Tag Archives: sex

breakups are harder on men? who knew?

While reading my Glamour magazine recently,

Blogger’s Note:  I receive Glamour magazine because when my favorite interior design magazine was cancelled last year, the publishing company decided to fulfill my remaining subscription with Glamour.  I have no idea what demographics they were relying on when they made that assignment. I am certain that I am 20 years outside their target audience.  I read it rather than throwing it away because I like a good, trashy dose of brain fluff once-in-a-while.  Anyway, back to the point of this sentence….

I came across an article titled “Why Breakups are Harder on Men than on Women.”

SERIOUSLY?! This I just had to read.  But only after scoffing audibly while instantaneously calling to memory the countless hours I’ve spent crying and thrashing and eating ice cream and drinking wine (sometimes all at the same time) after my own breakups.

Now, if you’ve followed me for any length of time at all, you know I’m a huge, shameless fan of little relationship factoids.  I collect them the way some of my guy friends collect sports statistics.  In my quest to do better with relationships post-divorce, I devour and regurgitate relationship research constantly.  My friends are abundantly patient with me, and I think some of them actually find this stuff interesting, too. But I’ll admit that when I discover some new little factoid that I’ve never heard before, I get a little giddy, kind of like when Separated Dad calls me to wax lyrical about the iPhone 5’s new features.

So, I set aside my skepticism (okay, some of my skepticism) and proceeded to discover why breakups are harder on men.

For those of you without the time or inclination to read the whole article (men should probably avoid the part about why size matters…), here’s the relevant part:

“Sex releases bonding chemicals oxytocin and vasopressin into female and male brains, and it’s vasopressin that helps a man bond with you. For an animal-kingdom example, consider the usually monogamous male prairie vole, a cute little mouselike creature. Larry and his colleagues discovered that without the vasopressin effect, the vole would turn into a promiscuous cad. No vasopressin effect, no monogamy. When a human male is under the influence of vasopressin, as all are during sex, he forms a bond with you that’s kind of like an animal claiming a home; your scent, your eye color, even your apartment all become cues that make him crave you. Another animal example: If you give a male hamster a shot of vasopressin to the brain, he’ll run around peeing like crazy to mark territory—that’s his place, nobody else’s. Release a guy’s vasopressin by having sex with him, and he’ll unconsciously start to view you as the territory he’s bonded to. You don’t have to like it, but this is where much of that famous male possessiveness comes from.”

The idea then follows that when the man goes through a breakup, he loses not only his girlfriend, but his whole sense of “home.”  Apparently, the bonding chemicals affect females differently, causing us to nurture, rather than protect, our mates, so the breakup affects us differently, too.

Hmmmm….

A couple of things jumped out at me from this description, beyond the fascinating science.  One was the author’s use of the word “crave” to describe a man’s attraction to his woman.  I’ve often used that word in my own head when thinking about how some men seem to truly need that sexual –rather than simply some other physical — connection with me.  I’ve often wondered if their need of me went beyond satisfying some basic urge like hunger.

I also had to acknowledge the male possessiveness thing.  Almost without exception, the men that I perceived having the strongest sexual attraction to me were also the men who were the most possessive.  I had never, ever linked the two until reading this article, but for me, at least, it’s true.  I’m not exactly sure what that means.  Naturally higher vasopressin levels on their part?  Something in me that triggered more release of vasopressin during sex? I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter.  But I find it intriguing.

But above all, I was captured by his use of the word “home” to describe how the man attaches to his mate.  I have noticed that men — in songs, poetry, and Hollywood declarations of love — frequently invoke this sense of a woman as “home,” but, to be truthful, I’ve never really understood it.  From my female perspective, some men have felt more comfortable or comforting or safe to me than others, but I don’t think I’ve ever described someone as feeling like “home,” nor have I ever heard any woman of my acquaintance do so.  This is very curious to me, since women are supposedly hard-wired to nest, to create a home, to want to feel “at home.”  And yet we don’t seem to invoke that lingo about our partners.  Men, on the other hand, are “kings of their castles” and “masters of their domains,” but hardly ever talk about seeking a home or creating a home or whatever.  And yet, when reaching for a word to describe their soulmate, they settle on “home.”  So now I wonder:  is that because, for a man, “home” is wherever his woman is?  Does he not seek to create a home so much as to find one in a mate? Does her scent, her hair, her possessions become that home for him?  If so, that is a positively lovely and precious and wonderful thing.  And if it means that he hurts more when it’s over, then that is sad, to be sure.  But also kind of wondrous.

Advertisements

10 Comments

Filed under dating, divorce, love, relationships, sex, single mom

how well do you know your vagina?

Even before I start, let me say that I can only imagine how many hits this post will receive, given that any post that even remotely touches on sex always skyrockets to the top of my ratings and claims the top spot for far longer than it generally deserves. But since we’re all (mostly) mature adults, I will continue…

When I was 21-years-old and living in England, I was on my lunch break one afternoon and alone in the office.  As I was leafing through some British version of Glamour or Cosmo or a faux Mademoiselle, I turned the page and was confronted with a double-page spread of vagina mugshots. One hundread to be exact. One hundred thumbnail photos of other women’s vaginas, all lined up neatly next to each other under the title “How Well Do You Know Your Vagina?” My jaw literally dropped. I turned the page quickly, but I couldn’t help but be intrigued. I snuck a peek back at the vaginal mugshots and proceeded to lose the better part of the afternoon learning more than any middle school health class had ever taught me about vaginas.

It was like intellectual porn, really.

There were lots of fun facts and figures (none of which I remember now), and all kinds of historical details about chastity belts and venereal diseases and the like. But the section that really arrested my attention that hot summer’s day was the part of the article that discussed how unique vaginas were and how very few of the 100 women pictured on the preceding pages could correctly pick out her own from the line-up. The magazine article lamented the fact and credited it to the repression of female sexuality.

At that, I looked up and wondered… Could that possibly be true? Of course we could pick out vaginas, right? We’d know our hands in a second. Our lips. Probably even our ears. And vaginas are at least as important as those, right? But then it dawned on me. I hadn’t ever really seen mine. Not really. Not the way it looked in the mugshots – the full-on, legs-spread version. And if I really thought about it, it had never occurred to me that they would all look so different. I figured they were mostly the same, perhaps with some minor variations, like a knee or an elbow.

Now, being that I was a young woman determined not to be sexually repressed, I was aghast. But I reassured myself what I was in the clear majority, according to the article. And actually (I triumphantly reminded myself!) as an American, I was probably in an even greater majority in my home country, given that we Americans hold the dubious honor of being the most sexually repressed Anglo society. So there!

But it still bothered me.

A few nights later, over Indian curry with some girl friends, I mentioned the article and asked them nonchalantly if they thought the statistics cited were surprising.

Girlfriend #1: That’s bollocks. Some twit who’s never seen her vagina wrote that article to justify her own prudishness.

GF #2: Agreed. It’s rubbish if you ask me I mean, who HASN’T seen theirs?

<general scoffing around the table as I took a quick bite of Naan and changed the subject>

Well, you can bet that I got very well-acquainted with a small compact mirror and my own pink parts later that night. Like hell was I going to be the only one of our acquaintance who couldn’t pick her vajayjay out of a line-up, should the need ever arise.

I had forgotten about that magazine article until recently. One morning I woke up, rolled over, grabbed my iPhone and opened my email to find this photo:

Credit: Elephant Journal. http://www.elephantjournal.com

It was attached to a story in one of my favorite online journals – Elephant Journal – about the latest craze in cosmetic surgery: vaginal reconstruction known as vaginoplasty. What?! I had never heard of this! Yet again, I was behind the proverbial eight-ball as far as vaginas were concerned!

You can read the article yourself here, but the nutshell version is this: women across the country are paying between $10,000-15,000 for designer vaginas. Apparently, the most desirable vagina is one with thick, full outer lips (or labia majora, if you’re the clinical sort) and small, tight inner lips (or labia minora). So, apparently, not all vaginas are created equally beautiful; someone, somewhere decided that there is a particular standard of vaginal beauty, and this is it.

Huh.

Okay, so maybe I should have been comforted and found some way of peacocking my privates around town a la Britney Spears, but instead I was just dumbfounded and more than a little appalled. I mean, really… is this what we’ve come to? We’re now judging and classifying women by the most private piece of our anatomy? Pitting us against each other – yet again! — in the continued, futile competition to be the perfect woman? How sad is that?

First I wondered whom decided on the ideal standard? The article indicates that this “perfect” vagina strongly resembles the standard exhibited by the ladies of the porn industry. After a moment’s confusion, I realized that this makes perfect sense. Women are watching porn in ever greater numbers – porn that is created by and mostly for men. And, for most women, it is our only real opportunity to see a vagina other than our own up close. So it stands to reason that more porn watching by women would result in a female curiousity about what other women look like down there and what men might prefer.

The next logical question is why would the male porn executives (do you suppose it says that on their business cards? “John Smith, Porn Executive”) favor this particular look over some other? Beauty, we know, is a standard that is (thankfully) forever changing to some extent. But, as study after study shows, within cultures, at any fixed time, there are very strong and consistent ideas of female beauty, and many of those ideas are rooted in biological drives of which we aren’t even aware. Large breasts suggest a nursing (and therefore) fertile woman. Same goes for a high waist to hips ratio. So, no surprise to discover that the porn pussy resembles a healthy, fertile young woman’s vagina. From older friends who speak plainly about these things, I have learned that as we age, and particularly as we go through menopause and lose estrogen, the inner and outer lips of our vaginas lose their fullness and elasticity, becoming elongated and darker. Therefore, vaginas that seem to resemble those characteristics of a post-menopausal woman (even in very young, nubile women) may be subconsciously associated with older, less fertile women.

So, yes, it appears that men (speaking very broadly here), might have a preference for a particular “look” in vaginas. This is not entirely news to me. Having a very curious nature and no real filter for probing questions with my male friends and lovers, I have conducted, over the years, my own informal survey of male preference of intimate female body parts like nipples and vaginas. And my highly unscientific survey supports the idea that there are, indeed, some very broad preferences.

Okay, so that’s the science (including my own, less-than-sound brand), but here’s how I think it works in real life: most men are simply happy to be given access to the castle. The location and structure of the moats and turrents are really quite unimportant in the grand scheme of things. As the Elephant Journal article makes plain, just because men may have a preference doesn’t mean that that preference will determine (or even influence!) their decisions about dating or having sex with a particular woman. One man even told me about how his ex had such long and protruding inner lips on her vagina that she would have to carefully tuck them into a bikini bottom. My mind boggled at this, and while he acknowledged that it was certainly not his favorite part of her anatomy, he’d been very attracted to her and loved her very much. So, bottom line, yes, he noticed, and no, it didn’t really matter. Was he relieved to discover I was built differently? Yes, but he definitely wasn’t dating me for my vagina any more than he’d left her because of hers.

I think the appearance and character of intimate female parts is, for men, probably similar to penis size and shape for women. Do we notice? Absolutely. But excepting the extreme ends of the spectrum, it doesn’t influence how we feel about the guy we’re with. Like eyes and hands and smiles, it may be – or not – something that we particularly like about our man.

So why are women spending so much money to get a designer vagina then? Typically I try to refrain from judging other women for their cosmetic surgery choices. Having not lived in their shoes, with their experiences, I do not feel qualified to cast a verdict on the wisdom of their nose job or breast augmentation. And, should I choose to have anything done to alter my body, I would not want other women weighing in with their opinions.

But.

TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS?!?! Seriously, people?

The breast thing, the nose job, the tummy tuck, the liposuction, the chin implant… I get it. Honestly, I do. This, I do not, though. While I can recognize that perhaps I have never encountered the unique humiliation of disrobing and being concerned about the appearance of my vajayjay, I still have to imagine that – not to be a broken record – but ultimately it doesn’t matter. Is there a man (or woman, for that matter) out there who stopped sleeping with a woman because he didn’t like the look of her vagina? Perhaps, but I’m really doubtful on this one.

But then I have to wonder if the male reactions are subtle and the guys valiant in their efforts to conceal some element of surprise or disappointment, and I cannot imagine how much that would surely suck.  I suspect that the ex with the protruding lips must have received some less than favorable reviews at some point in her life… enough for her to ask the man I know whether they bothered him. So, obviously, there was some uncertainty or insecurity there. That I get. That I understand. And that I wholeheartedly sympathize with. Given the extremely long list of things that women worry about as we disrobe for the first time, adding something that intimate (and heretofore unchangeable) to the list is just a crying shame.  Ugh!

Finally, I wonder at our choice in idol. Why, again, are we making ourselves over to look like porn stars? Are the women getting this cosmetic vaginal surgery the same ones who are getting the double F cup size on purpose? Or are these women who are otherwise just like me and have decided that they need a porn pussy to be pretty? Usually major beauty definition shifts are credited to bona fide celebrities (See Cindy Crawford for curvy models and Angelia Jolie for full lips). But in this case, we’re talking about emulating young women who’s biggest achievement thus far has been to star in a porn movie under a fake name that would likely make her father put a bullet in his head. I don’t really get it.

But I guess it’s the only model women have at this point. Until more female celebrities start following Britney’s lead and allowing us all a glimpse at their vajayjays, we can only go with what we can see, I suppose. Still, it seems a shame. I’m sure amongst the top 50 female celebrities, the variety of vaginal types would be quite diverse. By revealing themselves that way, they could likely set at ease millions of women nationwide and stop all this ridiculousness before it goes any further. But I don’t expect to see Jennifer Aniston opening her legs for Cosmo anytime soon.

Now that I think of it, if the female celebrities do decide to take a stand for vaginal beauty, I think that all their male counterparts should disrobe publicly as well. Just as a show of solidarity, of course. Definitely not because I’m curious and like seeing hot men naked. I’m just sayin’.

14 Comments

Filed under dating, relationships, sex

thomas murray, epilogue

I have been waiting to write this post until the sad missives stopped arriving, and I believe that day has finally come.  The stream of emails to my inbox from hurt or deceived women has ceased.  Jenni is healing and has moved on.  Our blogging community proved itself capable of surrounding and protecting our own.  Thomas Murray, and all his ridiculous, self-aggrandizing attempts at dazzling (and possibly victimizing) women searching for their heart’s love, is a pathetic chapter I will be glad to close.

But not without some final words.

Sometime ago I received an email from a woman I will call “Kay.”  I am choosing to relate her story here because it demonstrates that Thomas’ approaches and avenues are varied and adaptable.  Kay, like a lot of women, found my Thomas Murray posts through a Facebook friend who had also had dealings with Thomas at some point in the past. (Is it just me or are there an exhausting number of such women?!  How in God’s name does he keep track? I’m envisioning a massive Excel spreadsheet…)

But I digress.

Thomas contacted Kay via Yahoo Personals sometime in 2006, using an alias of “Noah.”  She was living in Texas; he in Oklahoma.  She had no idea he was married, and they began “a whirlwind romance.”  She shared some of his loving and romantic phrases with me, and they were easily recognizable as his trademark “love bombing” technique.  (One of my commentators coined that term and, frankly, I freaking love it.  Makes me smile every time….)  According to Noah/Thomas, he was divorced, with two sons, and his ex-wife worked for his mother in their family-owned cosmetic import/export business dealing with high-end department store cosmetic brands. [Note to liars:  pick something you know something about.  There is no import/export business for department store cosmetics.]

Fortunately for Kay, the “in-person” portion of their romance was abruptly interrupted when he told her that his company was relocating him to the Middle East to “stop bad people from doing bad things.”  (Btw, I’m laughing so hard right now I can barely type.  Oh, Thomas, you are nothing if not entertaining!)  They tried to stay in touch, but Kay decided that the relationship didn’t have enough to keep it going.  They agreed to be friends and that seemed to be the end of it.

Reality check:  Sometime in late 2006 or early 2007, Thomas and his family relocated to the Virgin Islands, where they purchased the small resort building that they currently own and manage.  So, unless the Iraqis surreptitiously invaded St. Thomas without the U.S. press or government noticing, it’s a pretty sure bet that he moved to paradise and not a war zone.  But more on his war zone activities later…

Fast forward to 2011: Kay and Thomas stayed occasional email friends over the years, until last spring, when their emails increased in frequency.  Kay reports that Thomas had dramatically changed in the years since she’d really known him, becoming more aggressive and bossy and critical.  She relates how he immediately began offering her “advice” concerning the improvements she needed to make in order to be worthy of him (for those of you keeping track of red flags, this is a big one).  She also noted that he had lost a great deal of weight, which he attributed to the injuries he’d suffered from being ambushed in the Middle East and taking on shrapnel.  Once again, I’m chuckling so hard typing is difficult… Thomas never was one to waste a perfectly good lie.  Might as well get as much mileage as possible out of it, I guess!  As a side note, Kay surmises that he actually had lap-band surgery in the intervening years, as his diet was consistent with the post-surgical maintenance recommended for that procedure.  I find this small point particularly hilarious, given Thomas’ brutal assault on others’ lack of self-discipline….  Guess we all need a little help once in a while, eh, Thomas?  It was also during this time that Thomas began pressuring Kay to meet him in….. <drumroll, please>….  beautiful, sunny Puerto Rico!  She declined, telling me that his “life coaching” had turned her off and she simply stopped communicating with him.

Lucky, lucky woman, no?

Kay, as well as others I heard from, commended Thomas’ excellent taste in women as his one redeeming quality.  I would like to second that sentiment.  Loudly.  I have heard from some very articulate, intelligent women whose email signatures suggest impressive professional achievements.  At least he has that going for him.  What a shame he’ll never be worthy of any of those women.

A final reminder:  Ladies, be careful.  Noah/The T/Thomas/Tommy… a chameleon changes his colors, but not his nature.  I don’t care what his name is, if he’s love bombing you and he’s never met you, proceed with extreme caution.  If he really thinks you’re amazing, you “feel like home” to him, and he’s never met anyone like you, he’s going to be willing to hang tough while he earns your trust. We’re grown-ups now; we have to take care of ourselves and each other.  The Thomases of this world are the “bad guys doing bad things.”  And, in a dogfight with those “bad guys,” my money is on the smart, determined woman every. single. time.

And on that note, I close the book on Thomas Murray.  Good riddance to bad rubbish.

The End.

47 Comments

Filed under dating, internet dating, love, relationships, single mom, thomas murray

worst. sex. ever.

I don’t usually kiss and tell.  Well, actually, I do kiss and tell, but I don’t usually have sex and tell.  Unless it’s bad.  And then I spill the beans.

A friend reminded me recently of the story of my worst sex ever.  It’s  a story that he remembers because… well… everyone who’s heard it remembers it.

First, let me be clear that a guy has to be an over-achiever to claim the title of worst sex I’ve ever had.  I’ve had a lot of sex.  Some of it was worthy of whatever the Oscar for porn is, and some of it was just plain bad.

Before my marriage, my award for worst sex ever belonged to a really nice guy with a really small penis.  Now, I’m honestly curious what kind of karmic debt he’d incurred to force him to go through this life with such a remarkably small penis, but it was truly so small that I didn’t even realize when intercourse had actually begun.  This dubious distinction won him the cruel nickname of “Phantom Dick” from one of my girl friends.  (And, I’m not a size snob; in fact, I am biologically constructed in such a way that a guy has to be pretty darn tiny to not satisfy my size criteria….) But, anyway, Phantom Dick was so nice and smart and sweet that I was relieved when our relationship fell apart for other reasons, so I wouldn’t have to suffer the guilt of breaking up with a guy simply because nature had played a mean joke on him.

Twenty years later I realized that there are far worse things than phantom dicks.

The lover who currently holds my worst sex ever title we’ll call John, because… well, because that’s his name.  I dated John not too long after my separation.  By the time John and I took our clothes off, he had had a crush on me for several months and had been angling for just such an opportunity.  So, the sexual tension was high and the anticipation was thick.

The foreplay wasn’t awful.  It was, however, what I like to call “Checklist Foreplay.”  (Every woman over the age of 30 is nodding her head right now and going “Ohhh…. bummer.”)  Checklist Foreplay, for you young women and male readers, is when a guy seems to move through the motions simply because he knows he’s supposed to.  It goes something like this:

  1. Kiss mouth.  Check.
  2. Kiss neck.  Check.
  3. Fondle breasts.  Check.
  4. Kiss breasts. Check.
  5. etc, etc.  You get the idea, right?

Here’s a good rule, guys:  If you don’t enjoy doing something, don’t do it.  Sure, we’d probably rather that you did, but doing it without any enthusiasm is worse than not doing it at all.  I don’t do things in bed that I don’t like to do.  (Okay, in fairness, I’m not sure what those things might be, but if I find one, I swear I’m not going to do it.)

John tried to be sweet, paying me compliments.  Some hit the mark — “You have the body of a 25-year-old!” — while others did not — “Nice boobies!”  Ahem.  Another good rule of thumb, guys:  When in bed with a woman, don’t ever, ever refer to her body part by a name that her sexually-repressed grandmother might have used.  Go for a porn-worthy reference, or stick with the clinical term.  But don’t call our parts by cutesy names.  It’s not sexy.  It’s just icky.  If you doubt me on this, imagine how you’d feel if we said to you, “You’ve got a great pee-pee.”  Seriously.  Just don’t do it.

After the toe-curling pleasure of our 5-minute foreplay (not), it was off to the races.  I felt certain that things would improve once we really got rolling.  After all, this was a good-looking guy whom I knew to have no trouble seducing women and more than enough notches in his bedpost to suggest the development of serious artistry in the sex department.  So maybe foreplay wasn’t his thing.  It was bound to get better, right?

Umm.  No.

Because there are hardly words for what happened next.  Basically, he moved his car into the space, and threw it into park. And there it sat, idling.

At first, I was confused.  I looked at his face.  His eyes were closed and he had the look of someone thinking hard about something.  Okay, I thought, maybe I just need to do some of the work here.  But that wasn’t even possible — he was nearly 6 feet tall and about 190 lbs.  I could barely move my arms, let alone my hips.  Not that it really mattered, because, as I was contemplating how to manipulate my body, he sighed and pulled out of the parking place.  Job completed.

Then he smiled at me and said lots of sweet things and I got the hell out of there as fast as I could.

On the drive home, I was not only sexually frustrated but absolutely flabbergasted.   I mulled over any and all explanations for what had just happened.  Perhaps he was drunk and having to struggle to keep the car running?  Or maybe he was just so overwhelmed at the opportunity to have sex with me that the engine got too revved up too quickly? (I liked this explanation, personally.)  Or maybe this was some Kama Sutra thing that I’d have appreciated if I’d ever been disciplined enough to read the book instead of only look at the pictures?

Well, because I am a glutton for punishment very nice person, I gave John a second chance and confirmed that, whatever the reason, this was his personal style of sex.  To his credit, the second time lasted slightly longer; long enough, in fact, for me to remember that I’d forgotten to take the chicken out of the freezer for the next night’s dinner.  Now, I’ve had sex that literally made me dizzy and nearly pass out, so if you’ve got me thinking about frozen chicken while you’re supposedly making love to me, our relationship is not long for this world.

So, before we go on, let’s review for our male audience what we’ve learned:

  1. No Checklist Foreplay.  Unless the checklist consists of “Ravish her body passionately,” it’s just uncool and a buzzkill.
  2. No cutesy names for our female parts.  Not unless you want us to turn you on with references to your “pee-pee” and your “bum-bum.”
  3. Friction — actually, movement generally  — is a necessary element for intercourse.   Whatever you do, don’t park the car before taking it around the block a few times, please.

As it turned out, there were ample reasons that John and I did not belong together that are far more important than his claim as my worst sex ever.  But he still holds the title.

And, if there is a God in heaven, he always will.

40 Comments

Filed under dating, relationships, sex

…but can you handle the truth?

A blogger friend recently wrote a poignant post about the examination of a marriage, as seen through the rear view mirror, receding into the distance.  Part of his post was about his on-going confusion and frustration stemming from his “runaway wife’s” refusal or inability to provide him with any solid reasons for her seemingly abrupt departure from the family.

Because I was suffering from terrible insomnia one evening, I posted a comment to his post that was so long that (as he later joked), I should have just written my own post and been done with it.  He was right, as he often is, and so I am now taking that comment and expanding  on it here.

If you read enough about divorce, you quickly discover that many left-behind spouses feel that they have been summarily abandoned by their former husbands or wives, with little or no explanation provided.  Even when reasons are offered, they are frequently labeled too mundane to have prompted such a grave move as divorce, and the abandoning spouse is seen as avoiding or withholding the “truth.”  The left-behind spouse feels certain that if he or she could simply get at the truth of why they have been left behind, somehow the whole predicament will make more sense and hurt much less.

I have watched friends and acquaintances who have filled the dismal role of the left-behind spouse grapple with their feelings and attempt to move on.  Indeed, I can see the obvious benefit attached to discovering a truth that suddenly removes the nagging uncertainty and deadens the raging imagination of horrors that plague the mind when it does not have a solid answer that screams “TRUTH!”

But there are a ton of assumptions built into that concept that the truth will set the mind free and ease the heart’s pain.   And not all of them hold up under closer examination….

Assumption #1.  Their truth will make sense and have value to me.

When I talk to people who feel that their spouses have suddenly and unjustly abandoned the relationship, I frequently hear them insist that they want to hear the “real reasons” for their spouse’s departure.  Digging a bit further, I usually discover that reasons have actually been provided, but they don’t seem serious enough to justify the departing spouse’s behavior or, most commonly, they “just don’t make sense.”

I would argue that most departing spouses likely have provided some or most of the truthful reasons for their leaving. I keep waiting to hear a left-behind spouse explicitly say, “I don’t want those reasons; I want the real reasons,” because I’ve heard so many variations on this theme.  The idea here is that the departing spouse likely has shared most of her reasons for leaving, but they aren’t good enough or grave enough to register with the left-behind spouse.

I, for one, can say with complete confidence and incredulity that I told my ex-husband as early as the first two years of our marriage that if he continued treating me the way he had begun to, I would be “gone in ten years.”  At the time, I was pulling that time frame out of thin air, but I did, in fact, end up leaving just before our 11th anniversary. Despite repeated warnings and tearful pleadings on my part throughout the years, he maintained his condescending nature and dismissive attitude, and then proclaimed loudly (and to anyone who would listen) that I had “left suddenly, and without warning or explanation.” I still cannot fathom how he has fashioned his truth from the reality we shared, but he has. So, I have to suspect that lots of other folks do something similar, too.  I suspect there are a plethora of marriages out there in which the departing spouse complained to the left-behind spouse of things over the years that the left-behind spouse dismissed or overlooked at the time.   Maybe she displayed patterns of disappointment over things in her life or their  marriage that seemed to the left-behind spouse (and probably to lots of others who knew her) to be trivial and therefore not something he need really worry about.  Meantime, her fatigue, disillusionment, and frustration was building.

I also do not doubt that most departing spouses hold something back.  I suspect that the biggest reason that they don’t ‘fess up to their complete and true list of reasons for leaving is that they are fully aware that those reasons will be judged, deemed insufficient, and the grounds for a debate with the spouse they have already decided to leave. This is probably a reasonable expectation on their part, as the party left behind usually does think that the reasons for the split are not valid or justifiable.  (Admittedly, it is the rare instance when one spouse comes home and says, “I think we should divorce and here are my reasons,” and the other spouse says, “Yes, you make some excellent points.  I agree.  Let’s get on with it.”)

It’s entirely understandable that the departing spouses aren’t eager to engage in a game of  To Tell the Truth with their left-behind spouse when it is likely to result in their reasons being diminished or mischaracterized.  After all, we all know that “truth is relative” in some regards.  I think it’s interesting how individuals — and sometimes even couples jointly — massage the truth to help it fit their personal constructs.  An interesting and obvious example of this is an affair:  when an affair has been discovered, but the couple is still working on the marriage, the truth of the affair is typically minimalized as “a symptom of a much bigger problem.”  But, when a marriage ends and an affair is part of it, the left-behind spouse frequently blames the affair (and the other adulterer) as the whole problem.  I don’t quite understand the logic:  why is it merely a symptom if you’re working on the marriage, but the “obvious” or “clear” (and presumably complete) reason  for the marriage’s collapse if you’re not?  But again, truth is relative…

In the age of no-fault divorce, a spouse can obtain a divorce over his or her partner’s objections, essentially making a unilateral decision to end the marriage. The other party has absolutely no say in the matter.  Given that I don’t believe that marriage should constitute ownership or control of another person, I find myself having to support this notion, despite its obvious pitfalls.

But here’s the crux of it:  the departing spouse does not have to prove his or her case.  He does not have to convince anyone that his reasons are good enough.  Indeed those very reasons — the entire truth of them, if known — might not be good enough for his left-behind spouse, his extended family, their mutual friends, or anyone else, but they don’t have to be. They only have to be good enough for him.  Is that sad and frustrating and bewildering to the left-behind spouse?  Yes, of course.  But in the end, that might be preferable to the whole truth…

Assumption #2:  I want the whole truth.

When a left-behind spouse imagines the reasons that her departing spouse is actually leaving, she usually focuses on things she can change and not things that are inherent in who she is.  I think this is a very natural way for our brain to protect us from potential pain.  It is so much easier to imagine that he is leaving because he hates that you leave your towel on the bathroom floor, than to think that it’s because he’s decided you’re not actually that smart.  So when left-behind spouses are aggressively seeking the truth, they are understandably doing so from a posture that the truth will be things they can work on and will want to change; most people do not imagine that it’s going to be some harsh truth that they cannot, in fact, change.

I think that sometimes the reasons, if provided in a forthright and honest fashion, would be so brutal, so painful to inflict, that common decency holds the departing spouse back. We all think we want the truth, but some truths are so terribly difficult to recover from that the damage caused would be arguably worse than the vague uncertainty.  For example, how many people would truly want to hear, “I realized that I married you for the wrong reasons” or “I was never physically attracted to you and was just a really, really good faker” or “I’ve completely lost respect for you as a person and can’t love someone I don’t respect”? I’ve heard these reasons from people who’ve left and who have chosen not to reveal them to their exes. Revelations such as these could positively devastate the left-behind spouse’s sense of self and self-worth, which seems a cruel parting shot.  They also could make the divorce proceedings far nastier than they need to be, and the irreparable damage could undermine any attempts at future co-parenting.

Indeed, it might be the long-term effects of those words that prompt the departing spouse to be so circumspect….

Assumption #3:  I can handle the truth.

So, let’s say that, for argument’s sake, the departing spouse chooses to ignore her therapist’s advice and reveal to the left-behind spouse that she is leaving because he is the world’s worst lover and she’s decided to finally have an orgasm after 40 years on this planet.

[Anyone who thinks he’s going to receive that truth with maturity and aplomb should contact me about some lovely Florida real estate I have to sell.  It’s not swamp.  Really.  I swear.]

Exes understandably believe and insist that they would ultimately benefit from the cold, hard truth, and I’m quite sure some (like my blogger friend who inspired this post) probably could.  But I don’t think most people could actually handle a truth such as these examples with any degree of grace or retention of self-confidence.  And it’s really not so surprising.  Divorce is gutting for so many reasons, but when you discover that the love of your life thinks something so terrible of you, it’s capable of smashing your self-confidence to levels from which it may never fully recover.

Take my parents, for instance:  In the face of her constant and abject pleas, my departing step-father had the fortitude to explain to my mother that he realized he’d married her hastily and based on lust more than love.  (This was, to be honest, a truth evident to all of us — including me, at age 13 — when they first married.) My mother repaid him for his honesty by hating him viciously for almost 15 years.  His words haunted her in ways that I’m sure he hadn’t expected, and he paid dearly for them.

Certainly there are some people who are mature enough and confident enough and objective enough to stomach even the worst realizations about their own marriage.  But I must argue that most people would not. Most people would be more like my mother — furious and hurt and determined to make the divorce even nastier than if the truth had not been revealed.   She wanted the truth, she was sure she could handle the truth, but it nearly destroyed her.  And the damage it did to me and our family is a whole post on its own.

No doubt the truth is a dicey thing.  Most of us have this tenuous love/hate relationship with it.  All of us like to think that we can handle it and benefit from it and be better for it.  But can we?  Really?

Being left with your heart shattered positively, absolutely sucks.  It feels horrible and unfair and devastating.  I have often said that during a divorce, people become their basest, worst selves, and some of those selves are pretty terrible.  Is it any wonder, under those circumstances, that some people faced with harsh truths handle them imperfectly?  And is it any wonder, under those circumstances, that some people guard them so carefully?  Very few people are at their best in the midst of pain at its worst.

I think the bottom line is that we all say we want the truth.  We all think we can handle the truth, but in actuality, not everyone who claims to want the truth really wants the actual truth.  Sometimes we only want a truth we can live with.

19 Comments

Filed under dating, divorce, healing, marriage, personal growth, relationships, single mom

men: read this… we’re begging you….

Apparently men have a hard time figuring women out. 

I don’t understand this, but I have accepted it.  So, as my public service for today, I point you to a brilliant article by a relationship counselor who summarizes it more clearly and succinctly than I ever could.

Read it.  Study it.  Be it.

Please.

(Oh, and ladies, you can address your thank you notes to thatprecariousgait@yahoo.com…..  😉 )

19 Things Women Wished Men Knew About Sex and Relationships

6 Comments

Filed under dating, love, marriage, relationships, sex, single mom

oh no, she didn’t!

Not too long ago, I was out with a guy I was dating and we ran into a woman he knew.  As I talked to some other people, I watched with interest and some amusement as this woman kept touching him, flirting with him, and generally commanding his attention.  At some point, he must have subconsciously reached a comfort limit, for he shifted his weight away from her and up against me, and shortly thereafter he excused us and we departed, with his hands on me.

I find women who make passes at men who are obviously spoken for just a little bit fascinating.  My friends do not do this, would not even think about doing it, and probably would be ashamed if anyone suggested that they were doing it, but clearly not all women our age got the memo that this is childish and disrespectful of not only the other woman involved, but the man as well.  I refuse to play this game.  At all.  In fact, if she can tear him away from me, she is more than welcome to him.  Seriously.  If I feel like he’s playing along or encouraging it, I’ll simply get up and walk out.  At that point, it’s follow me or not.  If I leave, I’m prepared to leave alone.  Funny thing?  I never have.

But there is something almost voyeuristic about watching another woman flirt with your man.  Seeing how she uses her body and her eyes and her smile to try and reel him in, entice him, maybe make him think just a little about her.  And gauging his reactions, seeing him respond or not, reading his body language as he subconsciously processes all the stimuli assailing his senses.  And it’s genuinely amazing how easily and clearly your intuition can read the intentions of both of them, if you only let it.

I have been in situations in which all available empirical evidence would suggest that I should be worried about the she-wolf in front of me, licking her lips as she tries to extract my man from my side, and I have felt nothing but mild bemusement.  And yet, I have been in other situations, in which only a slight, momentary glimpse between my guy and some other girl has informed me that the deed has, in fact, already been done.

Female intuition is a powerful thing, if we bother to listen to it.  But I also think that, in these situations, the old adage that “it takes one to know one” tends to apply.  And that is where my own ability to accurately survey a situation moves from speculation into certainty.  Because I’ve been there, done that.

I was what you might call a “late bloomer.”  I was a cute kid, but not pretty.  No, my particular kind of beauty showed up later than a lot of girls.  The upside to that is that it’s saved me from any sort of arrogance around my looks; the downside is that when it did show up, I didn’t waste any time making up for the ugly duckling years.  I quickly learned how to draw a man to me from across a room, regardless of who was by his side.  I delighted in the puzzled expressions of other girls who just couldn’t figure out what it was about me.  On more than one occasion, I threw my hook into a man, just to see if I could get him.  Whether he was taken or not, or by whom, was immaterial.

When I was in my early 20’s, a young man asked me to lunch.  I went, even though I was pretty sure that he had a girlfriend somewhere.  Over lunch, it was revealed that he had been dating the same girl for several years.  Nonetheless, I threw everything I had at the poor boy.  Later, outside the restaurant, he asked me to have dinner with him later that week.  I demurred, explaining that I didn’t date men who had girlfriends, but that if he should ever rethink that status, I’d owe him a dinner.  Then I kissed him on the cheek, flashed him a 1,000-watt smile, tossed my long hair, and sauntered away, hips swaying.  I could feel his stare on me for at least half a block.

Two days later, there appeared in the local paper, an ad, which read:  “To the stunning redhead who allowed me to take her lunch, you owe me dinner. — R.” Needless to say, we went to dinner.

Now perhaps all those machinations on my part would have been forgivable if we had been true soul mates, destined for life-long love.  But of course, that was not the case.  A few months later, I broke up with him.

What I did to that boy — and his girlfriend –, from start to finish, was wrong.  Plain-and-simple, no-excuses, flat-out wrong.  I didn’t need to do that — he wasn’t even the only guy to ask me out that week.  My behavior was inexcusable and should have been unforgivable.  But, being that he was such a great guy, he did forgive me.  A few years ago, he emailed to congratulate me on the birth of my youngest daughter, a kindness I most assuredly did not deserve.  However, I also learned that, after my shameless toying with him, he had promptly gone back to his longtime girlfriend and groveled sufficiently that she took him back.  They married and had some sons and are still together.  Thank god.  Their happy ending is my only karmic salvation.

Now back to the story I began with:  I have ample experience to know full well that the woman with her hands all over my date would like to make more of their acquaintance.  He, I feel sure, would deny the very possibility.  Which leads me to my next minor fascination with this scenario:  Why do guys think that they can assuage our jealousy/insecurity/curiosity by denying what our intuition most clearly knows?  It is so much better, with me at least, to acknowledge it and get it out of the way, i.e. “Yeah, I know she’s kind of into me, and she’s really nice, but I’m not interested in her for X reasons.  So, honestly, don’t worry about it.”  At least then I know that I’m not dating a guy who’s blind and deaf to a woman’s obvious maneuverings.  Of course women are going to flirt with him; if he isn’t attractive enough to generate attention from other women, I probably wouldn’t be interested in him either, right?  Plus, the guy who can own it head-on gets points for honesty and builds trust in the process.  How is that not awesome?  Mild jealousy — mine included — is just a natural indication of interest and attraction.  Left inadequately addressed, it often rides a slippery slope to insecurity and fear.  Which is definitely not awesome.

And then there’s the matter of respect.  What I did to that young man and his girlfriend was show a complete and blatant lack of respect for the boundaries of their relationship.  I find it simultaneously fascinating and disgusting that some single women of my age still do this.  Really?  Don’t we owe each other more than that?  It was bad enough at 22, but 20 years later?  I’d like to think I’ve grown up just a bit, and you’re welcome to join me.

If you have close friends of the opposite sex, this issue of respecting relationship boundaries likely comes up not infrequently.  I dealt with it last winter when my friend K.C. got back together with his former fiance, Amanda, and I wondered how it would affect our friendship.  After all, I had met and dated K.C. for part of the 18 months they’d been apart, and it would be only natural for Amanda to feel jealous and threatened by my continued presence in his life.  So K.C. and I sat down and had a heart-to-heart.  K.C. made it clear that he loved Amanda and wanted it to work and that our friendship wouldn’t be the same if she decided that I was an obstacle to their happiness.  I made it clear that I did not want to cause her even a moment’s concern; that I really wanted a happy ending for them.  And so we came up with a strategy for introducing me to her so that she’d be most likely to accept me, and we openly discussed ways that our friendship would have to change.

Sure, one or both of us could have said that we were friends and Amanda should quit being insecure and get over it.  I could have pouted and complained that I didn’t want my friendship with K.C. to change and insinuated nasty things about Amanda controlling him or being a psycho girlfriend (as some of his other female friends did).  But that wouldn’t be right.  Plain-and-simple.  He did the right thing in protecting and nurturing his relationship, and I did the right thing in supporting his happiness. In short, we behaved like grown-ups.

I guess the bottom line is that I’m not out to get your man.  I promise.  And I’d simply appreciate it if you’d keep your hands off mine.  Deal?

Leave a comment

Filed under dating, love, relationships, sex

yowza.

Every once in a while, I have a Single Parent Moment that leaves my married parent friends shaking their heads in amazement and quiet relief that they are not in my boat. Last week, I had such a moment.

James and I have been on-again, off-again for just over a year now.  My daughters, aged 10 and 8, have known him for many years, became reacquainted with him before we started dating last September, and have been mostly unaware of our relationship ups and downs.  To them, he has been a constant over the last year.  They know him, they like him, they have vacationed with him, and for the last few months, they have known that we sometimes spend the night together.  But he has never stayed over at my house when my girls are also there.

Until last week.

I decided it was time, so I told the girls that James would be coming over, was going to spend the night, and that he’d be there when they awoke in the morning.  My youngest, Bryn, teased me about it with a grin.  Sabrina, my 10-year-old, shrugged.

James arrived as I was putting Sabrina to bed.  He let himself in the open front door and shouted up his hellos to us all.  And then it began:

Sabrina:  So, is James coming over to have a drink with you?

Me:  Yes, and remember I told you that he’s going to spend the night tonight?

Sabrina:  Uh-huh.  So…. are you guys gonna have sex?

YOWZA.

I wish I could report that I responded maturely and gracefully, but I’d be lying.  What I did instead… was laugh.  Yes, that’s right.  I laughed.  I giggled until I had tears squeezing from the corners of my eyes and I was clutching my tummy.  At first, Sabrina looked at me, puzzled, but then she started laughing, too.  We ended up lying on her bed, clutching each other amidst fits of giggles.  It was ridiculous.

Eventually I recovered, and, wiping my tears of silliness away, replied thusly:

Me:  Baby, I’m a grown-up and you’re a child, and so who I do or don’t have sex with isn’t something we are going to discuss.  In fact, who I do or don’t have sex with isn’t really anyone else’s business except for the man I’m involved with.  That’s not even a question that other grown-ups typically ask each other.  And, when you’re a grown-up, whether and with whom you’re having sex won’t be any of my business either.   Do you understand?

Sabrina:  Hmmm…. Yes, I think so.  I guess I feel like it should be my business if I’m going to end up with a little baby brother or sister.

This dramatically illustrated the fact that, while I have instructed her quite a bit about the biology of sex, I haven’t quite gotten around to the idea that adults have sex for reasons other than procreation of the species…  So I punted and went with what I had:

Me:  I can absolutely, positively assure you that you will not be gaining a little brother or sister.

Sabrina:  Phew.  Okay.  That’s really good news.   Thanks, Mom.

Me:  Sure, baby.  Anytime.

There is so much about single parenting that is surreal.  So many conversations that I never imagined having, so many events that I never pictured, so many moments altered by the simple, pivotal fact that their father and I no longer live together.  Parenting is always something of an exercise in Extreme Winging It, but single parenting throws in the extra curve balls.  Just for fun.

I am sure that there will be many more moments such as that one, many more conversations that leave me speechless or giggling at the absurdity of the situation.  But I feel quite certain that, even if I should live another 42 years, I will never, ever, ever forget the night my 10-year-old asked me if I was going to have sex.

Yowza.

14 Comments

Filed under dating, divorce, parenthood, relationships, sex, single mom

long day’s journey into night

There is a lot of chatter lately on blogs  and among my friends about what, precisely and exactly, each of us wants and needs in a partner and out of a relationship with that partner.  I have had my own cause to once again revisit this question this week, and the contemplation of it has resulted in yet another post-divorce aha! moment for me.

In a post earlier this week, I wrote obliquely about my break-up with James (or at least I’m assuming we’ve broken up, since we are no longer speaking).  We have broken up twice before, both times by my decision, when an issue arose that I felt we could not get around and so I walked out.  Each time, he waited a while — a few weeks or months — and then reached out to me and asked that we talk through it, which we did.

After the second break-up, we talked at length about my being a flight risk and how that made him feel and how much he wanted me to talk to him about things that were bothering me, rather than assume they were unworkable and exit the relationship.  I agreed.

And so began my journey down a road I hadn’t traveled in nearly 14 years:  the road of open and honest communication about problems.  It wasn’t easy for me.  While dating my ex-husband in my 20’s, and during our subsequent 11 year marriage, I quickly learned that when I had a problem with him or our relationship, I had two choices:  1) sit down and shut up, or 2) just plain shut up.  And when I had the temerity to ask for something more than he was already offering, he responded in one of three ways: 1) he paid lip service to it (“I promise I’ll try harder,” which then lasted approximately 4-9 days before fading away); 2) he scoffed at me for being unreasonable and claimed that “every guy would feel the same way” (this one makes my guy friends want to pummel him); or 3) he would assassinate my character and hurl a litany of my own faults at me to avoid ever addressing my initial complaint.  And each time my ex-husband did this to me, I died just a little bit inside, and my love for him died with me.

I want to be clear here that I’m not generally a demanding partner; even my ex-husband’s friends used to comment that I was coolest wife they knew.  The kinds of requests that would elicit that reaction from my ex were, for example: 1) that he let me sleep in one morning on the weekend, because our preschool-age daughters were early birds and I am not, and getting up at 6:00AM seven days a week was wearing me out; 2) that he be willing to watch the children sometimes so that I could go to book club or brunch with girlfriends, without making me feel guilty about it; and 3) that we have sex at times other than first thing in the morning, because — again — I’m not usually a morning person and routine sex is… well… routine.  All three of these requests resulted in big, on-going arguments and building resentments.

Now, I’m a pretty damn smart woman.  It didn’t take me long to realize the futility in trying to talk to him.  So shutting up seemed like the least painful route, and I am ashamed to admit that I took that route for so long, that after my divorce, I really had no idea how to do things any differently.   And so walking away became easier.  If a man didn’t automatically meet my needs, or if he hurt me in any way, I simply left.  No point in sticking around and telling him about it, I’d learned, because he’d only attack me and degrade me and ignore me.

And then James came along, with his request that I not run, that I stay and work things out.  The very idea of this was daunting to me, terrifying really, after so many years.  But I knew it was the next step to having a healthy relationship.  I knew in my deepest heart that I had to learn how to do this or I would never, ever again be able to create the kind of intimacy I knew before my marriage and that I want again someday. And there was something about James… something different that made me want to try harder…. something that made me think that I could actually, just possibly, open up to this man and even fall in love with him.

So, over the last two months, I have tried.  When he has had something to say to me, I have tried to listen.  When I have hurt him, I have tried mightily to make it better and not allow resentments and hurts to simmer.  I have been far from perfect, but I have also made huge strides.  I know I am still not fully “there” yet, but I’m miles closer than I was two months ago.

I could tell that there were times when he was really trying, too.  There were  a few occasions when I approached him with things that I felt we needed to work on generally and he responded thoughtfully and kindly.  These weren’t arguments, but a means of negotiating what our relationship would be.  I was so impressed with him during those times; it was exactly the positive reinforcement I needed to keep communicating.

But it’s not all good news, or we wouldn’t be broken up, would we?

On three separate occasions in the last 7 weeks, I have been hurt or confused by something James did to me, and my inclination to cut bait and run pressed in on me.  But I resisted it.  I cared for this man.  I wanted this to work with him.  I wanted to be a good partner.  So, I gathered my courage and approached him to explain how I was feeling.  None of these things were monumental as far as relationship issues went; I knew that it might be awkward or uncomfortable.  I thought that he would listen and then respond and perhaps we’d argue a bit and then we’d come to some sort of understanding.  I didn’t expect that we would always agree, but I hoped that we could find a way to talk about our screw-ups that was respectful and loving.  I took a leap of faith that it would be different from my ex.

Except that it wasn’t.

All three times, he reacted with defensiveness and anger and leveled accusations at me before we ever even talked about whatever I’d raised.  He told me I was “backing him into a corner” or “busting his balls.”  He refused to talk about the matter I’d raised, and instead insisted that I was wrong for being upset about it.  I felt attacked and dismissed and foolish.

The first two times this happened, I rationalized his negative response and told myself that it was just because of the crap his ex had done to him or because he was out of practice in relationships, too, etc.  But this last time…. I can’t.  I just can’t.  He was downright rude and boorish to me at dinner on Friday night — cataloging my failings and faults in a manner that was half-joking and very painful — and, while he has apologized for it, he didn’t offer any explanation for his behavior or assurance that it wouldn’t happen again or indication that he hadn’t meant the hurtful things he said.   And immediately following his apology, he stopped speaking to me and didn’t respond to my last communication with him.

I have not reached out to him because I know that I cannot go back to another relationship in which I have those same two options when I’m hurt by the man I love.  I did not leave my marriage to live in a different city or find someone to mountain bike with or because I wanted to party every weekend.  I left my marriage because I had a dream of maybe, someday, somehow, being in a relationship in which I could actually speak and be heard and be treated with tenderness. It is, perhaps, my number one dealbreaker in my post-divorce relationship world.  I honestly don’t expect a man to be perfect; we are all going to screw up and be unkind at times.  But if I can’t talk to you without fear of being verbally attacked, I can’t be with you.  Period.  I didn’t save myself from one sad relationship to die slowly in another.

I have no idea what James is capable of and what he’s willing to do for the right girl.  Maybe the problem is that I’m not the right girl.  Maybe he was being nasty to me because that’s really how he feels about me.  Maybe he needs to find someone who keeps quiet like I used to.  And maybe it doesn’t matter anymore.

I could torture myself with “what if’s” and “I wish-s” but instead I am trying to embrace the clarity this experience has brought me.  I now understand, more than ever, what I need in a relationship and how very much I am willing to push myself for someone I truly care for.  I really do think that I’m a little bit closer to being able to make the kind of relationship I want happen with a man who wants that, too.  I wish it were James, I really do, but I cannot make him want the same things I do or insist that he treat me as I’d like him to.  If I never see him again, I will miss him and think about him and hope that he is finding happiness, whatever that looks like for him.  But I will also move on.  Because I have to.

Sometimes, knowing what you want out of a relationship is liberating, or energizing, or empowering.  But other times, it is painful, because it forecloses the possibilities of lots of other things.  Knowing what you want means, to a certain extent, limiting your options, eliminating that which does not meet your needs, narrowing your potential pool of mates.   And when that elimination includes the man who was in your life a week ago… well, that’s even more painful.

This journey I’m on is a long one, and a few weeks ago, I felt the warmth of the sun as my heart slowly opened and bloomed for the first time in a very, very long time.  But now, I am once again in the dark of night, and my heart is closed and my defensive walls are up.  I am fighting the tendency to overgeneralize and assume that all men are like my ex-husband or that I am only worthy of that kind of dismissive treatment.  I am struggling to focus on the valuable lessons I learned during my time with James.  I am resisting the fantasy that he will call and make all of this okay somehow.

And I’m hoping that the sun shows up again.  Soon.

2 Comments

Filed under dating, divorce, general musings, healing, love, personal growth, relationships, sadness, single mom

leave ’em wanting more

My friend Annie has a new man in her life, and yesterday she got an email from him, a portion of which read:

I feel like inviting you to join me in lots of my plans lately, but am also trying very hard to just take things slowly and get to know you.

He is wanting more of her than he can have right now.  Her life is so busy and her obligations so many that their time has been limited to relatively brief, platonic meetings.  But he is clearly not okay with that.  When the chemistry is right, there is no such thing as “out of sight, out of mind.”

Annie shared  his words with me with obvious delight and I couldn’t help but smile.  I mean, really, is there anything better than knowing that the thought of you is playing about in a man’s mind?  That he’s wanting to see you, talk to you, spend time with you?  That, perhaps against his basic nature or better judgment or emotional baggage, he is longing for more of you than he’s getting? That the thought of you is bringing a random smile to his lips, a faraway look to his eyes, a tightness to his jeans….

To me, it’s one of the most wonderfully delicious parts of a new relationship… that you’re-on-my-mind-constantly-and-it’s-making-me-crazy period when you both act a bit like ridiculous teenagers with raging hormones and romantic-comedy-inspired thoughts of true love and perfect sex.  This is the period when I sigh at the sound of his voice and giggle when I think of something funny he said and flush with the thoughts of what he did to me last night. Nothing reduces me to a quivering mass of femininity more quickly than when a man says, “So, when are you going to let me see you again?” Makes me want to swoon.  Seriously.

One of the pleasant surprises to me about dating this time around is how sustainable this period can be, when connection and chemistry really are right.  To me, this is one of the joys of dating in my 40’s.  With neither party in a rush to the altar, the courtship can last so much longer and be so much more fun.  Of course, not every relationship that starts with such promise survives, sometimes not even beyond the first few dates, but the ones that do are really special and fun and sweet.

Annie and her guy are still too new to make any predictions about their eventual outcome.  But for now, he’s busy staking his claim on her time, and she’s busy enjoying being claimed.

*sigh*

Leave a comment

Filed under dating, general musings, love, relationships, sex, single mom