special hand signal...there is no doubt in my mind that it is 100% for me. I'm grateful for every time we spend together because I know it's intentional.