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Archive for the ‘balance’ Category

Remaining Single: Some Nice Kisses But Mostly Near Misses

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

At times, doing the actively dating thing seems like taking on a work project, or searching for a house to buy. It comes with exhausting moments in my experience. Does that exhaustion mean I am giving up, or getting cynical about it? Not at all, but I do go through periods of fatigue for sure. Again from experience I am able to recognize that’s the larger presence/universe telling me to push back from the table for a moment and take a breath. That’s what I chose to do after fourteen months of being focused, directed, and really out there. I was sending out emails, initiating lots of contact with different men, and going on lots of first dates. Occasionally I had more than one date with the same man. Even less frequently there was a glimmer of potential romantic relationship possibility. And once or twice it seemed as if that romantic connection might have led to an actual relationship. Overall, nothing had any lasting power, hence, the title of this blog.

Okay, now for the lessons learned thus far. To paraphrase from an episode of “Sex and the City,” women always need to learn something from every romantic relationship experience. I believe that’s true not only in romantic experiences but in all experiences, but for this moment I’ll focus on the romantic experiences. And this would be not only from the recent foray into the directed dating world, but how it’s helped me assess some of my past major romantic relationships.

In this most recent attempt to find lasting love I’ve discovered that there are so many men out there. So for anyone who says it’s hard to meet men, I totally disagree. In my experience there are men everywhere, and not just on the dating websites. In my daily life there are men everywhere as well. There are plenty of men who are able to carry on a phone conversation. Even more men are really good at the whole email correspondence thing. Typically, the men who want their romantic relationships conducted over the internet or phone aren’t really able to take it to the face to face. That works out well for me because it saves me from wasting my time meeting someone who isn’t likely to be a good fit. If they can’t come out from behind their computers or their phones, then they wouldn’t be right for me.

There are lots of men who can be charming and attractive on a first date. Quite a number of them even go as far as saying something about wanting to get together again. Guess what? They disappear too. And again I’m saved the time drain of needing to invest my heart with a man who doesn’t have the follow through capability I prefer. If they don’t follow through, then they wouldn’t have the ability to sustain a romantic partnership over time.

Next up are the men with whom I had more than one date, or the men with whom something romantic seemed possible. It seems there are quite a lot of men who want to stay in the shallow end of the dating/relationship pool, and go on dates with women and not take it to the next level. As someone who would prefer to find lasting love, these men and I aren’t compatible. Ditto the men who want nothing more than sex with women, and they have no interest in monogamy in any way, shape or form. One of my requirements in seeking lasting love is a commitment to monogamy, so again these men who just want the sex thing need to keep stepping because that’s not what I’m about at all.

Recently I decided to do an exercise I’ve done in the past from time to time. I made a list of the qualities I’m seeking in a romantic partner. These qualities had nothing to do with appearance, or how much money they make, or what kind of car they drive. The qualities that resonate with me are more about a man’s heart and head. Things like honesty, integrity, willingness and the ability to be a grownup were on the list, along with quite a few other items. After completing the list I took a look and realized these are qualities I strive for in myself. I know the work toward owning these qualities is a lifelong project and I’m always a work in progress. For me, it’s worth the much longer wait to be with someone who wants to be all in, chooses to make that emotional investment, understands the meaning of partnership and is willing to work toward that. Somewhere out there is a man who is just as much of an ongoing work in progress as I am. When the time is right for us to meet, then it will happen. Until then, I continue to evolve, grow, and strengthen as I gain wisdom from each experience or encounter of my life as it unfolds.

Remaining Single: Reframing Rejection

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

Here’s a favorite quote: “Man’s rejection is God’s protection.”  Right now I’m comforted by this quote as I continue along in the dating journey.  I’ve been rejected by people for whom I had begun to develop feelings, and I admit it hurts.  It’s never easy to be rejected, and it leaves me with feelings of sadness and loneliness and sometimes anger.  Sometimes I am relieved when something is over, other times I’m devastated.  Obviously, it depends on the circumstances.  But the rejection aspect of anything that ends is a hard pill to swallow.

In life there are rejections always – work situations, friendships, romances, even with family.  Sometimes I’m the one doing the rejecting, other times I’m the one rejected.  Intellectually, I can see the linear order when it comes to rejection.  Something ends, feelings are hurt, loss is grieved and life moves on.  Would that it were that simple, right?  But actually, the heart, while resilient, also gathers this rejection and struggles to process it.  And the feelings are there and they sometimes manifest themselves in other ways to make sure they are felt and dealt with.

An author whose work resonates with me has written a number of books that discuss the mind/body connection, which of course I’m all about.  In the midst of my dating journey, a new body problem has emerged in terms of pain in my right knee, and I’ve been doing the rehab work to try to strengthen it and get it better.  But the pain continues to linger and sometimes I am able to see a direct connection between times when there is a flare up and my thoughts around men and romance in general.  So I know this is a message from the higher power that watches over me about keeping my focus on myself and not get distracted or sidetracked by something or someone that won’t bring long term value to my life.  In this way, I find it possible to reframe rejection.  What a shame it is however, that I had to have a chronic physical ailment sent as a reminder to stay focused on my own direction and forward progress.

As I look back on my overall dating history I can see things like this sent to me before.  Years ago at the end of one of my romantic relationships, albeit a very positive one, I was sent another physical ailment which required attention.  And in that moment I was very clearly aware that my boyfriend at the time was not the right romantic partner for me in a permanent way.  He was not able to be helpful to me in this very painful experience, which I was left to go through by myself.  At other times with other men, I’ve been sent physical obstacles and I can see now that these came to me to remind me of the importance of my own life.  And each time these things happened, I was meant to go through them on my own.  I am able to go through anything on my own, of course, but I’m realizing now how one of the characteristics I’d like to have in a romantic partner is someone who would be able to be there for me when I’m handed something in my life that creates difficulty.  Is it a requirement?  Not at all.  But it is a desire, a wish and a want.

As with many people, men and women, I have a tendency at times to throw my own life over the side when I become involved romantically with someone.  Each time that was the situation, and I found myself spending too much time focusing on the relationship vs. what I expect, need or want for myself, lo and behold that man was removed from my life.  Whether they walked away form me, or I already knew it would not last, however the circumstance, I was left alone to heal, reflect, regroup and move on.

I’m no longer interested in throwing myself into a  romantic relationship in such a way that it becomes a detriment to the rest of my life.  I am all in when it come to love and romance, but the only way that works positively is if my own life is already in a place where it needs to be – regarding work, activities, physical and emotional health, friendships, etc.  I have been on my own for quite some time and therefore forced to be focused on me and spent time working toward this endeavor.  I did it happily because it helped me realize I am at a place where I know, appreciate and embrace how very special and wonderful my own life already is.  So instead of feeling upset or disappointed because of things that I don’t have in my life, I have gratitude for everything I do have right this moment and each day.  And I am certain that my life needs to be exactly as it needs to be for nobody else but me.  Then and only then will I be sent the kind of romantic partner who will enhance, strengthen, and in all ways add to my life while not depleting anything from me or my own journey.

“Man’s rejection is God’s protection.”  There is gratitude in that for knowing I am responsible for my own happiness, and that all of my life is valuable right now, this minute, and I’m not alone.  It’s a feeling of peace and security knowing there is an order of things in life, and part of that “God’s protection” sends me the message to trust the process, even when it starts as rejection.  .  How this resonates with me and how helpful it is to know that if someone leaves my life, it’s about the purpose of clearing something out of my way, to make room for something or someone else more appropriate to be sent to me.

Remaining Single: Real Men Do Exist

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

I love hearing love stories because they renew my hope and faith that a “real man” does exist for me out there somewhere.  My parents had a good love story.  They were introduced by a mutual acquaintance.  They were not living in the same area, and yet they managed to connect, fall in love, get married and stay married for 45 years until my dad’s death.  And their courtship/romance was in 1956 and 1957, before cell phones and Skype and email and all of the other modern technical conveniences that we have today.

A dear friend of mine tells a similar story about her parents.  Three weeks after they met, my friend’s dad asked her mom to marry him, but she said no because they had only known each other three weeks.  But he said he was heading off to World War II and wanted her for his wife.  She again said no, but did promise to wait for him.  Well, she did, for the whole of World War II.  When he returned from the war, he proposed in January, they were married in February and my friend was born in December of that year.  Sigh…..

Years ago, I read the “Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  What always struck me was that the parents of Laura had what I call a partnership.  I always enjoyed reading these stories for the way that Pa appreciated Ma and that appreciation was reciprocated always.  They worked hard together on everything they did.  Whether it was packing up their wagon to move the family to a new place, building a house together once they got to the new place, or Ma making a wholesome meal for the family, I always got the impression that their respect and appreciation for each other was genuine and life long.

Some might say those stories only exist from ‘back then,’ but I just finished reading another love story written by a woman who is in her 40′s and lives in Oklahoma on a ranch with her husband and four children.  She is a food show host and blogger and decided to write the story of the romance between herself and her husband and how they wound up together.  And this story takes place in today’s world.  This woman was courted by what I mean by a ‘real man.’  They met in a bar and she was instantly smitten, and they talked together for a while that first night they met.  Four months later he called her and asked her for a date and it was ‘game on’ so to speak from that moment.  They fell hard for each other and the story is a powerful read, though simple at the same time.  The reason it resonates so much with me?  Because it harkens back to the stories of my parents or my friend’s parents, or other similar stories I’ve heard over the years.

What is the common factor?  That the men involved were what I again refer to as ‘real men.’  They were men who knew themselves and exactly what they wanted for their own lives.  They were men who had a direction, a purpose, a role in life they knew they were meant to play.  They were men who didn’t need to be unsure of themselves and didn’t think finding a woman to love and cherish is such a hard prospect.  They were not game players or liars.  They were men who meant what they said and didn’t mince words.  They put their hearts out there and weren’t afraid to declare their feelings for the women they chose to love.  And having declared their love, they continued or continue to appreciate their women, to respect them, to admire them to value their lives and the partnership that grew between them.

The details of the stories are not important.  The common factor again is that these couples experienced partnership in romance.  A romantic partnership is so worth the time it takes to find it.  That’s the partnership I know I’m waiting for too.  For a romantic partnership to exist means each person is aware of who he/she is, of what is important and valuable already about his/her own life.  There are no games, no guessing, but rather trusting instinct and knowing the other person is doing the same.  It’s not that complicated when you think about it, is it?

So much has been written about ways for men and women to change themselves in order to find lasting love.  I don’t think changing oneself is really the answer.  Rather I think it’s more important to be honest about who we are.  To be clear about what we want, and to be contented with where our lives are right at the moment, romantic partner or not.  And then to be able to say what does and doesn’t work for us.

I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I wouldn’t settle for anything less in my life than what I wanted, and that’s with regard to career, where I choose to live, the activities I enjoy, the friendships I choose to build.  And I have done that with every other area of my life.  I have reached a place in my life where I live in a place I love, in a home that I love.  I work in a field that was always my leading passion even before it became my career.  And I chose to work for myself which resonates with me in a better way than working for others.  My personal emotional journey is an ongoing work in progress, in a daily effort to reach for balance in my life.  I have learned how to have loving friendships with people who reciprocate and reflect back to me that I am valued and loved.  I have a spiritual connection with a higher power who guides me, who protects me, who challenges me and sends me everything I’m meant to have.  And I am also aware of how blessed I am to have that same higher power remove things or people from my life when the lessons I was meant to learn from those experiences or people are learned.  When my higher power removes things or people from my life, I am convinced that this makes room for even better things or people to come into my life, part of that ongoing evolution that is my own journey.  I have worked hard and continue to work on being an authentic, integrated, contented, joyous, ‘real woman.’  I am not looking for someone else to be responsible for my happiness.  I know it’s up to me to create that in my own life.

With that I will say I continue to believe there is a ‘real man’ out there for me somewhere.  He is as committed to his own walk through this world as I am to mine.  He is looking for a ‘real woman’ just as much as I am looking for a ‘real man’ and when the timing works then we will meet.  Don’t know where, don’t know when, but that doesn’t matter.  I’ll keep moving forward and keep my heart open.  The ‘real man’ and I will know it when we meet.  And then we’ll continue moving forward together.

Remaining Single: Tips for Men – Effort Brings Rewards!

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Of course I’m a modern woman.  What does this mean?  It means I don’t mind making the first move to contact a man, or flirt with a man, or reach out to make a connection with a man.  I’m fine with being someone who does that.  In other areas of my life I don’t hesitate to make a move, whether that’s buying a house or a car, making plans with friends, organizing a group event, renting office space, planning a vacation.  Whatever comes up in the rest of my life, I do it for myself, which is empowering and strengthening for me.  I haven’t been one to wait and sit back for someone else to do for me.  Being single throughout my entire adult life has taught me a lot about being self sufficient and self reliant.

When it comes to dating, I’m in a place where reaching out to men isn’t scary and it doesn’t feel ‘wrong’ for me to do it.  So as with anything else in life, if something seems to be possible with a man, I have no problem being the one to say how about coffee, or a hike, or whatever.  Sometimes there is follow up and sometimes there is not, but I am a firm believer in helping fate along instead of sitting back and waiting for it to do all the work.  I’m always open to the possibilities of fate, but while I’m waiting, I can be out there dating too, right?

At the same time, I love it when a man is capable of courting in the old school way, and this is where I’m a big fan of the effort.  What is the effort about, you ask?  I’ll give you examples from some of my recent online dating adventures.  It starts with reaching out via email, and saying something more than “Hi.”  When I talk to the younger folks who are Facebook fanatics, I hear from them that the standard opening line is “Hi.”  That may be true, but really, does a man think I’m going to respond to something as simplistic as that?  Effort, fellows!  Ask me a question, comment about something you read in my profile, send me a signal that you’re interested in me, and letting me know you hope I’ll write you back.

Here’s another one.  I know the young folks are all about the text, and I’m hip to that too, but I very much enjoy when a man calls and we have a voice to voice conversation.  Here again, effort wins points with me.  The opportunity to hear a voice and perhaps make that initial connection on the phone helps me decide if I want to take the next step and see if he’s worth meeting in person.  And further, the men who call when they say they’re going to call get points too.  There’s nothing better than a man who demonstrates reliability at least initially by something as simple as being true to his word.  And once we’re on the phone and talking, he knows the value of a reciprocal conversation, one in which we are asking each other questions to get to know each other.  Reaching for that connection makes such a positive difference.

Next step – he’s up for making a plan to get together instead of going back and forth with endless emails or phone calls about wanting to get together but not having any time.  Men, take note – I’m just as busy as you are, and my life is just as interesting and full.  So I’m not impressed with words about being too busy to call or email or make a plan.  It seems like ducking, making excuses, or perhaps game playing.  If you’re serious about getting to meet someone, then be real with yourself and me and let’s make the plan for the meet.   I find frequently there are men who may put it out there initially that they want to meet, but somehow there are numerous excuses communicated through email that their lives are so busy, etc. etc.  And then they say they will be in touch to make a plan for a meeting.  I don’t waste a lot of my time with men like this.  The men who get my attention are the ones who commit to making a face to face meeting happen.

When the meeting happens, I enjoy some other old school gestures.  Sometimes a man brings me flowers.  They may be from the grocery store, but who cares?  It’s still a classy thing to do, along with holding doors for me, or offering to pay if a meal is involved.  And again, it goes a long way in earning points.  And what I mean by points doesn’t mean some physical ‘reward’ like sex on the first date.  That’s not what it’s about.  It’s about my respect, my genuine interest in getting to know you, my gratitude for taking the time to be positively attentive toward me, just as I am doing the same with you.  The dates I’ve enjoyed most are the ones where the men made the kind of effort that is memorable, and that leaves me hoping you’ll call me again.  And if you do, don’t forget to bring that effort.  I promise it’s worth it.

Remaining Single: Getting Out of the “Friend Zone” with Men!

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

I hate when I get “friend zoned” by men I’m interested in romantically, and that is so NOT what I want!  I need to stay out of the friend zone for sure, because it is a mixed message and a game I don’t have any interest in playing.  My intention in being out in the dating world is to find a man with whom I can form a healthy romantic partnership, and together we will grow a relationship that is lasting, monogamous, committed, happy.  No interest in being the “friend zone” girl here!

I am quite familiar with the “friend zone” situation.  For decades I’ve been the “friend girl” which means I’m the one men would talk to about girls they wanted to be involved with romantically.  And this drove me crazy, because it meant spending time with men I was attracted to or interested in romantically, but they wanted no part of me in that way.  I am sure I don’t have to tell you how frustrating it is to be relegated to the “friend zone” over and over again throughout my life.

Being “friend zoned” over and over again certainly affected my dating choices.  In several instances I entered into romantic relationships that weren’t so right for me, but I remember feeling so relieved that someone wanted to be romantically involved with me instead of sending me to the “friend zone.” I had to really examine that and come to a place of understanding myself well enough to know it’s worth the wait for a romance that is more in keeping with what I want rather than just relief because some man saw me as more than just a friend.

The thing is, I already have enough friends in my life.  And I agree with Harry Burns in the film “When Harry Met Sally” when he tells Sally Albright that men and women can’t really be friends.  I do have some friends who are men, but they are more what I would consider to be acquaintances.  They are men whom I know from shared activities.  But for the most part, I don’t actively seek them out to do things outside of those shared activities.  I have also have women acquaintances from shared activities.  But here’s the difference – I’m more likely to reach out to a woman acquaintance and grow a friendship from there than I would with a man from a shared activity.  That’s my preference, because I think there is less confusion and difficulty with someone reading something into that situation that might not be shared on both sides.

I find there are so many men who are so confused as to what they want.  Sometimes it’s because they are still hurt by a past romance.  Or sometimes they are taking the next step beyond that hurt to look at what part they played in the demise or failure of that past romance.  I have respect for that, having done work like that throughout my life on my personal journey.  But sometimes the messages they send are more confusing than they might realize.  They might not realize they are sending a flirty message, or a message that they might be interested romantically.  It’s like they are dipping their toes in the pool to see how the water feels.  I know today that I don’t want to be someone’s consolation prize, which is what Sally Albright tells Harry Burns in “When Harry Met Sally.”  I agree with Sally wholeheartedly.  I am not someone’s “pool” in which they can “test the waters.”

So how the avoid the “friend zone?”  There is no avoiding being told someone wants to be “just friends” but if/when they do say that to me, I choose to say no thanks.  I am not mean about it, nor am I hurtful about it with them.  I just know I don’t want to pursue anything more with any man who “friend zones” me, because right away I know that man is not anywhere near ready for what I’m looking for.  No point in starting a relationship with someone who isn’t on the same page from the start, right?

Going back to “When Harry Met Sally” I know they did eventually get together romantically and wound up getting married, after 12 years of knowing each other, so why not take the opportunity to be “just friends?”  Because that’s not what I want.  Every time I watch that movie I get frustrated at how they know they are right for each other way before Harry actually says it to Sally.  Of course I know without that tension and frustration there would be no movie.  But at this stage in my life I’m so over being tense and frustrated by mixed signals with men.  Any man who can’t come right out and say he’s interested in a romance with me is not a man with whom I want or need to have any involvement.  In my best former romantic relationships, communication was direct and open from the start.  I didn’t have to guess or wonder what the intention was.  And in those instances, the romances went well while I was with these men.

A friend of mine recently reminded me of something she saw on a talk show.  She said an author of self-help books was saying that if a man says he’s not ready to be in a romance, believe him!  Good advice in my opinion.  I can’t help being interested in men romantically.  But if they say clearly they are not ready, they are telling me they are not interested.  If a man is interested in me romantically, he will make the move to let me know.  That’s worth waiting for, instead of wasting time in the “friend zone.”

Remaining Single: Required for Dating? Resilience!

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

I can’t think of a better word when it comes to dating.  How else would someone be able to bounce back from the heartbreak, rejection, disappointment and all of the other elements involved in the dating dance?

Let’s start at the beginning with the dating websites.  Creating a profile takes time and work and effort.  It’s no different from creating a resume for a job search, and in fact at times the whole dating/relationship search feels just like a job search.  Just as with a job search, there are questions to answer, profile statements to write, photos to post – all in an effort to ‘sell’ oneself in the best possible light of course.

The next step is to browse through profiles of men on the sites and decide if any of them are worth contacting.  At first it feels like being a kid in a candy store.  What a treat to have access to so many men who sound so interesting at first glance.  But after a while, the majority of the profiles start to sound or seem the same.  And sometimes the language of the profile will indicate it’s written by a scammer.  Scammers are on all of the sites, so it’s impossible to avoid them.  That’s one of the drawbacks of website dating.  But there are just as many people who lie in real life as there are on websites, so that’s not unique to website dating at all.

On to the next step – deciding whether or not to contact someone.  I’m old school in that I enjoy being wooed, but I have no problem with reaching out to someone to initiate contact.  I appreciate men who appreciate that about me in fact.  After the decision is made to put an email out there to someone,  then comes the hardest part – waiting to see if he’ll answer back.  Many times they don’t answer at all.  Many times they answer once, but never again.  Sometimes they reach out and a dialogue is begun, but it never goes beyond email contact.  Then there are the men who are email and phone only, but when an effort is made to get together in real life, they vanish like smoke in the wind.  Resilience is necessary here for the frustration that comes from wanting more and the more never happens.

Perhaps there might be a face to face date planned that actually happens.  Here again, resilience is required because a first date is something to look forward to, but when it actually happens, there realization that a second date will never happen brings up feelings of disappointment.  Even if it’s a choice to keep it at one and done, it’s still a let down after the buildup of looking forward to the possibility of the situation igniting romantic sparks.  .

Sometimes things do progress to more dates, and sometimes even beyond more dates to that actual romantic spark beginning.  That’s lovely when it happens, but here again the need for resilience is important, because a romance might be short lived.  There are so many mixed messages out there and so many folks who say they are looking for ‘the one’ but are really playing the field.  Or there are so many folks who might think they want ‘the one’ but are not emotionally ready for what that means.  Then too are the folks whose lives have way too much chaos for them to even be thinking about dating and yet they are among the ranks as well.  Again, resilience is important because at any of the above stages, the weeding out process is happening on both sides.  People can take things so far and then back off.  In order not to be totally emotionally devastated by that if/when it happens, it’s essential to operate from a place of resilience.

We can’t always figure this out right at the beginning.  It takes time to get to know someone, obviously.  The red flags don’t always start flying right away.  I’ve learned to be more up front about the red flags when I notice them. I didn’t do that in the past, much to my misfortune.  Had I paid attention to the red flags in certain situations, I might have avoided some major heartbreak.  On the other hand, because I operate with resilience I have an opportunity to learn from each experience, even the ones that are so hurtful and cause me emotional pain.

The thing about emotional pain is it helps with the growth process.  Because I have resilience, I can allow myself to feel the pain and eventually I can also step back from it.  I see the experience for what it was and how it helped me.  And then I can have gratitude that the experience came to an end.  One of my favorite sayings is “The Universe never closes a door in one place without opening another one somewhere else.”  I believe this with all my heart.  And with gratitude for being blessed with resilience, I get back on the horse and keep on riding forward.

Remaining Single: Dating Websites – Combining the Old and New

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Yes, I use dating websites.  This is not new to me.  I believe dating websites to be just as viable a vehicle for finding a romantic relationship as any other venue.  How many times do I hear people say they met in a bar?  Where there’s alcohol involved?  And where perceptions might be impaired by said alcohol?  And many of those relationships lead to lasting positive partnerships, even though there is quite the risk considering the possible obstacles.  So what’s the difference between something like that turning into true love vs. any other romantic possibility delivery system?  Hence, the dating websites.

My most recent romantic relationships was the best of my entire dating history.  It lasted 5.5 years and I met him by chance on a group trip in Europe.  Just before I met him, I had been doing the dating website thing for quite a while, at least a year continuously.  I was on a few sites and met a number of men, but nothing had clicked into a long term romance.  About a month before I met my ex-boyfriend, I had “hit a wall’ so to speak with the whole dating thing and had decided to stop using the dating websites.  And then, just like that, a month later just about to the day from my last dating website date, along came true love and at the moment when I was not actively looking for it any more at all.

Does that mean I can’t find the next right romance through a dating website, or through any other mechanism that seems like I’m actively looking vs. letting fate or destiny do the deciding?  I have always said there is no difference between using a dating website and any other type of website to gather information before deciding whether or not to proceed further with something.  I’ve used websites to find office space, buy a home, choose a plumber, research vacation spots, write reviews for restaurants and hotels, and thousands of other things.  It’s all about information exchange and knowing what choices/options are available.  So why then would I not take advantage of that same information gathering type of site to do the same kind of deciding?  Seems like a no brainer to me.

Of course there are numerous horrible dating stories told about people met through internet dating sites.  I have a number of them myself from prior experiences with online dating.  I also have an equal number of horrible dating stories from experiences NOT found through internet dating sites.  Don’t even get me started on fix-ups, for example.  Thankfully I haven’t been fixed up in a very long time.  When I fix people up, I do it based on a feeling, or an instinct, and I don’t do it unless I have a really strong sense that the two people I’m fixing up will hit it off.  Twice I’ve been right about that.  Once was about 20 years ago, and that couple got engaged nine months later.  More recently I had an opportunity to fix up two people, again based on that instinct or feeling, and again it went well, and they are romantically happily together.  On the other hand, when folks have fixed me up, they seem to have used what I call the “Noah’s Ark” approach to fix-ups.  It goes something like I’m a woman, he’s a man, we’re both heterosexual and single so therefore…….!  Good gracious, what were those people thinking?

For every horrible dating experience anyone can share – again, including myself – from dating websites, there are just as many good stories of romantic lasting love found through those sites.  So I’m not going to rule anything out and that includes the dating sites.  And this time I’m thinking I’ll stick and stay instead of walking away, because I have learned it’s important to have patience and persistence with most things in life.  Here’s an example.  I learned to ski at 37 years old.  It’s harder to learn a sport as a grownup, fear factor being what it is, and skiing is not an easy sport to pick up.  But from the very first time I ever went, terrified as I was, the whole experience was thrilling for me at the same time.  I think I mostly fell down throughout the first four years of my ski career but I didn’t give up.  I kept coming back for more, and now 15 years later, I’m a good skier and I still love it.  I teach other people to ski who wind up loving it too.  And it’s just as thrilling for me now as it was in the beginning, only now it’s even better because I actually know what I’m doing and I have a blast doing it.

It’s the same thing with dating, in my opinion.  I can allow fate or destiny to drive the bus, or I can give it a little push and get out there and do some driving on my own, or at least ride shotgun.  And that’s where I see the combination of the old and new.  Dating websites are all about communication between two people, at first by email.  How is this any different from letters written by potential romantic partners in centuries gone by?  Jane Austen uses letter writing as a device in many of her novels, to drive the fate of the potential lovers forward.  One of my favorites is at the end of “Persuasion” when Captain Wentworth leaves a letter for Ann to find.  In this letter he declares his feelings for her and gives her instructions about what the next step would be if she should return his affections.  Sigh……so romantic.

Long before the internet I was a letter writer.  I kept in touch with friendships I made at summer camps, friendships I knew in college, and friendships with people I met on vacation or elsewhere.  I had some ex-boyfriends and some potential romantic partners who were great letter writers.  One time years ago, I got a letter written by a fellow who was crushing on me, all written in rhyme.  It was beautiful.  We never did quite get into a romance, but I still remember how clever that letter was.  I’ve always enjoyed sending and receiving letters.  And now with email, I am able to stay in touch with different people from all over the world, and with much quicker response time.  That’s a treat for sure.  So there’s the combination of the old and the new.  We’re still writing ‘letters’ as an exercise in getting to know someone better.  I appreciate the eloquence of so many emails I’ve received.  Some of them have inspired me to be eloquent as well.  Sometimes I save these email exchanges as reminders for myself of the stories I tell, and of the responses those stories receive.  There is something wonderful and exciting about receiving an email from a potential romantic partner, or receiving a reply from an email I’ve put out there.       These days it’s not important who makes the first contact.  It’s the use of the old in that we’re using the power of the written words to make contact.  The new speaks not only to the technology but also to the modern thought that no longer are women ‘forced’ to wait for a man to come to them.  I have found that many men are just as indifferent to who initiates the contact as I am.  A refreshing blend of old and new for sure.

Back to the idea of choosing once the options are better known. This dating website method allows us to conduct a correspondence before making a commitment to meet face to face.  It also allows us to be in contact with folks who might not live right around the corner, but who’s to say they might not be a right fit?  In the best of the scenario outcomes, the emails lead to phone calls, the phone calls lead to face to face meetings, the face to face meetings at any moment might lead to the next right romance.  I’ve certainly heard enough of the positive outcome stories to help my hopeful romantic side continue to believe in the power of the possible.

How can one not be hopeful from what seems like a foolproof method?  Well, here’s where some of the horrible stories come in.  There are people who lie.  I know, big surprise, right?  There are people who want nothing more than the correspondence online without the phone calls or face to face contact.  There are some folks who can do the email and the phone thing, but face to face freaks them out and they run or disappear.  I have had some ‘meet and greet’ first dates that were lovely and then I never saw or heard from them again.  I realize dating can be difficult and even scary, not because of who is out there, but because of their lack of emotional readiness and willingness to be vulnerable with someone else.  And that’s okay because if someone isn’t willing or open and vanishes early on, he’s doing me a favor because he’s getting out of the way of the better potential romantic partner I’ve yet to meet.  .

As I said, for every negative outcome story there can be just as many on the positive side of the aisle.  I look at all of these adventures with a great deal of gratitude, because with each encounter I learn something about myself.  I learn what I do want and what I don’t want.  I learn that I have just as much right to say no thanks as a man does.  I learn that I have the capacity to be open and willing.   I can trust myself.  I can trust that I’m sent what I’m meant to receive.  And if something doesn’t work out, that means something better might be in the next email I send or receive.  I didn’t give up on skiing and it was so worth it.  I don’t choose to give up on dating websites.  And a side benefit is I have a collection of interesting stories, always a plus!

Remaining Single: Apart From vs. A Part Of – The Mystery of Connection

Monday, April 29th, 2013

I’ve been reflecting on all different types of relationships, as I always do, and am coming up with some interesting revelations about my ability to connect to other humans.  Hence, the title of this blog.  I wonder why it is that I feel so often more apart from others than I’m able to feel a part of with others.

I wonder if it started with my childhood.  I wonder how much of my isolation as a child came from my choices.  I have often written about the elusiveness of friendships and romances in my life.  How much of that is coming from others not wanting to be around me and how much of it is coming from my not wanting to be around others?  I realize now there were people who wanted to be friends with me, but I might not have wanted to be friends with them.  Maybe there were men who wanted to date me, but I didn’t want to date them.  This is not to say I have to like everyone or date everyone.  But as I wonder about this apart from vs. a part of paradox within me, I’m just thinking it all through.

Many times I think of myself as an extroverted introvert.  I can hit the ground running, be around people all day, plan events for groups as I have done my whole life.  And I’m smiling, shaking hands, working the room, making sure everyone has a ride, or name tag, or someone to talk to, or whatever they all need.  I’m making sure everyone is satisfied and having a good experience in these situations and I’m meeting some of my own needs because I enjoy organizing and I enjoy being in leadership roles and I enjoy having activities to do and people to enjoy them with.  But somewhere in the midst of all of this activity, I find myself hitting a wall, so to speak, and I begin to feel myself shut down and pull back from really being present in the moment, in the experience.  This is an interesting occurrence and I find it happens frequently with me, more than I realized.

Is it because I don’t feel a part of?  Is it because I hold myself back to avoid being hurt or feeling left out, or feeling different from somehow?  What is it about me that I’m not sure I want others to see?  Or is it because maybe I have a short attention span and then want to move on to something else?  Or is it because that wall I hit makes me yearn to be by myself, at home, alone, as quickly as possible?  Someone said to me recently she was told years ago the reason she’s single is because she’s not uncomfortable being alone.  I’m paraphrasing here, but that struck a chord with me.  I find that’s very true of me as well.  I enjoy my time alone.  In fact I often crave it.  I live alone in a house that I love and it’s so quiet there.  I love the quiet of my home at the end of the day.  I love being able to come back there and regroup when I hit that wall I mentioned and my introvert self needs soothing.

In the movie “Gosford Park,” Helen Mirren plays the housekeeper of a grand English mansion.  She is efficient, directive, orderly, detached, quiet, polite, marvelous in her understanding and anticipation of the needs of everyone else.  But there is this part at the end where she talks about being the perfect servant, and it is such a sad moment in the film, because basically she is talking about being invisible.  She is talking about attending to everyone else and not believing she has the right to have any needs of her own.  What happens to these people emotionally, these people who do for others but don’t necessarily have things done for them?  Do they shut off from feeling true feelings, believing their feelings won’t be valued or even acknowledged?  How do they go about getting these emotional needs met?  And what strikes me whenever I watch this film is how much the Helen Mirren character reminds me of parts of myself.  To the outside world, she is calm, contained, collected, and then at times she cries out her heartache and heartbreak in private.  What this shows me is at least acknowledges that side of herself, when she cries out her heartache and heartbreak in private..

I know there is a part of me that yearns to connect to others.  I have no problem wearing my heart on my sleeve.  I don’t hold back from displaying my feelings and am comfortable in my own skin.  I am aware and accepting of my character defects and own my part in the outcome of each situation I encounter.  I strive to be present, conscious, open, willing. And I know there is another side to me that runs deeply within me.  It’s the sad side, the lonely side, the fearful side of being alone.  Maybe that’s the paradox about apart from vs. a part of for me.  Though it’s my choice to be open about myself, there have been times when the deeper, more vulnerable side of me has been revealed, and I have felt rejection and abandonment by others because of that.

What I recognize today is I choose to be authentic, to live in my truth, to own every part of me honestly and willingly.  If there are times when I feel distant and disconnected from others, or even rejected or abandoned by others, then I explore those feelings and own the part I play in that experience.  Situations such as these are opportunities for better understanding of myself, which helps me get past the hurt feelings and come to a place of gratitude, secure in the knowledge and belief that the universe doesn’t close a door in one place without opening another one somewhere else.

Remaining Single: Heartfelt Thanks for Heartbreak? Definitely!

Monday, February 25th, 2013

This year for Valentine’s Day, my gift was heartbreak.  And I have so much gratitude for this experience, believe it or not.  Crazy?  Maybe, but read on and perhaps you’ll understand as I have come to, because life is for lessons and this has taught me so much.

My mother always used to say you know you’re deeply in love or have found “the one” when you know it’s a person you have to be with because you can’t imagine life without him.  Until recently, I never believed her.  Now I know it’s because I hadn’t experienced that kind of love for myself yet.  And now that I have, I so get what she was talking about, because the man I fell in love with was everything I could ever have wanted.  In the movie “Fools Rush In” with Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek, Matthew Perry says at one point “You’re everything I never knew I always wanted.”  I think this speaks to the same thing too.  Sometimes we don’t see it coming and I certainly didn’t with this person.  But there he was.

The details of the experience aren’t important.  What’s more important is how it made me feel – about myself, about romance, about love, about trust, and about being open to what my heart was saying.  Sadly, the romance came to an abrupt end on Valentine’s Day.  I don’t know what happened but I know it’s not going to continue.  Again, the details of why it ended aren’t important.  What is important is the way my heart felt, for probably the first time.  Was this man too good to be true?  Possibly.  But I have always said and continue to believe that settling isn’t going to work for me.  Are there compromises to be made with every man I encounter? Absolutely.  But not in terms of compromising myself or my standards.  Do I have impossible standards?  I don’t think so.  I’ve been through enough romances to know what I don’t want, which is equally valuable.

What mattered to me this time was that two things happened for the first time ever.  I was with someone whom I could talk to about anything and everything.  He was genuinely interested in getting to know who I am and what I am about.  He wanted to know my passions, my feelings, my flaws, my strengths and talents, every wound, every sadness, every past experience that makes me unique.  He heard it all, and he listened without judging and he made comments about it all.  That was a miracle and I have never had that before in a romantic encounter.  Of course I have friends who listen to me and they know my life and my truth and my heart and my feelings, and that’s all wonderful.  I am grateful to have those friendships and value them highly.  But there is something about having that same connection with a man where there is romantic potential – a man who takes the time to admire me, to care about who I am.  That is something I know I ‘ve been waiting for and hoping for always.

And because of that connection, the second miracle that came from knowing this man was for the first time in my life, the lonely feelings that are always with me were gone.  For the time I knew this man, I didn’t feel lonely at all.  And that’s definitely a first.  I have felt lonely my entire life.  There is a well of loneliness inside me that runs so deep I’m not sure where the bottom is or if there is a bottom to it.  I have felt lonely in every relationship of my life, in most friendships, and in most situations.  I can work through it, I can understand it and accept it, and I know it’s part of who I am.  At the very deepest core of me, there is loneliness.  But for the time of knowing this man, and for the first time, that loneliness was absent, gone.  And for that I will always be grateful.

I have cried many tears about this experience, and I have never cried tears like this.  I thought I had heartbreak before but this was newer and deeper than anything else I’ve ever felt.  And I don’t mind it because at least I know now what to shoot for.  I may never find it again.  It may never come to me again.  I will always be grateful that I was given the gift of this encounter, and I’m even grateful for the pain I felt over its exit from my life.  A dear friend of mine says that we all have ‘time people’ in and out of our lives.  The concept is that a person comes into a life for a certain length of time.  For me, this man was a ‘time person’ and I learned so much about myself that was helpful.  I learned I am not immune to heartbreak.  I learned I am not immune to love.  I learned I have so much to give to someone I love. I learned to keep hoping that somewhere in the world there may someday be a man who will be as this man was, only maybe next time he’ll stay in my life for longer.  Maybe forever.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  I think so.

Remaining Single: How Judgement Kills Trust in Friendship

Monday, January 28th, 2013

I am writing about a recent experience with someone who I thought was a friend, but after this episode, I may need to revisit that word ‘friend’ when thinking about this person.  I knew this person had some anger which I’ve seen directed at others, but this time the anger was coming toward me and it was scary.

The situation had to do with a conversation this friend and I were having in which I shared a thought about something, and the next thing I knew I was told “That’s crazy, you can’t do that, why would you do that, etc.”  I felt judged, scolded and lectured as if I were one of this person’s children.  As I sat with this person and listened to the tirade thrown onto me, I felt scared, hurt, angry and almost paralyzed.  I started to defend what I said and then I realized there was no getting through to this person so I chose to sit quietly, looked down at my food and waited for the verbal storm to subside.

I admit I have difficulty with that kind of anger-based energy directed toward me.  It always leaves me shaken when it happens.  That’s probably because I never expect anyone to talk to me this way.  I grew up with people who talked to me this way and it was hurtful back then.  But as a grownup I don’t expect it from people in the rest of my life.  Even though I have been proven wrong many times, it always comes as a surprise when someone comes at me with anger veiled as judgement, seen in their minds as ‘good intentions.’  For me, the intentions might be good but the delivery takes such an opposite turn that any good intentions are thrown out the window.

Often I try to figure out what would provoke such an outburst.  In this case I have a pretty good idea of where this person was coming from, a result of many long conversations about what is going on in this person’s life.  Since I know some of the background I can somewhat understand the energy behind this situation.  However, it is not something I choose to tolerate regardless of the reason.  I don’t accept unacceptable behavior and this was unacceptable.  And it is not the first time when this person has thrown some verbal judgement onto me.

In each situation the conversational topic was around men and dating.  This person and I are very different in terms of where our heads and hearts are as they relate to men, romance, dating, etc.  And the part I own in all of this is that I already suspected it was not in my best interest to discuss men, relationships, dating, romance with this person.  This person seems to be carrying some anger, resentment, and pain with regard to this area of life.  Therefore, I need to admit my piece of the responsibility/accountability for the outcome of the conversation.

That having been said, I also have learned several things about myself from this experience, as I do from every experience in my life.  I first connect to gratitude.  I have gratitude that I don’t carry the emotional baggage this person carries regarding men, marriage, romance, etc.  I have baggage of my own in that area to be sure, but I work on reducing the amount of space I allow it to take up in my head.  This helps my heart and mind to stay open to new possibilities.  Next, I am learning how difficult it is for me to speak up in the moment. I know I need to improve in this area.

I had no sooner finished thinking about that need for improvement when I received an email from this person, who continued on about the difficulty of our lunch conversation, the suggestion that I look at two websites for me to read more information about what this person objected to, and telling me it is only out of concern and care that these thoughts and feelings are expressed.  I decided to practice new behavior, called this person and let it be known that I expect to be spoken to as an adult, not as a child, that I don’t appreciate being lectured and while I appreciate the concern, the delivery made me feel judged, which hurt my feelings.  I was told the intention was not to hurt my feelings.  I restated that regardless of the intention, my feelings were hurt just the same.

After I hung up from this call, I was glad I had chosen to speak up.  I also have learned that as the title of this blog states, judgement kills trust in friendship.  Can I consider this person to be a friend?  Perhaps.  Has my trust toward this person been broken?  Absolutely.  Will I be more careful not to reveal any deeper truths with this person going forward?  Most definitely.  I prefer to be in relationships of any kind with people around whom I can feel comfortable with my truth.  When safety no longer exists due to the nature of judgement, then there is a need to pull back, take another assessment and recognize the value of knowing myself, and the value of receiving more information about someone else.  This enables me to make different decisions regarding time spent investing in this friendship.  In moving forward, I knew I was sent this experience as an opportunity to keep exploring for more friendships, ones where I may find the safety to be in the truth, without fear of the hurt that comes from judgement.  The quote goes “judge not lest ye be judged.”  In life we are constantly judging, but what we think and how we deliver it can make all of the difference in the life or death of friendship.