Thursday, 29 September 2011

me time

Today as I was allowing my  coupled friends to vicariously enjoy my 'single Saturday nights'' in recollection, one remarked that it seemed that at those times, I got to be the real ME - not the mother, the employee, the ex-spouse, the friend, the mortgage-owner, the volunteer....just me.

I'm trying hard not to allow being uncoupled define me.  Sure, this blog is about my life, and maybe the life of others, as a single in a couples world.

And I'm not afraid to admit I have days when I am really really unhappy about being a single person, and in particular a single parent.  Many is the day that I think 'this is not what I signed up for!''...Just as there are  as many days that I wonder if I will ever be brave/mad/open enough to really be ready to get re-coupled again.

But, there are many positives in my life as a single and one of them is that I how I have learned to carve out -and really appreciate - chunks of time just for me.  

And it's true - when it's just me, I get to be me.  No expectation, no responsibility and no accountability, except to myself.  Those precious hours are all about doing the things that energise me, but that are not necessarily - in fact are not usually at all - about giving out to other people. I do things that I love, things that I would probably have never experienced unless I had become single, and have also gone back to things I once loved before coupledom.  It's good for my spirit and soul, and is often a timely reminder that I am no not have to be defined by just my relationship status.

Monday, 26 September 2011

tell me what you want what you really really want

I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want!

Actually, I don't know that I can...but I can tell you what I don't want....

- I don't want a father for my kids, they already have one - although a great mate would be awesome
- I don't want an entourage of exes and past loves, either in physical or emotional  form, sharing my relationship  - although a healthy and friendly rapport is all good
- I don't want to be responsible for someone elses happiness, finances or social life - although I'd be glad to share all three with the right person
- I don't want to spend my Sundays alone for ever - although the odd solitary one is just fine
- I don't want a short term see what happens, doomed affair - although I'm also not seeking a firm commitment from the first date!
- I don't want to have to compromise my values and beliefs - although I'm open to explore new ones
- I don't want to give up my life as i know it (friends, interests, lifestyle) - although I'm excited about the possibilities of getting new ones of all three

Sound negative?  Maybe...I guess I could turn all these comments into positives - but where's the fun in that!
It's only in knowing what you don't want, that allows you to seek that which you really do.

Don't you think?

Saturday, 24 September 2011

layers of complexity

A few weeks a go I ruminated on why I think it is so hard to re-couple a second or third (or more...) time around.  I suggested that is it because the older we become, the more 'formed'we are and therefore the less flexible we get.  Our values and belief systems are stronger and (hopefully) we have a far clearer view of what we want from life.

It was suggested to me by a recently re-coupled friend, that he believed that the bonding process is also much slower when we are older.  At 20, or even 30, we seem to connect with someone far more quickly and easily - possibly also because we are more open to change and other perspectives that we are as we get older.

I think there's lots of truth in this - if a couple meet when they are young, they not only have less expectation but there is also a whole lot less baggage coming into their relationship.  And I think that as we become more complex human beings - which with any luck comes with maturity, rather than age - we become more 'layered'- and consequently as  there are more layers to uncover to reach the essential us, the place of true bonding is slower to be uncovered - possibly even harder to find.

This is not to say that we can't have that "instant zing" or feel we have a strong attachment or affinity with someone early on in a relationship, but more that the true bedding down - the development of that deep, meaningful connection, takes more time.

I also think we bring a heap of people into new relationships - every one we have had an emotional, or physical connection with has left an imprint, no matter how slight or how deep, and they are carried into this new relationship too.  Even the most satisfactorily resolved breakup, was with someone we once gave a piece of our hearts to.  And that has to contribute to how we are as people, and how we 'do relationships''  now.

Little wonder then that there are so many false starts and unhappy endings on this journey to meeting our soul mates (assuming you believe in "that kind of thing" - which I do).   We load in so much expectation, and as well as having to peel back our own layers, have to take the time to get beneath those of the other person.  It IS a process that takes time, makes us risk our own vulnerability, and also insists that we address the very things that make us who we are at the deepest level.

Monday, 19 September 2011

the man drought

I heard on the radio yesterday that the man drought in NZ is officially over - well for 6 weeks anyway.  Apparently something like 70% of the visitors here for the RWC are men.

Not terribly helpful for those of us either a/ not into rugby, or b/ not really prepared to move to Georgia/Romania/Argentina when they all go back home.

Is it true?  Is there really a shortage of men?  I was at a function last night where there were more men than women.  Significantly. In fact some of the men went home because they were so over-represented!  Nice, decent guys who probably fit most of the criteria on my previous blogs.

Talk to the women and they'll tell you all the good guys are taken.  Talk to the men and they'll tell you there's not many good women to choose from.  I suspect in this online-dating age,where there appears to be such choice and range, we've got a bit fussy in our old age.  The same old problems and deal-breakers keep turning up.

Too old, too young, too afraid of commitment, too intense.  Spends too much, not generous enough.  No kids, too many kids.  Not driven enough, too focused.  Not healthy enough, too committed to their sport.
Doesn't like to go out, doesn't like to stay in.  Too much energy, not enough energy.  Too highly principled, too laid back.

No wonder we're all still single:)  

Saturday, 17 September 2011

find just one single benefit

"The autonomy of singledom is attractive, or is that just what we tell ourselves to make it more bearable?"
So started the response to a previous post I made.  Which got me to it true?

I'm not sure that I would go so far to say that being single is unbearable.  But I do think that there are times when it can begin to feel that way.  It's really easy to wax lyrical about the sad side effects of being single and even easier to get quite proficient at rattling off a list of all the wonderful benefits...

- there's no one to answer to
- my money is my own
- my space is my own
- my decisions are my own
- I can parent as I choose
- I can live where i want     etc . etc. etc.

But, following the theory that says "more than one reason is simply self-justification for a decision"(actually that's my theory but doesn't it sound great!) is beginning to sound blatently obvious to me that if we were really truly really happy about being single we wouldn't be trotting out 101 reasons why it's so fabulous, we'd just be getting on with it.

Probably not a whole lot different to the miserably-coupled who spend all their energy on justifying why they stay in a crap relationship.

Today, as I sent out invitations to a circle of friends, to arrange a grown-ups only dinner party, I realised that it was looking like being all couples. And me.  At these moments being the single one is bearable, but only just.  And frankly, I'll be seriously considering finding a date for  the night as 11 people at a dinner party just isn't right.  I've done the Bridget Jones thing before and it ain't pretty!  None of friends give a hoot, it's me that doesn't want to be the only single in that particular couples world  It's like a patent reminder of what might have been.  Ick.

Overall though, I think when you're content, truly content, with your state - be it singled, coupled, half way there, half way back...then you can just live in that and enjoy it, without having to continue to make lists of all the reasons why it is (or isn't) such a great place to be.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

sharing the load or going it alone

I'm sure one of the most appealing things about being coupled (from the uncoupled point of view of course!) is the fact that there is someone to share stuff with.
Share housework, kid stuff, errands.
Share a bed.
Share the ups and downs and trivia of the day
Share whinges and whines and celebrations.

The longer I live alone though, the less excited I am about sharing.  I've got used to my own space and making my own decisions.  I don't mind doing housework on my own and I have enough friends around me to usually be able to find someone to celebrate or commiserate with.  I quite like my own company, even though I am energised by people.

I do miss having some warm feet in the bed on a cold night...but I'm pretty ok with having that to myself most of the time too.

I have come to accept, even enjoy the solititude of my evenings.  Being connected via the internet and phone is mostly enough, and I am often busy with work, or meetings or something, at least a couple of nights a week.

There are things I miss sharing for sure.  An adult to reflect on the day with.  Someone to have coffee with in the morning.  Sometimes I would like to be able to share my kids:)

I wonder if if my growing independence will make me selfish (although unlikely as long as there's two small people in my life and house).

Does this make me one of those people edging to the ''part time lover'' camp?  I don't want to become so self sufficient that there is no room, or inclination for a significant other in my life.  I also don't want to be so independent that a potential suitor would put me in the too hard basket!

Is there a balance?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

taking care of yourself - one for the boys

There's no doubt about it, women like a man to look good.  No more, and no less that the men want the women they are being seen with, or that they are seeing, to look good too.

In some ways women are probably more look obsessed - we can spend AGES getting the right dress, the right hair, the right shoes.  We worry we look fat in something.  We worry about wrinkles and grey hair.

I subscribe to a number of single person blogs.  One is particularly scathing of the dating world and offers tips for men (from a women's perspective) and vice versa.  After yesterdays contribution - make that gentle lecture - to remind the women that they need to care for themselves, I thought it only fair that the guys got a turn too.

So, you can either get the hard unudulterated truth here:

or read on for a list of random observations shared by my women friends....
(a cautionary note...some of these things contradict each other...I told you it was a list of random observations - don't shoot the messenger!)

- muscles and firm bodies are great.  we all know that.  but we also know that as we get older it's not so easy to acheive.  just make a bit of an effort.
- being overweight or out of shape isn't really the issue.  the issue is if you care about it.  if you don't give a damn, that tells us (rightly or wrongly) that you don't respect your own body.  so we wonder, would you respect ours?
- we like men that know what a toothbrush is and isn't afraid to use it.
- some guys sweat a lot.  those guys need to use appropriate toiletries. a lot.
- if you're struggling with your wardrobe, ask for help.  But if you don't want us deciding what you wear, then don't take us shopping with you.
- tshirts just shouldn't be tucked in. ever. well unless you're at a funeral. and it's your own. then it doesn't matter.
- if your car is full of rubbish and we have to negotiate to get in the front seat, you can forget a second date.  car full of crap = house full of crap = life full of crap
- if we want to be rescued, we'll let you know.
- short fingernails. and toenails. always.
- women love guys who can do guy stuff. fixing things.  making things.  helping with stuff.  we just do. even if we say we don't
- when we say ''so what are you up to this week'', we're not interrogating you. we're just interested
- please let us pay for things sometimes. you wanted an independent woman right? so let us be one.
- for most of us, there's extra small people involved.  we want you to like them.  but you don't have to parent them. especially at the start.  thanks anyway!
- when you ask us what's wrong and we say 'nothing'' and you know it isn't NOTHING - let it go!!! we'll tell you when we're ready.
- deep down, just like you, we just want to be wanted and love to be loved.  it's pretty simple really.  

Monday, 12 September 2011

taking care of yourself - one for the girls

When my marriage ended, I stopped eating.  Not on purpose, it just kind of happened.  In the space of about 8 weeks I lost 10 kg's.  I didn't even notice at the time - until I went to buy a new pair of jeans (usually a size 14), and discovered I needed a size 8.  I thought I looked terrific.  Everyone commented on it.  Everything I wore looked great - even a swimsuit.

But the reality was that I was way way too thin.  I got sick a lot.  I picked up every germ going.  My muscle tone was almost non-existent.  Fast forward 3 years and I'm in much better health.  I'm not the super slim person I was then but I'm definitely better for it - even if everything I wear doesn't look so great!  I don't do huge amounts of exercise but I do some.  I am not precious about my diet, but I do endeavour to eat well most of the time.  People notice that too.

And if there's one thing I learned through this, it's how important it is to take care of yourself.  It's often said that women (in particular) 'let themselves go'' when they are in a relationship.  And it's only when they become uncoupled that they realise they need to up their game.  This is of course deeper than weight and appearance, but I think that when you're feeling crappy on the inside it can be good to put some work into how you look on the outside.  Similarly, if you feel you look like a bag lady, maybe it's time to do some work on what's going on inside too.

We women get all defensive when we hear men criticise women for being too fat, or too dowdy.  We do the same thing (sheesh look at the gut!, hhhmmm bad haircut!) but would be hard pressed to admit that we care because women are supposed to be 'deeper than that'.

But maybe the men have got a point.  How we appear to the outside world I think probably is a pretty good reflection of how we feel on the inside.

It's really important to take care of yourself.  It's important whether you're coupled or not. But I think that it's vital to hold yourself accountable, to yourself! - no one else is going to do this for you.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

a deep emotional...i mean ...wireless...connection

Back in Victorian, when a couple got to know each other, it was via formal invitations and planned visits.  It was supervised, it was in public places and there wasn't a whole lot of physical contact.  They wrote letters - with a pen and paper!  It wasn't unheard of to not see or hear from each other for a week or more at a time.

When my parents met it wasn't that much different.  People met at dances.  They spent time in a big circle of friends.  They may have phoned each other occasionally but largely their time together was planned in advance, intentionally and there was a sense of anticipation between meetings, which usually only lasted a few hours.

When I met my husband we spent most of the first two years we were together living in different countries.  We wrote letters, we had long phone calls.  We carefully planned time together.  When we were together it was for chunks of time - a long weekend, a week.  In the meantime we got on with our lives - jobs, friends, hobbies.

Now technology  has become almost a  third person in a relationship.  The Internet and cellphones came along.  Then instant messaging and video calls on skype.  Facebook.  Hands-free car kits.  Wireless broadband.

I'm not entirely convinced it's a good thing.

Yes, it's lovely to receive a random ''i'm thinking of you'' text or message.  There's excitement in being able to chat long into the night by phone, or pseudo face to face on skype.  It sure makes it easy to be spontaneous - I'm in town! let's meet in 10 minutes!

Add in the 'weekend date''- it's not uncommon for a new couple to spend Friday to Sunday together, where once it would have just been a Saturday night dinner.  Obviously the old taboos/restrictions of no sex are rather less in force these days so this is far more acceptable and realistic but it's changed the way we do relationships.  I recently read that one can reasonably expect to get lucky on the third date.  

And now, if a day goes by without contact it feels like an eternity.  Where once upon a time a week would have been considered a reasonable stretch between conversations, now there's an expectation of a daily text, or email, or message.  There's no peace from it - there's no opportunity to build expectation and anticipation.

And the other downside is that all this contact can create a false sense of knowledge and security.  Of course we know each other - we skyped for four hours last night!    We had a WONDERFUL weekend at the beach - it's like having 3 months worth of dates in two days!

But my argument is this - whether it's a whole weekend, a hundred texts a day, or an all night phone call - to begin with, we are all showing our best sides.  It takes a long time to get to really know someone and whilst frequent and intense time can accelerate this, I don't think it is possible to truly know that person any faster.

Adding in sex, for all the marvellous pleasure it affords, too early, also can just give a false sense of knowing.  There's a reason it's called the cuddle hormone! I'm not saying to go there, or not go there, is right or wrong, just that it has the potential to change our perspective of someone.

It just feels like it's all going too fast to me.

I heard it described like this: You need to give me time to realise I miss you.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

It's a conundrum alright!

I had a really interesting conversation this week with another uncoupled friend.   He too is thinking about the ups and downs of the single life, like how to muster the effort required to meet new people versus the apparent ease of just accepting singleness.

I was once told that I appeared to be someone who wanted a boyfriend not a partner.  I think what that person meant was that I wasn't prepared to commit EVERYTHING to a relationship.  At that time it probably had more to do with that particular relationship than my state of intention, but in reflection I can see some truth in that.

And whilst I'm not in favour of the FWB idea, let alone the FB one (look it up...), I can see an appeal in the part time relationship  - does that means girlfriend/boyfriend? -too.  I suspect that the longer one remains single the harder it becomes to want to compromise that independence.  And also the harder it becomes to blend two lives - especially if there are children, or different locations, or no major overlap of friends and interests.  

I really can't decide which option has the most - or least - appeal.  To be coupled, to have a special person to share life with or to be single and get to enjoy the privilege (and I want to frame it like that) of being wholly responsible and accountable to just myself.  To know that I might not have to have another ''sunday bloody sunday'' versus having each child free weekend stretching deliciously empty and full of promise ahead of me.

Maybe if i met the "right"person none of this would matter?  Possibly not.  But I am also realistic enough to know that I should not have to compromise the things that I don't want to compromise, any more than any potential partner should have to.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

lemon juice and paper cuts part 1

I love how the recently-coupled so often want everyone to enjoy their joy bubble.

I am always delighted to hear of someone finding another - especially if it is marked with promise and hope and happiness.  I get a real buzz out of hearing the how we met stories, the barely contained excitement of a  full-of-promise chance meeting, the run down of how amazing the first date, week, month has gone.  It reminds me that for each of us there is the possibility of a perfect fit.

But I think I speak for most singles when I say we are NOT always delighted with the offer of other potentials being thrust upon us - ''oh he wasn't my type but I'm sure you'll like him'';, óh she's looking great...for her age''; 'he's a great catch you know...for someone else'', "he's been single for AGES, you should ask him out!!!''.

Yes thanks for that.  The not-quite-perfect guy for the sadly single girl. The fabulous-for-someone-else woman just right for the tragically alone man.

I love matchmaking and as I've said before I have a fairly good track record with it.  But I'm also super careful about how and where and when I do it.

So whilst I get that who is right for one might not be right for another - and probably a friend-introduction is the best way to meet people (at least they come partly pre-vetted!), it doesn't follow that because the single are single, they automatically qualify to be potential mates for other single friends.

Don't know about you, but I'd rather stay home and put lemon juice in my paper cuts than go on a date with someone who my friend has already rejected.

Monday, 5 September 2011

tag and release

Another expression I have happened upon since joining the heady word of the uncoupled, this one is used to describe the (somewhat questionable IMHO) practise of no-strings sex.  And one of the best things ever about owning my blog - I get to have an honest opinion and spout rhetoric from the moral high ground whenever I choose!

I know that this makes me sound frighteningly conservative but I am seriously at a loss to understand why anyone would choose to engage in something as physically intimate and vulnerable as sex, with a stranger.

I once heard it described as offering variety and pleasure without emotional attachment.  What interests me is
a.  how sustainable this is?  Can one go on, and on, continuing to have detached sex with strangers (or with acquaintances and friends for that matter), or is this a time and place kind of thing?  and
b. what's the likelihood of being able to have a continued supply of people who are also happy with it?  Do women and men feel the same about this?  Are the initiators always being completely honest and upfront about their intentions and do neither person really true care?

Saturday, 3 September 2011

a whole new language

I nominated a word I had heard, and have started using, to urban dictionary.  It got published yesterday

Another one to add to the post-coupled vocabulary.


do you trust me?

Forget the F-word and the C-word. If there was ever one that ought to top the list if risky things to say to a new beau, it would have to involve the T-word surely!

Too trusting. How many times have you thought that? How many times have you been that?!

Why do we need to ask someone if they trust us? To me it sounds a bit needy - or even a bit duplicitous. As in, I'll ask you if you trust me because in doing that I'm implying that you have no reason not to.

I am deeply uncomfortable with the concept of Do you trust me

- do you trust me when I say I'm going out with the girls and we're going dancing
- do you trust me when I am off on a rugby weekend
- do you trust me when I say that there is no-one but you
- do you trust me when I share my past with you and it sounds a bit improbably

Do you trust me? Seriously why would someone even need to ask that? Surely if there's been a DTR* conversation it's a given that there''s got to be some trust?

I find this trust thing a bit weird. Shouldn't you be able to '"do trust"" without saying it? or without asking? And yes we all feel the need to define it, and be reassured.

Or does the very fact that I am even having to discuss this mean that I have trust issues?

DTR- Define the Relationship - the conversation that we all know we need to have sooner rather than later, but when it's feeling tricky, usually do it later often by which time there's actually no relationship to define

Thursday, 1 September 2011

I'm just not ready for a relationship

scenario 1:
A lovely friend of mine in his early 50's has recently become uncoupled.  It was a newish, but seemingly solid relationship of a few months.  They seems well suited, it appeared to be going well. Right up until the day she TEXTED him, post date, to say she just needed 'some time'.  She wasn't sure.  She had some things to figure out.  She wasn't convinced she was actually wanting to commit to a relationship.

Being a good guy, he  graciously gave her some time.  She came back to him.  She TEXTED again.  No, it was over.  Seriously?  She texted a breakup? At 50, don't you think a bit more class might have been in order?

Scenario 2
Gay male friend this time.  Meets a nice man.  They become friends.  It starts to feel like it might go somewhere.  He can't decide.  He hasn't been single that long from last demise.  After some weeks he tells him (in much classier way - email this time...) that no, he is just not able to proceed.  He's just not ready for a relationship.

He understands.  It was early days.  He was still in recovery mode.

Within 5 days he announces he is in a "committed relationship" and is quietly confident of it progressing.

Scenario 3
A woman.  Sweet. She meets a sweet, fairly unworldy guy. Both late 30's, not wide-eyed teens.  A friendship develops.  It half progresses to relationship. and back. and forward.  He can't decide.  He's just not ready.  At last he is.  He tells her she's the one for him.  6 weeks later he mentions (via email...sheesh there's a theme here...) that he is going on a date that night.  Just thought she should know.

I have run out of fingers, and toes, to count the number of people I know who have been given the i'm so sorry but i'm just not ready for a relationship line.

Come on people.  Get honest.  Sure the truth hurts.  So does rejection.  But retain a shred of dignity for you and the person you are lying to.  and it is a lie.  Because you know what you REALLY mean is:

Sorry but I'm not interested in a relationship with YOU.

And for goodness sake, do it in person will you?