Never Look Back

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 8.46.54 AM

“Never look back,” my Aunt Iris said to me as a 35-year-old recently divorced woman. Right before her 25th Wedding Anniversary party I found out she had been divorced three times. There was no one else in my family that had been divorced that I could talk to, so this was a blessed discovery. When I asked my mother why she struggled so with marriage, she said quite bluntly, “She just didn’t put up with bullshit.” And the fifth one was the charm. She would stay married to him until he died many years later.

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 8.46.31 AM

It is so hard not to look back. I fail miserably at keeping my head in the present marching boldly into the future. But I’ve learned that rehearsing finished conversations, trying to revive dead relationships and replaying past events doesn’t make life any better. When I find myself doing it, I try to turn it around by asking myself if I want to keep investing my time in a mistake, or if I’d prefer to invest in my future. The present is all I have, and the future is a result of this moment. The past has no return unless I’m using it as a “lessons learned” review.

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 8.46.09 AM

Whether it’s a man, a woman, a bad financial deal, a screwed-up workplace, an unfriendly community, bad habits that don’t serve you, people that don’t have your back or it’s just time to move on, take some advice from Jo Dee Messina and my Aunt Iris, never look back. 

I Miss Conversation

coffee-conversation-sml

I started a Meetup Group awhile back called Humans in Conversation. I advertised it as a group where we’d practice conversational skills as we humans have quit engaging in conversation and are losing the knack for it. There was lots of interest but only one person ever really showed up. We decided to be friends, and I closed the group. Conversation has lost its shine to the glimmer of technology.

I have friends in other parts of the country whose voices I have not heard in years. I know everything that is going on in their lives – or at least what is presented on social media – but we have not had a conversation at all. I hunger for it. I ask my friends to Skype or Facetime with me or call me, but most never do. It’s just so much easier to text or post on social media. But it feels empty to me.

Sherry Turkle is an MIT psychologist, and she studies how our world has changed in regard to conversation. You can read her article on Saving the Lost Art of Conversation for a window into her studies. But I don’t have to do a study to know that conversations are severely lacking in my life. And it makes me feel very lonely. I hunger for long conversations with lulls and pauses and moments of intimate connection. I have a few friends who take the time to have conversations, but most just seem to want to keep up with me on Facebook or my blog.

When I first started writing this blog, I had an inordinate amount of male followers. It was odd because I thought my main audience would be midlife women. I asked a few of the men why they would be so interested in this blog, and they said it felt like I was sitting right there talking to them. They said that they often felt the same way I did, but they didn’t know how to put it in words. My writing helped them describe their inner condition. They hungered for intimate conversation. A blog or social media or even texting is one way. Two people may be participating, but there is no instantaneous give and take that hasn’t been “cleaned up” by the other party.

In a conversation, people grapple with words. We stumble over our sentences. Our thoughts and words tumble out and dance in a way that is real and raw and sometimes uncomfortable. But, in a live conversation, I learn. I am energized. A conversation is a journey into at least two inner worlds. In some cases, our conversation may uncover some feeling or event that has never been brought into the open before. A conversation is not merely an exchange of ideas. It is a living, breathing thing. It spikes my energy, my compassion and sometimes even my soul. It is in a conversation that we connect heart-to-heart.

I get frustrated with online dating because all people want to do is text. And when you send snippets of information and thoughts to a complete stranger, they have no context as to who you are or what you mean. Inevitably, it goes off the rails because something is said and taken the wrong way. Since you probably have never even spoken with each other as a human being, it’s hard to get it back on track. The interaction is between two soulless beings shooting words back and forth on a machine. I find it hard even to think of them as a person until I meet them.

I’m not surprised that we have become so divided as a society. We had rules and norms in place for conversation where we didn’t discuss politics and religion. Instead of having conversations and grounding our relationships in the person, we post rants on social media taking stances. So, people become connected because they have the same stance. And since we don’t really know each other as individuals outside of social media, there is no investment to converse. And there’s certainly no magic of conversation to help us learn from each other and soften our views and our hearts.

I used to call friends to ask for support or drop by their houses to check on them. Now, people just disappear from social media when they are down. Who wants to go on there and see everyone living their best life when your heart is down in the dumps? The social media world is a whitewashed world where it looks like everybody else is living the dream. The reality is we all have struggles and sadness and grief. Happiness and sadness have a natural ebb and flow. It is in the context of conversation that we provide support and process emotions. Without it, we are left alone in a world full of acquaintances. I’m not sure how we are ever going to heal our rifts without it.

I truly miss conversation. Ten years ago, I’d go into a coffee shop and talk to strangers. Often, we’d both come away the better for it. Now, everyone is head down on their computers or phones. The same thing happens in work meetings. Networking has to be scheduled, and relationships are difficult to casually build. The days of walking in a meeting and asking someone about their kids or their vacation or their lives are sadly gone. Now, they are busy with email, so I just start checking my phone. And we are both lonelier for it.

 

 

The 2 Minute Date

FullSizeRender-2

I had my own version of speed-dating yesterday. At a speed-dating event you go around the room spending a couple of minutes with people to see if you click. You have contact information, so you can contact whomever you want after the event. I had a date with a guy yesterday that got speed-dating confused with real dating. We’ll call him Italian5481 since that’s what he calls himself.

He contacted me on Match on Saturday.

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 10.38.48 AMI overlooked the fact that he didn’t have any sentence structure, creativity or punctuation. That was probably my first mistake. It was the holiday weekend. What the hell? The guy is Italian, and I love lasagne. Besides he had a cute dog. I was a little curious about his previous profile since he said he may have “sent the wrong impression.” Was he one of those angry guys that I click right through? Or, was he sending the message that he only wanted a one night stand? Or maybe he seemed desperate.

We did get our 9.5 miler in!

We did get our 9.5 miler in!

But, he seemed okay, and I didn’t have any plans for Sunday other than running a 9.5 miler, so I responded. He asked me to call Sunday morning so we could set up plans. He reiterated that he was very serious about finding a relationship and making time to get to know someone. He said he wasn’t desperate, but he was really, really tired of being single. I sort of took this as a yellow flag for me because I’m not necessarily trying to make pudding out of tap water. But, he seemed nice enough, so what would it hurt to have lunch?

He chose Panera – which was another yellow flag for me. Panera is okay, but it’s not on the top of my list as a quiet lunch spot to meet. I countered with La Madeleine which is a local version of the same thing. He was cool with the idea, so I got ready and went over to meet him for lunch. He came in, and we gave each other a side hug and shared ‘nice to meet you’s.’ We looked at the menu, and I told him the salads were really good and the french dip was exceptional. He put the menu down and told me that he had to go out to the car to check on work. Huh? What’s in the car, I thought? But, I followed him to the front door, and I sat at a table outside while he “checked on work.” I thought he was just going to leave then, but here he comes back.

He couldn’t even look me in the eye. He yelled from the sidewalk that he had to take a raincheck, the fire alarm was going off, and “I’ll be in touch.” The whole thing happened so fast, I was a little bit in shock. But I laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of it all. Really?? I never had anything happen like this before. Was his wife inside La Madeleine, and he had to take a hasty exit? Was I not the dream babe he had in mind? Did he think La Madeleine was too expensive? French? Was it my accent?

I got in my car – because La Madeleine is not where I really wanted to eat – and I sat there for a minute. My insecurities popped up. Does my hair look that bad? I knew I shouldn’t wear these shorts. I look horrible in shorts. Do I look tired from my run? My insecurities took control for about 15 minutes while I tried to decide how to take care of myself in this situation.

FullSizeRender-1

Screw it. I want to eat at the Velvet Cactus, my new favorite restaurant in Baton Rouge.  I’m taking my smoking hot, curly-haired, shorts-wearing self over there, and I’m going to enjoy my lunch. I’ve always had so much fun posting crap like this on Facebook to see what response I get, but I was a little embarrassed. I decided to do it anyway, and it was a game changer. Immediately, my friends started posting how appalled they were at this dude.  My girlfriends took the opinion that the Universe got rid of him fast so that I didn’t have to put up with that garbage long. Several texted or commented on FB about how hot and beautiful and smart I was. “His loss,”they proclaimed. And I believed it.

IMG_3628-1

The food was amazing … pulled pork on Texas toast, fried cubed potatoes and chipotle cheese grits!

My girlfriends are always amazingly supportive, but it was my guy friends that really cracked the crust of my insecurities. My friend Lisa called me and said her husband Artie ran outside where she was gardening and told her what had happened. She said he was so mad that he was literally shaking while he told her. He couldn’t believe anybody had treated me like that. I cried while she was telling me. I thought honestly that the whole ordeal was worth it if I got to feel so supported and loved as a result. The comments continued all day and until this morning, and I quickly forgot any thoughts of this being about me. I’m sure he didn’t have nearly as great of an afternoon.

I got up this morning and closed my Match account. It’s time for a break. The biggest loss of the day was the 2 minutes of time that I spent talking to him and the 15 minutes when my insecurities submerged me in an ocean of shame. The rest of the day was kind of fun. So, I’ll just thank him for the opportunity to see all the people that really do think I’m kind of nice and spunky and pretty and interesting. I’m not sure how much time he thinks it takes to build a relationship, but it’s more than two minutes. And I’ll just bet there are other times when he’s not good for more than two minutes either.  🙂

I’m meeting one of my girlfriends at La Madeleine. She told me not to worry … she’s excited about it. Have a great Labor Day, y’all … and steer clear of Italian5481. He’s not even worth 2 minutes of your time.

 

Texting is NOT Dating

Apple Silver iPhone 6 Plus showing the home screen with iOS 8.I’m sure I’ve written about this before. So, move along if you’ve already heard it. I do not understand this cultural change to texting as a primary form of communication in dating relationships. Well, I shouldn’t say I don’t understand it. It’s easy. It’s available. It’s tempting. And we really don’t have a lot of self-discipline, do we?

Yesterday I was running, and one of my favorite all-time songs played on Pandora.

“Farmer’s Daughter” by Rodney Atkins

I can never get enough of this song. In fact, I’m listening to it over and over right now. The tune is catchy if you like country twang, and I do, but what I love most about this song is its story. Country music is not afraid to talk about those everyday miracles that happen when people and nature interact. The first time I heard this song, I was sucked right in to how I would feel when I found out the new worker on my father’s farm was a hot, young thing who had an eye for me. Every time I hear it I get swept away on the urgency of wanting somebody so bad that I need to sneak out and steal every minute I can. And, there’s nothing like an urge like that when you see the same urge in your lover’s eyes. If he can’t work or sleep because he wants to be with you, there is nothing sexier.

Yeah… you might say that’s teenage love. If you don’t believe that happens when you are 50, then you must be married and have been that way for a very long time. It’s happened to me several times since I’ve been out of my 20s. In fact, it’s happened in the last 3 years. Love, infatuation, and the whirlwind is not discriminatory based on age or experience. Yes, I know it’s not everything, and I know it doesn’t last. But, it is the stuff that attracts me to dating. I WANT THAT. I want to be swept away. I want to see, feel, and touch the person that is so hot for me that he can’t stand that he has to be at work 8 hours a day. I want to have an urge so bad to be in his presence that I totally forget my 9 o’clock bedtime. When I’m in that state, I can’t sleep anyway, so why not get all tangled up to pass the time.

Today’s constant communication doesn’t have the ooomph that builds desire in new relationships. The whole reason our bodies go crazy when we meet somebody that attracts us is that it creates an urgency for us to be together. The hormones urge us to connect, to mate, to see this thing through. Texting gives the impression that we are connecting, but we aren’t. In fact, it affects me exactly the opposite. It feels cold. It gives me the impression that a man is lazy or not interested enough to want to hear a woman’s voice. Constant texting gives me the same feeling that I get when a mosquito is buzzing around my head when I’m trying to have fun. And, if I don’t know the texter in question, I’m usually going to get irritated with him. I don’t know his sense of humor. I don’t know his intentions. I don’t even really know if he’s single. It doesn’t take long for me to lose interest.

I’ve started to set boundaries around texting when I’m getting to know someone. I’m an extrovert, and I’m looking for human connection. I’m so irritated that I have to train 50 year old men to relate. Texting is not dating. When I ask my friends if they are dating somebody, inevitably they answer that they are texting a few guys right now, but no… they are NOT dating. Then they roll their eyes. We are stuck in a world where men can’t seem to push that green button to call you, but they want to see pictures of your boobs. I guess that’s why sexting has become so popular. Texting is so boring and uninteresting that you have to spice it up. We live in a bizarre, disconnected world.

I read two articles this morning in my search for whether or not I’m being picky or if this texting thing is really a relationship-killer. EHarmony agrees and suggests that people draw boundaries on texters. And, even Evan Katz urges women to teach mean to call instead of text. He says that “Texting must be the icing; it can’t be the cake.”  There is a magic that happens between a man and a woman when they lock eyes. Even a phone call provides a sexy voice, a laugh and a hint of a smile. Why aren’t men hungry for that anymore? I know I’m starving for it.

Fifty Shades of Valentines

IMG_0942.JPG-1

In Boston today…

I’ve had 54 Valentine’s Days in my life. When I think back to the little girl Valentine’s Days, I remember Valentine’s Day with fond memories. Daddy would get us little red Valentine hearts filled with chocolate candies. I felt like such a big girl with a miniature of the giant chocolate heart he’d give to Momma. Schooldays were parties with cupcakes and those little paper valentines that you’d buy by the box. I remember being a bit confused about whether a valentine suggested romance while I was giving those cards to everybody in my class. As I got older, I got a few romantic valentines from boys, but never very many. I felt pretty unappreciated by the male gender most of my high school years. And Valentine’s Day became fraught with messages of rejection and unworthiness after I hit puberty.

When I was married, my husbands vacillated between honoring Valentine’s Day and grappling with the expectations of it all. I always wanted to celebrate it just because it was fun, but honestly sometimes it felt disingenuous to proclaim someone my Valentine when our relationship was so distant or rocky. I’m sure there are a few years that I’ve enjoyed Valentine’s Day, but none really stick out in my memory. I got engaged to my second husband on Valentine’s Day in a beautiful restaurant at a winery in Southwest Michigan. It was fun and romantic until he refused to set a date and became evasive about the whole marriage piece the next morning. I was confused once more about a valentine and conflicted over Valentine’s Day.

Yesterday, I had to shoot down two rather aggressive advances from married men. The more often that happens, the less safe I feel about relationships. My walls go up, my trust goes down, and my faith in men plummets. Even the most seemingly devoted husbands can sometimes have issues that cause them to look elsewhere. And holidays – especially Valentine’s Day – can bring out the worst desperation. During my marriages, the question I found myself grappling with most often was Can I want what I have?.  As a single woman, I most often find myself floundering with the question Can I have what I want? And I find neither question less painful than the other. They both seem impossible to rectify and totally uncontrollable.

I’ve been divorced seven years as of this January. I thought that I was over the experience of that marriage, but it haunts me all the time. It’s not the man … or even that marriage .. that haunts me. It’s the fear that I can’t judge a relationship well enough to know if it’s safe or the even more intolerable fear that no relationship is safe. My heart is wrapped in ice, and I can’t tell if the winter will ever be over so it can thaw. The conditions feel so dangerous out there.

My friend Nancy is a server in a cafe in Southwest Michigan. It’s February, and the weather was abysmal yesterday. Windchills dropped to 25 degrees below zero and accompanied white-out conditions. She said it was kind of amazing last night how couples showed up despite the horrible weather. Women dressed to the nines in their red dresses and heels trudged through the muck and the snow for an evening with their sweetheart. Literally every time the door opened, the wind would almost blow it off its hinges. But, still the darlings celebrating Valentine’s Day were determined to make this evening count. Her description made me long for the snow and the cold in Michigan. There was something about the effort required to live life normally during the winter that brought out the best in me. There was a sense of accomplishment in defying the bitter cold to be a human being.

I want the winter of my heart to be over. But, maybe that’s not the task set before me. Nancy has many more months before the tulips will bloom, and she can put her mittens away. The tulip poplars are already in bloom here, and I spotted a vine of morning glories blossoming on my walk this morning. It’s warm here, but I still feel frozen. Perhaps the task is for me to accept the nasty weather that is outside in the world of love, shrug off the evidence of rampant infidelity and hurt, scale the walls of my paralyzing fear and thaw out my heart by the flickering fire of hope. Today, it seems so much easier to just stay inside where it’s warm and cozy.

My southern-bred Momma remarked yesterday how crazy people were to get out in that weather up north. I laughed and said, “But they live there, Momma. They have to in order to live their lives.” Brrrrr … it just feels so cold out there. Do I trust myself enough to know when it’s too dangerous and when it’s time to bundle up and brave it? It’s another confusing Valentine’s Day. I’d just like a simple little chocolate heart. They are on sale today. Perhaps I’ll get one from my favorite, most consistently loving valentine… Me. That’s one way to tip-toe out into the cold.

Paying the Price of Admission: Relationships

IMG_9450

I’m a little discombobulated about what I’d like to write about today. I have a couple of of things I’m tossing around but not much feels good. I actually slept until 8 AM this morning, something that is rare for me. It makes me a little lazy when I sleep that late. It’s not like I got major sleep because I didn’t get to bed until 11:30 or so, but I did get a full 8 hours. Yesterday was cool. I never really got too overheated, and I really think that helped. I forgot to take my Chinese herbs, and I had some matcha yesterday afternoon. I really thought I’d have trouble sleeping last night, but I didn’t. I slept like a baby.

I walked Ashok at 8ish, and I was so disgusted with the heat, the mud and the sticky humidity that I decided to pack up and take Ashok to Bay St. Louis. I have no idea what we’ll do here today, but I just want to feel a little breeze, dip my toes in the bay and relax a little. Last night’s game was fun, but it rained on and off the whole time. I sloshed around in mud and water at the tailgate party. When I got home, my yard was so muddy that I had mud between my sandaled toes. I couldn’t bare a whole day of either being holed up inside due to the heat or traipsing around in swamp-like conditions. Ashok yesterday jumped 2 feet in the air when I asked her if she wanted to go for a ride with me. She’s as stir crazy as I am.

I’m already sweating in the shade. But at least the breeze is blowing. There’s a party next to me calling each other drunk b*stards and talking about their party they went to last night. Someone else was talking on the phone cursing her head off. For some reason, it’s bothering me even though I tend to have a mouth like a sailor sometimes too. I drew the Dog Medicine Card this morning. Dog Medicine is about loyalty and service.

IMG_9452

Dog medicine is the quality that dogs carry when they honor their masters by pleasing them. Along with the service mentality, they also bring protective energy. The card asks me to consider in what ways I have not been true to my own goals and personal truth. It further asks me to consider if there is someone that has been trying to be my friend, and I’ve denied or ignored them. Or has my loyalty to someone been impacted by the gossip or opinions of others. Interesting questions … all of which have some relevance to me today. But, all I can seem to focus on is the number of ‘f*cks’ that are coming out of the mouths of my neighbors. In addition, they seem to be a bunch of drunks and smokers who tied one on last night to the extent that they are afraid to go in the coffee shop. Oh, yeah …. and they’re runners. Anyway, I digress. And, blessedly, they are leaving to go smoke. Thank God for small favors.

My sister-in-law Laura posted this link on my Facebook page this morning, and she asked what I thought:

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/08/28/the-price-of-admission-dan-savage/

I think he’s dead on. I think to be in a long-term relationship, you absolutely have to look away and accept the annoying things that your partner does. I’ve never believed there was ‘one’ for me. I’ve always believed that I had many possibilities based on what I wanted to tolerate and invest. I know people think that divorced people don’t know how to tolerate differences, or they somehow are selfish in that they don’t. I see people post about it all the time on Facebook. It always irritates me, too. Divorce is a choice in this country whether your religion or your belief system likes it or not. I got married twice – and this article is not mentioning marriage because the speaker is gay man in a committed relationship – and both times I made the decision to tolerate my partner’s quirks. I wanted to be in a relationship, and I knew that was part of the deal. It was – like the dog – a part of the loyalty equation. I love what he says about ‘paying the price of admission’. I was willing to ‘pay the price of admission’ in order to have a relationship.

IMG_9449

When the price got too high for me, I had to re-evaluate what I was paying for. That was where the protection of my personal truth and the pursuit of my own dreams and goals surfaced. When the price got too high, I quit paying. There’s a lot of opinion that this is morally ‘wrong’, and maybe it is. I don’t see it that way. In fact, I’ve begun to question the institution of marriage to a certain degree. When you enter into it, you have no idea what you are getting into. In my own experience, I only knew a tiny bit of what I was ‘paying for’. Some of my married friends tell me I need to quit being so picky. They assure me that I won’t find anybody that’s perfect. I’ve been married twice. Do you really think I don’t get it? I was married once for 11 years and the second time for 6. I get that a husband won’t be perfect. But, I don’t know that I’m willing to ‘pay the price of admission’ anymore. From what I’ve experienced, it’s too costly to me. I would be willing to ‘pay the price of admission’ if I met someone that was less costly than I had in the past. It may be the only area of my life where I’m really frugal. Maybe going bankruptcy is a good driver of frugality.

As I talk to friends who end relationships, I always hear them say that they knew early on that there were problems. “I just looked the other way,” they might add. Or, they say they thought he/she would be different. Often, they spent less time getting to know their partner than they would training for a 5K. That seems like a short time to shop for something that may last your entire life. I made that mistake more than once. I don’t know what I don’t know. I remember complaining to a relative about a guy I was engaged to, and she told me that I needed to accept somebody the way they were if I was going to be in a relationship. I knew a relationship was important to me, so I took her advice and started ‘paying the price of admission.’ When it all fell apart, all of my family members one by one told me that were concerned about my being in relationship with this guy. I was really confused.  I had no idea what I was supposed to accept and and what I wasn’t. Where do you draw the line? I know now where I draw the line, but I hated having to learn it through experience.

When my friends tell me I’m being too picky now, I try to ignore them unless I asked for their advice. Unless I want what they have, their advice is irrelevant. We each know how much of a price we’ll pay, and I’m much more frugal about it. One person is willing to dole out their money for a Mercedes and another person just wants an old beater because they don’t value their vehicles that much. Neither are wrong. It’s their money. They get to decide what is worth spending their money on.

The other issue that Savage mentions is the fact that we don’t really see people as they are in the beginning of a relationship. I would add that we don’t want to see it either. It’s so fun, and the hormones are flowing. We want it to be this way forever. We focus tightly on the good things and the things we have in common, and we miss a lot of what we need to be seeing. Last night at the game, the Lions came running out on the field like they always do, and it was quite the show. Later in the evening, my friend Gretchen commented that they didn’t use the smoke in the ‘runout’ for some reason. I looked at her and then showed her the picture.

IMG_9427

When we are intently focusing on one thing, we often overlook or don’t even see other things. So, we ‘pay a price for admission’ based on a fallacy. A year later we are wondering what the hell we were thinking. The problem is with marriage there’s no easy way out if the ‘price of admission’ is higher than you are able to pay. I wish that all grown-up issues were as simple as leaving the mayonnaise out on the counter or chewing with your mouth open. I’m not that frugal, but I guess right now, I’m not willing to dole out a lot for a relationship. I want to shop a lot longer and really know what it is I’m buying. My soul is a high price to pay, and I used to easily give it up just to be paired up. Maybe with time, I’ll be willing to ‘pay’ a little more. Maybe not. Either way, It’s my decision.

The Latest Flame Starter: Tinder

Screenshot 2014-04-29 19.29.10

My friend Jessica told me that she’d started online dating on the app Tinder. I’d never heard of it. I promptly forgot about it because it sounded a bit like a hook-up app or something. So, when I got ready to start perusing the available specimens of the opposite sex, I went back to Match.com. I don’t know why I keep going back there except that it’s like the mainstream grocery store. There’s nothing decent there, but there’s a lot of it, and it’s cheap. Two weeks into it, I’m ready to stop again. I met one guy who was infatuated with me the moment he saw my profile and didn’t even take the chance to get to know me. In less than a week’s time, his flame seemed to have burned out. I imagine when you don’t have any knowledge of the person you are enamored with, there’s not much staying power. The rest have been incompatible to say the least.

Ugh …. I get so sick of it. I have a friend in Michigan who is trying online dating again, and we email each other about the sheer boredom of it all. I read the profiles, and you’d think from the way they talk about themselves they all have their lives together. Some even say they have no baggage. Really? At 50 something? How about denial, pal … that’s baggage. Or, there’s some that are so angry and bitter that their profile is a laundry list of things they don’t want. “If you have an ex that you can’t seem to quit sleeping with, please pass me by….. I’m not interested in raising your kids …. If you have a lot of drama in your life, I’m not interested.”  I get so tired of reading them. Then there are the ones that write a novel about what they are looking for … sort of an epic love story that is lacking one essential piece – the woman. But, they are ready! They know how it’s all going to unfold. I scroll and scroll….. good heavens... give me some substance, dude.

Tinder’s Intro Video

So, I’m at the point again that I’m sick of Match. Today I thought I’d just check out this Tinder thing. Except I couldn’t remember the name of it. I searched for Timber. I don’t know why “dead wood” would be a good name for a dating app, but that’s what stuck in my mind. I couldn’t find Timber. I finally searched for ‘dating apps’, and Tinder came right up. I downloaded it, and, in minutes, I was scrolling through pictures of men my age. It’s simpler than Match. You can do a little short profile if you want, but you only have a couple of sentences. It’s tied to Facebook, so you have to have a Facebook account to play. It’s really very shallow. A picture comes up, and you swipe left if you don’t like them and right if you do. It’s like shopping for melons …. except it’s men. It’s all based on looks. And if you swipe right on him, and he swipes right on you, you get to chat. If you …. or he … swipes left, you’ll never see each other again. You can tell if you have any mutual Facebook friends and if you “like” some of the same pages, but that’s it. The rest is whether you like their looks or not.

This is what I like about it. It’s actually more like real life. When you go out somewhere, you don’t just walk over to anybody and start finding out what they want in life. You figure out if you like their looks, and then you go over to meet them. You actually have no idea who they are or what they are looking for or even if they are really single. Of course, I could argue that the other dating sites are the same way because almost everybody lies whether they intend to or not. But, with Tinder, you know it’s a crap shoot. It’s like being in a bar without having to get dressed.

Right now, I’m texting with a restaurant manager from New Orleans about the music scene in Memphis. I met another guy who is a landscaper today. We’re just texting. I suppose if we get to know each other a little and want to meet up, we can. But, it’s kind of fun. And, for some reason, with this I don’t have this expectation that they are looking for something nor do I have any expectations. For all I know, he’s looking for something totally different than I am, and I don’t care right now. I like the lack of information. With Match, there always seems to be this expectation that we’re going to start dating. With the last guy, it was like he wanted to jump right from hello into a relationship. I can’t do that. I have a life, and I want to get to know somebody slowly over time. I’ve figured out that the 3 month mark is a big marker for when people show who they really are. After about 3 months, the facade starts to fall away. This time around, I’m going to hold my heart back until I’ve known somebody for a period of time. Then, if they are somebody worth being with, I’ll quit guarding my heart. Until then, they are FRIENDS. I know … the best laid plans… but that’s my intention.

So, I’m going to finish my conversation with Mr. Metairie, and I’m heading to bed to read. I texted Jessica and told her I like Tinder so far. She said she’s had good experiences with it, and it’s kind of addicting to “shop” on an app. She’s met a few guys on there. She asked about my guy who was in love with me last week, and I told her I got a Dear John letter on Monday. “A what?” she asked. The generation gap may not impact the way we date, but it does impact communication at times. I told her I was so sick of people who won’t even take the time to get to know who I am that I’m going to start hooking up with complete strangers on Tinder.  “Yep,” she texted. “There’s an app for everything.”

 

Dousing the Fire with Text

text5

Note: Some of these text exchanges are R-rated due to explicit language.

I’ve recently had a few potential romantic relationships fizzle and die out because of the inability of us to move beyond text as a primary form of communication. It is the most frustrating thing I’ve ever experienced – this crutch of texting in new relationships. With one guy, I even told him that if we wanted to move to the next level, we had to talk on the phone more so we could get to know each other. I was very specific that the texting had to be diminished. This particular technology seems to have ruined dating and set up roadblocks to getting to know someone.

There is a magic that happens between a man and a woman. Experts try to de-mystify the magic of attraction (see this article), but, honestly, we don’t have any sure-fire way to predict who will spark that flame that causes our hearts to pound and our palms to get sweaty. If we knew that, dating online would be easy. We could just type in our own special “recipe” and find him or her. Some of the strongest attractions I’ve had in my life were with people that I didn’t want to be attracted to. If I could have controlled it, I would have said no…not this one. And, since I wasn’t really interested initially, I didn’t seek out time with them. We were thrown together on a project, a team, with mutual friends or a job. I generally didn’t put up any defenses because they weren’t my type, and I wasn’t interested. But, gradually…. day by day … something started grabbing my attention. It may have been his intelligence… his wit … his stubbornness … or the twinkle in his eye when he looked at me. It could have been something else mysterious and under the surface. I don’t know. I just know that once those flames start, it is impossible to put them out without a Herculean effort. That is the magic of attraction… and the super-human strength of it.

Real-Bad-Autocorrect

The problem with texting is that the magic doesn’t have a chance to happen. With texting – especially if you don’t know each other yet – you make up what the other person is thinking. Even with people I know really well, we misunderstand each other on text. I have to remind myself of the nature of the person before I go off half-cocked with my imagination of what I think they meant. But, with somebody I don’t know, I don’t have any background to tell me who this person really is and what they might mean. I just make it up depending on whether I have a good feeling about them or not. And, since there is no personal interaction or exchange of energy going on, the fire really never has a chance to ignite. It’s like trying to light a campfire by lighting a match on the other side of the campground and wishing it would light. You have to put the male and female in close enough proximity for combustion.

Some of my strongest surprise attractions have been at work. I love teamwork, and intelligence and creativity are big attractors for me. When I start having fun at work, and I start to see how a man solves problems, engages others and enjoys what he’s doing, it’s a big turn-on. And, of course, when I start getting attracted -my pilot light gets lit – I turn into a pretty fun girl. If he’s attracted to somebody like me, it can turn into a really fun time, and the proximity helps to keep us engaged enough to stoke the fire. But, for the attraction to build, it has to have closeness, time in the game and a spark. I’ve been strongly attracted to some men in those types of situations that I would have thought were totally not my type. There’s just no rhyme or reason for it.

large

A friend of mine wanted to introduce me to a friend of hers awhile back. She lives in another state, so we couldn’t be introduced in person. I told her she was welcome to give him my number, and he started texting me. I ended up getting irritated with him because it seemed like he was making fun of me. I texted her and asked her what she thought we had in common because so far he seemed to not like me at all. She was horrified that this 50-something professional was texting me instead of calling me. I told her that seemed to be par for the course these days. They are just too lazy or scared or disinterested to pick up the phone. I ended up telling him I didn’t think we had anything in common before I ever even heard his voice. He’s already ticked me off. Who knows? He could have been the man of my dreams if we’d had an opportunity to go out for a hike, planted a garden or played tennis. We’ll never know because he couldn’t or wouldn’t dial the phone. One of my younger friends asked me if I would call him. Absolutely not…. if he’d called me a couple of times, maybe I would. But, if he doesn’t have the kahunas or the interest to call me to hear my voice, then I’m not interested. Remember, I’m attracted to a man’s wit, intelligence, ability to solve problems and stubbornness. A relentless texter doesn’t show me any of those things.

cockroach

There are certain forms of technology that help dating. The cell phone keeps us more available. Let’s face it, if I could only answer the phone when I was home, you’d have a hard time catching me. Online dating opens up options for romantic partners across miles and by bypassing the need to run into each other. Skype and FaceTime allow you to talk almost “in person” whether you are down the street or on another continent. But, texting does nothing to spark the magic of attraction. In fact, I’d argue that it causes more relationships to fizzle before they ever get started than it helps.

Texting is helpful for short conversations or making dates but only if there is more phone and face time than there is texting. If they only want to text, my attraction starts to die pretty quickly. And, if the communication stays at texting, I don’t feel anything build inside me. I can’t help it. I want the magic of being in a man’s space and feeling the energy that goes back and forth between the sexes. It’s a physical and emotional thing that I can only tap in person. There’s just something about it that gets me all hot and bothered. It’s magical. It’s mysterious.

1391-fu

A friend of mine told me the other day that he just wanted to feel that crazy excitement of teenage love again. I thought it was a teenage thing until I experienced it in my 40s. I remember how shocked I was when it happened with my second husband. My heart starts beating when I hear that person’s name or see them walk across the room. My palms get sweaty when I’m talking to them. I lock eyes with them, and my brain goes fuzzy. When we talk, we can’t quit talking. We literally can’t hang up the phone. When we are not together, I can think of nothing but them. Time slows down painfully when we’re not together. It’s like there’s a magnetic attraction between the two of us, and everything they say and do is fascinating. When I look at them, the rest of the world fades away. It’s exciting. It’s not a teenage thing. Yes, it’s hormonal, but it’s also something that doesn’t happen when you text. You have to be in the same space. You have to hear their voice and engage in conversation. You have to dance the dance. Has everybody forgotten that? I’m with my friend. I want that again. Yes, it may be disappointing if I spend time with somebody and it doesn’t happen, but it will be so worth it when it does. I’d be willing to stop texting for that.

The Trapping of the Rebound

8fe96bb1af285fd08ee9de0d321f4837

I married my second husband when he was on the rebound. He had been separated for about a year and a half but was not divorced yet. He didn’t tell me this in the beginning. He let me think he was divorced, and, by the time he came clean, my heart was already involved. I let it slide because he swore he was ready to move on. I, in may naivete, believed that he could separate the divorce from his feelings for me.

There were lots of other problems in this relationship, but, in hindsight, I think the most significant one was that he had been in a very long marriage, and he replaced his wife with me. I represented something very different than what she was. The attraction was intense, and, by the time he finally divorced, we were living together and got married shortly after. I replay lots of things from that marriage, but the one I replay the most and regret the most was that I was in too much of a rush to make it legit.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about dating on Match.com. There are a lot of people on there who are separated. He explained that in Louisiana there is – or was – a law that you had to be legally separated a year before getting divorced. He’s dated a few who were separated, but he, too, felt a little uncomfortable with it. His biggest concern was getting involved with someone who was not “done” with an ex and would break his heart by going back to him. That is a fear of mine, too, but I’ve found that there is a much worse fate than that. I lived it. I never want to be someone’s rebound again and make it worse by marrying them.

After a short time of being married, he got afraid. He did not articulate it until much later in the relationship, but it was very obvious that he was running from me. He had just lassoed himself to me, and, even though he loved me, he had never taken the time to consider what he wanted for his life… or a wife. Marriage is a lifelong commitment.  We often don’t realize how significant that commitment is until the deed is done, the fiery rush of hormones declines, and we are staring in the mirror in disbelief. It didn’t take long for me to realize what had happened. I had been in the camp like my friend about rebounds. I thought that since he was “done” with his ex, we were free to move forward. I am really sensitive to people’s feelings, especially those I’m close to, and I knew he was pulling away with a vengeance. I also knew it had nothing to do with me. But here I was in a situation I couldn’t do anything about either. It was very scary for both of us.

After my first divorce, I didn’t take time to evaluate what I wanted out of a marriage. I was single 6 years, but I just sowed my wild oats and had a good time. I never really gave marriage much thought. I just figured somebody would come along, and I’d marry again. So, when I met him, I was naive about what I should be looking for and what I wanted. He was fun, and we had fun together. We clicked. When he told me he was “technically” not divorced, I hesitated big time. But, I stopped worrying about it because I didn’t want to lose him. Now, I would never go that route. First of all, I don’t think that God allows the right person to come along when you are in the midst of a divorce. That’s not His style. He’s all about health and healing and love and light. I do believe that, once you are together He can bless that, but it doesn’t mean it was His first plan. The second thing is that I know the pain of divorce all too well. The first time around, I figured this was the way it felt to be divorced from my first husband. What I found the second time around is that the process of healing is the same. He was suffering from the same stuff that I did initially in my divorces. The BIGGEST fear is of being alone. Voila …. here I was….no more fear.

What I know is that when I put aside the fear of being alone and let some time pass, I had time to evaluate my marriage and realize what went wrong. I had time to pull apart what worked and what didn’t. After my first marriage ended, I started dating pretty quickly. After a few dates where I came home and cried my eyes out, I realized I was not ready for dating. It was not fair to them. I quit dating for 3 years. After my second marriage ended, I remembered that. I promised myself I would take a year off dating. I took the year off, and I realized I still wasn’t ready. I took two. Sometimes I think I’m still not ready. I certainly question whether or not I will ever marry again. When I think that my ex dated me seriously and started talking marriage before he was even divorced, I realize what a terrible mistake we made. We didn’t know. But, I realized pretty shortly that he hadn’t had the time he needed to figure out what he wanted. And, after we got married, he started searching for it … in a panic.

Now, I don’t date anyone that’s not a year past their divorce. I’ll be friends, but to me a rebounding man is a hot stove. I’ve had men get mad at me and try to explain that they’ve “technically” been done with their ex for many years. I tell them that it’s not about them. It’s about me and my needs. I only want to date men that have thought about what they want in the context of sanity … and in the midst of divorce, no one is sane; I don’t care how amicable your divorce may be. And, if you are the exception, well …… be the exception. You just won’t be dating me for a year. It can wait. If it’s meant to be, it can wait until I’m comfortable that it’s safe for me to open my heart to you.

Be Unforgettable: The Pursuit of Romance

IMG_4564

One of things that I hate about online dating is that I often have to contact the guys who interest me. It’s not like you are in a coffee shop and can smile at them or go stand by them and ask for some sugar…..the white stuff, silly, I’m not that bold. I hate it because it feels to me like it gets everything out of whack in how I like courtship to go. For me, it has never worked out when I’m the pursuer. I end up always questioning whether or not there is real interest, or if he’s with me just because I’m the warmest body around.

Dating in your 50s can really suck. Now, I never have really dated before. Yes, I met people. I went straight to a relationship, marriage and divorce. I never dated to see what I liked. I never went out just for fun. The idea was to get into a relationship, and I promised myself I’d never do that again. I wanted to know what I like and be picky about it. I’ve had two marriages end in divorce. I was doing something wrong. I don’t know if I’ll ever get married again, but I would like a companion, and I want to be with somebody that is compatible and ….. this is the big thing …. someone that is into me. I was really into my husbands, but neither one seemed into me at all. Yeah, I think it was nice to have me around, and it was fun sometimes, but they weren’t into me like my friend Robbie is into his wife, Jo Ann. I want that. And I’ll stay single until I find it.

I’ve talked to other women about this, and, when a man does not openly acknowledge that they like them, they too feel confused and insecure about the budding relationship. Feminine energy is receptive, and, in the vacuum of masculine energy moving toward us, I think we sort of feel unbalanced. Each of us has our own balance of masculine and feminine energy, so I think we all want different levels of this yin and yang. I’ve gotten to the point that when a man starts with that “come here, go away” stuff, I just shut it down. It does not work for me. It astounds me when I read this advice that men should play hard to get. Really? What kind of woman are you getting when you do that, and do you feel like a man? You are hunters. My generation was taught that you DO NOT call boys. This was not a suggestion. In my household it was a rule. And I didn’t do it…. ever. I still don’t like to do it. I’ll do it if I’m in a relationship, and I feel secure that my call is wanted. But, most of the time, I feel very uncomfortable taking the initiative to call. I much prefer that most of the contact be made by the man.

The problem is that our culture has changed. In many ways  I think women have confused men as to what we want. Yes, we want a man that shares his emotions. We need them to help around the house. Let’s face it. Our roles have changed, too. I know I’ve made the mistake of trying to make my husband into my girlfriend. I needed to have my own girlfriends, and I didn’t do it. It put way too much pressure on him to be everything to me. I’m much more aware now that in order to have a man that is confident in his masculine energy and in his role, I have to let him be a man. And, part of that is letting him come to me.

It is acceptable now to contact a man, and I’ve had many men tell me that they prefer the woman to take the initiative. I’m glad it works for many couples. It probably takes a lot of the angst out of the whole interaction. I just have to be honest and say it doesn’t work for me. My second husband pursued me. It was the first time in my life that ever happened to me. I was blown away by the way it made me feel. I felt sexy and confident and very, very feminine. I didn’t have to give up my more masculine ways at work. It gave me a very good balance. I made the mistake of ONLY looking at that, and I didn’t do due diligence in other areas, but I still think about how that courtship made me feel. My heart will never let go of that man because of how he made me feel.

I wonder if men my age don’t know what to do. Or, since most of them have been in a failed marriage or two, they’ve been wounded by women that didn’t let them or didn’t want them to be men. I also know that some men are shy. And, I know that most men are as terrified of rejection as we are. I can imagine if a man had a combination of these things, it might be hard to step into the flow and pursue a woman. There is also the fine line that they must walk about when to pursue and when to cut bait. I know couples where the man pursued them even when she said she wasn’t interested. But, the attention…. and the man … finally turned their head. I can tell you that those relationships are generally very good….. exceptionally good as a matter of fact.

My friend Gretchen told me that she misses guys that lead …. “almost to the point of heartbreak.” Oh, when she said that, I felt it. I feel that wound so deeply. I remember how I longed for my husband to fight for me … to be FOR ME. With my second husband I had that at one point, and I lost it. I constantly questioned what it was about me that he rejected. It was a pain so deep that I almost didn’t recover. In fact, at times, it still aches. I always questioned whether he loved me or not. I don’t know about other women, but I NEED to feel secure in a man’s love. Otherwise, I’d rather be single. It’s too emotionally taxing to constantly be dealing with my insecurities. I need it like I need water. I tried to maneuver through it in two marriages, and I will never do it again. I know how that movie ends. There’s not enough Kleenex in the world for that again.

My friend Jessica messaged me, and she said she was afraid I wouldn’t like what she had to say. She said she struggles with the fact that she has to initiate contact with men more than she would like. She, like me, has a lot going on, and we’ve both been told that we can be intimidating to men. It makes it really hard, because we don’t get asked out much at all. I know I go to a place where I wonder if I’m somehow not attractive enough, something is wrong with me or I should just be a lesbian because men don’t like me. Again, my insecurities about who I am surface in the absence of a man’s attention. She said she can still remember the one time that a man walked up to her and asked her out for a date with intention. He ended up being her boyfriend for many years. She could remember it as if just happened yesterday. She was standing in the hall at school, and he was coming out of football practice. “He came right up to me, looked me in the eye and said “Hey Jess, will you come to my formal with me?…. I will never forget the way he made me feel by telling me directly and with certainty that he wanted me for his date. ”

I can’t imagine it from the man’s side, but it seems like it would be such a boost of confidence if she says yes. There would be no doubt that she wants to be with him. That’s the problem with all of this texting and hooking up and hanging out and online dating. We don’t get that moment when a man takes a really big risk – and girls know how big a risk it is – and asks for a date. And he doesn’t get the rush when she says yes. It’s such a show of confidence, and, like Jess said, she will never forget it. SHE WILL NEVER FORGET IT. How many moments in life are unforgettable? I don’t want to go to my grave knowing that I missed something unforgettable because I was afraid to make a commitment and go for it.

Jessica’s father told her that she may find that she has to do the initiating because she might be intimidating. He said, “The guy that deserves you may not think he is worthy of you.” Ugh … when she said that, my heart sank. Although I know what I want, and how I want to feel, he is so right. One of the great loves of my life told me that very thing when I asked if he would have pursued me had we not already known each other. “No, probably not,” he told me. “I wouldn’t have thought somebody like you would have been interested in me.” What a waste that would have been. For reasons uncontrollable by us, we didn’t stay together, but he is exactly the kind of man I want. And he did pursue me … with passion … but only after he had an “in”. I have to admit it makes me wonder how many men I have walked by where we missed each other because I didn’t get what I wanted, and he didn’t feel like he could give it to me. I know it’s out there. I just hope I have the damn sense to know what to do when I see it.

And, for you guys …. men .. that see a woman that interests you, don’t let that little voice inside keep you from doing something that you are made to do. If she doesn’t appreciate the effort it takes to ask her out, she’s either not for you or she’s just a shallow person who doesn’t get it, and you may as well know it right off the bat. But, if she says yes, it could be unforgettable. Don’t we all want that …. to be unforgettable?