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Unconditional Love – Why it is such a bad idea

unconditional.

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I have a feeling this post might upset some people.  But I have thought that before and it hasn’t stopped me yet.  As Valentine’s Day approaches I think of the cliché line that is often uttered in Victorian novels, romantic comedies and tales of epic romances.

I will always love you, unconditionally

I find this statement not just unrealistic but downright dangerous.  The only vessels on this earth that should receive unconditional love are children and pets.  For one adult to pledge to unconditionally love another adult is a little fantastical.  As we all have conditions on lovers and their behavior.  Many a lifetime has been destroyed trying to live up to this myth that true love will conquer all, or that somehow no matter what the obstacles love will live forever.  I would agree that if the obstacles and stresses are external that this type of love should be striven for in every intimate relationship.  For instance, if one is stricken with a horrible disease it is noble and inspirational if their partner stays by their side through thick and thin.  That kind of unconditional love is a beautiful thing that we should all hope and strive for in this life.

But what if one partner begins to abuse, damage or hurt the other partner?    What if they have sexual relationships outside the relationship without the other partners consent?  What if one repeatedly puts their own needs before their partners?  What if one weaves a tapestry of lies and deception living a secret life without their partner’s knowledge?  Is it right to love them unconditionally despite this extremely destructive and hurtful behavior?  Abusive behavior should not be brushed aside due to some vow of “unconditional” love.  We should never become a doormat to an idea or notion that is unattainable.  I stayed in my marriage years longer than I should have because I thought that if I loved my husband enough, that it would save the marriage.  But my marriag,e constructed of lies more than anything else, was not salvageable.  I had no hope in keeping it together no matter what I did.

I know of some relationships that take great pride in the length that they have survived as a couple, yet some of these relationships are no more than two co-dependent toxic people who cannot live without each other.  I think of the example of the play Who’s Afraid of Virgina Wolf  in which Martha and George, have been together for over two decades in a relationship of constant bickering, fighting and mutual destruction.   The main forces keeping them together being fear, co-dependence and alcoholism.  Is that “unconditional” love?  We all know couples in our real lives that exist this way and they are nothing to envy.

I also used to find it romantic when a spouse would lose another due to death and then never remarry.  After my divorce I find that notion horribly depressing and sad.  Sad that the surviving spouse was never able to make that same kind of connection with another human being.   They should still love and honor their deceased partner, but with enough time to grieve should try to find someone new to let into their life.  As most partner’s would not want their surviving spouse to remain lonely forever.

Unconditional love  is ultimately self-destructive unless it is unconditional love for ourselves.  I am not saying that we should love ourselves in such a way that we don’t see our short-comings, poor choices or mistakes.  We should never see ourselves as anything but the flawed human beings that we are, but if anything we should have so much love for ourselves that we don’t allow another to treat us in such destructive ways.   And to hell to the silly novels, lame romantic comedies and articles in Cosmopolitan that tell us otherwise.  A healthy adult relationship should have boundaries and conditions.  To love someone who is abusive to you is not love, and it is nothing noble it is a form of self-loathing if nothing else.

Dating in NYC – Potential Girlfriend or just a Piece of Ass?

Erotic butt

This is a question that we all must ask ourselves at certain times of our lives.  Am I a potential girlfriend to this man who I am seeing?  Or am I just a another piece of ass?  These things can get blurry.  It seems men over 35 are less likely to just jump into a commitment right away.  This might appear to go against conventional wisdom as younger men have less responsibility and don’t want to settle down.  But younger men will at least bond quicker, men in their early forties are beaten up a bit and scarred.  Men who have lived a life, have also had their egos bruised, hearts broken, trust shattered so they are less likely to give their hearts and emotions over to a new woman as quickly as a younger man might.

Some men are upfront and tell you right away that they are not looking for a relationship or a commitment.  I respect men who are upfront.  I don’t date them, but I love the honesty.  If a woman wants to get involved with no major commitment, and maybe even see a few other guys on the side, it is her choice.  Not every woman wants a relationship, and this situation might be perfect for both parties.

But then there are men who realize that a woman won’t waste her time with a hook-up artist or a non-exclusive relationship.  This type of guy doesn’t want a relationship, but still wants a woman around.  Instead of being direct he will string the her along.  He’ll never say:

“This is a relationship”

but also never say

“This is just something casual”

Some don’t even realize what they are doing, they just want to keep seeing a woman but with boundaries that are comfortable for them.  So they will dodge and weave to avoid creating a situation that will lock them down or leave them emotionally vulnerable.

I got stuck in a bad relationship that was similar to this.  I hasten to even call it a relationship now.  Instead I say “I tried to date this guy” because honestly that is how it felt.   After what I went through I now look for the following warning signs that I am in that nether region of somewhere between girlfriend and a piece of ass.

  • Refuses to talk about what the relationship is or where it is going
  • Refers to you as a “friend” – even though you are sleeping with him
  • Won’t introduce you to his friends, or get you more involved with his life
  • Won’t talk about anything overly emotional
  • Only communicates via text message or email – no phone calls
  • Doesn’t show you any emotional vulnerability – unless complaining about his ex
  • Keeps conversations and correspondence about surface topics

I thought that my guy was an exception, because when I was actually with him, he was warm, affectionate and he treated me as if I was a girlfriend.  Snuggling up to a piece of ass might seem like a good idea, but it just ends up confusing the woman.  I really liked him, so it took me a while to figure out that is all I ever was, just a sexual plaything that relieved the boredom and gave him a thrill from time to time.  And even though I was corresponding with him on a daily basis, the correspondence was still just surface and it wasn’t emotionally satisfying.   I grew tired of hearing about his daily workout routines, and the occasional bitching about his ex-wife because that was mainly all he was open about.  He never set up dates, he never saw me on my terms and didn’t go out of his way for me in any way shape or form.

He did send me many mixed messages in regards to his two children, whom I never met.  He would tell me that his son liked a photo of me, or his daughter thought a dress I was wearing in a photograph was pretty.  He also kept me clued into their struggles, challenges and joys.  Talking about his kids just gave me a false sense of hope that I might become more important in his life.  What I misunderstood was his kids were important to him, where I was not.

Ultimately I was between the world of a casual fling and girlfriend.  I hated the existence so I broke it off.  I made excuses for this man for months, he was upset from his divorce, he was being overly cautious, he was afraid to get hurt and on and on.  Because I allowed him to contact me when he felt like it, and see me when it worked for him I was enabling his emotionally distant behavior.  I had become my own doormat, and he was walking all over me.

My last relationship lasted nine years.  Since then, I sort of forgot how to date.  The last time I was single I was only 27 and the process seemed so much easier, the men less complicated.  Now that I am older and wiser I have to learn to see these signs sooner and cut my losses.  If a woman just wants a sexual relationship with no strings attached, it is usually not incredibly difficult to find.  I am holding out for something bigger and more meaningful, and I have no idea if I will find it.  I do know though that I am never putting up with being treated like that again.

Dating After Divorce – Rebounds and Supernovas

English: Pleiades Star Cluster

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I don’t know why they call them rebound relationships.  When I think of a rebound I think of a ball bouncing off of a wall, which is a fairly tame thing.  I now call the first major relationship after leaving my husband the supernova – a collection of stars exploding all at once vaporizing everything in their path, burning bright, hot and fast.  It was a force of nature – so much bigger than a rebound.

I left my husband when I discovered he was a closeted homosexual.  He had been lying to me and to himself for our entire nine-year relationship.   When I left him I was devastated, although the relationship had grown dysfunctional, I was still deeply in love and a dedicated wife.

My marriage had been celibate for a prolonged period of time, and I desperately longed for a relationship with a straight man.  I found it almost too easily and only four months after leaving my husband.  He was a man who I had known casually in my social group of friends.  He was handsome, charming, and we had a lot of the same interests.  We sort of discovered through mutual friends that we both had a crush on each other, so it seemed inevitable that we would end up together. He even remembered the moment we first met years earlier, which was fuzzy to me, but he could recall it in startling detail.  And he resembled a taller, younger version of my husband.  It was as if I had found the straight version of the man I had just left.

I knew it was a dangerous situation and I avoided getting involved at first.  I had so many fears–Was it too soon? Would this end up making my depression worse? Was it because he reminded me of my ex?

But it happened, the universe finally put us together, and for a brief period in my life it was pure magic.  I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world to have fallen from that complete and utter disaster that was my divorce into something that felt so perfect.  And he seemed just as excited as I was; it felt like the ideal love affair.  But the cracks started to form almost immediately.  I was deeply depressed, a depression that is almost too difficult to describe now.  I couldn’t sleep through the night, had difficulty eating, cried constantly, suffered panic attacks, general anxiety, overwhelming fears dominated my thoughts, and my moods would turn on a dime.  I lost 20 pounds and dropped two dress sizes in a few months, had frequent asthma attacks, and was constantly sick; physically, and emotionally I was falling apart.

I also wasn’t used to dating, I was used to being married.  Dating is not anywhere near being married.  I didn’t know how to make the transition; I was suffocating, smothering and desperate for his affection.  I will never know his motivations but I can’t blame him for walking away from an obvious train wreck.  He had his own problems as everyone does, and I was just a disaster of a human being. When it ended it felt like being dropped off an emotional cliff.  I was already so damaged from my divorce and now my first attempt at love was an implosion of epic proportions.

For months I tormented myself over the whole affair beating myself up for all of the mistakes I had made.  I tried to start another relationship only to have that blow up in my face almost the exact same way.  I kept blaming myself, what if I had waited?  What if I had been healthier?  Would either relationship have worked out differently?  Eventually I convinced myself that it didn’t matter.  I would never know that alternate reality and life doesn’t work with a reset button.  The damage was done; the trust was shattered on both sides and couldn’t be repaired.  Feelings were hurt, egos bruised, expectations destroyed and there was no way I could repair any of it.  And I needed to move forward anyway as the whole affair was just collateral damage of my state of mind at the time.  Being clinically depressed is not the best time to start a relationship.

The real source of my anguish was my divorce, so either it would have been this one painful affair or a series of short meaningless flings, but the outcome would have been the same.  I was eventually going to hit rock-bottom.   After an agonizing eight-hour long anxiety attack and three days of very little sleep, I finally bottomed out, and then I got into therapy, briefly went on antidepressants and little by little, month by month, the horrible twisted vice of depression released its grip and I began to have my mind back.  It took nearly two years from the day I left my marriage to finally feel like myself again.   Friendships tarnished and other aspects of my personal and professional life have been negatively affected, but I try to live with a positive outlook and not look back.  Cognitive behavioral therapy is one tool that worked for me and I try to use its tips and tricks every day.

I say it all the time now to anyone newly divorced and I say it even if they are not listening.  Don’t do it.   Give yourself time to heal before you suck someone else into the personal torment that you are inevitably going to experience.  Of course not every divorced person goes through this, as some are happy to leave their spouse, and for them divorce is a new beginning.  But if a person is emotionally crushed, they should avoid getting involved in a serious intimate relationship for a while.

The most important thing that I learned from my supernova experience is that no one else could save me.  No one person has enough love or strength to pull another out of a free fall, especially in a brand new relationship.  I had to do it on my own.  I couldn’t really be available emotionally to another partner when I couldn’t even take care of myself.

Sometimes a person gets lucky and has a perfect love affair immediately after a divorce, but from my own, and most of my friend’s experiences this hasn’t been the case.  So fight the force of nature, hang out with your friends and work on yourself.  Things will get better, but the main thing that you need is time, not another lover.

Life After Divorced: Being a straight spouse two years later.

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I still remember my wedding day, vividly.   Any day planned and fretted about for months is going to stick in your brain for a lifetime.  Any day built up as the beginning of the rest of your life will burn into your psyche, in the same way horrible trauma sears its pain and anguish deep into your bones.   Try as you might, you can’t shake it the pain becomes a part of your very foundation.  Few positive memories have the same effect.  For whatever reason, our bodies, hearts and minds tend to cling to the negative memories such as: being humiliated in front of your class, not being able to get jeans off in time due a broken zipper and wetting myself at girl scout camp, seeing my father lash out at me in a yet another blinding rage, losing a  job or role for reasons unknown, having a voice teacher tell me I would never be a singer, seeing the face of a lover suddenly go cold and distant, having no one show up to my 13th birthday party….and on and on and on.  The traumas and disappointments get inside of you like a bad virus you can’t shake, but the good memories fade quickly.  The memories replaced instead by just vague emotion.  Instead of specific images they blur into shifting colors through a window.  Instead of the detailed sharp piercing prongs of negative memories happy thoughts become reduced to feelings.  I can’t remember holding my cat for the first time, hugging a friend I haven’t seen forever, the first kiss from a person I adore, winning a competition….they drift, they fade only warm pretty shadows remain in their place.

The memory of my wedding day is now traumatic but still beautiful in my mind, so like the crazy nuanced event it has become, it is now a hybrid of negative crystal clear clarity and blurred fuzzy happiness.   The one image that keeps coming back is the walk down the aisle.  I used to have PTSD style flashbacks of the very event.  I would be sitting on the train or reading a book and for no reason it would flash into my brain as clear as it was actually happening.  The cathedral, with his family on one side and mine on the other, the organ music, with all of these faces turned towards me.  It was so overwhelming, all I could do to get through the ritual was to focus on my soon to-be husband and move closer and closer to him and the rest of my life.  I knew that if I turned to look at people on either side I would start crying and I didn’t want to cry on my wedding day so I kept focusing on the task at hand and that was to get down the aisle without shedding a tear.  My husband was now my new family, the scars and damage from my old one were over and I had chosen this new man to start over and help wipe away the darkness and pain of the past.

Since my divorce, I have had recurring nightmares of being outside of my body trying to run up to myself in the moments while screaming

“Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it”

The sound of my screams echoing through the great hall of marble, but no one looks up, no one even flinches and I still just keep moving forward.   Nothing I can do can stop me, it is like looking at ghosts re-enacting the same scene in a play over and over.

I hate it when people say,

“Well at least your husband was just gay, it could have been a lot worse”

Or anything to the effect of that I have somehow had it easier than a typical divorced person.

I guess in some ways I have, in that the end was so absolute.  There was no reason to second guess why I was leaving my husband, no amount of couples counseling, no amount of therapy or listening skills that would have made anything better, no horrible act of betrayal that I would regret for ending everything.  But on the downside I felt cheated.  I got cheated at a chance at a normal marriage, with a man of the same sexual orientation who loved me like a man is meant to love a woman, in mind, heart and body.

I was cheated of the chance of having children and being a mother.  I know I _might_still have time left, but dating at age 38 is difficult as half of the eligible men already have children and don’t want more.   And in my current state I couldn’t afford to raise a child on my own, as I can barely take care of myself.  There are times on the subway or in the park that even the sight of a young mother with her child will send me spiraling.  Suddenly tears come from nowhere and I can’t make them stop.  Why is she so lucky to have the one thing that I will never get to experience?  I am constantly told that I shouldn’t give up hope but I haven’t been able to sustain a relationship for any length of time and every other man who I find compatible is already a father and doesn’t want more children.  I had to end therapy because literally every single session was the same conflict, the same fear, the same resentment over probably losing the chance to be a parent.   When my therapist suggested I go back on medication, and then tried to get me to justify what I consider a fairly innate human desire to procreate I couldn’t take it anymore and ceased the sessions.

I was cheated of the dream that everyone has when they get married, that despite the obstacles in life and arguments, fights, and petty annoyances I no longer have a partner for life.  I was cheated on the intimacy of an adult human sexual relationship.  It seemed normal at first but it quickly became dysfunctional but because I loved my husband I stuck it out, and now I beat myself up for not leaving sooner.

So over two years have passed, but I am still not right.  I am still not healed and I don’t know if I ever will be.  I am suspicious of every man I meet, and I trust no one, it is so debilitating that I actually stick around in relationships that aren’t fully formed, that aren’t as scary, that aren’t as real…I am scared to have a real one.

But my shattered life has in some ways made me stronger, like a piece of metal cracked and then welded back together, or a bone broken and then reset.  I am no longer the same shape, my insides, my skeleton is not the same, and I don’t react to pain the same way.  I am far more empathetic to another person’s pain especially anyone divorced.  I feel deeply for them, and I cut them a lot of slack for self-destructive behavior or lashing out at themselves or others.  I know they are in a ton of pain and that most of their actions are not directed at me or anyone, but instead directed at the emptiness inside of them.  I have also learned that I have to heal myself before allowing anyone else in.  I no longer have my husband to unload my emotional baggage on.  And friends get tired when I repeatedly do it to them, so I am now forced to deal with it on my own, with just my broken heart and damaged soul to mend myself.  These things have definitely made me a better friend and a better person, but the lack of trust and emotional scars have made me more skittish and more apprehensive about letting anyone new in.   I have become damaged goods complete with certain memories playing repeatedly in my mind.  Hopefully I will one day be able to replace the photo sharp negative ones with more blurry happy thoughts.  But until then, I try to ride the nightmare of the memory of walking to my new life of fraud, deception and loss.  Two years ago I was pushed off a cliff and I survived, now I just need to figure out how to pick of the pieces and start climbing again.

 

Dating Online – Mr. Let’s Keep it Casual

Love

Love (Photo credit: praram)

My blog post about men I have dubbed the “Wife Shoppers” was so popular, I thought I would keep it going with their counterpart….Mr. Let’s Keep it Casual. I have also called them “Player Light”

  • Age – Any age, but then tend to be younger…under 35
  • Marital Status – Most have never been married
  • Most have no children – although they come in all types
  • Usually attractive and in shape, but not always
  • Not liberal with compliments towards you in any way – This would give you too much power in their minds, so don’t expect a lot of praise or adoration
  • Emotionally distant

The Introduction – Early into the correspondence, or into the first meeting of “Let’s Keep it Casual” the man will lay his cards out on the table.  A technique that some of my male psychology books call….announcing the exit strategy.  The give you the endgame before the game has even started lines like

  • “I don’t get emotionally involved”
  • “I like to keep things casual”
  • “I am not looking for anything serious”
  • “I am really busy and I don’t have time to commit to one person”
  • “I like to date multiple women at the same time” – At least he is being honest, so if you are OK with that then go for it, just don’t expect it to change.
  • “My ex really messed me up, so I can’t bond with anyone on a deep level right now” – Sadly I’ve encounted a few men who just use this as a line.  Take this one with a grain of salt.

They are all basically saying the same thing.  Look, don’t even think about considering me boyfriend material.  I respect the bluntness and honesty, and they are laying the groundwork for when a woman might push for something more they will say, and mean it.

  • “Look, I told you where I stood before we even got together”

The Plan of Action – They might send a friendly text, always when they are already out, or available, usually in the evening or weekends asking What is up? They don’t ask personal questions, they don’t send personal emails of any length or importance.  Generally they don’t use the phone for anything other than text messages.  Most correspondence is just about getting sex when they want it, and on their terms. They are hoping that you will drop whatever you are doing, meet up with them.  They don’t have to take you out to dinner, or a movie, they don’t have to spend any real time getting to know you, they don’t have to spend any money on you except maybe a few drinks and they get sex when it is convenient for them.  I call them “Player Light” because unlike a player, at least they are fairly upfront an honest about their intentions.   So if you are open to a sexually based relationship with little else….these boys might be for you.

The reality though, is that these relationships rarely work out according to plan.  Now I have plenty of friends that openly live a polyamorous lifestyle of having several lovers scattered all over the city and they are perfectly happy with that situation.  Not everyone is happy in a traditional monogamous relationship, and they aren’t meant to live within the constrains of one.

What tends to happen, is that Mr. Let’s Keep it Casual might end up treating you like a low grade girlfriend.   If a situation like this goes on long enough, the man will ultimately start dumping his emotional baggage either before or after sex.  But he set up such rigid standards on the relationship, don’t expect that he’ll be as open to you doing the same.  Most women engage in soul purging all day long with their female friends so it isn’t exactly unheard of for a woman to treat a man, especially one they are having sex with, in the same way.  Human beings aren’t robots, and our brain chemistry alone goes a bit berserk after an orgasm, so it is natural to bond on a deeper level with a sexual partner, especially after a period of time.   So good luck on keeping things completely unemotional with Mr. Let’s Keep it Casual, unless of course you simply “tap it” a few times and then never again.

If the woman takes the initiative and actually dictates when they “hang out” then Mr. Let’s Keep it Casual might protest that they are being needy.   Because so many times, Mr. Let’s Keep it Casual is really just saying I want what I want, when I want it, and if you aren’t cool with that, then forget it.  It is a selfish and immature way of dealing with a partner of any kind.

The biggest trap when dealing with a man like this is the concept of the magical power of the vagina.  Many think their winning personality and great sex will somehow win a guy over and CHANGE HIM!  Sure this could happen, but it probably won’t.  If a man tells you right off the bat that they aren’t looking for anything beyond a sexual relationship, they probably mean it. He probably will never see you in a different light because you entered the situation with the cards stacked against you.    And just because he starts to bitch about his problems at work or how his ex-girlfriend never understood him, doesn’t mean you have won him over.   If you want a no strings attached sexual partner, these guys might be perfect for you.  But if you want something more….keep looking.

One of the main things that attracts me to a man is his intellect and point of view, so a Mr. Let’s Keep it Casual, really bores me.  They won’t allow me to get to know them on anything but a base carnal level.  So at least for a girl like myself, they don’t really stimulate me all that much.  I like to be intrigued by a man, on a deeper level than simply wondering when the next text message ofWhat’s Up? is going to arrive.  When they use text speck such as “Hey grl what U doing?  R U kk?”  It’s like a million cold showers all at once.  If you are going to try to hook up with me, at least write in full sentences and use proper English.

The other trap is that a man who is in serious relationship or married might seek a casual relationship in order to cheat.  They won’t want to bond with you, because they are just using you for sex.  This has nearly happened to me a few times, luckily I’ve always discovered the truth before I fell for it.

When I’ve found myself on dates with guys like this, I just think of my own exit strategies.  I might make them think they have a shot with me, as it just makes the date much more pleasant.   They don’t know the minute I hear a line like “I don’t get emotionally attached” I have already given up.  The only people I can think of that really don’t get emotionally attached are sociopaths…..and do I really want to date one of those?

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