Lightbulb Moment – Thomas

Maggie is right, I’m already seeing red flags with Tom. They came up quick. Whole freaking fields of red flags.

I bet they were there the first time I spoke to him but I don’t recall. Chances are high that I ignored them the first time I spoke to him in favor of him checking my boxes.

But that’s ok because Tom has landed pretty squarely in the friends or FWB (if I ever have that) category.

The light bulb moment with Tom had a physical effect. I really felt a difference – like a spool of tension unwinding – a spool I didn’t even know I had. I thought that was pretty interesting.

I quickly liked that he’s communicative and I don’t need to say much. He’s intelligent and interesting. Very fit, tall and handsome. When I was first looking through a relationship filter, I didn’t like that he didn’t really seem to want to find out more about me – he loves to talk about himself, his child and his x. Ad nauseam .

The talk around his x is aggressive and vicious because they are in a very contentious custody battle and she’s a violent alcoholic. It makes me uncomfortable since I don’t know him well enough.

Those were the two things that hit me clear across the forward with Tom.

When I thought about my intentions toward him differently, it changed the entire way I felt about him….I don’t care if he asks about me and my life because I can already see he’s not ever going to be that person, so why even try and go there? Why would I feel neglected or rejected that he’s so busy being worried about himself? I’m not sure he realizes or cares how self involved he comes across. I’ve always taken a mans “disinterest” as a reflection on me but I know, at least with Tom, it has nothing to do with me. As soon as I told my anxiety that we would not be chasing Tom, despite the fact he was a man who checked many of our boxes, anxiety had a little pity party and left the room! I loved watching her sashay right the fuck away from me and literally had a physical sense of relief! I don’t need Tom to be any more or less than what he is. Maybe we have sex, maybe we don’t. It’s all good because, no matter what, it won’t have any legs as far as a relationship. Maggie taught me all about reframing a long time ago and it’s one of my favorite tools, I just forget to use it

The second thing, right on the heels of the first, was I realized I was uncomfortable being pulled into his life drama without getting to know him first. This made me think over how much I like to “get right to relationship” and learn everything up front with someone. Maybe it’s because of the situation and I was disinterested in the adversity in his life but I tend to think it’s because I just realized it’s way too much too soon. These things SHOULD take time. I would now prefer they take time. If I’m paying attention (like I am recently) I realize he’s just telling stories about himself, he’s not getting to know me or probably even sharing anything more or less special than he shares with anyone else.

One other thing, and this has been a very slow realization since Tony – people do have normal relations with their x. I wanted to, I just can’t. But when I hear such violent reaction to an x I am uncomfortable. I think I realize that either end of the spectrum is unfamiliar to me: I didn’t have the absolute possible worst experience of the best. I don’t understand, or embrace, either. I find it difficult to accept a good working relationship with an x as much as a violent hating relationship. This wasn’t a light bulb as much as it’s something I feel needs to be explored more deeply. If I were to get into a decent relationship and the man had a calm and friendly relationship with his x, will I be threatened? Good for thought. This comes up again with Mike for sure, as it did with John a I wonder how a good co-parenting relationship works and why they don’t dislike their x. Again, nothing to resolve for the moment, but I realize there’s more to uncover here.

Where do things currently stand with Tom? I hear from him when he’s interested in engaging me, otherwise I remain quiet. However this moves forward, or not, is just fine.

I almost can’t believe I’m saying all this.

So Much on my Mind

Right now I feel like a could write a book. I’m no good at short versions of anything and so much has been churning inside of my head lately I wish there was a way to get it out as the thoughts happened and into the blog. It all seems so logical when I’m thinking of it, but when I go back to write it, so much seems to slip away and I end up not knowing where to start.

I felt like light bulbs have been turning on all over the place lately. I know it’s all tied up with my current situation in dating. I’m having a moment like I haven’t had in a very long time. My libido is back in full blast and it absolutely wreaks havoc on my good intentions to have better behaviors while dating.

The difference is – now I know it. And I realized I can do something about it. Maybe not the something some might prefer me to do (not drink, not have sex, not date kind of thing). I now realize if I decide to do the things I do, all I need to do is accept responsibility for what they are at face value and stop putting so much more time and wasted effort into wanting them to be more than they are

I’ve simply got to learn to accept that I can have sex, drink, be ridiculous and WALK AWAY once it’s over.

I’m going to stop feeling bad about myself after I make questionable decisions. Berating myself and becoming more anxious is serving no purpose. I need to own it.

The pressure my attachment anxiety puts on me in these dating situations has to stop. I’ve started having conversations with my anxiety similar to the way I would speak to Trixie if she ever materialized (god help us all).

Sound silly? Maybe. But if talking to myself is what it takes to own my behavior and course correct then so be it.

My dating cup is running over and I’m letting it. I feel like I’ve uncovered something big and want to see if I can put thought into practice.

My whole life has been spent looking for male approval. I didn’t get it from my father. I didn’t get it from husband. The first time I felt really and truly solid about myself the “approval” came from the wrong place (married men). In hindsight, I don’t know if that matters to what I have learned. I don’t think the man himself or the situations make any difference to what I took from them. In hindsight, I learned so much about myself and what I needed to feel good in relationship. If I had been more capable of controlling my emotions, these could have been all positive experiences. Maggie and Nichts recently have me thinking about how to reframe what I’ve been through and how I see my past. In all my recent writing about dating, and digging through my past, I finally realize I can stop needing a man to make me feel worthy.

I actually do feel worthy now. I feel alive and powerful more than ever in some ways (and weaker in others). Maybe I didn’t arrive at this place from the traditional “self-love” approach. Maybe I just filter things through my male-approval lens to understand them because that’s how I’ve always seen the world. I think I needed a solid round of decent dates, some quick turnover, some great sex as well as some rejection to realize I’m actually ok. It’s a normal cycle to be rejected one way or the other in dating. I never learned to accept it and still find myself worthy.

I realize I can. I can own the rejection and move past it. I can own the sex on first dates because I wanted it. I am doing my best balls-to-the-wall to push away the anxiety.

I don’t even know if I am making any sense. Like I said, it all sounded so solid and so crystal clear in my head and getting these thoughts into words has proven difficult.

I know I’m going to be fine. It doesn’t mean I won’t struggle with learning how to slow down, not push for more at the wrong time or with the wrong person. It doesn’t mean I won’t obsess a little or overthink situations. Those are just things I do. I just don’t need to overdo them.

Each man / situation gave me a light bulb moment this week so they will each get a post: Mike, Thomas and Charles (yup a new one!).

I can honestly say I’ve never had this kind of clarity around dating before. I feel like I’m seeing myself for the first time. Somehow I think I’m on the edge of something bigger that’s yet unidentified and in front of me. I feel in control in a way I have never experienced before.

It’s good to be on the edge. It’s liberating. It feels like Trixie level excitement without the crazy. Is that a thing?

I guess we are going to find out if it is or not. And hope I’m not feeding myself lip service.

Big Words: Desperation, Communication, Attachment (part 1)

Morning my friends!

Many thanks to all of you who take time to give me insight and advice. I always love the feedback, I never construe it as negative and, in general, unless you are consistently poking at me, I don’t take any offense.

In particular, Jana’s comment from last week resonated with me and I had vacillated between replying directly to Jana’s comment and writing a post reply.

Obviously the post reply won.

First and foremost Jana, thank you. I always appreciate everyone (my whole tribe of faithfuls: KDaddy, Sassy, Morava, Gone, Nich, Maggie, Ann, NBrat) who takes their own time to thoughtfully comment on my blog. It means a lot to me.

So here goes – not everything is in direct response to Jana’s post, but it’s where the seeds were planted for this post.

Quite some time ago, someone on my blog identified anxious attachment syndrome. The first time I heard that on my blog I didn’t know what it was, so I did some research. There is no question I have anxious attachment. Much later, when I went to my therapist, it was one of the first things she identified and wanted me to work on getting back to my inner child so I could determine why and where the anxious attachment syndrome started. I didn’t want to do that work with her at the time. My focus with her then was all about healing, letting go of Tony, learning to be a better parent and building back my confidence. We didn’t ignore the fact that my inner child was crying for help, we did talk about root cause often, but I struggled – and still do – with therapy that makes you go back to childhood to view situations you can not change. Especially when it involves my dead Mother. I do not want to change my perception of my mother because I can no longer discuss any of it with my mother.

I know I am not willing and not ready to take this backwards view. I may never be.

My therapist and I spoke about that. Would I forever be damaged if I didn’t find the roots and forgive myself and the people around me for why I developed anxious attachment? Would I be able to forgive a depressed and anxious birth mother for being miserable her entire pregnancy and affecting my gestational period? Would I be able to forgive my father for loving my mother So obsessively he accepted the fact she wanted children or she would leave him, so he conceded but had no desire to actually raise a family? Would I forgive my mother for the fact that she gave up her life to deal with a depressed and mentally unstable and demanding mother as well as a hyperactive child (who in the 70s was undiagnosed and considered “bad”). Can I forgive them?

Yes. I have already forgiven all of them.

Do I want to think about and try to better understand how those forces built an anxious attachment in me that was created in childhood and then cultivated over 22 more adult years in marriage?

No. I don’t.

I know I have anxious attachment syndrome. But I also believe, as did my therapist, I don’t have to go back to move forward.

I do have to learn my triggers, understand the signals my body gives me and stop neglecting the small voice that says “you are not enough and you deserve less”. Or, more often, “you’ve done something wrong.”

I think, if nothing else has ever come across clearly on my blog – the one thing that has always cut through is my direct and transparent honest about myself.

With that said, this blog is an actual real time blog. I blog entirely top of mind and you all get to look first hand at my craziness, happiness, depression, anger, joy, elation, confusion and frustration. I put it ALL right here in the best words I can find to share with you. I don’t edit myself. I write what I think and how I feel.

Does it come across as desperate many times? Yes.

I am not exactly desperate anymore. I’m sure of this. Do my words sound that way? Sure, I can see that.

But you get a birds eye view of how my mind is churning through every available path and avenue. The choices I can make. The roads I should and definitely should not travel. You’ve seen where Trixie (and her friend Tricia) live. You watch me fold and unfold and refold the same towel a thousand times – fueled by my nervous anxiety.

I felt I needed to be clear about where I am today. I am in a better place than I’ve ever been in my life. My life has taken the best path since February 11th, 200 days ago. I am a drug addict, I have to count the days my head stays straight on my shoulders and I continue to make better choices for myself. I know this.

Right now, I do not believe any man is going to derail me. Do I get sad and frustrated and angry and write about it in the moment? Yes, I do. Because you help me suss out things I didn’t want to see when I wrote the post. Coming back to the comments is like revisiting the crime scene. I have to go through the action again (in my head) in order to reply to thoughtful comments. When I do especially “bad” things – I write about it because it’s the last way I have to hold myself accountable. It reminds me I wasn’t listening to my better senses.

I loved my therapist. I think she did an amazing job in the time we had. I was a big fucking nut to crack in under 4 months. She cut across and gave me tools to manage my family, Tony, getting back to work and developing new relationships. I wish I had more time with her but – as life is – I don’t have the time or money to see a therapist. In place of that, I’ve been educating myself and consuming self-help books by the handfuls, like MMs. It would be ideal to have the resources I needed to stay in therapy for a good long while. It’s just not going to happen right now in my life. I have time for one dedicated “activity” outside of work – my choice is fitness over mental health (assuming there was a therapist who worked in the evening or weekends). This is my choice in life. I’ve learned not to swallow a whale right now. Trying to fit any more in (structure) is going to be too stressful for me. Therapy shouldn’t be stressful. But trying to find the time and money right now would cause even more anxiety. I am fully comfortable with my choice.

There are two very divided schools of thought about how to manage anxious attachment. I always thought this to be be super interesting because the tactics are so opposite one another. And you all definitely reflected the two schools of thought in the comments!

One thought is figure out how to love yourself first.

But the other is – practice. Date as many people as you can and practice identifying and managing the anxious attachment.

Do I love myself? I’m trying. I’m absolutely in the best place I’ve ever been. I consciously work on positive self talk and creating good habits. I will probably always struggle with some form of “I’m wrong, I’m not good enough or please love me and don’t leave me” but I am working on my three worst fears that create my anxiety. Am I desperate? No. I’m not. I experience desperation and rejection within the dating scene, but I am not desperate. I can be alone. I have filled my life with healthy and happy people and habits.

So, along with the agreement of my therapist, we discussed allowing me to practice managing the anxiety through dating. If it became overwhelming I was to stop. And I did – for short periods – if it wasn’t serving me. And now, twice in 200 days I had two back to back events I wrote about that got my goat and I became frustrated. I experienced the anxious attachment in its full form and for the first time in my life I RECOGNIZED my behavior and subsequently controlled it.

That’s a win in my book.

Should it be controlled from the start? Yes! I hope to make that happen. But in the meantime, I’m super proud I had maybe 2 24 hour periods where I worked through it and acknowledged what I felt. I sat with it.

post script: somehow, half this post was cut off and lost. I will try and re-create the second half tomorrow so I can address what I’ve discovered about communication.

The In-Betweens

I guess it’s been around 3 weeks since I matched with Mike in my swiping frenzy.

Before meeting Mike, my friend gave me a stern talking to about taking a long break from the apps. My short break was too short according to her.

I listened for the moment and deleted 3 of the 4 apps, including the one I met Mike on. I was still in conversation with the other two men on Hinge so I left it open. Plus, Mike seems to be hanging in – I don’t really know for sure.

I thought about what my friend said and took it to heart. I’m really busy and don’t actually have a lot of time to date. Vetting the strangers is tiresome, but well worth the effort because my choices have been good. I don’t want to expend the time because it’s so frustrating but I want the outcome. We know there is no output without input.

Much like a diet or exercise.

So, of course, I realize I am only going to get what I put into it. I have been consciously trying to put positive vibes out into the universe.

I’m just tired. I want a guy I can text chatter with during the day. That I can have a phone conversation with once in a while (not an every night thing). That I can rely on to contact me each day, and not wonder when or if it’s ok if I make first contact today or tmrw and how long should I wait in between text? The dating rules suck but they work.

I feel a little queasy because I haven’t heard from Mike in a day. He was communicative enough while he helped his daughter moving and especially when he got stuck in an airport for 24 hours. But during all that he never said he wanted to see me again. I spoke to him once on the phone and he was perfectly fine and normal, so it must be his overall text style not to write much because he’s chatty in person.

Will I be upset if I don’t hear from him? Sure, of course. Just like John. But it won’t kill me and I actually have a bit better feeling there are guys out there for me – my person is somewhere! I just wish it was easier.

Does he like me enough to continue or not? And why does he have all the power? At least in my head. Why do I still feel like inferior goods?

There is something I haven’t identified because MANY men have done the same thing with me – the excitement, how cool I am, how strong, smart, beautiful etc. I have virtually always impressed in the beginning – but do I give off some weird crazy eyes or something? Do I have a vibe that says “stay away from this nutjob?” I don’t compliment people when I don’t mean it and the compliments I receive are entirely CONSISTENT. So they can’t all be faking or lying – there’s truth in there. They all are quickly attracted but after a second thought they back off.

I don’t even know if I am making sense I’m babbling so much. It’s just been bugging me all day because I haven’t heard him. Ultimately I recalled he had a big day at work yesterday and I ended up texting him later in the day to see how it went. He answered promptly with no fanfare. I frankly asked if he would like to go out again and he said yes.

I suppose I shouldn’t have. I’m so transparent. I just want to know.

I may never be good at dating. My brain just works in an organized, methodical approach. Black and white. Yes and no. I always need an “answer” and have trouble with grey (in life, not at work though). Interestingly enough, Mike is also a Virgo. I made a joke about his methodical approach for things and he agreed with me. But then I also teased about him quietly judging and being critical about everyone and everything and he looked at me with surprise (like “you caught me!” Surprise) and have a big laugh. If he’s anything like me as a Virgo – he’s absolutely judgey (quietly).

Anyway, let’s see what happens with Mike and if I can settle into his cadence or follow his lead for the time being. If the other app, Hinge, nets anything – well then, great. If not, it is what it is for now.

Sorry for the ramble but that’s what the blog is here for! Happy Friday!!

How to go Slow?

I don’t know how to do this. I know this. You know this.

I also know it’s something I need to learn now. As in right now.

I have a potentially good thing right in front of me with Mike. I want it to stay that way without overwhelming it with intensity. Any good relationship I know, that lasts, doesn’t start in flames.

Is it already too late?

I question if I have ever had a normal relationship. Something I haven’t forced forward or have forced upon me – because of one or the others passions, jealousy or expectation. It’s sort of frightening as I think about it.

I just want normal. Like really normal. I’m not saying Mike has to be my forever or even long term. I just want a nice guy to date. something that looks like: He likes me, I like him, there is a level of trust and commitment (unsure what that means exactly but feels like it means I can expect him to always call the next day kind of thing and not have to worry he suddenly disappears overnight).

I guess the situation with John affected me more than I realize. Not John himself, he’s utterly irrelevant. The fact I met a man I could envision dating nicely and I allowed it to get carried away too fast.

So, what have I done any differently this time? I still had a too-long first date. We had passionate sex on dates 1 and 2. And….that’s it. Not saying it’s right or wrong but that’s a short list of potential errors for me. I’m normally over my head before date 1.

What’s more important is what I’m NOT doing this time. Communication is at his pace, which can be erratic. Ok, fine. I don’t love it but I am going with the positive self-talk and telling myself “he WILL check in.” I am not revealing every crack and crevice of myself such as my sexual history (we had a brief talk, nothing in depth, I kept it light). No talk of my surgeries or breakdown. No talk of my x or any affairs. Nothing REALLY important. Nothing HEAVY.

I read something about “Baggage Bonding” which means bonding over your previous issues with marriage or relationships.

On the other hand. We had sex. Multiple times. Unprotected sex. That needs a conversation. I know I’m not having sex with anyone else. I suppose I can simply say to him “wrap it up” if you plan to be having sex with others? He has repeatedly said he doesn’t want more than one woman. I don’t take that at face-value because I don’t KNOW him well enough. He may even mean it. But it’s too soon to expect he knows it’s what he wants with me.

I keep repeating to myself: Keep it light, Madeline. Let it develop naturally. Let it be healthy. Mike doesn’t need to satiate some deep hole within my soul, he is a lovely addition to a currently calm and balanced life. I’m doing my own soul work and I’ve been pretty successful in the past 6 months.

But how do you do this after you’ve had such hot sex the first two dates? How do you also get the simmer? Have I already jeopardized it?

I read some articles that all say “have a serious discussion” but this seems pushy to me. I don’t think I want a serious discussion, I just want to know if he wants more, or not. I don’t know how to ask.

And maybe all of it’s in my head and I’m already thinking too forward too fast.

I really just want to get it right for once.

Second Date Success

I’m so happy to say our second date (maybe sex-ond date is more appropriate) was great fun.

I arrived to his condo and he was waiting for me outside – he literally skipped over to me, he was so happy to see me – totally unexpected but he can make me laugh easily. The best way I can describe how I’ve felt with him is that he is just a nice, easy feeling and he’s so genuine that it places me at ease instantly.

He lives in a beautiful development just under a half hour drive from my home which was another newish experience for me – driving to his house. I think I drove to Tony2s house once and that’s the only time I can recall. The difference here was that dinner was half prepared on the stove, the wine was chilled, the salad was made and the table was set. He had asked me what I could eat before I arrived so he knew what he made was perfect. Meat sauce from scratch, a beautiful full salad and even some roasted broccoli. It was a perfectly casual and thoughtful meal. The night before he had sent me a photo of the wines he chose – both my favorites. He remembered from our first conversation. It warmed my heart because I now know when a man cares, he remembers. I still, even after 5 years since the end of my marriage, often think a man won’t behave that way and I’m still always surprised.

As soon as we walked in the house and he grabbed me for a more intense kiss, he backed up for a minute and said “this day couldn’t have gone any more slowly, I was counting down the hours to you.” Another unexpected but lovely surprise. He is a different man in text than in person, that’s for sure. I call him Mr. Dry in text.

He wanted me sitting next to him while he was preparing so he brought me over a stool, poured me a glass of wine and set me down. The table was set, the two candles he owned were lit and the glasses chilled. As I was watching him cook I came up behind him to hug him and I feel his immediate response. When I touch him and kiss him gently his body responds quickly. I knelt down on the kitchen floor to take his cock out to tease some. He loved it but pulled me up and I offered to turn around so he can take me from behind. So he did and as he got going he realized he was burning the pasta so when he leaned over to shut the pasta off he also came back, grabbed me, and pulled me into his bedroom. Once again I avoided removing my clothes as I was wearing a little high waisted denim skirt and a white T. Only the skirt needed to be pushed up as he mounted me. It felt so nice to have missionary sex and he’s a pretty amazing lover.

We had a short but fabulous session where we both ended breathless. I got a better chance to see his bachelor pad. It’s empty except for minimal necessities and photos of his girls and a bedroom for his youngest daughter. You can tell he’s not adjusted to this being his new home. I’m sure it’s difficult to be displaces and I’m lucky I’ve never had to experience that. I realize, in hindsight, I was so angry with my x that I really didn’t care about the disruption to his life and home. I didn’t give two shits because of his nastiness. I would probably have more sympathy for him if he cared more about making a home 5 years later for his children, but he doesn’t. He got selfish. Anyway, I digress.

Dinner was fun and Mike was such a great host. I noticed he was a little nervous and wanted me to like everything – he didn’t have to worry. We cleared the table, refilled our wine and sat down. Once again, he put on music and insisted we dance together. This happened multiple times during the night and I loved it. He would sing to me and kiss me and twirl me about a bit. It was so much fun and I couldn’t stop laughing. In between, I don’t really know how many times we had sex. He started Counting and eventually gave up. For a 48 year old man he has zero issue with erection, recovery or holding out….we have an amazing capacity to enjoy one another over and over. This time there was quite a bit of oral sex for me and one lovely huge orgasm while sitting on his face. He’s a very generous lover and also very attentive. Believe it or not, my skirt never came off again – somehow I made it through and entire evening with my belly covered. I didn’t feel any more or less sexy for having clothing on, but it eliminates any thought on my behalf of my wounds. Part of me wishes there was a way to keep it like this, but I do miss full access to my breasts – he got in there, but it’s not quite the same as being completely naked.

The night grew quite late and I needed to head home so he could get on the road super early to drop his daughters car in college several states away. He walked me to my car and it was hard to part. I didn’t realize until half way home I left my hot pink panties on his bed. When I arrived home there was a text with the photo of my panties hanging on his dresser.

He text the next morning while I was sleeping that he was on the road. We spoke on and off while he had his long drive. He’s a bit different in person – in person he’s entirely engaging but on phone I feel like I drive the conversation much more. I don’t love that but have realized I just need to get him on a subject to tell a story. I have to remind myself that it’s brand new, I’m still learning and that’s it’s NORMAL not to be engaged 24/7 and learn about someone’s life overnight.

He communicated when he arrived and he let me know what he was up to with his daughter. While I wish there was “more” communication I want to hold back and wait for him to reach out. His focus is his child this weekend, she’s getting settled in her apartment and he’s being the rock solid Dad. If and when I hear from him, and I expect he will check on on his own time just like he does during the week, that will be enough because I know he’s thinking of me.

I have to intentionally try and behave differently and let this grow on its own. I want to experience a normal dating flow (whatever that is). I want to let it be without any expectation. I like him, he likes me. I don’t need more than that at the moment despite what my brain insists on processing.

I want to go slow. I want to take it easy. Enjoy the moments. Enjoy what he’s giving me because it’s all good. It’s not too much and not too little.

Just breathe, Madeline. Just breathe.

A Second Date!

I did hear from Mike the next day, with an offer to come to his house in the later afternoon because he couldn’t get me out of his mind. I declined because I had to get my workout in and do my Sunday night thing before the week started.

I didn’t reach out, But he had by noon, and I was pleased to see the text I wasn’t really expecting. It was a nice change. Maybe it’s also because when he left, I didn’t have any negative gut check. I was going to be ok either way in any case and I already knew that. It’s a first for me in a very long time when I like someone as much as I liked him out of the gate.

He’s perfectly chatty in person, well-spoken, gregarious and funny. But very, very dry and direct in text. No subtext, insinuation or flirting. This could be another reason I’m not so immediately drawn in. The men I get engaged with tend to be very well engaged in text, I feel like it’s a real conversation. With Mike it’s a bit perfunctory.

And I think it’s ok.

Each night there’s been a goodnight and most mornings a good morning. Maybe an exchange of one text and then I hear from him around lunch every day, checking in. Very simply something like “hey” or “how is your day?” I will answer, ask him how he is and then I don’t hear much back if anything. I am not tied to the message on the phone or the alert chime, but I’m happy when I look down and there’s a message.

I moved from being uncertain about his continued interest to certain. I don’t have to do anything and I will hear from him to check in. Even when he is with his younger daughter or his friends.

He was clear about his plans for the week and weekend while we were together Saturday so I wasn’t really expecting anything from him this week but on Tuesday he asked me over for Thursday. To his apartment. To cook for me.

Knock me down with a feather! This is another first. I forget I never really had many “dating” relationships. Very few. He lives close, we both know we want to have sex again, and after tonight he is with his daughter at her college until Monday night. Of course I accepted. I was due to head to my cousins at the beach this evening but I can always go in the morning.

The strangest thing is, I’m not excited. I mean, a little, of course. But there are two specific reasons I think my little heart hasn’t beat out of my chest yet:

1. I am freaking nervous about having to discuss the wound. I have decided to be proactive by saying: I had major abdominal surgery last year and I’m very sensitive about some deep scarring. I keep a bandage over the worst part of it. I debated if I also include the massive weight loss and why my belly looks like it does and figured I can just write it off the horrible surgeries. What do you think?

2. Here’s the kicker fam, he’s separated and not divorced.

Ugh. A big old ugly ugh.

He is in his own apartment, she works and he works, they are dividing everything in half so there is (seemingly) very little to argue over, she is keeping the house free and clear. They are at the very beginning of mediation.

I’m pretty sure I’m so scarred from Tony that it’s the reason my heart and head won’t engage fully with Mike. Don’t get me wrong, I like him, I could like him so much more, he’s simply at the beginning of his journey and no one has a crystal ball. But history has taught us that most long marriages (he’s married 22 years, separated physically for 6 months) need space after the marriage ends. We need to learn about ourselves before we enter into another commitment.

We could go along happily for months and he could even get divorced in that period and there’s still little Chance his first out of marriage relationship could last. I know this.

Which sucks. Just sucks.

My friends think it’s fine to date him and keep him at arms length IF I can keep my feelings out of it. But, can I? Am I capable? My track record sucks.

I also don’t want to talk to him about it, which I normally want to do. Even when John rejected me I had a desire to “know” why? Just why? I wanted to talk about it. With Mike, I don’t want to take the chance I will hear words that I fall for like “who knows what will happen, I really like you” or “I only want to be with one person and I already know what I need.” Tony fed all of that to me and I believed past the point of belief. I don’t actually want to engage in any serious conversation with Mike. Or any silly and intensely flirty conversation that leads to actually liking him too much. None of this “do you miss me?” Or “did you dream of me?” Nonsense. I don’t want to fall for him so I can hit my head on the pavement some more.

So if I can keep him at arms length….can I remain detached enough to enjoy some company and dates and relax for a bit? Or am I doomed to run head first into another disaster?

This is, admittedly, the very first time I feel cautious. I have never felt a sense of (almost) fear of allowing myself to feel anything other than what I’m getting in the moment. I really don’t know. I just don’t know if I’m capable of it and built to have all or nothing.

For the moment, I will see him and enjoy the evening. I will bare my belly and may end up where I ended up with John (I have convinced myself that was the reason, it’s sunk in and stayed as self-blame). He may think it’s horrid and become turned off. Or not. If that’s the case, I will wait til he asks me out again. I feel like I have a better handle on Mike than I did on John.

We shall see.

Oh – and there it is – a text from him checking on my commute and my arrival time to him. And a little Maroon 5 clip. He can be a little cute I suppose.

I will keep you posted.

Less Angry, More Thoughtful

After John I absolutely went into an angry swiping frenzy. Ended up speaking to too many men at once and got over it in about 24 hours. I know better.

What I learned over the weekend of angry swiping and needless chatting:

1. My match really needs to have been married with kids. I have yet to find one man who wasn’t that truly understands how important parenting is….unless they want their own family and then we are not a match anyway.

2. My match needs to be aligned socio-economically. I’ve spoken to a few teachers who have off the summer, earn lower-pay, and are generally less ambitious (not saying all, just the ones I’ve spoken to). I’ve been asked a couple times if the career and long hours made me happy. They just don’t understand corporate mechanics. I’m a 30 year corporate veteran, it’s partially what drove me to the success I achieved – there is never a good (or right) answer for “was it worth it.”

3. My match needs to have a desire for “more.” What’s more? I’m not exactly sure but I do know it means not complacent with what you have and where you are for the rest of your life. I’ve spoken to many who have their summer homes on a beach and that’s all they want to do with the rest of their lives – sit on a beach. That’s not for me. Ask me again when I’m 70.

4. On the other hand – My match can’t be hyper-active! I don’t ski, surf, hike, Climb mountains, SUP, scuba or CrossFit. I do exercise every day and have the energy and strength to do more active outdoor activities but I’m never going to be a go, go, go girl. Balance works best for me.

5. My match can’t be too obsessive about my “sexy, thin” body (a common comment pretty consistently now). When the clothes come off, the scars are real. I’m still not convinced it wasn’t what tipped John over the edge so quickly. The man needs to be committed to health and fitness, but not body obsessed. I have also noted that now that I have been with more fit men and am more fit myself, I am less tolerant of someone who doesn’t work out at all. I want to keep this practice so I need someone who is committed to it as well. My life has changed and fitness must remain an important part of my well-being.

6. The man needs to show interest and intellect pretty quickly. I perceive this as someone who knows how to balance a banter with serious questions and is interested in knowing about me and my life and how it matches with his own desires and interests. They will ask about my job, family and children unprompted. When the man is focused on my beauty and we don’t have anything in common, it always feels forced. I avoid the physical match like a plague now.

I’ve realized my long, long list of attributes pretty much shortens to these 6 things (excluding a physical attraction of some sort which always included height). If I can find these 6 things in the initial match and conversation, I will move on.

The other things I want like: kindness, emotional intelligence, travel, trust, honesty, respect and good sex all follow after meeting. I don’t try and dig for these things early in the conversation. If little hints don’t flow naturally, I become disengaged.

As I was thinking about this over the weekend, because I started up too many conversations, I realize that I am quickly drawn in by a natural conversationalist who is quite comfortable in their own skin. All the men I have liked, even a little, post Tony were very successful, ambitious men. I also realized all of them were serious athletes at some point in their lives – which creates that competitive edge I love so much. They were all extremely handsome -even if physically, all very different. And not necessarily handsome to everyone, but absolutely to me.

I have at least narrowed down the characteristics that I am initially attracted to. The ones who meet these criteria, but can’t or don’t back it up with humor and great conversation just fall off the radar.

So who did I speak to this weekend in my swipe craze?

1. Paul – I really liked so much about him, until he told me he was a recovering alcoholic. I actually thought about this for a while and considered if a person who had their own damage might somehow better understand mine…but then decided it wasn’t for me (I’ve been there already). Coupled with the fact that while he has lived apart from his wife for 3 years, he’s still married. We spoke and I sent a text as a follow up to disengage.

2. Eric – handsome and seemed positive until we moved to text. He is a teacher and more than once told me I had “a good life” and questioned if I was happy working the way I do. His text were so dry that it never got off the ground. He was also entirely inconsistent with his text and was boring.

3. Chris – haven’t written him off yet. Handsome (and big which I love!) and divorced several years with a daughter college age. We hit it off and moved to text. He would engage somewhat but never really got inquisitive. If he comes back for another round he will need to show he’s more interested. If not, that’s fine too.

4. Joe – just boring. Nice but boring.

5. Jeff – handsome and interesting but once we began talking and said he had 3 small children, I was out. No more ball games and carpools for me.

There were at least 3 others. All nameless in 24 hours.

I made my excuses to each of them and politely exited.

I am bummed about John and it’s eating me. I felt like “finally” someone! Yay me! And then, nope. Of course it leaves me questioning myself. And blaming myself. For 24 hours I almost let Trixie out to see the light but she never got far…I know my bad behavior (which is why I deleted John from every possible deceive systematically). I know I can not indulge my bad behaviors because it doesn’t really feel good. It’s a temporary fix.

There’s a part of me that is going full force with the negative self talk: it’s something about you they don’t like, you’re too pushy, you’re too relationship orientated, you’re scarred, you’re loud, you’re just it right and you’re not enough for me to want to stick around and get to know you better. I have not resolved this negative self talk and I don’t know how to – I do try, all the time, but inevitably when something like John happens, it comes out again in full force.

Being alone is wearing on me now, I admit. I just don’t think I’m built to be alone. But I am getting better at not wasting my time or anyone else’s with sheer nonsense. When I need the therapy I can’t afford I will write here, meditate, or listen to one of my self help books. I have plenty of down time to exercise and care for myself on weekends. I am focused on keeping myself as positive as possible, but this threw me for a loop – and the others I’ve dated didn’t have this affect on me.

I Realized I’m Just Super Frustrated

It took a day for my head to clear, but I realize I am just plain old angry and frustrated because of John.

Not at John.

There’s a huge difference there from my past behavior.

He was perfect on paper, we had a super fun night and it’s the best sex I’ve had since Tony. So what he wasn’t ready for more, he was just a jerk for not saying so sooner because he got caught up with the fun. I’m over it. It’s too bad and move on because there is nothing to dwell on.

But dwell I did. I wanted to figure out why was I obsessing. It occured to me that it wasn’t about him at all – it was about the idea of finally finding a good man for a relationship. My brain placed him squarely in the “absolute potential mate” bucket. The previous guys have been “let me test this out to see if he can be a potential mate, so far so good”. That’s what went wrong – I made a decision long before a decision was warranted.

Why? Because I know I want a partner now. I’m tired of being alone. I’m tired of being with married men. I haven’t had the experience post divorce of having a boyfriend. I realized I never had to do that walk of shame – I always knew where I stood the next morning when I was with a man. I want someone to talk to, someone I can confide in that loves me and wants to be there to support me. Friends are fine, but they are not a partner.

I want to feel the way Tony made me feel about myself with someone who is free to do what he pleases when he pleases. Overnights, weekends, road trips, family affairs and just watching a movie together. I just want a boyfriend already and it makes me nuts that I can’t find one. (Although let me say – even at this level of frustration I won’t date someone short, period).

This situation with John just brought my level of frustration to the top. I realized it when I was swiping like mad in the dating sites today – hoping “he” would pop up. My perfect man. Any man, that I found attractive, really. I felt the desperation. I caught myself. I got into a project at work that distracted me. Then I thought about why I was going through this cycle.

I’m glad my brain is more clear than it used to be and I known my meds are doing their job with reducing my emotional outbursts as well as clearing the cobwebs. When I thought about John, really thought it through, it didn’t matter anymore. Sex was really good, but not anything I would write home about. I enjoyed the actual date more than the sex – he was just fun to be around. I just wanted that feeling of being desired, feeling good about myself, and laughing out loud with a man – to continue. I was angry that it ended. But that has zero to do with John.

I did something yesterday that I’ve never done. I deleted him from every possible form of contact so I wouldn’t have that phone number handy for text or calls. He’s not blocked, but I doubt I ever hear from him again and that’s ok. I’m glad I removed any opportunity to reach out to him in the future.

I had a headache all afternoon from my frustration. So I plan to get home, relax and have a glass of wine. I have fallen into the pattern that Thursday is my off night for working out. I will meditate before bed, but that’s about it for Thursday. I’m going to sit on my deck and have my wine and maybe some Advil until it’s bedtime.

I may even swipe a little more slowly and keep making good choices.

Hinge

So I’m going to try a new dating app called Hinge. Tinder is too much for men who are not serious, Bumble is ok but I’m frustrated after John, and Match is downright disgusting.

So far, I like the app. You have to post 6 photos and there’s 3 questions to answer which can range from funny to serious. There is some required info and some additional info you can add. The filter system is overall better than the other apps. I’ve seen lots of new faces and some older ones from the other apps too. We shall see how it goes.

I’m not pining over John and it may sounded like more than it was since I wrote 3 posts, but it was no more than a good connection he’s not interested in pursuing. That sucks, but such is life.

What did I learn?

There is, in fact, another man similar to Tony in values, communication and behavior. I think that’s what caused the most excitement because he’s the first I found.

My boxes can be checked and I don’t have to compromise. However, it may mean a very long wait for another good man to pop up.

He reinforced that my physical “requirements” in a man are flexible if I feel like there is decent substance. He was 6’1″ but super narrow from his face all the way down – I have always preferred more meat on man. Sex was just fine with a small penis, because he was very good. It definitely isn’t as immediately pleasurable as it is with a larger penis and requires some additional work, but it was nice to learn that doesn’t need to be as heavily considered (and yes, I’ve had almost all large men in my life so I was a bit jaded.).

He was ambitious, kind, emotionally generous and fun. He was a great Dad. He travels often and love the lessons learned from travel. I know my list is long but somehow he checked all the right boxes in the right combination.

I agree too much texting and talking before a date is detrimental. But only because it seems the men can’t manage it – I love it and don’t see how it really matters. I also don’t agree in an immediate meeting without a proper vetting. So I will go back to making good choices and only move forward with the ones I really find appealing so I’m not wasting my time.

So here’s to hoping there are other Tony, Bobby’s and Johns out there who are ready for relationship. And that I can find them through all the flotsam and jetsam of the dating world.