I met my XW a year after I graduated from college and we fell pretty hard and fast and were married 7 months later. 28 years later, she started questioning her sexuality and 31 years into the marriage we separated and were legally divorced after 32 years and 2 months.
I found a few friends right away and just started hanging around and trying to relearn how to be out and about. The first time a lady flirted with me, I quite simply panicked and felt so uncomfortable. My friends I was with just laughed at me and later good naturedly teased me. I met 1 particular lady friend and we just did stuff together, like ride bikes, hike, kayak, fish, go to wine tastings, have meals together, take drives and have just platonic good times. In fact, when we met, she was dating someone and I met him and he seemed like a nice guy. That relationship for her broke off when he got jealous about the amount of time her and I spent together and it was totally platonic at the time.
It was only after about 4 or 5 months that we recognized that what were doing was actually dating and had a relationship that was more than just friendship. We spent every free day/evening together. The pandemic encouraged us to tighten up our circles of friends and we tried to do things mostly outside. It turned romantic and we had a wonderful time, but it sure took us a while to get there. Ultimately, that relationship failed due to differences in the stages of life we were both in (my youngest was graduating high school and her oldest was only in 8th grade) so we parted. Looking back with the clarity of hindsight, I was NOT ready for anything other than a casual relationship, but thought I could handle something deeper, but could not and was not capable of being "picky" like I should have.
I tried OLD and met a couple of nice ladies, but it seemed like there was too much electronic 'vetting' of everyone and in at least one case, a sense of desperation to get in a relationship quickly was a major turn-off for me. I am learning to be more selective about who might get a second date.
Now I'm dating a very nice lady. We met on a group bike ride. She doesn't want to be anyone's girlfriend and I don't want to be anyone's boyfriend. She likes her life and I am learning to like my life. I like sleeping in my own bed, she likes sleeping in her own bed. We are both teachers, so understand the pressures of trying to teach kids who essentially ran wild for 18 months. We get together 1 or 2 times a week, talk on the phone a couple of times and feel no need to pressure each other. Last night, for example, I had my butt firmly on the sofa for an evening of TV when she texted and asked I wanted to meet to listen to some music at a local brewpub. So I put some shoes on and drove over to meet her. The music didn't last long but we ended up staying and talking for an hour or so. A few parking lot smooches and she went to her house and I went to mine.
There is no rush to date. You take whatever time you need. But make some new friends, or get reacquainted with old friends and try and get out and about. We do heal, but at our own pace. I, like you, feel the need to have that strong connection with a fully committed partner but realize that I have to take my time and find my place in the world again before I can fully give myself over to that kind of relationship.
[This message edited by countrydirt at 6:41 PM, Saturday, October 2nd]