Sunday, 29 January 2012

A new way of normal

None of us sign up for a break up.  Most of us enter into a relationship with an expectation of success - even when it's surround by red flags.  Those with children certainly never expect to be raising them on their own - even if there is a supportive ex spouse co-parenting with them.  Those without children mostly don't expect to still be so.   I believe we all to some degree nurture the happy-ever-after dream, and plan to, learn to, become one half of the whole.

My observation of almost all I know who are uncoupled is that they have not only had to learn how to live as a single person, but they have also had to unlearn how to live in a partnership.

It's hard sometimes, having to make decisions alone.  It's hard being the sole income earner.  It's sometimes unbearable returned to the dating game.  It's a long tough road being a single parent.

Yes there are some payoffs. If that's the right word.  Maybe no longer being at the mercy of an abusive partner, or being stuck in an unhealthy relationship.  There's the sometimes pleasure of meeting new people.  The break time that many sole parents get when the children are away for a weekend. Sometimes, the opportunity to pursue a dream that before would have been out of reach.  The world can even feel full of possibility.

And when you're on the good side of this, it is easy for others to look in and think you've got things sorted.   Like you're ''over'' your previously coupled/familied life.   Like you have packed your baggage and stowed it neatly.

I'd like to suggest that it is more about re navigating.  No, it's not what you anticipated life would be like...but there's no changing it now...and so you learn to do some of the same things in a different way, and some different things that will mean you will never be the same.

Sometimes it's one day at a time.  Others life is a whirlwind of change and activity and excitement.  Occasionally it feels like it would be easier to go back, and other times you are just so glad what ever was, is no more.

It's simply a new way of normal.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

dateless but not desperately

I have never been on a real dinner date.  You know, where you spend an hour deciding what to wear, another hour getting ready.  Half an hour watching the clock while running back and forward to the toilet.
He comes to door, all smart like, takes you in his car, to a restaurant he chose, and you spend the evening together.

I've done coffee dates, look-sees, lunches, picnics in the park, ethnic supper, group outings, meet-you-there-s - but I still feel like I'm missing out on something.  Somehow the idea of a man actually coming to collect me is sweetly oldfashioned and yet also shows a commitment to being masculine and being in charge.  Similarly having him choose where we eat.  And paying? Well, I guess if he was asking me out I'd concede it to be his treat (i struggle with this one but I'm prepared to make a concession....).

Maybe I'm out of touch and this kind of thing doesn't happen any more? Maybe it's expected that you meet someone at a restaurant, that you split the bill, or that it can be spur of the moment?  I like all of those things too, don't get me wrong, but the thought of the scenario above is so appealing.

It's fun to cook for someone, or have an amazing picnic somewhere beautiful, or have an outing, or go to the movies, or a concert, or any other number of things.  I've done lots of those and truly enjoyed them.  I've come close to the dinner, but never quite got there - not sure why...but patiently I wait...:)

Maybe I have read too many books and watched too many tv shows that give an unrealistic view of dating and new relationships.  An ex boyfriend once told me I had my head in the clouds and life wasn't ''like it is in the movies'', and I needed to be more realistic - I was at the ripe old age of 23 then....

I have a wardrobe bursting with gorgeous clothes just perfect for a dinner date.  I just need to find someone who would like to take me on one.

Monday, 23 January 2012

why I cry at weddings

I think I might be one of the few people in the world who actively avoid weddings.  Mainly because I am guaranteed to turn into a snivelling wreck (in a ladylike and discreet manner obviously...and only crying on the inside) every time I go to one.

They are supposed to be happy, joyous occasions right?  So why do they make me feel so miserable?

In part its because I have this horrible cynical streak that says, yeah good one, lets see how happy you are in five years.

In part its because I feel insanely jealous at the patent bliss the happy pair are exuding

In part it's because, despite being no longer being married myself, I am acutely aware I am not one of the smug marrieds sitting in the congregation holding the hand of my own beloved and sharing a fond memory

In part it's because I remember crying at my own wedding

And in part it's because I actually am truly happy for them and sincerely wish the two of them every happiness - and if you can't have a little cry at a wedding then where else can you do it and have people smile benevolently....

Saturday, 21 January 2012

kindness energy integrity

I've said it before and I'll say it again...these are the things that are most important to me...

2011 turned out to be the year of working out what I wasn't as much as it was working what I was. I tried some new hobbies and interests - and discovered a passion or two.  I met some awesome people, made new friends.  Encountered some interesting men - one or two who left a few cuts and bruises, metaphorically speaking, on my heart - but no lasting damage.  Had the sheer delight of a couple of wow moments.

And I am now in a place where, whilst I am quite content in my life, and would rather be single than in the wrong relationship, I would also like to be coupled.  It's a strange thing because in practical terms I just can't see how I could blend my life with another.  It'd be complicated and messy and I find myself worrying about that hypothetical relationship- which is mad, I know, but there it is.   On the other hand, I like the idea of having someone to share stuff with.  An adult to talk to at the end of the day, whether that be in person, where it can happen, or even by phone when it can't.  Someone to celebrate and commiserate with.

I have met someone I would like to explore this with more.  I'm worried about messing it up. After all I'm not exactly a star when it comes to recoupling!  (great, something else to worry about:)).   But there's no hurry. None at all.

In the meantime, I strive to show, and seek to find these things in each I meet:  Kindness. Energy.  Integrity.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

a cynical look at 10 things you should have learned about relationships but if you're reading this you probably still haven't

1. We've got lots in common so that's a great start, right?  Well yes, but I've got lots in common with my best friends husband too, doesn't mean we should have got together instead.   Are the things in common hobbies, or core values?
2. He had sex with me, so he must really like me?  Ah, no, that means he probably just really likes sex.
3. She was introduced to me by friends so I'm sure it's going to be great. What your point? Just because they like you, and they like her, doesn't mean you're good for each other
4. We don't have a whole lot in common, but there's amazing chemistry.  And?
5. She ticks every box on my (''non existent'') checklist.  Well except one little thing....  And what is that? If it's a deal breaker, what are you doing with her?  If it's not, chuck out the list and count your blessings
6. She's got a bit of a rough relationship history but I'm prepared to take the risk.  Why?  What makes you think it will be different this time?  It might be - but proceed with caution.
7. At the end of the day, there's pretty much no decent men out there in my age bracket so I need to just be happy with what I have.   Yeah, great start....settling is doomed from day one.  Let that guy in your age bracket go find someone who really wants him.
8. She's got some big issues, but she's in counselling so I think it will be fine.  It's not like she needs rescuing or anything.  Right...and you're not the rescuing type are you...
9. I feel sad for him - every other woman he's ever been with treated him really badly and he's been really wounded by it.  So that's why he's a bit mistrustful of me.  Is that so? And you know this how? Because he told you?  If there was ever a red flag, this is it.
10. I know she's only just a couple of months out of a long term relationship but she's assured me she's done with the other guy, and really over him.   Uhuh.  If you're wanting a serious relationship, don't ever, ever, EVER be the transition guy.  The likelihood of success is low.  Unless you're wanting transition. Then at least you know it won't last long.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

the tangled web we weave

Last night I spent a few hours with some awesome people.  None of them knew each other - but all were my friends. All single, or very recently re-coupled.  As it often does, the conversation turned to the perils and pitfalls of relationships.

There was much spirited conversation and lots of excellent advice given and received.

When I got home I reflected on each of these people.  All have extraordinary stories.  In fact, put together, if I wrote a book, no one would be believe it could be real.  Especially people whose lives are all connected - ah the 6 degrees of separation is alive and well in this town!  (Don't worry people I won't ACTUALLY write it....)

The conclusion we came to was this:

The older we get, the more complicated our lives get.  The harder it is to re partner.  The more cynical we become, the choosier we are.

But also, with each narrow escape, each minor cut and abrasion  - and occasional serious wound - to our hearts, the more we know ourselves.  The wiser we become - even if we don't follow our own advice.

We all believe it is not the natural order for man (or woman...) to be alone, and that eventually, one day, we will be happily re-coupled and part of a winning team.
In the meantime, we need to spend time with like minded people. Who understand where we are in life. Who won't tell us to ''stop looking''.  Who also understand that we make mistakes.  Who have made plenty of their own.  Who can help us laugh at the crazy things we've done on this mad rather potholed-road to partnering. Who help us celebrate the moments of happy, and console us in the moments of sad.

In a world where everyone else seems to be part of a family or a couple, it is just wonderful to spend time with those who are like me.

Here's to the good stuff about singledom:)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

a new leaf

I did something a bit out there this week.  It might have been a bit mad actually, but thanks to the wonders of electronic media, it's done, and it's too late to go back...

After suffering yet another humiliating defeat in the romance game I wondered if it was time to re look at how I do things.  I'm pretty good at bleating out advice on here - but generally it's for the benefit of others and I tend not to take it for myself (well duh....).  Even though in this case there were a number of mitigating factors it still turned out to be...well, a false alarm, for want of a better term.  I'm sad. but I'll live.  And, I hope, learn.

So,  as part of the learning process, I chose a handful of close male friends, and wrote to them, asking for some feedback on me, and also their thoughts on why women seem to not only be attracted to the wrong kind of guys - but why the wrong kind of guys seek out the women they (must know they) are not good for. I chose people I trust, who know me pretty well - and have witnessed some of the roadkill - and so I believe they will give me honest responses.

So far I haven't had any replies.  But I wait patiently.  Keep you posted.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

raising the bar

Remember the time when you were in a fairly new relationship and you had a disagreement?  It was something pretty trivial but you were kind of shocked at your partners reaction?  But you put it down to misinterpretation, or being tired, or something and let it go.

Remember the time you were out and your partner was kind of, well, rude, to your friend.  But you thought, it's OK, she's probably just a bit nervous, and you let it go.

Remember the time your partner came home and announced he'd spent a bundle of money (your money) on something you thought you'd agreed wasn't a necessary purchase, and you felt kind of uncomfortable but you reasoned out of it - he had a convincing argument for buying, and it was after all, his money too.  And so you let it go.

Remember the time the new girlfriend said, I'm just not sure if I want this.  But she kept coming back.  And you really liked her.  And even though there was a little voice saying you'd probably get your heart broken, you kept seeing her.  And the voice got louder, but you liked her even more by then and so you let it go.

Remember that date where he was driving a bit fast, and you said nothing - because it was his car after all, and you didn't know him that well.  You felt pretty uncomfortable but he assured you he'd never had a car accident and no one else had ever complained, and so you let it go.

Remember the time when you finally decided it was time to get the friends together.  And everyone was charming, but after she said she couldn't stand your best mates wife, and what were they thinking, raising their kids that way.  But you really liked her, and she didn't have teenagers, so what would she really know about that.  So you decided you'd just make sure to do stuff just with the guys, and so you let it go.

Remember that time he said he'd take you somewhere special.  And you organised your weekend, which was not easy...and then at the last minute he said he couldn't do it, but couldn't really give you a good reason and brushed it off when you got upset, that you were over reacting and it was only loose plans wasn't it, and there were plenty of other weekends.  And you let it go?

And then suddenly, well maybe not so suddenly, that thing that you let go, it was just there all the time.  And you KNEW you should have said something when it was a little thing, and now it was a big thing.  And you KNEW that the little voice was right, and the tiny red flag was worth paying attention to, but you hadn't?

And the cold hard fact is that you said that behaviour was okay - even if you did that by tacit agreement - and so therefore the bar got set.  And that meant that the standard you thought was OK, actually wasn't, but the other person didn't know - and you continued to let it go - and they got away with, what turned out to be, pretty terrible behaviour?

Remember when you went on a date and you were treated so well you don't know why you put up with all that other rubbish? When the guy - or girl - phoned when they said they would, turned up on time, remembered the little things about you that you thought they wouldn't even notice?  When they liked you despite your insecurities - and didn't criticise you and you felt like you could be you and they could be them, and all was well.   Remember how good it made you feel about them - about you?

The level of tolerance sets the bar.  That's all I'm saying....

Friday, 13 January 2012

ever decreasing circles

As I get older, and ''more single'' i'm discovering that the world is indeed a tiny place.  And not always in a good way.

I know people in several different social circles that are completely unrelated (as in, the only thing one person might have in common with another, is me).  Yet I continue to be astounded at how many of the dating war stories cross over.  This one dated that one.  This one is that ones ex.  This one is going out with the other ones ex ex.

It makes the world of singledom seem all a bit close.  Life gets lived publicly.  Stories are shared and compared and more connections get discovered.  Sometimes it's a good thing - it's easy to learn who to avoid! - and other times it's not - too easy to make a judgement without actually knowing someone.

I can't decide if it's extraordinary or just plain creepy.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

my heart on my sleeve

I have just said goodbye to something I had barely said hello to.  And boy it hurts.

In my more narcissistic moments I wonder what went wrong...or more like...what did I do wrong...was I too bolshy? too needy? to independent? too old? too young? not relaxed enough? too demanding? too inflexible? maybe too flexible? ...just too?

In the pragmatic moments I remind myself of why it became goodbye.  There were some big obstacles.  Maybe insurmountable (although the idealist in me says there is no such thing).  It would have been tricky.  Messy.  Lots to negotiate.

In the cross moments I'm mad at both of us.  For no particular reason. For everything.

In the happy moments I can gather all the great stuff - the great connection, conversations, humour, moments of real delight.  The flashes of awesomeness and potential that I thought I saw.

In the super-sad moments I wish it were different. And frankly,  I wish I wasn't so....well, so ME I guess.

But in most moments, I'm glad I'm me.  It's easy to obsess over what i might have done differently..and i think it's good to learn from these experiences.  You can't change another person after all, but you can change yourself - if that is what is required.  That said, I think fundamentally we are the same our whole lives, and the true self will out eventually!  Take it or leave it - or should I say, take me or leave me - I am who, what, where why and how I am. And this time, for whatever the reasons, it wasn't the right he, for me, nor me for he.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

the new house

I spent today with an awesome couple...happily married 14 years and yet still with amazing empathy for their uncoupled friends (like me!).
I am nursing a rather bruised heart right now, and although we spoke a little of this, as they did not know the ''bruiser'' the conversation was more general when we got on the topic of relationships.
We talked of red lights and deal breakers.  I shared that sometimes one has to let go of something precious because it is impossible...or may never be resolved.  The husband remarked to me that he reckoned it reminded him of buying a house.
Some years ago he and his wife moved towns.  They looked at dozens of houses. Some were good, some were not.  They discovered, through process of trial, error and evaluation, that actually there was only one thing they could not compromise on - that the house had to be north facing.
So, enthusiasm renewed they started looking again.  Found the perfect house. But it wasn't facing north. Eventually, they decided that unless a house was, they wouldn't even (to use his words) ''step in the door''.

Yep, this is just like the deal breaker of a relationship.  Decide if there is anything you absolutely will not and cannot compromise.   If there's something the other person does, has, or doesn't have, that is a deal breaker - then don't even step through the door for a coffee.  If you do, sometime, somewhere, someone is going to get hurt.

Friday, 6 January 2012

personality transplant

A fascinating - but kind of obvious article from the NZ Herald online...

no brainers about what to do to find 'the one''

tells us that we need to be prepared, to get ready, to make order to meet the love of our lives.  Improve health, wardrobe, sheesh practically overhaul the personality!

Looks like I might have to get busy...