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
http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/ and http://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/.  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?

Awesome!

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?