How Do You Feel About That Ugly Word Baggage?

Personally, the word “baggage” is a term that rankles me.

Several posts ago,  in the comments section of the article titled Kip’s Challenge, I was quite pointedly and not-so-nicely accused of having baggage.  He made the comment that most men reading my blog would slowly back away from their computer monitors and retreat to the companionship of other men in a bar.  The implication being that relationship with me would be too much work. (Now, how he would know what other single men would or would not do since he is a.) not one of them and, b.) not a woman dating them, is beyond me, but, yeah, we’ll go with that for now.) Supposedly, Kip has an inside track to the normal healthy available  male mind (the aberrant, unhealthy and unavailable don’t interest me, for obvious reasons.

That comment of Kip’s elicited a flurry of comments which ended in Kip silently backing away from his computer monitor and retreating into silence without much of a fight.  It’s been said that silence is interpreted as agreement.  Need I say more about that?

I’m not entirely certain what Kip  meant by baggage, but if, as I think he did, he was referring to the typical things that people refer to when labeling someone as having “baggage” (kids, past failed marriages, life history and experience, a career, some debt, and a life of my own that I actually enjoy and am not willing to necessarily tube for some dolt with a penis and a pocketbook) then I suppose he is right.  I have baggage and loads of it.  The fact that he said it, doesn’t really bother me so much, the fact that he was the one saying it, when I know full well he is sitting on top of a load of baggage far messier and larger than my own, is what I found humorous.  But you can go read all that for yourself over there if you like.  I’d suggest you not waste your time…unless you actually like some drama.

Over the last two years, I’ve done some thinking about the word baggage, and Kip’s comment forced me to revisit and take another look at this ugly word.

It is an ugly, ugly word.  It is ugly because it attacks the person at the core of their being but doesn’t mean anything at the same time.

Upon entering the dating scene nearly two years ago,now, I like most others just coming out of a disastrous marriage, was in no shape to begin dating.  Even so, I ventured forth against the advice of good friends who knew me and knew better.  I dated for about six months, learned a lot about myself and eventually quite dating, because I determined my friends were right.  I need to sort myself out first before I was going to even be able to recognize a soul mate should he ever venture onto the scene. 

During this initial dating period, I tried several different methods of meeting people.  One of them being, online dating.  In fact, I tried nearly all the prominent well known ones and some of the not so well known ones.  During this online dating phase, I encountered the word baggage more often than I care to remember. 

Baggage is an ugly, derogatory word that contains a million diffferent meanings depending upon who is using the word and what their particular definition of it might be. It is like the word love in reverse.  People love God, or they love their significant other or their kids, and they love movie theatre popcorn or stiletto pumps, or lobster.  Another vague and meaningless word like this is the word, “good”.  What exactly is good?  He felt good.  That movie was good.  You are a good person.  Baggage is yet another word that is so vague as to be meaningless anymore except when it is used it can really sting.  Even if it isn’t true.

You often hear folks mention it in their profiles saying things like this, “Those with baggage need not apply.”  LOL!  Like, first of all anyone with baggage is really going to admit it and second of all, what exactly are you calling baggage there, buddy?  I mean, really? Seriously?  As if the person writing it who is pushing 50 has a clean slate themselves.  If they do, that’s the biggest piece of baggage!  Baggage for me (not divorced, a lot of drama associated with the past because the divorce settlement or parenting time was vague, too many financial loose ends involving the ex, a volatile or violent ex,  emotional instability, a prison record, unemployed, homeless, addicted) could be entirely different for someone else.  Most men seem to state kids, addictions, and insecurities as the main elements of baggage.  Most men do not include a stalker woman as one who has baggage since they mostly like to be stalked.  Expecially if the woman is beautiful, tiny and has had her breasts magically enlarged so that they are significantly larger than her buttocks.  What they don’t really recognize though, is that a woman like that (unless she paid for the services herself) is probably carrying a load of “baggage” (read insecurities and not comfortable in her own skin) and has even bigger expectations for relationship which don’t center around accepting the man as he is but instead focus on measuring him in light of the depth and breadth of his pocketbook.  But I digress.

Most of the time, when someone says, “He/She has a ton of baggage” it is intended as malicious insult aimed at undermining the recipient’s competence as an adult human being.  It simply means “He/she is incapable of doing life”.  They are an incompetent individual unable to deal successfully with the challenges of adult life, therefore they are being crossed off the list of life by someone, usually, who has enough baggage of their own as to make the person they are criticizing look bag free.

It doesn’t mean merely that person was not a good fit.  It doesn’t mean that  the person made some bad choices in the past but they are overcoming them and they’ll be alright.  It’s a completely derogatory term usually used by the middle aged single people for other middle aged single people.  And most people don’t mean “life experience” or “the past” when they are talking about it.  They definitely mean to lump all the person’s issues into one neat and tidy word without specifying anything but with the clear intent to verbally knock the person flat.  Because really, the term baggage is so vague, so broad, who honestly can argue with it?

To many, I would be someone with a lot of baggage: four kids, a home that I own that I have not foreclosed on, but which needs some cosmetic improvements and which has a yard that needs tending to in order to keep it beautiful, a diminishing debt load and a successful career that requires a lot of time and energy from me during 9 months of the year.  That would be baggage for some.

For others, my baggage would center around the fact that I have two marriages that didn’t work out.  Okay, I’ll say it: I have two failed marriages. And, yes, they failed because I was as much a part of the problem as the other person.  That admission somehow sends off alarms to all (well, at least the unhealthy insecure “all”)  that I’m incompetent in relationship.  People make assumptions instead of asking the critical question, “What was that about for you?”  For others, my baggage would center around the fact that I’ve spent a fair amount of time after my last divorce thinking through exactly that very question and reflecting not only on what the other person did or didn’t do that didn’t work for me, but also on how I contributed to the problem.  The result is, in some areas I’m very clear on what I will or will not tolerate in relationship.  I’m clear on what the foundations of a good relationship must be and how to recognize them. I’m becoming more and more clear on what my limitations are and what does or doesn’t work for me and my boundaries in this regard are getting firmer daily. I’m also unwilling to waste time in any relationship that doesn’t demonstrate at least the basics of emotional, financial and legal availability and the biggie: mutual  acceptance and respect .  Many men, especially those, who haven’t a clear concept of their own self identity, who are insecure or immature, and/or who need a woman to take care of them or fulfill them or to meet their self-centered needs, or who are simply stupid, can’t stand me.

I’m totally okay with that! 

The term baggage, however, is  one of those words which while intended to harm the person talked about, also implicates the person wielding the word.  When someone uses that word, eyebrows raise and the question goes out, “Oh, really, what do you mean?”  It works like this.  You use the word “baggage”.  The question goes out, “What do you mean?”  The word is uselessly vague so you must clarify the word and in clarifying the word you malign the other person somehow. When you malign another from your past, especially when on a date with a new person, it is the death knell.  You’ve succeeded in assassinating the person you were talking about but you made yourself look just as bad in the process. Baggage is an ugly word which when used reflects badly on both the person targeted but even more so the person using the word.

How do you feel about the word “baggage”?  What does that word mean to you?

Dating Over 40: Lessons Learned

Last night I was talking to a friend.  She’s been dating a man for about a year and a half now.  She is frustrated.  She called me for help.  Well, to more accurately state it she called for encouragement, support and to have a safe place to rant.

In the last 12 days, they’ve seen each other once.  They live in the same town.

He didn’t spend the 4th of July with her, though he indicated he would and then never called.  She and her two kids spent the 4th with me and my youngest.

He routinely tells her he wants to get together with her then goes silent for days on end.

He was scheduled to move in with her in May.  It is now July and no further progress toward that end has occurred.

She called me wanting to know what she should do.

Like I would know.

In the last two years, I have dated a lot of people.  I have learned a lot.  I guess it shows.  Even though she’s been part of this journey all the way along she called me to hear again the journey and to get her head on straight.  She already knew what I was going to tell her.

I didn’t let her down.  I told her to kick the guy to the curb.

But…before I did that, I told her some other things that were helpful for me as I struggled through exactly the same fears, insecurities, and pain she is now going through.  What follows are some of those thoughts.

1.  First things first.  Figure out what you are all about.  It is imperative that you know what your must haves, and deal breakers are.  If necessary write them down.  Continue to revisit the list.  I know it sounds ooey gooey touchy feely but getting to know yourself and accepting yourself as you are (a work in progress and a mighty fine and unique work at that) is critical to your success not just in dating, but in life.  I personally also think that it is a good idea to know what areas you are not clear about or what areas or behaviors or qualities you are unsure if you can accept or not.  These are what I call gray areas.  For example, I know that I could not handle living with a chain smoker.  But, in the last two years I have dated several men who on occasion had a cigar with scotch outside in the evening or while playing darts out in the garage.  While, I have issues with smoking anything from a health perspective, if I found Mr. Right and he enjoyed a cigar on occasion, I think I could live with that. Cigars were a gray area for me.

I told my friend that before she could really make any decisions she had to decide what she wanted for herself and in relationship.  I also reminded her about the following:  She’s let the guy know that his on again off again behavior is not working for her.  He’s done nothing to change.  News flash for her:  He is not going to change.  She now has a decision to make.  Can she accept this relationship, his treatment of her and all that she is currently experiencing as it is and be content or not?  She can’t make those decisions till she knows what works for her and what doesn’t.  She admitted, that this current situation does not work for her.

2.  Expect to be made a priority.  I’ve said this more times than I care to recall, but when a man is crazy about a woman he goes to the wall for her.  The Taj Mahal was built for a woman.  All sorts of love songs, poems, and efforts are expended on the part of men to woo that one particular lady that captures his imagination and his heart.  She doesn’t have to drop hints, call him, stalk him or do any relational heavy lifting. If he’s broke and he’s into her he’ll do what he can, get a second job if need be to make life happen with her.  While I am currently speaking from experience on this one for myself, I would know this reality were true even if I did not.  How would I know because many, many, many men have personally told me this.  They simply won’t let the phone grow cold, nor will they leave any doubt in her mind (or anyone else’s for that matter) how they feel about her.  They even humiliate themselves by dressing up in silly knight costumes to propose in front of a crowd or they go to insane lengths to skywrite love messages and proposals for all including and especially her to see. 

Message here?  Expect him to expend some significant effort in order to make being with you a priority.  If he’s not doing this it is because he’s just not feeling it.

3.  Expect to be treated with respect and consideration.  This, my friends, goes both ways. Men and women both should have this as a core relational value.  For me, this reigns supreme and is an underpinning for any successful relationship. For my friend last night, thinking about this was the real eye opener.  When a person says they’ll do something and doesn’t come through on their word and especially when there is a consistent pattern of doing this with no real explanation (and sorry, my phone went dead just doesn’t cut it) the person is being disrespectful and inconsiderate.  Does he listen to you?  Does he value your input when making decisions?  Does he make good on his agreements with you? Is he respectful of your life, your activities and your family obligations or do you somehow end up feeling like what matters to you is just somehow not that important to him?  How does he pay attention to you when you are out with a group of people or does he disappear till the end of the evening when it is time to leave?  Does he indicate that he cares about your happiness and well being (however that’s demonstrated)?  Hopefully this is one area that is definitely reciprocal. 

What’s the logic behind this one?  Think about it. Relationships and habits of interacting do not necessarily improve over time, unless two people are working at it and committed to it.  It is generally the case that two people will begin to grow more comfortable with each other, they will tend to assume the feelings are known, and things get more casual and more is taken for granted.  Establishing patterns of interacting respectfully from the get go is critical.  It is much more difficult to insist on this after the relationship is established if it hasn’t been an expectation from the beginning.  If you start out allowing a guy to treat you badly, he’s probably not going to improve much.

4.  Value yourself.  Here’s the deal.  If you don’t think you are worthy of respect, consideration or that you are worth expending some effort on to connect with, no one else is going to think so either.  It will be difficult for you to proactively chart your happiness course if you don’t first see yourself as just as valuable and worthy of good treatment as the next person.  If you come at this relationship thing from the perspective that you can’t do any better, this is better than nothing or that you have to make exceptions due to your age, weight, income or number of children or whatever you will always sell yourself short. 

I can’t tell you how many times men and women alike told me all along this journey that my biggest difficulty in finding a quality person or developing a quality relationship was going to be the fact that I have four children.  While, my children are a huge consideration and something any prospective beau must be willing to accept, I never bought that excuse.  All it meant for mewas that anyone who found the fact that I have four children and two ex’s a problem, wasn’t the guy for me.  After all, I’m not looking for a father replacement for any of them.  I’m not even looking for any parental assistance.  I’m looking for good quality connection and companionship for me.  Yes, he’s got to be an excellent role model, but he would be if I chose him based on his innate character anyway.  I simply refused to allow myself to sink into despair based on what so many other people told me about this one.  I determined that no relationship was better than something that just kinda sorta worked and it was far superior to a bad relationship. And, funny how life is, seems just the person may have wandered in who is a great fit for me and who is confident and competent enough that he’s not in the least intimidated or alarmed by four kids and two ex’s.

I don’t know what decisions my friend will arrive at for herself.  She’s feeling pretty blue about her current relational realities right now and she’s having a tough time facing facts.  I understand her angst.  I’ve been there.  She’s a wonderful person with so much to offer but before she can really offer any of it, she’s got to believe it about herself first.  So do the rest of us. This is all sometimes easier said than done.

Has the Wild Mind Also Died?

Have you noticed how non-existent I am here?  Like what’s up with that?  The Wild Mind gets on and posts a wimpy (at best) post about Michael Jackson and then disappears.  Hmmm, makes you wonder what I’ve been up to.  Or…makes you wonder if I died like all the rest of the celebrities out there.

Okay, rest assured I haven’t died.

Yes, I have struggled a bit with writer’s block due to the fact that certain someone’s might be reading this blog and trying to read between the lines and of course I don’t want them to get the wrong impression so I….*deeep inhale* ….need to take a freaking breath and just write what I want to write.  But also…and more importantly…I’ve struggled because my life is changing at light speed…due to my own initiative…thanks…and well…I just want to write about something more important than Fire Trucks and swimming pool pumps and hoses hooking up.  I mean, as fun as that is…it is so not where I live and other things are motivating me right now.  Sigh. 

The Wild Mind is in a Wild State of Transition….I guess?  Maybe? 

Or…The Wild Mind is simply being proactive and deciding to live life…instead of merely writing about it after the fact?

Okay…all of the above is true.

Here’s what you (you being anyone interested besides The Wild Mind’s Self) need to know:

* yeah, okay, I admit…life has been busy and rather than write about how I’m accomplishing my New Year’s Resolutions, I am actually out there accomplishing them.

* I’m done with dating derelict men who are unavailable emotionally and legally or who are simply looking for a one night stand(or lay).  I’m also done with spending time with anyone  who cannot demonstrate a  LOGICAL, RATIONAL, well informed and clearly articulated thought process when communicating.  Since this eliminates 97% of all men on the planet and especially those who post profiles on all the dating sites (and, yes, sadly I’ve tried them all), I ‘ve completely given up on the dating thing.

“Why?” you ask.

“Because” I say, “I have so much better things to do with my life.”

Yeah, that’s it.  I’ve decided to quit moping about my past failures.  I’ve picked myself up and dusted myself off and am reinventing myself and my life and my future.  I’m doing it because I can.  I’m doing it because I still have the energy and health to do it….and I am loving every freaking minute of it!  I’m.having.fun!

My mother was soooo right on.  I should have done what I wanted to do to begin with instead of being so worried about pleasing the world and getting married simply because it was the socially acceptable fantasy at the time.  Thank-you, Mom.  Even though you never saw the fruit of your labor with me while alive, understand that your words like seeds were sowed deep in me and took root…albeit late…but they have taken root and sprouted and there is a bountiful harvest for sure! 🙂  I’m finally figuring out what I’m about…what I want and it has nothing to do with the presence or absence of some nondescript man in my life. 

But it means I’m not having so much time to write, especially when it means that creative energy is spread out among 3 or more blogs,  4 children and one very viable contender for the Knight in Shining Armor Award.  (Okay, screw the shining armor part, he’s just very interesting, intelligent, attractive, real…and…well…the best part is that so far his actions match his words and that is never a bad thing).

Yes, if he passes muster, you’ll hear about it.  Until then, he’s only one who’s captured my imagination, sparked my interest and kept my interest far, far longer than most.  If he rides off into the sunset it will be because he didn’t like the fact that I wanted to ride my own horse instead of hitching onto his.  It will be because he wasn’t willing to move forward while I mounted my own gallant steed and caught up with him in a bit.  It will simply be because he wasn’t able to or man enough to deal with a princess who is completely in charge of herself and doesn’t depend on a dashing prince to achieve her dreams. It will be because he ultimately felt insecure around me instead of inspired and motivated to be the best he could be.  Somehow, this particular Knight, strikes me as being one who will make decisions for himself, and allow his Princess to make her own decisions, all the while as he’s got her back and spoiling her at every opportunity.  Not because he has to, but becaue he’s totally into her and not afraid to declare it.

Dashing prince or not, The Wild Mind will create her own Fairy Tale Happy Ending.   It will take an incredibly amazing and masculine and self assurred….even a bit arrogant…maybe cocky Prince to be able to roll with that. 

Can you imagine just how interesting that relationship might be?  Not your standard, let’s-go-to-bed-at-ten-and-do-the-same-three-things-we-always-do-in-the-same-order-at-the-same-time -like-a-circus-monkey kind of relationship now is it?

Ask A Dating Coach

question-mark1aI’ve recently been having a small measure of fun on Twitter.  By small measure I mean not very much but some.  Enough to go back each day and read some of the Tweets and on occasion click on some of the links.  The greatest reaction you’d see me give would be one you’d have to be in my mind to hear and that would be a mere, “Hmmm…interesting”.  In all, Twitter is a promotional site as far as I can tell.  It just seems to be a bunch of people promoting themselves…and I’m one of them.  We’ve become a world of self-promoters.  We are now our own best ad agencies.  Sigh.  But that’s not the reason for this post.

On Twitter or….due to my experiences there…I’ve come to realize that people like Hitch are not uncommon.  When I first saw that movie, I thought, “How could anyone seriously make any money doing that?”  Well, not only are there dating coaches out there, they actually seem to be making money doing it.  I haven’t done the research on what the qualifications for a dating coach are or how much they make, but the job position clearly exists and it isn’t like there are just one or two out there.

I sometimes think I could be a dating coach.  After all, I date a lot and I get callbacks.  I make it to the second and third and fourth cuts usually unless I opt out first.  I seem to be doing some things right most of the time.  I learn from my mistakes when I don’t and keep moving on.

Other times I think I could use a dating coach.  Those are the times when I encounter a dating situation that I just don’t have the prior knowledge or the required skillset to be able to negotiate the situation seamlessly and effortlessly.

Now is one of those times. 

Certain events have transpired to create a unique situation for me.  The specifics have me trying to wrap my mind around certain things.

These are the things I am trying to wrap my mind around:

When in a long distance relationship, and you finally meet for the first time, clearly the person isn’t going to travel a great distance for just a two hour date.  In the case of an international relationship, just the ordeal of working out passports, visas, and going through customs indicates a fair amount of commitment to the cause, and one is not going to go to all this trouble for a dinner date one evening.  Right? 

So, my question is, if the guy comes in from out of town for the weekend, or the fortnight is that entire time considered the first date?  Or is just the first evening the first date? 

If the first evening is the first date, and he’s come to town from overseas to see you, then if you “play by the rules” is the third evening he’s in town the third date? There is at least one school of thought that suggests the first date should be only two hours long. So the question then becomes,  is the first two hours you’re together considered the first date? Or is the entire visit considered the first date?  

If the entire time is considered the first date does this then mean he has to come back overseas two more times before it is considered the third date? 

Or, conversely, if the first two hours are considered the first date, then by the sixth hour if you haven’t put out should he be getting on the plane and heading home? If he hasn’t made a move on me by the sixth hour do I figure he’s just not that into me?  What amount of time is appropriate to consider getting romantic, the sixth hour, the sixth day or the sixth overseas trip?  I’m just having a really tough time understanding the rules here.

Does the Third Date Rule even apply here? 

Let’s revisit the thinking that says you shouldn’t spend more than two hours on the first date together.  Let’s play that tape again:  he’s flying in from another continent.  You’ve both planned this trip for months.  He gets off the plane after traveling 22 hours and battling customs.  You tell him two hours after he arrives, “Well, I should be getting home now.  I had a great time.  Thanks for everything!” WTH is up with that? 

Or how bout the idea that says you shouldn’t see each other more than twice a week at first?  Hit stop! Rewind!  Let’s play video back at a slower speed.  He’s traveled 22 hours by plane, battled customs at great expense to come see you for two weeks to see if the two of you have what it takes to develop a viable relationship.  He’s making no expectations and covering all the expenses and all you’re going to give up of yourself and your time is  four hours at two different times each of the two weeks he is in your country?  Ummmm, what about all that sounds gamey, manipulative, contrived and very selfish? 

Now clearly, I’m not necessarily advocating spending 24/7 with him either, but it seems there has to be a bit of a balance here.  It seems that the nature of the Long Distance Relationship, especially when two different cultures and countries and the expenses that are involved requires some special treatment and consideration and flexibility.

If you insist upon going by all those rules, can you see how it just gets very confusing when dealing with a distance relationship? Do you adhere to the letter of the law or the spirit of the law when dealing with a long distance relationship?   (And by long distance, I mean one where you cannot possibly drive to see the person in eight hours or less.)

It seems to me that the spirit of the law is the guide here.  The questions to really be asking are how do you develop and sustain trust across the miles?  How do you deal with technological snags that limit communication and still move the relationship forward? How do you show caring and respect and continue getting to know each other.  How do you take care of you even though you are spending a significant amount of time with another person?  How do you overcome the cultural and social challenges that might come your way?  How do you support and care for each other when you cannot be in the same location?  How do you keep the interest alive when you are spending so much time together during visits and then no time together during non-visits?  How long can this go on before you have to consider ways to close the distance? 

I mean I could be wrong here, but isn’t the challenge in every relationship that of maintaining and caring for who you are while also respecting and caring for the other individual too?  There has to be togetherness as well as space and distance and the two people in question are either able to negotiate this or they can’t. If they can’t it is probably not going to be a go in the first two hours, the first six or on the sixth trip. I could be wrong. 

Maybe I should ask a dating coach.

Best Excuse Ever?

Okay, this post is only partially poking fun. 

Why is it we find it so difficult to be direct and honest with each other.  Somehow, the act of saying, “No thanks” or “I’m really not interested” or “I’d really rather not, thank-you” without cushioning it with some fabrication or white lie is difficult for us. Okay, let me narrow it down.  It seems to be difficult for us in the U.S. on the West Coast (since I have no other frame of reference culturally, let’s go with it for the sake of dialogue).  When someone wants to be with us or invites us out, it is difficult to say, “No thanks.”  Instead we say we are busy, we make up excuses we uncomfortably fabricate some prior commitment. We also do this (c’mon, you know you have, I have too) when we are in a relationship and don’t know quite how to end it.

What’s more, we buy into these excuses when others use them to escape us.   While these excuses may sometimes be valid and legit, many are excuses people give each other when they are just not into the other person and are too wimpy to simply say so.  Because they could be legit, it is often tough to tell when they aren’t really legit.  So we give the partner or our date the benefit of the doubt.  This is probably reasonable to do one or two times.  The problem is we give them the benefit of the doubt again and again and again and…you get my drift.  Before we know it, we’ve wasted a year or two or seven of our lives.  Here are a few of the more common excuses I’ve heard since entering the dating scene two years ago and hanging with other single women/men and hearing about their dating woes.

“I’m not feeling well.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t.  I have family coming in from out of town.”

“I have to work.” 

“I’m too tired after working.”

“I’m helping a friend move.”

….and so on and so on.  I’m sure you can come up with a few yourself.

Just yesterday, I heard the greatest excuse ever though.  From a healthy man  who was telling his girlfriend of nearly two years why he couldn’t get together with her (for now the 6th evening in a row).  Here’s the excuse, ready? 

“I couldn’t call or come over because I was having chest pains due to stress.”  (The stress of not dealing straight with your girlfriend, maybe?)

Okay, excuse me for just a moment while I wipe up the mess I caused by choking with laughter and spewing my drink all over the table when I heard this.  Seriously? 

Her response? Even better.  But first you have to know that she introduced the whole topic to me by saying, “He had a really good excuse for not coming over or calling last night.”

“Oh?” I asked.  Seriously, no excuse is good.  Either you want to be with me or you don’t.  It’s that simple.  If you do, you will.  If you don’t,  you won’t.  If you aren’t I’m not spending any time wondering about it. My friend clearly doesn’t share my perspective.

“Yeah,” she said, “I mean, I could see that.  That happens to me too.”  Really?!  Okay, then!  We’ll go with that. 

I seriously don’t think I need to even mention it, but because there are morons out there who will actually attempt to convince me that there is a medical condition (I’m sure they’re right) that has these symptoms, let me just say this:  Whether there is a medical condition or not is not even the freaking point.

T he point is this: This is someone you supposedly love who supposedly loves you.  You are in pain and you don’t even tell them about it  until after the fact?  You don’t give them the opportunity to comfort and care about you in your time of need.  What’s more you don’t even call to say “here’s why I can’t come over?”  If it is that serious, you should have been over at the ER getting it checked out and even so, significant other should have (out of consideration and respect at the very least) have been notified.

I’m sorry.  I just don’t buy it.  On so many levels it just smacks of  just not being able to say the truth. 

If my friend is okay with that, then I wish her the best.  She is, after all, the one who will have to live with herself and her choices and his behavior.  I just know that what she is experiencing would not work for me, for so many reasons.  I simply desire something more and better than all that.

Ditch Mr. Options

Last night was movie night.  At my house, my kids and I have recently discoverd On Demand movies.  This is where you choose the movie you want to watch, pay a fee and watch the movie.  It is certainly cheaper than buying the movie, more convenient than running down to the local video rental store and renting it and since I’ve lost the last movie I rented from Netflix, it’s what we are doing now to provide the programming for our movie night.

Last night’s pick was dictated by the 18-year-old and me since we were the only ones watching.  She chose “He’s Just Not That Into You”.  It was a cute movie and showcased a number of dating disasters which we’ve all probably encountered or created regardless of our place in the life cycle. One of the overriding themes of the movie,however, was the tendency that women have to overlook the obvious and hope for the best in a relationship.  I call this tendency the tendency to make excuses for men’s bad behavior.

If a guy doesn’t call he’s not interested.  If he doesn’t want to have sex with you he’s not interested.  If he doesn’t want to be with you he’s not interested.  These were some of the main points of the movie.  I happen to agree with them.  But many of us women, make excuses or create fantasies about how he could still be into us and be unable to call, not be interested in us physically, and not want to spend time with us.  He’s busy, he’s tired, he’s got a lot of stuff to do at work. 

I used to make these very same excuses for the people I dated.  I no longer do this. 

If he says he’ll call and he doesn’t I waste no more time thinking about it.  I have all the information I need.

If we’ve been dating for a while and things are still platonic, that’s great, but he’s not in the candidate pool for next romantic partner where I’m concerned and I don’t spend a lot of time wishing or wondering when he’ll make the move to take the relationship to the next level. He won’t.  I won’t let him.  He’s not interested. I get it.

If  he says he’s into me but continually makes time with the guys or work more important than spending time with me, I no longer spend much time or energy on this.  He’s not into me.  If he is, he’s not enough into me.  I’m not wasting any time wondering why or wishing things were different or making excuses for him. He’s not into me, that doesn’t work for me.  Next!

These are relatively easy ones to figure out though.  The tough ones are the ones where every thing seems good on the surface: he calls, you spend regular time together, he’s indicating sexual interest. It seems like a relationship.  But something doesn’t quite sit right.  Maybe it’s the fact that he said he’d call at noon and he ends up not calling till 4 or 5.  Maybe it’s that he said he’d see you in a few hours and six hours later you still haven’t heard from him.  He does the minimum expected relationally to keep you from calling it quits but he doesn’t quite demonstrate the kind of caring, considerate interest that we all know a guy would demonstrate if he were into a gal. These are the tough ones to figure out when you’re caught up in one.

It is hard to leave a relationship that isn’t working.  We don’t ever do it unless we have to because we all love the companionship and we hate the Friday and Saturday nights alone or with strangers.  We are wired for that intimacy and connection that a good love interest can provide.  However, when it goes sour it is painful and like getting a shot or going to the dentist we fight it. 

I have a friend who is currently going through this situation. She’s been dating the guy for a year and a half.  Here are the facts as I know them:

  • They’ve been dating for a year and a half.
  • He was scheduled to move in over a month ago, to date, he still hasn’t moved his stuff over nor are they any closer to joining households than they were a month and a half ago.
  • He routinely says he’ll be over in a couple of hours, four, five, six hours later and he is still AWOL, and hasn’t called.
  • He chooses time with the guys over time with her consistently.
  • He leans on her financially and bails on his part of the financial obligations.
  • He says all the right stuff, but doesn’t do enough of the right things.
  • To my knowledge, other than moving in together, which doesn’t seem to be happening there has been no further discussion about moving the relationship to the next level, a conversation my friend would really like to have.

This is the guy I call Mr. Options.  In my opinion, this guy is stringing my friend along, getting what he wants out of her but holding out in case something better comes along.  It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out exactly what I think of this behavior on the part of the guy.  I also bet you can guess exactly what my advice would be to my friend.

Yep.  You guessed it.  She ought to ditch him and move on. 

But she won’t, because she’s still in the denial stage and making excuse after excuse for him and accepting his paltry statements which are unsubstantiated by his behavior as adequate proof of his interest.  He’s not interested enough.  Raise your standards, girlfriend.  You’re so worth so much more than that.

Bad Behavior

Recently a friend shared with me how her boyfriend of nearly 8 months ditched her for a period time on their last date without saying anything to her.  It seems they were out with a crowd of people and he simply disappeared for a while with another one of the guys from the group.  My friend was not really left alone.  She was with other people she knew, but she was in a different city about 30 minutes away from her place  and dependent upon her boyfriend for a ride home.  He was not even in the same location with her for over an hour of the time they were out on their date.  When they met back up again, my friend, smart cookie that she is, ended the date and insisted that her boyfriend take her home.  He was surprised that she had had enough for the evening and was calling it a night a good two hours before the time they originally planned the date would end.

Surprised?   He was surprised that she was not going to put up with his bad behavior as if what he’d done was perfectly acceptable.

Another friend, recently met a man and went out with him for a first date.  He showed up dressed in an old tee shirt and a baseball cap. While on the date,  this man did not offer to buy her drinks but allowed her to buy his and did not say thank-you.  She never went out with him again.

Surprised?  Are you surprised that she was not going to put up with his bad behavior?

A third friend went out with a man who was attractive, intelligent, and paid without flinching for the drinks on their first meeting.  He went overboard to express his interest in her and to ask for a second date.  He told her he’d call her in two days.  He kept his word.  When he called he suggested they do something the next Saturday, she agreed.  He told her he’d call later that week to firm something up.  He called at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.  She saw the call ring in on her phone, recognized the number and let it go to voicemail.  She continued on with the plans she’d made for herself that evening after not having heard from him by midweek. What were those plans?  A home pedicure and a quiet evening in…alone.  When I spoke to her later about her thinking she said this, “I have better things to do that to waste time on someone who demonstrates such bad behavior.”   I asked her what she’d do if he called again?  She said, “He won’t, but if he does, it won’t matter.  He had his chance and he already blew it.” 

Surprised?  Was my friend playing games in the way she dealt with the man’s bad behavior?  Was she too harsh?

Bad behavior.  It happens.  Men behave badly toward women and women behave badly toward men.  It is not my intent here to point out or villify one sex over the other, but for the puposes of this article, I am speaking mostly of men and their bad behavior with women.  I do recognize however, that the relational road is a two way street and both sides get mistreated. 

We  put up with the bad behavior because we are so afraid of losing the relationship. This is something I have been guilty of more often than not in the past.  A guy says he’ll call, then doesn’t.  A guy calls at the last minute for a date that evening.  Worse, he pulls the typical 11:00 p.m. bootie call. (Now, that I’ve never put up with not even in my college days when it was normal for a date to start at 11:00!) A guy takes a woman out to a party then ignores her the entire evening.  A guy spends his time looking over every female that walks by while out on a date with you, his girlfriend, of a year.  A guy says he loves you and wants to get married, two years later a date is still not set and he is waffling.  The guy says he wants to move in.  The scheduled date for moving in comes and goes and he and all his things are still not in the same residence with you and yours.  Bad behavior.  We put up with it because the alternative in most cases is kicking the guy to the curb.  We don’t kick the guy to the curb because that means so many unpleasant things.

It could mean loss of the relationship.  If it does, then there go the dreams, the hopes the imaginary future you’d built in your head about all the possibilities you two could have had/done together.  It means you now do not get to check the “in a relationship” box on MySpace or Facebook.  If the relationship tubes, it means pain and loss and grief and anger.  It may mean some lonely nights in front of the t.v. with a box of Kleenex.  It could mean some self recrimination as you wonder, “Why on earth did I waste so much time hoping he cared about me the way I cared about him when it was so evident he did not?”  It could mean a complete change in living accommodations and lifestyle and standard of living.  It could mean so many things that are seemingly worse than just tolerating the bad behavior. 

But tolerating the bad behavior is damaging to us.  By tolerating bad behavior from anyone, we devalue ourselves and risk losing or crippling our confidence and our self-esteem.  No one needs to tolerate bad behavior on the part of a significant other.  We also don’t need to respond to the bad behavior with similarly bad behavior. 

Bad behavior happens.  So, what to do when it does? 

Well, to answer this question, one must first be very clear about what they want from relationship and what they will not tolerate.  Once one is clear about these things, the rest is fairly easy.  Simply do not tolerate the unacceptable behavior.  No need to get mad.  No need to get upset. No need to waste any time wondering if he’ll change or call or apologize.  Just don’t tolerate it. No explanation is needed. 

I hate to sound so callous, but seriously?  If he’s treating you that badly before you’re in a “committed relationship”, what will he treat you like after?  It generally doesn’t improve. Further, why waste any more time in relationship that is mediocre, unsatisfactory, disappointing or just not working?  Life is too short and there are plenty of decent men out there ready, willing and able to treat a woman they care about with dignity, respect and integrity.

So, how would I have done each of those scenarios if I were taking my “No Tolerance” approach? 

In the case of  the first friend whose boyfriend took off for an hour without saying anything to her, I wouldn’t have waited out the hour to find out that he was gone for over an hour.  I’d have either asked a friend to take me home or called a cab the minute I found out he was nowhere around.  I would not go out with him again.  If he called and offered some lame-ass excuse for his behavior (which is the only kind he could offer in such a circumstance) I would politely listen.  I would not offer an explanation for my behavior other than possibly to say, “There’s just not much about that entire episode that interested me that much.”  No need to discuss.  End of call.  I would screen any further calls.  No tears, no drama, no need.  I’m worth being treated better than that.  At minimum, I’m worth an explanation and the opportunity to say I want to go home if the plans have changed.  Further, I would not have done that to him. 

In the case of  my friend who’s date showed up for the first date dressed carelessly and who behaved carelessly, I would have ended the date within an hour.  Fortunately for her, they arrived in separate vehicles and she was free to leave when she wanted without having to depend upon him for a ride.  (I’m a big advocate of doing this if the date is a first date with someone you don’t know very well or if it is someone you are meeting from online.)  I would not go out with this person again and I would screen all calls as well. If it doesn’t matter to you how a man dresses or presents himself publicly and if you don’t mind being his bankroll then this behavior might not bother you.  It goes back to being very clear about what you want and what you don’t want.  The direction I am steering my life, has no room for someone who cannot move fluidly from a nice formal occasion to a tee-shirt and jeans and back again as needed depending upon the occasion.  Knowing this about myself, helps me eliminate the would be contenders for my affection that aren’t a good fit, no matter how nice they seem to be.  And, no, there’s not much about being someone else’s bankroll that interests me all that much. That’s what I do for my children, not for my lover.  I’m not opposed to bringing what I can to the financial table, but he needs to be willing to contribute too.

In the case of the third friend whose date didn’t call until the night of the date, I’d have done exactly what she did and I have on several occasions.   I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again:  when a man is crazy about a woman, he doesn’t let her phone grow cold.  He doesn’t wait until the last minute to call.  He doesn’t give her his number and hope she’ll call him.  Again, I know what I want and what I will not tolerate.  I want a guy who is crazy about me and a guy who doesn’t call simply is not.  He’s not shy, he’s not busy, he’s not unable to call, he’s simply not interested.  That doesn’t work for me. 

It’s just bad behavior and I have already used up all my bad behavior moments in this life.  They’ve all been spent on past relationships, enduring very bad behavior when I should have been moving on and enjoying my life.  Instead, I allowed myself to experience a great deal of misery and pain which I could have avoided by recognizing the bad behavior from the start instead of overlooking, ignoring or excusing it. I only have time and energy left in my life to spend on giving the best of me (which is my time and energy) to those who are really truly going to appreciate it.

“The Last Hose Supplier You’ll Ever Need” Responds to My Inquiries

Well, take a look at this!  I’ve received a response from that Online Hose Supplier that I mentioned a post or two back.  To see the earlier correspondences you will have to just scroll through the earlier posts.  I’m too tired and lazy to link them, sorry.  Here’s what that overseas supplier responded with:

Once again I thank you for your inquiry about the range of hoses that may suit your somewhat unique requirements.

Unfortunately I am unable to provide you with pictures of the hose and fittings I referred to in my last correspondance but I can assure you it is unlike any of the previously used hoses you’ve described. I don’t mean to be critical but I think that ,in the past, you have chosen lesser quality and much less reliable equipment than your quite specific requirements deserve.

As a sign of good faith, and to sate your curiosity, I have taken the liberty of arranging for a free 2 week trial of a second hand sample of the product and its associated attachements. Once I have received Customs clearance I will endeavour to ship these to your home address.

As the items mentioned are not new I trust you will handle all items with care.

Please do not hesitate to contact the writer should you require anything further.

He is, it seems, being honest and straightforward about the condition of the hose.  At least he admits the hose is not new.  That’s okay, since new hoses are incompatible with my pump.  My pump is an older model, still in excellent condition, requires little mechanical maintenace, and performs better than many of the newer models, however, the newer hoses just don’t seem to have the staying power my pump requires.  THS is also willing to provide a two week free trial.  He must be confident of his product or his salesmanship, or maybe both.

This brings up a few questions though.  Like, how free is free?  What is the small print?  Better yet, is there anything written in invisible ink I should be aware of?  What I’m most curious about is the “associated attachments”.  Sounds like there might be more to the bargain than a mere hose.

Online Hose Suppliers or Snake Oil Salesmen?

Kip commented on my last post about Online Hose Suppliers and he cautioned me to be very careful.  His comments were valid and my responses lengthy enough that I figured they’d make a decent little post on their own. 

Here is what Kip said in his comment on my last post:

Be wary of would-be hose suppliers who promise the moon; they tend to be in the same class as snake oil salesmen. And let’s face it, they can tell you anything and show you any kind of pictures they want on the internet. There are some things you just shouldn’t purchase online, and this is one of them. You need to see that hose in the flesh and hold it in your hand, make sure it connects properly and produces a healthy flow when turned on. As they say: think globally but act locally! The hose you need may be in your own backyard. So get out there and find it: examine it well, hook it up and turn it on! Don’t despair that you haven’t found it yet. If you have faith in it, it will come!

 And, now my response:

I’m not certain that purchasing something like this online is necessarily a bad deal, though it would require certain additional considerations and many, many precautions.  I would never purchase a hose sight unseen.  I would insist on the opportunity to see the hose, hold the hose and try all the appropriate functions to ensure the hose and my pump fit well together.

 If the hose I needed were in my own backyard, I’d be happily swimming in my blissful pool rather than looking for a quality hose!  I can assure you that there really are no quality hose suppliers in my area and I’ve been diligent in seeking them out.  You see the emphasis here is on quality.  I believe the inner construction and the make up of the hose will determine its usefulness and effectiveness in working with my pump over the long haul.  Most hose dealers are supplying hoses that are poorly constructed, made of weak or brittle materials, not long enough or are simply not the right kind of hose for the job.  After all, if I’m looking for a hose to attach my pool to my pump, I’m not going to use a garden hose.  Garden hoses are not bad and they definitely serve their purpose, but it simply isn’t the kind of hose I’m looking for.  Further, you’d be surprised to find out how many local suppliers post a picture of a hose that looks serviceable but then when I go to visit them to see the hose, they present me with a worn, damaged, dirty and defective item.  It is disappointing, tiring and I’m not wasting time with any of that!  So, I continue on with my search for the best hose for my pump.

 As for the getting out there and finding it?  Well, I’ve worked tirelessly at this project for some time now.  I’m quite willing to do the legwork required to examine the hoses thoroughly, hook them up, and turn them on.  It is upon closer examination (before even hooking up)  that I usually find defects, flaws, ways that the hose would be incompatible with my pump.  When these concerns in hose viability arise, it seems foolish for me to go the next step of hooking up the hose and turning it on.  Why waste my time trying to make a hose work when it isn’t a good hose or the right hose?  No, I need to be able to see that the hose is the right hose before the hook up and turning on.  Once I take that hose home, I can’t expect it to become a different hose.  I can’t just see a brand new hose, hook it up and turn it on and hope it works. I just don’t shop that way.  I prefer to do my research on each hose carefully and thoughtfully first.  Salesmen hate me because I ask a lot of questions and can determine fairly quickly where the inconsistencies lie and where the defects in the hose will be.  When I do find that special hose, then and only then will I consider hooking it up and turning it on.  After all, not just any hose will do for my pump.  I want the best hose!  I’m willing to pay well for it, travel the earth shopping for it, and when I get it home I will care for and maintain it well because I really hate hose shopping.

He Is What He Is…So Deal!!!

Here’s the deal.  Guys are what they are.  We want them to accept us the way we are.  We women need to do the same.  In fact, guys are often more willing and able to accept us as we are than we are to accept them as they are…without trying to change them.  Seriously?  I have yet to meet a guy that, if something about me didn’t work for him,  he stayed around.

 It’s just not fair to get into a relationship thinking a guy is “perfect, but if he would just be different in this one way”…yadda yadda.

 The deal is this.  He is what he is.  That’s the way it is.  If he decides to change because he decides to change then great that’s a bonus but you can’t sit around hoping he’ll change or waiting for him to change or coercing him to change.  He is what he is and that’s the way it is…so deal!

 I say this because I spent plenty of my own time in relationship wishing, hoping, conniving, coercing others into the change I wanted to see instead of recognizing that this was simply evidence that the two of us were just not a good fit.  Not his fault.  Not my fault.  No one’s fault.  We just didn’t travel comfortably together. I spent far too much wasted time and energy in bad relationships this way. 

I won’t do it again.

But how do I avoid it?

I avoid it by being very clear (with myself) about what I need, what I want and what I can negotiate on and by staying very true to all of that in all my dealings with men. 

 For example, it is very important for me to be with a person who can communicate.  He doesn’t necessarily have to be a Harvard trained communications expert, but he does have to be able to communicate clearly in writing as well as in person.  If the guy I am with isn’t able to do that, I need to cut my losses and move on rather than waste my effort trying to reform him. 

In my recent self-reflective moments, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I may well have had the tendency to try to reform instead of accepting.  I probably wasn’t the easiest travelling partner in that respect.  I don’t like that.  I don’t want to be like that any more so I won’t be.

 He is what he is.  If there are things about him that I’m not comfortable with, I need to be honest about that sooner, rather than later and move on if I need to.  Being in relationship with someone, but never really totally being okay with who they are is well, like, relational torture.  How can you do it and ever feel good about your partner or what you have together?   

 This perspective also changes one’s dating M.O.  After all, you really begin to think about the downsides to a person in a more thoughtful manner.  Are the weaknesses you see in him, ones you can travel compatibly with or are they deal breakers?  If they are deal breakers it is wise to move on and save the two of you a great deal of angst and time.

I don’t know that I have this all wrapped up, but that’s just what I’ve been thinking lately.  A guy just needs to be free to be who he is.  If you don’t like who he is when you’re dating, that’s probably a good sign it won’t work over the long haul.  No one’s fault, but don’t waste time there.  Just move on.