Crisis Mode & The Frosting on my Cupcake

white cupcakeMy brother stopped over for a visit a few days ago. He’s single.

He plopped down on the couch and treated Daughter and I to stories of his recent dating experiences. Naturally, he moved to the subject of me finding a man.

Beloved Brother: You’re 43 years old…you’re in CRISIS MODE.

Me: Huh?

Darling Daughter: You’re not getting any younger.

Daughter couldn’t help teasing me….

Crisis Mode?  I never thought of it that way.  I dated as a teenager. I started dating the man who became my husband in high school. I’ve dated since my divorce. I’ve spent almost my entire adult life WITH somebody, or married.

I think maybe taking time between relationships, time to recalibrate, might be underrated. I can’t be the only one enjoying a bit of ME time, right?

Because I love cupcakes, I’m going with the cupcake analogy:

I wake up happy every day. Love my children, family, friends, job, home and most days, my dogs. The right person would be the icing on the cupcake. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I’m not rushing to frost the cupcake. When it happens, it happens.

I haven’t been in a hurry…

But then I hadn’t realized I’d entered CRISIS MODE.

Not to worry, my brother softened the blow.

Beloved Brother: Really, you’re what most men are looking for…

Me: Huh?

Beloved Brother:  Your kids are about raised. You’ve got one away at college and the other is independent, almost out of the house.

Darling Daughter snickered.

Me (teasing Daughter): You’re a liability. Nobody really wants to deal with another person’s kids…

Darling Daughter: Thanks a lot.

My brother was oblivious to the insult he’d just delivered; agreed that no man wants  little kids, or even teenagers hanging around. He reassured me that mine were tolerable because of their ages, before moving on…

Beloved Brother:  You’ve got a job, you’re doing well. You’re not looking for somebody to take care of you. And you don’t want to get married again.

Me:  Right.

I was speechless, which is a rare thing. He did get me thinking though…

Daughter and I (left) and Son and my Brother (right)

Daughter and I (left two photos) and Son and my Brother (right

A second marriage? It’s never been a goal, or a driving force in my life. When I was in my twenties, I married for love, to have children, a home and to build a life with a man I expected to grow old with. I learned in my first go-around that marriage comes with no guarantee, doesn’t always keep a person faithful and committed. Just because people get married, doesn’t mean they stay married.

It wasn’t easy to get where I’m at now. My life works. For me and for my children. Of course, I would feel blessed to share my life with somebody special. But I think that might be enough. I’m not ruling out another marriage someday–but neither is it something I NEED to complete my life.

Thank you Beloved Brother for pointing out that I’m getting long in the tooth. Much appreciated. Your stories of online dating, divorce groups and such? Not making me eager to go down those roads. Not super inspiring.

What my brother calls CRISIS MODE, doesn’t exactly feel like a crisis to me.

I’ve been busy building a career, raising children, dating, socializing, spending time with family and friends–having fun.

And someday…perhaps a special person will happen along and it will be like frosting on a cupcake.

Single, Over 40 & Online Dating

Ugh.

There seems to be a constant stream of advertising to promote online dating services.

Or maybe I notice because I am single. Same as taking note of car commercials when we need to buy a car. Weight loss commercials when we are chubby.

Confession. I’m terrified of online dating.

I’m not afraid of meeting new people. I do that all the time. Nor do I fear rejection. Been rejected and survived—even see the benefits of it in hindsight. And I’m not afraid of putting my information ‘out there.’ Thanks to the internet, we are ALL kind of ‘out there’ anyway. And I typically only write, email or say things that I would say directly to a person, or admit to saying. That wouldn’t embarrass me (or others) if they were on a billboard.  Life is more simple that way. Straightforward.

So it isn’t a privacy issue. Or that I am a single, divorced, mother of teenagers. Just a hair over 40. All of that statistically makes dating more complicated. But none of it bothers me.

Quotes and claims from a couple of well-known sites:

eHarmony – #1 Trusted Online Dating Site for Singles

Unlike traditional dating websites, eHarmony matches compatible men and women based on 29 Dimensions of Compatibility that are predictors of long-term relationship success. To begin your eHarmony experience, register now and complete your Relationship Questionnaire. Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, you will receive your FREE Personality Profile and our Matching System will begin prescreening singles against your profile.

Match.com – The Leading Online Dating Site for Singles and Personals

The Match.com site promotes taking a personality test with Chemistry.com. Amarnath Thombre, Match.com’s vice-president of strategy and the keeper of the site’s matching algorithm said this online:

We don’t pretend to know who is right for you, but we use mathematics to quickly learn how your complexity shows itself on the site, we are like a bartender who is always observing particularly which types of people are talking to each other and hitting it off.

Seems to be a whole lot of testing, analysis and psychology going on.

My (quirky?) fear…

What if I take the personality profiles and ‘tests’ then get matched with a series of fu#kwits? If they are my Perfect match, then I am a fu#kwit, as well. And I’ll have confirmation of it.

So, it isn’t so much a fear of online dating. It’s more about the ‘test results.’

If I avoid the sophisticated dating websites–and the ‘high tech’ surveys and personality profiles–then I can keep the illusion that I am a sane, normal, person. Because who the computer matches me with surely reflects me–especially if I am completely honest when I take all the ‘tests.’

And even if I’m not honest, these sites are designed to ‘catch’ the liars. And also those who think they are being truthful…

For example, I say I’m attracted to dark-haired men and that money/career aren’t important as long as Mr. Perfect is ‘nice.’ But then I only view profiles of gray-haired men. Many photographed behind the wheels of  their expensive sports cars. The jig is up and the computer is onto me…

So I’m NOT doing any online dating. No thank you. Maybe I am as self-evolved as I want to be just now. And these sites are going to match crazy with crazy.

But what if I miss out on meeting the man of my dreams? Getting engaged. Or married again? (Lord help me…)

I guess I’ll take my chances.

A FINAL THOUGHT…

Where’s the story?

“You two seem soooo happy. How did you guys meet?”

Well…we sat down at our respective computers. Spent about an hour filling out a series of online forms, profiles and tests. Paid our fees. Got our passwords, then a list of Perfect matches. I looked at his photo and bio. He looked at my photo and bio. And we just KNEW. The computer cross referencing was spot on!!

OR:

Her Story: I paged through hundreds of profiles. And there he was. He loves kids and dogs. Cooking. Spending time with family and friends. Going on picnics. Watching the sunset. Loves butterflies, unicorns and rainbows. Blah, blah, blah…

His Story: She was the ONLY one who responded to me.

Online dating isn’t for me. I’ll stick to meeting who I meet, dating who I date. Taking one day at a time. Winging it. For now, anyway…

Note to Readers: Comment away. But please don’t point out my oddities and shortcomings. Or tell me I’m riding the crazy train. (I’d rather not know) In other words, don’t burst my bubble!

Dating in the “Loser” Bracket…

Not only did I NOT have a hot date last Saturday night, I never made it out of my pajama’s. Partly because 3 feet of snow fell unexpectedly—and left us snowed in.  A white horse was not necessary; my Night in Shining Armor ideally would have shown up with some sort of snowplow…

 

If not for the Lake Effect Snowstorm in Northeast Ohio, I would have spent Saturday at a wrestling tournament.  I’ve watched a fair amount of wrestling tournaments this winter, which is why the wrestling analogy comes to mind.

I am in the relationship loser’s bracket—like wrestlers who have lost in the early rounds. They cannot get back into contention for a top finishing spot. They get dumped down into the ‘consolation’ matches and wrestle others who have wrestled poorly, made mistakes, or are simply less capable in the sport. It can’t be all that much fun to wrestle in consolation matches.

The kids and I often watch Millionaire Matchmaker on TV. In the show, Patty Stanger finds singles their Perfect Match and has done so with great success for many years. It is obvious that many of the singles remain ‘single’ because they have no idea how to have a relationship. Those Patty matches are often older, with many failed relationships under their belts–and an equal amount of hang-ups. But they think they are fine, that the problem lies in others, or that they just haven’t met ‘the one’ yet.

But really, they are fu%&wits.  Sadly, this TV series has shown me that most singles my age and older are fu%&wits.

And, so am I. After a failed marriage and a (somewhat short) failed relationship, I have hang-ups .

I’d love to claim that I do NOT have these hang-ups—that I have come out of my experiences unscathed. But that would be a lie.

At 41, I am a divorced, single parent. And I am FOR SURE in the losers bracket.

My dating pool? Other failures…

I know a woman whose friend toasted her at her third wedding;

“Here’s to the most optimistic person I know!”

There’s truth there.

I often meet single men when I go out. And I find myself wondering if I could ever commit to a future with another.  It’s easy to talk, to socialize or even to date. That’s all surface. Making a life with somebody is something else altogether.  And I wonder if could ever trust without reservation, or have the proper amount of optimism necessary for a real relationship…

Adults in my situation often play at dating. Meaning they date in a sort of half-assed fashion, with no progression. No engagement or promises of a future, though a future might vaguely be tossed around. They keep their options open.

Which is totally fine. But I don’t think that counts as a relationship. Not really.

That type of thinking is something I NEVER would have understood a few years back. But now I totally get it. In fact, the thought of limiting my options or tying myself down again makes my palms sweat.

I would think that I would get over those feelings in time. Because I would like to share my life with somebody special. Someday. In the distant—and vague—future.

One thing I’ve learned.  I would far rather be alone, than be with a person who causes me unhappiness, tension or who tries to change me into somebody I am not.

Many think that relationships fall apart when people live together, or marry. I’ve started to think that things fall apart when people are not ‘themselves.’ If a relationship progresses and a couple spend the dating phase being something/somebody they are NOT and they decide to share a home, let’s face it…THE JIG IS UP!!  And in a hurry…

Though I hope to have another ‘special’ man in my life—again, in the vague future—I’m not sure I could ever marry again. In marriage and committed relationships, both parties must drop their guard and throw caution to the wind. I could probably do that again for an extra ‘special’ man, if it was only me. But my children would inevitably be involved.

There’s no getting around it. Any relationship of mine will impact my children. And they have been through enough. Why have them dragged to holiday celebrations with people who aren’t ‘family’ to them—in the name of what works for me? For me,iIt is unthinkable to miss the children’s’ important events, or spend special occasions/holiday’s without my children. It is a rare person who would understand my limitations here.

And if I ever lived with somebody, my adult children might come home from college or for a visit at a place that wasn’t ‘home’ to them. Or likely didn’t feel like home. Our dynamic would be altered.

Oddly enough, I am often asked if I could see myself back together with my ex-husband. I cannot. We had many good years together and we get along just fine as a ‘friends’—but that is done. I simply don’t feel the same way about him, as I did before all he%$ broke loose in our marriage. And not because of the hurts I suffered. Or even that he suffered.

The divorce hurt my children. As an adult, I can get over that which hurt me. But hurt my children (or ANY children) and ALL is lost for me. I just cannot feel the same about a person after that. In my book, no words, gifts or deed can make up for causing hurt to a child. Period. There is no explanation good enough. Especially considering that children get only one childhood.

Yet I am keenly aware that children follow their parents’ lead. That they look to their us as role models for their future relationships. I very much wish I could set an example for my children—but maybe no example is better than a bad example. Or exposing them to several failed relationships.

And so there I was last weekend. Snowed in.  All plans cancelled. With time on my hands to ponder my feelings on another relationship. Because recent events had me thinking about what I really want, or at least how I want to proceed…

Which is why I thought of the wrestlers. How frustrating it must be to put so much time, energy and dedication into their sport…then lose. And wrestling is one tough sport. They probably aren’t eager to get back on the mat and wrestle for…nothing, really. Some of them must feel that to continue wrestling in the consolation bracket isn’t at ALL worth it.

I’m not sure it is worth dating in the ‘consolation bracket’ either.

Why I am NOT looking for Prince Charming…

Prince Charming sweeps in and carries his Princess of into the sunset…

THE END.

Then what?

What IS happily ever after? And why does the story end there?

Because it is a FANTASY.

There is no Prince Charming in real life…nor is there a Cinderella. There are only imperfect human beings.

The story HAS to end there because nobody wants to read about Prince Charming being unemployed, not helping out with the children, that he is having an affair—or that if he tried to carry his Princess, he might rupture a disk. 

Nor does anybody want to picture Prince Charming’s bald head and gut. And they absolutely do not want to see what gravity has done to Cinderella. Matter of fact, Cinderella probably doesn’t want to see it either! If she is like me, she fluffs her hair and applies a little lipstick to draw the eye up.

Lets face it. After the fairy tale, the only place to go is THE END. Going any farther wrecks the image of Perfection. Stopping short allows people to create their own unique vision of what comes after ‘the end.’ Sort of a ‘prettied up’ version of life.

Certainly, nobody imagines divorce is down the road past that sunset…

Having experienced the failure (learning experience?) of divorce, I can say that having it under my belt is NOT a confidence builder. Doesn’t make me want to run out and give ‘er another try…

Yet everyone seems to want me to ‘date.’ And they mean well. They want me ‘coupled’ up, so that I’me as happy as they are.

Two by two, like Noah’s Ark. Sneakers, candlesticks and Twix bars come in pairs. They want me to have the ‘other half’ to make me whole. If I was a donkey, they would want me to find another a#@ to partner up with.

The flaw in that thinking? Before I am happy in a relationship, I first need to be happy with my life and myself—as is—without a relationship. So that I bring my ‘best’ self into my next relationship.

For those who read my last blog about The Stranger on my front steps at 3:30 am several nights ago, my friend Stella had this comment:

The “Guy” was a blind date I was planning on fixing you up with. Whatdya think?? Yes, No, Maybe???

That comment takes me back to the moment I spotted the Strange Man at my doorstep–and I still think her joke hilarious…I was half asleep and just stunned!!

Honestly, I am NOT looking. I figure that somebody will wander into my life…or not. (And I would rather he wander in at a decent hour–not the middle of the night!)

But if he does, I hope like he%& that he is nothing like Prince Charming.

Because I would like a real man. One who has a sense of humor, likes dogs and children, doesn’t mind that my life revolves around sitting at childrens’ sporting events–at least for a few more years. A little patience would be good. Who am I kidding? A LOT of patience would be NECESSARY. I’d like a man who likes the simple things—time with family, a walk on the beach, relaxed family holidays…who would enjoy the (mostly) annual summer trip to Hilton Head Island, where my family gathers to lounge on the beach for a week.

At forty, I’m long past wanting superficial nonsense. Actually, I NEVER wanted it! I’d like somebody who accepts me—flaws and all. And who I’m 100% relaxed and myself with. And vice versa. It is far too much work to be somebody I’m not, to pretend–I’ve never done so and wouldn’t know how to begin doing so now…

Quite possibly, that could be a tall order…

And I have to trust that I will know him, when I see him. It is human nature to  look too hard for something…and not recognize that we already have it or that it is right there before us for the taking. We miss the obvious. Or think we need to struggle, or that a relationships are hard. I can honestly say that my best and closest relationships have always been easy—with my children, friends, family and others that have been a part of my life.

In labeling another person a ‘soul mate,’ or ‘the one’…is there anywhere to go but down? With such high expectations, what happens when Mr. (or Miss) Perfect steps wrong and acts human? Forgets a birthday, or to call to say they’ll be late? Or leaves dirty laundry strewn about the bedroom and crumbs on the coffee table?

So…no Prince Charming for me, Thank you very much!

But at some point in the future, I would very much love for a ‘nice’ Fella to happen across my path. He needn’t be Perfect—in fact, I find perfection boring.

I’m a girl who doesn’t want the Fairy Tale…I actually want the real life that comes after THE END. The whole ride…with all its ups and downs.

Note to Stella: So help me God, I better not be awakened in the middle of the night to a life-size cardboard cutout of ‘Prince Charming’ on my doorstep. And you best not send me a Fella dressed as Prince Charming for Halloween.

(Though I sincerely think I would make a good Princess. I could carry off a tiara…)

SINGLE MIDDLE AGED WOMAN 101

At what age is body glitter inappropriate?

Glitter....

Anybody who has read this blog knows of my affinity for glitter. And that shiny objects draw me like flies to s*#t.

Well…I have finally found an exception. Or at least I think I found one…

As I walked into a local festival last weekend to meet up with an old friend and her circle, a shiny, sparkly lady headed my way. Stunned,  I had to mentally force myself to close my mouth and avert my eyes.

She was one of those ladies that from a distance look like a teenager, but as the pseudo-teenager got closer, it was more like…Oh?

Ohshe’s old. Which is funny, because if she had been dressed age appropriately and with a little less sparkle, passersby would have thought, Oh…what a strikingly attractive woman. 

The sparkly lady wasn’t old—maybe 40s, or 50’s. She just looked too old for her overdone, young presentation.

I do take notice of presentation these days, in ways I did not when I was married. I am trying to figure out how to be single—because I haven’t been in a long time. I met my ex-husband when I was 15, began dating him a few weeks after turning 16, married him at 21 and our divorce was final last year—just before I turned 40. While going through the divorce, I dated an incredibly wonderful single father with three kids for a while.

Which all adds up to my having done little socializing on my own. Very little.

So I study others in an effort to figure this ‘single thing’ out.

Not nearly where I expected to be!!

Kind of like taking a class in school—except in school I really wanted to learn new things. Thrived on it. I am now doing an Independent Study called and Suddenly Single Middle Aged Woman 101. And quite frankly, it isn’t a class that I wanted to take. Nor was it even my idea to sign up. Yet here I am.

Breaking down the look of another. Which is absurd given that I am NOT the most socially experienced, single person around.

That is slowly beginning to change. More often, I am invited to go out—and I inevitably meet new people. And so last weekend, I found myself with social plans. Again.

And yet again, I hadn’t given any thought to a ‘going out’ wardrobe. Or that I don’t have one. With minimal selection in my tiny closet, I went down to the basement to see if there was anything clean in the dryer. No luck. Mostly, everything was dirty on the laundry room floor, separated into piles by color.

I threw on a pair of classic, tailored denim shorts and a black Eddie Bauer t-shirt, mainly because they were clean. (I hadn’t yet worn them this summer—which is why they were clean) I slid my feet into my black, sequin flip-flops thinking I looked reasonably okay.

Of course, I fluffed my hair. I was a teenager in the 80’s and there is only so much straight I can tolerate. A little volume is acceptable in 2011, isn’t it?  Not that I leave the house with much lift at the roots after my daughter uses both hands to smooth my hair down, close to my head—its like putting my head in a vise. She takes care of me like that.

Are you beginning to see my problems?

I have a lot to learn and zero adult single-girl social savvy or ‘going out’ clothing. My hair hasn’t been cut in months. And I could care less…

I have bigger fish to fry.

I’ve got to deal with the empty ring finger. It is without the wedding rings I wore for 16+ years. Up until a couple of years ago, I was part of a couple—for over 20 years. People have told me to put a fake ring on that finger. But that feels like trying to be somebody I’m not. I already did that and I won’t do it again. The alternative—the empty hand—creates other difficulties, but feels more right.

Since removing my rings, I have men striking up conversations everywhere

This is NOT what I look like. Not at all!!

I go. It has become a joke between the kids and I. I have been approached looking at bras (embarrassing!), reading at the bookstore, at grocery stores, and more. It isn’t like I am some looker—just a 40-year-old, nice, rather chubby, ordinary mom. I present myself the same as when I was married, but when I took off the rings—the kid gloves came off and apparently I am now considered ‘fair game.’ Which is laughable

It is also my personal hell in many ways. Even as a child, I couldn’t stand people looking at me. I prefer to fly under the radar. I dance from one end of my house to the other—but hate dancing up on a stage in public. Being divorced sometimes makes me feel a little like I am on display—which is not at all my thing. And which explains why getting all fixed up to go out feels awkward to me. How does one strike a balance between looking nice and attracting attention?

Maybe this is why I was so perplexed by the sparkly lady…because she was put together in a way that would never suit me—or my personality. She was like a beacon in the night with all of her shimmer. Almost like a human glow stick.

She screamed Look At Me—while I much prefer to fade into the background.

It seems more unfair to me that men get better looking as they age. Women find them more attractive. They flock to middle aged single men. Gray hair and laugh lines are distinguished. A little (or even a not so little) gut only adds to their charm. And men’s knees don’t drop as they age.

None of that seems to be the case for mature women. Which might explain why so many resort to wearing small, teenage clothing and to dying their hair funky colors in an attempt to match the hair color of their youth—if they even remember it! And some dive into bottles of body glitter. Possibly, these are attempts to draw the eye away from the parts that aren’t quite where they used to be? The ones heading south, but hoisted into proper position by God’s Grace and expensive undergarments.

After careful consideration—and another evening learning, I changed my mind. Who am I to say that body glitter is only for those under the age of 12? I am an authority on nothing. That is obvious.

If the sparkly lady wants to do the backstroke in body glitter before hitting the town, so be it. She seemed happy. Doesn’t mean I should go swimming in glitter, or that I ever will. I suppose I just need to be comfortable being me. And let others be themselves.

You see? I’m learning…