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Top 10 reasons why Being Single on Valentine’s Day is the Greatest!

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1. CHEAP CANDY DAY – I actually think this needs to become a real holiday that happens twice a year.  Once on February 15th and then again on November 1st.  I know the candy makers will figure this out and find a way to screw us, but for now they are both splendid days indeed!

2. No gifts to buy! –  What does a woman  buy a man for Valentine’s Day? Most just want sex, and well that’s usually going to happen anyway….anything else just seems silly, yet the expectation is there.  For men the whole gift/night to remember situation is not only daunting but expensive.  In New York City a couple could blow $1,000 on an ice cream sundae, and that doesn’t include the Broadway show tickets!

3. No pressure to act like you’re having a great time when you’re not – We’ve all been there.  Our partner’s plan out some elaborate event and absolutely everything is dreadful.  The restaurant is too crowded, the waiter is mean, the food is lousy, the concert is terrible, the moonlight carriage ride is smelly and the driver is rude.  Meanwhile you have to pretend like it’s the greatest night of your life, because you don’t want to her anyone’s feelings.

4. No poorly timed monthly visitors – There’s nothing worse than planning a big romantic evening only to have Ms. Flow show up early.  Sure you can work around it but she really does ruin the mood, especially if she brings along her friend – Ms. Cramps.

5. No annoying flower battles at work – I don’t have a traditional job, but I remember when I did how the never-ending bouquets would come pouring in the office all day long.  It seemed like the bigger the flower arrangement the more precarious the relationship. Sure the married women with 20 years under their belt would get a sizable display but the couples that kept breaking up only to get back together again always included several mylar heart-shaped balloons.  Then there was always some sad sack in the office who had a boyfriend but who didn’t get anything.  She’d tell everyone it was waiting for her at home, but we knew that her boyfriend would break her spirit as much as her soul-crushing job did every day.

6. No expectations of some life-changing event – No one is going to propose to me! I’ll never have a joint bank account again!!!  I won’t have to worry about checks bouncing because my husband just blew several hundred dollars on something stupid!  I’m sure plenty of divorced men can relate to this one.  Blowing money on stupid purchases is a universal human trait!

7. No awkward sexual experiences – Sometimes couples like to push the envelope on the big day and take things too far, only to find themselves in compromising or embarrassing situations.  The porn actors make it look so easy, but they’ve got multiple takes, a crew to help them with angles and lighting. Ask anyone who works in film or television production, it’s all about good lighting.

8. No drunken crying spirals of despair – With expectations so high, also comes disappointment.  Anything could happen. What if you happen to find out  that he’s cheating on you?  Or that you’re NOT getting engaged even though he’s been hinting at it for months?  Or what if in the middle of the salad course, you just look into his eyes are realize you can’t stand him, he can’t stand you anymore and you’d both be better off on your own.  These things happen.  Then you end up slamming a few back, and wind up calling your best friend at 3 AM to tell her that everything you believed in was a lie and that the universe is collapsing in on you.

9. No forced emotion – There’s nothing worse than hitting Valentine’s Day with a guy you’ve just started dating.  Should he send flowers or will it make him look overeager?  Should you make big plans, even though you haven’t even been to his apartment yet?  Should you buy him something or will it make you look like a stage 5 clinger?  If you’ve only been on three dates or less, just act like February 14th is a day like any other and skip right over it.

10. FREEDOM – You can REALLY just watch Netflix and chill.  Throw on a onesize, order some Chinese takeout and watch a marathon of Breaking Bad, The Making of a Murder, or maybe season 2 of Orange is The New Black again.  Everyone knows season 2 is the best season.  You don’t have to get dressed up, impress anyone, fake an orgasm, or act like you care about some dumb ass chef’s special that you know is overpriced and overrated.  You can dance around in footie pajamas and stuff your face with General Tso’s Chicken if you want. (I eat the vegetarian version)  It’s your day!  LOVE IT!

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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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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 Death of Dating & Emotional Zombies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dear Susan Patton: Take Your Advice and Shove It!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dating in NYC: Dating in the Land of Zero Effort

 

Online dating profiles reduce humans to commodities.  Instead of nuanced individuals with provoking personalities, we transform into a collection of photos and vital stats such as: height, age, body type, diet preferences, religion, political views and our favorite books and movies.  In New York City online dating profiles should just include a few photos and a zip code, because honestly that’s all that really matters for so many singles.  If you live in Brooklyn, trying to date a person in Queens could be considered a long-distance relationship. Staten Island and the Bronx might as well be in other states, and New Jersey is the vortex.  It seems much easier to get into the Garden State then it does to get back.  Even though over 19 million people live in the New York City metro area, commuting via subways, buses and cramped highways is challenging.  Even when I meet men offline, most conversations start like this:

Guy: “Where do you live?”

Me: “Brooklyn”

Guy: “What neighborhood?”

Me: “Flatbush”

And then I see the facial expression that says everything I need to know.  Their eyes will squint, their brow will cease and it looks like they just smelled some week old Indian food.  No one has ever lit up and smiled after hearing it.  Some men have actually broken off the conversation after the word ‘Flatbush’ and walked away.  They’re hardly subtle about their complete disdain for my section of NYC.  On online dating services, things are much worse.  One man went so far as to indicate on his profile, he was only willing to consider ladies who lived on the “L” train, or within a short biking distance.

According to the latest census estimates here is how the city breaks down

  • Brooklyn     2,565,635
  • Queens       2,272,771
  • Manhattan   1,619,090
  • Bronx           1,408,473
  • Staten Island   470,728

Given the odds, I should have the easiest time of it.  The problem is Brooklyn is huge and the subway system doesn’t easily connect every neighborhood.  So to get to Mr. L train, I would have to jump on the Q train, take it into Manhattan, then transfer to the L train and take it back into Brooklyn.  My journey would last an hour maybe 45 minutes, which is just too long for most folks in this metropolis.  The Bronx and Staten Island are like different countries to me, and my commute to some parts of Queens could take over two hours.  When a guy hits me up and lives in New Jersey, he’d better live in Hoboken, Jersey City or another part of NJ that is easily accessible via public transportation.

I’m not a huge fan of my neighborhood as it has a higher crime rate than others and is a bit farther out from Manhattan, but my rent is much cheaper and my apartment is larger than most.  By most Manhattanite standards, my ‘hood is the middle of nowhere.   From what I’ve found the most ideal location is Manhattan, as its central location makes it easier for anyone in the outer boroughs.  Although anywhere above 125th Street is the mysterious hidden borough called ‘Northern Manhattan’.  Just as it’s more difficult to get furniture delivered to neighborhoods like Washington Heights, Inwood and Spanish Harlem, it’s also harder to get anyone to travel to the far reaches of the Island.

I guess I just magically need to make more money so I can afford to live in one of the most expensive places on earth.  I’m not expecting much, I just get sick of always being stuck at home with my cats watching “House of Cards” on Netflix.   In my neighborhood I’m mostly hit on by teenage drug dealers.  I’m not speculating on their illegal activity, I’ve seen them openly sell drugs right in front of me.  The average age of the guys who yell “Hey Baby” at me is about 16.  Since Flatbush is hardly hip, most of the age appropriate men who live here are very much married or living with someone.  I just don’t find a lot of single men age 35-45 anywhere, but I especially don’t run into them in my part of Brooklyn.

I think this is why those hook-up apps like tinder are so popular.  They really do take away all effort completely.  Want free sex from a somewhat attractive female who is easily accessible, in more ways than one?  Just swipe right and hope she does the same.  I still refuse to get that desperate, until then I will remain in Flatbush and hope that somehow a guy might want to ride the train for more than 20 minutes to see me.  Or maybe I’ll get a job managing a hedge fund tomorrow and move to a mansion in the Hamptons. When I live in my sprawling estate I can pick up guys at the local tennis court, or while riding the ponies in a co-ed polo match.  Anything is possible I guess.

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Dating After Divorce: Becoming Comfortably Numb

 

I wondered when it would happen, then a few months ago, it hit me.  After countless bad dates and a dating scene that feels like a wasteland, I’ve finally become comfortably numb.  It’s not what I expected.  I thought I would be more negative and more jaded, but it’s honestly somewhat comfortable.  My expectations have just hit rock bottom.

When I first left my marriage I was completely unprotected.  My heart was overly sensitive, my mind ravaged with depression and my instincts set at high alert. I needed to calm the beast, or I never would have survived. I used to cry after bad dates, usually on the subway home.  As soon as I would just sit down, I’d mildly lose it.  I don’t think I had unrealistic expectations.  Multiple bad dates had trained me not to think beyond the first encounter.  Then on the rare occasions I had a second date, I taught myself not to get too excited.  I’ve only made it to three dates with one man.  We had hardly gotten serious, we hadn’t had sex yet when he had a slight meltdown.  In his case, I don’t think it had anything to do with me.  From what he told me, he had some seriously unresolved issues with his ex.  Unresolved issues with exes is just a reality for people over 35.

Some guys would rather remain virtual.  I sort of “dated”  a guy who just wanted to email.  He claimed he wanted to see me, but then created countless obstacles.  I lived in Brooklyn and he lived in Manhattan, so it shouldn’t have been that difficult.  He also wasn’t over his ex, and I suspect was still trying to get back together with her.  I’ll never understand why I kept talking to him, or what was going on in his head.  I found out months after I gave up, he found a good match and they are inseparable.

I’ve had a few casual flings.  I forced every jealous atom inside of me to stay cool.  Hooking up with guys when I knew they had other women in their lives, wasn’t easy.  It really took Herculean strength to not react, to tell myself that it didn’t matter, we weren’t serious, this won’t lead to anything. I managed to stay calm, but inside I was miserable.

They haven’t all been bad.  I had a strong connection with one guy.  We found out on the date we were both straight spouses.  His wife left him for a woman, and I thought that maybe our shared experience might work to our advantage.  Despite obvious warning signs that he was clearly not over his ex-wife, we made out in his car for over an hour.  It was highly unusual for me, as I usually don’t even kiss a guy on a first date. Then he completely blew me off.   I guess the situation was too much for him, I don’t know.  I can’t remember his name or face.

Now I still have a few men who hover but do little else. They might send a dick pic, or a request for sexting that will lead absolutely nowhere.  I’ve learned I’m not the only recipient for their x-rated self-portraits.   If I say I’m interested in something more, they tend to bolt.  Of course I still get harassed on the street by any number of men of all ages.  I guess that might end when I have to use a walker or cane to get around.

The worst was my rebound relationship, something I never should have gotten myself into.  It was completely exhilarating, but ultimately soul crushing.  I had so many conflicted feelings towards him, at least two years after the fact.  Now I don’t see him.  I have no idea what’s going on in his life, and I have no desire to find out.  I harbor no ill will, but I also don’t want any contact with him.

I’ve become someone I would have never recognized five years ago.  But in a way it’s not completely awful.  It’s not what I thought it would be.  I’m not angry or bitter, just numb.   I take everything men say and do with a grain of salt.  So what if the guy sent me several texts in a row – It doesn’t mean anything until he backs it up with actions.  I rarely text anyone because I can’t stand being blanked back.  I would rather just have nothing than the feeling of being ignored.

I just stopped caring.  So what if the guy from OKCupid sends me eight emails only to cancel the same night as our date.  I don’t even blink if some man rants about his “bitch ex-wife” for half the date.  It no longer surprises me, if he insults what I do for a living, or complains about my crappy neighborhood. This is dating after 35 in a city where only the strong survive, and you’ll be judged on everything your job, neighborhood, past relationships, pets, hobbies even your hometown.

Some of my dates have been so rude and so horrible that if I recreated them in a movie, I would be accused of being too fantastical.  I try to keep an open mind, stay positive and keep moving forward.  My horrible experiences have given me armor.  I rarely have crying fits on the subway anymore.  I’ve just learned to block the disappointments out.   Most divorced people never think they are going to end up like this.  Few of us expect this as our future.  If we learn more from our failures, I’ll be a genius by the time I finally meet a compatible match.  🙂

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Dating in NYC: Sexless and the City

Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan (Photo credit: penguinbush)

Critics scrutinized the popular HBO series Sex and the City for the unrealistic extravagant lifestyles of its female protagonists.   My biggest complaint with the series, and the myth it still perpetuates, is that I don’t know many single women who have that much sex.  I have lived in New York now for nearly 12 years.  Single for over three years, my existence has been mostly a solitary one.  I only bring up SATC because despite the fact that it went off the air several years ago, it still casts a shadow of the archetype for urban living.  In Lena Dunham‘s dreadful (I don’t care how many awards it wins) Girls one character is completely obsessed with Carrie Bradshaw‘s dream of designer labels, expensive shoes, ridiculously expensive addresses, multiple cocktail brunches and a bevy of sexual partners.   The CW is currently in production of Candance Bushnell’s prequel to SATC The Carrie Diaries.   No matter how fantastical or mythical, this twisted metropolitan fairy tale won’t die.

Other than my low-income, I am close to the living embodiment of the characters on SATC.  I don’t aspire to trendy addresses or designer labels, but shouldn’t I at least have a complicated and active sex life?  Don’t men of all socioeconomic classes need to get their groove on?  Where are all the single straight guys?  Where are all the single gal brunches filled with sordid tales of the size male genitalia, unusual sexual requests and liaisons with wealthy business men who tip us after the fact.

The last time I had brunch with a friend we found ourselves surrounded by families with small children.  No eavesdropping parent would be concerned, as instead of swapping X-rated stories, we both kvetched about how difficult it was to date in this city.  I don’t understand why it is so difficult for me, or any of my friends.  Most of the single women I know are gorgeous, talented, accomplished and fiercely intelligent.  We aren’t searching for Mr. Perfect, but we also don’t like putting up with terrible behavior.    I cannot write from a man’s perspective, but I know many woman have gone through the following:

  • Have a date stand them up or cancel at the last second
  • Have a man lie about being single
  • A date will expect sex only on his terms when he wants it.
  • Never follow through on a date but try to keep us strung along via email or text msg.
  • Flip out and have a breakdown on second or third date
  • Become obsessed with ripping on or tearing apart an ex-girlfriend or ex-wife
  • Become sexually dysfunctional due to a porn addiction
  • Dates with men who are so socially awkward, any conversation is difficult if not impossible
  • Expect sex immediately after meeting you

I haven’t lived all of these examples but I have heard so many stories from female friends it is stunning when any date works out.  I have learned to no longer think beyond the first date or any date. No matter how well I think it went, I may never hear from the man again for reasons that I will never know or understand.

I have completely thrown out the rule book and lowered all of my expectations as I now joke this has been my de-evolution in the dating world.  I started out quite ambitious, when I first left my husband I thought I might actually want to get married again but I quickly changed my tune.  I have gone from the following

  • Fall in Love, get married, start a family or become step-parent to children from a previous relationship
  • Fall in Love, be in a long-term committed relationship if children are part of it great, if not then OK
  • Be in a long-term relationship, not necessarily with a huge commitment
  • Date the same person for an extended period of time
  • Go on more than two or three dates with the same person

I dropped “Fall in Love” quickly into my search.  I am not kidding or joking that I have been in the last category now for nearly three years.  Something happens fairly early on in each budding relationship to muck everything up.   Most of the time it is clear after the first date that it just isn’t a good match.  I have also found a lot of men in my age group, extremely damaged from a past breakup.  Then there are the life-long bachelors, the man-children, the commitment phobic Lotharios.  I honestly wouldn’t mind these men much if they were just more honest about their intentions.  Too often they blur the lines of playing the part of the would-be boyfriend while never really wanting to commit.   When I try to play the casual dating game, I usually screw everything up.  I am simply not used to the rules.   I get told a lot that I am “too nice”.  Some incorrectly think I want some huge major commitment right off the bat.  Coldness seems counter-intuitive towards someone I am trying to get to know better, yet my effusiveness comes across as clingy and desperate.

My friends who seem to have the most active sex lives are polyamorous. That is, people who openly have relationships with more than one partner.  Their lifestyle is a puzzle to me, and I don’t quite understand it, but it seems to work for them.   I guess New York is an all or nothing town.   How did we get here?  And what happened to normal dating?  I refuse to be treated like a doormat by anyone, and I don’t wish to have multiple partners.  I don’t say this necessarily for moral reasons, I simply don’t have the time or inclination to juggle more than one person.

So instead of high priced cocktails and wild affairs, I’ll drink my coffee and go home to my cat.  Maybe I’ll watch the fairy tales about $1600 shoes and a new boyfriend every night.  That is fantasy land, and my life is something all together different.

Dating in NYC: The Cool Detachment

Emotion

Emotion (Photo credit: rexquisite)

Since my divorce, I can’t seem to do anything right when it comes to dating.  I try to hard, I don’t try hard enough, I go out too much I stay inside my apartment for days on end, it doesn’t seem to matter.   I have read multiple books on dating, even ones on male psychology and they don’t seem to help.  I have sat down with male friends and tried to get feedback on how their brains work.  I have shared numerous stories with fellow single women all which end in a similar refrain a lot of heartache and disappointment.  I just don’t get this city.  But I think I am starting to figure out the missing element, and it isn’t something that I can grow overnight, nor do I necessarily want to develop.

It’s the cool detachment, the emotional wall, the blase manner, the cavalier treatment of other people like they are hardly worth a moment’s notice.  Detachment is the style of the many tribes in this city.  And I am like tissue paper, desperately trying to suppress emotion and play things off like I don’t care, but I desperately care.  I want what I lost, but the longer I keep looking for it the more it seems like an unattainable goal.   I push down my emotions and smother them as best I can, because the more my emotions show the more they scare everyone away from me.  And yet I still do everything wrong.  I try to play it cool, act as if I couldn’t care less, and I get away with it most of the time.  But then I start to care, not full throttle, just a hint.  I let my guard down for a moment and try to let someone new into my life and the whole thing collapses before it begins.  I don’t know what to do.  I try to do the right thing.  I don’t see the point in going out with someone who is still tortured by his ex-wife, or an ex-girlfriend, so when I meet men like this and I meet many…I politely walk away.  And I won’t go out with someone who is already married or in a relationship, I don’t need that kind of bad karma.  And I would never do to someone else what another did to me.  So I try to allow things to slowly grow and give things space and time but it never works out and I remain alone and broken.

So I hide and try to erase the past decade or so of my life.  I tell myself “Don’t talk about your divorce, don’t talk about your divorce” and it feels like not talking about everything that has completely re-built and shaped me for the past three years.  Don’t talk about your fears, don’t show weakness, don’t show that you actually care or give a damn.  Just play it cool, the others around you are doing it and they are winning.  Well they might not be winning but at least they seem to play the game better than I do.  But I am who I am and that is a fairly emotional person, so it feels like shoving myself into a vice that is pinching me on all sides.  And I see it on the faces of new men that I met, when I was younger it seemed like there was more excitement in the game, now it is everyone trying to out “cool” each other.   Everyone tells me to just be myself and it will all be OK, but when I am myself nothing works out.

How did we get like this?  How is it the only way to successfully date in New York City is to get so jaded and so burned that you just stop showing any passion.  I don’t want to turn into that person, but I honestly have no idea how I can go on like this.  Never more than a couple of dates and the whole thing implodes, and in some cases it just dies without much fanfare at all.  Men fall for the image of me, not my reality – a complicated, damaged and world-weary soul.  But I have survived so much horror and lived to tell about it.  I have nine years of a relationship that went to hell and back and didn’t give up on it until it was obviously beyond hope.  Shouldn’t my loyalty and dedication count for something?  I would be the last person to flippantly leave a relationship over something trivial or the next big thing.  I guess in a city where everyone is replaceable and there is always a newer, younger, shinier version walking down the street, none of this matters.  I sometimes think that the overwhelmingly promiscuous nature of this city comes from people who have just grown so tired of trying for something more and they give in to anything to ease the feeling of loneliness and pain.  And at least a fleeting moment of human contact can smother it, if for a second.  But like any drug used to feed a hunger that it cannot truly contain, more and more is needed until it the fix becomes insatiable and the cycle continues.

So many have called New York an emotional desert and I just keep trying to prove them wrong.  I am not going to become a deadened human being, I refuse to let that happen to me.   And I have to be true to myself, so I will keep hoping that something will change.  At this point I have very little left to keep me going besides hope, so until I meet someone who can put up with Ms. emotional over here, that is my reality.

Dating After Divorce: When will you be ready to date again?

The Dating Game

The Dating Game (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So since I started this blog I have gotten amazing email from people all over the country and people all over the world about their own personal struggles of living a post-divorce life.  Most of the questions and concerns are about dating.  And I certainly don’t have all the answers as I am a bit of a mess in that department myself.  But the question I get a lot is

When will I be ready?

And all I can say is that the answer is different for every person.  It has been three years for me, and I am not even sure of the answer for myself.   One of the problems of a newly divorced person is that nearly every waking thought is about your divorce and about your ex.  Of course this isn’t the case with everyone, but I have found it is more the norm than it is the exception.  A potential partner can and will pick up on this, and it will be a huge warning sign to them that you aren’t ready.  For instance if everything the other person says on the date leads you to say in response…

  • That is just like my ex
  • I can relate because of my divorce
  • Do you know what my ex did?
  • I had the same thing with my ex

Basically the more times you bring your ex up, the crazier you are going to sound.   And you are a little crazy as divorce is an extremely traumatic event in any adults life.  So, here is a trick that my therapist gave to me, and I recently repeated to a friend that will help.

Stop referring to your ex by their first name, instead reduce them to simply…”my ex”

You don’t have to do this with people who know your ex well, or family members.  In fact doing that might read as insensitive.  But if you are meeting a potential date, mention your ex as little as possible, and if you do don’t use their first name.  You will find in time this will become effortless, and you won’t find yourself even having to think about it.   Also try like hell not to talk about your divorce, your settlement, custody agreement, or the reason why you got divorced to a new potential partner.  Again much easier said than done, as I know I still have this problem.  I am worlds away from where I was a year ago, or two years ago but my divorce is a huge part of my life.  It doesn’t help that I am currently working on my memoir.  Writing a book isn’t exactly a casual affair as it tends to take up most of my thoughts, most of the time.  So I am in an especially strange situation of working for hours on something I shouldn’t talk about when meeting someone new.  Hopefully you aren’t writing a book about your divorce!  So talk about anything and everything else!

Also try getting your feet wet without plunging into the pool.  Don’t set out to have a committed relationship right off the bat, and do NOT think of terms of replacing your ex.  Try to date multiple people casually, maybe even without much of a sexual component to the relationships.  Go on group dates with your friends instead of forcing yourself to sit across the table from a virtual stranger before you are ready.  Surround yourself with people who love and support you, rather than putting yourself out in a dating pool full of sharks.  Some men and women seem like the answer to your prayers at first, only to drop you like a hot rock when they find a less complicated mate.  Some are just player types who want to bed as many people as they can and care little about your feelings.  Others might be just as screwed up as you are after a divorce and you could find yourself in a co-dependent nightmare.  You don’t want to be a burden on someone, you want a balanced healthy relationship.  In order to have a healthy relationship you have to be able to stand on your own two feet before involving another person.

I really don’t have a definitive answer on the exact length of time post-divorce and anyone who gives you an exact time frame should be viewed as suspect.  You will know when your divorce and your ex does not consume your every thought.  You will know when you are not so desperate for a replacement for what you thought you had with your ex.  You will know when you are comfortable and happy on your own, and it could take a few months or maybe a few years before that happens.  Again I say this from experience, as a very deeply flawed person that I am myself.