An Open Letter To Men

 

A Note to the reader: The following was previously posted. For whatever reason, the link doesn’t work. Therefore-  and because I believe it’s one of my better posts –  I’m republishing it.  A new post will be coming next week.

Warning: The following is satire—the use of humor, irony, exaggeration and ridicule to bring attention to a topical issue or human folly in need of reform . . .

Dear Gentlemen:

On behalf of my fellow women—well, THAT’S oxymoronic! Scratch that. On behalf of my sister women everywhere, I am writing to make a request. When you are done with a relationship, could you please inform us? You see, your current and oh so popular methods of abruptly not returning texts or taking days to respond to a voice mail (i.e. fading, ghosting and Caspering) are not cutting it.

Honestly, it’s a small thing I’m asking. Just a couple of words—of your own choosing even! “I’m done.” “It’s over.” “Moving on.” All would suffice. And I’m sure if you all put your other collective heads together, you could come (pun intended) up with a few more alternatives.

I believe I speak for all women when I say this courtesy would be most appreciated. You see, for a women there is no more agonizing a kiss-off than the fade. You know to what I’m referring. For whatever reason, your feelings have changed. (Hey, it happens.) Or you’ve met someone new. (It happens.) Or you’ve gotten bored. (Yep, happens.) Such is life! Maybe she’s changed—or just revealed her true self. She’s now clingy, possessive, demanding of your time and/or money, a royal bitch or tiring drama queen . . . hell, who wants that? I feel you. But please, do me a favor. Tell her you’re done, it’s over, you’re moving out and/or on. Don’t simply Casper on her and vanish. Unless the Feds just threw your ass into Witness Protection, you owe her that much! BTW, worse than the ghost act is the aforementioned fade game. Seriously? Is this written in a manual (pun intended) somewhere? Or do you all take lessons in junior high on how to dude-dump a female by degrees?

Let’s be clear, gentlemen. I’m not talking about a blow-up break-up. Unless she’s a moron, she knows it’s over. I’m talking about the one day turnaround, whereby one day it’s good and the next day you’re gone, and only you and God know what prompts it. True, trouble in Relationship Town might have been subtly brewing. But unless she has a clue . . . guys, it’s cruel! Do you have any idea how many hours we women spend with our girlfriends trying to decipher some dumb shit break-up text from you that says nothing? Do you do it on purpose? Is it step #3 in the How to Get Free Handbook? She pours her heart out to you in multiple tomes, and in return you send a “I read your texts” reply. Really?!? WTF! That’s not an answer! And it sure as shit ain’t closure. It’s not even close to what she NEEDS to hear. Note: I didn’t say WANT, I said NEED. Whoever might have told you this is a kinder way to break-up with a woman LIED! There is NO KIND way. But there is a RIGHT way I’ll get to presently.

First, a real example of what one of your gender did to one of mine: Thursday evening they are texting. He says he wants to take her out to dinner Saturday night. She’s arriving late Friday evening—too late for plans per se–but he states, “I’ll definitely swing by quick tomorrow night if only to see your beautiful smile.” TEN HOURS LATER (during which there has been NO contact) this text arrives: “I’m going to be busy at work. I won’t have time to move forward in a relationship of any kind with you.” “What the hell happened in 10 hours?” she asks me. Lord! I don’t know! But there I am, trying to console (it’s what we girlfriends do). And I’m trying to come up with an explanation that makes any possible sense–an explanation BTW, that should have come from you! But hey, at least he had the balls (and yes, decency!) to be clear and explicit. In the plainest English he slammed the door shut on any possibility of resurrecting anything.

As opposed to another of your ilk and a second woman I know equally as well. Dude was out of town for 4 weeks. When he returned, he sent a text he was back with a “I’ll keep you posted on things” addendum. Of course, she called! The last time they saw one another he hugged her goodbye and told her she meant a lot to him. So what’s with the friggin’ text? She comes right out and asks. She also asks if she’s going to see him. His response? “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ll catch up.” Guess what? They didn’t. She never saw him again—despite his cowardly “leave the door cracked” tact—which only fosters futile and false hopes. Gentlemen, it’s not that hard. If you are moving on, SLAM THE F**KING DOOR on your way out!

Yes, I know we are different . . . men and women. We think differently, act differently, react differently—hell, I wrote a 3-part post here on the subject! Trust me, you’re not likely to find another woman who better understands men—and I’m confused as f**k! And before you think to call me out on it . . . yes, I know. Women do it to men, too. Heartbreak Street runs both ways. Plenty of women have hurt plenty of men. No gender owns the market on asshole moves and chicken-shit break-ups.

Speaking of . . . they don’t happen only when the involvement goes south for a real reason. You’ll note I’ve spared you the discomfort of calling it a “relationship”—because God knows how that word terrifies most of your kind. Like sunlight to a vampire, you thrown up your hands to shield your face and seek desperate escape. Which segues into my next point . . .

For truly no better reason than she’s getting too close and you don’t “do” relationships, you bail. The problem is you usually don’t tell her. Gentlemen, here’s a newsflash: For women, breaking up is a 2-part process. #1 is the notice of and #2 the reason for. But let’s just tackle #1 for now. As much as we want to know the WHY it’s over—it’s more important we know THAT it’s over. Doubtlessly, some of my sisters will vehemently disagree with me. But it’s my letter, and they can write their own.

So back to you bailing because she’s starting to like you “too much”. . . REALLY? So she likes you! Did she start picking out china patterns or baby names? Has she tried to change even one freaking thing about you? Does she blow up your phone when you’re not with her? Unless you can answer “Yes” to even one of these questions . . . CHILL THE FUCK OUT! Exactly what is it you are so afraid of? Commitment? Did she ask for it? Monogamy? Did she ask for it? Exclusivity? Did she ask for it?

Since we’re on the subject of sex, let’s talk about sex. Question: How do you do the deed without the accompanying emotional feeling? I’m not talking one night stand or casual hook-up. I’m talking 4-5 months long, you’ve easily f**ked her 100 times, encounters—after which you reach for her and hold her close. I’m not judging, just asking. I’d really like to know. If one of you would care to explain it, I’ll gladly disseminate the information to my sisters. It would save a lot of confusion and do a great service to the cause of gender harmony.

If it’s a trade secret . . . how about a trade? I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours. I’ll even go first. You see . . . we women . . . we can’t. We can’t f**k a guy dozens and dozens of times and NOT feel something FOR him. It just happens. As much as (trust me) we wish it didn’t. ‘Cause it would save one hell of a lot of heartache for us if we could. But the simple truth is, it’s an intimate act—ergo a sense of intimacy forms—and actually builds with each interaction. It’s a biological response—with oxytocin being the culprit. This chemical in our bodies increases with physical touch and it causes us to form an emotional, relational connection to the man delivering it. Sorry to break it to you, boys, but ya got this chemical, too. So how you’re all able to turn the switch to off or neutral is a mystery to us.

BTW, if you go and throw in extras—like calling her “Babe” or holding her hand or snuggling up to her in the night, you’re going to make it worse. Oh! And here’s another no doubt shocker . . . if you talk about doing anything together in the future . . . Dude! She’s going to think there’s a fucking future! So why are you so damn surprised when she thinks there’s a thing between the two of you? Especially when you show up Sunday night after work and stay ‘til Wednesday AND tell her next time you’re bringing a uniform to hang in her closet so you can stay ‘til Thursday and go straight to work from her place? Hello??!!

But just because we do develop the f-word for you in response to the f-act with you DOESN’T mean we want a promise ring or a rose garden—or even to be “an item.” Especially if she’s over 40, chances are good a woman loves her independence and living alone as much as you do. This may shock you, too . . . but very few older women—especially after 50—want to play house. Been there/done that is their mantra. Trust me on this one! The VERY LAST thing this single-at-sixty-year-old wants is to get attached at the hip to a man I have to cook and clean for and pick up after. Nor do I want to co-mingle my money and become in a few short years a nurse with a purse for your ass. Seriously, all I want is your respect.

Which returns us to my initial request. Your chicken-shit Casper acts and fade games are a demonstration of the deepest kind of disrespect. Again, I know you might think you are being kinder. But you’re not. Here’s my proposition: In the spirit of achieving a mutually respectful and definite means to this end, how about if both parties agree upon a safe word? A quit word, if you will—to be agreed upon up front, in advance, at a relationship’s or involvement’s onset—a word to be texted if/when the time comes? I even have a suggestion. Rather than a hurtful word such as “done” or “over,” how about “canary?” Since when these little yellow birds keel over in a mine, it’s the signal to get the hell out—I think it’s rather fitting.

Granted, this won’t fix all the relationship issues and problems between our genders, but it would be a damn good start!

Sincerely yours,

Judith Hill

Rules of Engagement

So here’s a question, ladies . . . Sex without emotion. Is it possible? More specifically, is it possible to have continual sex with a person (thereby developing the intimacy that forms naturally*)—and yet not develop an emotional attachment as well? Or is it a gender specific question—and issue?

Ask most women, and they will say men are absolutely able to “hit it and quit it.” It’s one of The Universe’s greater ironies. The gender that has only three compartments (work, sports and sex) can totally compartmentalize sex and love. Women, on the other hand . . . “Boink and boogie” just isn’t in the female DNA—or at least in our primordial hard-wiring. After all, the biological point of sex is procreation. And if Cavewoman Barbie got knocked up, she didn’t just want Caveman Ken to hang around—she needed him to—since that attachment of him to her and their offspring meant security and sustenance (and hence survival) for them both. Simple.

But in the modern world, things have changed. And yet the hard-wiring hasn’t. Sex is still initially a physically bonding act. AND as it was also biologically designed to do (*google  “oxytocin”), frequency and the passage of time STILL act in concert to create a deeper “bonding” —i.e. emotional and spiritual. And if it’s not designed for this—or not still hard-wired into us—than pray tell, why do you have to fight against it??? Suddenly not so simple, huh? And yet it is.

For women, frequent sex with creates emotional attachment to. BTW, experts say it’s as true for men as for women. I’m not sure I buy it though. Still, sociologists and psychologists insist it’s a matter of societal/cultural programming that men are loathe to admit they can’t do the one without the other. Forming feelings for a woman is a sign of weakness. So they resist it, deny it and avoid it. BTW, women do as well—although they are the exception rather than the rule. As a rule.

Speaking of . . . there are rules. Dos and do nots intended to thwart designed biology—and emotional attachment. Unsurprisingly, they are specific to the circumstance. In other words, the type of sexual relationship in which you are engaged. In a 2013 Elite Daily article, Jenn Scalia defines 3 types of relationships and explains their rules of engagement:

  1. One Night Stand—quick and easy (and unplanned) sexual satisfaction between strangers. It’s a physical fling that spares feelings. Indeed, as Jenn says, “You might worry about catching something, but it ain’t feelings.”
  2. Booty Call (also known as the fuck buddy)—satisfaction happens when you want it. You know and trust one another, but there is no desire for a “real” relationship, ergo there are defined boundaries to prevent such from forming. Primarily, sex is not frequent. There’s no kissing, cuddling or sleeping over during nor phone calls or texts after. According to Jenn, “You master these rules like you master his body.”
  3. Friends with Benefits—exactly what is says. (FYI, there’s a fine line between the FWB and the FB relationship.) The difference, Jenn claims, is this one “can get real sticky, real quick, and not in a good way.” You’ve probably know each other for years. He make you laugh. You stimulate his mind. Together it’s a fun time to be had. Want it or not, there’s a connection (which means feelings are involved). And BECAUSE there’s a connection (and feelings) and not just a physical act, this “arrangement” makes for great sex. However, what makes it great is exactly why it never lasts. Because one of you is going to want it to become more. Human nature, I’m afraid.

But because we are human, we think we are different. We are the exception to the rule—so ironically, what do we do? We set rules. Rules—we not only confidently convince ourselves will allow us to control the situation—but rules we arrogantly delude ourselves into believing will circumvent basic biology. Yeah . . . let me know how that works out for you! ‘Cause I sure as fuck (no pun intended) know how it has for me. But before we get into that . . . Here’s the best the “experts” can come up with, assuming you’re game to try . . .

Rules of Engagement to Avoid Emotional Attachment

  • Be clear upfront with him and yourself. Fuck does not equal feelings.
  • Check yourself, if you catch yourself slipping.
  • Avoid regularity (no more than a couple times a month—see above)
  • Know there is a time limit it can be done (and it ain’t indefinitely—see above again)
  • Set boundaries. In other words, to separate the fuck from the feelings, establish a “do everything but fill in the blank .” Anyone who has seen Pretty Woman knows Vivian’s “anything but.” Indeed, no kissing on the mouth and/or sleeping over are boundaries a lot of women set. Men go with not coming inside her during and not cuddling or snuggling after. Hell, even swingers can have boundaries (like only oral) that separate the “fuck with” from the “feel for.” This is not new. In my mother’s day it was first base and second (make out and feel up)—but no milk without buying the cow. Today teenagers think anal is ok because they are not losing their virginity per se, so they are still “saving” themselves for that someone special.

Now, because (trust me) you’re fighting a losing battle, here are two rules I’ve added. They don’t change the outcome, just the quality of play.

  • If you are going to do it more, choose better. Since frequent sex will create feelings, make certain he’s one worth feeling them for.
  • And finally, if it’s less than what you want, opt out before you time out. (It will hurt less.)

This all being said . . . and as black and white as it all might appear, there are men who fuck and love in shades of gray. Yep. For his having only one freaking compartment, this is the man who can sure as hell create a shit-ton of pigeon holes within it! For Mr. Gray, there are feelings when you’re together—but freedom when you’re not. Ergo, no strings and no expectations after. But during? Yeah, he’ll develop feelings—and he may not even attempt to control them or follow the agreed upon rules of engagement. But when it’s over, he turns them off and reverts back to his “no feel” zone. Talk about mixed signals! And bending the rules!

Here’s where you can stop reading. Because here’s where we now segue to me and my ongoing “relationship” with the man called Sunday. Please know, I don’t blame you if you truly don’t care. (I wish I didn’t.) Nonetheless, if you’re still reading (and have read “Yo-yo Romeo”) you know where we are. Zig zagging. But me being me . . . see . . . I can handle anything if I understand it (or so I tell myself). It’s why I analyze the shit out of shit (and why I write this blog, in fact). BTW, my analyzing drives him crazy. He’s a “let it go” type, while I’m a “need to know.” So after the last post, I figured I had it figured out.

Well dontcha know . . . and son-of-a-bitch! . . . if last week the Mechanic didn’t throw a fucking monkey wrench into the works that have been working just fine for me!

It may mean nothing. And it probably doesn’t. But as a writer—and a woman—words matter. From day one, our physical relationship has been defined/described/referred to by one word. And one word alone! He’s blue collar to the core—and a man . . . so no surprise it’s his nomenclature of choice. And God knows, I have NO problem with it. I use it frequently and unabashedly. (Just count the number of times it appears in this post!) Hell, it’s a noun, verb, adjective AND a comma. So yeah. I have no problem calling it like it is. We fuck. Period.

So somebody please tell me —and sorry, but non PG version ahead (like I said, words matter)—why—when I (admittedly, floating in the pleasant aftermath of climax) asked how in hell he had made me come without moving inside me—did he say, “Because I made love to you.” And then, with a smile and a kiss—and not another word said—he rolled off.

Well, I’ve got a word! Actually. Three.

What . . . . . . . . the . . . . . . . . fuck?

 

 

Yo-yo Romeo

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece about older (wiser?) women selecting (wanting?) only the best parts of a post-divorce relationship. I used my own not so very merry merry-go-round relationship as an example. And FYI, at the time of its posting, I hadn’t actually decided if I was actually going to swallow what he’d spouted. Nevertheless (and it’s friggin’ moot now!) the Monday following the publication of “Cherry-picking”. . . yep. You guessed it. Ironic, huh? (And BTW, why DO they call it iron-y when nothing ever gets the fuck ironed out??) Suffice to say, Sunday stayed til Tuesday and then was back Wednesday evening thru Thursday evening. Naturally, I’m going with cherry-picking as my defense. But is it?

For 18 months now this man enters and exits my life like a damn sewing machine needle doing a zig zag stitch. (And damn if he hasn’t given me material—no pun intended) It’s the relationship that doesn’t end, because despite everything (including his 7 month absence) neither of us is (at least at the same time) willing to call it quits. And so we (alternately) keep reaching out (in my case) or showing up (in his), thereby maintaining the “friendship.” (potato-potahto) Romantics wearing rose-colored lenses or half-glass-full type optimists are wont to dub such a relationship “meant to be” –ala Carrie and Mr. Big. Not I. For the record, I’m near-sighted. Not to mention, cynical. If half-empty doesn’t equal pessimist—it sure as hell adds up to realist. What I am NOT, however, is apparently unique.

So-called experts call such a back and forth, on again off again ménage à deux a yo-yo relationship. Like the reconnect, the yo-yo happens out of habit. And yes, while we humans are all creatures of habit, it’s important to note that the yo-yo is perpetuated more by men. The reason is simple. Men are basically lazy (when it comes to relationships). A yo-yo is familiar and comfortable. But better yet, it’s easy. To reconnect with a past girlfriend or ex-lover often takes but a single phone call or text. Something along the lines of, “Hey, I was in the neighborhood . . .” (FUCK) Yep. Pretty much. And FYI, Ladies, good—if not great—sex is the most common reason the Yo-yo Romeo is jerking your string.

Frequently, however, we women want to believe there’s more. We want to believe Hallelujah! He’s come to his senses. Dumbass has finally realized what a gem I am and now he wants a do-over. Ladies . . . NOT. Rare is the man who hears that wake-up call. Not saying it’s not possible, but the cock-a-doodle-do he’s heeding? Yeah . . . probably more about what’s rising between his legs than what’s coming up in the east. Nevertheless, I am willing to concede it could happen. Once in a blue moon. Somewhere. Someplace there’s a guy who wants a do-over ‘cause he’s realized he fucked up. (I actually will buy this as most men are trial and error learners. In other words, they learn more by fucking up than by stepping up.) But listen carefully! Do-overs and second chances are well and good and AFTER if he acknowledges and apologizes for his fuck-up. (And don’t mistake excuses for either.) Absent “I was wrong and “I am sorry,” he’s merely picking up where he left off . . . Probably because he’s again single (i.e. horny, bored, lonely) OR because somebody or something just kicked him in the balls and he needs you to kiss them and make it better.

Ironically (there’s that damn word again!), there is a third reason for a yo-yo relationship. It’s a combination of the two aforementioned ones and best explained by the old adage: You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone (and THEN you miss it). (I like Madona’s Unapologetic Bitch lyric, too: “You never knew you loved me ’til you lost me.”) Regardless, I do believe relationships have a course they are just destined to run. And all are different–and dependent upon those involved. Age, circumstance, history . . . all have a bearing. What a never married 30-year-old wants is not necessarily what a divorced 60-year-old does. Not judging. Just saying. So back to Mr. Back Again . . .

Sometimes a yo-yo is a no-no. But sometimes a “yo” is a “go.” So how do you know? Trust me. You know. You can lie to the whole fucking world, but don’t to the woman in the mirror. Don’t delude yourself with that trite “just friends” crap. How many of your “friends” have seen you buck-ass naked? And how often does it physical hurt to think of a “friend” with someone else? Yeah . . . NOT friends. And BTW, know if you’re keeping a foot in each other’s life, neither of you is stepping forward. You’re both standing still—and blocking the path for the next (and better?) one to come along. Just saying.

That said, there are unignorable signs a yo-yo relationship is unhealthy, actually toxic or doomed to die. (Heed them or not. Your choice.) UK’s Daily Mirror advice columnist Dr. Miriam Stoppard cites the following red flags:

  • you have little in common except great sex
  • he lures you back with gifts, declarations of love and/or promises of change
  • trust is broken
  • you make excuses for his lack of commitment
  • the fights worsen each time you get back together
  • you think you are going to change him.

No. You can’t. You can’t change a Yo-yo Romeo (or most men, for that matter). If that’s what you think/ hope/ want – STOP! Cut the freaking string. Also, if the list of cons is longer than the pros or if you see yourself in any of the other bullet points above . . . yeah, let go. Above all, and again, be honest. If what you want ain’t on Romeo’s to-do list (marriage, babies, commitment) you can yo-yo til the cows come home (oh goody! another barnyard animal allusion) and it won’t happen. This pertains to younger women in particular. But if you’ve been there/done that and what he does offer is what you want . . . then why not? Of course, this means YOU have to figure out what YOU want.

Which, ironically (really?!? again!?!) brings me back to the question raised in “Cherry-picking.” What do I want? Honestly, I‘m not sure I really know. Yet. Oh, and for the record, and ‘cause I can’t make this shit up . . . Sunday has returned to his previous “never again” stance on marriage. I have no idea why. Nor have I asked about the 28-year-old. (LIFE LESSON learned: Don’t ask a question you don’t want to hear the answer to.) So for now . . . yeah. Sunday and the realist are probably going to keep sewing. After all—and as any good seamstress knows—the straight stitch might be stronger . . . but it’s the zig zag that will stretch with the fabric.

Cherry-picking

“Cherry-picking” is defined as the action of selecting only the most beneficial items from what is available. So…..Ladies, a question? Since statistics indicate more older women than ever are choosing to be single instead of married (and since I can’t possibly be the only one who says: Oh hell to the no! Choosing to be single is NOT choosing to be celibate . . .), are we single gals “of an age” cherry-picking our post divorce wants & needs? In other words (and unless I really am the lone slut at the single sisters’ table) are we picking out just the best part(s) of being with the next man — and deep-sixing the rest? Are we with our actions and words — in either conscious thought or subconscious instinct — telling the naked guy in our bed: “Be fun to be with, hold me, screw me, spend time with me, tell me I’m sexy and beautiful — then toodles til the next time –’cause I ain’t doing your laundry, cooking your meals, picking up after your ass, figuring out your fucked up finances, making your doctor appointments, reminding you to call your mother or any of the other myriad of mundane day-in-day-out shit I did for x-number of years.” (In my case, 36)

Harsh, right? But is it true? Because truth be told . . . I think maybe I was cherry-picking my last relationship’s best parts (and his). (OMG! Did she just say that??) Yes, I did. And furthermore many experts say I’m not alone. But before I do my usual survey/research/statistics shtick, let’s recap . . .

Regular readers know of my ongoing/offgoing relationship with Sunday (aka “I don’t do relationships but I show up when I please”) who recently informed me he was in love with another woman. Oh, but wait! It gets waaaay friggin’ better! He said he was waiting a couple years to marry her. And for those of you who haven’t kept a scorecard (or read “Time to Say Goodbye”) — Dude is 52 and the object of his affection is 28!! (OMG! Did she just say that??) Yes, I did. And let me count the ways that fucking stings . . .

Lamenting the loss (because what woman in her right mind would sign on for that gig?), I opened up last weekend to a girlfriend. (It’s what we women do.) She’s not one of my usual 2 go-to sister-confessors, so damn! If Girlfriend 3 didn’t have a whole new take on my heartbreak . . .

“What do you want from him?” she asked.

Ironically, Dude had asked me the same question the night he dropped his little bombshell. I gave her the same answer: “I don’t know.”

“Well you need to figure it out,” she answered. “Are you looking to be in a relationship with him? Do YOU want to marry him?”

“NO. I won’t ever, ever, EVER get married again. I don’t want to play house. Do the day-in-day-out thing. And I’m sure as fuck not co-mingling my money.”

“Ok, so you’re telling me what you DON’T want. What is it you DO? And don’t tell me it’s a relationship — ’cause all those things you just listed — that you don’t want — are what make a relationship. So you don’t want a relationship.”

It took a long pause and a whole lot of thinking before I could come up with an answer. “What I had, I guess. Hanging out a couple times a month, maybe taking the occasional trip. Sex.”

She looked at me, her head tilting. “Did you think you two were exclusive?”

I bit my lip. “Nope. He was always honest about that. He comes and goes, does want he wants, sees who he pleases. I just figured when he was with me, he wanted to be with me. And he always made me feel that way.”

“Well, girlfriend,” she said with a laugh. “You don’t want to hear this . . . but THAT is exactly what you have still. He’s not moving on. He THINKS he’s in love with her. He THINKS he’s going to marry her – in two years. In the meantime, you threw a curve ball at him. You’re obviously not what he prefers . . . age-wise . . . yet he’s still coming around. He likes you. He told you you matter, he trusts you, he likes being with you. Hell! He even told you he loves you–“

“As a friend,” I interrupted.

She waved a hand. “Doesn’t matter. And shit happens. He said so. Things can change. Friendships become relationships. Plus he knows you love him and he hasn’t headed for the hills because you do. So unless you DO want what he THINKS he wants with this girl — and clearly SHE doesn’t want it now — then why are you sad?”

Ouch. Talk about food for thought and a banquet of oh boy, oh boys . . . “I don’t know,” is all I could put on the table.

“Well you gotta figure out. ‘Cause unless you want more, you’ve got it– at least until what you DO want comes along. And by the way, I don’t think it’s him. Because IF it’s the right one, then you are going to want ALL those things you just said you don’t.”

“Doesn’t that make me stupid to still see him? Knowing . . .”

“It goes back to what you want. If this is it – and you have it – then it makes you smart. And seriously . . . looking like he does . . . I don’t blame you. I get it. So until – or unless – ‘better’ comes along . . . ” She shrugged and smiled. “Judith, what do YOU want?”

Indeed. What?

I want what many single women want. And not just women newly single or those whose D.O.B predates Disco by decades. Nowadays, and in greater numbers, women are choosing freedom and independence over relationships with men. For example, last year in Australia, fewer women got married and more got divorced than has ever occurred there before. Experts who apparently study this sociological stuff, say women in their 20s and 30s are focused on fun and friendships and are not ready for love, while older women just prefer to be responsible for their own lives and happiness.

I’ll buy that. But let’s talk specifically “older” divorced women — because that’s my demographic (and it’s my blog). Factor in the facts that the dating scene for us sucks, that we have the means and ability to be self-sufficient in ways that didn’t exist 30 years ago, the stigma of divorce has greatly diminished AND it’s ok to have sex without marrying and BINGO! Ding Ding Ding. We have a winner! Marriage — or remarriage — just ain’t the end-goal it once was. And I, for one, am doing my damnedest to dispel the stereotype of the lonely, miserable spinster who will grow old alone and die with a herd of cats that will eat off her face.

So let’s talk more about this (my) group, a.k.a OWOOMs (older women opting out of marriage) The truth is (remember, according to the experts), women today, in general and of my age in particular, are far less likely — or willing — to suffer unhappiness in an unhappy marriage. Moreover, OWOOMs are happy single — as long as “single” was not forced upon them. (And even then, we cope better than men because we network). But living life solo isn’t just a happier choice for some — it’s a healthier one. At least, according to a 2013 study of nearly 80,000 post-menopausal women in 40 places across the U.S. Between the ages of 50-79, they were followed over a 3 year period as they stayed unmarried or married, got divorced or separated, got remarried or “entered into relationships that were like marriage.” Only women who became widows were excluded from the results which have been published and referenced in rather reputable places, including The Journal of Women’s Health and Psychology Today. Here are the findings released in 2017:

  • For those who were unmarried and then got married: their BMI, level of drinking and systolic blood pressure went up.
  • For those who were married and got divorced or separated: their BMI, waist circumference, and diastolic blood pressure all went down, while their healthy eating habits and level of physical activity went up.

Interesting, eh? That women overall became healthier when divorcing or separating from their husbands?

So . . . happy and healthier . . . with her own place, own money, own life . . . what’s not to like? And here’s another interesting fact based upon a 2014 Australian survey of 3500 single participants: 76% of the women reported being satisfied with their single lives, as opposed to 67% of the men. And now a final contributing factor for some choosing to be single instead of married in older age . . . We fucking live longer! As a rule. So where’s the mystery that many of us don’t jump at marrying a new man? I figure the inner dialogue goes something like this: “Why should I reorganize my whole life to accommodate a new man when chances are pretty damn good he’s going to die on me in a few years? And if he gets sick first — and seeing as I have way more assets than he does — where’s the upside of linking myself to him legally and sacrificing my own future financial well-being ?”

Harsh, right? But it’s reality. And so maybe we deal ala a favorite movie of mine, Heartbreak (no pun intended) Ridge . . . We improvise. We adapt. We overcome. And yes, we cherry-pick. We select what we want and take only the best parts of a relationship:

√ the physical connection with someone who offers human touch and intimacy

√ the emotional connection that allows vulnerabilty and the sharing of happiness, sadness, hopes, dreams, experiences and honest conversation

√ the fun and comfort of just being with someone you just enjoy being with

Yep. Check. Check. And check. And guilty as charged.

Ergo, as a self-confessed perpetrator of the crime of cherry-picking, why the eff am I now surprised (or hurt ) to discover there are pits? Damn! We’re talking real food for thought now . . .

Sooooooooo . . . about that 28-year-old stone . . . is it time to be logical – and practical? After all, as with any unpalatable matter that somehow comes to get stuck in a woman’s craw . . . let’s be honest. We all know the choice. Spit or swallow. (OMG! Did she just say that?) Yes, I did.

Rejection is a River

In Getting Naked Again psychologist, Ph.D. and author Judith Sills offers some pretty good advice for women 40 and older starting over after divorce, death or being dumped. I believe it’s worth sharing–with a spin. (Metaphors . . . it’s what I do.) You see . . . while I may not be a Ph.D., I do have L.I.F.E. framed on my wall. (It’s hanging next to a B.A. in German and a Reviewers’ Award of Excellence for a romance novel I wrote in 1993. Ok, I’m kidding–about the L.I.F.E. Degree. But the other two not. Them’s I got.) Moreover, prior to my 2016 six month experiment with online dating – chronicled in my humor book I Still Want Fireworks (and available on Amazon hint, hint) – I pretty much managed—over a span of four freaking months—to qualify (in order) on all three of Dr. Sills’ ds. Ergo as a textbook example of, I figure I’m an expert for. Or not. But since it’s my blog, oh well . . .

So . . . here it is, with an assist from Dr. Sills . . . my metaphoric lessons lived and learned—and condensed into a handy-dandy 3 step starting over synopsis:

  1. Rejection. Don’t kid yourself. When you start dating again, it happens. And it hurts! Whether online or off—and even if you really don’t even want the snaggle-toothed, balding, potbellied, dead fish holding loser—being stood up or ghosted or dumped in any way by him still stings! Ladies, rejection is like a river – and it washes away your confidence and erodes your self-esteem. (It also resurrects even long dormant insecurities. But that particular visual doesn’t work with this metaphor. Nevertheless, think of a dam some busy little freakin’ beaver built . . . it slows your mojo flow to a trickle.) In my case, ala online dating, at the three month midpoint I’d had 486 profile views, only 52 email contacts and a scant score of replies that resulted in 1 lousy dinner date. Now I ask you . . . How could any woman in her right mind not feel rejected?
  2. Self-doubt. Being rejected during the dating/starting over process—especially if you were the one dumped or divorced—inevitably leads to the belief that something is wrong with you. And then whoa, Nellie! Suddenly your “toos” (too old, too fat, too needy, too controlling, too whatever) become a side channel that flows right back into Rejection River. Now Reject. Riv. is a churning torrent, raging down Rebuff Mountain to sweep you in self-pity and drown you in doubt. Before you realize it, you are convinced you are undesirable and unworthy of being loved—especially if you were left, dumped or divorced for a better model with obvious upgrades. BTW, even if you divorced him, society has a tendency to still consider you the one lacking. Whether he was an alcoholic, abuser, control freak narcissist or serial cheater . . . it doesn’t matter. YOU walked, so YOU failed to make it work. YOU failed to honor the whole “for better for worse ’til death do us part” promise, and so YOU broke up the family—happy or not. “No wonder no one wants you now!” screams your inner insecure self. FYI, Dr. Sills calls this spate of emotions a “flood.”
  3. Giving up. At some point, however, the feelings faucet turns off. Hot emotion turns to icy indifference. Rejection River has frozen over, and floating floes of ice make navigation a practical impossibility. Indeed, Dr. Sills refers to this as the “freeze.” I call it the “fuck it” phase. No one is ever going to want you—not now, not later, not ever—so what’s the fucking point of trying? You might as well dock your dating boat and hang up your oars. Your paddling days are over. Take up knitting and get a cat. (I love the TV promo I once saw for an upcoming episode of some comedy show. The mom asks her adult daughter, “So, now that I’m undesirable to men, do the cats just show up? Or do I need to go to the shelter and pick some out?” I may have misquoted it, but the essence, humor and truth are certainly there.)

According to Dr. Sills (who I am sure does have a Ph.D. framed on her wall), all of the emotions and reactions relayed above are normal. She calls the whole process “healing.” And healing, she says, “is slow and it does not occur in a straight line.” Healing entails answering a lot of questions, too. For example, what it is that you want now? And what is it that you’ll want later? (See my post or video “Sex vs Intimacy part 1” for more details.) Indeed, you might not know right away. And that is ok. Here is where Dr. Sills believes dating of any form helps, online or off. (Personally, I’m not too sure—but I’ll defer to the real expert, ’cause trust me. My insistence upon fireworks has gotten me nowhere–except burned.) Even if all you learn from the experience is what you don’t want, that’s progress, says Sills. It gets you closer to what you do. (I’ll buy that.) She also talks at length about the need to “relax your requirements,” “check your attitude” and “cut yourself and the guy across the table a break.” She also advocates re-examining one’s objectives, contending that are “different men for different purposes,” whether they be for travel, dinner, conversation or sex. She believes lowering expectations and shifting thinking will put “more fun and less fret” into the dating experience. Her final big piece of advice: “Slow down and resist your urge to hunt for The One” and look instead “for a little while, to date the many,” because “even a lousy date can pay off in several ways.” She lists them on pages 139-140 of her book, if you are interested.

Personally, I’ve spent more time than I ever wanted – or expected – paddling Rejection River. And BTW, Rejection River has another name. Starting out as a lovely, picturesque, seemingly perfect watercourse (no pun intended), it goes by the enticing (and oft deceptive) name of Mr. Right. Unfortunately though, this initially quite enjoyable ride can betray expectations. The current can turn hazardous. And before you know it, you can find yourself headed for a drop-off. Ergo, you need to pay attention to the warning signs beforehand. (Yes. Do as I say, not as I do.) In my case, I sure as hell missed a lot of them. But following the events of two weeks ago (see “Time to Say Goodbye”) . . . yeah, nothing but treacherous rapids ahead. So before I totally wreck my canoe, I gotta dry dock it (no pun intended). I also need to seek out a less challenging stream. Fellow boating enthusiasts do say there’s a less perilous option for my future endeavors. Also heartily recommended by many canoeing experts, including Dr. Sills, I hear tell it’s a rivulet called Mr Right For Right Now. I guess after I patch up my canoe and bandage my bruises, I’ll be looking for it . . . Or not.

About 3 & Me (or Blame it on Barbie?)

I have a thing with the number 3. The Pythagoreans taught it was the first true number. Additionally considered the number of harmony, wisdom and understanding, 3 is also the number of time, of primary colors, of the divine and of magic (i. e. “third time’s the charm”). It is a sacred number in many religions (i.e. the Catholic’s Holy Trinity and the required times under Muslim law a man must say “I divorce thee”). Numerologists say it is the number of good fortune. (FYI, it was used 467 times in the Bible.) Certainly, I’ve always said it was my lucky number. Not that I really believe in the concept—of luck, that is. Save bad. My mother always said if it weren’t for bad luck, she’d have none. I think inherited hers. Her nose, too. (Thanks, Mom. BTW, the boobs . . . really, Mom? Really? Those you gave to my sister?)

But lucky or not . . . the number 3. . . it seems to have a thing with me as well. I have/had . . .

  • 3 sons
  • 3 grandsons
  • 3 houses
  • 3 new cars
  • 3 pure bred Labs
  • 3 mixed breeds
  • 3 published historical romance novels (FYI, The one I didn’t finish . . . it was a planned trilogy.)
  • 3 careers: teacher, author, flight attendant
  • 3 occupations: student, waitress, mother. (Some may say career and occupation are the same thing—but that’s not really the point here.)
  • 3 airlines: America West, US Airways, American
  • 3 bases: PHX, CLT, PHL

Upon contemplation further, I have actually had 3 of a whole lot of things—except husbands. I had only 1 of those. But we were married for 36 years (divisible by 3). I have fallen in love 3 times. And lust . . . yeah, you guessed it . . . 3 times for that, too.

Growing up as a military brat and moving every 3 years, I only wanted to be 3 things when I grew up—a nurse, a nun or a stewardess. In all honesty, however, it was all about the outfits. At 5 or 6 years old, I thought the nurse’s white cap and navy blue cape were the coolest! And I played dress-up and make-believe accordingly. Then we moved. My next school (3rd grade) was a Catholic school—voila! A new fashion fascination with wimples, veils, long black skirts and rosary beads. And I played dress-up and make-believe accordingly. Then we moved (again). By now I was 10 or 11 and far too old for dress-up and make-believe. Until I met the Queen of Dress-up and Make-believe . . . you might know her? Her name is Barbie.

Yes, that Barbie—the fashionista (before it was a word) doll with an anatomically incorrect, impossible to ever achieve body, who warped millions of Baby Boomer girls’ minds as to what the ideal female form should be. Of course, defenders and Mattel (the true Dream House Barbie built) clamor even today to tout her positive points (and they wouldn’t be her plastic boobs). With a thick as a phonebook resume of careers (and coordinating outfits), Barbie has purportedly (according to her propents) inspired and influenced generations of little girls the world over to strive and achieve their dreams as women. It even says so on Barbie’s website: “Leading by example for over 56 years, Barbie has inspired imaginations and encouraged girls on their journey to self-discovery.” And every Thursday they “‘throw back’ to some of the most notable days (you mean outfits, right?) in Barbie history, celebrating the limitless potential of girls everywhere” to “Be Anything With Barbie.” Even Barbie’s creator, Ruth Handler, buys in: “My whole philosophy of Barbie was that, through the doll, the girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.”

Really? I’m pretty sure my only take-away was a to-this-day fetish for high heels. Be that as it may . . . The career out of Barbie’s hundreds that stuck with me through high school, to the point (no pun intended — remember, my sister got ’em) I actually did my senior career research report on it, was stewardess. Yep, you guessed it . . . the outfit. The uniform, hat and silver wings . . . throw in the glamour . . . the travel . . . What was not to love? Answer: The profession’s stringent physical requirements—of which height was a biggie. As I was not, I fell short (about 3 inches worth). And so I moved on to college and eventually to teaching.

Fast forward 40 years (merely a coincidence, I’m sure, that it’s the same amount of time the Israelites wandered the desert) . . . My teaching job had been eliminated and I had 2 sons playing out-of-state college football. I also had a neighbor who worked for Southwest on one side and one who worked for America West on the other. The fact height and weight and age were no longer requirements to fly the friendly skies (sorry, wrong airline), coupled with the lure of free flight benefits to watch my boys play, compelled me forward—right back to my past. (Remember, The Universe is a circle!) Since there was no way in Hell I was going to wear a polo shirt, khaki pants or shorts and tennis shoes, my choice was as clear as Barbie’s Lucite heels.

30 years after the want, I received my silver wings. Actually, they were some weird brushed bronze color, but that’s beside the point. (Again no pun intended. Trust me, save a brief interim in my breast-feeding days, I remain as flat as my momma didn’t give me.) On my 48th birthday, my instructor pinned those bronzeque wings on my less than ample bosom–and a genuine FAA certified flight attendant was born. Barbie would have been proud. Except . . . sometime between her inspiration and my achievement—dammit! B, you won’t believe this! They took away the freakin’ hat!

Time to Say Goodbye

Sunday came through again last week. (FYI, “come through” I’ve learned is Philly-speak for “drop by.”) It was a Wednesday. Ash Wednesday to be specific (And didn’t that turn out to be prophetic??) It all started with his typical “I’m driving down your street . . .” phone call modus operani.  If you’re a regular reader, you know what happened next. (If not, stop now and read “Sex vs Intimacy” parts 1 & 2 and “Seriously? Again?!” before you go any further.)

At some point in our catch-up over the last month conversation, the subject of a young woman he has known for 5 years came up. I know he’s close to her. They were even involved very briefly years ago (or so he’d said). But she’s 28, a single mother of 2 little kids, and he’s 52. Ergo I thought (and he’d led me to believe) it was now a surrogate daughter/friendship/she needed help to get by thing. Curious (ok, suspicious and confused) I asked how they’d met. Through a mutual friend, to whom he no longer speaks, he answered with a laugh. Why? Because he ended up liking her more than the friend who’d introduced them. And then he launched into the spiel I’d heard ad nauseum over the last year:  “She’s beautiful. I love her, her whole family actually . . . the grandmom, her kids . . . they’re like family.” Yeah . . . I’d heard it alllll before. But tonight there was something different in his tone . . . or maybe it was my willingness to keep my head in the sand?  

<!!! ALERT !!!>  Ladies,  DON’T ask a question you DON’T want to hear the answer to!!!

“If you care so much . . . (Insert:  forced casual shrug and desperate attempt to conceal rising emotions.) . . . why don’t you be with her?”

I need to pause for a moment. I deliberated long and hard about this post. Not about writing it. Believe me. I needed to write it! To get it out so I could let it go. But to actually publish it?  The conversation, the details . . . yes, I vowed when I started singleat60 to be honest and candid (and I have been praised for it), but this is incredibly personal–and extremely painful. To broadcast to the literal world (or at least to the 100 countries where this blog is viewed) my private life? Shouldn’t there be a line one doesn’t cross? And besides, there’s nothing humorous here. All the wit and sarcasm on the planet won’t make this post amusing. 

So why do it? I had to ask myself. Does anyone truly care? Does anyone truly need to know? In truth . . . no. No one. And in truth . . . anyone. Anyone who has related to anything I’ve written regarding this relationship. Anyone who has had a chord struck,  an ah-hah moment or a me-too realization. Anyone who has felt kinship, comfort or inspiration in the knowledge: “Damn! I’m not the only one!” And so there it is. My justification for the no ones. And my purpose for the anyones. To read further or not is your choice . . .

I expected a lot of possible answers. Like “Judith, really? It’s not like that. She’s got little kids and I’m not into raising a third family. Look at the age gap! She’s looking to get married and I’m never going down that road again.” Yep, I expected any and all– except what I got.

“Because she’s not ready to be with me.” (Knife) “Yet.” (Stab.) “But I can wait.” (Twist.) “It’ll happen.” (Pull out and plunge in again.)

Blood pouring (metaphorically speaking) I staggered to my feet and headed straight for the scotch.

“Why are you upset?”

“I’m not upset. I’m confused.”

“No, you’re upset. I can tell. You’re slamming shit. And you always say ‘confused’ when you’re upset. I don’t mean to hurt you. I don’t want to hurt you. You know that. Talk to me. Come here. Tell me what’s going on.”

Really, motherf****r! You can’t figure it out?? You’ve just told me you’re in love with another woman. A barely employed, car twice impounded for no driver’s license, check-cashing joint regular, old as your daughter, 28-year-old!

I’ll never know how I sat down again next to him. Almost calm. “I wish I knew what’s wrong with me . .  .” is what I said. (What I meant was “why I had fallen again for the wrong man?” And “why her–and not me?”) Rejection. Rejection. Rejection. The word beat inside me like a drum .  . . the fucking irony, too! The night we’d met, he’d brushed off our 9 year age gap as irrelevant. “Age is just a number,” he’d said. Who knew the fucker’s slide rule went both ways! Talk about your slipstick!!

“There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re beautiful. You’re talented. You see the world. Judith, look at me . . . come here.” He pulled me closer. “You know I love you. You’re a great friend. I trust you. And I do miss you sometimes . . .”

And as if it couldn’t get any worse . . . he kissed me. And then lowered the hammer that smashed my imagined control. “Why do you love me?”

And THERE IT WAS! OUT IN THE OPEN. I had never said it to him, had– in fact– taken great care not to.  “I like you. I care about you. You’re important to me.” Those were the words I’d cautiously used. But NEVER had I uttered that word.  Hell, I’d never admitted it even to myself. And now there it was–the fucking L word outed. Like he’s known all along?

“I don’t know. I wish I didn’t.”

“But you do.”

“Yeah, I do.”

“What do you want from me?”

“To matter.”

“You do.”

Not enough obviously I wanted to scream. Instead I started to cry. And the bastard held me and told me to.

Eventually I stopped and the conversation started again. He backed off his avowal of certainty and gave some half-assed list of all kinds of relationships and how there’s no guarantees and things can change. “Let it go,” he said. “Just go with it. In the moment.”

“You’re hedging your bets. Keeping the door cracked. Men always do. They never truly leave.”

“Men leave,” he retorted, his voice and eyes suddenly like ice. “If I fucking leave, you’ll know it.”

What I knew was that it was over.

In last week’s post I wrote about reconnecting with an ex. How no one and no thing can tell you to move on until YOU are ready.  And so my advice comes now back to haunt me:  Take what is to be taken and learn what is to be  . . . (Hells’ freakin’ bells! Would someone please tell the damn Universe to laugh a little quieter? I’m trying to draw a fucking metaphor here!)

A rekindled relationship is not unlike the vase of tulips sitting my table. They are one of my favorite flowers. I love their look–but more, I love the way they make me feel, mostly because of the memories of Europe they hold. But despite all effort, they change from the perfection they were. The flowers open and the stems bend. They actually become more beautiful to me than in their original condition. But still they bend and droop. And wilt. And still, I am able to see beauty and feel enjoyment. In fact, I convince myself the artful wilt and yellowing leaves are flaws to be embraced. (Doesn’t it say something about one’s goodness, if they can see past external defects and still love?) Then the petals drop and the stems are gangly sticks. Only I can still see beauty and worth to keep. My friends see ugly, wilted remnants of what was. They think I’m nuts to hold on to the tulips. (Yes. We’re still talking tulips here.) But I still feel enjoyment and so I want them there. Until the day I don’t. The day I stop seeing the arrangement for what it was and now can’t ignore it for what it is. The day I can no longer overlook the deficits. Too much of what I loved is gone. It’s ugly. It’s dead. It’s time to say goodbye.

But now the table will be empty. Tulips are out of season. Who knows how long until I can find them again? So look for another flower, I tell myself. Or put a freakin’ plastic plant there–or a pile of coasters and a pair of salt and pepper shakers. Whatever. Or not. The truth, I tell myself, is I just got used to it being there–I’ll get used to it being bare. (Now we are no longer talking about tulips.)

Honestly, I cannot tell you why Sunday stayed until Friday. Maybe I was still stubbornly, foolishly looking for enough beauty to keep the arrangement around? But what held up our arrangement–trust and possibility . .  . yeah, tulip stems. Fallen and empty. So all weekend I looked at the tulip petals scattered across my table. And I stoically mourned loss. (Ok, I cried and smoked–but the loss part is true.) Come Monday I knew. There just comes the time . . .

The time to say goodbye. And it hurts. It hurts like hell.

 

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Seriously?? Again?!?

 A note to my readersPlease know none of the events relayed in this post (or any other) are ever invented or distorted for the sake of literary license. Any issues you might have with plausibility and/or believability, please direct to The Universe and its Complaint Department. The window you need is FACT IS STRANGER THAN FICTION. Take a number. (And a lunch.) BTW, I’ll be the short, older brunette waaay ahead of you in line. The one in dark lipstick and high heels—with a long list of grievances. Now on to today’s post . . .

Dear Self,

You are an idiot.

No, not the techno-idiot you freely admit to being (but yes, you are that, too.) No. You are something far worse. Unfamiliar with the unknown is one thing. Unintended mistakes are understandable—and certainly forgivable. But first-hand (and lots of other body parts’) familiarity, aka prior knowledge and past experience—and still you err on the side of NO caution? Girlfriend! Just where in Hades’ closet were you standing when they handed out brains??

Well, ladies, here’s a newsflash! As it turns out, my brain may just be the reason . . . (Yes, I know. That wasn’t the body part I was blaming either . . .) If you are not a regular reader, you might be a mite confused right about now. So here’s a quick get-you-up-to-speed synopsis . . .

Seven months ago, a FWB (who had become more) pretty much Caspered out of my life. Insert: six months, next to no contact & zero sex. Upon my flippantly telling a girlfriend I needed to get laid (given my lengthy bout of unwanted celibacy), The Universe saw fit to recycle a former FB. Insert: one (ok, two) “Wam-bam, thank you ma’am” sessions & one resultant and illuminating realization that inspired a 2-part post (with an accompanying—and very much experimental!—video.) Entitled “Sex vs Intimacy,” its moral is ironically simple . . . sex is not intimacy. And alas! Intimacy is what I realized I want. Naturally, this revelation occurred nearly simultaneously with The Universe deciding it was time to screw with me again. (Pun intended) Insert: laugh track. Because one month (to the freaking day!!) after aforementioned ex-FB reappeared for his one-time (ok, 2-time) purpose, aforementioned former FWB unCaspered himself with a phone call:

“Say, listen, I was driving through the neighborhood, hadn’t seen you in a while, had some free time, I miss talking to you . . .”

(Oh, is talking what we’re calling it now?)

”I didn’t want to just show up.”

“No, it’s fine. I’m home. Did you want to come over?”

“I’m out front.”

And you know what happened. Here’s what you don’t . . . . Five days later, another phone call:

“Hello, Judith. I was around the corner . . .”

And you know what happened. I just wish I did. More specifically, I wish I knew WHY? Which inspired me to find out. And write this . . .  Why do women reconnect with an ex?

So-called relationship experts have come up with a baker’s dozen reasons. Feel free to check off any boxes that might apply. (I did.)

  • Time invested – there’s a history and maybe the relationship does deserve a 2nd chance?
  • Better the Devil you know—especially considering the decidedly lousy dating options out there
  • Rose-colored glasses—time and distance have caused you to remember better than it was
  • Comfort—it’s what you know (always easier than the unknown) and it wasn’t all  bad (or so you convince yourself . . . see above)
  • Fear—yeah, that unknown thing again, PLUS the fear there’s nothing better out there
  • Hope—you think it will be better or you can change him this time. Or you want to believe one or both of you have grown and learned how to better deal with the issues that broke you apart (see circumstances below)
  • Validation—he wants you back
  • Unfinished business—it didn’t run its course and it needs to. Or the break-up was his idea. (Note:  when men leave, they VERY OFTEN don’t truly leave. They come back. When a woman leaves, on the other hand, she’s usually DONE. And FYI, if a couple reunites after he broke it off, chances are quite good the next time they break up, it will be she making the decision.)
  • Loneliness—aka horniness
  • Lack of self-confidence and/or self-love—you don’t have enough of both or either to move on (see fear, validation and loneliness)
  • Circumstances which caused the break-up have changed. Or improved.
  • Belief, realization or acceptance you are better/happier with than without (see hope above)
  • You still care for/about him—BTW, the more you profess to HATE an ex? The better are the chances that you LOVED him. And probably STILL do. (Been there.) FYI, the emotion that signifies truly O.V.E.R. is apathy. (Just saying . . . ‘cause I’ve been there, too.)

Now let’s talk actual science with a trio of actual experts. According to Helen Fisher, a senior research fellow at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute, the brain develops pathways based on learned patterns. Ergo, if you have laid (no pun intended) down “a powerful pattern that this person was your life partner,” Helen says your brain “can retain traces of that circuity, even if you’ve bonded with someone new.” (F**k)  Now to stir the old relationship pot further . . .

As previously discussed in prior posts, sexual connection unleashes the hormones vasopressin and oxytocin, both of which create a sense of closeness—which in turn creates neurological attachment. In other words, the psyche is marked. BTW, if that person was the first, best or most intimate you’ve had BINGO! The mark is more indelible. (Double f**k) Larry Young, a psychiatry professor at Emory University, gets more scientific specific: “Oxytocin unleashes a network of brain activity that amplifies visual clues, odors and sounds—hence they become soft-wired into your reward system and pleasure sensors.” The way Larry puts it, because seeing an ex “reignites prior encoding,” your brain will “light up the same way a cocaine addict’s does before a hit. [Therefore] it is psychologically intoxicating to reunite with an ex love/former flame.”  However, there is hope . . .

According to Justin Garcia, associate director of research and education at Kinsey, all this neither means you still want to be with your ex, nor that there’s something wrong with you. (Whew!) “It means,” Justin says, “there’s a complex physiology associated with romantic attachments that probably stays with us for most of our lives.” (Triple f**k) BTW, here’s a couple not so fun facts:

  1. Research has shown that an unrewarding rebound relationship can actually cause a person to feel more attached to their ex. (Ragu, anyone?)
  2. A rebound lasts only if it is better than the relationship it replaced. (Yep. Definitely. Ragu.)

So here’s my take-away from all of this . . . If you have taken up again with an ex . . . oh, well. And so what? No judgment here. (I can hardly recommend “do as I say—not as I did!”) But here is a recommendation: (Lists . . . it’s what I do.)

  1. Take a look again at that list of 13 reasons.
  2. Be as honest as you can with yourself.
  3. Then take what is to be taken.
  4. Learn what is to be learned. Both positive and negative!

Now here’s the part no one usually tells you. UNTIL you are ready, NOTHING is going to change your behavior, how you feel or enable you to move on. Not telling yourself how stupid you are. Not logic, not guilt. Not friends’ admonitions and concerns. Not all the cutesy, clever memes on Facebook that tell you Be a priority—not an option, an after-thought or a backup plan. The simple, ugly truth is, UNTIL YOU ARE READY, moving on is not going to happen.

But when that time does come . . .

  1. Want what he showed you you do.
  2. Avoid what he showed you you must.
  3. Then, eventually, you will love as he showed you you could. The Universe willing.*

*Or at least too busy with some expletive-spouting broad with a laundry list of complaints who’s demanding to see the Being in charge . . .

Five Stars! My first review…

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers’ Favorite

I Still Want Fireworks: A Single-at-60’s Odyssey Through Life, Love & Online Dating by Judith Hill is a compelling memoir that takes readers on a rollicking ride down the path of online dating with the author, a well-published fiction writer. It all starts as a joke and the protagonist convinces herself that this could be the path of inspiration for her next book, a how-to for online dating. But it isn’t long before she is pulled into a dizzying world where the line between reality and fantasy blurs. Follow her adventures as she meets and dates guys she finds online and as her mindset shifts. Question is:  Can she really meet in real life the men who are what they pretend to be in virtual space?

Judith Hill’s book is packed with wisdom and insight, powerful lessons from the experiences of a woman who once hungered for love—perhaps desperately. I have read many stories about online dating, but haven’t read anything as exciting as I Still Want Fireworks, even close to it. And readers will love how the author weaves the themes of romance, online dating, online security, fraud, and a lot more into this memoir. What does it really feel like to be single at sixty? The author’s reply will surprise readers and make them change the way they look at relationships. The story is written in a very enjoyable tone and it is very engaging. Fast-paced and injected with a rare sense of humor, this book will keep you up all night.

Contact Judith at judithhill767@gmail.com 

I Still Want Fireworks

Judith Hill’s 5-star humor memoir. Shipping to US addresses included.

$12.99

Sex vs Intimacy (part 2)

If you have not viewed the vlog from last week or read the subsequently published post, you may be a little lost . . . so here’s a quick TMI recap: Last month The Universe decided it was time to end my (at that time) 6 month dry spell. And in the process I took another step along this journey I’ve been on 4+ years now. However, unlike Dorothy’s yellow brick road to Oz, my path to self-discovery appears to be paved with rough and uneven stepping stones, each sandblasted with the words LIFE LESSON in big bold letters. Beneath, in an itty bitty, squint-to-read font, is the actual revelation I’m apparently supposed to “get.” Here’s my latest “got” . . . after sex with a former partner from 2 years ago, I learned that all sex is not the same. In fact, it’s layered like f**king filo dough with carnal lust, physical attraction, shared desire, mutual affection, comfortable familiarity, emotional connection and even romantic love, encrusted with validation, excitement, danger, adventure . . . each and all paper thin layers of difference and distinction. Who knew? (Not I. Obviously.) LIFE LESSON #1

I often write The Universe is a circle that turns on itself. (It’s why the past comes back to bite you in the ass!) But more than a self-returning spiral with a bent toward irony, The Universe also possesses a similarly twisted sense of humor. For example, in I STILL WANT FIREWORKS (p. 35), I wrote about how much I recoiled at the use of the word “cuddle” in men’s online dating profiles. Reading it made me cringe every time! I figured the guy couldn’t much get it up sans blue pill, and so was subliminally looking for a woman not much into the actual act anymore anyway. And they are out there. Trust me. (No judgment. Just saying.) The fact that, according to a May 2016 New York Post article, the appearance of “cuddle” in a male profile actually generated 48% fewer responses than a comparable profile omitting the word, only reinforced my revulsion. Yep, I hated the word and mocked the need for the deed. Hold that thought.

In the video and blog last week, I talked about how each woman has to decide what she wants. I had decided for me it wasn’t a relationship. I simply had a void that needed to be filled. I wanted to feel wanted and desired by a man I felt fireworks with. An occasional encounter with an explosion of excitement, no more. A knee-jerk reaction to a 36 year marriage of nothing but routine and repetition? Probably. Regardless, I was of the opinion a constant routine smothers and kills the excitement I wanted. Ya know the adage: familiarity breeds contempt? Where’s the thrill in all the time? Repetition destroys rare. Routine ruins romance. Moreover, I didn’t want to learn him well enough to see his flaws. I wanted just to take it as it came—without expectation. (No expectation, no disappointment.) I didn’t want happily ever after. I wanted happy in the moment, an only “here and now” thing without ties. Such would leave my walls intact and my heart protected. In short, I wanted casual sex, aka a fuck buddy.

I met exactly what I thought I wanted on the night of my 60th birthday (See Chapter 28 in I STILL WANT FIREWORKS. I still think it’s a great “meet” story.) But fast forward 8 or 9 months . . . and my birthday bar hook-up had gone from simple fuck buddy to complicated FWB. (Yep. Woman plans and The Universe laughs.) One night we were sitting on my couch. It was late, past 11. He had stopped by after work so we could discuss his going to Europe with me. As was quite usual, he set my legs over his lap as we talked flight times, airport codes, passports and dollar/Euro exchange . . . Eventually we touched, maybe kissed. I curled up very naturally next to him, my head on his chest. Just as naturally he put his arm around me.

“You’re cuddling,” he said into my hair, “typical woman . . . they all want to cuddle.” I laughed and snuggled closer, content as hell. “You know . . .” he said, continuing, “I haven’t done this since my second ex-wife. I don’t do it. I aaavoid it.His tone was adamant (as if having stressed and stretched out the word wasn’t clear enough?). Of course, I immediately sat up. “Ok. Sorry,” I said with a forced shrug of feigned indifference. He drew me back. “Nah, it’s all good.” We kissed. Then he spoke again. “I told myself before I came, it wasn’t going to go to sex. I wanted to talk about this trip.” “Ok, so it won’t,” I responded, “let’s talk about the trip.” He laughed. “Nah, we covered it.” And so it went—where he’d told himself it wouldn’t—‘cause it’s what we did. Then we talked—until 3—‘cause it’s what we did, too. (Of course, being a woman, I took the whole exchange to mean more than it obviously did—given the ultimate outcome 3 months later.)

Now let’s put together paragraph 3’s theme of “in the moment without ties” and paragraph 4’s four hour cuddling couch conversation with an interlude of intercourse. . . What we have (besides The Universe snickering its cosmic ass off?) is sex in the first instance and intimacy in the second. Ladies . . . newsflash! They are NOT one in the same! Who knew? (Not I. Obviously.) LIFE LESSON #2. Side note: The last vlog and post named 4 different kinds of intimacy as per experts’ definition. For simplicity’s sake—and the point of this post—I’m going to discuss only 2—but I’m going to call them sex and intimacy. Period.

Sex—even great sex—is not intimacy. And intimacy—true intimacy—is not sexual at all. Even though the term is often used to indicate a couple is in a sexual relationship, it’s a misnomer. Sex is a biological act of physical pleasure wherein you put yourself and your wants and/or needs and well-being first. Intimacy, on the other hand, will cause you to put the other’s first. Here’s an easy memory trick: Sex is the sharing of parts—intimacy is an involvement of hearts. According to a 2013 Psychology Today article, intimacy is a deep and shared closeness that requires a high level of transparency and openness—not physical contact. “The most intimate moments,” say the article’s author, Barton Goldsmith, PhD, “are those that happen outside the bedroom.” Of ALL things (!), The Good Men Project concurred in 2016: “There are countless ways to be intimate, and most of them aren’t sexual.” Who knew? (Not I. Obviously.)

Intimacy is the comfort, affection and familiarity between two people that forms only through the passage of time and communication and mutual desire. (Insert now the sound of The Universe again chuckling, ‘cause I always believed familiarity bred contempt—or at least boredom.) Intimacy is trust and vulnerability. It’s letting down barriers, allowing another person into our most personal spaces and private of places. (I’m not talking moist holes. Remember: sex is parts and intimacy hearts.) It’s a man who has seen me without contacts, without make-up, without boundaries, naked in every light—and sense—from every vantage and aspect. (Definitely, vulnerability! ‘Cause this girl doesn’t leave the freakin’ house without make-up!) It’s a man who has allowed himself to cry in front of me. (Trust me. For a man of my generation—especially blue collar—that’s huge!) And there’s more . . .

Intimacy is knowing small details most wouldn’t think to matter and intuiting huge insights few have ever gotten. For example . . . My knowing of his obsession with cayenne pepper and intense dislike of ATM fees—and bras. And his knowing my need to analyze and control is a manifestation of fear, especially of rejection. It’s shared miniscule moments—not big bangs. (That would be sex.) The way he teased me about how badly I flicked a cigarette butt. (Maybe a factor in why I’ve since quit?) It’s shared experiences that become more than memories, but rather shared reference points, touch points. Ties that will forever bind you both in ribbons and layers of knowing and understanding. It’s the genuine joy of being in the other’s company that supplants the need or want for external diversion. Indeed, we could spent 48 hours straight together—and not ever leave the house or turn on the TV. Never was I happier. Another memory trick? Sex is about the g-spot. Intimacy the sweet spot.

If you’re not quite sure yet the difference . . . each of the details I revealed above—personal, private, boring, meaningless to an outsider details—those are the hallmarks, the telltale signs of sex that traversed into intimacy. You will note, however, I have omitted (quite intentionally!) the L-word. For I believe (until The Universe decides to school me differently) that the L-word is yet another form or type of intimacy . . . another layer, if you will . . . remember . . . filo dough.

At the risk of another food analogy . . . sex is microwaving a jar of spaghetti sauce (take the lid off first!). Quick to prepare, satisfies the hunger and it usually tastes pretty good. Intimacy is a slow simmer all-day Sunday Sauce (or “gravy,” depending on your Italian roots). It takes time for the flavors to truly emerge, develop and blend. To do it really right, you add by degrees and in stages—it all just doesn’t get dumped in the pot at once. And once you’ve had the real deal, you find it difficult—if not impossible—to go back to a jar of Ragu.

So back to the story that started this 2-part post . . .

Rob was Ragu.

But Sunday wasn’t coming back. Not after 7 months. To this day the red Victoria Secret bra he yanked off is still missing a hook, so that I have to fasten it at a looser fit. But I don’t throw it away. I’m not ready to buy a replacement. Just as I realized last month I’m not ready for emotional intimacy with another man. I don’t want him holding me, staying the night or calling me “Babe.” My heart hasn’t healed. Yet. But my other parts? They thought I needed to move on and make do. So I did. And by doing so, I learned LIFE LESSON #3. In the difference between sex and intimacy, there’s no substituting. Fuck! Who knew? (Yeah, not I. Obviously.)

So in keeping–and concluding with my marinara metaphor—clearly I need to find a new recipe. It will take experimentation, trial and error. Realistically, a bad batch or two (or three or more) is bound to occur. But I’ll take it slow. Especially since I know now the ingredients that work to my taste. I’ll find the right balance. Or not. But knowing what I want (and don’t) is a really good start. Moreover, in 7 months my tastes may have even changed . . . Less cayenne? Or maybe a little more thyme this time?

Postscript: Before I could finish and post this post . . . the circle . . . yeah, it turned again. Care to guess who–without warning—showed up at my door? Fuck! (That would be a yes.) BTW, it was a Wednesday . . . Damn! Yep. (And THAT, ladies, would be the roar of laughter.)

26KITCHEN1-superJumbo

If you want to learn more or read the above mentioned passages, ISWF is available in Kindle ($3.99) and in paperback ($9.99). For a direct link, click on the title below.

I STILL WANT FIREWORKS