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.