Roller Coaster Making a LoopAs a writer, I try to steer clear of clichés and I know ‘rollercoaster’ is one of those overused words I’d be best to avoid, along with ‘bumps in the road’ and ‘life’s ups and downs’.

But perhaps if I can explain exactly what I mean by rollercoaster and why it so aptly describes my experience of dating, you won’t roll your eyes, groan out loud or move on swiftly to the next post.

Dating is inherently risky. You put your heart on the line in a way that’s not unlike entrusting your life to a rollercoaster’s rickety wooden structure and a slim, metal bar.

For a start, I’d like to think I’m a bit of a rollercoaster expert. When my brother and I were small, our dad used to take us every year to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, as well as the funfairs at Southport, Morecambe and Alton Towers. If we were lucky, we’d manage three fairgrounds in one summer.

When I think back to those days, I remember the long queues for rides, the slow climb to the top accompanied by stomach-churning trepidation and the steep descent when I’d throw my arms in the air and feel like I was flying.

Then there was that sudden moment of terror when I’d think I was a goner and I’d grip the bar or my dad’s arm. I remember the sick feeling in my stomach, the adrenalin rush, the elation, the laughter and the relief when we coasted in to the finish.

And then, once it was all over and I’d clambered out the car, I’d race my brother back to the start gate, ready to do it all over again.

With all that in mind, ‘rollercoaster’ seems like the best way to describe the early days of dating someone I’ve decided I really like.

Dating is inherently risky. You put your heart on the line in a way that’s not unlike entrusting your life to a rollercoaster’s rickety wooden structure and a slim, metal bar.

And it seems that as I grow older, (I’m 43 now), the idea of giving myself over to the dating process and stepping into the unknown feels increasingly terrifying.

What if I get hurt again? What if I waste my time? What if pursuing this opportunity means I’m missing out somewhere else? It seems there’s so much at stake now, much more than in my 20s and 30s.

But what’s the alternative? To look up at that rickety wooden frame and assume it’s going to collapse? To see the gap between my body and the metal bar and believe I’m going to fall out in mid air? To stand at the foot of the rollercoaster while everyone else enjoys the ride?

When I was young, I never stood at the side. And no matter how scary the experience, I generally went back for more, knowing the excitement and that sensation of flying were worth the fear. And while I value the lessons I’ve learned and the powers of discernment that come with age, I’m not a big fan of all the trepidation and caution that build up over the years.

So I’m drawing on that courageous, playful spirit I had as a child and I’m throwing myself in. I’m embracing the elation, loving the highs and trusting my internal structure is solid enough to support me on this rollercoaster ride.

Katherine Baldwin
About the author

Katherine Baldwin is our Maybe No Baby Blogger. She is a writer, storyteller, coach and speaker. As a coach, Katherine specialises in helping professional women navigate the world of dating and relationships and fall in love. She also helps men and women follow their passion and transition into more wholehearted, fulfilling lives. Katherine is writing a book about her journey from 40 to 45, a period during which she came to terms with being 40, single and childless, overcame her fear of commitment and her perfectionism and learned to fall in love. You can find out more about her work at katherinebaldwin.com, read her blog at fromfortywithlove.com and follow her on Twitter @From40WithLove

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