Monday, 24 December 2012

modern family christmas

For the past three years or so that I have been writing this blog I've talked a lot about my journey of post coupledom, and how my ex husband and I have worked so hard to continue to co-parent effectively and maintain a good level of friendship (which, it turns out, is fairly uncommon in marriage breakups).

It's been incredibly successful, even though occasionally some lines get blurred (I have been known to call on him to mend stuff, and he gets me to help out with his business from time to time).  The downside - if there is one to such a well managed separation - is that one of our children still harbours a belief that eventually Dad is going to come back (he won't be).  And both children consider him part of our immediate family (he is to them of course).

And so Christmas.  He had a ham that needed cooking and I am the one with the big oven, so I spent a few hours in front of a hot stove.  The kids have bikes that need fixing and he has the right tools for the job. Tonight I wanted to take the 10 year old to midnight mass and so he came and babysat the sleeping one.   All very easy, and civilised.  But there was for me a small feeling of disconnect knowing that my SO was in another town, with HIS family, whilst I was here with mine, both present and past.

Tomorrow the children's father will come for breakfast as has become our tradition, and my SO will come and join us for dinner.   Over the next 48 hours or so we will, separately or together, have spent time with exes, step parents, our kids, someone Else's, the whole nine yards of the modern family.

It's a far cry from the way things were when I was young - when people ''took sides'' and separated couples barely exchanged words let alone had a conversation or shared a meal! Yes I know there are still many who suffer thought painful divorces and never become friendly, or friends, with their ex - but I think this is probably the exception these days rather than the rule and thank goodness for that.

The challenge is respecting the space and values of everyone involved, ensuring all feel important and special, but also not forsaking one person for another.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

an unexpected bonus in the form of footwear

One of the unexpected and somewhat surprising outcomes of being single has been the impact it has had on my wardrobe.

If you've been a reader of my blog/s for a while you'll know that becoming single, and rather financially challenged, resulted in me starting shopping ''preloved'' in earnest.  Always a fan and proponent of true vintage, I ended up as one of those recycle boutique/online shopping/opshop hunters - and in the process discovered a knack for finding really great bargains.  Not to say I haven't bought some duds - because I sure have - but I have also put together a comprehensive (although not particularly extensive my most standards) wardrobe for very little money.

Since acquiring my new job (another outcome of uncoupling), I have had to be a bit more judicious about my clothing, and in particular my footwear.  Its my belief that shoes can make or break an outfit and this is one thing I don't mind spending money on.  Sure I have some cheap and nasty shoes, but I mainly wear good quality, all leather ones (mainly Overland), that look good years after they were purchased.

And, as well as needing shoes for work, I've found I need shoes for dancing, shoes for the gym, shoes for dates, shoes for making speeches in, and shoes for doing more of that vintage clothing shopping.  All things that are also new (actually make that DIFFERENT) ways I spend my time compared to how life was when I was married and home with two toddlers.

The shoe collection is not that big, compared to many of my friends - and yet still I have more than a dozen pairs, and that doesn't count my dancing shoes, trainers, slippers and gumboots.

(clockwise left to right)
absolute favourites my Overland knees high leather boots,   cheapie slipons in lace, 
Overland super soft tan  punched leather, fleuro skate shoes, new bling jandals, 
2nd favourite Overland tooled red leather brogues,  red leather ballet flats, trusty summer slipons, 
divine beaded slipons bought when i turned 40, red patent heels from MINX,  
Overland summer high  wedges, in ''nude'', gold heeled sandals for parties,  trusty black suede wedges, summer sandals

Thursday, 22 November 2012

forming storming norming

There's a commonly known business model, first developed back in the 1960's, which describes the process that a team goes through to become effective -  storming norming performing et al has been evolved to include a few extra rhyming words but essentially talks about the teething problems, ''getting to know you' stage, boundary setting, and (hopefully) fully formed and healthy state a team can get into.

There's been some jokes around my house recently that the same model could be applied to personal relationships.   I'm not quite sure which bit I'm sitting in at the moment - in fact I'd argue that its a fairly fluid model (much like the grief process, it can be two steps forward and one back some times!), but when I found myself using the ''royal we'' a few days ago it did highlight to me that maybe there's less forming and storming going on and maybe a gentle incline (sounds better than decline!) into norming and performing.

I've read loads of stuff about the process of re partnering.  I'm the first to admit that the are a lot of potential challenges, and its as much about the rest of each persons team as it is about themselves - kids, extended family, friends, work, interests - there's a heck of a lot to negotiate and learn about.  For me, so far so good - or should I say, for us, and whilst the forming and storming is a lot of fun, I'm also looking forward to settling into the new way of normal that I have talked about here before.

Interestingly on the link above there's two extra stages - Dorming and Adjourning.  My guess is that this is probably more relevant to a time bound project, but it certainly highlights the need to remain focused on the well being of the ''team'' in order to avoid complacency (surely one of the death knolls for any relationship) and also to remain vigilant to the potential challenges and pitfalls that can trip up even the most committed of partners.

If you're in a new relationship, or even one that's not so new, where do you think you might fit on this continuum?

Monday, 29 October 2012

divorce and the housing crisis

I tried to come up with a snappy title for this post - but sorry folks this is all you get....

This morning on talkback radio (yeah I know, I confess ok!!!), there was discussion about the continuing pressure on the housing market and dire shortage of rental properties.  The announcer suggested that part of the issue was the growing number of relationship breakups and how therefore a family  once needing one house, now needed two.  Made sense to me.  But I think it's more complex than that, and so this is my take:

A couple buy a house.  Those who bought say, 10 or 15 years ago, were probably not lucky enough to make a whole heap out of the boom but probably got some ''easy equity''.  Their relationship starts to founder.  As a ever-hopeful panacea, they refinance - using the money to upgrade the car, have a holiday, perhaps have another child.  Possibly they are living the dream and do these things as part of the ''good'' part of their marriage.  Going by the stats, its likely that this couple is a single, or at least a 1 and a half income family, and the children are still school age when they separate.

Much of the equity gone, and with little hope of either being able to buy out the other, the house is put up for sale.  In a now depressed market, the house takes a long time to sell, and this gobbles up even more income, time and equity.  At settlement, the main breadwinner (usually the man), discovers that his $500k house is actually now only a bank deposit of twenty, thirty, maybe forty thousand dollars.  Barely enough for a deposit on a house half as good as what he had.  And by the time he gets a new vehicle, upgrades the TV, buys a few of the others things he wanted but could never afford when married, there's not much left.  He still has the kids quite often, so a one bedroom apartment won't suffice (which is about all he can afford to buy, even with a good income).  So a few thousand is left in the bank and he goes and finds a house to rent.

The second breadwinner (in this case most likely the woman, and also most likely the primary caregiver post split) looks at her settlement cheque and realises it is barely a deposit on a house. And then it won't be in a great area for schools, AND because they had such a gigantic mortgage before, the car badly needs upgrading (she is after all going to be doing most of the running around).  So she too, rather than buying a very cheap house in an average area, and being over committed to a mortgage, ends up renting a slightly better house, in the same neighbourhood as the family home.

By the time one or the other is in a position to be able to afford to buy a house, the children are grown and looking for rentals of their own.

Its a dire predicament, and whilst I have taken the liberty of generalising (and I can...cos it's my blog....), I have heard this story so many times.

This is a bigger problem than there being not enough rental stock in the marketplace. This is also the outcome of people under relationship pressure getting ''easy money'' from a lender to try and help fix what is often a non-financial problem.   Its about housing becoming unaffordable for more and more people.  And its a really good lesson in getting sound financial advice the minute that settlement cheque hits your bank account.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

counting the dates 2 3 4 5

I love the recall of a great date.  Remember when about that time that...what about that first date/first outing/first holiday.

But reading a response on another blog ( it dawned on me that I've stopped counting.  Not that each time isn't important or significant or memorable, just that they don't feel like individual occasions any more - and that's a good thing.  Absolutely those key moments - first date in particular! - should be treasured and remembered but at what point do you stop counting the dates and realise that what was once a series of individual dates is now part of a bigger, clearer picture.

The poster over there at EMKs blog stated ''we've been dating 2 months or so I can't quite remember''.  Really?  Two months with someone and you dont' quite remember? That I find hard to believe.   But I can certainly accept that once some rhythms and routines are established it would be easy to forget just exactly how many times you have been out (or stayed in) with your new SO. 

So I wonder, does counting dates belong only in the beginning of a relationship? Or is it a sign of insecurity (or rather, not yet with security)?    When does the dating become relationship?  Is it at the point of commitment - or is it in fact when you realise you are no longer counting what has already been, but rather are looking forward to what is ahead, and the numbers no longer matter.

Friday, 21 September 2012

patience is a virtue

Today marks 90 days since the most amazing person came into my life.  It was a fluke, if you're a skeptic, and the result of an amazing course of events set in motion long ago, if you're not.

There's been some pretty big highs and lows already - nothing normal and yet all things one might expect in the ebbs and flows of life.  Re partnering so far has been easy, with the waves of effect of others seemingly whirling about us with a minimum of hard impact.

Its a romanticised view, some would say, and so early in the piece, rather unrealistic to be considering this as a smooth and easy path.  There's some truth to that, but I stay true to my belief that the essence of a relationship should be easy even if the details of life are not  (more about that here).

Which on occasion makes it all the more difficult not to rush headlong and tip the world on its side, just because it seems like the most logical path - and the most desirable.

There's days and days ahead that will require negotiation and planning, and plenty more that (I hope) will unfold easily and naturally.  Today, I'm reminding myself that its time to be patient.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

modern families

My daughter has the typical 9 year old view that a family is perfect if it consists of a Mum and a Dad and a couple of children all living in the one house.  As far as she is concerned, the dynamics are secondary, possibly even irrelevant. It's all about real estate and proximity.  For her, normality looks this way (or at least should do).

I grew up in a blended family.  My father remarried when I was 9 and went on to have two more children.  My mother remarried a bachelor - and this is whom my brother and I lived with - but there were no more children here.  This effectively gave us two extra families although we didn't see a huge amount of the extended relatives.  At 7 I was the only child in my school to come from a ''broken home'' - as this was so cheerfully described back then.  Now that I'm an adult, almost all of my friends could describe themselves in this way, and in my own circle of friends many are on second marriages or partnerships and a few are also single parents.

I was at an event recently where the extended family (not mine) included step-siblings, half siblings, step parents and grand parents, former adoptive parents, ex wives and husbands, newly partnered and widowed.  This is the real picture of a modern family I think.

And whilst, like most people I suspect, I would far prefer the traditional picture of Mum and Dad and the children, the reality is far from that.  I think its definitely true that life was less complicated when we stayed in nuclear families and marriage was for life.   But the massive social change of the past twenty or thirty years has created a whole different set of rules for the makeup of a family.

My hope is that this evolution is not interpreted as a breakdown of values or some other equally judgemental statement of blurred fact, but is simply a more honest view of human relationships.  And that whilst we can all aspire to partnering for life, and happily, the reality of our humanness simply means that these relationships have created a new way of being normal.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

time out for parents

I am the primary caregiver for my two young children, and they are with me 12 days out of 14.  I am, by and large, completely happy with this arrangement, and miss them very much when they are gone even for just their ''every other weekend'' with their father.

But I also get tired - and occasionally not just a little resentful - when it feels likes its only ever just me with a kid hanging off me 24/7 (it's not but it feels like it sometimes) or when it is me, again, dealing with an upset tummy, a cough, a friend drama, tricky homework, another taxi trip or any other of the myriad of day to day normalcy's of parenting.  My daughter can be very possessive and is currently struggling with the concept that Mum might want to have a life outside of caring for her (yep the world does actually revolve around her...).

And so when I arrange - or as is more usual, fall upon by accident - that both children will be off at a play date or sleepover or school event at the same time, I invariably feel guilty.  It's as if as a single parent I have to be doing a better job than if I were not, and that includes spending every available minute with, or for, the children.  I am all for independence and they have a full life with a lot of socialising and fun stuff that doesn't include me, but there is always this thin line of underlying guilt that I find myself watching for.

Perhaps the upside, if there is one, of parenting from two houses is that there is that opportunity for 48 child free hours.  Its time to regroup and not have to be thinking about someone who is dependent on me,  for a whole weekend.  Its a chance to do what I want to do with the people I want to do that with.  But to be completely honest, sometimes it's not enough.  And, what I have come to realise, is that actually I am a better person for having some time to myself - other than those two days at the end of every fortnight.   The children don't understand that my work day doesn't really count as time out.  But fortunately for me, FDH has also come to realise this and is starting to support me in my endeavours to take more time for myself.

So I have started taking one evening a week for myself. The babysitter is booked and off I go.  The children protest, oh yes they do, but I am doing my utmost to press on with this.  And I do believe I am better of for it.  So when the opportunity arises to do this more often, I think I'm going to take it.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

the sound of hearts breaking

My daughter is going through a tough time right now. Kids are intuitive there is no doubt, and in this instance I'm sure she is sensing some changes in her mother - and pushing buttons (possibly without even realising it).
Tonight the children were minded by their Dad while I worked.  We crossed over at bedtime and he left after tucking them in.
''I just want you and Dad to get back together'' she said. ''i feel like my heart is broken in half and each half lives in a different house''.

That made my heart break.  I listened, I reflected, I nodded, but I couldn't give her the thing I knew she feels is most important to her.  Its tough.  It's her journey and I can only support her through it.  But it hurts, oh how it hurts.  I didn't want this for my children, I still don't.  She blames her father, citing him as the ''leaver'' but takes out the sadness and frustration on me - which I understand and absorb as best I can.

I can't live my life in fear of dashing even more of my childs dreams, but I also can't allow her to nurse this fantasy that will never come true.  It's a dilemma I don't want to face, and yet it is now right here in front of me.

What to do?

Saturday, 11 August 2012

a kids perspective on friends and lovers

Today is wet. And so I happily agreed to each child having a friend over to play for the day.
Son ended up going to a mates house and so I have two girls here.  On the way back from pickup up the friend (who has not visited before) asked my daughter how many people lived in her house.  She explained: me, my mum and my brother.  My mum and dad split up a long time ago so he lives in another house, but he comes and visits all the time.   This was said in a quite but surprisingly confident voice.  The friend nodded sagely as only 10 year olds can.  ''My parents are just mates these days'' she said.  ''They argue all the TIME and they aren't in love that's for sure''.  My daughter looked at her in amazement.  ''Do they sleep in different rooms then?".  'No but often Mum sleeps on the couch'' she responded.  My daughter looked at her and said ''well my parents don't live in the same house but they NEVER argue any more, AND they are REALLY good friends''.

It was an interesting exchange and reminded me that children see the world in a different way to us.  I have no idea how much truth (or reality) was in this girls statements. But as far as she was concerned, arguing meant not in love (in a basic way).  As far as my daughter was concerned, it appeared to be almost favourable to have non-arguing parents who liked each other, even if they didn't live in the same house.  This is a huge departure for my child who has spent most of the past 4 years yearning for her father and I to reconcile.

I have struggled with this issue so much.  My parents didn't even speak to each other (for various and convoluted reasons) for 30 years give or take.  My in-laws were the same.  My ex husband and I were determined that this life would not be repeated for our children, and have gone out of our way to be beyond civil - to be ''friends''.  Which makes parenting 1000% easier, the inevitable family events much more pleasant and the division of property, friends and family a smoother path.  But the downside is that the children have found the delineation of our lives more difficult.   Children's logic says: if they're not arguing they must be OK.  If they can be friends maybe they can be married.  When is he coming back.
On the other hand, a strained relationship just makes like harder for everyone but there is unlikely to be any question of reconciliation in the minds of hopeful children.

So to hear my daughter explain her situation, and seem to be rather happier with her own situation than that of her friend was somewhat of a revelation to me.

Baby steps, but maybe this is another one along the path to acceptance.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

blind faith and the ultimate deal breaker

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with someone who is going though an all too common problem.  I need to say right at the start that I don't know the woman involved, and only met the man for the first time yesterday, and so my blog today is really just a reflection on the issue rather than my opinion on where this particular relationship sits on this.

The synopsis is, the guy is a man of deep spiritual faith, and a regular church attender.  His partner is not.  In fact she has stated she is not really interested in this aspect of life.  So he's really struggling with this.

This is a pretty common situation, especially for the re-partnered.  My experience tells me that it's incredibly difficult to maintain a whole relationship with someone whose core beliefs (as opposed to their core values, which are quite different to spiritual issues) differ to your own.  But what interests me most is that Christians in particular, really struggle with this issue.  Not only because it can impact on so many areas of life (raising kids, how weekends are spent, how to celebrate holidays), but also many really find it hard to come to terms with the idea that by being ''unequally yoked'' they are disobeying the very God they believe in.

Is it possible to have a relationship with someone of differing beliefs?  Many would say yes, and just as many would say no.  The ones who say no would probably argue hard won experience, quote Bible verses and cite examples of friends whose relationships had failed in part - great or small - to religious differences.  And the ones who say yes would most likely fall into two categories.  Those who are comfortable enough with their own faith but see no pressing need to share it with others, even those close to them, and those who see their own faith as '''leading the way'' for their partners.

The practicalities are this:  Are you okay with possibly compromising on the stories and narratives given to your children?  If you're a regular church going are you happy to do this on your own?  If talking about ''God'' stuff is important to you, are you happy to NOT do this with your partner?  Are the peripherals of what you believe going to be impacted and does it matter? (the moral issues...gambling, alcohol and drugs, celebrations like Halloween, any other issue with a strong Christian line in the sand).  Is the fact that a part of your life potentially always going to be separate to your partners? - in this case bear in mind that a/ to them Christianity may well be viewed as a hobby like tramping or cycling or cooking, simply because of their lack of interest or empathy and b/ there's no rule to say a couple has to share everything.

My observation is this:  Does God actually care whether you are in a relationship with someone with the same beliefs as you?  I think if you believe that God actually has an opinion about this you could argue that yes, He probably does think it would make things a whole lot easier for you if it's something shared. Does He disapprove or forbid these differences?  Well, possibly, but refer to the previous comment.  I think the issue here is not really about God.  There will be a pile of Bible verses to support either side of the argument and justify both positions, if you look hard enough and interpret them to your own ends.

The issue for me is not whether GOD can accept that you might be in a relationship with a ''non-believer'' (eek horrible expression!), but whether YOU can.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

building a present, creating a past

New relationships are awesome right!? It's SO much fun to find out about someone, to learn their stories and share your own.  To meet new friends and find new interests, and discover things and people in common.

Someone recently commented to me that their (newish) relationship had taken what seemed to be, a very long time to evolve.  To ''bed in'' was actually the expression used.  The rationale being that no matter how much you might want to establish and secure yourself into a relationship, the process can't be rushed.  It's going to take as long as it is going to take, and trying to hurry things along won't make an iota of difference.

Which I guess means that the concept of creating memories is going to take a fair amount of time too - two people come together with pretty much no idea of who the other was pre-meeting, and there's a process there too - of learning about the others history, and trying to piece together a past that you might be completely unfamiliar with.

But with lots of talking, and meeting of friends, and poring over photograph albums, you can usually get a better picture of the person who existed before you knew they did.  And on top of that history, you get to add some shared stuff.

And so, with each passing day - and date - or conversation, or shared experience, a little history is made.  You start having ''remember when'' conversations.  You start to create a frame of reference that includes the start of your relationship.  Until finally there is a present which is real, and burgeoning with possibility.  And eventually the sum of those experiences start to create a past that you both shared in.

How awesome is that:)

Friday, 13 July 2012

the chuck-it list

OK, confession time. Yours not mine. Obviously.

I can't speak for the men who read this, but certainly most of the women I know - in real life and in cyber space - have a list. They don't necessarily broadcast it, publish it or even admit to it, but it's there none the less. The list sometimes includes deal-breakers (eg smoking, drugs, credit rating) but usually is more of a wish list - a projected view of what Mr Perfect might look like. And it's pretty predictable. Tall, smart, successful. Financially stable. Good career. Nice friends. Stylish. Urbane. Funny. Fit and healthy. Yada yada yada.

Actually all good qualities, and certainly the kind of things that would be attractive in any one. I'm not sure that it's possible to get all that on the one skeleton but I sure know plenty of people who are hopeful!

But this week it was my turn to be asked about lists. A personal question. What was on mine?

I really had to think about it. It's easy to have those things up there trip off the tongue. But actually, most of it is just real estate. Yes there's some deal breakers. . Smoking. Gambling. A really bad credit history. Those kind of things that are mostly about self preservation.

But as for a wishlist. That's tough! I'm more interested in the stuff that's happening on the inside. Does this person treat others well? Do they have a social conscience? Do they honour those around them? Do they honor themselves?

Those things are going to last a whole lot longer than a sparkling career or even a great social circle. Sure it's great to meet someone who already has an established social circle, or interesting pursuits. Or a great car;).

But what really counts, for me anyway, is personal qualities. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Kindness. Energy. Integrity.

Do you have a wishlist? Is it really detailed or more general? Does it include some deal breakers and maybe some must haves?  What if you met someone who compromised it or challenged it? So what?

Perhaps the bucket list needs to go. Far far away. Chuck it. And let your good sense guide you instead.

Your thoughts?

Monday, 9 July 2012

hooked on a feeling

I'mmm, I'mmm Hooked on a feeling.
I'm high on believing that your in love with me.
All the good love, when we're all alone
Keep it up girl, yeah you turn me on.

Ahaha I'm hooked on a feeling,
I'm high on believing,
That your in love with me

Yeah OK, so it's a cheesy song from the 1970's that most people would deny they ever sang along to, let alone had at some time or other empathised with the words of.

Most dating advice is based in the sensible advice that one should be looking for compatibility, suitability, conversational ability - and that chemistry (for want of a better word) should really be second to this stuff. But hang on a minute - isn't it the chemistry that gets us wanting to find out more about the other abilities in the first place?

I reckon there's something in there. I have often heard the expression ''in love with the idea of being in love'' and my guess is that this is really what goes on for people, especially in the early days of a relationship - or when it's been too long between drinks. The person that literally becomes addicted to the thrill of meeting/seducing/enveloping someone new is probably not going to rate very high in the stable relationship stakes, but surely it is this drive to feel that keeps the uncoupled out there looking for a partner.

It is a bad thing? Well, yes and no. Not great if you are continually looking for the ''high'' that comes with a good shot of oxytocin, or prefer living in a world of unicorns and pink clouds. But maybe it's the eternal romantic in me (or maybe I've just overdosed myself on glam rock ballads) but I have to say that sometimes, being able to float around in that feeling of love love love is rather good.

When the sun then looks a little brighter, the breeze a little warmer and couch a little cosier, I think one can be forgiven for wanting to hang on to that feeling for as long as possible.

your thoughts?

Saturday, 7 July 2012

the m word

A reader commented to me recently that for all the blog posts I have written - for all the topics I have covered - I was yet to talk about self service.

There's a reason for that. And it was not an oversight, but in fact a deliberate avoidance of the topic. This blog is more about my thoughts on life as seen through the lens of singledom, looking into coupledom, rather than specific bodily functions. However on reflection I have decided that there are some things that I can add to the discussion. (as always I reserve the right to poetic licence, and to using broad generalisations for the sake of a good story...).

I grew up in an era with ''those things'' were not talked about. I now do my best to be an enlightened parent, using words like ''if you want to do that go to your room''. Its a whole new world. And it has only been since becoming uncoupled after 20 years of relationship that I have even had the opportunity to discuss this with an adult perspective.

But there is one particular aspect that troubles me deeply. And that is the conservative Christian view of sex (in general) and how it is screwing up singles, particularly those who are struggling with what is probably a completely normal libido.

Unfortunately the populist view in most churches is that sex is something that should be neither seen, heard or talked about. And if it is to be talked about it is almost always in the context of ''the privilege and sanctity of marriage''. Anyone daring to suggest that this area of their life is an unresolved struggle is largely told to be patient, get busy and distracted, and simply ignore their latent feelings - IE deny their libido. Now I am happy to endorse the idea of monogamous committed relationships, and I think most of them work best if they involved a man and a woman. I DO NOT condone the concept of casual sex - mainly because I think that screws peoples (especially women's) heads up even more than trying to pretend it doesn't exist. But to expect a normal man or woman to withhold any form of sexual activity simply because they are ''unlucky'' enough to not be married - or have not yet been ''blessed with a partner'' strikes me as patently...ridiculous.

And so these poor people - mainly men that I know of, but that's probably because women tend not to share the details of their sex drives with other women - end up struggling with the guilt and frustrations of not having an outlet (figuratively speaking:)) for this. Then, piled on top of this rule that tells them sex is to be confined to a marriage, is the extra expectation that not only are they not to be having sex, but they actually need to ignore, deny or distract their sex drive as it is not appropriate until the ring is on. Suddenly the libido is a shameful thing. Which means there's NO WAY they are going to feel OK about a little self service - and yeah I get it's not ideal but better than nothing...Which means if that happens - and accordingly to my informal research it does (which surprised the heck out of me having not had that discussion before singlehood) they are then wracked with guilt about that too.

And then, by the time they are married, sex has become either

- something not to be discussed unless absolutely necessary

- something that still has some shame and secrecy attached to it

- something they are scared of (more common for women) or so...desperate can end up a huge disappointment

- something that is supposed to cure all this pent up frustration - and that opens a whole other can of worms

So what is the solution? I'm not sure that there is one - as it is certainly a slippery slope if we are to start condone freer sexual expression amongst people who hold chastity as a core value (or at least think they should be...), and are not yet equipped to deal with the consequences of that.

But for me, there in lies the key. Encouraging a real, sustainable solution - which is NOT repression or denial. I have heard this story of (particularly) Christian men way to often: my wife was buttoned up about sex. I'm single and I know I should be ''staying pure''. I feel guilty about what I do, how I feel, what I'm thinking.

Getting men and women talking frankly about this stuff - to each other - is a start. Allowing them to feel OK about wanting and needing sex (and not just in the context of the spiritual ''this is an expression of my love for you'' element although obviously that is great too). Moving away from the shame that is attached to self love and accepting that people are going to do it regardless of whether it's considered ''suitable'' or ''moral'', thus normalising natural human thought and desires.

your thoughts?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

these are a few of my favourite things

A diversion from my usual diatribes. Its time to share the things that I love, and look for....

- Words! Whether it's with a friend, date, collegue or partner, for me almost nothing beats the excitement and challenge of great dialogue written or spoken.

- Long late meandering conversations about everything and nothing.

- Good food. along with a great glass of wine. Two of the best things to share with someone you care about.

- Time. I like to share precious hours of mine with others, and love it when they do the same. What we do is secondary to the commitment to sharing it in the first place

- Music. To listen to, dance to, sing or play along with.

- Humour. Make me laugh - and let me see that I can do the same for you and you'll have a place in my heart for ever

- Kindness. Enough said.

- Fizz. Please don't let me find out your get up and go got up and went

- Independence. I have it, and love to see it in others. Share what you can and what you want to but it's fine to keep some stuff for yourself (because I will probably do that too)

- Sensory tumescence - sight, smell, touch, taste, sound. gimme gimme!!!

What do you look for in others? What do you love that you love to share?

Monday, 2 July 2012

priority parking

About 6 months ago I wrote a somewhat unpopular (with the men) post, likening them to buses. (READ IT HERE)

I have also talked long and often about my 'focus words'' for the year - last year they were deliberate and purpose. This year they are sustainable and priority.

So how do these two things relate? Well, today I drove into work, in the rain, behind a queue of traffic, and running late for a presentation I was doing. This rushing about is not sustainable it is true, and being school holidays, I have to confess that this morning getting to work was not a priority. But, arrive I did, and I managed to grab a park - any park will do when you're running late right! - right outside the place I was going into.

It made me think - maybe men - make that people - are like buses in the way they journey through life, and maybe some of us are like cars too. And stretching the imagination a little further, I then started considering what kind of car I was too. Mostly sensible, accommodating of a crowd but sometimes goes a little fast, gets overheated when left idle, can take a bit to warm up if left in the garage for too long, looks best with some polish on the outside, more fun when there's loud music on the inside:).

Further (and yes, I know I should have been thinking about the upcoming presentation not ruminating on relationships), it struck me as I shrieked into the barely suitable carpark, that this was another great analogy for a relationship.

Because you see, I would like to be a priority park. A reserved space even. Which doesn't necessarily mean permanent parking, but certainly means that when the other ''car'' is going somewhere it's my space that they stop at - and want to stop at most. I'm tired of being the carpark that is chosen under pressure, or because it's the closest to hand - or because there's really not much else around handy. I'd be glad to have someones name on a little plaque up there for the world to see, and RESERVED stamped across it. It would be reciprocal of course - I'm not saying that my car is going to end up in that carpark every day, or even every weekend, but I'd be pretty glad to not be driving around the block anymore. I get that theres not such thing as free parking, and I neither offer nor seek it.

I don't really care what the car is like that's parked there either (although I'd prefer it if it's not on a lease that could be revoked at any moment). And for all that an Alfa Male Romeo with a sleek exterior would be nice, I'm also realistic enough to know that a slighter older model with more miles on the clock and maybe a few scratches on the outside, and bumps to the inside is probably more likely to come my way. Country of origin is unimportant (sure isn't this country flooded with imports!), but reliability, and getting good miles to the litre would be nice. Of course fancy extras are all very good but what counts for me is what is going on under the hood - which might include a V12 engine...but might not. And since I have a wishlist going, I'm not too worried about age - although I'd prefer to stay away from vintage.

So what's a girl to do? I've hung out in parking lots, I've scanned the classifieds, I've even had the misfortune of coming across the odd swap-meet. But so far, neither car, nor park, has materialised.
Perhaps I need to put up a ''for lease'' sign?


Saturday, 30 June 2012

the division of property

Surely one of the worst things about becoming uncoupled is having to go through the process of dividing up the ''stuff''. All the things you bought together, got given as join gifts, gave each other. Its horrible, even if the breakup is relatively amicable.

But I reckon there's another division - maybe not quite property - that's even more painful than that one. And that's the dividing of friendships. Because no matter how hard people try, it's almost impossible to stay friends with two people now separated.As a general rule, couple friends come about as a result of the women rather than the men. Possibly because women are better at developing friendships, but also because they tend to spend more time together - meeting through playcentre or school or committees of some kind. So of course the stronger relationship is nearly always between the women. In the case of the guy-driven friendship, the women are usually able to grow a relationship but my guess is that in these cases unless it's become ''stand alone'' those friends remain with the man, post couplehood.

It's a horrible situation for the friends - how do they balance being friends with two people (especially if those two aren't even on speaking terms) - who do they invite to parties, special events and so on? It is tricky for the ex-couple. Who will maintain the friendship? Who will the loyalties lie with?

I don't think its intentional on any level - no one wants to be forced to choose one friend over another, but its a natural outcome of a relationship breakup. His couch, her dinner set. His friends, her friends.I once had an incidence where some joint friends were at my place for a meal. My DZ was here and so there were effectively two couples and two lots of kids. Uninvited FDH arrived as we were sitting down to eat. Talk about awkward. The male visitor wasn't quite sure what to do. The woman did her best to be accomodating. This couple had actually stayed friends with both of us, but it was still difficult.

Its pretty hard for the person ''left behind'' too. If you've ever been the one who wasn't invited to the wedding (and heard your ex was) it's hard not to take it personally.

So how do you manage it? It was fairly simple for me in the end - I kept the female friends I had and grew the friendships with them in their couple state (not always easy especially when I am often still the only single at a gathering).

It took time, I have had a few false starts. And luckily for me, any joint friends are still joint friends - although it is me that has the most contact with them. But I also decided I needed to ''get out there'' and meet a new circle of friends. Where people didn't know FDH and so didn't need to feel divided. Where I got to be ME rather than one half of the the post-coupled US.

Friday, 29 June 2012

read it and weep

I recently gave my blog address to a new friend. I thought it would be a bit of light reading for a boring evening, and knowing his personal circumstances figured he'd relate to some of what I'd written. And anyway, everyone is entitled to my opinion, right:)?

As many of my readers know, I have two blogs - the other one is HERE. I'm the first to admit that there's a fair amount of detail in there about the personal workings of my mind - if not my life. But as a rule, I stick to general ideas, I never use real names, and I alter identifiable details to protect the guilty innocent.

I'm pretty careful about who I share this blog, in particular, with. Not least because there are a fair few war stories in here - and there's always this thought at the back of my mind: ''yikes, if someone I really like reads this they are going to think I'm a total nut job....''.

Just like all the other opinionated blogs out there (and that would be most of them), I reserve the right to tell it how I think it is. And I know that sometimes that won't sit well with the people who read it. But I think I can offer a woman's view of this weird world of post coupledom that we most likely share, and maybe, maybe add some insight that a reader may not have considered before. And that's exactly what my friend said. Well, actually the word he used was ''voyeur'' but I prefer to think of it as letting someone into the secrets of the inner workings of the female mind.

I'll accept that sometimes I probably give a way a bit too much of myself - and at others the stories seem just a bit vague (or too incredible) to be true. But writing every day has given me a great portal to organise my own thoughts and put them out there for others to share - or not.

If something is a little close to home I make no apology for it. This is me, carefully nom-de-plumed warts, and all.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

dating advice from the experts

I subscribe to a number of blogs from dating websites.  Some are funny, some are just scary, and some have real nuggets of goodness hidden amongst their Americanisms (so far I've only managed to find two non-American ones worth reading).  

This morning I received a FABULOUS OFFER for a FREE CONFERENCE including me with SEVENTY THOUSAND attendees.    Doesn't sound particularly special if there's that many desperate and dateless people out there like me, I thought, but I'll take a look.

Turns out that there are quite a number of high profile writers included in the advice giving, including John Gray - he of Mars Venus fame, and so I figured, what the heck!

The link is below - take a look and see what you think.  I''ll review the fabulous free gifts worth $98 USD when they arrive.

I saw this and thought of you immediately!

Friday, 22 June 2012

forgiveness, forgetting and freedom

I read an interesting post on Facebook today: 

wikipedia has the best definition I have ever come across:  "Forgiveness is the renunciation or cessation of resentmentindignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, disagreement, or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution"

I love this.  Cessation of resentment.  That's about boundaries and making a deliberate choice.  Ceasing to demand punishment.  That says, this is done.  I will not, I choose not to continue to look back and make you (or me) pay for what has happened.  Its almost more an intellectual decision than an emotional one.  

It was pretty soon after my marriage officially ended that I forgave my husband.  It wasn't a big fanfare of a thing, in fact he didn't likely even know.  But what happened was that I took ownership of the stuff that I had done that contributed to the end, and forgave him for his part.

It wasn't easy, oh no, and it took time.  But it was also incredibly liberating.  I made a conscious choice to let go.  It didn't mean forgetting all that had happened.  It didn't make the hurts go away.   It did however  allow me to move forward in to a 'new way of normal'' in my life, and spend less time on the should have/could have scenarios, and more time on the ''now whats''.  I made a choice and refused to allow myself to be eaten up from the inside out with sadness or anger.   And it did give me some freedom from the insidious mistrust, resentment and bitterness than can so easily become part of a person who has been through a relationship ending.  

It also gave me space to look at what had happened more objectively.  By making a conscious choice to say ''I forgive you" I could, to a degree take some of the personal stuff out of the situation.  Oh it still hurt, a lot, and there were lots of things that still needed resolution, but by effectively sharing the blame (f I can use that word) equally, owning my bit, and allowing him to own his (without me adding my expectation or view of it) it was so much easier to step outside of what was going on.

People noticed.  I was asked: how come you have healed so easily from what happened (remember that this was an outside view, but still).  And I put it down to forgiveness. 

For me. forgiveness is about grace.  It says ''I will not punish you for this any more.  Yes you hurt me, but whats done is done.  I will not allow this thing to hurt you, or hurt me, any longer"

It gives everyone involved a chance to make amends if they choose, or not, if they don't, without demand  or expectation from either side.  

I accept that the capacity for forgiveness is different for everyone.  Some have more this gift than others.  And I am truly blessed to have enough to go round.  I have exercised it many times.   Sometimes I could be accused of being too forgiving.  And don't get me wrong,  there's always pain where forgiveness goes.  Sometimes it comes at great cost indeed. 

But I strongly believe that it is the only way forward.  Until we are able to forgive others, forgive ourselves, for our human mistakes and fallacies, we cannot grow and develop, let alone step into the potential future that is ahead of us.  

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

is making it work hard work?

I think everyone would agree that it takes effort to keep a relationship strong and healthy.  And probably we would also mostly agree that this has to be reciprocal - the minute it's one person doing all the ''work'', then it's probably time to accept that relationship is over.

But I have to ask the question...should it really be so hard?  Should relationships be that much work?

I understand as much as anyone that there are days when we don't want to make an effort.  There are days when we don't even like our partners very much.  But surely, underpinning this, in any good relationship, is love?  And I really don't think that love should be hard work.  To me it's simple, you either love someone (or want to if you're not there yet), or you don't (or you don't want to).  Yes one could argue that love is a choice.  I get that.  But I still think it's the choice we want to make.  And it's when, actually, if we're honest, we don't want to make the choice, that the reality is there is, perhaps, no love there.

And ergo, no likelihood of a good and healthy relationship.

So when I hear people saying ''we're trying to make it work'' (and I  can include myself in this group at various stages of my life), I now ask the question - why's that then?  Surely, if it's such an effort to make something work - and time after time you keep hitting roadblocks, maybe it's reached a stage where it's time to say ''this isn't working''.

You see I think that while relationships do, and should, take work to keep them alive, love shouldn't.  And I'd also qualify that with the word ''hard''.  I really don't think it should be hard.  Challenging, tiring, occasionally disheartening yes.  But overall, surely, surely, being with the person you want to grow old with - loving each other - should be the easiest thing ever?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

to all the men I've scared before: an open letter

Dear Guy Who Disappeared

Lately I've been doing quite a bit of reading (yeah yeah I know it's on the internet but it's still words...) about this crazy world of repartnering that you and I both found ourselves in.  And oh there's so much good advice out there....

Thanks to all that advice, I realise now that the world of the uncoupled now is completely different to the single world I inhabited before I was married (and yes I know I am talking about back in the 80's).   Back then, when someone asked you out it wasn't even called a date. It wasn't hanging out. It wasn't hooking up.  You got asked to the movies, or dinner or whatever, and you went, and that was that. And mostly, it didn't matter which person did the asking.

Back then, there was of course, no social media - so the main place to meet people was work, or through friends.  Which meant there was a bit of background available if you wanted it (not that most of us even would have thought about asking for that).  And because technology was pretty basic, you actually had to talk to some one in real life to know them.  Or to ask them out.  Or to ask them out again.

Back then it was a simple process. You met someone. You liked each other. You went out a few times. You were ''together''. That was that.  No hidden messages, no 'multiple dating'', no prescribed length of time before turning into a couple/making it public/getting exclusive.

Back then I didn't know that sex could be separated from love. That was completely outside of my circle of friends, let alone my own experience.  My expectation was that they kind of went together.  Ideally the love even came first.

Back then, I didn't know about the rules. The ones that said the man should do the ''chasing''. That women who were too direct or honest were not attractive to most men. That women shouldn't initiate contact or dates.  I didn't know that it's not cool to ask a man 'where we stand''. And as for defining a relationship, well we probably didn't even use the word relationship, let alone try and define it.

Back then, we didn't really think that much about the future, or consequence.  If you liked someone you just got on with it.  No person was in charge of the relationship. No one worried about who called who. No one thought about the other as needy or fragile.  Back then, no one had emotional baggage. We were probably too young anyway.  We didn't know about ''its complicated'', ''friends with benefits'' and ''just not that into you''.

What happened to those good old days?  When and how did the rules change so much?  And , yowser, how come I only just found out - 20 years later - about them?

So, to those poor creatures that I have scared half to death by being too honest, too ''keen'', too ''intense'' or too nice to date (what is that about anyway), sorry about that.

I'll try and play by the rules from now on.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

...and they all lived happily ever after

Last night I watched the family movie on TV (I watched on my own but that's a different story).

Enchanted is essentially the story of Cinderella and all the other boy meets girl fairy tales, but with the added thrills of time travel and Patrick Dempsey.

Now I'm a bit of a sucker for these kinds of movies - I loved Ever After, Ella Enchanted and the Princess Diaries too.  Somehow their sweetness is not too sickly, and because they are so far removed from reality (unlike Harry/Sally, Bridget Jones, He's Just not that Into You and so on) they are just fun in a box, without all the real life angst of the modern girl - although I like all of those too...

When I got married, I never for a minute believed it wouldn't last until death us it did part.  Whenever I have fallen in love (not often for me), I've believed it might be forever - even when I knew in my head it wouldn't, and probably shouldn't.

I want to believe that love can conquer all.  I know it's idealistic and naive.  I know that for 3 out of 5 relationships that's never going to happen.  But I also know plenty of couples who are living examples of still being as in love now as they were 10, 20 , 30 years ago when they met.   And some of those people have faced huge adversity and got each other through it.

And the incurable romantic in me also wants to believe its possible for a girl to be swept off her feet. For a man to come riding in on a white horse and rescue her - although I still think the modern girl should probably have her own horse, and rescue him back too.

There's something pretty cool about growing old with someone don't you think?  Holding hands to cross the road at 80.  Being danced off your feet, arthritis and all.

So here's the question to ponder for today:  Do you believe in fairy tales?  Do you believe in Happy Ever After?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

what the heck is going on here

Well dear readers, I have decided to stop handing out advice and ruminations today, and instead ask for your thoughts on something.
It is becoming very apparant to me that the only common denominator in the string of disasters experiences that equate my dating life, is me.  I've spent a year writing about my thoughts on navigating a coupled world, and shared some of my stories for your reading pleasure.  The topics have been wide and varied.  But few people make comments.
Below is a summary of some of the things I've reflected on.
So, your feedback please...

- do you believe that there are no good men/women left out there?
- is it realistic to accept that by the time we get beyond 40 most of us have so much baggage we need a second vehicle to carry it with us?
- is it really the mans job to do all the work, especially in the early stages of a relationship?
- can men and women really be friends? And if so, why would you, especially if what you are actually seeking is a real relationship?
- Is it really a numbers game?
- If someone really wants you, would it be reasonable to expect they would make some major changes in their life to make it happen, or is timing/circumstance a real issue?
- are women too picky?
- are men too unrealistic?
- does the reverse apply?
- why do men work so freaking hard to get the first/second/third date, and then go completely off the boil? Are they really not that into you, or is the thrill of the chase all that counts?

Looking forward to your miriad of responses....

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

How Achmed the dead terrorist changed my life

Just over two years ago I was in a relationship that was...challenging.  It was a relatively short lived affair in the end, long distance and as much ''off'' as it was ''on'' but I was committed to success, in that I really wanted it to work (which in retrospect was as much about wanting an unbroken relationship as about wanting one with that person - but that's another story).

One day, my then-BF, now affectionately known as DZ for reasons that can remain unpublicised, announced that he had invited a friend over (to my house) for lunch.  I had met the friend once and only briefly so had a little trepidation, but happily agreed to company.  The friend arrived and we got along famously from the get go.  After some lunch we got to talking about the things we enjoyed doing, and in particular, the kind of entertainment - in this case, comedy - we liked most.  The friend asked if I had heard of Achmed, and when I said I knew nothing of him, suggested we find it on you-tube.  Which, as it happened, turned out to be a turning point in my life.

I thought Achmed was hilarious, as did the friend, and we both fell about laughing at the jokes.  DZ sat stony faced, not understanding - or at least choosing not to understand - the humour.  And it was at that moment, I realised that maybe I needed to reassess things.

Could I really be in a relationship with someone that didn't share my sense of humour? My sense of the ridiculous?

The friend left, and I had another watershed moment.  I wished it were DZ heading home not the friend.  Not because I fancied the friend, but because I realised that his company was easier to keep than my own boyfriends.

Things, as you would expect, went from bad to worse pretty quickly after that.  All the things I thought I could live with, turned out to be less habitable that I first thought.  And don't get me wrong - it was mutual.  There were so many things that made us incompatible, and poking fun at Islamic skeletons was only one of them.

In retrospect I should have had my eyes open sooner.  I should have been kinder to him, and me, and been more honest about this stuff.  I've learned a lesson (several) from that.

And thanks to Achmed, I have learned that laughter isn't always just the best medicine, but it can also make a fantastic truth serum.

Meet Achmed HERE

Sunday, 3 June 2012

I can't wait!

I read the best line ever on one of those abominable dating advice websites this week....

A woman who was persevering with the dating train, despite numerous disappoints described it this way:
''one day I will meet a man who can't wait to spend time with me''.

I love that.  Especially as so many of us - men and women - seem to get stuck in the hamster wheel of meeting people who really want to be (it seems),  anywhere else than with us!  Obviously I'm not talking about the friends, the people who want to spend time with us, because we just enjoy each others company. I'm talking about the one that stands out. . The one for whom you are not just an option, or a one day, or an FWB, or an awesome-friend-but-I'm-not-ready-for-a-relationship-with result.

The one you think could ''go to the next level''. That you hope feels the same. This is the one that makes your toes curl.  And you're pretty sure you're making his curl too.

So, I'm claiming that one for myself.  I'm not ''dating'' - I don't even go looking.  But I'm promising myself, that the next man I put energy into - and change my plans for - and start getting excited about, will be the one who really can't wait to see me again.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

retrospect, introspect, respect

In retrospect I....

Realise I have made some spectacularly bad decisions, but also a few that have resulted in me learning some awesome lessons

Can identify the things that motivate me, deflate me, infuriate me and inspire me

Wish I had, so many times, said less, said more, been more passive, been a little more agressive

Introspect allows me to....

Forgive myself

Challenge myself

Step outside the daily grind of life and dream a little

Respect, to me means....

Knowing my own boundaries

Working out where the boundaries of others are

Managing to work with both

Saturday, 26 May 2012

why I'm grumpy today

I'd like to blame it on the weather. Which isn't helping because it's cold. And wet.  I'd like to say it's because I'm missing my kids (actually I am, a little). I'd like to say it because I had too late a night last night and too early a morning today (I did, but it was worth it).

But actually the things that are making me grumpy this evening - and there are several - are:

- my annoying habit of reading dating advice blogs and fuming at the madness of them.  No ones happy
- hearing yet another person, married 20 or more years, preaching that marriage takes WORK and of course ANY one can be happily married for ever if only they understand that.  Usually the same people like to add ''I think you should just accept being single for now'' or some other pacifying type comment meant to make me feel better about my latest dating disaster, which is so NOT helpful either.
- the disillusioning remarks made to me by single men over the past few days

I get the dating advice blogs - what a great way to make a living! Write a book, add a blog and peddle them on a website where people can share their war stories and get ''advice'' from someone about why they are still single.  It's always the same advice - don't put up with rubbish, stop being so nice, be nicer, women be feminine, men be manly.  yeah yeah.

And having been married I already know it's hard work, thanks anyway.  And how DARE anyone preach to me about why their marriage is so successful and mine wasn't.  Nothing makes me feel more of a failure.  The reality is, NO ONE signs up to marriage expecting it to end. But some do.  And its tough enough dealing with that, without being offered sage advice from people who have never experienced a marriage ending themselves.   And of course they can comment from afar about the benefits of being single - when they have no recent experience of that either.  NOT.

And finally...why? why!?  I understand that some remarks are gauche attempts at small talk, that guys get nervous too, but I REALLY don't need to hear about how useless women are, are there are no good ones out there, and how forgettable most are (including me.).  Talk about how to make a girl feel special.

Grizzle over.  Thanks for reading:)

Friday, 25 May 2012

because you're worth it

I have been reading some fairly well known ''dating'' blogs lately, including and  Both  of these are pretty much vehicles for the writers to sell their books and coaching, but both also have quite interesting blogs and forums.

The thing that completely astounds me is how many people are out there feeling ripped off by their past dating and relationship experiences.  I accept that these kind of forums are where people gather, and so of course this is the main focus of the conversation.  I accept that they will also then include a fair number of bitter and twisted stories - and plenty of generalisations.  But even taking that into account there are some recurrent themes that seem to be emerging.

- those re-entering the dating world after a long relationship/marriage discover that things have changed dramatically in the ensuring years.  heck, the word dating didn't even exist outside of Sweet Valley High books when I was young!
- the older we get the more baggage we have, and the more desperate we are to get it packed up and stowed (not always successfully)
- internet dating and it's candy-shop mentality has not helped make meeting people easier, its lulled too many people into thinking there's a world of choice and opportunity, if only they keep at it
- too many people will put up with too much rubbish in the name of wanting to be ''happy''. both men and women are guilty of this
- it's actually not that cool to admit right off the bat that you're looking for a real relationship - the implication is that you are needy/desperate/lonely.   I say, since when? I thought human beings needed each other?
- by ignoring the reality that by midlife (in particular) most of us HAVE made some spectacular relationship mistakes, its all too easy to have completely unrealistic expectations of the next person

But by far and away the loudest message I hear as i read through the forums, is this:
As long as women (and men) are prepared to put up with poor behaviour, disrespect, unkindness, or a lack of integrity,  nothing will change.

I believe all of us are worthy of a good, strong, healthy relationship.  And too many are continuing to accept less that that.

So the lesson in all of this for me, is to decide what I will, and won't accept - and stick to it.

Monday, 21 May 2012

a good year for olives

This crazy world is so overpopulated with choice don't you think?

It doesn't matter what you want, there's dozens of different options - colours, styles, sizes, brands, flavours, locations, whatever, to give us, supposedly, our hearts desires.

And it has become apparent to me of late, that the tragedy of this modern line of thinking, is that it's all to easy for it to apply to people as well.  Thanks to social media, its possible to find a friend who likes even the most obscure of hobbies.  Once you thought you were the only person in the world who had heard of a particular musician/writer/foodstuff - but suddenly you learn there are thousands of people just like you out there, just bursting to share their passion.

Which is all well and good, especially if you have a bent for unusual, but my take on this, is that with the constant explosion of choice, many of us have reached a point of inertia.

What do I mean by this?

Take the example of the phenomenon of online dating.  There is no doubt that for the novice it has a candy-shop quality - so many women! so much choice!  But just like the all you can eat buffet, eventually the appetite for overindulging becomes rather distasteful.  In fact, it's possible to become completely cynical, and decide (after date 63 and still no ''spark''...) that perhaps this whole idea of the world being a village, is in fact a cruel joke played by boffins in a faceless computer programming office somewhere, and in fact, you ARE the only person out there with a particular set of values or interests.

And so, just like the novelty of having two dozen different types of olives to choose from at the supermarket, or ten movies on offer at the theatre - it becomes easier, safer, to pick the option that''s closest and most accessible.

Thus, instead of making a rational choice, possibly with some imagination in it, but that might take longer, you take the fall back option - the default position - where making no decision is the easiest even if it might turn out to be vaguely disappointing.

As far as I can see, sometimes not making a decision is actually the decision.  Which is all well and good when you''re picking olives, but it's not a great start when you're choosing people.  I have made a conscious choice now.  I  choose NOT to be, nor settle for,  a fallback option. The default position.  The decision that doesn't need to be made yet.  The boring olive.

Have you ever chosen to NOT make a decision?  To settle?  To compromise knowing that ultimately it's probably going to be a sour olive, but the short term temptations outweigh the sensibility of waiting for a better harvest?  Why?

I have decided that it just might be better to avoid the delicatessen altogether, and get someone to recommend me a good harvest.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

HJNTIY - the revised version

So, you went out on an awesome date?
And then another? Maybe another, and yet another planned for ''soon''
You spent hours skyping/texting/messaging inbetween, before and since?


Has he actually picked up the phone and called you?
Has he indicated that he is available to see you more (rather than less).

sorry, Hes Just Not That Into You.

I wrote this blog earlier today, and with the advantage of hindsight decided I sounded all a bit bitter and twisted - not my intention at all, but it has become very apparent to me, having spent (way) too much time lurking on other single-people blogs, dating websites and the like (market research obviously.....), that for all the great advice being handed out, the '10 ways to get him to ask you out again'' type articles, the spirited discussion boards that disect every nuance of human behaviour and how it relates to men and women, that actually in many ways this is
a. a numbers game
b. a hugely steep learning curve for those of us re-entering the world of dating, and
c. something we all put way too much energy and stress in to, because, at the end of the day

If you like him, and he. likes. you. He'll call you.

Friday, 18 May 2012

a nice offer for a girl like her

I waver on being almost impressed by the audacity of so many 40-something men out there in dating land who think it is perfectly acceptable to offer casual sex, an FWB arrangement, or a no-strings hookup (same thing I guess) in lieu of a real relationship.

Most of the women I know who are brave enough to be out there dating are NOT looking for casual.  They may not be seeking a full-on 'relationship'' but they are certainly not wanting to settle for zero-commitment either.  And yet I keep hearing the story over and over.  The man either
- isn't ready for a relationship
- isn't sure of his feelings
- thinks she's a great girl but isn't sure he can be what she wants him to be
- would really love some more female friends

or some other reason which, regardless of their intention of these words, are interpreted by the girls as:
I'll have sex with you but I don't want to be your boyfriend.

Now, I'm not judging these guys, because after all, if that's what they want, then no amount of campaigning by said women is going to change their style.  But I have a question for them - several in fact....

- what is your motivation here?  do you really just want casual hookups?
- do women give a particular vibe that says they might be ok with such a proposal or are you just trying it on anyway?
- has this ever had any success for you?

And women - have you ever delivered the same message? what happened?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

boundaries with the FDH

I jumped in the bath last night for my usual 20 minutes peace.  A car came up the driveway and I heard the children call out ''It's Dad!''.
This is a tough one for me - I am so glad that he wants to see his kids every day, and that they are always so thrilled to see him.
But it still feels weird having him in my house (it was never his), and especially when I was in the bath.  I felt...extremely uncomfortable.  And sad that this is how life is.  It's been 4 years and still there is this weird wobbly line instead of a boundary.
And Im caught between rock and hard place - if I ask for him to not arrive like this he will get angry and threaten to not see the children at all.  If I let it go I end up feeling uncomfortable about being in my own house.
what to do?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

just in case space

One of the perils of the world of modern dating is that there is just so much darn choice.  I mean, go on to any dating site and there will be, at first glance, at least a dozen people who appear to be perfect for you.
So after the first date, it's easy to think there might be one just a little better next time. And so on. and so on.

And then there's all the terrific people your friends want to introduce you to - especially the coupled friends, who just want to see you happy and settled.  Seriously, if they are real friends they WILL be introducing you to terrific people.

And so, through a process of elimination (and the odd excruciatingly awkward date) you might be lucky enough to meet some people you want to get to know better.

And herein lies the rub.  What to do!?  Date several casually?  Pick the best proposition and let the others down gently?  Be open about the fact that your date of the day is one of a handful you are currently managing?  Decide which would make awesome friends and move them to that category straight away?

A word from the world weary and wise:  never, ever ever (did i mention EVER) think that it's OK to keep someone in a holding pattern.  Women in particular simply don't hear the words.  Especially if they like you - and most likely they like you more than you like them or they wouldn't be on hold.  For goodness sake make a decision. As I said in my blog yesterday, I do believe it's not necessarily easy to BE IN a relationship, but it's a fairly simply process to decide if you WANT to be.  So if you meet someone and it's a 'maybe one day'', cut them loose.  Dont give them the ''lets be friends'' line.  It's like saying, i'll keep you around just in case I change my mind.  The ones who feel the same will suggest friends if they need more friends (and most people don';t to be honest), and the ones who like you more than that will agree eagerly in vain hope of a status change.  If you're not sure, be honest, but MOVE ON and give them some space.   If it's going to be, it will happen one day anyway.

Monday, 14 May 2012

relationship fallacies part one: it's too hard

I've certainly been given my share of excuses as to why someone didn't want a relationship with me, and I've blogged about that on a number of occasions.

I'm the first to agree that it can be scary getting into something new.

Past baggage sure can get in the way and throw itself off the luggage rack at the most inopportune moments!   The things that are button pushers for one may not even be a consideration for the other.  The expectations of one might be quite different to the other.  The energy levels, degree of commitment, extraneous life issues, all could potentially cause problems challenges.

But here's the thing:
What if, instead of saying ''it's all too hard to be in a relationship with you'' we could simply do it anyway, and worry about that stuff once you're there?

Absolutely have a plan (a strategy and a preferred outcome!), but I think much like taking on an employee, or starting a business, or trying a new hobby - it starts with the will to make it happen and the belief that ultimately, it is a good decision.

My argument here is that BEING in a relationship - whether it's a romantic one, a friendship, a work partnership - probably is hard.  All the things up there will apply at some point or another.  But GETTING into a relationship shouldn't be.  Simply put, you either want it, or you don't.  Working on the theory that you do (that you are assuming success, however that might look down the track), gives both people the freedom to be themselves, and spend their energy on finding solutions and outcomes, rather than focusing on the obstacles and potential failure points.

So it follows then, to me anyway, that the person who says ''I don't want to be in a relationship'' probably means with you, because if you want it, you make it happen and then worry about the detail later.

True? False? Idealistic?

Saturday, 12 May 2012

bad boys and good girls

There's a pretty common understanding in singledom that nice girls (in fact most girls) are hopelessly attracted to bad boys.

The nice girls can't really explain it - it's something to do with their danger I guess.  Maybe the good girls think they can be nice enough to reform a baddie? Maybe the ratbag represents a life that the good girl would never really want but dream of experiencing?

How about this then:  Bad boys also prefer good girls.  This was told to me by one of the bad boys I had the misfortune to date for a while (yep I'm in the nice girl category).  He couldn't explain it really, just said that the lure of someone sweet, or conservative - or however you want to put it - was as strong for him as he imagined the totally crushes the conservative girls have on people like him.

We all know what a bad boy actually is - he's emotionally unavailable, very often has terrible credit, a potted job history and isn't good at developing relationships.   Moreover he can be charming in the extreme, generous with words (usually not with money because mostly he is happy to let you pay), seemingly open about his checkered past, and within a short time treats the women he is with like muck.

The nice guy complains that women are never interested in him, that he is obviously ''too nice'', which equals boring, unchallenging, conservative and therefore unappealing to women.  He has a good job, is nice to his mother, contributes to a retirement plan, and is great with other peoples kids.

The bad girl is perceived to be flighty, irresponsible,  have questionable morality, a bit of a potty mouth and possibly ''use'' men. The nice girl will be your friend no matter what, she values her friends as much as her boyfriend, is conservative in dress, works hard, and probably doesn't use many swear words.

So working on the theory that the bad boys are BAD - and that doesn't necessarily mean they ride a Harley, have a beatnik goatee, a history of drug taking or work as a panel beater - where does that leave the nice guys? - or the bad girls for that matter!

The bad boys like the good girls because they are not like them.  They'll put up with the rubbish the bad boy hands out in the name of kindness.   The nice guys are tempted by the bad girls because they too represent an element of danger.

I'm beginning to wonder if there's some value in taking the best of both.   Us nice girls could learn from the tougher ones.  And the bad boys could pick up a tip or two from the nice guys.   Maybe if the nice girl got a bit tougher (actually no, I'm not going to put up with any more of that Sh*t), and the nice guy got a bit braver (actually no, I'm not going to put up with any more of that Sh*t) they might work out quite well together.  '

what do you think? Are you a 'goodie'' who has always gone for the dangerous types? Or are you one of the nice ones who feels you can never get a date?  Or something else entirely?

Monday, 7 May 2012

the theory of the clean slate

It is often said that the best predictor of future behaviour, is past behaviours.
Which surely is just a fancy way of saying
- once a cheater always a cheater
- relationship disasters mean more disastrous relationships
- a mug then, a mug now

Assuming that someone is aware of where they might have gone wrong in a relationship (and own that, and work on it) surely that rule doesn't apply?

I think there's no doubt that over a lifetime we can accumulate some pretty bad habits.  Sometimes we do stuff we're not even aware is unhealthy, or hurtful, or just plain stupid.  But apart from the few totally dangerous people out there (and yes I do think they are the minority), I reckon most people genuinely do want to be in strong, successful relationships.  Even the ones that proclaim they are unable to be/don't know how to be/have never been.  In fact I'd go so far to say that often the announcement that ''i am not good at relationships'' is really just a form of self protection - or maybe self denial?

Do you think this is true?  Do people change? CAN people change?

How do you get into, and then out of, the mindset that says once someone has messed up they can't go on to be successful in a relationship?   Is it realistic to argue that they just haven't ''found the right person yet'', or is this a cop-out? Is the person who says ''maybe I don't know what love is'' being honest, unrealistic, or genuinely unaware?

Does it stand that if you messed up once, or twice, or three times (!) that you're going to mess up again?

What happened to the idea of a clean slate/fresh start/new beginning?

Monday, 30 April 2012

a better version of me

In yet another conversation about the re-coupling process, a male friend remarked that in choosing a partner - or at least, considering a relationship, he wanted to feel that his girlfriend would make him want to be the best version of himself he could be.

There is no doubt that when we meet new people, we're on our best behaviour.  Unsurprisingly we want them to see our best sides!  But I don't think that's what this guy meant.

I think he's talking about his partner (and these two are truly equals),  bringing out the best in him, and challenging him to address the stuff in himself that maybe isn't so great.   She is, albeit without realising it subconsciously, wanting him to continue improving, to continue working on himself, and is probably acting as  a conscience pricker from time to time.

Sometimes I've talked about how we can be lucky enough to cross paths with people who make us sparkle.  Who make us think we're the wittiest, smartest, most attractive we've ever been but I think this is deeper than that too.  Certainly it is not a partners job to ''make someone happy'' nor is it in any way realistic or fair to own the burden of changing another (in fact that's a dire mistake that plenty of other dating websites will give you advice on!).

But to be in a relationship with - or even to be dating, or friend with - someone who motivates you to excellence, that surely is what we all should hope for

Sunday, 29 April 2012

goalsetting and the single girl

I was asked an interesting question yesterday:
If your life was a business, what are your KPI's?
I know what my response was but I'm asking you - is this easy to answer in the first instance? For most of us its things like a stable family, a nice house, a good career, great friends, some interesting things to do in my spare time, good health.
In fact you could probably argue that the only KPI not being met (and I'm assuming that because you're reading the blog of a single person) is that you're not dating, or  in a relationship. Which in the scale of things might seem rather selfish and unimportant.
Except that, just like in a business, if you're meeting - no, exceeding, most of your KPI's then the one that seems to be the most important , or at least the one that gets the most attention, is the one that isn't being met. 
Right now I'll re-iterate my belief:  humans are made to be connected.  Single might be for a season, but I truly believe that we are designed to be in partnership.  And so i make no apologies in stating that being in a relationship is a ''KPI'' for most of the singles I know - even if they aren't admitting it out loud.

And then the next question came:
and so what can someone do to make that target then?
Well, that left me a bit nonplussed.  I seriously don't think many of us can do much more.  Or much differently.  think of all the things that every other dating book website and blog, and happily coupled friend tells us we should do - to focus on being a better person, rather than with the goal of finding a relationship.  I completely agree with that.  They tell me I should go where I can meet new people, that I should keep learning and reading, remind me I should put effort into my appearance, health and fitness.  Primarily because these things make me a better person, but there are occasionally hidden bonuses:).  I'm told that if I'm ever asked out, I should go, willingly and with an open mind.  I'm cautioned and reminded not to date to ''type''.

I listen to some of that advice,  I even act on some of it.   And so on and  so on.  And I am the first to agree that the uncoupled should be doing this stuff.  Even if you're happy being single.

But as far as i can tell, the reality is, that no matter how much you DO, no matter how open you are to opportunity, and no matter how focused you are on achieving an outcome, this is one KPI that owes at least half of its outcome to other stakeholders.

I think it's probably a good idea to be clear with the stakeholders about your goals - and what your expectations are of them.   But it might mean accepting that this particular KPI might take rather longer to achieve - and that it's likely to be on someone Else's time frame.

Friday, 27 April 2012

running on empty

I like to think of myself as a pretty positive kind of person.

I get a huge buzz out of helping other people.  I'm way more into giving and receiving and generally I'm not too worried about the payback.  My couch has become one of those places people come and sit, and talk and I like it like that.

I acknowledge that it's bleeping hard being a single parent, but on the whole I think I do an okay job of it (although some days I shout way too much....).  I have awesome friends, a great job, a number of hobbies and things that keep me busy.  I earn enough money to have a nice house and eat well and all that other stuff.

You could say in fact, that most of the time, rather than feeling the glass is half full, I usually feel that my cup runneth over.

But occasionally there's a down day.  And lately I feel like I've had more than one, and so I've been trying to figure out what's going on to make me feel like this.  Is it the weather?  Hardly - it's the best autumn in years.  Working too hard - nah, for all I'm busy, it's great fun and hardly high stress.  Not enough sleep - well that's a given for me.   Not fit - unlikely when I walk, cycle or dance most days.   A spiritual thing - no I don't think this is it either.  Feeling flat from (another) dashed opportunity - yes maybe a little.

It's actually that I feel like the ''emotional tank'' within is running a bit low.  The caring enthusiasm and kindness of friends, the love of my children, warm fuzzies from workmates and clients - these things are awesome and of course keep filling the tank.   But right now I'm having a moment of feeling it needs a top up.  And I'm at a loss to work out how to do it.  Because I'm beginning to realise, and coming to accept that this top-up probably needs to come from a significant other.

When you're running on empty, what do you do?  Is this the domain of the single or does everyone have moments like these?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


It's just about a given that when a couple parts ways, one of them will suggest ''we can still be friends''.
It's also pretty common when one is not keen on the other ''in that way'' in a dating situation that they'll suggest ''friends though please (because I think you're terrific....).

I'm feeling curious about this today.  I mean, why? Why would you want to be friends with someone you have no romantic interest in?  Especially  knowing that they might not feel the same way?  Take out of this equation the friendships where there has been no likelihood or interest in romantic entanglement by either party - from this platform there is no doubt some fantastic friendships can evolve without that extra ''chemistry'' thing going on in the background.

I understand and certainly appreciate the value of friendship between men and women, and I do think it is possible, even desirable to have friends like this.  But my hard earned experience tells me that those friendships don't usually survive the coupling of one of the parties.  And neither should it.  A guy does not need a ''friend'' quite the same when he has a partner.  And a girl is probably going to be a bit uncomfortable about spending time with a single male friend if she's in a relationship.

The first scenario - being friends post relationship - I have blogged about before.  I think its possible, but I'm still not convinced it's desirable or necessary.

The second - myself, and other female friends have been in this one SO many times.  I've made some awesome male friends as a result too.  But sadly, for the most part, once those guys get into a relationship, their friendship with ''the woman friend'' tends to go on the back burner.  I know that's the logical path, but it's left me thinking - do I want anymore friends as ''substitute girlfriend'' status?.

Women don't get off Scot free in this either.  Plenty of them have guy-friends that certainly with some encouragement would step into boyfriend mode, but there is no desire for this on behalf of the girl - they just ''like their company''.

Is there a real opportunity for singles to get to know each other at a deeper level without the complications of sex (but with the possibility as a backdrop)

Is this fair?  Does it matter as long as everyone is clear? Is friendship second best? Do we sometimes  agree to friendship in the hope the other will change there mind?

As long as we all are on the same page, then I think there's great potential for good mateship and company here.  Sometimes it might progress to more, but the key I think, is to believe that it probably won't.  And know that once someone comes along who IS the whole package, your ''friend'' may just disappear of your radar.

ah yes best friends for ever.  now.....