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Cold Light of Day

Most things can be rationalized in your own mind.

We can convince ourselves of almost anything. Why its ok to febreeze a top and then wear it again. Why you NEED one more piece of cake. Why we should use shopping as therapy. There are a million things we make okay by applying clever logic and a slide of our integrity. Or at least I can.

I recently started dating someone. I knew he wasn’t really right for me, almost immediately, but he’s very adorable. I told myself it was ok because I’m not looking for anything serious now. He’s light and fun. He’s ok with casual. So what difference does it make. So for a few weeks it was just him and me. We’d go to dinner, movies, bookstore, for coffee or the occassion coffee. We really have nothing in common, lots of silence. But it’s easy and non-complicated

Then tonight the bubble burst when he met some of my friends. It was just kind of awkward. Later, hearing their reactions it really hit home that my justification doesn’t fly. It doesn’t matter that he’s pretty. It doesn’t matter that he likes me. It doesn’t matter that he’s nice, kind and a gentleman. It’s just not working.

He doesn’t challenge me. We don’t share the same faith. We don’t have the same goals. We are just passing time together. UGH! I know I could make this work if I wanted to, but deep down I know I don’t really want to.

I also realized that this is about having something for me that doesn’t include my family or its drama. He is someone no one knew about but me. I liked having a life outside of my family. There were no questions, judgements, comments or opinions. Maybe that was just another way to rationalize it too.

Waiting for the right person is hard. I’m 34. I’m aging as I write this. All of my friends are married and many with kids. I feel like I’m being left behind. In my mind the world single echoes in a valley of loneliness and cats. I’m just tired of it. I miss having someone in my life.

But I can’t pretend anymore. Back to reality.

Refusing to hold his tail up and other signs of growth

My poor mom has been housebound for two weeks. She is on zero-weight bearing from her foot surgery and with our lovely icy weather its just safer to stay indoors. Yesterday she devoted the afternoon to watching “The Dog Whisperer.” The story that stood out was about the runt of the liter that had no self-esteem.

The dog was very skittish, timid and fearful of people and most situations. Caesar came and said the way to make it feel better was to hold its tail up. It is a signal to the dog to be proud, be confident and to own its territory. This is why in dog shows they will hold the tail up while they are being judged. With this simple act they assume a difference stance and exude self-esteem. It’s amazing what we as human use to build our self-esteem. For some its job, cars, money, relationships or we seek constant reassurance and acts from others.

I’ve been having serious doubt about the guy I’ve been talking to lately. I knew immediately that he wasn’t ready for a relationship. There are lots of ex-wife issues, kid problems and job stuff abounding. He has a lot going on in his life. He doesn’t have the time or space for anything beyond friends. He doubts himself, what he has to offer and what he wants out of life right now. I recognized it and I made peace with it. In the past I would have chased after him, hung in there until the bitter end and convinced myself it was going to be different in the end. I thought we could just be friends, I really hoped for that. Everyone needs a friend.

But after a huge discussion today we decided to part ways. I realized that I was still reassuring him a lot. I got tired of explaining what I meant cause he took everything the wrong way. In essence I got tired of holding his tail up. I realized that even as his friend it was unhealthy for me. While I had completely detached from the notion of any sort of relationship he really isn’t even ready to be friends, which is ok. His reality is just really different from mine. No big deal.

So its over. No hard feelings. No lingering phone calls. No more text messages. It’s just done and I’m relieved.

Then last night as I was pondering the day I realized how huge that was for me. I wasn’t considering it my duty to fix him or make him a project. I simply decided to give him the room he needs to deal with his stuff without me. It’s ok to say no, I can’t help you. While hard to do it saves a lot of heartache.

Then I realized I used to be just like him. I was so insecure. When in a relationships I needed constant validation that everything was ok. I was so afraid of rocking the boat that the boat never went anywhere. God really has been working in my life and I didn’t even notice until just now. How about that. I am no longer the insecure girl that hides behind sarcasm to keep people at arms distance. Wow! That is amazing. I know what I have to offer in a relationship. I don’t have to constantly feel like the lucky one and that they putting up with me and I need to be eternally grateful for their presence bestowed upon me.

WHI-HOO! That is growth sister.

Dating a Single Dad

One of the hazards of being single well into your 30s is that a lot of the eligible men in the dating pool are divorced. And where there is a divorce chances are there are kids too. Navigating these waters can be tricky. There are ex-wives, schedules, baggage, resentments and unresolved issues up the wazoo. The sad part is the kids and the new girlfriend are often the collateral damage.

My last serious relationship was with a single father. His daughter lived in another state so we’d been dating for a year before I met her. Yet when she was in town our relationship ceased to exist. He had no ability to balance parenting duties and boyfriend duties. Once I got to know her I figured out how to fit into their world. I helped fill in the gaps and made it my goal to help him be the best father he could be. But our relationship would stop growing because we had no time together.

It isn’t all bad, getting to know her was one of the great joys of my life. I got to be a fun aunt in her life for a while. I wasn’t responsible for parenting. I count myself as privileged to be one of the people in her life that loved her. It was fun to be a girly girl with her. We went and got pedicures together. She loves to read and so we spent lots of time in bookstores and libraries. There were also days we didn’t get along at all. Yet overall I am glad I was part of her life for a bit. But kids make a new relationship complicated. There are many unmitigating circumstances you have zero control of.

So a relationship with a single dad requires great flexibility, confidence and determination to make it work. As the new person in this equation you never really know where you stand or what your role is supposed to be. Your plans are always flexible. You most always come second. Even his relationship with the ex-wife predates yours, so she is still a pull in his life. One call from her can ruin the week because she pushes every button he has, often on purpose.

My mom said at my age I need to be remember that I’m choosing from the damaged ones. LOL. Classic mom line.

I’m revisitng these issues because I’ve recently met someone I really like and he’s a single father with three kids. The divorce was ugly and the residual effects are still very evident. We have great chemistry and a lot of fun but because of his situation I don’t know if it will work. His time is limited. His first priority are his kids, which I know is right.

I don’t have kids. I don’t fully know the weight of responsibility that rests on your shoulders as a parent. I can’t imagine how that is affected by a divorce, where as a father you don’t have the daily access to your children. It has to be hard.

Cognitively I know his time and attention are limited. We don’t have the same priorities. I want to be understanding and supportive but when plans change again and again I get frustrated. Am I ready for another relationship like this? I realize he’s not my ex and that perhaps he can balance fatherhood and dating, I really have no idea.

But ultimately, I’m afraid to hope, trust and let him in, those are my issues. LOL

Maybe we’re all damaged at this point.

Five Love Languages for Singles – Gifts

The second kind of love language we studied are gifts.

Chapman believes that giving gifts is one of the fundamental universal languages of love, in any culture. When done in its purest, unselfish, no strings attached way it is a “visual symbol of love.”

Now to the person whose primary love language is gifts it doesn’t matter if the gift is found, made, bought, small, big, expensive, or cheap. It is about the symbolic act of giving something to them in a loving way.

However, just like everything else it too can be perverted. The wrong kind of gift giving is when you expect something in return, are using it as leverage, it cannot be a payment for anything, or used as an apology and mean the same thing.

Chapman also says this is the easiest language to learn. If we’re paying attention we will pick up on the clues others give to us about what they like, what they need, what they’re hoping for and what their interests are. If we’re good listeners we will be able to buy, make, and recognize appropriate gifts for those that are important to us.

In our small group we all drew names and made something this week. It was great to see all of the different ideas that abounded and reflected how well we know each other. It was a fun exercise.

I think for me that the great thing about gifts is that it shows how well you know someone or how well they know you. Gifts can be a disaster if you’re not paying attention. I’ve received gifts that have nothing to do with me and is more about what the other person likes or wants, that isn’t love.

I’ve also received gifts that were the longing of my soul and many times those gifts cost little or nothing. It isn’t about how much money you spend. I don’t think many guys get that in a dating relationship. Free tip for ya – we just want to know you’re paying attention. That’s all. We really aren’t that difficult, we just require a little work.

While I appreciate gifts I know it isn’t my primary love language.

Single Dating

Any discussion about singles must include dating. I’m going to avoid the typical conversation including such things as kissing dating goodbye, the purity line and other boundaries that are important to talk about but not today.

Instead let’s talk about dating as an activity. What we go through to obtain a date, enjoy a date and endure while dating. This reveals that by in large we are an optomistic people. In our 30s I say we lose the naivete that says every date could be the one but gosh darn it we keep throwing ourselves out there. We want to believe that we will find love. So we endure a lot – the good, the bad and the ridiculous.

Let’s face it, dating is absurd. You are spending quality time with a virtual stranger. This is time you could be spending with friends, cleaning, or organizing your sock drawer. Yet again and again we do it over and over. Not always for the right motives. Not always thinking its going to last forever.

Erika and I used to give alternative names to the guys I was going out with. We knew they weren’t going to last beyond a few dates so what’s the point of learning their real names. We had boat boy (cause he had a boat), elevator boy (we met in an elevator) and GH (for reasons that shall go untold). Sometimes the things that happen on dates are too ridiculous to be believed and you have to laugh, other dating occurrences are just painful and you have to keep them to yourself. Bottom line dating is mostly about the stories you get to tell your friends afterwards.

I once went on a date with someone I knew from work. He was 45 minutes late and his first comment was, “I hope you’re not hungry cause I stopped at the drive-thru on my way over.” He stopped to eat, what the heck, he asked me out. I’d hung out with this guy before and had no idea why he turned into a creep. We ended up at Dave and Busters, he got so engrossed in the video games he had no idea I was there. I actually left him while he was playing. I got tired of trying to talk to him. We were chilly to each other at work after that. He told his friends I was the one who changed.

All dates aren’t bad. I had a fabulous one in Phoenix, AZ. I met a guy at a trade show and we flew to AZ to hang out for the day. It was the best date I’ve ever had. We rode bikes, talked for hours, visited an old western town and ate Chinese food. I felt like I was finally getting to date like in the movies. All we needed was to set our day to music and it would have been a montage.

One avenue that has proved to be quite interesting and requiring its own set of rules is online dating. I am going to publicly confess that I have done it. I have experimented with e-harmony and match.com. Now I have to say e-harmony lured me in by the free personality profile. I am a sucker for self awareness. Few like to admit that they have partaken in this activity. For some reason there is still an faint smell of loserness associated with online dating. It doesn’t matter that most everyone does. It doesn’t matter than Neil Clark Warren is trying to base it on science and compatibility. It doesn’t even really matter that some people meet their future spouses there.

Online dating is a crap shoot. You may shun gambling in Vegas but every time you go online to find a date you are rolling the dice. Online you are often seeing one dimension of the person, the image they want to project. We’re talking higher deception that the typical honeymoon of dating usually allows for. I mean it’s normal to put your best foot and face forward in the beginning of a relationship, but online we can become the person we always wanted to be. This is our philosophical self instead of our real self.

I met someone from eharmony who told me that he was 24 (I was 26 at the time), a grad student at Cal State Northridge and lived with roommates. In reality he was 19, just started college and lived with his mommy.

UGH! As we get older it is harder and harder to meet people, so online dating is tempting. I have another friend that views it as a database of men. She fills out her criteria and presto chango someone who could be her soul mate pops up for the taking. So there you go.

Dating, it’s an animal. Sometimes I wonder if we should go back to arranged marriages, then we could at least blame our parents if it doesn’t work out. Why do we torture ourselves like this?

For the off chance it’s going to be amazing. You know those times. When you meet someone and time flies. They like the same things we like, want the same things we do, are capable of a great conversation, have a good sense of humor, and on top of that there is chemistry, which means they might like you back. LOL that’s the killer. That is the miracle of dating that makes us keep trying.