Why do they call it “catching feelings?” (Defined as beginning to have romantic feelings for someone, usually unexpectedly–and more often as not without reciprocity.) And while we’re at it…why the hell do they call it “catching a cold?” Doesn’t the word “catch” carry the connotation that you are actually trying to grab it? Like a ball or a fish or an escapee–or a nap? Seriously! Who wants a cold? Which at least will pass in a few days. Now feelings, on the hand…
You may have seen the following memes on Facebook:
Let’s be friends. Just friends. I’m not ready for a relationship, but I expect you to do things with me considered inappropriate in terms of friendship. We ’re not together, you can’t claim me, you can’t be with anyone but me. I need you to be loyal, but I’ll do what I want, and when you get mad, I’ll tell you we’re not together. If you catch feelings, I’ll become distant. You knew what this was . . . I told you. I am not ready for a relationship.
I’m thinking whoever wrote this is seeing Sunday, too. Or his brother. Or maybe it’s just today’s whole damn generation of men? Especially older men. Yep. Welcome to dating 2018, ladies. And I’m here to tell you . . . IT SUCKS!
So, here’s my take after nearly two years with a card-carrying member of the “I’m not ready for a relationship” branch of the AEUP (Association of Emotionally Unavailable Pricks): We women are coats. Slip ‘em on, slip ‘em off. Like jackets stored in his closet, we are numbers stored in his phone. Oh, sure, we may vary slightly from one another . . . there’s the fleece, the leather, the wool, the down . . . But when it’s all said and done, don’t all serve the same function? To wrap him in warmth when he decides or determines it’s appropriate. And make no mistake. Like coats, we all are equally accessible. Metaphorically hanging within a hand’s quick reach, we are at a finger’s touch tap there for him. Ready choices to call up. The possible and the proven. The tried and true. All available. We are all options. Mere selections awaiting his pleasure as circumstances warrants. BTW, there are three–circumstances, that is. They are called WANT, NEED and NECESSITY. And for each there is a coat.
The first is the “go-to.” A most fitting label—as it’s a word used to denote a person or thing that is relied on or regularly sought out. As far as coats now . . . it’s the one he’s always seen wearing. The one that hangs front and center in his closet—if not by its lonesome on a hook somewhere. This coat is his bar none favorite. Hell, this one might even be his one and only! (I’ve heard tell there are men like that—who devote themselves to a single one.) This is the coat he never hesitates to pluck from the closet and don—even if there are others hanging beside it. This is his beloved. His preferred. His chosen. And because he loves this coat, he sees no reason to change his choice. Even the option to buy a new one, doesn’t really interest him. Not that he won’t occasionally look at the new season’s offerings, mind you. He’s still a man after all. So in the store he might even gander at the price tags or take one off the rack and try it on. But at the end of the day, new is not worth the price. And truth be told, he doesn’t want a replacement. He’s loyal (and yes, even committed) to his old—even if it doesn’t have all its buttons any more. This coat is comfortable, ‘cause after years of use, it molds to his body like a second skin. And so what if the zipper occasionally sticks? Ladies, this is the WANT coat.
Then there’s the “if” option that hangs in most men’s closets. This is the coat he likes well enough. Or even a lot. Certainly, it fits well. People might even tell him how good it looks on him. But for whatever reason, it’s not enough to be his WANT coat. He doesn’t have the attachment to it. Should he lose it, it’s easily replaced. Nevertheless, as long as he has it, he keeps it handy. Somewhere, if not front and center, it’s at least in the middle of his closet. And why not? It’s good for occasional wear and perfect for a specific situation. Less worn, less comfortable, it’s nonetheless a “go-to” in a manner of speaking. ‘Cause it’s a familiar—therefore desired option— if . . . If the occasion calls, the mood strikes, desire arises, time allows or (and here’s the defining factor!) if the need arises. Otherwise he’s good and not especially wanting. BTW, this coat he is adamant about not calling a favorite, ergo he’ll make damn sure this one never has a “relationship” label sewed in the lining. And yet, if and when he needs it. . . ta da! The NEED coat. BTW, just so you know, he’s more than likely to have several . . .
Finally, there’s the third coat. This is his “just in case” choice. This is the coat shoved waaaaay in the back of his closet. He knows it’s there, but most of the time gives it no thought. BECAUSE HE KNOWS IT’S THERE. (And if the damn thing falls off the hanger to remind him, he deigns to give it as little attention as required to hang it back up in order to keep it available when necessity demands.) Ahhhh yes, necessity: When the temperature drops, the snow falls or the animals start pairing up . . . THEN it’s suddenly his “go-to.” Reliable, dependable, consistent, unfailing, she’s (oops, Freudian slip . . . I meant “it’s.”) (Or did I?) This coat is always there when it’s necessary. Now here’s a confusing paradox about the “just in case” coat . . . it can become the “go-to.” (Wait! Are we still talking about coats? Yes and no. ‘Cause a shit storm is like a snow storm.) Sometimes necessity lasts a long, long time, so the “just in case” becomes by default his favorite. The problem is when the weather clears, the “just in case” coat is returned to its “just in case” location. It doesn’t matter that it’s proved its worth or that he wouldn’t have survived without it. It doesn’t stay in the middle of the rod. Ever. Back to the back for this one. The NECESSITY coat. And FYI, here’s an interesting (or not) characteristic of the NECESSITY coat . . . unlike the WANT or NEED, this is the coat he rarely willingly gets rid of.
Now . . . there are two problems with this clever metaphor likening women to coats. #1 Coats don’t care. They don’t have feelings that can get hurt or hearts that can be broken. Coats are unconcerned by their designation. #2 The lines (when we are talking about men and women and not coats) blur. And they blur a lot. (Don’t they always?) The WANT can be the only or the always—or it can simply be the regular. The NEED can be the regular and still be the occasional and only. And the NECESSITY . . . as previously stated, it can move up the rod and become the only, the always or the regular. But if you’re a woman (and not an actual coat) once you’ve moved up . . . yeah, it’s not so easy to go back to the back of his metaphorical closet.
A while back (see “Candy Store”) I said I would figure my own relationship situation out. I have. Kinda. I don’t know for certain I want to be Sunday’s WANT. At times, I do. Because to say I wasn’t in love with this man would be a lie. But frankly, it takes work and effort and time to be a man’s “go-to.” Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes it’s worth it. But honestly, I just don’t know. The fact he says he doesn’t want (yet gives mixed signals like a flagman on crack) hardly helps. Moreover, having been his “go-to” these last couple months has worn thin. Frankly, it was just a whole lot more fun and exciting to be his “if” NEED option. But of late things have changed. Every time I’m put back, it feels like it’s a little further back. And if I’m right, and the bastard intends to stick me under his “just in case” NECESSITY designation . . . Oh, hell to the no! It’s time Sunday did some serious spring (ok, fall) cleaning. He needs to decide. As I have. Keep me center rod or donate me. ‘Cause in this instance, women are exactly like coats. And one man’s trash is another’s treasure.
The problem with tired ole idiomatic expressions is that the damn things are annoyingly true. Take for example that trifling little treasure, “it takes two to tango.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, this is a saying most aptly applied “when you want to emphasize that both people involved in a difficult situation must accept the blame, or that an activity needs two people who are willing to take part for it to happen.” Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion are a decidedly more complex rendition of the same fact:
- Every object will remain at rest [blah blah blah] unless compelled to change [blah blah blah] . . . (Basically, it’s a statement about inertia that says objects will remain in their state of motion unless a force acts to change the motion. Hold that thought.)
- The acceleration of an object is dependent upon two variables—the net force acting upon the object and the mass of the object. (In idiot terminology: the behavior of an object is dependent both upon external force and internal composition. Hold this thought, too.)
- For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. (In other words, when body #1 does something to body #2, body #2 will respond equally in magnitude, but in an opposite direction. Oh, yeah—definitely hold this one!)
So, let’s apply 1-3 above and my earlier tango reference to relationships. Happy, healthy—sure. But especially otherwise. Let’s be real. Good and great don’t need fixing or commiseration. Like a ‘nother lil’ annoyingly true idiom says, it’s misery that wants company—not joy. Nor would (I’m guessing) a blog called singleat60sings.com get nearly 9600 views? That said . . .
Ladies, it takes two to make a relationship. If it’s not what we want, guess what? Tango. We are at equal fault. Newton-wise ala relationships, men are typically the objects at rest. Literally and figuratively and in every meaning of the word, without the compulsion to change, they won’t. Hell! Assuming Isaac had a better grasp of physics than he did flattering hairstyles, they can’t. Not without the exertion of external force and the inner capacity/ability/willingness to do so. Sadly (and all too often), it’s that second factor many a woman (including yours truly) fails to recognize—or accept.
Which brings us now to us. We are always the force that can effect change. Alas, probably not in him however (see Law # 2, re internal composition). But absolutely in the relationship itself. The problem is, we don’t always want to risk the outcome. ‘Cause let’s be real once again. Not all change is good—at least not in the immediate short term. And if ever we women have a tendency to be short-sighted, it’s in choosing the known “here and now” over a far-off and “what if” unknown. It’s a fearful mindset that has kept many a woman from divorcing. (Been there, done that. So trust me, I get it!) Moreover, given the lousy dating options out there, the same reluctance rules our single lives as well. Ours is world of whack jobs—dead fish holding liars, dick pic sending losers, scammers, breadcrumbers, love bombers and texting ghosts. Small wonder, some of us have settled upon less than what we truly want in exchange for what we at least have. Something is always better than nothing. Basic math, right?
I am learning maybe not.
I am learning better “with” than “without” closes the door on ever having “more.” BTW, here’s a newsflash: If you have accepted (by either conscious choice or subconscious decision) it’s “better the devil you know,” you have hereby forfeited the right to complain you’ve got the devil you know. (Ahhhhhh . . . there’s the segue to Sunday and me you’ve no doubt been waiting for. . . )
As a result of recent events and owing to the truth of Law # 3, this a relationship no longer working for me. But loss is the risk of trying to fix, remember? So, here’s my dilemma . . . but not. Not anymore. ‘Cause bad-hair Sir Newton got it right: nothing changes without compelling it. Score one for the physicists, I guess. And BTW, take one from the mathematicians while you’re at it. As it turns out (and who knew?), “less” is not greater than “zero” after all.
Ever walk into one of those huge-ass bulk candy super-stores at the mall or airport? You know the ones—with floor to ceiling acrylic tubes and bins or glass jars jam-packed with candy. Every kind imaginable . . . M&Ms, jelly beans, lollipops, caramels, toffees and taffy, etc. BTW, did you know, there are over 3000 types of bulk candy? Because in these places, it’s all about variety sold by weight—and individual selection. You take a plastic baggie and choose to your predilections. Now keep that visual in mind . . .
Dating, i.e. finding a life partner—or even just a bed one—is not unlike browsing and shopping in that aforementioned candy store. In fact, it’s annoyingly similar. Especially in the virtual reality of online dating. Yep, a literal worldwide web of endless possibilities to pick from. Like candy, not every type is to everyone’s taste. Candy-wise, I personally love black licorice and prefer dark chocolate. I don’t care for white chocolate, don’t like Starburst, and truly hate whatever those “feel the rainbow” ones are. (Or maybe, it’s just their asinine commercials?) Oh! And as a totally immaterial aside . . . you don’t even want to know how the Urban Dictionary defines “feel the rainbow!” Or maybe you do? No judgment. Just saying.
Back to candy. What you like is what you like. Whether in regards to taste (cinnamon, peppermint, sweet, sour, fruit-flavored) or type (chewy, powdered, wax, soft, gooey center, hard, rock, the kind you suck . . .). And yes, I’m still talking about candy. We all have our preferences, be they flexible fondnesses, absolute likes or non-negotiable dislikes.
Now let’s talk about men. What you like—or are attracted to physically, emotionally or even spiritually, is also a matter of personal taste. Whether tall, dark, blond, six-pack abbed, wiry built, tatted up or clean-cut . . . whatever. It’s what you like. Your preference. Mine (if you’re interested) has long been dark-haired, usually bearded and exotic. At least until I met a near shave-headed strawberry blond. WTF! But que sera. Laughing its cosmic ass off, the freakin’ Universe saw some fucking need to sneak a white chocolate kiss into my usual bag of 85% cocoa-covered truffles. But I digress . . .
Physical appearance is only the start point. In picking a partner, we also pick and choose desired attributes and qualities. If we are on a second time around (or more), we’re also prone to pick the opposite of what we had. POS ex was a type A, workaholic with a lousy temper? Well then, Bill the Chill looks extra mighty fine in comparison. And if Larry, former boyfriend (with an emphasis on boy), was a lazy loser? Well, come on down, goal-oriented and driven to succeed Dan the Man! You get my drift.
Ergo, whether online or off, dating and/or starting over is like standing in a mega-store candy store. They give you a plastic baggie with a “fill-to” line and a weight maximum. Yeah, sorry. But in this store, it’s not all you can eat—or pay for. ‘Cause in life, you don’t get to have it all. You have to weigh options and make choices. Hopefully, smart ones. So, ladies, here’s your metaphorical baggie and an allegoric scoop. Pick what you want in the quantity you want (up to the line and weight max they gave you.) You may change your mind (often) before you decide upon the “just right” mix for you. In fact, I’d be surprised if you don’t vacillate at least a little. And FYI, it likely will take more time than you’d like. But patience, ladies. It takes as long as it takes.
Unfortunately, however, in our microwave/high speed data/instant gratification world, a lot of us have lost the ability to be patient. Spoiler alert! Some things just don’t happen on demand, neither can they be hurried. In fact, if you try, you’ll fuck it up. But we’re human (ergo, flawed.) We want it all now! We regard time as an adversary, an enemy to harness and control, if not conquer. Setting a long-term goal and then working toward it by putting in the hours and “paying” one’s “dues” are concepts pretty foreign to most millennials in the workplace. Sadly this impatience has spilled over into our personal lives. When did forming a relationship acquire a timeline and falling in love a countdown clock? Yet I have seen countless Facebook posts by women of all ages asking “how long?”
- How long before it’s ok to sleep with him?
- How long should we be emailing before we meet face-to-face?
- How long is normal to go between texts once we’ve been texting for a couple weeks?
- How long before I can expect him to call or at least text daily?
- How long should I stay with him if he’s not committing?
STOP! Repeat after me. It takes as long as it takes. And BTW, I have to go on record. There is a profound difference between “smitten” and “smothered.” Ladies, sometimes less is more, and quality matters oh so much more than quantity. Or maybe it’s just me? But if you are talking on the phone every day, what in God’s name do you have to talk about in person? To me it sounds like a recipe for boredom—if not an express ticket to over-before-you-know-it. But then again, I’m writing a blog called “single” at 60. So what the fuck do I know?
Now, assuming you are either: A.) not offended or B.) still reading, let’s turn focus to men in that selfsame aforementioned candy store. And was there EVER a better analogy for males online dating!? But it’s offline, too. Nature of the beast, I’m afraid. And an inherited gift from their ur-ur-ur-ur-grandfathers. They are primordially programmed to want to share the wealth. Don’t blame me. I’m just the messenger. Evolution and “survival of the species” necessity are at fault for their “don’t put their seed in only one basket” proclivity. And here’s another spoiler alert! Monogamy is not in their hard-wiring. Therefore, “less is more” just ain’t a connate concept in Don Juan’s wheelhouse. Moreover, “more” is often not enough.
So with all that in mind . . . picture if you will, today’s single male. There he stands in life’s candy mega-store with his little plastic baggie, pondering an abundance of choices. And let’s not kid ourselves, ladies. First on his list of wants? Sexual chemistry and physical attraction (NOT the same!). Then comes all the rest . . . secondary considerations and tertiary traits, such as kindness, open-mindedness, generosity, intelligence, emotional or financial stability, etc. I figure his inner thought process goes something like this . . .
- Can I trust her?
- Is she fun?
- Can she cook?
- How much baggage does she have?
- Does she have a past I can’t accept?
- Is she too clingy? Too independent? Self-absorbed or opinionated?
- Do I like her? (NOT the same as love)
- Is she the type to stand by me if things go to shit?
- Do I miss being with her when I’m not?
Ladies, he’s got to figure it out for himself. What—if anything—he decides is important beyond sex. It doesn’t matter one damn bit-o-honey if you’re Good & Plenty, when mr.Goodbar wants Reese’s Pieces and Almond Joy. So, do try to take it less personally if you don’t make it into his goodie bag. (Yes, do as I say . . .) And trust me. It’s going to take him time to decide. Especially if he’s on his 2nd or 3rd or more go-around. If he’s been hurt or burned, his heart is guarded like a literal 100 Grand Pay Day. He’s not risking it—at least not willingly. It’s why some run away or back off—only to show up again. And again. Or at least, so we might like to think or hope? But remember, hope has a dark side. We women will rationalize the hell out of something if it’s what we want. Or maybe that’s just me? Whatever. My article, my contention.
But the hard truth is, he’s in no hurry to settle on a selection. He knows the store stays open a whole lot longer for his gender than it does for ours. Remember, too, man is a trial and error learner. He’s not only apt to try it out and spit it out—he’ll prefer to do so. It’s in his DNA. Women, on the other hand . . . yeah. We will just buy the damn nutty nougat and take it home. Even if we don’t like it, a lot of us won’t discard it. We don’t want to hurt its feelings. (Not that a gob of caramel has feelings, mind you. It’s a metaphor.)
Here’s my thinking, at least in regard to my circumstance. It’s an unconventional perspective, I’ll admit. But again, it’s my circumstance—and my article . . . in contrast comes clarity. So, go right ahead, Oh Henry Oh Henry . . . Look at the choices. Line up your favorites. Sample away if you want or need. Unless you taste-test all the chocolate options, white, milk, and bitter sweet, side-by-side, I guess you can’t be sure? Metaphorically speaking—’cause I’m not indulging your ass in any ménage-a-trois or more. Yours truly is strictly a one man/one woman woman. No judgment. Just saying. Eventually—or not—you’ll figure it out. So will I.
And besides . . . who’s to say what might happen should The Universe suddenly slip into my mix an 85% cacao ganache-centered, hazelnut-coated truffle? Metaphorically speaking . . .
With apologies to Dr. Seuss…
Oh Mirror, Mirror on the wall …
this can’t be fucking right at all!
Yes, the who I see in there is me.
Yet can this be – that I see three?
The one is me – there on the right.
But left’s a fright I do not like!
And center she, the middle one …
Oh, woe is me! She is me Mum!
There is something wrong with my mirror. There’s an old woman inside it. I don’t know who she is. But the bitch needs to go! The odd thing is . . . sometimes she does. She disappears, and all’s right with my world — ’cause I know the countenance there. Yet sometimes when she vanishes, there’s a worse version of her staring back at me. What the Hell! It’s like a fun house mirror–without the fun!
Now upon further contemplation and reflection (no pun intended), the problem may be that it is a 3-sided mirror. 3 sides = 3 images. Voila! Mystery solved. Or not? Because the issue of who the woman is remains. But really . . . not. As much as it pains me to admit it (and believe me, IT DOES!) . . . the who in there is me. Yep . . . the 3 faces of me . . . but are any of the three I see the real me?
I KNOW the image on the right is not right. She’s the image of how I still feel. Sassy, sexy, flirty, fun. Granted, I’m not quite sure what age this woman is–but it sure as fuck is NOT “senior citizen!” Alas, reality and my driver’s license say different–and my middle mirror reflects the same. Inasmuch as “inside” me might feel unchanged by time, “outside” me didn’t get the memo. BTW, I’ve read this “unchanged by time” version is the one a woman’s long-time lover still sees. Really?! (Well, they do say love is blind . . .) Still, I wouldn’t know how love’s prism works. I don’t have one of those, nor a “long-time” lover. My long-timers are all males filed under “family.” Certainly, my adult sons don’t comment on my sexual allure, nor my appearance in general–except to occasionally say, “You’re still hot for your age.” Question: Does anyone else hate that expression “for your age?” My father used to call such compliments “shit-filled Twinkies.” But I digress . . .
As far as the other males in my life who profess to love me, aka my grandsons . . . yeah, no filter of any sort there! “Baba, how come you’re old?” is not exactly what one might call a “viewed through the eyes of love” affirmation. Happily, however (misery loves company, you know), I am not alone. A Facebook friend in Australia, Jan Clifton, tells this story . . . “I walked in from work and my grandson said, “Hi, Grandma, my bunny died today, he was old like you.” From the mouths of babes . . . ouch. (FYI, in addition to her fabulous accent and a kick-ass sense of style, Jan has a wonderful Facebook site for mature women very appropriately called “Doing Curves in Style.” She talks fashion tips, best looks for different body types, budget styling and much more. Check her out.)
So back to me and my multiple mes. Mirror #1 reflects the remembered vision version of me. She is NOT the 61-year-old who stares back from the center pane. Nope. Ms. In-the-Middle is bags and sags, age spots, wrinkles, a thinning hairline . . . and what the fuck! Is that seriously a half-inch hair on her chinny-chin double-ass chin?? Damn! And lord, if she doesn’t look familiar . . . oh, wait! I know! She’s my mother! Now how the eff did THAT happen? But as depressing as middle me can be, she’s Miss freakin’ America compared to the hag on the left.
And oh yeah, she on the left . . . she’s me alright and it’s NOT alright! She’s the me I see reflected through the eyes of rejection. Ala the blind-date who said I “wasn’t exactly thin below the waist”. . . the bar encounter who told me I was fascinating to talk to, but he “only dates young and beautiful women” . . . the 40-year-old I actually did date–who dumped me for a 21-year-old . . . and the 53-year-old I’m still “seeing” who confessed to being in love with a 28-year-old (don’t ask!). Talk about ouch! (Betcha can’t beat THAT one, Jan!) We’re talking rejection on a whole ‘nother pane–I mean plane. And leave it to the psychologists to attach a label to it . . .
Seeing ourselves in another’s devaluing light is called “projection through rejection.” A 2013 Psychology Today article explains it so: “Projections of others become absorbed becoming introjections, [in other word} how we come to define ourselves.” For example, the woman “teased” by her husband for the 20 lbs of baby weight she hasn’t lost will not fail to see herself as “fat.” In fact, any physical “flaw” pointed out by others or perceived by ourselves can become a fixation, not only in ourselves, but in others. Even an oops, not meant as an insult, but just slipped out, offhanded comment such as ” I never noticed before you’re a bit bow-legged” can leave an indelible impression. And trust me, that woman will for the rest of her days look at other women’s legs. BTW, I never noticed other women’s eyebrows–til I lost mine.
According to the experts, it is when the balance of self-perception and reflected self-perception shifts more toward the reflected that the real damage begins to occur. “The more we allow others to dictate our self-perception and undermine our sense of self,” says life coach and certified counselor Michael Formica, “the more power we give away. In the extreme, [this] begins to chip away at our self-esteem and ego integrity.” It’s a level of dysfunction, he says, “often reflected in dynamics like codependency and boundary issues.” “The key,” Michael says, “to maintaining the balance between self-perception and reflected self-perception is pretty simple. Don’t take it personally.” Easier said than done, Mike! (And try telling that to an acquaintance of mine who was online dating. She arranged a face-to-face with a man she’d been corresponding with for weeks. She was walking on air, thinking the date had gone really, really well–until she received a text message mere minutes after they parted. Stylish and very attractive, she may not be a perfect “10” (NO ONE IS!), but she is by no means the deficit “3” she now sees in the mirror–thanks to this asshole’s “sorry, but you’re just not pretty enough for me to date” post-date text.)
Make no mistake, rejection impacts–and it hurts. According to PhD Gary Winch, it’s a neurological fact. Studies using MRIs have shown that the same areas of the brain are activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. Yes, OUCH! Moreover, questioning yourself is an automatic reaction to rejection in general. Now confidence and self-esteem both take a hit.
But in no aspect of our lives is projection through rejection stronger than in romantic rejection. Typically, we women respond to it by finding the fault in ourselves. We are not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, fun enough, blah blah. And bullshit! We have somehow certainly missed learning it–but the fact of the matter is this: When you get right down to it, most romantic rejection is simply a matter of poor fit, i.e. lack of chemistry or faulty dynamics wherein both don’t want the same thing at the same time. But that’s not how we women see it–or process it. (And trust me. I’m not only at the head of the “I’m Not Enough” blame line, I’ve arranged a permanent place-holder!)
The very worst part of all of this is the picture of how we see ourselves as reflected in other’s eyes can become our reality. It’s all related to the tendency in our human nature make-up to focus on the negative. We don’t think about all the things we’ve done right, but instead dwell on what we did wrong. And believe you me (and the experts). How we see ourselves has major ramifications! It impacts our happiness, our behavior toward others and even our professional success. It’s a circle, sometimes vicious: How others see us is how we see ourselves, and how we see ourselves is how others view us. And around and around and around we go . . .
Now here’s a rather interestingly related aside…. Ladies, would it surprise you to know women rate their own looks lower than strangers do? In 2013 Dove (the soap) ran an ad. It was based upon an experiment wherein Gil Zamora, a FBI forensic artist, sketched women based solely upon the way they described themselves. He then repeated the process, drawing portraits of the same women as others described them. It’s important to note the strangers spent time together, getting acquainted. This interaction hence engendered specifics for the artist, such one woman’s great cheekbones, another’s fabulous hair, a third’s beautiful smile and still another’s mesmerizing eyes . . . you get my drift. When later placed side by side the stranger-described, the self- described portraits were without fail the less attractive. Dove took these results and ran with the tagline: We are all more beautiful than we think.” If you are curious, there is a video online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk
Most of us would agree confidence comes from within. But so, too, beauty. A case in point . . . Cleopatra, arguably one of history’s most famous women and temptresses. Did you know she had a hooked nose and by all contemporary accounts, was not a stunning beauty? And yet history remembers her such. Because by those same contemporary accounts, she was a truly fascinating woman–possessive of an intoxicating sense of style, verve and intelligence–who knew like hell how to play to her strengths. So, except for that unfortunate asp thing, shouldn’t she be an example to emulate? BTW, according to writer Ayesha K. Faines, (“a leading expert on feminine consciousness, sexual politics” and how women acquire and wield power), most of history’s legendary sirens “do not represent the classic ideal of beauty for their day–or any other.” Ms. Faines has actually compiled a list (and yes, Cleo is on it) of 103 of the greatest seductresses of all time. In the accompanying article, she states all were endowed with the same “magic” — their ability “to elevate themselves from the ordinary to the extraordinary.”
So back to mirrors . . . mine, magic and otherwise. Silver-backed glass mirrors weren’t invented until 1835, so Cleo’s would have been polished brass. I’m guessing it wasn’t all that crystal clear of a reflection–which left her latitude for attitude? And they do say beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. So, ladies . . . what say we think brass not glass –and rock some serious Queen of the Nile sass? After all . . . shouldn’t the eye (and the love’s prism) we’re looking through be . . . our own?
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” —Gilda Radnor
I view a lot of things much differently today than I did 40 or 30–or even 10–years ago. Take for example, the matter of “black and white.” As far as I am now concerned, it’s either a classic you can’t go wrong color combo or a clickable photoshop selection. Fabulous as a filter for selfies and hands down the best choice for portrait photographs, B & W fails miserably, however, as a mindset option for life. Shades of gray, ladies, it’s all shades of gray—and open for revision and addition.
After all, there can be neither growth nor improvement without the element of change. Even our venerable Bill of Rights is, in essence, a compilation of changes, clarifications and compromises made to the Constitution in order to get 2/3 of the original 13 states to ratify and implement the damn thing as the law of the land. BTW, those changes are called “amendments.” In the 227 years since I-X’s unanimous ratification, there have been 17 more, with 1992 being the last time this country could agree on anything enough in order to add one. Just saying. (And in case the question should come up on Jeopardy.)
So . . . enough with the soapbox/civics lesson and back to me. (Remember, my blog=my rant.) Over the decades, my “laws” have been amended, too. Rules I was reared to hold as hard and fast have become rather like my thighs and ass (softer and a whole lot less firm). Boxes are boring, and labels have lost luster. Walking the straight and narrow appears a dull path. Push the envelope, break the mold, step outside the box and color outside the lines have become preferable courses of action and chosen avenues of pursuit. Of late, one of my favorite Facebook memes? “Well-behaved women have rarely changed history.” Just saying.
Gilda was right. Life is change. Among the multitude occurring as I’ve gotten older is an unexpected one. I have begun to hear clearly my own inner voice. It speaks not in words, but rather in a powerful sense of knowing that isn’t knowing. It’s a sentient certainty that may defy logic, common sense and even the advice of caring friends—sometimes (and in all honesty) to my detriment. And yet never to my growth. Call it gut instinct, if you will . . . this sounding of my soul. And truth be told, it is neither the only–nor the loudest– voice I hear. That dubious distinction belongs to the voice of reason. A powerful set of pipes on that one! And yet, despite its forceful volume and often strident tones, reason is rarely the voice I heed. I don’t know why. Maybe because life is so much shorter now that risk carries less fear than when I was younger? Or is it because my faith in “all happens to a purpose” has with age become stronger. (Not to mention the fact, that the Universe’s ironclad irony steps in regularly these days to remind me that “meant to be” will be.)
They say with age comes wisdom. I don’t know that is necessarily true. I do know it sure as hell gifts you with something called “perspective.” Defined as a point of view, (meaning by definition one’s view will change depending upon where one stands), it’s a great analogy for life—which is always altered by circumstance. The way I figure, perspective allows once rigid views and hard rules to soften and loosen. And why not? These days everything else has. And BTW, the ads for Crepe Erase . . . they lie. Just saying.
Recently I was asked to contribute to an AARP article. The subject I was supposed to address with my “unique” blend of humor and sarcasm? HOW TO PLEASE AN OLDER MAN. (Apparently singleat60 has become the voice of sex after 60? ♥ Well, alrighty then . . . I’m certainly fine with it—my sons maybe not so much. But I figure it’s payback. There was plenty of shit they did in their teenage years I was less than happy about. Maybe it’s time for Mom to return the favor in her “golden” ones? Yeah, karma’s a bitch.)
So back to the question of how to please an “older” man . . . Here’s my response: You’re kidding, right?! It’s a man. Young or old or in between, they ruminate, operate and culminate the same. Sex is one of only three “boxes” they have. (The other two? sports and work.) Moreover, the formula for male sexual success is a simple equation: anticipation + sensation + stimulation = ejaculation.
Blame Darwin. I’m just the messenger. Caveman Ken didn’t have time for complexity—he had shit to kill. Moreover, evolution didn’t give him a lot of moving parts. Hence, it was in his “survival of the fittest/ top cock gets the top slot” world the male attitude/aptitude was born. Fast forward 100,000 years give or take, and the primordial wiring remains. Age and Father Time have merely lessened the wam and softened the bam. But the good ones (the smart ones) compensate with effort and technique, making up for the deficit in equipment. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should probably mention that the oldest man I’ve bammed is 53. So, on second thought, maybe I’m no expert on “older” men, after all?
But at 61, I’m pretty damn sure I qualify in regard to speaking on behalf of the female gender. So, same question . . . HOW TO PLEASE AN OLDER WOMAN? Be assured, she has an equation, too. Talk + tease + touch + time = take off (or get off—tomato/tomahto) And you can still blame Darwin. Cavewoman Barbie needed to keep wam-bam Ken around because doing so equaled security and substance, and ergo survival, for her and her offspring. And the hard-wiring remains. Because evolution adjusted her parts accordingly. Unless Ken lingered and let a few other of his parts do his talking, she wasn’t listening (or getting off). So competitive/rise to the challenge/adapt or die Ken adapted. Kinda. With some men, it’s an ongoing learning curve. BTW, the “talk” I mentioned above is a two-parter. Conversation is a must if the attraction is to last. Otherwise, I’m talking aural. It goes without saying that every woman is different. So are her verbal triggers. Whether sweet nothings or naughty commands, we all have those words and phrases that get our juices flowing.
Speaking of, Mother Nature is no more kind than Father Time. The bitch! Our vaginal tissue thins and natural lubrication decreases. Intercourse becomes not only uncomfortable, but downright painful. And for many women, the interest then all but disappears. Emotional, psychological and other physical issues can also factor in. But the result is the same: little to zero interest. BTW, I’ve never encountered or heard of the same vanishing act occurring with men. I’m pretty sure it has to do with the fact we run out of our allotted supply of eggs, while a man is able to seed life all of his life. Again, blame Darwin. Pulse + penis = desire. But for a lot of older women, disinterest + physical discomfort = desert. Trust me. I know. Personal lubricants help. On a TMI side note, the best I ever used was recommended by my doctor during a prolonged marital dry spell. (It’s called “Dew Drops.” If you’re interested, their website is http://www.fillingfantasies.com.) But I haven’t used—or needed—it since 2013. Funny thing. The drought ended when the marriage did.
Not that Mother Nature turned back any clocks—biological or otherwise. Nor did she do me any favors. It was my partners who did. Yep. Talk, tease, touch, technique and time. Ladies, never say die! The best sex of my life has been in the last two years with the aforementioned 53-year-old. Remember “smart and good?” He’s smart enough to delay his own “one and done”—and damned good enough to knock down Mother Nature’s dam. Uh-huh. Wet ‘n wild. And I’m not talking about a waterpark slide in Mesa, Arizona. So, if you’re not feeling it, ladies, in this case, don’t blame Darwin. Blame him.
They say “hope can move mountains.” Or is it “faith?” Ooops. Well, since I need it to be “hope” for this analogy to work, it’s going to be “hope.” With that said, let’s continue. Am I the only one who wishes the freakin’ mountain would just fall over and crush hope? Shocked? I’m sure you are. But hear me out. When hope does more harm than good, it needs to die. When it keeps you stuck in the past instead of moving forward, it needs to die. When it’s false . . . yep. You guessed it. And here’s another when ⇒⇒ When you are breaking up, divorcing or otherwise ending a relationship YOU KNOW needs to end . . . then, yes. Die, sucker, die!
If I had my way, “Abandon hope all ye who are ending a relationship” would be posted on a billboard—or at least printed on an effing bumper sticker! Because too often “hope” is the worst thing you can cling to in a break-up. But I am as guilty as anyone of adhering to the tradition trope. Hell, I have even perpetuated it! Remember, in my “real world” job I’m a flight attendant. So it should come as no surprise I once wrote the clever little metaphor: “Hope is one’s individual flotation device.” But here’s the truth as I have come to realize it. Hope is a double-sided bastard. As wonderful and necessary as hope is/can be, there’s a flip side. A dark side. A downright dangerous side.
Now let’s talk cautionary tale. Let’s talk “don’t do as I do, but do as I say.” Yep. Let’s talk Sunday . . . a guy I will absolutely admit I fell hard for. He was my first “real” post-divorce relationship. Danger, Will Robinson, danger! Can you say “red flag?” In truth, this man had more red flags than a 5-mile mountain detour. Sew those little triangles together, and we’re talking king-size comforter. But ohhhhh, nooooo! I thought I was being careful. Walls erected, expectations at zero, eyes wide open . . . I could handle it. (I thought.) I knew better. (I thought.) I wouldn’t be stupid. (I thought.) Problem was . . . I THOUGHT. And forgot about what I FELT. And what I FELT flew in the face of logic, common sense and caution. Not only was he all wrong, he came with a list of warning signs a mile long (Rhyme not intended.) But damn he was good! A master seducer—and not just in bed. My walls? My resolve? My thinking I knew what I was doing? Yeah . . . that all worked like a bucket with sieve for a bottom.
His were moves I never saw coming. Tactics I’d never fathomed. Up, around and under my oh-so carefully laid defenses. Intentional or not, I may never know. He was that ninja-good. And I don’t mean that as a compliment, ’cause here’s a spoiler alert (and history lesson): Folklore, popular culture, modern movies and reality TV have all mystified and venerated the ninja as some ultimate warrior ideal. In truth, they were spies, saboteurs and assassins. In fact, in feudal Japan where the samurai adhered to strict rules about honor and combat, they were viewed as ignoble mercenaries, their covert and irregular methods of waging war considered dishonorable and reprehensible.
So back to Sunday. And I. And painful truths finally acknowledged . . . It (he) was never going to be what I wanted. It needed to be over. But he wasn’t going to be the one to end it. He liked the way it was. And why wouldn’t he? It was on his terms. He came and went as he pleased and let me in only when he wanted. So now after another of his 4-week disappearing acts. I’m done. Here’s the problem. My mind says it, but my heart isn’t getting the memo. Because I still FEEL. And because friggin’ hope won’t die. So I continue to find excuses, analyze, rationalize . . . Worse, I fall back into that fucking trap we women do! That deep pit of delusion called “I’ll be THE ONE”—the who who can turn a bad boy into a good man. Am I ringing any bells, ladies? ‘Cause every time my phone rings or a text message chime sounds, I hope it’s him. Bloody hell! And hell-o!
He’s not only drawn me a picture, he’s colored it in and sprinkled it with glitter! Message received. Trust me. I SEE it. I KNOW. I know he’s keeping me on a hook and reeling me back when he wants attention and/or needs what I offer. But if I need him? Yeah. Caspar’s got nothing on his ghost-ass. I’m his swinging door . . . to exit or enter at will. Worse, I KNOW he won’t change. Ergo, I KNOW I have to cut ties and move on. Page turned and chapter closed. But the heart is slow to catch up to the mind. It’s like a bizarre boxing match. “Ladies and gentlemen, in the blue corner we have LOGIC, COMMON SENSE, FACT, SOLID EVIDENCE, and MULTIPLE EXAMPLES of why it is over. But in the red corner we have HOPE. Now let’s get ready to Ruuuuuuuuuuuuumble!” Care to pick a winner?
In all truth, I wish I had better advice to give than a “don’t do as I do” admonition. And I wish I had a better answer for myself than what I’ve come up with, which is to keep telling myself until I FEEL it. Speaking of “telling” . . . They tell you never to lose hope. Trust me. I’ve seen the same Facebook memes you have, ala:
- “Sometimes hope is all you have. But if you have it, you have everything.”
- “Don’t lose hope. You never know what tomorrow will bring.”
- “Hope is the little voice you hear whisper ‘maybe’ when it seems the entire world is telling you ‘no.’”
But here are a few quotes they don’t put on cutesy inspirational posters:
- “Hope is a great falsifier of truth.” Baltasar Gracián
- “He that lives upon hope will die fasting.” Benjamin Franklin
- “It is natural to man to indulge in the illusion of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren . . .” Patrick Henry
FYI, if you don’t remember your high school Greek mythology, the Sirens were winged creatures whose singing lured unwary sailors to shipwreck on rocks. Keep that visual in mind. ‘Cause if what hope is keeping alive needs to die, then so does hope. Lose it, ladies! Let it die! ‘Cause hope has a flip side. A dark side. A downright dangerous side. And BTW, if you kick hope to the curb, you get a two-fer. It’s evil cousin, disappointment, goes too.
Now back to that nautical reference earlier . . . If hope is keeping you from moving on when you KNOW you need to, then it’s not a buoy—it’s an anchor. It’s keeping you tethered to the past. Cut the rope. ‘Cause contrary to the charming Sandra Bullock movie, “Hope Floats,” this side of hope don’t. It’s going to sink—don’t let it take you with it.
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—then 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:
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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?
“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?”
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 vulnerability 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.