Sunday, 28 August 2011

fighting fires that aren't even sparks

I learnt yesterday that I had upset someone. A male someone. It was completely unintentional and in fact I didn't even know that the thing that upset him would have even registered with him.

My first reaction was to fight the fire.  I hardly know this guy but I immediately began thinking of how I might be able to contact him and maybe assuage the hurt a little.

I'm good at that.  Trying to make amends.  Soothing furrowed brows.  Pouring oil on troubled waters.  Fighting fires.

The rational side of my brain kicked in - excuse me, miss unity addict! I think it's called overcompensating, and being a rescuer.

Women seem to be particularly good at this stuff. We over analyse.  We put in too much emotion. We don't want to UPSET anyone.  We don't want to cause any HURT.   We want to save the world and protect other people from pain, no matter how small, no matter how ill-perceived.

And so I rationalised a little more.  I didn't know I had upset anyone.  I hadn't done it deliberately.  It was an action not a word so there wasn't even any interaction with this person.  Ergo, they were assuming that the way I behaved was for their benefit or not.  Honestly, what was I thinking that I felt the need to even get into it!

I let it go.


Saturday, 27 August 2011

the science of single

the science of single

Sunday bloody Sunday

Shouldn't Sunday mornings be one of the most delicious times of the week?  A chance to kick back, enjoy some peace and quiet, do some contemplating - all that jazz?

Well, I am growing to loathe them.  I quite enjoy my own company - I certainly like not being accountable to someone else, and there's a lot to be said for the harmony that exists in my house when it is just me.  But the novelty is starting to wear thin.

The day is stretching ahead of me with nothing planned.  Yes, there's a lot of things I could be doing and a few I should be doing.  There's always a friend to visit, some housework to do, a bit of office work to complete.  But eeww, that is NOT how I want to be spending every child-free Sunday.

As my single friends continue to couple-up (three more became partnered this week for goodness sake!), the pool of people also with yawning Sunday gaps is shrinking.

As for all that well meaning stuff from the smug-couples about how lucky I am to get all that free time?

meh.


Friday, 26 August 2011

the L word

One of my good friends has fallen in like.  I can't say in love because I don't want to speak for her, and it's a fairly new relationship.

I like the expression 'falling in like''.  To me it sounds like a good combination of pretty romantic, just a little wreckless and a fair dose of sensible.  It implies being generous with emotions but without total abandon.  A kind of 'we might get there but it's going to be a good journey' kind of feeling.

When I was a teenager we all talked about 'liking' and everyone knew that this went beyond the i-like-you-because-you-are-my-friend kind of like.  It said, I'm interested in you.

As sensible relationship-savvy adults I think we know the difference between friend-like and potential-partner like.  But even that can be a scary place to start.  What if they don't like me back in that way?  What if it turns out I'm not really attracted to them after all?  What if I fall in love!?

The modern version of like - being into someone - well it all sounds a bit base to me.  A bit shallow. A bit transient perhaps.    Yes it's just a word, a modern expression, but surely we could come up with something a bit classier?

And in an age where relationships often start with the physical and then progress to the emotional, the old fashioned concept of getting to know someone and actually getting to like them (dare I say, as a friend...) is starting to hold appeal for me.

I read somewhere that you can't fall in to something unless you stretch out and look over into it.  To me, like seems like a pretty good place to start looking.






Thursday, 25 August 2011

friends...but without the benefits

I have had cause recently to have a number of discussions about the merits (or lack thereof) of this FWB phenomena that seems to be sweeping singledom at the moment.

Now I am not able to speak from experience about this but I have to say that I have my doubts about how it can really truly work.

I figure that if someone is your friend, that means you like them and want to spend time with them.  If you are interested in a sexual relationship with someone I am assuming that you have to be physically attracted to them.  So the combination, surely, is that you have found someone you like, that you want to spend time with, and you are attracted to.

So my question is this...why would someone choose FWB over a real, committed relationship?

I understand that it might have something to do with age and stage in life.  Maybe personal circumstances. But surely even in a friendship one makes allowances or compensation for that?  Maybe one, or both, is reluctant to commit to something 'serious'' - but surely we should be treating even a friendship with respect and seriousness?

And doesn't the fact that it may now include a sexual connection give it an element of seriousness (or is that just old fashioned me?).  Doesn't that kind of skew things and start to involve feelings and emotions outside the bounds of friendship?  What happens when the rules change - say one person starts to feel 'more'' that the other? What if the rules weren't defined properly at the start?  What exactly are the rules? Where are the benefits!?!

I'm fascinated by this.  Are there really truly people out there who have done this and it has worked?  Anonymous- or not -  responses welcomed!!!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

choosing the sensible option

When you've done a bit of dating, made a few 'bad decisions', got a few heart bruises and started to be come a bit wary of the whole scene, it can be really tempting to get all conservative about it.

The one you are hopelessly attracted to is completely wrong - wrong age, wrong career, wrong life stage, wrong  values.  The one who likes you ticks all the boxes - right age, right life stage, sensible job, common values and interests.

What's a girl to do?!  You know that the first option is going to end in tears.  You're a grown up right? A sensible, logical woman who prides herself on having learned from her mistakes.  You know that Mr ABC is a far better option, a safer bet, a mature choice.

And so you embark on a new relationship.  You can't call it an adventure, you can't really even call it a passionate journey - because after all, this is about being grown up and logical.  Blind passion is for the young and misguided.  You are beyond that - you believe in stability and sense, the old fashioned view of started with common ground and building the rest.

It doesn't take long and things are not so solid after all.  Yes, he's safe, and reliable, and meets the criteria you thought you needed to check off.  But, it's wrong, oh so wrong.  You knew that, you did, but you were trying to be so SENSIBLE.  You really wanted to have learned from those previous misadventures!

What's a girl to do?

There was a time, not so long ago, when I would have been the one to advocate sticking it out.  But now I'm not so sure.  I think I may have passed over to the dark side.

Now, if I was asked, I'd be more likely to say...

Stuff it, throw caution to the wind.  go with your instincts.  Sensible can wait.


Monday, 22 August 2011

the human touch

I love to dance. OH, how I love to dance!

The music, the pretty dress, the sparkly lights - it's all part of the experience of feeling good.

And the truth is, that one of the other things I really like about it, is that (in the case of the kind of dancing I do), it  includes human contact.  Partner dancing means that for even just three or four minutes at a time, you get undivided attention and the joy of being swept up, spun around and manfully embraced.

Human beings need other human beings.  One of the downsides of the technological age we live in is that lots of us spend more and more time touching not much more than a keyboard each day.

Hugs are great.  Cuddles are better.  Beyond that nicer still, if the person, the timing, and the expectations are right.

The utter deliciousness of touch is in my view, one of the necessities of life.  And in the absence of a significant other, I choose to dance.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

matchmaking and other pursuits

I'm feeling a bit smug today.
I caught up with a friend I haven't seen in a while.
She's happy - studying hard, enjoying the spring, and now into a relationship with a great guy.
He's perfect for her - they have lots in common, they are at similar places in terms of life story, and goals.
She speaks tentatively of a future with him in it, but without angst or fear that it might not happen.
They're in no hurry to change how things are, but it's good, and they are settled into coupledom, comfortably and  securely.

i am absolutely STOKED!  Not least because she's an awesome woman who deserves a great relationship.  And he's a great guy too, who also deserves an awesome woman.

But the main reason I'm especially delighted?

Two years ago, I introduced them.:)

love tanks and energy suckers

I really like the concept of the Love tank (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/2008/10/keeping-the-love-tank-full/ and /http://marriage.about.com/cs/communicationkeys/a/lovelanguage.htm

The idea is that we need to keep replenishing ourselves with love as much as we give it out.  And that if we don't do this, and our tank 'runs dry', we are not really in a position to sustain healthy relationships.
There's no doubt about it.  Relationships take energy, and plenty of it.  And those of the romantic kind somehow seem to take more than most.

I wonder is it because, especially to start with, we are wanting our beloved to see our very best side?  Which takes a fair amount of energy over and above the usual day to day.

As things become established I think relationships start to get emotional momentum.  We find we are able to both get, and give energy to the other.  It's a kind of mutual nourishment.  It's fun and exciting getting to know another person.  We find synergies and similarities.  We spark off each other.  We genuinely have the other person's best interests at heart.  In fact there's little issue with giving out -we enjoy putting all care, attention, energy, into this exciting new thing.  In an ideal world this is invigorating and energising - maybe not all the time, but the overall feeling is one of positivity.


But as the people reading this will know, sometimes the relationship matures, and the cracks begin to show.  That's when putting emotional energy in can become less enjoyable and it can feel like the 'love tank'' is not being replenished.  I accept that all relationships go through the ebbs and flows of give/take/share.    The healthy relationships survive it and come out the stronger for it.  The rest falter, founder or end.

Sometimes it can feel a bit one sided.  The fact is that some people are simply energy suckers.  No matter how well meaning they are, they simply require more energy to fill their tank than they have to give back.  Sometimes they want to, sometimes they don't, sometimes they don't even know what is going on!

Perhaps one of the upsides of new found singleness is that there is not another person to take into consideration all the time.  Sounds selfish perhaps, but  more than one person has said to me that it is only when a relationship is over that they have realised just how much emotional energy had been expended.
As things start to fall into decline, no matter how hard both people might be working toward keeping the relationship strong (or even just together!), things just somehow get harder.  It takes more work.  We feeling like our emotional tanks aren't being refilled.


And so, the post-coupled person is in the often enviable position of being able to put that energy into other things - work, family, interests, sport, well being.  With some time and distance from the now-ended relationship they can identify what went wrong - where the energy was being expended.  Hopefully, we learn from this.  And next time, if there is one, we will seek a relationship that is emotionally rewarding, sustaining and complimentary to our own giving and receiving.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

but can we still be friends?

Oh I want to say yes!  I want to believe that ex-es and potentials can remain friends for ever. One big happy family of people who have had major, minor or catastrophic emotional encounters.

But in reality?  I would suggest that usually the answer is no.  Sure most of us don't want to have ongoing tension, and that includes a bitter parting of ways with someone we may have held great promise with.  We don't really want to believe that another person can think so badly of us that they don't want to even be our friend!

My question is this...why would you?  Seriously.  Why would you want to remain friends (as opposed to friendly - a whole different thing).  When you've invested time and emotional energy into a relationship that's not heading in the direction you want it to - or when you actually don't want to invest any more time or energy into something - why would you?

Maybe because it makes you feel better that you have finished on good terms'?  Because there is so much good stuff that it would be a shame to let all that go, just because the relationship couldn't continue -what ever the reason?  Because you secretly pride yourself on being able to keep positive relationships going with people no matter what history you may share?

There's  reasons relationships don't work out.  It's because one, or the other, or both people don't want it to.  Maybe there's bigger issues that are unresolved.  Maybe you don't actually like , or love each other enough to want to make it work.  Maybe just one person doesn't.

Sure, be friendly.  Especially if you are going to have to cross paths regularly.  Maybe shared kids, or a common interest that, for the meantime anyway, means you have to see each other.  but seriously, you either want to be around that person or you don't.

Can exes be friends?  Should they?   I want to say yes, I want to believe it's possible.  But in reality?  I don't think so.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The ''you'' shaped vacuum

St Augustine is credited with proclaiming that every person has a God-shaped vacuum within them.  That no matter how much we try to fill it with stuff, experiences, emotions, thoughts - the vacuum is only truly satsified when it has God in it.

Well, because I believe that human beings are not designed to be alone (andyes I know there are always exceptions to every rule), I want to beleive that out there somewhere is a person with a ''me'' shaped vacuum.

I imagine that this person may well have a completely fulfilling life.  He probably has enough friends, enough interests, enough challenge in his work, enough spiritual curiousity to consider his life is pretty complete.  He doesn't actually need  a me. Might think he doesn't want  a me.    He might not want to acknowledge - or even be aware - that he even has a space for a me!

The timing might not be right yet.  He might not even know me.  He might know me well but never considered that I am the right fit for that space.

There's a good chance though that he shares the same views as me - that's it's not a question of finding the Jerry Maguire - you complete me - type of relationship to make him feel like a whole person - more that there's a vague sense of knowing that there is something more to be experienced in life - that life just could be that little bit more content, or more exciting, or more sparklier.   

That there's room in his heart for one more person, or that there is still capacity for that heart to expand and make room for me.

Maybe I'm a hopeless romantic - maybe I'm just plain unrealistic.  But whilst I can happily accept that there can be more than one "one"' for us all, I still believe that it is possible to find that ''one'' who, whilst not perfect, is the perfect fit for me.

How do I know this?  Because I already know that I have a vacuum of my own.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

when things end well

Some years ago I made a friend.  We were both single.  He for a little longer than me.  We met, we clicked.  There were not great sparks but there was definitely potential for...something.
It became a bit on and off.  The friendship strengthened.  But any extra dimension was driven by him and seemed to change by the day.  He couldn't decide.  He wasn't ready.  It wasn't me.
He prided himself on having remained friends with every girl he'd ever known.

A year later, my patience had finally worn thin.  I got tired of hearing how there were 'no suitable girls''.  He only called me if he didn't have a date.  I learned he had said some less than flattering things about me.   I decided I was worth more and I ended the friendship.  It was ugly and it hurt and I think it was probably the first time anyone had ever done it to him.

Around the same time I read an article about men who were supposedly unable to maintain healthy relationships.  The writer maintained that part of the problem for these guys was that they were unable to end things well.  The point he was making was that these guys want everyone to like them. They like having female friends and they don't want animosity in any form.   But their avoidance of confrontation, their inability to make a strong decision, was holding them back from actually getting into a relationship at all.

I wonder, could there be some truth in this?  Does the same apply to women?

Personally I think it's great to be able to remain friendly with people I have been emotionally involved with.  But actually friends?  I'm not so sure.  Why would I want to?  Is it because I want to leave a door open...just in case?  What's going to happen when one of us meets another 'friend''who is less enlightened on the value of ongoing friendship with exes?  How many exes - in fact how many friends - can one person have or need?



Thursday, 11 August 2011

just forget about it!

Got to love that particular bit of advice.

It's usually directed at the poor girl (or guy) who has learned that the object of her affection is not reciprocating feelings.  It might have been a secret crush, or it might have been a happening thing.

The bruised-hearted laments to a friend, hoping for sympathy.  The friend, often a smug-coupled, offers one of these pearls of wisdom:

oh, you just need to forget about him!
you are so much better than her!
clearly he doesn't know what he's missing out on!
there's plenty more fish in the sea!

or even...
him? really?  oh have I told you about my friend....SO much more suited to you...


Alas, part of the process of discovering who we are, learning to enjoy the excitement of meeting new people no matter where it goes, and continuing to embrace life, regardless of our single/coupled state, means a few false starts along the way.


If only it were that easy - I would love to be able to (at times) turn my feelings on and off at will.  How much simpler life would be.  No more wondering and waiting, no more broken hearts and hurt feelings.    Certainly no more having to bemoan another false starter.


Sympathy can be a good thing, sometimes.  It's nice to hear that it was simply a misguided, nay erroneous decision that led to our fabulousness being overlooked by said potential beau.  It awesome that our friends are there, as we are for them, to listen to our tales of woe, and give good strokes and encouragement.

But sometimes, all I need to hear is...'gee that really sucks...and one day it won't''

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

sex and the single girl

Do men and women have a different approach to sexuality?

Why is it that traditionally (cougars notwithstanding) it has been men who have been allowed to acknowledge and seek to satisfy their sexual thoughts?  Whereas the girls (except for the ones who are clearly "gagging for it") are expected to not even discuss such things, unless in the company of other single and similarly unsatisfied women.

Maybe it has something to do with the way that women process this stuff.  We are, according to the experts, the emotional ones - the ones who mostly can't or won't have sex, outside the confines of a relationship.  Which is an conundrum to me.  Because clearly these men (assuming they are actually doing it) are having sex with someone - which we can safely assume is the same someone who is having sex with them, outside of the confines of a relationship!

Or is it that this is just another thing that 'nice girls' aren't supposed to talk about?

Now I'm the first to admit that I have no interest in casual sex.  In fact the very term strikes me as a bit of  an oxymoron.  Can something that intimate actually really be casual?  Or at a deeper level, SHOULD it be casual?

But that doesn't mean that we supposedly buttoned-up types don't get tempted.

So maybe the answer is that the men are by and large happier to get on with it, and talk about it.  Whereas the women - well most of them - take a more calculated approach.

It makes me wonder about communication though - assuming everyone's getting lucky, what are we actually telling each other?

Monday, 8 August 2011

letting go

Remember that amazing rush of meeting someone you really liked?  The slow (or maybe not so slow) process of getting to know each other.  Dating.  Coupling.  Co-habitation.
Then things start disintegrating. The stuff you used to find incredibly appealing now drive you mad.  His kids are awful.  Her cooking.  The lurker ex.

You still have deep feelings for each other, but, reluctantly (mainly because neither of you really want to admit you don't want it any more, or that you've failed somehow), you agree to part ways.  You promise to be friends forever- after all you've shared so much, given so much.

And so, you become an ex-couple.  But continue to care deeply for each other. After all, your lives are entwined now - shared friends, converged interests, joint property. Maybe you are still co-parenting?  

There are skills you have that he doesn't.  Things he can do for you that are just plain easier done by him than you.  Your friends remain surprised that you aren't together - after all, you get on so well...there appears to be such a great connection.  Your kids are pretty happy to see you getting on so well - better in fact than when you shared a house!

You see each other from time to time.  Actually quite a bit.  There's lots of residual feelings. You start to wonder - could we try again?  could the good outweigh the bad? would it be better for the children?  but you know, you just know, it's not the right thing to do.  After all, you broke up once, right?

What if one of you still harbours a belief or longing for reconciliation?  He thinks friendship is a great way to maintain the relationship.  You think it's just a break.  Or maybe you're congratulating yourself (or him) on how mature you are both being in light of the demise of the relationship.

How do you let go? How do you know it's time?



Sunday, 7 August 2011

the boundaries of good taste

Why is that women (in particular) are poor at maintaining boundaries?

I'm sure that nearly every post-coupled woman I know could point to boundary issues as being one of the main reasons their relationships failed (oops...I mean...are no longer in existence...)

What makes a good boundary?  Why do we even need them?  And if they get pushed, stretched, challenged, or removed, what does it matter?

For me, boundaries are about knowing what I am prepared to give, and what I am to give up.  It means knowing what I consider to be OK and choosing, intentionally to either stand firm, or make a compromise - because sometimes we have to do that.

When the relationship falters, it means looking at the whys...should I have allowed myself to accept that particular behaviour?  Should I have responded in that way?  How did that make me feel later, when the burst of raw emotion had dissipated?  If that happens again, how will I respond?

I had cause a year or so ago, to point out one of my boundaries to a (male) friend.  He was upset, which was just fine.  Talking about a work incident.  Got really worked up about it.  Language started to deteriorate.  Body gestures became bigger.  Voice louder.   My natural (long learned and long lived)  reaction was to say nothing.  After all, it wasn't about me was it?   But something stopped me.  I realised I did not want to be around that kind of reaction - no matter how righteous the other person felt.  And so I said: your reactions are making me uncomfortable.  I can't, I won't, deal with this anger in you.

It was scary, oh yes - I didn't know what response it would get.  But it was also liberating.  For one of the first times in my life, I claimed my boundary.  And continue to do that.

Boundaries make sense.  They give us guidelines.  They actually make life simpler I think - if we know where they are.  Nothing wrong with pushing them sometimes, but unless you have them to start with, there's nothing to even push against.

Similarly the boundaries of friendship/relationship/connection.  The clearer they are for you (for me!), the easier it is to stay true to myself....and hence attract the kind of people who value me for being me.  We hang on to people, experiences and relationships because of the good in them - that I understand - but often the reason those relationships have evolved to where they are now is absolutely because the boundaries changed - or absolutely need to.

Sometimes that means putting up that fence so high I can't see the person on the other side...other times it might mean leaving a gate open - but it's still a line, that I  decide for myself.  I figure as long as I am clear to ME about what my boundaries are, that's what's important and allows me to be truly me.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

holding out for a hero

The intention of this blog is to be able to give a voice to the things I know so many post-coupled people are thinking and feeling.

Today, I'm feeling a weird combination of glad and sad.  I recently made a decision.  I know that I am not the kind of person that will be happy with a half-pie relationship.  I'm all for go slow, I'm all for one day at a time.  But what I mean is, I just know that anything too casual is going to end in tears.

So I've made that rule for myself.  No hookups here.

I'm sad because right now I'm risking saying goodbye to something I don't want to say goodbye to.  But I'm glad because I know that above all I have to be true to myself.  And if that 'something' thinks I'm worth not saying goodbye to, too, it won't be in vain. (and of course, if I'm not worth it, there's nothing lost).

So yes, I guess I'm holding out for a hero.  I'm worth it.  We all are.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

the language of love

Well actually not love.  Seems there's all these new expressions popping up for the newlydating.

Is it a date? Is it hanging out?  Is it catching up?

Are we going to get together?  Hook up?  Connect?
Actually go on a date?

Is this about seeing where things go?  Going slow?  Assuming success? Being cautious?

Are we an item? A couple?  A work in progress?

Should we have coffee? lunch? dinner? a movie?

If I come to your place is it still a date?  If  we make our own way there?  If we arrive together? Leave together?  Spend the night together?

Is skyping a conversation? Is texting? Online chat?

Is the conversation actually counted as part of what's ''going on'?

Do I tell my friends I met someone? That I'm dating? That I'm in a relationship?  Do I tell them nothing?
When does 'keeping things low key'' become remaining a secret?  When does keeping a private life private turn into clandestine?

When is it official? When you ask me? when I ask you? After one date? Three dates? A sleepover?

Who calls who?  Are the rules still the same?  Should the men be doing all the work?  Are confident women attractive or scary?

If things 'don't work out' do we stay friends? should we? can we?

Aaaargh...all sounding a bit hard....

Monday, 1 August 2011

money money money

I had a really interesting conversation with a friend today.  She is deliberating about returning to full time work.  Just for a couple of years, as a way to knock off the mortgage mainly.
Her husband is all in favour.  Like most men, he sees reward in increased income.
But, he also likes nice things - believes that if you work hard you're entitled to spend hard.
She sees two years of slog as an investment in the future but wonders if he will see it as an advantage for the present.
And so, for the just about the first time in their 20 year marriage, they're arguing about money.

I've heard it all before.  I've had those arguments all before.
No matter how much discussion or negotiating goes on, invariably someone ends up feeling like their point of view is being usurped.

It's one of the small (and it is pretty small) benefits of being a single.  My money is my own.  If I don't have enough, it's my responsibility to find more.  If I want to work hard and then spend it all, then I can.  If I want to work hard and keep it, I can do that too.  I am not responsible to another for my spending decisions.  There's some freedom in that.  One less thing to argue about.

I wonder, will I ever be happy to share financial responsibility with another again?

Does it matter?

be yourself? are you kidding me!?

I met someone I really liked.  I thought it was mutual.

I told a (male) friend.  His advice:  be patient!  and be yourself!

Well that advice, frankly, sucks.

I tried that, with the friend as it happens.  Got me nowhere.

I tried that, with previous couple of really-likes.  Got me a divorce. And an ugly breakup.

I'm trying that, with this one.  Still not working.  the crazy game of not appearing keen without appearing disinterested (oh a subject for another blog...)

Sure, I can be me.  and if I could look 10 years younger and have a personality transplant I'd be perfect:)