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

BFFs

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.....

Monday, 23 April 2012

a moan about hormones

I remember sitting in Year 6 Science and having ''colour'' explained.  A trick of the light?  Puh-leease.  I don't care what the science behind it is, I want to believe in the wonder and miracle of it all.  I didn't want to know about the chemical reactions that made one thing pink and another blue.  I just want to be amazed that it's even possible.

Accordingly to my trusty blogroll, which includes a plethora of columns by people claiming to know all the secrets to successful dating, there's a whole heap of women out there suffering from major delusions when it comes to attraction.

It would seem that the minute there's some physical contact between a girl and a guy, the hormones kick in - giving us (although possibly not the guys) a rush of feel-good hormones - dopamine for the lovey-doveys, oxytocin for energy and wellbeing, estrogen for a spot of reproductive urge - if that's your bag.

Which is all very interesting and probably explains things - but I find it a bit depressing.   A hopeless romantic? Absolutely - and that extends from marvelling at a rainbow right through to falling in love.

""A team from the University of Pisa in Italy found the bodily chemistry which makes people sexually attractive to new partners lasts, at most, two years.  When couples move into a "stable relationship" phase, other hormones take over, Chemistry World reports.

The Italian researchers tested the levels of the hormones called neutrophins in the blood of volunteers who were rated on a passionate love scale.  Levels of these chemical messengers were much higher in those who were in the early stages of romance.  Testosterone was also found to increase in love-struck women, but to reduce in men when they are in love.

But in people who had been with their partners for between one and two years these so-called "love molecules" had gone, even though the relationship had survived.  The scientists found that the lust molecule was replaced by the so-called "cuddle hormone" - oxytocin - in couples who had been together for several years.

Similar research conducted by Enzo Emanuele at the University of Pavia found that levels of a chemical messenger called nerve growth factor (NGF) increased with romantic intensity.  After one to two years, NGF levels had reduced to normal. Michael Gross, a bio-chemist and science writer who has studied the latest findings, said: "It shows that different hormones are present in the blood when people are acutely in love while there is no evidence of the same hormones in people who have been in a stable relationship for many years.

"In fact the love molecules can disappear as early as 12 months after a relationship has started to be replaced by another chemical glue that keeps couples together."  He added: "To any romantically inclined chemist, it should be deeply satisfying to be able to prove that chemical messengers communicate romantic feeling between humans."  "It may be the only thing that science can offer as a real-world analogy to Cupid's arrows."






Tuesday, 17 April 2012

fake it til you make it

Being a single is hard.  And being a single parent is really hard.  Really really hard.  And if you're reading this now there's a good chance you are one, and agree with me.  Sure if you've come out of a bad relationship there can be an element of relief or liberation - but I'm talking here about the every day mundane stuff.

It's hard on lots of levels - no matter how supportive your FDP is, how involved they are with the children's life, or how old the kids are.  There's hardly any respite.  You get the worst of the children's behaviour.  If the kids are young, it is likely that most of your friends are still partnered.  And those who aren't are struggling like you are.  There's less money.  There's no one to offload to at the end of the day.  There's no one to say ''hey we're out of milk, I'll go''.  There's no one to talk over the latest tantrum with.  Or celebrate the latest success with.

And so, if you're anything like me, for the most part you put on a brave face and let the world think everything is hunky-dory.  Of course you enjoy the single life.  Absolutely you'll meet that other single friend for a coffee date.  Of course you don't mind being the only single at a dinner party.  For sure having the bed/house/bathroom to oneself beats having to share it.  Of course a girls night out is a great idea.  Definitely it is fine to have a weekend/public holiday/overseas trip solo.  So much easier don't you know....

And maybe, if you say it often, and loudly, and convincingly enough, everyone else will believe it - and you might do too. Until eventually real life will catch up, and you actually discover one day, you are happy. After all.

love at first sight

Do you believe in love at first sight?

According to the research (well, accordingly to the google search i did anyway), it's a guy thing.  Men decide pretty much straight away whether they are attracted to a woman (that's the male version of falling in love apparently).  I know several men who say they ''fall in love a little every day''.  They're not talking about the ''i met my life partner today'' thing, it's just a face value, I'd like to get to know YOU kind of feeling.

Women take a little longer - anything up to a month or more supposedly.  It is, according to the experts - oops I mean, other bloggers out there, necessary for a woman to know a man before she falls in love with him.  But I think if women are really truly honest, they would say that whilst they might not have ''known'' they had met their true love at the first meet, they certainly knew if it was a possibility!  It's about not necessarily knowing who a YES is, but certainly filtering out the NO''s...

So bearing this in mind,  I'd like to add my two cents.

Firstly let me define falling in love:
- falling in love is not the same as really truly loving someone
- falling in love is probably closer to lust than even to like
- falling in love is the bit that gets your hormones racing
- falling in love is the easy part, it's growing in love and staying in love that takes effort and time
- falling in love can be quick, falling in like takes longer

I'd like to suggest that falling in love gives one enough burst of feel-good to be motivated enough to get to know someone properly - and then work out if you actually LIKE them.  Falling in love makes you feel good - it gives you energy for long late night conversations, and enough rose-tint to see past annoying habits - at least for a little while - and start to learn about the person you're looking at.  

Sure there are times when love ''grows'' from a friendship, but I think THAT is the exception not the rule.

So, I'd say, yes love at first sight is possible.  It might not be love in the long lasting sense.  It might turn out to be a false alarm or it might mask reality for a while.  But why not call it love anyway?

Happy ever after? Well, that's a topic for another time.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

a single circle

Over the past four years I have met some amazing people.  And I've ended up with this weird situation of having a ''real life'' that is all about kids and family, and couples, and then a ''part time'' life that is mainly made up of singles.

I've met them on dates, through friends, through their friends.  At dancing, at work, at church.  Very very few live near me.   Some are partnered, some re-partnered, but most aren't.  A few are enthusiastically trying out re-partnering, with varying degrees of success.   Because they come from different places, they mostly don't know each other. (Although it's kind of scary how close those 6 degrees have got sometimes... ) And they all are keen to make new friends and expand their own social circles.  So, bit by bit, I've been introducing them to each other.

It's been fantastic.  I love it because now my friends all know each other (or at least are starting to!).  They get to meet new people, so they feel good.  There's been a couple of romances.  Some really amazing friendships.  I am stoked. 


I try not to think about the circumstances of how I know them.  After all, if I  - any of them - were still happily (or even unhappily) married, I probably wouldn't have met any of them.  And then certainly they would not have met each other.   So there's a little bit of sadness in there - that the friendships have been born as the result of the demise of another relationship.

But the upside is, we're here now.  There's people who understand, who can empathise, sympathise, and share chocolate or pizza.  There's nearly always someone to spend an otherwise lonely evening with.  For the most part there's no pressure - just simply friendship with no strings.  There's still quite a few who don't know each other yet - and some who have brought their friends along, making the circle even bigger.

How awesome is that!?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

the man-ifesto

There's always lots of discussion amongst the uncoupled about ''the list'' isn't there?  There's two main lines of thought here - the first that a list is imperative, because as an older and wiser once-couple person it keeps one focused and less prone to make foolish decisions or unrealistic compromises.  The other, that in fact a list is a waste of time because you can't choose who you fall in love with.

I reckon there's probably some truth in both - but what if rather than a list, you had something a bit more fluid - but no less focused?  Like a manifesto?


man·i·fes·to

  [man-uh-fes-toh]  Show IPA
noun, plural man·i·fes·toes.
a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives,as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization.



Yes, it's usually used by political parties to let the world know what they stand for - but I think there's an opportunity to do this at a personal level too.   And a manifesto includes the writers intentions rather than a tick list of what they are seeking in others.

So I might say, I offer financial stability, or unswerving loyalty, or a particular set of values/beliefs.  It kind of defines who I am, but in a broader sense than a dating website profile might.  And it can certainly include the stuff that I might want to give wide berth to in others.

Here's some examples: (An exhaustive list, taken from the exhaustive wish lists of those who say they actually don't have a list....)

"I'd just like to meet someone who makes me laugh''
''kindness, that's what matters''
''no police record, that's be a good start''
''i want to feel completely cherished''
''i never want to be second best again, next time I'll be the priority''
''financial stability''

Maybe in a manifesto you might say, that kindness and humour are core values.  That you keep away from people with criminal history, and that the ability to cherish and prioritise (and in return be cherished and prioritised) are paramount.  That you stand for kindness, and expect it in return.  That you are financial stable and would prefer to be connected with someone in a similar situation.

I don't think this is unrealistic.  Sure you might end up meeting the perfect person who in fact has no money, is a reformed criminal and has no sense of humour.  But I think by at least having a starting point you're minimising the risk of pain further down the track.

Do you have a list?  Could it be molded into something broader - or something more specific?

Would you be brave enough to make this public, or could it be just an internal kind of checklist?

Friday, 13 April 2012

choice, choosing and chosen

Last night I went to see Marigold Hotel.  It was an absolutely brilliant movie, with amazing scenery and music, a formidable cast - and it was absolutely packed with hilarious one-liners.

I found myself wishing for a pen and paper to write them down on more than one occasion - but one line in particular really stood out for me.  The character, Madge, is a woman in her late 50's who is reflecting on her single state.  She is asked if she has a husband and responds with ''No. single by choice. Just not my choice''

I love that line.  I was sitting with a group of 6 women, none of whom are single by choice either. In fact I'd be surprised if there were many people out there who actually are.  Sure there's single for a season, single for a reason.  But my belief is that most of us would desire to be part of a unit.

The challenge lies in being open to that opportunity, without appearing - acting - like you are desperate to close the deal.  For some that means casually dating, for others it's a mad fling, for others it means staying firmly in the ''no thankyou'' zone.  It's challenging and sometimes quite daunting, especially when society pushes it's expectations of couplehood upon the unpartnered.

I have a close friend going through this at the moment.  Having recently come out of a relationship she is feeling the pain of the demise - doing the usual ''what if'' retrospects, and having to deal with the reality of being single again.  She is young and smart and beautiful and has no trouble attracting men.  The question is, does she welcome that attention or simply learn to BE as a single for as long as it takes to be ready to take the plunge again.

Single by choice?  Probably not.  Someone Else's choice - yes often.  But even if the choice is made for you, surely there is room to choose to sit with that choice, even if you're not ready to embrace it fully.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

lies lies and damned statistics

There's a theory out there that says ''until you're happy with being single, you can never be happy with being coupled''.

There's also one that says ''get over one person before you get involved with another''

Oh, and then there's the idea that ''it's impossible to fall in love with someone if you're still in love with another''.

On the other hand how about ''you wouldn't have even gone looking if you were happy''.

What about ''time heals all, and moving into a new relationship won't solve the problem that was there in the first place, or heal the pain of a break''.

Oh I know... here's another: ''the likelihood of a second or subsequent relationship being successful lessons with every relationship''

And: the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else

Are any of these true for you?  Do any sound like outrageous lies, or generalisations?  Why or why not?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

swimming close to the surface

I had lunch with a friend today.  Happily recoupled, he was describing the way he and his partner communicate.  "I always know how she's feeling" he said ," because she is so open and her emotions are close to the surface"

I love that idea.  Which might be because I'm a bit like that too.  But it strikes me as a whole lot less complicated if I can just be honest about what's going on for me.  There's no doubt that when I'm happy the world knows about it.  Although I also probably should confess I'm an expert at the brave face too - it's easy to share happy with the world, not so easy to share the ugly stuff!  That said, I've also been told I can be read by like a book, so now who's kidding who!

But, if I feel safe, as long as I feel safe, then I'm okay with showing all sides of the emotional face.  Granted, it can be a bit scary - goodness knows I've freaked a few blokes out with my honesty!

And so, on this crazy unpartnered journey I'm on, I'm having to learn to temper my temper, and keep some of that just-below-the-surface stuff, at least for a little while, just a little bit deeper.

Monday, 2 April 2012

the sound of hearts breaking

Surely the hardest thing about re partnering is wondering if ''this time'' it's going to work out.

Oftentimes the uncoupled like to talk of how they don't believe in happy-ever-afters any more, or that they think people aren't really made to be together for ever - but I think deep down, we all want to believe that's not true.  We want to meet a soul mate, to fall in love and to grow old on the porch with someone.

And of course the horrible reality is that after the first breakup - especially if the relationship was of significant length - the subsequent ones are more common, more likely and more frequent.  How's that for a depressing thought.

And today's blog is not a happy one.  Because I have learned of some more friends who are now going through the pain of separation.

It's easy to offer platitudes isn't it?  Better luck next time.  It's a lesson learned.  There's a reason for this.  He wasn't right for you.  You deserve more/better/different.

But at the end of the day, it's just people hurting.  Which is how this blog started in the first place.