Don’t Blame Darwin

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.

The Flip Side of Hope

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.

 

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—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:

  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?

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 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.

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.