Relationships

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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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 Rick Perry, Being Gay is not a Disease

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Rick Perry, you really don’t understand homosexuality.  To quote you directly.

Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that,” Perry said. “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.

You also advocated for the widely discredited, reparative therapy for homosexuals.  To quote the Southern Poverty Law Center 

Conversion therapy – sometimes known as reparative or “sexual reorientation” therapy – is a dangerous practice based on the premise that people can change their sexual orientation, literally “converting” from gay to straight. Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.

People who have undergone conversion therapy have reported increased anxiety, depression, and in some cases, suicidal ideation.

You might also think that homosexuality is a disease, but the medical community would strongly disagree with you.  To quote psychiatrytoday.com 

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees removed homosexuality from its official diagnostic manual, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Second Edition (DSM II). The action was taken following a review of the scientific literature and consultation with experts in the field. The experts found that homosexuality does not meet the criteria to be considered a mental illness.

I hate to break this to you but, gay men and women have existed in every culture on the planet, long before a few scant condemnations in the Old and New testaments of the Christian bible  Despite the importance some Christians have placed on the evils of homosexuality, Jesus Christ didn’t think it was worthy of discussion.

Rick, do you ever wonder what happens to gay men and women when they try to force themselves to live a lie?  Do you think that it’s just a matter of self-control?  Do you think once they get married, settle down and have a few kids that those urges and attractions will vanish?

Well Rick, I’ve got news for you.  Most mixed orientation marriages end catastrophically with both partners greatly damaged.  I was in one of those marriages.  I had no idea my husband was gay when I married him.  He was full of so much self-hate about his sexual orientation he thought he could change himself.  He was basically lying to me and everyone else close to him in his life for years.  He tried desperately to change, but realized he couldn’t.  He is gay.  He was gay before we got married, he was gay during our marriage and he’s gay now.  It’s a fundamental part him.  It’s not a weakness of moral character, it’s not a lifestyle choice and it’s not an addiction.  He lived in misery because he was desperately trying to be something he wasn’t.  Now that he is out and proud, he’s a much happier person.

His self-loathing and shame came from the false belief that being gay is a fault or shortcoming.  When I first confronted my ex-husband about his sexual orientation he would have given anything to change it.  Luckily for both of us, he has grown to accept and love himself.  We are both better off now living authentic lives and not trapped in a sham marriage.

There are millions of other straight spouses like me all over the country.  Most of these marriages leave a path of destruction in their wake.  I know women who have buried their husbands with full-blown AIDS, others who have contracted the virus from their spouse. I have heard of suicides and even homicides when these marriages disintegrate  Parents who lose access to their children, and children who now have to split time between two homes.  I’ve met damaged and broken men and women on both sides of these doomed partnerships.  I suffered from a massive depression, I was nearly financially destroyed, I’ve had to accept that I’ll probably never have my own children and at my worst I was suicidal.  It’s hardly been an easy road for me, and I know it’s a daily struggle for many of my straight spouse counterparts.

If our spouses were happier in their own skin, if they could envision a happy and healthy life for themselves, they never would have entered into these fraud marriages.  If you claim to champion family values, you would never encourage a gay person to try to force themselves to be straight.  You would never expect someone to try to change something so fundamental about themselves.  Rick, do you think you could force yourself to live as a gay man?  Do you think you would be happy if every day you had to live a lie?

Your words have consequences.  You lead a state with over 26 million people.  Every time you condemn homosexuality you reinforce the bullying, the discrimination and hate that leads to misery, self-destructive behavior and even suicide.  LGTB youth are more than twice as likely to try to commit suicide than their straight peers.  When you call for medical quackery like reparative therapy you cause more suffering.   Homophobia affects more than just the gay people you target.  The hate splinters out like broken shards of glass cutting into everyone around the intended target.  Relationships between parents and children are destroyed and families are torn apart, and all for something that cannot be changed.  My own life was greatly harmed by this nonsense and I’m not going to be silent when you perpetuate myths and misinformation.

Homosexuality is just another way of being human, and there are a lot of beautiful LGTB human beings in your state.  They just want to live their lives authentically and without shame.  They want to raise families and grow old with their partners.  They just want to live like any other Texan.  You can remain in the dark ages as states around the country legalize same-sex marriage and end discrimination against LGTB people.  I know not every Texan agrees with you.  Hopefully more and more of them will speak out against this bigotry.  Which side of history do you want to be on?

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Life After Divorce: The Fetishization of Marriage

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If I were to write a fairy tale for young children, especially young girls it would go something like this.  Once upon a time there was a young girl who lived in tiny beaten down shack.  She didn’t have a lot of money and her parents were poor.  She decided she was going to get out of her situation no matter what, so she worked hard and went to school.  Despite the obstacles she started her own company and employed a bunch of other poor kids to come and work for her.  It wasn’t always easy and she nearly lost everything several times but she kept working hard and survived.  At some point she got married, and the guy was alright.  She also had children and loved them with all of her might.  She taught he kids to dream big, work hard and try to do right by their fellow-man.  Her marriage didn’t work out and she got a divorce.  She continued to live as happily as with her children and company.  When she died she looked back at her greatest achievements – creating jobs for so many other poor kids, and her beautiful children.  The end.

It could be easily rewritten where she’s an employee but takes great pride and satisfaction in her work.  I could also re-write it where she doesn’t have kids, and gets fulfillment through helping others or by using her creativity. The example of fairy tales is a powerful one for me since I work with kids in my day job.  I can’t help but see how much influence our myths, legends and pop culture have on young impressionable minds.

Why are we only told one story our entire lives?  With a few exceptions there are few fairy tales or fables that do not include weddings as part of a happy ending.  Why are weddings mostly absent in fairy tales geared towards boys?  Why do so many of our fables END with a marriage followed by the phrase “Happily Ever After.”  Every married or divorced person knows that a wedding is not the ending, it’s the start of a new chapter.  A fairy Godmother does not descend from heaven and make everything magical on the day we say “I do.”  In many ways everything gets harder, as the stakes get higher.

If our marriages end in divorce we are not lesser than our married counterparts. We all know dysfunctional and damaging marriages.   Just because two people remain married doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a happy or healthy union.

The wedding industry is big business the US.  With some estimates being as high as $51 billion dollars spent annually.  Yet despite all the extravagance and hoopla fewer people are getting married.  The media decries this trend as some sort of crumbling of our social fabric.  Personally I think it’s a good thing.  Marriage is not necessarily the end all, be all of happiness. Not everyone thrives in marriage and it’s much easier to walk away from a relationship that’s not legally binding.

When I was 27 I gave up my job, relocated to New York City and left my friends and career behind for a man I thought I would be with forever.  From a young age, we’re encouraged that to sacrifice for love is not only acceptable but a nobel thing to do.  Now it’s one thing to stay with a partner in a time of crisis, staying with them during a prolonged illness, or supporting them in a time of crisis.  That is a beautiful thing and a testament to the human experience.  Our bonds with each other can reach such depths that we do want to sacrifice for the ones we love.  At the same time, the emotions I have for my family and friends are just as strong as what I could have for a romantic partner.

We need a new narrative.  We need to stop telling the same story.  Marriage isn’t the only recipe for happily ever after, and honestly happily after doesn’t exist.  We live, we love and go through a lot in our lives and for most of us it’s nothing like a fairy tale.  I’d rather have a life with ups and downs than some Disney fantasy anyway.

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Life After Divorce: Why I Hate Over the Top Marriage Proposal Videos

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I’ve sometimes wondered if social media has made us more self-centered, or is it simply revealing our true narcissistic tendencies?  We live in a time of people taking self-portraits ad nauseam. Social media feeds fill up with images with the same basic message:  Look at me, Look at me, Look at me I’m doing absolutely nothing interesting, but for reasons unknown to anyone I really want everyone to see it.  Some feel compelled to declare absolutely every action or thought.  Our world is on overflow of useless, mundane and tedious self-aggrandizing affirmations.

In the days of proclaiming completely irrelevant information, some go to extremes when it comes to major life events.  Pregnancies are publicly documented from nearly the point of conception, wedding announcements go on for pages and pages and a few have even shared their marriage proposals with a global audience.  People spend small fortunes, recruit dozens of volunteers, hire professional musicians, and then toil away for hours editing, all in the hopes that their declaration of love will go viral.  I don’t mind over sharing on pregnancies, and weddings have always been a big deal, but I cringe when I see the proposal videos.

I’m not just here to rain on their parade, I’m the tropical storm that shows up when the beauty pageant winners are riding in the backseat of a convertible.  I can’t help myself.  I’ve been to the dark side of a marriage gone wrong, and I’ll never view marriage in the same way again.  As a divorced person in midlife, I just don’t see the world through such a dewy-eyed prism.  Not only did my own “perfect” marriage disintegrate, I’ve witnessed countless friends get dragged through brutal divorce hellscapes.  When I watch an elaborate public engagements I don’t see a deep never-ending love.  Instead I see person with narcissistic tendencies and a completely delusional view of marriage.  The main focus in almost all of the videos is the guy proposing, not his bride.  So it makes me wonder, is this about his never-ending love for his love, or is it about his ego?

Of course there are exceptions.  If the circumstances of a couple were truly outstanding then I might understand why they might want broadcast such a personal highly emotionally charged moment.  If a partner had narrowly escaped death, returned from war, or a same-sex couple that has been together for decades and can now finally get married.  I understand why they might want to go all out.  In some instances I get it.

Marriage is not about the theatrics.  It’s about weathering the harshest storms life throws at you.  Marriage is sticking with someone when they get sick, go broke, or make huge sometimes extremely hurtful mistakes.  Marriages aren’t a Disney movie come to life.  They’re the every day grind.  Sticking it out for the long haul is about just trying to get along during those boring, tedious and stressful days.  It’s putting up with bad habits, compromising and trying to see the bigger picture.

A person has every right to have a blow out or elaborate engagement or wedding.  We all have different styles and tastes, but it certainly isn’t an indicator of the depth of someone’s love or commitment.  Because again, love in the long-term, multi-year extended version doesn’t survive at that intensity.  It changes, and the adaptations it goes through aren’t necessarily bad.  When I see these public extravaganzas I can help but think, when they are fighting about where to live, what to buy, or how to raise their kids, it won’t matter how many flash mob dancers appeared in their youtube video.

Marriage is also extremely fragile.  Our divorce rate is so high in part, because people grow and change as we get older.  Sometimes two people who made the perfect pair in their twenties, are completely incompatible in their forties.  Some spouses flip out midlife decide to start over, and there is very little the other spouse can do about it.  People get married for all the wrong reasons.  They get caught up in the excitement of wedding planning, picking the perfect dress, creating the most elaborate engagement and lose sight of why they’re doing this in the first place.

The latest viral engagement video stars a man who created it over a four-year period.  Apparently he knew after their first date, that his girlfriend was his partner for life.  The pair just graduated from college, which would make them about 18 years old when they met.  So this is probably the first major relationship for either of them.  Are they soul mates who just got lucky and found each other early?  Or are they two kids who have no idea what lies ahead of them?  Statistically people who marry for the first time under the age of 25 have a higher rate of divorce, but they could beat the odds.

Will we ever view marriage in a realistic light, or will we continue to promote an unattainable fairy tale?  Will some women start to resent a simple proposal over dinner?  Are obnoxious public declarations the new normal?   If videos like these warm your heart that’s great, and some are actually sweet. I just can’t help but see what will probably happen in at about half of these marriages.   Maybe the next trend will be dramatic divorce videos complete with flying dishes, lawyer co-stars and tear filled monologues.  I hope no one thinks that’s a good idea.

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Dating in NYC: How to use the Internet to Catch your Partner Cheating

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A few of my friends have criticized me for what they view as “creepy” cyber sleuthing habits.  Well, as I often say on stage, “My fairy tale is dead, my heart is black”, so yeah I’m not the most trusting person. For the purposes of this article, I won’t get into the specifics of my divorce but as the not so eloquent former President George W. Bush tried to say:

Here’s the actual phrase he was going for:
“Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice shame on me.” 

The truth is painful, and can hurt temporarily, but ultimately we are better off.  The key to catching a cheater was almost always technology: phone, email, twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media.  Since I’ve been divorced I’ve learned to find out as much as possible about a person BEFORE I get seriously involved with them.  The problem of course is that you can go too far, and misinterpret completely innocent things.

CAUTION:  I don’t recommend using any of these tactics unless you’re in a serious committed relationship, AND you suspect your partner is cheating.  Doing any of this for someone you are casually dating is total overkill and will just make you a neurotic mess. Cyber sleuthing is the nuclear option.  DO NOT do this with every guy or gal you go on a date with, if you do, you’ve entered a place called CRAZYTOWN.

GOOGLE

Google is your best friend.  You can find all sorts of stuff about a person with this search engine.  Of course you should search for his or her name, but then you can go further with it.  Search for blogs, images, videos, even news articles.  You’d be surprised what shows up.  I once found a blog that was in some ways a love letter to a guy I was dating at the time.  In his case, it was a ex-girlfriend who was still completely obsessed with him.  She lived in another city, but the way he reacted to my discovery made me completely certain that he wasn’t worth my time.  He was clearly still infatuated with her, and it explained a lot of his non-committal behavior.  There are other search engines such as Bing, or Yahoo, which are also helpful.

FACEBOOK

It’s an invaluable resource, as many users post an incredible amount of personal information on their profile.  But again proceed with caution.  If you have just started dating, then none of the following is a reason to worry, but if you’ve been exclusive for more than six months or so, consider any of these a red flag.

  • Does he/she post photos of you as a couple? – If he or she posts other personal information and photos with friends, it’s strange if they aren’t posting photos of you together.  Why are they hiding you?
  • Have they changed their relationship status or is it blank? – Again, not everyone is public about these things, but if it’s a serious relationship that has gone on for a extended period of time and there is ZERO mention of you…that’s highly unusual.
  • Do they have tons of photos of themselves with an ex on their profile? – Of course there are mitigating circumstances with this one.  If they share children with their ex, you should expect to see photos of them on their profile, especially if the kids are in the photo.  If it’s a former spouse, that’s also more understandable.  But if it’s a virtual shrine to some woman or man who is supposedly no longer intimately involved with them, that’s troubling behavior.
  • Are you ever mentioned in a status update?  Do they make any public declarations about you? – It depends on how often they post, and how public your partner typically is on social media.  If your partner is constantly posting, yet you’ve never been seen or spoken about…that’s cause for concern.
  • Do they have a separate album dedicated to a former partner?  – This is just the height of tackiness.  Now if you have just started dating, it’s no big deal.  But if you’re at a point where you’re exclusive and you’ve been dating for an extended period of time, it’s just disrespectful to keep that on social media.

Backdoor tips when using Facebook – If you type a person’s name in the part where you search for something and just hold it, you will get a pulldown menu below, one of the options is simply called Photos of (Person’s Name)  I’m going to use my own account to demonstrate this:

Screen shot 2014-04-22 at 3.26.56 AM

 

If you select that, then you can search for photos the person has “liked” in the past year.


I won’t include any actual photos as to protect the privacy others.  But trust me, Facebook will show you quite a bit.

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Another option in the same pull down menu is “Photos Commented on by (Person’s Name)”

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Now of course, if your significant other is just liking another person’s photos that doesn’t mean much.  BUT if all of their likes are gorgeous, women or hot guys….you might want to keep digging.  The comments they make are even more revealing.  Again, one comment, or one photo is no big deal, but if you find an overwhelming pattern or hundreds of examples, that’s a reason to worry.  The handy thing about Facebook is that it dates nearly everything.  So an excuse about correspondence being ancient history, is easily debunked.

What I don’t recommend – making fake profiles and trying to friend people under false pretenses to find more dirt.  If you’re doing that, then you’re almost as bad as the cheater.  You shouldn’t lie and use other people to get information about your partner. You never know how you could unintentionally hurt someone else, and honestly you probably won’t have to go to such extremes.  Most people aren’t that skilled at hiding their philandering.

 

INSTAGRAM

Do a hashtag search of your partner’s full name.  Trust me, you’d be surprised what you might find.  I did this once with a man who was trying to hook up with me.  When I did the hashtag search I found a photo of him with another woman. They looked very much like a couple.  I clicked on the photo and then it was even more obvious that not only was this his girlfriend, but they had been dating for a fairly long time.  On his account, he didn’t have a single photo of her.  He had also neglected to feature her anywhere on his Facebook, or even mention her once.  I felt sorry for her, as half of her account seemed dedicated to this relationship.  When I confronted him about it, he admitted everything.

You could also hashtag nicknames, or search for the name of a person you think might be involved with your partner.  Some more savvy users could block you from their account, but they’re only going to do that if they suspect your looking for information.  In most cases, if your partner is cheating on you, the person he or she is sleeping with might not even know you exist.

TWITTER

Most people wouldn’t be this stupid, but former Congressman Anthony Weiner thought absolutely nothing of sending obscene photos to a user on twitter. You can scan through your partners tweets to find conversations he or she might have had with other users.  Twitter isn’t even remotely private, so most skilled cheaters wouldn’t think of having incriminating discussions on that platform, but it’s worth the look.  If you see the same user constantly engaging your partner, and you already suspect that person, it could just add to your pile of evidence.  Yes, Anthony Weiner was this stupid…he thought sending this photo via twitter was a good idea.

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EMAIL

Nowadays most people have passwords on their computers and other devices.  But the passwords usually take a few minutes to click in, if your partner just used his or her email you might be able to search it with no problem.  I don’t recommend doing this unless absolutely necessary.  Hacking into another person’s email is highly unethical but if you are 99% sure that there is infidelity going on, and you need solid proof, there might not be any other way.

INTERNET HISTORY

A more savvy cheater knows to hide their viewing history when surfing the net.  However, people get lazy and forget to do this all the time.  I’ve met countless men and women who found out their spouse was cheating simply by checking their internet history online.  Visits to dating or hook-up sites are especially difficult to explain, you might even find their profile.

*Anything online leaves a trail, all written correspondence is subject to screen shots and photographs.  So email, text messages, twitter, blogs, etc. are all proof your partner is not being honest with you.

Always when in doubt use common sense and logic when dealing with a possible cheater.  There’s another old saying:

“If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it’s a duck” 

  • Your partner is not being forthcoming about your relationship – they never mention you on social media
  • You haven’t met their friends or family
  • They are overly secretive in general, they tell you very little about their background or personal life
  • They are constantly breaking dates at the last-minute
  • You never go out in public
  • They always have strange elaborate excuses for some of their behavior
  • They are hyper secretive about their phone, email use, or internet searches
  • They accuse you of cheating, or need to know your whereabouts at all times – cheaters often suspect their partners.
  • They have relationships with opposite or same-sex partners that seem too intense or obsessive for a normal friendship

These are all huge red flags, that you’re dealing with a cheating partner.  DON’T LIVE IN DENIAL!  Use the cognitive part of your brain to drown out the fluttery, irrational, romantic emotions and learn the truth.  Everything you love and cherish could be a stake, don’t let someone treat you like a fool.  From my own personal experience with this, I have no regrets about finding out the truth in my marriage.  Both my former spouse and I are better off, and now we can both live our lives authentically.

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Dating Online – Why a Young Cub is not always that attractive to a Cougar

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The day I turned 40, something completely surprised me on my online dating profile.  I thought that once I reached my midlife milestone birthday, the amount of email would slow down. I was surprised when I saw more traffic than ever.  The bulk of interest came from much younger men. Suddenly 19 and 20-year-olds were sending me things like,

“What’s up? U R Hot. Do U like younger guys?” – Always hysterical to me, since the young ones often use text speech and insane word substitutions that drive me crazy.

“I really love older women.  We should hang out sometime.  Let’s get a drink” – I’ve gotten these from men who aren’t old enough to legally drink alcohol.  So either he’s got a fake ID, or we’re drinking coffee.  I guess I could take the risk of being arrested for giving alcohol to a minor, that would be living life on the edge!  Maybe they are asking me out BECAUSE I can buy them liquor.  Who knows?

“I know you’re a lot older, but I’m really looking for a serious relationship” – I’m not kidding, I’ve gotten several emails like that one.  Are they serious?  I have no idea.  Do they have Mommy issues?  Probably.

“I’m going to start college in the Fall. I love to go snowboarding, and play video games.  Let’s hang out!” – I assumed he lived with his parents and was still in high school.  So technically he’s legal, but honestly who in their right mind would think that’s a good idea? Someone must have written a self-help book that advises young men to search for women 40 or older on dating sites.  After 40 we’re more desperate, we’ll pounce on a young eager kid.  When I’ve complained about this deluge of barely legal would be suitors, some of my male friends get extremely upset with me.  I hear things like,

  • Well I would dream of getting hot 19 year olds in my inbox
  • Score! You have teenagers hitting on you.  I’d tap that!
  • How could you complain about young guys?

Again I know this might sound shocking to some, but men and women are extremely different creatures.  Most women in their 40’s don’t want to date men over 20 years younger.  Of course there are exceptions and age and maturity don’t always go together.  If two people can find love in this world and they have a twenty year age difference, then more power to them!   But usually most of those 19 year olds I get in my inbox aren’t exactly “hot young studs”.  The really good-looking younger men, probably have a surplus of attractive, hot young women.  And I’m not talking about a 30-year-old with a 45-year-old.  At that point both parties are adults, and although the age difference is great, it’s not the same as a 19-year-old man hitting up a woman who could be his mother. Even though a 19-year-old is legally an adult, most are basically children.  I have theories about why I keep getting these requests, the younger men think an older woman could:

Teach them about Sex – Some women might get off on this, or think this could be a lot of fun.  Personally I don’t want to train anyone. The thought of having awkward or bad sex with someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing is not exactly my idea of a good time.

Take care of them Financially – Some don’t even hide this, and will say it openly.  My favorite was from a 29-year-old.  He somehow just assumed I would was rolling in it because I was a whopping 11 years older than him.  If only being 40 magically brought financially stability. In his case we discovered he was better off than I was.

Take care of them Emotionally – Mommy issues.  Some guys really do feel more comfortable dating someone who takes on a more maternal role in their lives.  To each his own on this one, but not every woman is going to WANT that arrangement.

Need to be Dominated – This is true of men at any age, but the power dynamic does get a bit skewed with a large age gap.  An older woman is probably going to have more life experience and more relationships under her belt.

Drawbacks to younger men

  • Aren’t financially secure
  • Immature
  • MIght live at home or with multiple roommates
  • Have totally different interests and lifestyles
  • He might not get along with your friends, you might not get along with his
  • Probably won’t want kids right away
  • Less likely to stick around long-term
  • Text speak, totally different communication skills – The younger ones don’t call, they text, tweet, IM and Skype.  It’s a whole new world of abbreviated speech that can be a bit unnerving to women who write in full sentences.
  • Porn educated – Sorry boys but this one is so true.  I’ve found with men closer to my age that sex is far less influenced by pornography.  Younger men don’t seem to understand that porn is a FANTASY and that most people don’t try to reenact porn scenes every time they have sex.
  • Lack of sexual experience

Of course age is just a number and emotional maturity and numerical age do not always go together.  I’ve met plenty of immature men in their 50’s and 60’s.  Some May December romances work out beautifully and there are no hard rules to what makes a relationship work.  I have several female friends who are older than their partners. The older two partners get the less an age difference matters.  A 30-year-old with a 45-year-old is something else entirely than a 19-year-old with a 34-year-old.  Once a person is well into adulthood, they know who they are, what they want and have a reasonable level of maturity.  A kid who is 19 or 20 however is just trying to figure these things out, they could be so easily manipulated and crushed by an older partner of any gender. I wish my male friend’s fantasies were true, and the hot young 21-year-old men were lining up in my inbox, but that’s just not the case. Regardless, I want a partner who is an equal, and it’s difficult to see a kid in college as a peer.  So until then, much to the disappointment of my male counterparts, I’ll continue to turn down the young ones who hit me up.  I would rather not be the cougar who devours willing cubs.

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