Friday, August 31, 2012

Our own path

I've been at this whole divorced-and-dating thing for going-on four years now. For most of that time, I've been on my own. Most of my friends were married (or in long-term relationships). I had a couple of single friends, but really only one person who could relate to my exact situation - divorced, no kids, looking for a relationship, but still happily single.

Most of my friends loved hearing my dating stories. The good, the bad, or the ugly - it didn't matter. They all loved hearing how I stumbled and bumbled my way through online dating profiles, bad dinners, and uncomfortable conversations. It was entertaining to friends who thought they'd put that part of life behind them, and comforting to those in similar situations.

Then, all of a sudden, the tables turned. Or, really, sorta flipped on their side. Life's funny that way.

Suddenly, my single friends are no longer single - they're in relationships, or living with someone or - gasp! - married. My attached friends suddenly became single and tip-toed dove back into dating.

It honestly makes me feel a little mother-hennish. I see all my friends going through things that have hurt me before - getting attached, trusting what someone says, counting on promises and looking towards the future.

I remember how much it can hurt, and how hard I took some of what happened, and how long it took me to get through some of the heartache (not that I'm a barometer; my friends are much more normal than I). I don't want that for my friends.

Part of the reason I write this blog is to share my experiences, and let people learn a little from my mistakes. After all - that's the point of a mistake, right? But the truth is, everyone's path is her own - that's true of life in general, as well as dating. We're all looking for the same thing - happiness - but it looks different to each one of us. So the way we get there is uniquely our own.

Everyone has to make her own mistakes, learn her own lessons, and recover from her own heartbreaks. Whether it's ending a long-standing relationship, and tip-toeing back into dating, or finding the perfect guy and leaving the single life behind - life is full of challenges and confusion and lessons.

It can be a little scary, and a little overwhelming. There's really no other way - and little comfort to be offered. Except maybe this: Though the path may be ours to follow, if we have good friends, we're never really alone on the journey.

That, and if any of these guys hurt one of my friends....he'd better watch out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A forever smile

Some people take me very too seriously when I joke about dating, or boys having cooties, or that I don't need a guy, or that dating is a big...well...joke.

The truth is, dating is difficult. It's easy to settle for what you find - and believe me, there's a lot out there to be found - or to decide you're not going to bother, and just fly solo. But the decision to date - to put yourself out there and risk your heart - is a tough one.

When I joke, it's partly because that's my defense against the heartache that goes along with dating. It's also partly because I don't think life should be taken too seriously; if you can't laugh about it, you're probably doing it wrong. Not to mention - dating is supposed to be fun. Anything fun has to have some laughable moments; I choose to focus on those, rather than the more depressing, lonely side of the dating life.

But when people take me seriously, I end up with a reputation for being a "man-hater" or "negative" or "down on love." I want to take a moment to clarify - I am not down on love. As I've said before, I love love.  I think taking a chance on love is the best bet a person can make - and one of the bravest things one can do.

My very good friend Baking Suit got married on Saturday. She married her perfect guy in their perfect way, and I couldn't be happier for them. It was a wonderful day full of friends, love, and of course, laughter. There was food, music, and a judge. A lot of pictures were taken, and fabulous shoes were worn.

In the end, two people made promises to be there for each other through good and bad times, to make each other laugh, to love one another, to raise a family, and grow "really old together." What better reason could there be to smile?

Here's to you, my friends! May your life together be filled with fabulous shoes, all the bacon you can eat, robots, late-night TV, family, friends, cupcakes, laughter, and most of all - love.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Relationship fix-a-flat

Trooper has been on my mind a little. Not in a "Geez I wish we were still together," sort of way. More of a, "Geez, I wonder what's going on with him?" sort of way.

He's been in touch with me a little (absolutely no talk of getting back together, by either of us), and it just sort of put him in my head a little more than maybe he should be. It got me wondering... Is he with someone? Is he happy? What's he got going on?

So, I poked around a little on facebook, and confirmed what I already basically knew. He is seeing someone, and they appear to be very happy.

I told him that he deserves to be happy, and I meant what I said. I truly want him to be happy, and if I'm not the person who can give him that, then ending things was the right thing. I may not like how it happened, or how it felt - but that's life.

If he's found happiness, I'm happy for him. That's how love - and friendship - works.

But I still found myself a little....melancholy? I'm not at all sure why. I didn't find myself wishing I was in her spot, or reminiscing about how things were. It just got under my skin, a little, to see it right there, in front of me. Then it annoyed me even more that I was annoyed, and my focus was being pulled away from things with Sparrow.

Engineer says the way around that is to cut all ties - including friendship - with Trooper. He said that way my attention isn't diverted, and I can concentrate on the good thing in the present, instead of a painful thing from the past.

I wonder... Is that really the healthiest way to handle these sort of residual feelings? Or is that like using fix-a-flat on a tire? Sure, it'll get you from A to B. But it's a temporary, quick fix to a much bigger problem. Eventually, you have to deal with it completely, or your car won't run right. One bad tire can throw the whole thing off balance.

Here's the deal: Trooper is in the past. Accepting that and moving forward is the name of the game. If I just push him out of sight, out of mind - is that really acceptance? Or is that just ignoring the problem - and if it is, aren't I just setting myself up to have to go through this at some point, whenever I can't ignore the problem anymore?

Would it be better to just deal with it head-on? You know, get the new tire and the proper service right away even though it takes longer and costs more, instead of trying to put a cheap, quick band-aid on the problem.

It doesn't mean we have to become best-buds. But if I run into him at church, or come across one of his comments on a mutual friend's wall, isn't that a better way to "deal?" As uncomfortable as it might be in the beginning, eventually it'll just be the norm, and that awkward, "what am I doing?" feeling will disappear.

Eventually, he'll just be that great guy I used to date, who is now my friend - and things won't feel so off balance.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Give a little, get a lot

In addition to the red flag alert, I also find myself having some trouble adjusting to the fact that Sparrow actually seems to want me around. Go figure. Turns out, this is something quite new for me.

See, Big was happy to let me be around. He invited me out and over to his place all the time. But he was introverted, and so was I, so even though we were together, there wasn't a lot of interaction. Also, I was usually at his place - which meant I could leave whenever.

Truth is, I wasn't as independent back then as I am now, so I didn't crave alone time as much. Fast forward to Trooper, and we also spent most of our time together at his place, and not mine. So again - I had a lot more control over when I came and went. Plus, Trooper's also a guy who likes his space, so he never really crowded me.

Sparrow is different. First of all, there's the distance to consider. It's not like we can just get together on a whim, and then part ways to run errands, and meet up again later. One of us is always 2 hours away from home.

The last few weeks - we've been spending time at my house because of stuff going on for me. Which means if I want to snag some alone-time, I basically have to (nicely) kick Sparrow out.

(There really is no nice way to do that, by the way.)

I find myself having a difficult time balancing my need for alone time with my desire to spend time with Sparrow, and recognize that our relationship is important. I'm not so self-centered that I don't realize the relationship can't be all about me - but I also can't exactly schedule when I'll want (read: need) time to myself.

I expected to find challenges with this new relationship. I thought the distance would be an issue. I was prepared to find it a little difficult to trust, having just come through a tough breakup. I never thought about how, each time I become single again, I get more and more accustomed to being on my own. I was not prepared for so much difficulty in giving up that single space.

Don't even get me started on the possibility of eventually having to give up closet space.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Solid advice

It likely meant something different in its original context....

But I think "avoid pricks" is good advice in any context. Take it as you will. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fallen down the rabbit hole

I'm writing this from a hotel room in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. About four hours north of where I live, Montreal is a whole other world. Literally; a whole other country, where they speak a whole other language.

Earlier this year, I invested in my first passport, because Trooper and I had planned a vacation outside the US. Instead, we broke up, and I put my passport in a drawer, not sure when I'd put the money to use.

Until a few weeks ago, when Sparrow suggested we take a long weekend, and he felt we should break in my passport, which was, "still a virgin."

So I'm here, outside the US, in the only Canadian Province that speaks French instead of English. The street signs and menus and maps are all in French, the currency is different, and there is so much to do, I'm overwhelmed. Which, as you may have guessed, makes me cranky.

Yet, I'm here with a man who is totally putting up with me - even told me I was still fun! - and yet, my alerts are all still set to red, waiting for his bag of hair to show up. I'm resisting this feeling, which I probably should not be doing.

Why? I'm not sure. Part of me wonders if it means he's not the right guy. Then another part of me thinks it has more to do with me, not being able to trust. Not really him....I think he's as trustworthy as any guy can be. But I sometimes wonder if any guy can really be trusted. Or, more to the point, any guy who says he has feelings for me.

"Be patient. You'll get where he is, or you'll find his bag of hair." Baking Suit is probably right. The guy who can deal with me being hungry, tired, while getting lost, and he doesn't get angry? That guy is as rare as a Cheshire Cat. So rare, in fact, that I'd become convinced he couldn't exist. 

Finding him really does feel like I've fallen down the rabbit hole.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dating definitions

One of the most awkward things about dating is trying to define your relationship. I find it so awkward that I actually try to avoid it altogether. On the flip side, I know women who go to the other extreme - they start trying to define the relationship from the very first text message. 

It should be pointed out that I don't actually recommend either of these methods. They don't seem to work, for reasons that are (hopefully) obvious.

The other side of this story is the people (read: men) who seem to think that there are only two definitions to apply to any relationship:
  • Casual sex
  • Full-blown, committed relationship 
I have run into this several times, and I know others who have as well. When it comes to having the relationship talk with some guys, they get all weird, thinking that anything more than casually sleeping together means that any minute, you're going to ask them to pick out a China pattern. 

This just in: That's not really how women think.

For me, at least, there are far more stages (or definitions) of dating. Until we've been out a few times, I don't even consider us "dating." Under most circumstances, it'll take a while before I ever consider us "exclusive" - and only after we've discussed as much. (Case in point: I was dating Trooper for a couple months before exclusivity was established.) 

That doesn't mean I'm dating around. I might only be dating one person, but that's more out of personal choice or scheduling conflicts than any obligation I feel towards the relationship. Seems to me that your feelings towards a particular person, and your confidence in the relationship, have far more to do with where your relationship stands than the amount of time you've known a person. 

Which is why I've known some people for years - and we aren't dating now, nor will we ever.

I don't feel like two people need to jump right from just meeting to a full-blown, four-alarm relationship. There are a lot of stages in between. Some people prefer to just date one person - but the same rules of casual dating apply. 

So don't freak out if a woman says she's dating only you; it doesn't mean she's going to have you fitted for a tux, or ask which invitations you like best. It just means she prefers to focus on one relationship at a time. Pay more attention to how you feel, and where this particular relationship is, and less attention to where you think you should be in terms of the calendar, or compared to other relationships. 

That's the definition of a healthy relationship - and isn't that what we're all trying to ultimately figure out? 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Spell-check doesn't fix everything

People seemed to enjoy the Best of the Worst feature, where I would pull excerpts (or in some cases, whole profiles) from dating site profiles that were particularly bad. I'm nice enough to not link back to these individuals, or show their photos. For now, anyway.

Hey - don't put it on the internet if you don't want it critiqued!


Hi my name is {redacted} I am a hard working independent strong man ho can all so be loving. looking for a lover and friend starting off as friend and see ware it goes some one to share my life with may be even marry some day but not in a hurry. I enjoy may things some off them r fishing archery the out doors swimming camping car shows fairs live bands I enjoy music like classic rock or country some pop blues and gospel I enjoy movie at home or going out to movie like dining in or out going for walks in the country or staying home watching the stars. I try to treat others the way I would like to be treated so if you or Interested get back to me i am very easy going I try to help people wen I can also a been a volunteer fire fighter for 25 years

(His first date would be....)
havering a nice breakfast going fishing or swimming and a nice walk in the country and then a fair or car show going out to diner seeing a movie or just one of those thing


I counted 27 mistakes, including missing puntuation and capitalization. I also counted the use of "r" in place of "are," and don't even get me started on "wen." He included his first name, which I deleted, but it's worth noting he didn't capitalize that, either.

Mistakes like "all so" in place of "also," "ware" in place of "where," and "some one" instead of "someone" are just proof that even spell-check can't fix everything. - but at least it's a start.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Delusional dating

My best friend recently joined the ranks of the single and online-dating. While I'm not happy about the circumstances that brought her here, I am thrilled to have twice the blogging material. (Love me a silver-lining!)

Last week, she received an email on a dating site that said:

In my mind, I have already dated and divorced you. I gave you some money to afford your beautiful lifestyle and body, but you didn't get everything because of the prenup you signed. I had to divorce you because, even though you are hot and great in bed, I caught you in the cabana getting spanked by the pool boy. I just couldn't take that. You are such a naughty girl, and I like it - but only for me. I know you are gorgeous, but that doesn't give you the right to sleep around!

So, when are you free for dinner and drinks so we can start off on the path to that marriage?

Her response was something like, "OH my GOD, what a freak?! How do I attract such crazies?!" It's been a while since she was single and dating, and isn't accustomed to the sort of crazy that lands in your dating site inbox. I know the first crazy email I got made me doubt if I wanted to do online dating - or, frankly, dating at all - and if I'd made the right choices that had led to the end of previous relationships.

But I've been at this a long time. So my reaction to her email?

That's hilarious! Can I blog it?

I think that's why my friends keep me around; for the support, encouragement and understanding.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Why relationships fail

When friends or readers ask me for relationship advice, they usually start off by giving me some context. They'll give me a little background, then tell me what specifically was said or done, and then ask for my thoughts.

Sometimes, though, I don't get specifics. I get general questions like, "Is it okay if I say this to my boyfriend?" or "What does it mean if my girlfriend does that?"

That's a much tougher question to answer.

The thing is, with a few possible exceptions, I don't believe there are any rights or wrongs when it comes to relationships. What's normal, and works for one couple might mean the end of days for another. So it's not exactly easy to say, "Well (s)he shouldn't say/do that. It must mean things are going badly."

Another thing I hear a lot is friends justifying someone else's behavior. "He didn't call me back, but it's because he's busy with his kids." or "He cancelled our date, but I know he's very stressed out about work."

Then they add: I still think he likes me. Do you think it means he doesn't like me? I think he likes me.

If I've learned anything, it's that just because someone likes (or even loves) you, doesn't mean a relationship is going to succeed.

Maybe not returning phone calls or responding to emails is this person's "normal." Maybe she really is stressed about work or he really has been busy with his kids. Is that okay? Of course. Does it mean he still likes you? How should I know?! What I do know is that his kids or work schedule doesn't have anything to do with you.

My answer to that line of questioning is usually this:

Of course he likes you. You're awesome - who wouldn't? He wouldn't still be around if he didn't like you.

Relationships don't usually fail because one person doesn't like the other. That's why dates fail. If two people get to the relationship point, obviously they like each other.

Relationships fail because two people are not compatible. One person wants more communication or more involvement than the other. Maybe their definitions of a relationship are not the same. Maybe they have different goals. Maybe geography, or kids, or careers, or religion...or in the way.

So, instead of asking your friend (or your favorite relationship blogger) whether she thinks the guy likes you, maybe you should be asking yourself:

Is this the relationship I really want?

At the end of the day, that's a much easier question. Just prepare yourself; you may not like the answer.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I'm still seeing Sparrow. We've gotten together a few times since that first date on July 4th. I really do like him; he's funny, smart, knows how to spell and does not speak in shorthand, attractive, has a job, and does not live with his parents.

He could totally pass the test, if one were given.

He is also very open and upfront about how he feels. That's a wonderful thing, and I suppose it would be unfair to complain about someone being open about his feelings, when I say all I want is for someone to be open and honest.

But I'm gun-shy. Others have been "open and honest"...and said they really liked me....and then it turned out - they didn't. I trusted what they were saying (and/or how they were acting), and in the end, all I got was hurt.

But I keep telling myself that is also not fair. I shouldn't judge a man based on the actions of others.

I also keep reminding myself that this is something I find someone special, who makes me feel good, brings good to my life - and who wants me around. I want to find an honest, true, meant-to-be sorta love.

So I'd be foolish to walk away when I find that, just because I'm worried I might get hurt. The truth is, getting hurt will always be a possibility. If I close myself off to that possibility, then I have to close myself off to the possibility of love, too.

The universe keeps sending me signs. Like the other day, I found a blog post written by a friend, about his fiance (also a friend). I said to her,
If I'm still with Sparrow in a year, [he] can take a little credit. He reminded me that I would really like someone to feel that way about me (and not be afraid to say so out loud).
Thing is, I keep finding little reminders like that. I think it's the universe's way of saying, "Hey jackass - this is what you SAID you wanted, so what's your malfunction?!"

The universe can be so snotty and judgmental sometimes.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Online dating makes you crazy

While helping a friend with an online dating profile recently, Engineer made a startling discovery:
The woman he's been dating for almost a year still has an active profile on a dating website.
Now, I have my own personal questions about this woman, and whether she's the best person for one of my closest friends...but those concerns aside, I had this to say:
My profiles are all still online. I've never taken them down - they were active while I dated Big and Trooper. So I can honestly say that an active profile doesn't really mean anything. What might mean more is when she was last on the site (most sites will tell you if a user has been active within the last 24 hours, within a week, etc.). While I was dating someone exclusively, my profile would have shown I hadn't been online for months at a time.
I will admit - my current profile would say that I've been online within the last 24 hours. I was - to respond to emails with a "thanks but no thanks" message. A totally legit reason to be on the site. 
I'd have to say, this is probably my least favorite part of online dating. I know some enjoy being able to stalk keep tabs on check in with their other. By going online you can tell if he's at the computer while not responding to your texts, or see if she's signed in when she said she'd be shopping with her mom.

Thing is....all that checking only gives half the story. So you know he's online - so what? You don't know what he's doing online. He could be checking out your profile....or responding politely to emails from other people...or taking a relationship quiz or reading the sites relationship blog. He could even just be signed in and have totally forgotten to log off before going to sleep.

I recently told someone that I believe assumptions and false expectations breed crazy in both men and women. Let's face it - always expecting one behavior, and getting another, is bound to drive even the sanest person a little kookie after a while. We can only question ourselves so many times before it creates self-doubt - and self-doubt is two skips shy of a cuckoo clock.

So if the cuckoo means you're crazy, and online dating leads to the cuckoo....doesn't logic follow that online dating will, at some point and to some degree, make you crazy?

I've been doing this on and off for over three years. I'll thank you in advance for not drawing any logical conclusions to what that says about me. 

Friday, August 3, 2012


The other day, Engineer sent me this picture of a greeting card he found and "immediately thought of me." Isn't that sweet? He knows me so well.

I suppose some might take this as an insult. I mean, this sorta paints a picture of Princess Shallow-and-Picky, no?

I disagree. I think it paints a picture of Princess Knows-What-She-Wants, who has run into far too many Prince I'm-a-Total-Losers.

In fact, it gives me an excellent idea. Why couldn't there be a questionnaire that we hand out at the beginning of each date (just keep it to the point....they only get an hour to answer, tops)? Honest, written responses to four or five well-crafted questions might be all any of us really need to figure out if our date even has potential.

The trick is, you really need to know what it is you want. Your deal-breakers. If her number of exes, or his last tax return, is really what matters to you - you need to fess up, and put it on the questionnaire. Otherwise, there's no real point.

Here's a bonus, too: According to some studies, people are less likely to lie in writing. Think about it.... Who's going to lie in a format that can be ripped from a file cabinet and used against them in five years?! Not to mention, as we all well know, it is far less awkward to tell the truth in a letter (or email, or text) than while looking someone in the eye. Everyone is braver in writing.

So, after careful consideration, I've crafted my five questions*.

~ Do you have any crazy exes?
~ Do you support same-sex marriage?
~ Are you a morning person?
~ How long have you been single?
~ Do you like cats?

*This isn't a comprehensive list of everything that matters to me. Many other things matter, too - but if a guy gave me the "wrong" answer to any of these questions, I'd probably file him under friends-only, and move on.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Expiration (on the) date

When I told you about the two-date night, I mentioned that I liked a place with quick service for a first date. When I explained about date number one from that night, you understood why.

Thing is, it doesn't matter if you meet your date online, or at a bar, or at a church mixer. The truth is, you don't really know how a guy will be on a date until you're on the date. By then, unless you've planned ahead, it might be too late to save yourself.

I've been on bad first dates. There was the guy who suggested the restaurant, then handed me the bill; there was the guy who left the theater to take three separate phone calls; and more than one that nearly bored me to tears.

They were all different dates; parks, movies, dinners. What they all have in common is that there's no real time limit. If there's one thing I learned from last summer's dating marathon, it's that a first date really should be short and sweet.

I like something with counter service (like a coffee shop). If you want drinks, I suggest meeting at the bar. Why? First, it eliminates the need to wonder who is paying. In either situation, you can order (and pay) separately.

It also slaps an expiration on the date. Coffee's done? No reason to stay. You met for coffee because that's what you had time for - a cup of coffee. Having met your obligation, you can get to that next thing on your schedule - whatever it may be. "I have to run...things to do....meeting my friend the police officer...." Whatever.

You're not at the mercy of a slow kitchen, and you don't have to wait for the waiter to bring the bill. You don't have to wait for the credits to roll, or figure out a way to steer the "walk" back towards the car. Having transacted the business-end of the outing up front, you really don't even have to finish your latte. Just make sure you get it in a to-go container.

But, if things are going well? You're still open to more date. Suggest a movie, or ask if he wants to grab a bite. In a mall? Ask if he wants to walk a bit and window shop. Near a park? Maybe there's a free concert or something else going on.

Leave yourself the option to continue - or end - the date on your terms, instead of someone else's schedule.