Dating can be like a pendulum.

I’ve dated enough to be able to look back and see how I would date Person A, react to the things I didn’t like by dating Person B who was the complete opposite of person A… and I’ve done that for as long as I’ve been dating. My most extreme example is when I dated California my freshman year of college who was not at all like the goody-two-shoes boys I knew in high school. I then dated The Debater my sophomore year who was ultra-conservative and extremely religious. I then dated The Bad Boy that summer… see a pattern?

Thankfully I broke my pattern of reacting to my ex’s conservativeness and/or religiousness, but I still end up going from one extreme to the other. Case in point: I dated The Narcissist and a couple of months later dated The Dud (alternately referred to as “Huh?”).

I know this pattern in myself and I pride myself on my new-found self-awareness, so I try to be aware of it when I start dating someone new, and especially when I’ve broken up with someone and go for the rebound date.

But my sister said something to me the other day that has gotten me thinking about all of this in a different light.

We were talking about Funny Man, who came to my birthday dinner bash and my sister sat across from him at the table. When I asked her what she thought of him, her response was “he was very fun and life of the party… like Voldemort (aka my ex).”

I should have prefaced her comment with this nugget of information: when Voldemort and I split, our friends had a really hard time grasping what had happened because “he’s just so much fun!” Which is true, but that didn’t mean that meant he was a good husband (or person for that matter). So, speaking of pendulums, I’ve been weary of “class clowns” ever since… maybe I’m not as self-aware as I thought…

Because of my hesitation to be around people who resemble my ex in any way, shape, or form, it gave me a jolt. “Oh shit!” I thought to myself. “What does this mean for me and Funny Man?” I started to have a tiny panic attack until a thought donned on me:

Just because there was something good about my ex doesn’t mean I have to avoid those traits like the plague.

Obviously, that doesn’t mean to just abandon my awareness or not heed what my sister said as being a potential warning (as L, my former counselor would advise: pay attention and see if it really is an issue or just a hiccup).

But I’ve been thinking about this a lot since my sister made that comment. I liked that people liked Voldemort. I liked that I could bring him with me to parties and he was engaging and fun and could easily make people laugh– even if it was at his own expense (there’s a notorious picture of him in a Santa flag… and nothing else…). That was 5 years ago, and I still laugh about it with my friends!

So does everything that is similar an automatic red flag? Or can I learn to appreciate the (few) good things that Voldemort brought to the table and even look for it in someone else? Or is that playing with fire?

The ultimate question being: can I find someone who is a responsible adult (with a stable job, lots of friends, etc) AND is sociable/funny. Or does being funny and charismatic automatically mean someone is a bum?

I really hope it’s possible…

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