Dating and Deception-That’s What She Said

j0402640 Yesterday’s post dealt with truth in dating. While much of what I described happens to both men and women in dating, yesterday’s post was decidedly from the female perspective and slanted pretty heavily toward men and the deceptions they tend to employ, if they employ them, when dating. However, I’ll be the first to admit, that men face their share of unhappy experiences and boatloads of deceptive practices when dating too. I know this because they tell me so or they have, when I dated them. Seems that when it comes to dating and deception, it’s an equal opportunity venture.

Women are just as guilty as men of deception. They just deceive differently. For example, there’s the very common practice of fudging on the number of years we’ve actually roamed the earth. Early on in my Post-40 World dating experience I corresponded with an individual who told me that he actually met a woman who said her age was somewhere in the 40’s but when they met, it was evident to him that she hadn’t seen 40 anything for a few decades.  He ended the date instantaneously and (the best part) she seemed stunned.  And this is only one of many, many experiences I’ve heard that men encounter when dating online.

Personally, the day I feel tempted to lie about my age is the day I hang it all up for good.  I just can’t do that.  It is unfair and dishonest.

Do women who do this honestly think that the men they meet are going to be totally impressed when they finally see that they’ve been lied to all along? Further, what kind of foundation does this build for any kind of meaningful authentic relationship?  My guess is, and please, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but my guess is it erodes relationship before it even begins.

j0422266I’ve been told that women lie about their weight, but personally, I don’t get that because I know weight doesn’t tell you much of anything and can give you a really bad impression.  Most guys would die if they knew that that cute hottie they are pursuing online actually sports a 145 on the scale instead of a 119, but fits nicely into a size 8.   But if she cropped her pic so it just revealed her face and then touted the number 145, what the heck do you think the response would be? Yeah, on the other hand, the fact that a woman even looks like a size 8 online is probably guarantee enough that no guy is asking that woman what she weighs.  It becomes an insult to ask what a woman weighs.  After all that’s not on the dating questionnaires.

While women are less inclined to lie about their marital status (I think, I don’t know this for sure), this doesn’t mean women are exempt from misrepresenting themselves.  On one hand it is understandable.  We all want to present ourselves in the best light possible.  After all, isn’t that what make up, hair products, deodorant and designer jeans are all about? But when we step over the line of presenting ourselves in the best possible light to recreating a fictional imaginary self, then this is, in my mind, crossing a line.

Personally, I’m all about full disclosure.

j0422190 In fact, I recently, even as I was writing this was called upon to disclose some very awkward and deeply humiliating aspects of my own personal past. It is a past that I am  ashamed of and will never be able to erase.  It is a past I regret and will spend the rest of my days trying to help people avoid in their own lives.  While full disclosure was not comfortable for me (I totally would have loved to have not had a conscience and been able to justify minimizing or reinventing my past), I told the truth and all of it.  It totally sucked.  I might never hear from this person again and this is a person I completely respect and admire.  But I am committed to being different than I was and I am committed to being vulnerable, transparent, with nothing to hide.  It might cost me any number of friendships or romantic interests to come and my past, quite frankly might eliminate me from the experience of any real lasting, meaningful, connected relationship with the opposite sex, but at least I can go to sleep at night knowing that the other person made a decision about me based on fact and not on supposition and not on an inadequate amount of data.  

And that, quite frankly, is how I prefer to do life, because in the end, I’m never going to enjoy quality relationship where the foundation is based on misrepresentation and inadequate data.  If the entire point in dating is to get to know people in hopes of someday developing a relationship based on intimacy then full disclosure (at the right time and in the right manner to the right people) becomes important.

I want the real deal.  I want authentic, meaningful, connected relationship when trust is the foundation and transparency and vulnerability the cornerstones.  If that can’t be had then give me the single life.  It is much more convenient anyway.

Divorce Transitions or How To Slay a Dragon—Another Year Later

Costumes_Halloween_Lady_Dragons I wrote this last year at about this time of year over on my other blog. It is rather lengthy so I’ve broken it down into a series of several posts.  Those of you who have been through the divorce process and are trying to heal up after it, might have some very significant and quite possibly different perspectives to share.  If so, I hope you’ll leave a comment.  I certainly don’t profess to have the only valid experience.  I only share mine and what was helpful for me.  I love hearing what others found helpful.  I know my readers do too!

I spent most of my childhood growing up in rural eastern Oregon.  My family lived in the same home from the time I was in third grade till after I graduated from college.  We drove the same ’68 Chevy Camaro and never had another car.  My mother had the same job in the same office building across from the county library until she retired many years after I was grown and beginning my own family.  My grandparents lived across the river in Idaho, a mere six miles away.  They owned a department store in town where I spent my pre-school years hiding in the racks peeking out at customers from behind the clothes.  It was a stable, predictable, secure childhood.  Very little ever changed.  It was not the kind of beginning that exactly prepares one to deal with the transitions that come after a marriage ends.  But, if we are fortunate, and I was, we should not be preparing for such sad events.  There just weren’t that many dragons to slay back then…and…I guess that’s a good thing.

clocks-med Change is the only constant.  This is never more true than when going through a divorce, when emotions run high and everyone is running scared at some level.  Everyone, except the attorneys and the dragon.  They are running to the bank.  (Sometimes I think I am definitely in the wrong career.  Hmmmm, is it too late for a law degree?) Even so, I am grateful for a good attorney who helped me see the issues clearly and without emotion.  The dragon is bigger and has the fire-breathing capabilities.  You can easily determine where the dragon fits in your own analogy.  For me, it was a volatile and completely unstable partner who was an incredible con artist and who had everyone believing (including myself) that I was the crazy psychotic problem child.   

Phase 1–Acceptance

This is the first transition and probably the most difficult in divorce:  accepting that the marriage is over.  Accepting that one partner wants out badly enough  to formalize the dissolution legally can be a difficult and heartbreaking reality to grasp.  Whether you are the one initiating the divorce or the one having to accept that your partner is saying, "I’m out!",  the very first step is to accept that no matter what happens, when the dust settles you will in fact be divorced.  Nothing else but this will be certain as you head into the process of negotiating like you’ve probably never in your marriage or maybe your life negotiated before. It is not unlike dodging the fiery blasts of the dragon’s anger as you attempt to defend your kingdom. The finances, the assets, the kids, the child support, the alimony and the acrimony will all be undetermined until the judge raps his gavel or until the two of you sign out of court. Until then, you just don’t know how the dragon will move, twist, or turn.

BooksandGavelA_jpg When I walked in to see my attorney…a good two years before I actually retained her…she told me these words, "Look, I can’t assure you of anything except that by the end of this you will be divorced."  She was right, and despite what is oft said about attorneys, she was honest, direct, a great strategist and she advocated on my behalf.  She helped me negotiate the frightening web of legalities to ensure the best possible outcome for my children and I.  She was there to negotiate some of those transitions for me.

Plan on the transitions.  Expect them, anticipate them, negotiate them and then live them.  My attorney helped me plan and prepare for the first phase of transitions but I had to first face the reality that nothing I could do was going to change the eventual outcome.  Armed with this knowledge I was able to take a more active role in determining and shaping my own post-divorce world.

If you are at this place in your life and the inevitable is going down, I encourage you to begin doing your own research.  Find out what the laws are in your state or county.  Find out how property is usually divided and how the courts generally treat custody and parenting issues arrangements.  Your attorney can be a valuable resource in this area.  You can also do your own homework.  There are many great resources on the internet. 

It helped me to think of life in three categories: the things that were non-negotiable for me, the things that I could easily give up, and the things that fell in between these two extremes. It became a matter of prioritizing.  When it came to negotiating with the ex, I knew clearly what I had to barter with and what wasn’t up for negotiation from my perspective.  This ended up being irrelevant for me as my ex didn’t even show up for the hearing and the judge ruled everything as proposed by my attorney with some added stipulations making it more difficult for the ex should he seek to drag me back to court in the future. This, however, is extremely rare.  Expect a battle and arm yourself intelligently and thoughtfully for it.

 

Single Parenting and No Regrets?

“Never regret.  If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.”  ~Victoria Holt

regretsNever regret.  Those words on the surface sound like a great way to live.  Live life so that you have no regrets.  The idea is great, the reality non-existent, I suspect.  I don’t think it is possible to live a life completely without regret.  I don’t think one needs to wallow in and torture oneself with regret either.  We can learn from our mistakes and our past, and move on but still be saddened by the way our past plays out in our present.  I for one, never wanted to be in my forties parenting four children alone.  Here I am and doing well, but it is not what I would have chosen.  I would have chosen a loving marriage that worked over single parenting any day. 

 A Nice Idea

When it comes to love, marriage, divorce and single parenting there’s an entire galaxy of regret to be realized. Regrets of time and emotion wasted, of poor choices, of insufficient self knowledge, of the realities that now face the person tasked with parenting a child or children alone without the help of a loving, supportive, participatory partner in a marriage that worked. Regrets of diminished financial resources and not being able to now provide the childhood experiences that you once hoped you could, not to mention the increased demands on the dwindling time and energyof the single parent.  Granted, this isn’t everyone’s single parent reality.  It is the reality for many, however.  Specifically, on many levels, it has been mine.  I don’t think I’m alone here.  When it comes to life after divorce, especially if that life now involves single parenting, the idea of living with no regrets is simply that: a nice idea.

Mixed Feelings About Single Parenting

I’ve recently come across a fellow blogger who seems to be a kindred spirit.  She’s walked the single parent road for much longer than I.  Her tour of duty in Single Parent World is just two years from being over, while I have a decade of duty left.  Her recent article titled, “Single Parenthood: How Do You Really Feel?” resonated with me.  I, too, am proud of what I’ve accomplished in the last few years, the stability and safety I’ve fought for and aquired for my children and I, and the slow, arduous climb back from financial disaster.  These are accomplishments I celebrate, but with every celebration there is that cloud of regret that hovers over the silver lining.  It’s a mixed bag.  On one hand I’d never go back to the nightmare I was living before.  At the same time, I prefer that I’d made better choices, known myself better, behaved better myself so that I could have avoided being in this place now.singleparenting

The regret is that while I am content in my life as a single parent it would have been far better for us all to be part of an intact family with a marriage that worked for us all than not.  Single parenting, while far superior to my previous reality, is not what I ever wanted for myself or my children and it isn’t the existence I’d choose even now had I any other choice, most particularly, that of sharing with a partner who fit us, who was loving and supportive and personally competent. 

Things Are Forever Different Now

 Things are different for the single parent.  For most of us, financial resources are much more limited, especially early on.  This reality hit me hard when I realized that I was not going to be able to put my children in piano lessons, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics or any other of the many activities they previously enjoyed. Not only was I not going to be able to put them in all the activities they previously enjoyed, I couldn’t put any of them in even one of the activities.  Do the math.  Even in my small community where things are less expensive than they would be in a larger city, the cost of dance lessons runs about $40 a month.  That alone is almost my garbage  bill. Multiply that amount by four. Add to that the increased time and fuel expenses involved in driving the children to their activities and the reality of making this happen on my own, without the financial assistance from the ex or transportation help from the same makes this an impossibilty for those of us saddled with the financial responsibilities of home ownership, debt repayment and without the assistance of large incomes or public assistance.  When I’m rationing milk to make it to the next payday, paying for piano lessons is not going to happen.  Things are forever different now.
 
 Traveling The Path
 
I’ve been a single parent for two years now and I have about 10 years before my youngest is launched, five years before I’m down to just one child.  I’m a good parent, not prone to allowing my home to deteriorate to disaster with food,dishes, dirty laundry and trash strewn everywhere.  My kids do chores, have their friends over on occasion, spend the night elsewhere on occasion and are involved in scMoving onhool activities and sports. I have a career that pays the bills and allows me time off with my kids most of the time that they are not in school.  Because of my parenting arrangements with my ex’s (yep, that was plural), I have regular time to myself with no kids.  For me, life in Single Parent World is far better than for most.  I can’t complain, and most of the time I don’t because I know, as with anything, it could be so much worse.
I deal with the same issues of fatigue, inability to have any kind of time to put together a decent meal that isn’t microwaved in some part, trying to spread limited finances, time, and energy among four (now three, one is at college, I remember now) other people and still have something left for myself.   My life, my children’s lives, are moving on.  Most of the time it is simply a matter of doing what I know I must and can do today.  The future is too overwhelming to contemplate, the past still too painful at points.  I often don’t feel as though I’m doing anything right and sometimes, for a few brief moments, I feel as though things couldn’t  be better.  Most of the time it is trial and error, guess and check as I find my way in this strange new world.  It is a way that while bumpy and steep, at first, seems to be smoothing out somewhat.  The path has leveled off, the terrain more appealing, the walk not so cumbersome, the weather far more mild most of the time.  Even so, it is not a path I travel without passing by brief moments of profound regret for what I would have preferred over this. 

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?

Just A Little Update

I’m just exhausted tonight.  Single parenting, like everything else in life has it’s moments of being really great and not so tough as well as moments where you feel like you’re sludging along up hill pulling a heavily loaded cart with no wheels.  My single parenting experience of late isn’t so bad except that it is so very solitary. I’d elaborate on this, but I’m just too tired.  Even now, I’ve typed and rewritten words three or four times already.

I had a full and fast paced day at work then errands after work.  A two and a half hour end-of-the-year concert  with my two oldest daughters performing ended the day.  I just walked in the door and it is after 9:30 p.m. 

It was a great day but it was a busy day. 

I would love to post some things tonight. I’ve been thinking about the directions I’d like to head with this blog, but I’m too tired to give anthing any good thought right now.  I’ve got a couple of projects I’m working on, but I’m falling asleep at the computer, so it will have to keep for now. 

That’s my update.

Romance Is A Game Best Played On A Level Playing Field–Act 3

Curtains rise on The Wild Mind staring pensively off in stage left direction.  Lights up. The Wild Mind wakes herself from her reverie, takes a sip from the mug, put it down absent mindedly and resumes typing at her computer.

ghost-picWho can even fight fair against a ghost? I had no chance to start with.

This brings up another key point that I wish I’d known all along:

The Beau started up contact with the Old Flame at the same time or shortly before he invited me to Christmas Eve dinner. I had no chance from the beginning, because as long as she was even a remote figment in his imagination, I could have been perfect and it wouldn’t have mattered. The living cannot compete against ghosts who still live and carry even the smallest hope of reincarnating themselves.

In a word, The Beau, was not emotionally available. Not really.

I suspected it but I did not know this.  He liked me a lot.  Had she not even been a possibility, I dare say we may have had a chance at a really, really good thing. But it could not ever be, because ghosts are powerful and will not be denied. 

It just was not meant to be between The Beau and I. I’m okay with this. I told him so.  I know there is someone out there for me somewhere.  (I’m skeptical, at this point, about my ever finding him, but that’s okay too.)

The Beau wants to remain “friends”. He said he’d hoped he could be that friend that I call first to tell him I’ve finally met Mr. Right.  While I don’t want to burn bridges unnecessarily, but I never wanted The Beau to play that role in my life. (Sorry, but that will probably be Semi-Professional Photographer Friend and not you, Beau. I already have friends like that in my life. That was not what I was looking for or what I needed when I started dating you. If it had been, you’d have been contacting me on Facebook the first time not on an online dating site.)

I told him that while I’m usually able to do be friends with people I date, I don’t think I can do that here. At least, not right away. He understands this to mean that I am sad, hurt and heartbroken that he’s choosing her over me. It really isn’t so much that at all. It was that this relationship, more than any other to date, for me, had all the signs of being completely viable and lasting…except that he just wasn’t that into me…in the most important way.

And, I so don’t want to be with someone who is into me,kinda, but just not enough.  I want him to be crazy about me or it’s not going to go very far even if I’m crazy about him. 

I also don’t want to be competing against unburied ghosts from the past.  It is not how I’m going to roll.

My disappointment comes from knowing I was right early on and not trusting myself earlier and just moving ahead with my heart. Instead, I kind of dabbled and played the “Well…Maybe….What if?….” game.

My sadness (if there really is any) comes from thus far in my entire life, not having one man who would really go to the wall for me in spite of me going to the wall repeatedly for them. thinkingTwo marriages which existed mostly because I made excuses for the men and held the marriages together at my own personal health and financial peril are enough. The dating scene has been no better. I’ve mostly met men who should not even be dating because they are a.) married and lying about it (read, The I. J.), b.) separated and working on it (read, still not available emotionally or legally no matter what he thinks or says) or c.) still in love with a past relationship that didn’t, won’t, or can’t work out (read The Beau and several current prospective suitors who are making bids for my time and attention but who haven’t quite thrown the dirt over the grave of their past loves).  The graveyard of past loves is not a safe place to go exploring for Mr. Right. 

This is all very confusing, because there is no way you know this going in to a relationship except by being very careful and paying very close attention (something I’m getting much better at doing), and there is no way you can possibly compete with the past or connect fully with the unavailable heart, while you’re there.  When you get out, you regret the whole bloody thing because the playing field was never level from the get go and it was just a big waste of time, except to confirm to you what you already knew about love, life and dating anyway. Who needs to experience all that just to find out you were right all along? I’d rather paint ceilings with rollers.

While I am disappointed (not distraught) on one one level that ” it “didn’t work out with The Beau and I, I really enjoyed our times together and I learned a lot.  It’s always nice to be in a relationship or to be thinking you might be heading that way.  On another level, I can do so much better than to spend my time wondering where I stand all the time.  I go back to my very opening point in these series of posts: When a man is into a woman, no one has any doubts about it, least of all the woman or man involved.  Am I making myself clear here.  I hope I remember that point.

The Beau, was courageous in talking to me about where he stood. I admire that. I gave him an out. He could have taken the chicken’s way out and responded to my text with, “Yeah, I’m not going to be able to make it. I’m wiped out.” Given the FB communiques it would have delivered the same message. He chose not to do that and instead delivered the message the tough way: face to face. I just wish it wasn’t in my living room, but okay. Live and learn. Next time, when I anticipate that news, I will suggest we go out, better yet, I’ll try to force a phone conversation.

Cue happy musical score as curtains fall.  The Wild Mind leans back in her chair and smiles.

To be concluded in the next post…

Expectations, Schmecpectations

Alright, alright.  I give.  Expectations for the perfect match are important.  They are real.  We all have them and we all better be clear on what they are up front because they color our behavior toward our significant other in so many  ways.

I know I need to spend more time exploring this.

I also know I’ve already spent the last three years exploring this and, once again, the terrain is beginning to shift.  I need to revisit the topic.

But tonight, I’m a bit tired.  It is late and morning comes way too early on work days.  I need to get to bed.  But I will be back to fully address this topic in far more detail and intelletual capacity than I am currently able to provide.

Thanks for being patient with me.

Houses or Playgrounds?

Short and to the point: The Beau is no longer “The Beau”.  (Surprise! Surprise!  Gasp!  Does that really surprise anyone? N0.  Didn’t think so.)

Don’t know how to quite explain all the details to myself, except to say that it was a mutual misunderstanding.  I can’t share really how things started declining from his perspective, only from mine, though he’s enlightened me through discussions over the last week.  And he makes some valid, very understandable points.  I only wish he’d shared where he was with all that a month ago when he began feeling that way.

Things with us started off really great.  Had they kept going really great, no doubt, I would not be writing this post.  Now mind you things weren’t going badly…they just kinda weren’t really going like they were before.  Sometime after the second weekend I went up to visit him I noticed a bit of a “pull back” from him.  It was slight and subtle but very, very perceptible to me.  Things like no longer reaching out to hold hands in the car when we went places, no (and I mean absolutely none, where before there had been plenty) physical affection other than a quick good-bye peck at the door as he left or I left.  Things like calling me really late at night after being on the phone with others (who were just friends, yes, but nonetheless female and not me).  Things like a reduction in the number of texts or other contacts in a day, making it feel a bit like he was just making the obligatory once a day phone call.  Things like simply not seeming as interested as he previously was.

Now, The Beau, is not, was not, a bad guy.  Something changed for him…or he saw something that gave him reason to pause.  Nothing at all wrong with that.  In fact, there is quite a bit about me that would give most people pause, not the least of which is 4 kids, a fixer house and a very tight budget and this blog.  I really have a problem with none of that.  It is totally understandable to me.  

We’d been dating about two months and he’s the one that mentioned not dating anyone else and taking off his profile from said dating sites.  I did not bring up this conversation…he did.   I guess I didn’t ask enough questions about what that meant for him.  I guess, maybe, that conversation was premature.  Maybe I misunderstood the seriousness of that kind of behavior.  To me that means, “I really want to focus on you.”  To him, well, I’m still not clear what he intended by even bringing up that conversation, but that’s okay too.  I don’t need to be clear on that.  It just didn’t appear to indicate a single purpose to him quite the same way it did to me or he thought better of it after he did it.  That’s alright too.  I just wish I’d understood all that before I stopped dating the four or five other very fine men, that I stopped seeing to date The Beau exclusively only to have The Beau get cold feet.  (j/k about the 5 guys, disappointed about the cold feet, but aware that it happens and am not losing sleep or wasting tears over it)

I guess the best analogy is this one:  “Are we building a house here or are we building a playground?”  My thinking is that the foundation for either of those endeavors is very different and you can’t exactly change projects midway, without some serious investment or strife or, at least some conversation.  Both of them serve their purpose and are wonderful projects.  Really, I don’t care which one it is, but if he wants the house and I’m thinking playground or vice versa things can and will get weird, misunderstandings happen, communication begins to miss and, well, feelings get hurt.  Further, if  both begin with the understanding that a house is to be built and the other changes what they are building without telling his partner, things can be really messed up and strange. None of that bothers me, it’s called relationship.  This is why human beings were given the gift of speech, so we could address these misunderstandings.  (P.S. I know the analogy is weak and flawed, but it worked for us and it helped us both understand each other better, so I’m going with it.)

I thought he wanted the house (no the house does not equal marriage, LTR or anything other than a mere exclusive dating relationship and the interested behavior to match…there are never ever any guarantees, I know this.  Yes, the playground does equal the non-exclusive, let’s just have fun and be friends casual dating kind of thing).  He probably did want the house for a couple of weeks there, maybe a month, but then had second thoughts and he backed off to the playground project, which is fine with me or maybe he found another house or playground he’d rather explore a bit more.  Only problem was, he didn’t tell me about it.  Well, yes, he did, just not with words.  That’s okay too. I was able to figure it out, pretty accurately without the words. Maybe I’m getting better at reading that nonverbal stuff more accurately. I don’t know. This time hearing the words only confirmed what I already knew several weeks ago was true. 

I guess I just don’t play the game well.  I’d rather have a guy just say “I’m not that into you” than to waste my time pretending he is in an effort to avoid hurting my feelings.  Cowardly as it is, even going silent is a bit more honest than continuing a game that one simply isn’t sure they want to play.  I won’t waste time (and it is a waste of time if  someone is not being completely honest and candid with the other person) spending time being with a person I really like who’s kinda sorta not sure he’s that into me. 

Now, true, it’s not like I’m the only consideration here.  I know that.  I come with a lot of  “baggage”.  I prefer to refer to it as responsibility, but face it, kids, fixer, finances, two ex’s—yuck, it’s just baggage to most people, no matter how neatly folded and tucked away it may be. (That reality does make me very sad sometimes, but I can’t fix any of that, so I just feel sad for a bit, then get up and forge ahead.  I mean really, what are my alternatives?)  He’s got lots to consider before making any serious commitments where I’m concerned, but I am not even remotely talking about that nor was I even remotely expecting it.  I just wondered how come he no longer wanted to hold my hand, be with me as much or he preferred talking to others instead of me.  I’m just talking about enjoying spending time together and it seemed to me that somewhere along the line, that changed for him. It seemed really, like he was no longer as interested in being with me and that I was not as attractive to him anymore.  It changed for me only because it changed for him.  My feelings for him and my attraction to him never dimmed or wavered.  I’m just not willing to be in a place where I feel less than desirable, like I don’t quite do it for him, or where I’m just not all that big of a deal to him. 

So, that’s where it stands.  My understanding has been cleared up about what his intention is and where he stands with me (the words now match the behavior)  and, to be very honest, I’m relieved.  No one enjoys feeling like the person they are with is just not all that excited anymore about being with them. 

So, Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

Valentine’s Day Babysitting Shortage

The closest I'll get to a Valentine this year
The closest I'll get to a Valentine this year

Well, let’s see.  How does a single 40-somethin’ woman talk about Valentine’s Day?  I guess I could say I will end up getting at least 33 Valentines.  Sadly, they will be from people far younger than I.  All of them adore me and think the world of me, and I can’t really ask for much more than that.  

However, in adult world, I will be sitting at home enjoying Valentines with a very special 8-year-old.  Yeah, I did get invites out.  More that one, that’d be plural.  Actually worked really hard to try to find babysitting for the 8-year-old, but after about the 5th attempt, I decided, I simply didn’t want to try anymore.  Now the person I am trying to get the babysitting arranged for will feel as though I am really not that into him and I will have to explain and if he understands that I just can’t feel good about leaving my sweet child with just any old stranger (I feel kinda weird leaving her anyway, stranger or no) then things will be fine.  If he doesn’t understand, then I guess another one bites the dust.  I’ve exhausted all my options and I just refuse to leave my child with someone she doesn’t know so I can go out and have dinner with a nice man and all his friends and their wives/girlfriends. 

This is where it all feels bad.  He’s not going to be able to go out with his friends and their significant others without being the odd man out.  I’m not going to be able to go and feel good since all five of the folks I usually call on to babysit are unavailable, including my own two older children.  On an adult level, in one way, probably one very minor and insignificant way, really, this just doesn’t feel good.  I hate letting people down like this. It’s not likely he’s going to be aware of how difficult it really is to get a babysitter on Valentine’s Day and will likely view it as a cop out on my part, which it won’t be, but it won’t matter. When no familiar babysitters are available, I feel so much like I’m abandoning my child. I’ve paid for a babysitter for her once over the last year.  I just don’t ever go out when my kids are with me. But…it is Valentine’s Day and, well….I should have known it was going to be the most difficult day of the year to arrange babsitting.  Even if someone didn’t have plans, for them to admit it would be a bit like them admitting they are a loser and have no life (j/k).

No matter how hard it will be to call tomorrow and say, “Hey, I’m sorry it just isn’t going to work out, blah, blah, blah”, nothing is worth my little girl’s security and happiness.  She’s absolutely my favorite Valentine.  I won’t mind for a minute spending time with her.  I only wish I’d remembered how difficult babysitters are to find on Valentine’s to begin with and said no before saying yes.

Online Dating: 10 Things Men Should Definitely NOT Do

Don’t you love all these dating advice sites for guys that are written by guys?  I think they are funny.  Here’s a guy telling another guy what works with women.  What the first guy is really getting from the guy he gets advice from is what works for that guy with the gals he’s meeting or being successful with…doesn’t mean it will work for you…unless what you want is what he’s getting exactly. 

To put it differently, it would be like me going to ask advice about how guys think from a woman.  How the hell will she know???  She’s not one of them.  She might be close.  She might even be right on.  I might even listen to her and take her advice, but not before I check it out with my guy friends.  The ones I know I can trust.  The ones who feel comfortable with me enough to tell it like it is.  These are the guy friends I would never date or become romantically interested in for one of two reasons:  a.) because they are married to my very good girl friends or b.) they would tell me point blank, “Hey, it’s just really hard to get romantic with one of the guys”.

So for all the guys out there, who hope to try to make an impression with a woman online so that you can put yourself at the top of the email pile and maybe even make it into her favorites list, I’ve provided this list of my top ten most reliable behaviors that will get a guy blown off, ignored or deleted.  

I confessed in an earlier post that I was a bit of an online dating junkie.  At one point, I was on, I think, three different sites at one time.  I’ve explored nearly all of the really notable ones, free and paid, for long enough to form a strong opinion about which approaches from men really work and which don’t work at all.  I’m pretty successful in the online forum for reasons that have to do with sincerity, truth and a good picture that really looks like me. Plus, I think it helped that I grew up as a tomboy.  (The Barbie Doll shoes really annoyed me.) I kinda get the mentality of bonding over doing something  instead of  the just talking thing…something most women don’t get but which many men, bless their hearts, endure anyway. 

But I’m talking and not doing, so I’ll cut to the chase.

10 Things You Should NOT Do When Approaching A Woman Online

1.  Don’t be self-absorbed.  Clearly, this should be a no brainer, but I’ve received a ton of emails where the man talks only about himself.  If I don’t know the guy, there’s nothing there to help me connect with him.  What you are thinking is you want to give her information that will help her make an informed decision about you.  Sadly, you’re assuming too much in what it is that she is making her decisions upon. She’s thinking, man if I get into relationship with him am I going to have to put up with him talking about him all the time?  She’ll hit the delete key, send a “thanks but no thanks message” or, worse, she’ll block you.

2.  Don’t treat this online forum as a job interview.   Would you do that at a cocktail party?  Would you start interrogating someone you were attracted to about their past relationships, their preferences for sexual frequency and whether or not they’d be comfortable with you coming up from behind and grabbing them by the boobs in public? (Yes, all these things have happened to me and to other women I know.)

3.  Don’t fall in love too soon.  Dude, until you meet her and date her…a lot of times…or, at least until she tells you otherwise…she is still just a digital image paired with some words.  Don’t go being all smitten and stuff and talking about how gorgeous she is and how you think the two of you were meant to be.  She’s making decisions based upon how you treat her, talk to her and think about her.  If you think she’s an “object” instead of a person, she’ll disappear. Treat her like another human being, not like the beauty you are attracted to.  She’ll become that beauty in your face-to-face life if you can respect her and love her for her mind and her contribution to this world (beyond just the airbrushed or real beauty).

4. Don’t be afraid to be you.  Women are all about relationship.  We want to connect.  We want to connect with those we relate to. If you are trying to be something you are not, we will see through this eventually.  Hopefully, for everyone involved, this happens sooner rather than later, but there are plenty of divorce statistics out there that state otherwise.  If you are a funny, humorous light hearted sort express that.  If you are more serious and thoughtful let that be apparent.  The woman you are hoping to attract will be attracted to the real you.

5. Don’t try to impress her with how many dates you’ve been out on recently.  That might work if you’re trying to impress the guys, but for use female types this simply translates as “we’re just one of many options” you have.  No one wants to be an “option”.  All of us want to be the person you’d slay dragons for.  If you try this approach we will read it as you’ve already decided that “you’re just not that into us”.  We’d be fools or unhealthy to invest in that.

6.  Don’t expect her to do all the work in setting up the first meeting.  Take the bull by the horns.  Suggest something, anything.  It is never okay to make her a.) call you when she’s free or b.) tell you what it is that she wants to do if you’re the one approaching first.  In this area, you must take risks and forge ahead trusting that if she is not okay with it she’ll be decent and kind enough to counter your proposal with another option.  If she kicks you to the curb because you missed on the first idea for a meeting, is that such a bad thing?   After all, if she treats you like that after such a kind gesture, do you want to be in a  relationship where that treatment is the norm?  I mean, really c’mon.  You’re a great guy.  You deserve some respect.

7.  Don’t ask her how successful she’s been in the online dating forum.  This question shows up like this:  “So, having any success here?”  or “So, I bet you have all the guys wanting to meet you!”  First off, we have no idea how to respond to that with kindness.  If we are successful and we tell you that,  what will you think?  (Please note that women, especially ones with good photos and well written profiles…okay…skip the profile…ones with good photos and lots of them…are going to get more mail than they could possilby respond to in a 24-hour period if they worked straight through.) If we tell you honestly that we aren’t having much luck…well…what will you think then?

8.  Don’t give up too easily.  Guys, remember, that many of us are single moms with careers and we might be homeowners in our own right as well.  (Meaning, we bought the friggin’ house ourselves and didn’t get it gifted to us as the result of a divorce settlement, death, or judge’s signature at the expense of some poor man who may have had to claim bankruptcy in order to avoid contempt of court charges.) This requires our time and if we are real people we won’t be able to respond right away all the time.  Kids have concerts, we have lives, houses need to be maintained and we simply need to sleep sometimes.  Be patient.  Don’t assume that because we didn’t respond the first time we didn’t care.  Don’t also assume that if our response is brief that we are just not that into you.  We might have wanted to connect, but the kids were demanding our attention, the account we have to have that big proposal ready for  is meeting with us the next day or the car dropped its rear differential in the street three hours ago and we have no idea how we’re going to get that repair done.  Please cut us some slack. We are willing to make room for you in our busy lives, but not till we know you’re going to be willing to accept our busy lives. Be patient.  I cannot say this enough.

9.  Don’t come on too strong.  I know that sounds strange after what I just wrote, but listen, if you pounce, you’ll suffocate.  You’d run too.  Have fun with it.  Don’t make it the end all most important thing ever.  Relax.  Friendships, relationships, love, is a bit of a dance.  Don’t force, just be the fun you, the thoughtful you, the true you that you are but be very careful of overdoing it.  I might add that if you feel like you are being you and at the same time you feel like you are coming on too strong, maybe you should pull back.  A woman in love can never get enough of her man’s attention or affection and she is always deeply appreciative of it even if she can’t necessarily carve out the time to respond at that exact moment.  If you are feeling weird about things, listen to that.

10.  Dont’ go silent.  Say something.  Understand that women are verbal creatures.  On the playground as kids you guys settled differences by physically laying into each other.  We, girls, learned the “more socially acceptible” method of being catty, using our vocabulary and really learning that words, as well as sticks and stones and fists, can hurt and leave deeper scars.  We also learned that words can create worlds, characters, perceptions and evoke really positive emotion too.  We live and love base on the words you tell us (as long as they match your actions).  Please, don’t just email us and say, “Hey!”.  Don’t email us with tons of pictures of you and your life and no verbal explanation.  Don’t just grunt.  We need to connect with you and we do it with words.  This is never more important than in the online forum where the first meeting is completely textual and verbal.

And I might add, that if you really want to make an impression you should consider what your elementary schoolteachers told you and use good punctuation, capitalization and accurate spelling.  Even if she’s not all that smart, your emails will be easier for her to read and understand.  If she is all that smart, she won’t give you the time of day if you can’t communicate well in writing.  If you find that too tedious, take your chances.  If  you can’t present yourself well in writing, what  makes you think she’s going to think you can present yourself well in person? 

Okay, have fun with that one fans and skeptics alike! I’d really like to hear perspectives that maybe I, in my finite wisdom, have not considered.  Do enlighten me.

In the meantime, enjoy your online dating experience.  It can be frustrating, heartbreaking and disappointing, but it can also be a great way to get to know other people in your world when your world doesn’t allow you to cross their paths in real time.  It can also be a great source for putting yourself in the path of romance.  After all, 1 in 8  married couples in 2006 met online.  I’m sure that statistic has grown since then.