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When Love Poetry, a Sex Shop and Bloggers meet for Lunch

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A couple of weeks ago I got in invitation by the good people of Adam&Eve.com, a one time sponsor of this blog, to attend a love poetry workshop taught by local writer, Suzannah Weiss.  I debated if I should go, since poetry and me aren’t really a thing.  I dig poetry and all but I would hardly call myself a poet.  The idea of writing a love poem really left me at a loss.  Could I write a love poem about the despair of abject loneliness? Could I pen a sonnet about how much I hate dating in New York City, or the profound narcissism of my ex-husband?  It might work if they let me write about dick picks and magical vaginas, but then I noticed they were giving out gift bags and the deal was sealed.  How could I not go?  I had to get my gift bag of swag from a sex shop, just to see what they’d give me.

The morning of the event, I had a fiasco with one of my day jobs that I absolutely had to deal with so I arrived fashionably late to the love poetry-sex shop-soiree.  Once there, I felt a bit like the slacker who showed up tardy for class, but I was quickly forgiven.  Our teacher, Suzannah Weiss was kind and patient and even had me read a poem I had written on the spot.  I openly admitted I wrote it about my cat Schatzi, since I have no other inspiration in my life.  If you knew Schatzi, you’d write poems about her too.

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Nearly all of the other bloggers were women, and many of them cat owners so it turned into a flurry of cat photo sharing and stories about our feline companions..

I met a lovely woman who named her blog New York Cliche, because much like myself she was just owning her single, professional, artistic, cat-owning, independent woman persona. I also connected with a long-time Facebook friend fellow writer and general overall badass Yolanda Shoshana.

Then we finally got the goody bags…..and this is what they contained!

A sexy feather duster, you know for all of your sexy feather duster needs…

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A BDSM mask, although honestly I could use this on trips in rooms with too much light. It’s comfy, and thicker than most.

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A tiny cock ring, and another vibrating cock ring type of device.  Free condoms – that’s usually a given as everyone should practice safe sex!

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A water based personal lubricant! – We could all use some more lube in our lives.  A silver bullet! BATTERY INCLUDED! – Most ladies know this is a very special thing indeed.

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I admit I was hoping for a dildo, not because I wanted to use it, but because dildos are comedy gold.  They’re probably too expensive to give away to bloggers, and a bit forward.  “Here’s a fake penis for your enjoyment” is coming on a bit strong I guess. Overall I thought the entire experience was amazing!  I don’t think I’ll become a poet any time soon, or write a love sonnet to anyone besides my cat.  A woman working for a PR firm called me a journalist, which was sort of wonderful.  I also got to meet fellow New Yorkers who have also found their voice online.  Although I am not a huge consumer of sex toys or adult products I have heard wonderful things about www.Adam&Eve.com, so if you are in the market for some sexy stuff for Valentine’s Day or any day, check them out.

Here’s my Valentine’s Haiku (At least I think it’s a Haiku, again, I’m not a poet)

I don’t want dick pics

I’d like a piece of your soul

or just a kind word

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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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My Grief is Bigger than Yours

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If someone were to say to a group, “I just found out my dad died.” most people would have enough decency to at least offer a condolence, such as “I’m sorry for your loss.”  On the internet things are different.  A person might say, “I just found out my dad died.” and someone could respond with “You father was a privileged white male, who lived in the richest country on the planet, and died with some wealth intact.  He was given the best medical care and lived well beyond his life expectancy.  Why aren’t you concerned about the many children who die in Africa every day of diseases like malaria.  Where’s your grief for them?”

I’m using an extreme example as only a sadistic sociopath would use language like that towards a someone going through a personal loss.  The scenario I just used is highly unlikely to happen.  We all realize a personal loss is tragic regardless of other circumstances.  Losing your father is traumatic for anyone.

Social media is a strange beast.  It tends to reduce everyone to sound bites, encourage profound self-righteousness, and funnel thoughts and ideas into purist ideologies.  One side claims moral superiority over another and there is little compromise.   Whatever traumatic event or grave offense reported and shared on Facebook, a counter argument forms immediately to dissuade the outrage.

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris are a great example of this phenomena.  As soon as the news broke and people expressed grief for what happened, many countered with,

“You only care about Paris while you ignore Beirut.”

I didn’t see any of these people post a single syllable about Beirut on the day the terrorist attacks occurred.  Where were their voices of outrage in the immediate aftermath?  Why did they only comment in relation to another tragedy?

The harsh reality is that very few Americans knew what had happened in Beirut because it wasn’t a top story in the news. despite our 24/7 news cycle.  Paris and Beirut are very different cities.  Lebanese citizens, in the form of Hezbollah, have openly engaged in warfare inside Syria in support of the Al-Assad regime. These fighters are not sanctioned by the Lebanese government, in fact they’ve tried to stop them.  Regardless there are Lebanese boots on the ground directly battling Isis.  Beirut, unlike Paris has seen far more terrorist violence and political unrest. There is so much bloodshed in Lebanon that the topic has been given its own Wikipedia entry titled – List of attacks in Lebanon.  For the year 2014 there were 16 incidents.  In 2015, so far there have been seven.  Unlike France, Lebanon is surrounded by warfare and instability on most of its borders.  So although the loss of life is just as tragic, a terrorist attack in Beirut is not uncommon.  The press is not going to fixate on something that happens quite often, rather than on something rare and unexpected.

Western media is in large part owned by a handful of conglomerates, sponsored by multi-national corporations, and driven by ratings.   Our news sources, once bastions of serious journalism, have morphed into entertainment machines.  Sensational news gets more viewers, so much of what we see is sensational.  Political unrest and tragedies are often ignored in poorer countries, unless the US has a vested interest in them.   Given our selective press coverage it wasn’t surprising few knew about the equally horrifying attacks in Lebanon.  Far fewer were aware of an attack earlier this year in Kenya with an equally high body count.  I admit I knew of neither, and I’m a bit of a news junkie.

People who speak out about these inequities in our media are right to do so.  I would whole heartedly agree with them that news of Paris is obsessively covered, while other bombings barely register.  The 24/7 cable news cycle tends to simply repeat the same stories morning, noon and night.  So instead of a comprehensive look at world events we get overly detailed coverage of the same story ad nauseam.  Not to mention the amount of frivolous news stories about missing blonde women, murderous mothers and vapid celebrities.

Some critics of the public’s response towards Paris have gone too far.  To quote one article:

“But I refuse — despite my partial French heritage — to cloak myself in nationalism of any stripe or star, particularly not now. Because, besides victims in Paris, an incomprehensibly astronomic number of people have been grieving loss of the highest order for some time — in places whose names roll off our tongues as if it’s accepted that violence simply happens there — and a majority likely couldn’t guess the colors on these victims’ flags.”

The same author went on to advocate for every victim of every global conflict including the war in Syria, Afghanistan,  the continual unrest in Iraq and the entire country of Yemen.  She got a bit off point and ranted about sex slaves in Malaysia, poorly paid workers in Mexico and China but oddly left out the entire country of North Korea.  Of course she’s correct as there is suffering, inequity, and warfare all over the planet.  Some of it is a direct cause of the actions of wealthier nations while other suffering is completely homegrown. There are child brides in India being burned to death by their in-laws, women and girls mutilated from female circumcision, public beheadings in Saudi Arabia, honor killings in Afghanistan, and women and girls dying due to overly restrictive anti-abortion laws in El Salvador.  If we wanted to, we could fill our heads with absolutely soul-crushing images of human misery from around the world.  The author if this specific piece of course didn’t offer a single solution to any of the injustices she ranted about, and I’m not sure what I, or any American can do about the actions of foreign governments.  We can hold our politicians accountable for US military and trade policies. but we’ve got little power to affect certain laws or customs in other countries.   The civil war in Syria is a multifaceted disaster with at least four factions battling each other, while foreign countries including Russia fuel the whole mess.

In contrast to that author’s strident diatribe, I read a simple message from a friend on Facebook.

“Please let me know you are safe.  I am with you in spirit.  I love you all so much.  The news from Paris is breaking my heart”

It was followed by a long list of names, both friends and relatives she was desperate to find.  The specificity of her message broke my heart. Does it hurt any less when a person loses a loved one in a wealthy country than it does when a person loses on in a poor one? Isn’t it human nature to mourn those closest to us more than we would a distant stranger? Wouldn’t anyone feel a greater connection towards a place where they had lived or is similar to their own home? Wouldn’t a Kenyan react more strongly to a story about a neighboring African country, than they might about Paris?  Could any of us really handle the grief if we focused on all of the death, injustice and inequity, that occurs on this planet on any given day?  As a person who lives in New York City I can’t help but see my city as the next target.  I’ll never forget the chaos, loss and despair that lingered here for months after 9-11.  Am I not supposed to worry and fear for my friends and neighbors?  Of course no one should die in a terrorist attack but Is it politically incorrect to care about my own safety?

It’s easy to criticize others for their “misguided solidarity” but it’s human nature to see yourself in another person when they are a lot like you.  We should all be alarmed that Isis managed to pull off such a well executed and organized attack in a wealthy nation like France, one with a professional police force, an intelligence organization, and a well armed military.  If these terrorist could cause so many deaths so easily in a wealthy nation, then countries with less resources are even more vulnerable.  We need to unite together to fight this fanatical scourge that has no respect for life.  So yes, mourn for Paris, Beirut, Kenya, and the entire Middle East Region.  Mourn for all the innocent lives taken by this warped ideology.  The mother who has lost her child in Kenya or Beirut will cry just as many tears as the one who just lost hers in Paris.  This is a time to unite in our grief, not fight over who is more worthy of it.

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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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Grace & Frankie: Hollywood vs. Reality

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As a straight spouse myself, I’m always interested in how the media depicts our situations.  In most cases I shake my head as I see cartoonish one-sided clichés.  Lately it’s been Christian couples who have vowed to pray away the “same-sex attraction” in a miserable and strained marriage.

So I was a bit nervous about the new Netflix comedy, Grace & Frankie.  The premise of the show involves a double divorce of two closeted men who have had a 20-year affair while married to women.  In the first episode the announce they are leaving their wives for a new life together and hilarity ensues.  Actually most of the humor comes from the unconventional friendship that develops between their two dissimilar wives – The hippie Frankie, played by Lily Tomlin and the former model turned beauty executive played by Jane Fonda.  I genuinely loved the show, the characters are three-dimensional and multi-layered, the acting is brilliant and both straight spouses are extremely funny and sympathetic.  As much as I liked it, I was somewhat frustrated by the sugar-coated Hollywood take on everything.

Since I write about being a straight spouse and have been very public about my story, I’ve encountered literally hundreds of other straight spouses.  I’ve read their stories on private Facebook groups, and listened to harrowing details in my local straight spouse support group. No two mixed orientation marriages are quite the same, and our experiences do fall in a spectrum of outcomes. However, certain patterns are quite common and we often remark that we feel like we married the same person.  There was so much good in Grace & Frankie but I feel the need to break down Hollywood fantasy vs. reality.

Hollywood – Both of the gay men find the courage to finally come out to their wives, and reveal their 20 year-long affair.

Reality – I’d say with full confidence that in probably 80-90% of mixed orientation marriages, the closeted spouse doesn’t disclose anything. Most of us find out the hard way after months or years of searching for evidence.  In some truly horrific cases, a spouse finds out the truth accidentally.

Hollywood – 20 years of infidelity are forgiven rather easily and the relationships remain close and intact

Reality – For most spouses, finding out your partner was having a secret affair with his or her best friend for the past 20 years would be devastating.  The pain and betrayal would cause so much damage, it would be quite difficult to repair any sort of relationship.  A person might question literally everything.  Which business trip was really a liaison?  Which emergency meeting at work was really a hook-up?  How many times did my spouse blatantly lie to my face?  Twenty years of lies and betrayal are hard to forgive regardless of the circumstances.

Hollywood – Both couples have quick and simple divorces and both gay husbands are greatly concerned for the emotional and financial welfare of their wives. 

Reality – How many couples have an “easy” divorce?  Most drag on for several months if not years. Some partners do everything they can to block and stall to delay the inevitable.  Just like any divorce, a straight spouse will endure multiple court cases, shady legal maneuvers, psych evaluations, hiding of assets and vicious custody battles.  Some spouses are completely abandoned when their partner come out.  As soon as they are open about their orientation they want to discard their old identity and life.  Divorces between mixed orientation couples are no different than the general population – many are brutal, long, inequitable and devastating.

Hollywood – Both gay husbands immediately openly declare their sexual orientation to anyone and everyone

Reality – If a person has lived a lie for a couple of decades, they rarely switch to immediately proclaiming the truth.  I’ve known straight spouses who have watched their exes marry a same-sex partner and STILL not label themselves gay, bisexual or even hetero-flexible. They simply insist they’re straight despite their new gay spouse.  It’s baffling but it’s incredibly common.  Some closeted partners are so self-loathing they retreat back into the closet and marry another straight partner.

Hollywood – Both couples are financially well off, and no one suffers economic ruin.

Reality – Most television shows center around wealthy people.  The trials of paying bills on time and making ends meet just isn’t compelling and set designers would rather feature beautiful sprawling homes than sad depressing ones.  Grace & Frankie is no different.  Of course most straight spouses suffer tremendous financial problems from foreclosure to bankruptcy just like any other divorced couple.

Hollywood – Even though both women are in their 70’s there is seemingly a limitless supply of available partners.  Both women have love interests almost immediately.

Reality – As much as loved Frankie & Grace – This is pure fantasy.  

Hollywood – Both husbands admit fault for cheating, lying and destroying their marriage.  

Realities – This one is probably the most egregious.  Although I do know some closeted men and women who do take full accountability for their actions, many more admit no fault whatsoever.  Excuses abound from

  • You knew I was gay the whole time
  • Everyone knew I was gay
  • My orientation had nothing to do with our divorce
  • You made me gay
  • If you were there for me I would have never turned to men/women
  • If you were just more understanding about my cheating we’d still be together
  • It was just sex, it meant nothing, I don’t know why you care so much
  • I’m not gay, I was never gay, I’m just working some things out

Very few people actually admit they have done anything wrong, in a mixed orientation marriage or otherwise.

Hollywood – Both gay husbands seem to have healthy psychological profiles and don’t have any personality disorders

Reality – Most of us learn through therapists that our exes are narcissists. Narcissists rarely take responsibility for their actions and have a tendency to blame everyone around them for whatever damage or chaos they’ve caused.  They lack empathy and view themselves as the ultimate victim.  Narcissists are often charming and charismatic but ultimately they are extremely difficult partners in a marriage. Of course our spouses do NOT represent the larger LGTB community as most LGTB people would never marry a straight person.  Narcissism has nothing to do with sexual orientation but more to do with someone marrying another person under false pretense.  Of course not all closeted men and women who marry straight partners are narcissistic but it is such a common problem that I would be remiss not to mention it here.

There were some things the show got spot on.

Denial & Co-dependence 

One of the wives remains in a deep state of denial despite the obvious evidence.  She accepts her husband is gay but continues to use him as her main source of emotional support.  She acts out in very co-dependent ways and won’t accept that he’s treated her horribly.  This is quite common for many straight spouses as denial is the glue that keeps these marriages together for so long.  It’s difficult to suddenly turn on the light and see reality.

Resentment & Sadness

The show also captured the deep resentment and sadness that both women experience.  In reality it would most likely stretch out much longer and be more intense, but at least the producers and writers allowed both characters to get angry, meltdown, and process real emotions.  The disclosure wasn’t just a punchline, it given real gravitas.

Conflicted emotions in adult children

The adult children of both couples also expressed deeply conflicted feelings towards their fathers.   As adults they still saw that their fathers had both cheated, lied and betrayed their mothers while setting them adrift in their old age.  Despite their love for their dads, they couldn’t ignore their misdeeds.

Realistic gay couple

Another thing I liked about the show is that the gay partners act like any couple, they fight, they get frustrated with each other, they have bad communication skills but ultimately love each other very deeply.  They were a fully dimensional and believable couple.

Most mixed orientation marriages would make extremely boring and sad television shows,  Our lives don’t get nicely wrapped up in cute 30 minute episodes.  Many of us live with emotional damage and shattered trust for years.  With all of this though, I’m glad our stories are getting told at all.   Just a decade ago it would have been unheard of to have a show explore this topic. I hope one day people may wonder why anyone would marry someone to hide the fact that they were gay.  It simply won’t make any sense to do something so against one’s nature.

I laughed and cried while watching Grace and Frankie and I can’t wait for the next season.  Even though it’s largely a best case scenario fairy tale, at least both straight spouses are sympathetic and likable and their struggles and obstacles are given respect.   I’m thankful to both Fonda and Tomlin for having the courage to tackle this subject and to make an entertaining and funny show about it.

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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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Charlie Hebdo: Racist Xenophobes or Martyrs of Free Speech?

President

On Wednesday January 7th 2015 two masked men armed with AK-47’s  killed 10 staff members and 2 police officers at the Paris offices of the satirical paper Charlie Hebdo. The paper had depicted images of the prophet Mohammad, which the gunmen found offensive.   After news of the massacre hit the press, People flooded the streets of Paris with signs of Je Suis Charlie, or “I am Charlie,” in support of the slain cartoonists.

Je Suis

Then of course, a backlash began,  at least on the internet. and social media.  Many of my well-meaning friends began to re-post blogs and rants stridently attacking the character and political motivations of the slain cartoonists.  Their evidence was cherry-picked cartoons without English translations, or any greater context.. All of the very vocal Americans critics somehow became experts on French culture overnight.  France is not the US, the country has a very different history and the challenges and difficulties in France are not ours.   The French have never viewed themselves as a melting pot, and they do not welcome changes in their culture or even their language.  Some Muslims in France refuse to assimilate and desperately want preserve their own traditions.  So take a proud culture that doesn’t want to change, and then throw in people who also refuse to adapt and you’ve got a recipe for conflict.  There’s more to it than that of course, but that’s the seed of a lot of the tension.

None of these American bloggers openly condoned the killings but they certainly showed contempt and hostility for the victims.  One vocal critic declared, “Why should we feel sorry for privileged white males who spewed xenophobic, racist, nonsense?”  Other critics claimed the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist  “Depicted of Muslims as hook-nosed stereotypes”   I found this unsettling so  I did a quick google search of the words Charlie Hebdo.  I wanted to see for myself if the paper was as racist and xenophobic as these people were saying it was. I easily found the following images:

DaisyChain

I’m not sure but that looks like a circle of Catholic bishops engaging in some type of group sodomy.

Nudity

The French president surround by a cast of naked characters.

Unflattering

The cartoonists do depict Muslims as racial stereotypes, but the same could be said for these Caucasian men.  No one would call these depictions as flattering.

And of course the image that leads this article is

President

The very white, and very powerful, male president with his dick out.  It appears his penis is speaking for him.

The Pope was also a frequent image on many covers, and of course there were also images of Muslims depicted as racial stereotypes.  I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that the editors poked fun at plenty of other religions, groups and public officials.

Most of the critics denouncing Charlie Hebdo were righteously indignant Americans.  None of them mentioned having lived in France, being French themselves or even understanding the French language, yet these highly opinionated voices were suddenly experts on everything Charlie Hebdo.  One angry rant of click bait entitled In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo Freedom of Speech does not Equal Freedom from Criticism, even included as evidence of the paper’s bigotry, a cartoon mocking the leader of Isis.  The same author cited Gawker as a source, (Gawker isn’t exactly known for being a shining example of journalistic integrity or ethical reporting.)  Isis is of course the same radical group that’s known for human right abuses, mass rapes, and beheadings.  Isis is so vicious even al-Qaeda has urged them to kill fewer civilians.  But I guess to some even the worst radical religious extremists are above mockery.

The same author who seemed completely outraged at the mocking of Isis had no problem getting his point across with words like: fuck, bullshit and labeling nearly everyone who didn’t agree with him as racist.  If you dared to repost an offensive cartoon in solidarity with the slain men, then in his opinion you’re a racist.  His evidence of rampant racism other than the cartoons taken out of context was the following two quotes the murdered editor Stéphane “Charb ” Charbonnier’:

“Muhammad isn’t sacred to me.”

 

“I don’t blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don’t live under Koranic law.”

I don’t really see how either quote makes him a racist.   As an agnostic myself, I don’t view any religious symbol as sacred, and I don’t know why anyone must be forced to revere a religion they don’t believe in.  In his second quote, he’s basically saying that yes he understands Muslims may not like everything they publish, but France, is a country with freedom of speech, not one that is dictated by any one religion.  Someone might also point out to the author that Islam is a religion not a race, and there are Asian, Arab, white and black Muslims.  But since the word racist packs more a punch than bigot, he and other politically correct bullies love to throw around the R-word.

I’ll openly admit I’m also no expert on Charlie Hebdo. I’d suspect the author of that article was also going off of scant information.  He cited Gawker as a source after all.   Some of my French friends have claimed Charlie Hebdo’s editors really did lampoon everyone..  I don’t know what to think, but I’m not going to go with a handful of cartoons out of hundreds, an opinion of some friends, or a few cover images as any evidence of anything.   If we’re really going to discuss freedom of speech and expression, offensive, even racist or bigoted content is irrelevant.

In this country we have restrictions on some images and speech.  We’ve agreed as a society that blatantly lying about someone is a punishable offense.  A person can sue another in a court of law for slander and receive millions in compensation.  We’re also have penalties and legal recourse in regards to defamation.  We’ve also decided that possessing images of children being sexually molested is intolerable under any circumstances. Profanity and nudity are both somewhat limited, yet both are easy to find if one goes looking for them.  We have limits on speech that call for acts of violence against others, or acts of treason. It’s illegal to endanger the public safety by screaming “Fire” in a crowded theater, and you aren’t allowed to joke about a bomb in an airport.

Other than those basic limits, people can write and express themselves however they want.  Free speech is messy.  It sometimes offends or upsets people.  In a free society some speech is so horrendous it’s downright hateful.  But what is offensive to one person, might be the harsh biting truth to another.  If one group starts to dictate what is and is not offensive, then we are allowing one group to decide the actions and behaviors of others.  There is plenty in any religious text that could easily be held up as sacred and untouchable, but no religion should force their standards onto the general public.

We also live in a world with plenty of avenues for recourse.  A person can combat offensive speech with more speech.  They can battle what they see as inappropriate expression with more creative expression.  They can refuse to buy papers they don’t want to read, and they can publish their own.

If we want true freedom of expression than absolutely nothing is above mockery or criticism. We cannot cower to any organization or ideology wiling to kill those who generate offensive thoughts and images.  A free society allows speech from every direction and viewpoint. The same freedom allows the misguided bloggers to label these victims as racist xenophobes, is the same one that gives me the opportunity to write this blog.

Does it matter if they wrote some racist and even xenophobic material?  They still died for their words and expression and that, by the very definition of the word martyr, does make them martyrs for free speech.  Because their death was meant to silence us all, we need to speak out even more ferociously in defense of free speech, even when that speech is harsh satire. .

“I don’t agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire.

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Je Suis

Straight Spouse: When Your Life is Not Politically Correct

SchaeferGran_1

Imagine finding out your spouse was cheating on you, not just with one partner, but with several for the duration of your marriage. He didn’t come to you on his own and confess.  You discovered the truth after suspecting for years that something wasn’t right.  After unearthing hard evidence of his infidelity he reveals he wasn’t even faithful while you were dating.  The entire time your partner was having these illicit trysts, he exposed you to sexually transmitted diseases including HIV.

You decide to leave him.  What follows is a vicious battle for custody of your children, your home, and every last possession between you.  He tires to refuse to pay for anything including child support.  Your husband even loses his job mid-divorce in an attempt to avoid his obligations to you and your children.  He uses every trick in the book to ruin you financially, and your divorce drags on for years.

Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, he blames you for the destruction of the marriage.  He cites your lack of emotional support for his infidelity.  If you had only understood and loved him better, he wouldn’t have gone looking for love and sex from others.

When your friends and family find out about his betrayal, your charismatic ex manages to spin it to his advantage.  He tells everyone that he was a loving and supportive husband.  He claims you knew of his many trysts and had some of your own.  Not only does your former husband get support from your friends, he’s given accolades.  An entire community embraces and welcomes him.  Any past transgressions are instantly forgiven.

Meanwhile you go underground. To protect your children you bury even more secrets, make excuses, and continue to live a lie. If you try to talk about what’s happened to you, your friends tell you to “have some compassion” for you ex.  Although some see the truth, few truly understand the extent of his lies, betrayal and profound selfishness.   You’re told to have empathy for the man who just ruined your life, because now he’s openly gay.

Now take out the confused sexual orientation. Let’s say a man cheated on his wife with multiple women for the entire marriage.  Would anyone tell the wife to have “compassion” for her ex-husband? Would people criticize her for not showing empathy to his lack of respect, impulse control and selfishness? I doubt it. Why are straight spouses supposed to instantly forgive a spouse given these circumstances?

What if both partners were gay. If a man was cheating on his spouse throughout the entire marriage then embroiled him in a nasty divorce would anyone ask the spouse to have compassion for his cheating ex? Could the cheater wrap himself in the flag of his orientation and say that he couldn’t help his actions because he was gay?

In a politically correct world these situations would be clear-cut.  The oppressed homosexual wouldn’t do anything cruel or self-serving and the straight spouse would be understanding and empathetic towards his or her closeted spouse.  Real life is not so neat and tidy.  Is it politically correct when a man loses access to his children because his cheating spouse relocates with her new partner to another state?   Is it politically correct when a woman kills herself after she finds out her cheating husband is gay?   Is it politically correct when a cheating spouses gives his wife HIV?

No one is advocating for closeted spouses to stay in the misery and torment that is the closet. It is much better for everyone involved when people live authentic and honest lives. No one who is currently living a secret life should remain deceiving his or her spouse in order to try to spare them the pain and heartache of a divorce. Chances are the straight spouse will discover the truth and the damage will only be compounded.

I know how difficult these situations are because I’m a straight spouse.  Many straight spouses have been told by well-meaning friends to have compassion for their exes who treated them so callously and without much consideration.    There is pressure to instantly forgive every lie and transgression, no matter how egregious.  To many straight spouses, this forced forgiveness feels like a second betrayal.  The concept is even harder to grasp while in the middle of a nasty custody battle or vicious divorce.

A few of my critics believe that when I write about these doomed marriages that I am attacking all LGBT people.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I love and support the LGBT community but I have a lot of conflicted emotions towards my ex-husband.  He is responsible for his own actions, and he does not represent every LGBT person or even every closeted gay man.  For some, saying anything bad about an individual LGBT person is somehow homophobic or politically incorrect.  Well no group is homogenous, and sociopaths, narcissists and selfish people can be of any sexual orientation.  LGBT men and women who openly deceive others to hide their true orientation do a huge disservice to the larger LGBT community. By hiding out they aren’t exactly helping the cause of acceptance and equality. They are in fact perpetuating the myth that the only way a person can live a happy and fulfilled life is to pose as straight.

Many straight spouses discover in therapy that their exes struggle with profound narcissism.  A narcissist tends to not see other people as fully formed individuals but rather pawns or objects.  Narcissists lack empathy and usually take no responsibility for their actions.  In a narcissist’s mind, they are the ultimate victims.  Therefore they see nothing wrong with deceiving another person, to protect themselves or gain social acceptance. Narcissism has nothing to do with sexual orientation.  There are narcissists of every socioeconomic background, sexual orientation and ethnicity.  I would bet that psychological profiles of many of these men and women, would be nearly identical to those who marry others for a green card, financial gain or career advancement.

Of course not all mixed orientation marriages are the same, and some closeted homosexuals who marry straight partners are not narcissists.  Some met their spouses when they were quite young, before they truly understood their sexual orientation.  A few closeted homosexuals are strongly pressured by their families and communities to marry a straight partner.   In some rare cases, medical conditions can suppress a person’s sex drive enough to cloud their orientation.  Some mixed orientation marriages are open and honest from day one.  Just as there are many shades of the sexual orientation rainbow, the reasons behind mixed orientation marriages run a spectrum.

But given all that, no one has a right to assume all straight spouses have the same story.  When I and other straight spouses share our stories, we don’t do it to trash the LGBT community or our exes.  We do it to help other people who typically blame themselves for their shattered lives.  We do it to help dissuade the notion that sexual orientation is something that’s a lifestyle or personal choice.  We do it to show that encouraging LGBT men and women to retreat into “the closet” causes far more misery and suffering than to just the closeted person.

Hopefully one day soon we will move forward and marriages like mine and many others will become increasingly rare, but we aren’t going to get to that truth by creating a new closet.  Straight spouses shouldn’t have to create a false reality in order to protect their exes.  We will only arrive a new authentic way of living through truth, and many times our truth is not politically correct.

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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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