Dating After Divorce

Dating After Divorce: I like you…but you’re not HER.

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The situation goes something like this.  I meet a guy who shows interest in me.  A few have even invested quite a bit of effort and energy to win my favor.  Just when I think I might be letting my guard down enough to actually bond with him, I find out about her.  She might be an ex-girlfriend, an ex-wife, the mother of his child or the one who got away.  She have helped destroy his marriage, or gone out with him on wild benders.  She could have, slept with his best friend, stolen his money, joined a cult, realized she was gay, or stuck around in his life just enough to emotionally manipulate and abuse him.  There are so many ways to become “her.”

I find a problem with “her” in nearly every middle-aged single man I meet.  To be fair I’m sure plenty of women also obsess about a “him” from their past.  It seems as we get older we become a patchwork of our former triumphs and traumas and can’t help but bring them to the next relationship.  Our nostalgia and idealization of former lovers keep us trapped.  Some men are more transparent about this than others.  I’ve had the following happen to me while on first dates with men I barely knew.

  • One admitted his marriage fell apart because he was still in love with his former girlfriend.  He never worked it out with the former girlfriend but his obsession destroyed his marriage.
  • Another said he was still angry at his last major girlfriend.  Not so uncommon except he had dated her over 20 years before I sat across from him nibbling on tapas.
  • One said and I quote “I still love my ex-wife.  My friendship is very close with her, even though she’s with someone else and if you or any other woman has a problem with that, I’ll always choose my ex-wife.”  This might be understandable if they had children together but they did not, and she lived halfway across the country.
  • Another guy told me that he was still in love with his ex-wife, even though she had told him she “never wanted to have sex with him”, and she had left him for another man.
  • The worst one was a man I had dinner with who went on and on about another female comedian he had corresponded with on OKCupid.  When he found out I knew her he said, “I find her fascinating and would love to have drinks with her.”  I blocked him from my phone on my way home.
  • I even had a man ask me for advice on ways he could get his ex back.  This was WHILE he was on a date with me.  I honestly felt sorry for him, but give me a break.

Even in my first major relationship right out of the gate post-divorce, my partner openly pinned away for the woman he had just dated before me.  She lived on the opposite coast and had never actually spent any significant time with him, but in his eyes she was somehow perfect.  Because she was inaccessible she was without flaws, yet an available woman who actually wanted him would never measure up.

This happens so often that now when I meet new guys I almost want to just ask him,

“So where are the bodies buried when it comes to your ex?  Do you hate her?  Do you still love her?  It doesn’t matter as hate and love are two sides of the same coin, so either way it’s bad.  How many times do you talk to her in a given month?  Are you actually divorced yet? Get it all out now, so I can leave before we might feel obligated to actually order dinner.”

 

When I see this pattern repeated it just reinforces every insecurity I have about myself.  All of the following go through my brain at the same time

  • Why is he so obsessed with her?
  • Why is no one obsessed with me?
  • Why am I OK for a backup but never the primary woman in any man’s life?
  • Why do some men obsess over women who treat them like garbage?
  • Do men only want women that they can’t have?
  • Why would he still want her if she left him for another guy?
  • I’m not good enough.  There’s something about me that makes me disgusting or unappealing.
  • Why did he chase me if he really wants her?
  • Would he take her back if she wanted to try again?
  • If I improved myself or changed my personality would that help?
  • What magic do these women posses?

I admit none of those thoughts are healthy or useful.  It’s my neurosis going on overdrive.  I find the constant struggle against “her” extremely demoralizing and a disaster for my self-esteem.  I can logically tell myself it’s not me, the guy is just hung up on his ex, and he’d treat most women like this.  I want to grab some of these men by both shoulders and scream

  • “She doesn’t want you anymore, let her go.”
  • “She’s so mean to you, you deserve better.”
  • “”If you think you guys still have a chance, then do everything you can to get her back, just leave me alone.”

The hardest are the men with children.  I don’t have kids myself, so I honestly have no idea how strange an intertwined a relationship with an ex could get.  Even if two parents absolutely hate each other they will still be deeply entrenched in each other’s lives for many years to come.  So far I’ve encountered men who bend over backwards to keep their ex happy, and men who constantly battle with their ex over every decision involving their kids.  Both are a nightmare for a new partner.  If a man is spending all of his energy towards the ex there’s nothing left for anyone else.

This rarely happened in my 20’s. Men that age just didn’t seem to get as worked up about a former partner.  It seemed like people were breaking up and hooking up with new partners all the time, without much second thought  Once we get older and put much more investment into a relationship, it just gets harder to let go. When our own personal “Happily Ever After” story gets crushed, we have a hard time imagining a new one.  In and ideal situation I would just pass out a psychological evaluation to every potential new partner with lots of questions about how they view their ex.  I know that would never really work, but it would certainly save us both time and energy.  *I’m not really serious, that’s sarcasm….but honestly it would make things easier.

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Dating After Divorce: Mr. My Bitch Ex-Wife

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Before I get started with this one, I want to indicate that this problem is not gender specific.  Both men and women are equally obsessed with or tormented by a former spouse or partner.  Since I’m a woman, I’ll use the term Mr. My Bitch Ex-Wife but it could just as easily but a Ms. My Asshole Ex-Husband.

One of the biggest obstacles with dating after a divorce is getting past the damage caused by your former marriage.  It’s something I struggle with, as my divorce was incredibly traumatic.   I faced betrayal, lies, fraud, infidelity and was nearly destroyed both financially and emotionally.  I’ve been the very person I’m going to describe here, and I still struggle to get past it.  I’m not as bad as others, but I’ve got much room for improvement.

I’ve found on most dates I’ve had with total strangers, they usually blow their cover in the first 10 -15 minutes of the conversation.  It’s happened so often, that I could almost take a stopwatch and time the first comment that will issue a red flag in my head.  I’ve heard lines like the following before the waiter dropped off the menus.

  • My ex-wife is such a bitch
  • I hate my ex, she’s pure evil
  • My ex-wife is crazy, insane, psycho, etc.
  • Isn’t divorce hell, my stupid ex-wife ruined my life

For the rest of the date,  literally every topic somehow goes back to their ex-wife.  A drink reminds them of the bitch ex-wife, the food, my phone, my dress, a story from my past, my hair, it just doesn’t end.  The worst cases will demonize their former partners to such a degree, that I might believe their ex could be a danger to the public.. Their former partner is a complete raving lunatic, hellbent on destroying lives and impossibly cruel..  If I believed everything a Mr. My Bitch Ex-Wife tells me, then they were somehow a hapless victim who got tricked into marrying a she-devil who flipped out the minute their nuptials were final.

Now sometimes they could be speaking the truth.  Both men and women can unwittingly marry sociopaths, narcissists, serial cheaters, partners with untreated mental illness, substance abuse problems or violent raging tempers.  Marriage and relationships are a crap shoot, and most of us enter into them with the best of intentions.  No one has a crystal ball to see into the future and people do change their personalities, or deep-seated problems surface years into a marriage. Regardless, if their conversation revolves around stories about an ex, they’re probably not ready to date someone new. It’s doesn’t matter if they are beautiful, charming, funny or otherwise perfect, if they are that fixated on an ex there’s no room for a new partner. However there is some gray area here.  If you’re past the age of 35, you’re not going to find an age-appropriate partner who does not have some complicated baggage.  It’s hard for anyone to get past a major break-up or divorce, so it’s not unusual or unexpected behavior to vent about a former partner.  It’s also next to impossible to talk about your past if you have to block out 10 years or more to avoid talking about an ex.  No one is perfect but some warning signs to look for are the following.

Speak in absolutes – When they speak of their ex, it sounds as if they are describing a fairy tale villain.  There are no redeeming qualities, the person is completely evil, mean, cruel, or vicious.

Take no responsibility for picking their partner – Regardless of the circumstances of my divorce I do take full responsibility for choosing my husband.  Yes, he lied to me and was incredibly deceptive, but I chose to ignore several warning signs that could have indicated something was up.  I wanted to live in denial.  I didn’t want to face reality.

Portray themselves as complete victims – In some cases this is true, but how did the person react to abuse?  Did they take steps to get out of the marriage?  Did they fight back?  What did they try to do to change the situation?  In some marriages, especially ones with children, people can feel trapped.  What they do to save themselves or the situation is very telling. Even just standing up and calling out the abuse can be quite courageous and proactive.

Every ex is crazy – I knew one woman who literally claimed that all four of her ex-husbands tried to kill her.  The stories she told were fantastical, and she had problems keeping the details straight.  Anyone can make the mistake of marrying or dating someone with a propensity for violence, but it’s highly suspect if every former partner is unstable and violent. Either they love being in destructive relationships, or they are exaggerating their past.

Ultimately it comes down to what you are comfortable with.  If you want to take a chance on someone who spends half the date ripping apart their ex, then go for it.  You might be happier though with someone who actually wants to get to know you, and not treat you like a free therapist.  If he says the words “bitch” and “ex-wife” in the same sentence right after meeting you, it might be a clue that you’ll end up being the next “bitch ex” in his life he’ll complain about to someone new.

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Dating in New York City: The Rat Race Redefined.

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Months before I moved to New York City I made the mistake of watching a documentary about rats in the city.  I learned rats could chew right through cement and squeeze their entire bodies through holes no bigger than the size of their skulls. Rats must constantly gnaw on anything in order to keep their always-growing teeth a manageable size.  Their jaw muscles exert a shocking 12 tons of pressure per square inch.  Rats spread disease, fleas and cause fires from chewing through electrical wiring.  In moments of extreme stress they attack each other and will even resort to cannibalism.   After that film, the mere sight of a battle-scarred super-sized rodent with a flesh tail would cause my heartbeat to quicken and stomach to churn.  I found myself in fits of panic if they got more than a few feet from me.

When my ex and I moved from Brooklyn to Washington Heights we discovered a fairly developed rat nest in the roots of a tree in the sidewalk.   In the rats would scurry from their nest across the sidewalk and into the alley of a building two doors down from our own.  We’d hear screams of people who had made the mistake of walking on our side of the street night after night.  My ex-husband counted as many as 20 rats at a time in the courtyard of our neighboring building.  We’d watch in despair as they would chew perfect tunnels through solid concrete the city poured over their nest..  Animal control repeatedly set poison traps, and laid wife mesh over the concrete and nothing seemed to stop them.

Then one night, out of nowhere my reaction towards the monstrous creatures changed.  I was coming home late at night after a comedy gig and saw one, all by himself sniffing around the subway platform searching for food.  He had half of a tail and large patches of baldness along with matted fur.  This rat wasn’t doing so well, and for the first time I saw desperation in his movements.  He just didn’t run around like every other rat I’d ever seen before, he seemed panicked and fearful.

I couldn’t help but see a part of myself in this poor dying creature.  When I first moved here, I was one half of a couple.  I had dreams and ambitions that always included the man I thought was the love of my life.  Fourteen years later after the terrorist attack on 9-11, a city-wide blackout, Hurricane Sandy, a devastating divorce, the premature death of too many friends, suicidal thoughts and crippling depression I found myself alone.  I’m not as young as I once was, my reproductive capacity shrinks by the minute and I’m deeply damaged.   In order to pay my bills I work constantly.  Some weeks I might get one day off, or work nonstop without a break for days on end.

There are those who criticize me for choices I’ve made, things I’ve written or said, and my “bad” attitude.  Of course they have no idea what goes on in my head, or how difficult it might be to come back after such a devastating loss.  Things haven’t completely healed and in the past six years I’ve rarely felt strong emotion towards a man for any extended period of time.  I don’t know if I’ll live the rest of my days alone.  In many ways surviving after the breakup has been harder than the split itself.  One day turns into another and nothing changes.

I get harassed on a daily basis with men leering at me, shouting out filth, blocking my path or even grabbing me on the street.   Most of the guys who express interest in me only want sex, and will literally not even touch me after the fact.  It’s as if I’ve left the room and might as well leave, which is usually what I do anyway.  I’ve numbed myself enough to stand it, and swallowed pride and emotions with the increasing dexterity.  If that’s what I need to do to survive then so be it., I survive, but only barely.

So when I looked at that rat, desperately hunting for food, doing nothing more but trying to make it to the next day I felt empathy for his plight.  I didn’t want to go near the poor animal, and I’m not kidding myself about wild urban rats. They’re a dangerous scourge, the city is right to try to eradicate them and control their numbers.  Regardless he was still a little life who never did anything but try to make it to the next day.  For reasons beyond his control he was born into a crowded metropolis and will probably die of starvation, poison, or at the teeth of another rat soon enough.  For the first time in my life, I had compassion for something I had once reviled.  Chances are he never ate another rat, or attacked a human, he was probably just an average rat living off a garbage and dodging subway cars.   I sat down on a bench a safe distance away from him and watched his darting and scheming until the next train came.

As much as I’ve been through, and as hard as things get, my struggles and pain have been a gift.  Had I stayed married and enjoyed the success of my ex-husband’s thriving career I might have never found empathy and compassion for that sad little animal.  I would take what I had for granted, and failed to see that every new day is truly a blessing.  I had to lose everything to become more human.  My life might not get easier for many years to come, or it could change in an instant. I’m just happy I’m still here and I don’t fear the rats anymore.

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Dating in NYC: Love and Real Estate

I’ve lived in New York City now for fourteen years. I’ve been single for the past six, and I started searching for a co-op about a year ago. I couldn’t help but notice the eerie similarities between hunting for real estate and looking for love. Both are rare and precious commodities. New York City’s vacancy rate hovers around 3% and never goes above 5%.  About 3/4 of all apartments are rentals, leaving only the remaining 1/4 available to buy.  Most of the apartments on the market are co-ops that require financial gymnastics, and approval of an overly scrutinizing board. Even if you find an apartment in your budget you still have to get  80% financing and then impress upon your soon to be potential neighbors that you’re a low risk addition to their building.

Dating here is not much better, especially for single women.  New York City has 150,000 more single women than single men.  It might not seem like a huge number in a city of 8 million but it’s enough to throw off the odds a bit.  To make things worse most New Yorkers work long hours, live scattered over five boroughs and have little disposable income to throw away at dating. I’ve found it’s best to not get too emotionally attached to any one partner or property.

I once was the only person to show up at an open house for a cute prewar newly renovated studio in prime condition. Just as I was about to start the long and arduous process of making an offer, an all cash buyer walked in before I had a signed contract and snapped the property out from under me.  I watched in horror as the same scenario happened again with other properties.  In dating, I’ve had a few amazing dates with men who seemed almost perfect only to have them vanish without explanation.  My text messages went un-answered, my emails ignored and I never knew the reason.

I couldn’t help but see the similarities and the heartache that went with both, so I devised a glossary of sorts of common terms used in NYC real estate listings and how they equate with the dating scene in New York City.

Prime Location = Is the trip between Astoria and Bushwick worth it? Can a man in the Bronx find love with a woman in Staten Island? Is Queens to New Jersey even possible? Finding someone on the same subway line = prime location

Low Maintenance Costs = Cheap date

All Cash Buyer = Partners that offer everything up all at once with very little drama and no strings attached. The downside is they could flip you. Just as quickly as they find you attractive, they’ve moved on. They can just as easily make another offer as quickly as they made the first.

Unit has pre-existing long term tenant = Married.

Board Approval Required = Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn – everything dissected and analyzed for risk assessment. Are you friend’s with an ex? Is your job stable? Do you post NSFW videos, sports clips or cat memes? How many friends do you have? Are your tweets too personal or do you post political rants? Do you change your status update 20 times a day? Do you hardly ever check your profile? Are your photos of landscapes, or of your family

No Board Approval Sponsor Sale = The person either doesn’t know how to use the internet or doesn’t care. No questions asked as long as you fit the criteria. You are dealing with a risk taker or at last someone over 50 who doesn’t understand this thing called “the internet.”

Move in Condition = Easy going personality, no glaring compatibility issues, similar hobbies and interests.

Needs TLC = Major emotional baggage – divorce, nasty breakups, children from a previous marriage. – Anything that might need fixing or at least managed.

Pet Friendly = Deal breakers or selling points depending on your allergies or your furry friends.

Building has Bad Financials = A date has bad financials – no job, huge debt, poor credit

Seller is Seeking All Cash Buyer = Just someone looking to hookup

Lack of Inventory = Are you a woman over 35? Then you know exactly what this means. Most men in your age group are married or at least coupled up. You’re going to have to look a lot harder for what you want, or settle for someone much younger or older.  It’s not as a big of a problem for men.  If you’re wondering why, it’s called babies, biological clocks and a patriarchal culture that values younger women over older.   Although no one is immune, both genders can have unrealistic age standards when it comes to dating.

As impossible as the New York Real estate market is right now, I’ve had far more luck finding a new apartment, then a partner.  Let me rephrase that for emphasis.  I’ve actually had an easier time finding an affordable apartment in a year than I have finding a partner in the nearly six years I’ve been divorced.  I’m not even kidding.  In my search for an apartment I had the help of an attorney and real estate agent.  I also looked EVERYWHERE from the far reaches of Brooklyn, to Queens, upper Manhattan and even parts of the Bronx.  I called and emailed at one point about 25-30 agents and saw as much property as I could possibly fit into my schedule.  There wasn’t much on the market in my price range but I viewed everything within reason.

I’ve basically tried the same approach to dating in that at this point I’ve probably been on at least 25-35 dates.  Most have been awkward and painful and a few men have had full blown meltdowns.  I’ve been out with men who complained about their ex-wives the whole time, bragged about their drug use, openly insulted me, or expected sex on the first date.   The vast majority of emails I’ve gotten on online dating websites have been from men under age 25 or guys looking for no strings attached sex.  Most of them men who do contact me never follow through with a date. So far nothing has worked, and I haven’t gone out with anyone for more than two or three dates in over five years.

For now, I’ll just settle for the apartment of my dreams rather than any prince charming.  Real estate is more stable anyway, it won’t have a midlife crisis and leave me for a younger seller, develop a substance abuse problem, grow mean and bitter and blame me for all it’s shortcomings, develop a gambling or ignore me and go play golf.  It may not cuddle at night but it will increase in value, and in the end I might get lucky and unload it to an all cash buyer.  I certainly couldn’t ask for such certainty with a new boyfriend.

My whole real estate search also made me ask some questions about myself.  I’m definitely a pet friendly unit with good financials and low maintenance, but one that needs some TLC.  I’d also say my board is fairly strict and rather picky of any potential candidate but the opportunity for a long-term investment is solid.  Now, if I could just find the right buyer, I’d be all set.

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Dating Online: Advice for Men – Photos Revisited

I written about this topic before, but after a long hiatus from online dating, I’ve decided to revisit it.  It seems like men’s photos are getting worse, not better.  As I’ve said on the blog multiple times, If I was going to give men any advice on how to create a successful online dating profile it would be this.

Have a trusted female friend look over your profile before you publish it.

I could type that 100 times for emphasis, but I’ll restrain myself.  Don’t use your mom, or your sister, use a trusted female friend.  You want to use a woman who doesn’t see you as a a nonsexual being, so your relatives are out of the question.

Here are my top 10 tips for picking the right photo for your online dating profile.

Serial Killer

1. Don’t look like a serial killer – What does a serial killer look like?  It’s hard to say really.  It could be the outdated serial killer glasses, or the slicked down side part.  We just know it when we see it.  Show your friends, and simply ask – Do I look like a serial killer in any of these shots?  If the answer is yes, then don’t post them.

2. Don’t look like a pretentious douche bag – What does that mean?  It depends on the person.  Are you standing in front of your flashy Porsche or McMansion in your photos?  Are contemplating the universe with the caption to match?  Are you holding a pipe while wearing a bow tie made out of pipe cleaners?  Looking like a prick is relative to the woman who is viewing your visage.  If you use terms like “visage” in your photo captions, you might look like a pretentious douche bag.

3. Don’t use several group photos – Some guys have nothing but group shots.  Don’t make a woman search through several photos playing – Where’s Waldo?

4. Don’t cut your head off – I’m going to assume you’re married or hideous.  Don’t give me bullshit about having an important job. I once had a date inside the United Nations, it wasn’t the greatest match but his job wasn’t exactly mundane.

5. Don’t use professionally shot modeling or acting photos – They look a bit forced.  You can use one or two but don’t have a slew of them.

6. Don’t limit yourself to one photo – Use at least three.  The more you show the more likely someone will respond.  If your only photo is  of yourself from a far distance, no potential date is going to have any idea what you look like.  Use a body shot, a crop of your face and one that’s from the waist up.  If you have more than three that’s great but three should be a good start.

7. Don’t use a landscape photo as your main profile picture – Again, I will assume you’re hiding something or married.  SHOW YOUR FACE!

8. Please don’t post a dick pic – I said please.  I’m begging you not to do it, unless of course it’s a hook-up site or a woman asks specifically to see your junk.  An unsolicited dick pic is bad enough, a dick pic as your profile photo is the absolute worst.

9. Don’t post a photo of yourself with an ex – Or really even a sister, a friend or any woman other than maybe your mom.  It’s confusing, and distracting.  I’m going to be trying to figure out who the woman is, rather than just focusing on you.  And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t use a photo of yourself next to your ex, with her face blacked out.

10. Limit or eliminate bathroom selfies – You’ve got a smoking hot bod.  You want to show it off.  Well come up with a more creative way than a self-portrait taken with your cell phone in the bathroom.  You could snap one of you working out, or on the beach.  I’ve probably seen 10,000 bathroom selfies at this point.  Just don’t do it.

BE HONEST – One of my favorite all time profiles was of a beautiful black man in his late thirties.  Half of his photos were in typical attire of oxfords, ties, jeans and slacks.  Every other photo was of the same man in full women’s drag complete with wig, makeup, lashes, and padding.  He openly admitted he was a cross dresser but was straight and interested in women.  I APPLAUD this man for making such a bold move.  Sure it might turn off a lot of women, but the perfect woman for him wouldn’t mind at all.  There were no secrets and I admired his courage for putting it all out there.

If you follow this basic advice I promise you’ll get more emails on your profile!!!  And again, when in doubt have a female friend give it the once over before you publish it!  You’d be surprised how much having a woman’s perspective could help you out.

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Dating in New York City – The Death of Dating & Emotional Zombies

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I sometimes think being single in New York City turns a person into an emotional zombie.  I don’t say that to insult single New Yorkers as I am single myself.  I have noticed though in the past few years that my personality has drastically changed when it comes to dating.  I used to get really worked about it, and now I’m a step away from comatose.  All emotion has basically been beaten out of me.  No one has physically attacked me of course, but any rough edges are now weathered down by a sea of apathy.  It’s as if the harshness of the dating scene washes over us like a thousand pieces of sand paper an smooths us down to smooth dullness.

After the first few dates, I blamed myself for being overly emotional or too screwed up from my recent divorce.  I was a complete emotional wreck and probably should have taken time off before dating, but it wasn’t just my emotional turmoil that was causing the problem.  It was an entire city devoid of authentic emotion. Not everyone, but most men  acted like the walking dead, ruled by their genitalia and nothing else. I was far more judgmental of this quality when I started out, then I realized it wasn’t so much a choice as a method of survival.  Like a nasty pandemic it spread throughout the whole city, neither gender spared.  I heard story after story from my male friends of women who acted the same way.  We were all reduced to little more than our zip code, our sexual preferences and lifestyles.  I was no longer a woman in my late thirties/early forties but Flatbush, straight, non-smoker with cats.  Everything else about me didn’t seem to matter anymore.

What caused this?  What turned an entire metropolis into the land of the emotionally dead?  Technology hasn’t helped.  Even though now we can connect in so many ways,  I can honestly say without irony that I’ve had more solicitations for cyber sex than actual physical contact.  When once a man might call me on the phone to chat, they now text. Communication reduced to broken phrases and emoticons.  Even typing in a complete sentence is too much effort for some.  Misunderstandings are common as tone is next to impossible to convey and sarcasm deadly.   Dating websites have evolved into  hook-up apps that promise little more than one awkward or thrilling evening to cut the boredom.

Eventually I’ve succumbed and became numb myself.  It must have been all the bad dates, the dick pics, the requests for immediate sex, the constant same day cancellations, and the judgmental pricks who think taking a train to Brooklyn is just too much to ask.  I officially gave up a while ago.  I’ve shut down all of my online dating profiles, I can’t even fathom joining tinder.  When I do date, which isn’t often, I find myself trying to smother any spark of emotions that are left.  I tell myself, don’t react, don’t care, show no weakness and maybe you’ll get through it.  Maybe if I’m dead enough, I’ll finally win at this game.

But in some ways my zombie infection is a good thing.  I used to put up with so much bad treatment.  When I would once make excuses for a man who didn’t text back, I now delete them from my phone.  I cut them off and don’t look back.  When a man is rude or snobbish about my type of employment he becomes invisible to me.  When a guy shrugs his shoulders at taking the Q train out to central Brooklyn, I erase him from my brain.  I have in many ways become the person I feared.  It’s not that I don’t have empathy for others, it’s just survival.  In a city where anyone can walk away and return to instant anonymity negative behavior thrives.

I’m less judgmental of people just snapping and hooking up with the next person who offers.  I understand the need for human touch that lies within us all no matter how hard we try to bury it.  We try to control it completely but all the pornography and our sexually heightened culture can’t control the need to just be next to someone if for a moment.  I’ll shuffle back to my own corner of Gotham and try to smother the beast inside who cries out for more.  I let the sea of apathy wash over me again and the numbness is comforting.

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Life After Divorce: Please don’t Blame me for being Single

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The number one article on this blog is simply titled “Dating After Divorce: Why it’s so Difficult in your late Thirties” It’s been read nearly 30,000 times.  Nothing else I’ve written comes close to the amount of hits that article gets.  It’s certainly not my best or most entertaining piece. It gets a lot of hits because there are so many frustrated people searching for answers.

My younger friends try to empathize, but they have no idea what I go through.   When a person is in his or her early twenties, they’re constantly meeting other single people.   When they get together their friends a few strangers might end up making out on a couch in the corner.  When I go to a social event with folks my age, it’s mostly married couples.  While the pairs huddle together to discuss co-op boards, school districts and home renovations, I’m in the corner with the other single gals and gay men swapping sex stories and dick pics.  I’m not sure why, but straight single men are rare at such soirees.  At the last barbeque a unattached heterosexual man showed up alone, then bragged about his multiple girlfriends.

My married friends really don’t get it.  I love them dearly, but they just have no idea what I go through.  They wake up next to the same person every day of their lives.  They pay bills, worry about the future and plan vacations.  They might fight often, they might be at the brink of divorce, they might even romanticize their single years, but they’re still one half of a couple.  They know nothing of going to every social gathering alone, buying solo movie tickets, or being set up on horrible dates by well-meaning friends.

One married friend suggested that I change my attitude about dating.  He then listed three people who had all gotten remarried after a divorce.  I had to point out to him that all three examples were men who had married much younger women. Being single past 35 is difficult for both genders, but the challenges men and women face are different.  In two of the examples he gave, the men went on to have more children.  My age definitely makes me less attractive to a man who wants kids.  When I asked my friend for some examples of women who had remarried in my age range, he had none.  He just couldn’t see that my problems with dating are real and not imagined.  A simple attitude change was not going to produce age appropriate single men from the sky.

When I go out of my social network most of the interest I get is from men half my age.  I try to tell the young ones they won’t understand my sarcasm, my world-weary outlook and my complete lack of shame or social filter.  Usually they realize they’d rather be with someone with more of a spark of hope in her eyes rather than the jaded cougar. I don’t blame them.

I want my counterpart.  A man who’s had a few of his dreams and aspirations crushed.  At least he’ll understand my point of view and understand that life is mostly improvisation.  The young ones don’t always get that, and how could they?  The roller coasters of romance have knocked people my age around so much they’ve gotten skittish and scared.  They’ll pine away for a love they can’t have, complain bitterly about the one who broke their heart and avoid making any type of commitment with a new partner.  I do empathize as I’m not much different, but with so much hesitation and apathy it’s hard to get excited about anyone.

So I’ve tried, and I have other things to do with my life than spend all of my free time looking for “the one.”.  I’ve accepted that this could be my reality for some years to come.  It gets lonely, and there are days when I just want to scream at the top of my lungs and make it stop.  Then there are times when I’m so thankful that I’m not responsible for anyone else, I’m in charge of all of my finances and I can paint my bedroom whatever color I want.  When I walk by a couple fighting, or listen to a friend rant about their marital problems, I think – I’m free.

When did being in a relationship become the only path to contentment and happiness?  Don’t we all know couples who are miserable?  Don’t we all have friends and family members who remain in a marriage that is a toxic hell?  Don’t we all know men and women who will be with nearly any partner rather than be alone?  It’s not the years you’ve put in, but the quality of the partnership.  Right now after everything I’ve been through, I can honestly say I know more about myself then I ever did when I was someone’s girlfriend or wife.  I’ve discovered more about my strengths and weaknesses in the past 5 years than I did in the first 36.  I might not have someone to hold my hand when things get rough, but I also don’t have anyone to pull me down or hold me back.  I am responsible for my demise or my success.

I’m single and I might remain so for the rest of my life.  I probably won’t have kids.  I’ll have no first day of school photos, handmade cards with the word “Mom” scribbled in crayon, or pools of vomit to clean up after an underage drinking binge.  I won’t go through the highs and lows of parenthood, and none of this means I am less of a person.  A partner and a child do not validate my existence on this planet.

I’m not broken because I’ve been alone for an extended period of time.  I am single.  This is my life, and there is nothing wrong with me because I choose to live alone, rather than stay in a bad partnership. If two people are happy in a long-term committed relationship it’s a beautiful, wonderful, magical thing, but so is building a future by myself, on my terms and without a toxic partner.

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Dating Online – If it Looks too Good to be True…

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I’ve heard stories of women getting scammed from online dating sites, and I never thought I would be a target.  Most of the stories involved men starting up long-distance, virtual romances with women.  Eventually, the romeos would ask for money, either to come meet their true love in person or to help with a personal tragedy – a dying mother, a sick child, or a cancer diagnosis.

I always thought I was immune to this sort of scam because most of the stories I’ve heard involved older women and I refuse to engage in correspondence with anyone who doesn’t live in my immediate area.  I trust no one.  Then one day I got a message from a profile that looked like a Jaguar in a parking lot full of Hondas.   For the purposes of this article, I’ll call him Mr. Beautiful. He simply wrote,

“Hey.”

It was the classic non-committal male introduction. I probably get 20 messages like that a week, from “Hey” to “Hello” to “What’s up?” Most of them go unanswered but this one peaked my interest because the sender was a full-on pretty boy, light brown hair, striking bone structure and a chiseled hairless torso. Now anyone who knows me well, knows I have a “type.” If you lined up all of my ex-boyfriends and trysts, most of them look like they need a sandwich, or two. I like a lanky man.  A massive chest and chiseled abs have never been my thing.

I’m also overly cautious around men who are drop dead gorgeous. As I’ve said before on this blog,

He who gets the pussy easily, does not treat the pussy well.

Of course there are exceptions to that rule, but most of us know exceptionally good-looking men who go through women like a rottweiler goes through chew toys.  Mr. Beautiful was so attractive, I wouldn’t put him in the top 10% or even 1% of the men I’ve seen.  I would put him in the top one tenth of one percent of absolutely, crazy, perfect men I’ve ever encountered.  It just didn’t make sense to me that he would be on a free dating site.  He had his occupation listed as “model” which made sense, but models come in contact with plenty of attractive women all day long.  A typical beautiful person for hire will meet other models, makeup artists, photographers, art directors, interns, agents, managers, stylists, and even celebrities.

Suspecting fraud, I started analyzing his profile further.  All of his photos were candid. He didn’t post professional modeling shots.  Whomever created his profile tried to make it look casual and believable.  They used well lit snapshots that appeared right out of his daily life.  I still thought though that someone could have downloaded the images from a social media account and the entire thing was a ruse.

As an experiment, I decided to send him a brief email back. He responded by asking a few questions about what I did for a living.  I thought this was odd, as most men ask where I live, they don’t ask what I do.   Questions about my occupation still wasn’t enough to figure out if this man was the real deal or not.  I told him a few superficial things about myself, but didn’t give him my name.

I then read his profile more closely and discovered he was using his actual name on his account, which is extremely unusual for anyone on a dating site.   A quick google search later and I found out the name and images he was the former face of Calvin Klein fragrance.   The information on his profile and Wikipedia page were almost completely identical. It wasn’t an exact cut and paste, but there was absolutely no additional information about him on either source.  It seemed a bit too perfect, but I still wanted a greater smoking gun.  I didn’t want to go out with this man, I just couldn’t help but try to find the evidence I needed to crack the facade.

I kept digging and found two Instagram accounts. One had 32,000 followers, and the other had only 300. The smaller account was made up of a bunch of the same photos at the dating profile. The smaller Instagram account also had some of the exact same information as the dating profile such as his dog’s name, and more bits of personal information.  Both Instragram accounts were public.  It didn’t appear that one was personal and the other used for publicity.  If that were the case, then why not make the smaller profile private?  It seemed like someone created a phony Instagram account to further legitimize the fake dating profile.

I got a second email from Mr. Beautiful.

“You know I hate this site. Why don’t we just chat on this other app.”

My suspicions were completely verified when I realized he wanted me to follow him to some sort of third-party site.  OKCupid has a chat feature so there was no reason we had to go outside of it to talk in real time.  I googled the app and found that it was rife with porn offers and other adult solicitations.

I responded,

“I don’t think your profile is legitimate. I think this is some type of scam. I’m out.”

I tagged his profile as phony but waited before I blocked any future messages.  I wanted to see if he responded.  I located the real model on Facebook and left him a simple message on his fan page that someone was impersonating him on OKCupid.

I got absolutely no response from the Mr. Beautiful profile or the model he was impersonating.  I doubt the real model even noticed my comment.  He probably had someone manage his Facebook page for him.  It was surprising though that whomever created the phony Mr. Beautiful account didn’t even try to plead innocence.  I honestly expected an email like,

“Hey, I’m real. What are you talking about?”

My bet is when I called the scammer out on their deception they just deleted me and moved on. I’m sure they probably emailed dozens of women hoping some of them would take the bait.

When I started talking about this on my Facebook account, most of the comments I got were from men along the lines of

“So this happens to women too?”

My guy friends all had stories to tell of women from other countries seeking green cards, ladies asking for money and prostitutes posing as every day gals just looking for a date.

Of course an International male model could be on a dating site, even a free one, but the two Instagram accounts, the perfect match to his Wikipedia page and the insistence on using an outside application to communicate just screamed FRAUD.

I couldn’t help but think of the classic line regarding New York real estate

If it looks to good to be true, it probably is.

Meeting the face of Calvin Klein fragrance on a free dating website is about as likely as finding a one-bedroom in the Upper East Side with a balcony, an eat in kitchen, and jacuzzi tub for $500 a month. I’m sure it could happen in some alternate universe but it’s highly unlikely.

Part of me wonders if Mr. Beautiful really did have a legitimate profile.  Maybe I was just being too suspicious and we would have rode off into the sunset to have our painfully awkward first and only date.  I think instead I dodged a bullet of requests for nude photos, an avalanche of dick picks, pornographic spam, unauthorized charges on my credit card, computer viruses, malware, identity theft or requests for money.  I guess I’ll never know.  HA!  Whomever created the fake account wasn’t an idiot, but one of the many gifts I got from my difficult divorce was – NEVER TRUST ANYONE.  Sure it causes me problems from time to time, but I’m much less likely to fall for a scam artist in an International model’s clothing.  I still prefer a thinner guy with messy hair rather than a pretty boy with rock hard abs anyway.  If someone wanted to dupe me, they would need to use a much more average looking guy who desperately needed to fill out his clothing.  If he had a pair of specs on his face….it could be my undoing.

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Top 10 Rules for Dating in New York City

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It’s been five years since my marriage completely disintegrated.  I found myself suddenly thrust back into the dating pool at age 36.  My single friends tried to warn me, but I honestly had no choice.  My marriage was dead and there was no saving it.  I made every dating mistakes a few times.  I’ve evolved from overly emotional, clingy and starry-eyed to cynical, jaded and emotionally bereft.  I keep hoping things will get better, but they never improve.  I’ve tried online dating to no avail.  Most of the guys online never follow through with dates, so I find myself carving out precious time only to resort to sitting in a coffee shop by myself or watching House of Cards on Netflix when my date cancels.  You know it’s bad when you think to yourself that doing business is easier than dating in this town.  I’ve honestly been treated better in most professional relationships, than I ever have been in romantic ones.

So I’ve devised this list.  It pretty much encapsulates what’s become of dating in the city that never sleeps.  From what I’ve heard this across the board for men and women of all sexual orientations and gender identifications.

How to Date in NYC


1. Lower your expectations – I’ve gone from thinking “Maybe I’ll get remarried someday” to “Just answer a simple text message, I only sent you one in the past three days.”


2. Become numb – Get rid of all of your highs and lows as they will not serve you.


3. Show no weaknesses – Don’t let on your hopes and fears too soon.  Show no signs of insecurity.  These things can come later, but since this person probably won’t stick around for any length of time, they don’t need to know any of this.  Put your game face on and keep it on.


4. Expect rude behavior – If you send a simple “What’s up?” text, do not expect a response.  This is after you’ve been out with the person and seen them check their phone every ten minutes. Expect last minute cancellations, constant excuses for why they aren’t available and angry rants about ex-partners.  These are all par for the course.


5. Completely give up on the notion of age appropriate – I’m hit on by men as young as 18 up to around 27 or 28, then the next largest demographic is mid-fifties.  I can’t explain this, but I’ve given up trying.  I just go with what’s offered.


6. Google everyone – Knowledge is power.  Don’t stop at google.  Youtube, Facebook, Twittter even Instagram hold few secrets.


7. Trust no one – Because we live in a city of strangers, a person has to earn your trust before you just believe anything they tell you.  “I had to work” could easily mean – “I was hooking up with one of my other regulars” You might eventually trust your partner, but until then, take what they say with a grain of salt.  Note inconsistencies, never assume they are legit.


8. Get used to the phrase – “I’m just so busy” – You’ll say this yourself.  But you will also hear it as an excuse for everything.


9. Get used to the phrase – “Oh but you live so far away.” New York City is a big town.  We sometimes meet in the middle of this Metropolis in Manhattan.  Only later do we realize that a Bronx to Queens commute is just impractical.  Although some expect to put in absolutely no effort whatsoever.  Basically they will only consider dating you on a regular basis if you live two or three stops away on the same subway line they take every day.


10. Have fun with showing off your dick pic collection, and you’ll get one…trust me you’ll get one. – I don’t know if there is a lesbian or straight woman equivalent, or if this phenomena is as common with every sexual orientation.  I only know that straight women and gay men easily collect dick pics and full frontal nudes. I’ve scrolled through dozens in my gay friend’s phones. I’ve gotten several and I never once requested – “Please send me a photo of your cock. Preferably a self-portrait taken with your phone.  A bathroom shot would really be something special!”  I’ve also gotten requests for photographs of body parts or my mouth wrapped around dildos and various objects.  I’ve never complied. Who said romance was dead?


11. Accept your fate as a crazy cat lady/eccentric bachelor. – I know this brings us to eleven.  For men I guess the crazy cat lady equivalent is the weirdo eccentric bachelor.  We all know a few.  The guys who never got married and have that apartment just full of strange things from their youth.  It’s small and rent stabilized and they’ve lived there for years.  They’ll probably die there but they won’t be eaten by their pet cats, instead someone might stumble upon their mummified corpse after neighbors complain of the smell or they are a final no-show for their eviction in housing court.  I hope that’s not my fate, but things aren’t looking so good lately.

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Dear Susan Patton: Take Your Advice and Shove It!

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Susan, I know you really think you’re helping out young women by encouraging them to nab an eligible bachelor while they’re still in college.  Interestingly though the divorce rate is much higher for women who marry for the first time under the age 25.  If women actually take your advice they might pick what you think is a brilliant mate, but if they marry him before age 25, they’ll battle the same genius in divorce court later.

Here are your eight reasons why women in New York City can’t get a husband.  I know this article was published back in March, but a friend just sent me the link and I felt compelled to respond.  I left my husband nearly five years ago, and haven’t had a serious long-term relationship since.  You claim to know WHY women like myself are still single, so I’m going to answer each one of your reasons with my own personal experience.

1. We drink too much – I actually don’t drink alcohol often, and do absolutely no drugs.  I’m a vegetarian and you would probably encourage me to seem less complicated and start eating meat.  Well that’s not going to happen.

2. We spend too much time on iphones and other electronic devices – My ipod has been broken for the past several months.  I miss it.  The earbuds drowned out the constant cat calls.  I live in a less gentrified area of Brooklyn, and it never stops.  Am I supposed to stop and engage an intoxicated gentlemen the next time he makes a comment about my ass?  Maybe that’s why I’m not meeting Mr. Right!

3. We wear too much black – Of course that’s it.  Black makes us look like witches and men hate witches.  I know Angelina Jolie gets no attention and she wears black all the time.  She even plays a witch in Maleficent and everyone knows, men can’t stand the sight of Angelina Jolie.

4. We are dating too many guys at work – I’m self-employed and have no co-workers so I’m not sure how I’m doing that.  I guess I’m dating myself too often.

5. We spend too much time with our gay friends – This is New York City, are you out of your mind?  I don’t just have gay friends.  I’ve got transgender, gay, bisexual, pansexual, polyamorous and several who identify as gender-flexible.  I’m not giving up my non-heterosexual friends.

6. We are ignoring our biological clocks – I know I’m 41 and am well aware of it.  Am I supposed to get pregnant by any random man?  That would seem a bit reckless.  How about I just accept it’s not going to happen and focus on something else.  Adopted kids need homes too.  I don’t have to grow one in my womb.

7. We hook up too much – OH HOW I WISH THIS WAS TRUE!  Honestly I’m fairly picky, I’ve got trust issues, and I just don’t feel safe hooking up with most of the guys who offer it.  It’s not their looks so much as its how they treat me.  If a guy is rude, I have very little interest in sleeping with him. I also don’t like bad sex, and hookups are like rolling the dice.  I don’t know the last time you hooked up with anyone but it can be absolutely dreadful.

8. We overly rely on NYC conveniences – Actually I don’t. Take out is pricy. You also implied this lifestyle is making us fat, but New York City women are some of the fittest in the country.  And Susan you are a full-figured gal, I would just celebrate it and stop blaming General Tso’s chicken.

So that’s your eight reasons, and I answered every one of them.  Now I have a few questions for you.  Susan you’re divorced.  How did that go? My divorce pushed me to the brink of madness and into a literal death spiral.  I had massive depression, anxiety attacks and suicidal tendencies.  I eventually went on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication.  I’m fine now, and drug free but, It was a regular horror show.  I’m sure your divorce wasn’t easy.  Since marriage is about a 50/50 chance nowadays why would you promote anyone to enter into a legally binding relationship that could end in a catastrophic divorce?

Here are my five reasons, why I doubt I’ll ever say “I do” again.  

1. I never want to combine my money with another person – This is the MAIN reason I never want to get married again.  I used to work with my husband, and when my marriage fell apart my income evaporated.  Now I make my own money and decide how I spend it.  It’s amazingly liberating and I never want to go back to even a joint checking account.

2. I don’t want to move – I like living in Brooklyn.  If I choose to move, it should be my choice.

3. I’ve accepted I’m never having my own children. – If I do decide to have a child, I’ll probably adopt.  The adoption process is long and expensive but having a baby at my age is not without problems.  I’ve also accepted that I might never be a parent.  A lot of women never want to have kids.  I did, but my life didn’t work out as planned.  I don’t feel like a failure because I won’t be a parent.

4. I feel complete and fulfilled as a single person – I know this might shock you.  I don’t know how you manage as a single person yourself.  The daily torment must be getting to you.  You must be so miserable that you write books encouraging young women to desperately get what you don’t have.  I would love to date someone special but the longer I’ve been single the more I’ve grown to love it.

5. I never want to get divorced again – If someone wants to get married four or five times good for them.  The prospect of going through another divorce though is so terrifying to me, I think I’ll avoid doing it again.

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