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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 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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Online Dating: We just aren’t that into you

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This is for everyone who tries online dating.  I’m going to write it from a woman’s perspective, but I’ve heard numerous stories from men about this very universal problem.

On the first or second date a lot of guys assume the following

  • I’m madly in love with him
  • I want to have sex with him as soon as possible
  • I have an overwhelming desire to make-out or touch him
  • I’ve somehow had this long-enduring crush on him and FINALLY got up the nerve to ask him out
  • I’m completely sold, my date is the man of my dreams
  • I think he is my next husband, or I’m already dreaming of our nuptials
  • I just called my mom to tell her about how excited I am about this date

None of this is true.  I’m sure there are some women who really do think that when they go on dates with men they’ve met online.  There are always crazy people out there, but honestly most of women that I’ve talked to about online dating feel the following:

  • He doesn’t look like a serial killer
  • He’s alright, I hope he looks like his photos
  • I guess I could go out with him you never know
  • He sorta looks OK
  • He has nice eyes
  • He isn’t allergic to cats and lives in Brooklyn

That’s about as deep as it goes.  HONESTLY.  And this is usually what goes through my mind before a first date with a guy I met online:

  • Don’t let this date stretch on forever
  • I can’t spend a lot of money
  • I hope he isn’t psycho
  • I’m not sure if I even want to go through with this
  • I don’t want to put too much effort into this because most of these dates dont’ work out
  • Please don’t stalk me after this date
  • Maybe it’ll work out and I’ll go on date #2 with this one.

I actually do try to keep things positive, but this isn’t my first time at the rodeo.  I keep my expectations nice and realistic.  So when I meet a man online and he decides to take things physical way too soon, I just hate him.  A hookup site such as Tinder or Adult Friend Finder might be quite different, but most people don’t regard dating websites in the same way. If they are just looking for casual sex, they usually indicate it on their profile, or they should.  Because I’ve never had strong feelings towards a first date, I usually assume they don’t have strong feelings towards me.  No one really knows if there is actual attraction or chemistry until they physically meet.

I have had guys grab my hands, or put their arms around me when I have no real attraction to them, and it just makes me uncomfortable and I’m never sure how to handle it.

Where does this misperception come from?  I’m not sure, but I think it’s people of both genders assuming online dating is like regular dating.  When you were 20 years old, the sight of the cute boy in your biology class could make you weak at the knees.  The two of you would chat a bit and eventually the guy would finally make his move and ask you out.  Within hours you were cuddling in the booth of a diner asking about his favorite food, and his nickname in high school.  Online dating is just not like that. It’s two total strangers who thought from a few questions and photos that they MIGHT be attracted to each other.  With online dating you don’t even get the sense of physical chemistry you might get when meeting a guy in a bar.  It’s just so inorganic and actually goes against our instincts in almost every way.

Sure we know beforehand that the guy isn’t allergic to cats, lives near us and also likes goofy comedies, but at the end of the day that information isn’t going to make us weak in the knees when we are around them.  I’ve equated the whole endeavor to a crap shoot.  Sometimes you get lucky after the first roll of the dice, but most of the times you are both out of luck.  So fear not if your date seems bored and you just want to go home 15 minutes into it.  It’s not you, it’s not necessarily your date, it’s just random luck.  So gentlemen of online dating – please see these dates for what they are – two strangers just trying their luck at a seemingly impossible task. This isn’t college and you aren’t the cute boy in Biology class, but it’s OK.  We can’t go back to that simpler time in our lives, we just have to keep rolling the dice and hope that we eventually hit the jackpot.

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An Open Letter to Married Men Looking to Cheat – From a Divorced Woman

Anillos de Matrimonio, Aros de Matrimonio

Anillos de Matrimonio, Aros de Matrimonio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Married Men,

You are extremely fortunate to have found a woman to love and take care of you.  Hopefully she’ll live with you until your last days on earth.  The boredom and tedium of being with the same partner every day might be getting to you.  Maybe you don’t have sex as often as you’d like, or you think other married couples are getting it on more than you and your wife.  You might get nostalgic about your youthful encounters with women. New partners may have been in and out of your bed on a regular basis.

The younger, attractive women on the subway, down the hall, or in the elevator at work seem almost within reach.  You think to yourself – if only I was single.  You have delusions of gorgeous women falling for you like they did when you were in college.  Only now you’re not in college, you’re a married father, or at least a husband.

So you go out after work and leave your wedding band in your pocket. You walk just to the edge of doing something inappropriate and then pull back.  I know you do this, because I’ve been that woman you’ve talked to in the bar, on the subway, or at the party.  A few times I’ve even seen you slip the ring off the finger, or keep your left hand mysteriously hidden in a pocket, for most of the evening.

Being single past a certain age, say 35 or 40, is not the party it was in your twenties. You’ll find a lot of younger people don’t want to date you, unless you are incredibly charming, extremely good looking, or have some power, influence or money.  The older you get, the less likely anyone will want to stick around for the long haul.  You are also competing with young perfect bodies of men half your age. They might not have the wisdom and experience but they have stamina and washboard abs.  The young ones can also stay up until 4 am with ease and don’t have aching joints, bad eyes and sensitive stomachs. They might not have your sexual prowess, but they are like energizer bunnies in the sack.

When you get invited to parties you’ll find yourself surrounded by couples and married friends.  The dating pool is half-dried up with potential age-appropriate prospects, and what is available is largely damaged goods. Women who have been through brutal divorces or breakups.  Finding time to date will also be tricky.  Your job is more demanding, with longer hours and higher stakes.  Most potential partners are also extremely busy with their own kids, epic work schedules and other obligations.

So before you decide to cheat on your wife, please take this as a word of warning.  If you get along with your spouse, and things are generally pleasant at home, do everything you can to make that work.  The alternative is a lot of lonely nights eating greasy Chinese takeout by yourself, and wondering how you got there.  You might also lose most of what you have worked so hard to get your entire life, your apartment or home, time with your children, investments and security.

If you’re miserable in your marriage and you’ve tried everything to fix it, then get out. Walk away without causing more pain by cheating.  I’ve had more than a few friends use infidelity to end their marriages.  Cheating was a means to an end.  But infidelity will just cause more damage and wreak havoc in everyone’s lives.

I’ve known more than a few couples who decided to transform their marriage into an open one, where both partners have affairs outside of the marriage, or at least multiple sexual partners.  The key to making these marriages work is lots of communication, honesty and equitable treatment.  If you want extra partners, expect your wife will want some too.  It’s not for everyone, but it might be the perfect option if you want to stay together but are finding yourself stifled by traditional monogamy.

Who’s going to take care of you when you are in your seventies, eighties and beyond? You might get lucky and meet the perfect partner and have a wonderful second marriage, or you could end up alone and more frustrated.  Never assume that divorced women are going to find you that compelling, or have sympathy for your divorce sob story.  Our spouses may have cheated on or betrayed us, and we are the last ones who want to hear a biased account of marital turmoil.  You don’t want to end up stuck on a pity treadmill going nowhere. Single woman might not want to date a guy with a wife, and any woman who is so selfish as to lack empathy for your spouse, will probably lack empathy for you in the long run.

Love is a precious and rare commodity.  Think long and hard before you throw it away. Before you decide to betray the trust of your spouse remember, there is a reason you got married.  Try everything in your power to make it work, and please stop hitting on me, as lonely as I get sometimes, I’ll never get THAT lonely.

Sincerely,

The Not So Bitter Divorcee

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Life After Divorce – Do you feel Worthy of Love?

Broken Glass at Work-6

Broken Glass at Work-6 (Photo credit: akeg)

As in all my blog posts, I have changed a few details and left some things vague to protect the identity of others.  If you think I’m blogging about you, I’m probably not!  There is a lot to my personal life that I don’t share on this blog or with anyone.  I’ll just let that be a mystery to everyone but me.

A man I was casually dating made a comment that stuck in my brain a few months ago.  He is dealing with his own major breakup, one that I suspect also has elements of fraud.  He lamented that one of his other lovers might be falling in love with him to which I responded, “Well you have nothing to worry about with me, I’m not.” and then he bemoaned “Why not?  Am I not loveable?” and I thought, “No it’s because you have multiple lovers, why would I bother investing in you.”  I knew enough to not get too attached to him, but my heart broke a bit for both of us when he said it.

His comment haunted me.  Not because I was really in love with him, but because on a very primal level I feel that way about myself.  Even though I don’t want to admit it, and I try to suppress it, I still feel – I am not worthy of love.  My actions only feed the beast of self-doubt and insecurity.  For whatever reason since leaving my husband, I have fallen into a pattern of dating men who aren’t really there.

Most of my partners are deeply in love with someone else, and it’s extremely painful to go through this again and again. It just supports my fears of not being good enough, maybe if I was younger, taller, thinner, made more money, had a more traditional job, didn’t write this blog, lived in a better neighborhood….someone would cling to the hope that I might return their devotion. I almost feel like these women have something magical about them that makes men become obsessed, or maybe they are masters of manipulation.  It doesn’t really matter, as I seem to have the opposite qualities.

There was the intellectual who secretly pined away for the woman who broke up his marriage.  He was beyond emotionally distant with me and I found out the truth through basic cyber sleuthing.  Then there was the man I met online who was also a straight spouse, who was still madly in love with his now openly lesbian wife.  He basically vanished after an intense date with me.  Another man who cursed his cruel and manipulative former spouse yet also openly worshiped and praised her for her beauty.  Even during my most intense post-divorce affair, my boyfriend would openly talk about a woman who had dropped him unceremoniously.  I resembled her so much we could have been sisters, yet she was the one who still had his heart.

In all of these relationships, I am never enough.  My body is always used as some sort of band-aid until they can get their true love back, and so far none of them have succeeded. Why do they get so hung up on women they can’t have?  And why do I keep falling into this pattern?

Do I feel that I am not worthy of love?  I think deep down I must.  I try every day to quiet these monsters in my head who reinforce this.  The number one question I’m asked since my breakup with my husband is, “Is he seeing anyone?” and I always respond with “Hell if I know, it’s not my business.”  I honestly don’t want to find out.  One of the tragedies of mixed orientation marriages is that although these splits are quite hard on both spouses, one half deals with a deep betrayal.  The betrayal erodes self-confidence and trust, so we are left somewhat shattered at the end of it.  Many straight spouses have problems forming bonds and relationships post-divorce.  We are so damaged we can’t have anything but superficial connections.

Am I unworthy of a loving relationship?  I don’t think so, but why can’t I make anything work? Why do I waste my time on lost causes?  Why do I run from nearly every possible scenario that might lead to a stability?  How can I lie down next to a person and feel absolutely nothing?  Why do I become fixated on men who don’t really want me?

My relationships aren’t real, they are just slivers of human connection that I build up in my mind.  I’m stuck in this horrible repetition that doesn’t seem to end. Things have improved. At least I know I have a problem with this.  I no longer kid myself that is always the man’s problem.  It’s my problem, as I’m the one wasting time on them.  Over four years and I’m still trapped by these circumstances.  I focus on what I have – amazing friends, a loving family, and my health.  I hope I won’t become one of the permanently single.  I don’t want to live alone for the rest of my life. This will not always be the new normal. I am worthy of a loving relationship.  With the exception of a few demented souls or sociopathic personalities we are all worthy of a loving relationship.  I’ve got to break this cycle…I’m just not sure yet how to do it.  I know I’m broken, I just have no idea how to fix myself.

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Divorce: When One Half Wants Out

Divorce Cakes a_005

Divorce Cakes a_005 (Photo credit: DrJohnBullas)

Someone told me a story about a woman who refused to admit that her marriage was over.  It was before the “no fault” divorce laws in New York state.  She decided to legally contest her husband‘s petition of divorce.  The woman felt that her husband had no right to leave her.   In her mind shhe had been a good and loyal wife, and he had no right to end the marriage.  She was also Catholic and believed that divorce was immoral and a sin against God.  A few years later, after spending a small fortune on legal fees and lawyers a judge agreed with her.  The court denied her husband’s petition for divorce.  Even though they were physically separated and no longer a couple they remained legally married.  Desperate, her husband moved to New Jersey with his new girlfriend and started the process all over again.  They couple is now divorced.  As much as my heart goes out to the woman, she should have just let him go.

A failed marriage is kind of like our own personal fairy tale but with a horrible twisted bad ending – one we never would have expected.  Most marriages end when one half of a partnership wants out, not with both sides sitting down and coming to a mutually agreed upon separation.  Sure, those amicable divorces are out there, and some couples have literally tried everything to make their marriages work before they decide to end things.  But since I started writing about divorce I have gotten an avalanche of stories from readers about their own divorce related battles.  In most situations, one side simply wants out of the marriage while the other spouse fights desperately to keep things together.  In some cases the spouse who wants to remain married is simply crushed by the split.  It might take two people to get married, but it only takes one to force a divorce.  Not every marriage falls apart due to constant fighting, any number of things can lead to a divorce:

  • Rampant infidelity – sex with multiple partners over the course of the marriage behind their spouses back
  • Falling in love with a new partner
  • Midlife crisis – suddenly they want to completely rebuild their life – including their spouse
  • Substance abuse – spouse refuses to seek treatment
  • Untreated mental illness – spouse refuses to seek treatment
  • Massive deception – leading secret life
  • Fraud – married for a green card, inheritance, money, etc.
  • Closeted homosexual – married to have “normal” life

What is tragic is that I have met so many men and women who are not accepting that it’s over.  What they tend to say repeatedly are things like:

  • I don’t want to give up on this marriage
  • I grew up in a broken home and I vowed to never let this happen to me
  • I thought if I just worked hard enough that I could avoid divorce
  • How can he/she do this to our family? – It’s not fair

Relationships involve two people, and no one can control the behavior of another human being.  If your spouse wants out, there is not much you can do about it.  We all think if we just sacrifice enough, give up more and more of our happiness we can make it work.  I put up with an emotionally distant man in a celibate marriage because I refused to give up on my vows.  I believed in the sanctity in marriage and believed with all my heart that if I loved him enough and gave up my own hopes and dreams for his, that we would be together forever.  Somehow along the way I missed the point that the marriage was not the source of my happiness.  Just being with another human being does not always give the greatest fulfillment or joy.  I know this now because four years after leaving my husband I am much better off emotionally than I was for the last few years of my marriage.  Unwittingly we buy into the hype that romantic love is the greatest thing in the world to achieve, when I would argue it’s not.

Life isn’t fair for many of us.  Time and time again I have heard stories of one partner horribly betrayed by another.  We didn’t sign up for this.  We didn’t stand in front of our families and vow to give up on our version of a happy ending.  One of the most difficult realities to face as an adult is the willingness to admit we are powerless in certain situations.  No matter how hard we work, we cannot fix something that cannot be mended.

It’s awful and the pain is real and devastating, but just because that our original dream didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean we can’t find a new one.  If your partner wants out and you have tried everything to make it work – let them go.  They might have a change of heart and realize their mistake, but do you really want someone who left you in the first place?  No one is perfect.  There is no single human being on this planet who can complete another.  Even if they are the parent to your children, and even if you thought your life would work out differently.  As hard as it is when our marriages fall apart, we have to forget about the life we envisioned married to our spouse.   We have to instead learn to cherish and love our new reality.  It will get better, every day, week, month and year…just hang in there. 🙂

Dating Online: The Coward

The Cowardly Lion as pictured in The Wonderful...

The Cowardly Lion as pictured in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This particular problem is not relegated to any gender, sexual orientation or age group.  Cowards  in the dating world are sadly universal.  I would bet that even prehistoric men and women scratched their heads over this dating archetype.   What is a coward?

A person who asks someone out on a date, only to then:

  • Cancel last-minute
  • Stand-up a date
  • Constantly reschedule
  • Make themselves consistently unavailable
  • Claim they never made the date in the first place – Act as if it was somehow a misunderstanding

I want to emphasize the distinction here, a coward is the person who sets up the date in the first place, and then blows it off. That is a huge difference, because plenty of people might bail on a date for any number of reasons.  Life is complicated, misunderstandings are common and people really might need to cancel.  They may also not be that interested and bailing on a date is a passive aggressive way of saying as much.  However if a man or woman asks someone out on a date, the need to do everything in their power to follow through.  A coward sends the mixed signal of

I want to go out with you, only I DON’T actually want to go out with you.

I hear these stories all the time from both men and women.  It has happened to me more times than I can count, and I will admit that one gentlemen strung me along like this for months.  I didn’t quite have my post-divorce self-confidence back yet so for reasons I still don’t quite understand, I put up with it.

Over half the men that ask me out on online dating sites do this.  The scenario goes something like this:

  1. They send the first email asking me to go out.
  2. I respond saying I would love to go out with them.
  3. Then they either cancel at the last second, blow me off completely, or never get around to actually planning anything.

I used to give these types the benefit of the doubt, but now I don’t.  If they can’t get it together for one date, they probably aren’t going to get it together for much more.   I used to think it was due to my blog, so I stopped using my name in any correspondence online.  Multiple friends of both genders have said this exact scenario plays out with them repeatedly.  Why do people do this?  I am not sure why but it might be

  • Fear of Failure – They are worried they will be ultimately rejected so they avoid the date, thereby avoiding rejection.
  • Fear of Success – If your date does actually go well, then they might have to deal with some type of dating situation this freaks them out, so they self-sabotage.
  • Intimacy Issues – They would rather have some type of fantasy of you than actually deal with another human being.
  • Seeing someone else – It is all a game to them, you are merely a pawn for their ego.
  • Ego Boost – They asked a person out just to see if they would say yes, never intending to go out with them.
  • Living in a Virtual Reality – A person becomes so accustomed to relationships online social networking etc, that a real one is just too much for them to handle.

Faking out dates is almost rampant behavior nowadays.   It seems completely irrational as asking a person out on a date is a bold move, and makes a person quite vulnerable.  It is such a problem with online dating, I could almost bet half the guys who end up in my inbox will never follow through with an actual date.

Actions really do speak louder than words.  If a person is not making you a priority in their life, then they are letting you know that you are not really that important to them.  Asking you out, only to then flake is rude, inconsiderate and downright baffling behavior.  If someone really wants to see you, they will move heaven and earth to make that happen.  Don’t waste your time on a coward.

 

Top 10 Worst Things to Say to a Newly Divorced Person

LOL Just divorced. And no, that's not my car.

LOL Just divorced. And no, that’s not my car. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A friend suggested I write this post, when I mentioned to her some of the things people have said to me post-split.  It’s been three and a half years since my divorce but the hits keep coming!  So I asked some of my divorced Facebook friends to tell me some of the worst comments they have gotten.  Since I have even more readers on this blog, if you have one you want me to add any that I don’t have here, PLEASE SHARE THEM!  More often that not, the rudest most inappropriate comments come from casual acquaintances, not close friends.  Also my friend and fellow divorcee, Carolyn Castiglia has re-posted some of my comments at Babble.com  If you notice any changes in my quotes from this article to hers, it is just because I made edits to my piece in the after she had read it, but before her article got published.  I don’t have an editor over here, so I am constantly revising myself. 🙂

1. You should have tried to keep it together for the kids – There have been tons of studies published about the negative effects of divorce on children. Divorce is never easy on anyone and it usually the last resort for any couple with kids.  Parents know it isn’t exactly healthy to raise children in a combative environment with constant fighting. If one spouse is being physically, mentally or emotionally abusive to another, the abuse could easily spread to the children.  In fact some couples may have divorced for the sake of their kids.  Growing up in an extremely toxic environment can cause a lot more damage than splitting time between two households.  The decision to divorce has probably weighed heavily on the couple for months if not years.  When someone states this obvious fact it is just rubbing salt in a wound.

2. How could you give up that lifestyle?  The money, cars, vacations?  Couldn’t you just put up with it? – So are you a spouse or a prostitute?  For some, it is a fine line, as some men and women marry purely for financial gain.  But for the vast majority of us, we married for love and no amount of money and stability can replace that.  If one partner is treating the other like garbage, the damage to a person‘s self-esteem and sense of well-being is not worth any amount of material wealth.

3. I totally saw it coming – Who are they the divorce Svengali? No one knows what goes on in a marriage besides the two people in that marriage.  No one.  It is one thing if you have confided to your friend that you were having problems.  It’s another thing entirely if you haven’t.

4. You need tons of sex, you should just go out there and get laid, go crazy – It’s not terrible advice, but for some sex can turn into another form of self-destructive behavior,  just like drugs or alcohol.  I suspect that some say this because they are secretly wishing they could “live the dream.”  Being single after a certain age is hardly a sexual paradise.  For many of us it is boring, lonely and quite sexless.

5. You’re in denial – For some divorce is the greatest thing that ever happened to them.  No one should assume that they are denying their real grief.

6. You should change your name back – I just got this one the other day.  I just looked at the woman funny when she said it.  I decided to keep my ex-husband’s surname because I had built up professional credits with it.  I didn’t want to start over and rebuild up everything considering I had lost so much. Legally I can keep his name.  Why anyone would think this is nothing more than a personal decision is baffling.

7. Oh you’ll get married again.  There’s someone out there for everyone – This comment is well-meant, but a lot of divorced people NEVER want to get married again.  Since divorce is hell on earth, for so many of us, why would we want to repeat it?

8. I always hated him/her – Ouch.  When someone says this they might expect a divorced person to immediately agree with them and start ripping apart their ex.  Divorce is sometimes extremely one-sided and a person could still be very much in love, or at least conflicted about their former partner.  When in doubt, don’t go there.

9. I never knew why the two of you were together in the first place – I have no idea why anyone would think this is appropriate to say, yet plenty do.  A statement like this completely invalidates a marriage.  It implies their partnership was a freak show that no one could understand.  A newly divorced person is usually in mourning for what they just lost, a comment like this hits below the belt.

10. You really need to get over this and move past it. – Everyone grieves at different speeds.  No two divorces or relationships are the same.  No one should make a judgment call about another person’s suffering .  The most annoying people who make this comment,  are those who have never even been married.

11. Welcome to Hell – I know this bring it to 11, but I personally love this comment because people also say to people who just got married!  I guess it is a matter of perspective.

12. You gave him the best years of your life – OK now it’s 12 things. But my mother actually said that exact phrase to me for months, in fact she still does.  My mother means well, and I have developed a sense of humor about her morbidity about the failure of my marriage.  I did sacrifice most of my child-bearing years to that partnership, but I still think the best years of my life are yet to come.  So thanks Mom, I know you only want the best for me.  🙂

PLEASE SHARE any comments you have gotten!  🙂 

Dating Online: Nice Guys of OKCupid – Why it’s Horrible

Loser

Loser (Photo credit: jugbo)

I get a lot of love and hate mail due to things I have written on this blog.   My critics come from every direction imaginable from angry males calling me a man-hating shrew to virulent feminists claiming I am eroding the women’s movement.  I find all of this venom ironic since I average a little over 100 readers a day.  Not that bad for a total unknown blogger, but there are blogs out there that get a lot more traffic than this one.  Men often take umbrage with my articles, and I can understand their frustration.  I write from a woman’s perspective and I have repeatedly explained to many of my detractors that since I am female, I cannot write from a male’s perspective.  If men want to read about other the dating lives of males, they should read a blog written by someone with a penis.  I simply cannot write from an experience I know nothing about.

That being said I openly admit that I frequently make fun of the online dating profiles of men I find on dating websites.  I mock poorly written or pretentious self summaries on my Facebook page, in my stand-up routines and on this blog.  My regular readers like it when I point out the absurdity and arrogance of some of the men I encounter online.  I make no apologizes for it.  I do however go out of my way to protect the identity of anyone I ridicule.   I never include photos or even screen names.  My intent is not to make personal attacks or to public humiliate a man who might not have an inkling on how to write effectively on a dating website.  I have also tried to help men in their quest for love online.  Since I have scrolled through hundreds of profiles, I know what turns most women off.  In my articles Online Dating: Why you get ignored, and Dating in NYC: What to Not do on a First or Second Date I am honestly trying to help men not make the same mistakes I have seen time and time again.I completely agree with the creators of The Nice Guys of OKCupid up until a point.  Most of the men featured on their blog are clueless and have negative views about women.  However the crime of writing a poorly written dating profile should not subject anyone to public shaming.  I have no problem with poking fun at the grandiosity, rudeness or misogyny on any profile.  The Nice Guys of OKCupid crosses the line by attaching images to the poorly written content.  Now these men are no longer anonymous, any number of friends, relatives or co-workers can see personal information that was not meant for all the world to see.  Anyone could easily fabricate a dating profile and submit it to the site, in order to humiliate someone.  There is no way of authenticating if any of the information posted is actually accurate.

We all put ourselves out there when we sign up for a free online dating profile.   Vulnerability is not easy for anyone, especially men that might have limited social skills.  When we bare our souls looking for a possible mate, we also open ourselves up to the darker sides of someone’s psyche.  I have gotten pure hate from total strangers on dating sites.  I am not sure why, but now and then some man decides he needs to send me insulting or disgustingly perverted emails.   There is no joy in making myself open to this kind of negative behavior.   It makes me cringe when men I know tell me they stumbled upon my profile while browsing, or that I came up as a good match. I would rather not have to resort to putting so much personal information on a site for someone else to dissect, decipher and judge.

The whole thing reminds me of a bully finding a love note written by a total nerd to a popular girl and then plastering a high school with photocopies to humiliate the author. Are the men featured on Nice Guys of OKCupid clueless?  Yes.  But do they deserve public shaming for not understanding women?  No.  Do most men understand women?  Do most women understand men?  I don’t claim to know what is going on in the mind of most men and I would hate to see my own photo/profile in a

  • Women who think they are all that of OKCupid
  • Bitches of OKCupid
  • Cougars of OKCupid
  • Future Old Maids of OKCupid
  • Cat Ladies of OKCupid
  • Annoying Women of OKCupid

Will this public shaming do anything to change the behavior of those featured on the site?  I seriously doubt it.  If anything it will just make the men that much more disillusioned with the gender they already don’t understand.  When a person signs up for an online dating website they don’t sign up for another third-party to exploit them.   OKCupid should get the site taken down.  It is surprising that someone hasn’t already threatened the site with legal action.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with making fun of someone’s words  as long as their identities remain private.  Dating online is hard enough, do we have to make it that much harder?

Dating in New York: A Reformed Man Whore

42-17843858

42-17843858 (Photo credit: kedai-lelaki)

A good friend of mine recently confided in me his frustration with his man whore lifestyle.  It seems he was now back with his on and off again girlfriend of several years.  I don’t want to reveal his identity so I will leave out a lot of specifics.  After a little back and forth he basically said,  “I really have to get over being a man-whore, I am trying to work things out.”

To which I replied, “Look you aren’t 25 years old, there is only so long you are going to be able to pull off the man whore thing.  You don’t make a ton of money, you aren’t drop dead gorgeous and even if you were, your looks will fade anyway.  Don’t be an idiot.  Try to make this work.  You don’t know until you have lived without it, how painful it is to live without love.  You guys obviously care for each other or you wouldn’t end up back together all the time.  For me it has been over three years, and it feels like I am slowly dying.”

Sex is easy.  Love is hard.  Part of the reason I don’t really get into the hook-up culture is that for most women having casual sexual affairs is like shooting fish in a barrel.  It is simply too easy.  If I want no-strings attached sex from a man I can get it, any night of the week.  The sex might be dull, and the partners unexceptional, but if I just want sex, it is never a problem.  Sexual dynamics have never been equal for men and women.  There are some rare men that are so physically beautiful, charming or wealthy that they have a high success rate with the opposite sex but for the vast majority of men, the hook-up game is much more difficult.

But even when getting sex is easy, it doesn’t always work out.  My last hook-up was a total comedy routine.  It should have been fine.  The man aggressively pursued me at a bar.  He was much younger, didn’t live in New York City and once I relented we both had clear cut expectations.  But he also didn’t realize he was allergic to cats…and since I live with two gorgeous felines…it was all over before it really began.  So much for my New York wild single life.  I tried to warn him before we got here…anyway.

Every time I try these scenarios, I am left wanting more.  It feels kind of like eating a cookie when I am really famished for a meal.  The decadent treat might temporarily satisfy but it does nothing for my deeper hunger.  Plus none of us can survive on a diet of just sweets.   As I tried to point out to my friend, his man whore lifestyle is only sustainable for so many years.  An aging millionaire rock star can still get a 25-year-old when he is in his sixties, a wealthy banker might have a trophy wife and a bevy of mistresses on the side.  For most of us, we get old, we don’t look as hot and we don’t have the economic resources to attract as many partners.  Before we know it we are at the age where we might end up permanently alone.  As I told my friend in my usual overly blunt way,

“Look dude do you want to end up with the kind of woman who would date a poor musician who screwed around for most of his life?  Or do you want to be a man and work at a relationship with a woman who you love, and who loves you.  She doesn’t care that you are don’t make a lot of money, she loves you anyway as you are now…don’t be an idiot.”

Fear of being alone shouldn’t be the primary factor in any relationship, but like I pointed out these two actually do have a strong emotional connection.   My friend is just being neurotic that somehow he might be happier if he is chasing every woman in New York City.  He knows it isn’t true, but being self-destructive leaves him torn between what is good for him, and what feels good in the moment.

I have had to condition myself to live without a partner in my life, and it has been extremely difficult for me.  Even before my marriage I was always a serial monogamist.   Casually dating multiple partners feels like another game entirely and one that I am not very good at playing.  I have dreadful dating skills.  I am nervous, insecure, blather on and reveal way too much.  Avoiding discussing my divorce is especially difficult since my marriage was such a huge part of my adult life.  I simply don’t have the skill set, I was just half of a couple for too long.   I can live by myself and be perfectly happy, but I don’t want to live like this forever.

I honestly hope my would be reformed man whore heeds my advice.  From my perspective he is incredibly lucky to have a woman who will keep trying to make something work with him.  Chasing the next best thing could lead him down a dead-end path with no way out.