Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

Posts tagged “be present

Little Turnoffs: On a First Date with a Woman

bad date issues - the off parent

A reader of my 5 First Date Tips for Women asked a cool question and I thought I’d take a run at the little things that make men go “nu uh.”

Have you done a post on what signs/signals a woman gives in the first few dates, or things she might say or do, that make you say, ‘nu uh’ ? Of course it’s different for everyone, but curious what makes your interest wane. And I don’t mean the big stuff, necessarily, like her being racist or something similar…just the little things that make you shut down.

A. She’s late: Variation: She’s late and keeps making excuses, or is overly apologetic when she does arrive. Immediate KO Variation: She’s late and making excuses because clearly she is one of the most disorganized people you’ve ever met.

Bottom line: Don’t be late. There’s no excuse. If you don’t know where you’re meeting, say so, get directions, plan ahead, get there early. Getting to the date early gives you a chance to pick the table, your seat, and get a feel for the location before your potential arrives. If you get behind, a car wreck causing massive traffic jams, don’t make a big deal about it. Offer to reschedule if it looks like you’re going to be more than 10 minutes late. If you’re potential is still interested, then say you’re sorry once and move on.

B. She’s Got No Game: She’s got very little to talk about besides work, working out, and reality tv shows. What excites you? What are you planning when you’re not just working out? Are killer abs your highest goal? If there are no areas of interest that overlap, we’re going to cool down really fast. Listen to what I’m talking about and see if you can join in. I’m doing the same when you’re talking.

Stay present and honest. A lot of information is processed between two people on their first date. Timing, speech patterns, body language, scent, eye contact…

C. She’s Distracted: If you’re checking your phone we’re done, unless you are on-call as a brain surgeon. If you can’t maintain eye contact, because you’re so interested in what’s going on around us, there’s a problem. You don’t have to get googly-eyed at me, but make sure I know you’re listening and joining in the conversation.

D. She’s Not Over Her Last Relationship: Eventually we’re going to get to our stories. If we’re the same age it’s likely we’ve been divorced and have kids. And we do want to know what happened, but ease us into the tragic tale. Resentment and anger at your ex is a huge red flag. I’m not interested in being a stand-in for your unfinished business. Hopefully you and you’re ex have made the kids a priority and are going on about your lives without obsessing on each other’s faults.

E. She Doesn’t Light Up: I know it’s a lot to ask, but if you’re interested show it. You don’t have to bubble, but letting me know you’re happy, or excited is good. Giving me some indications early on, that you’re leaning-in to the idea is a good form of encouragement. And that’s what we’re really trying to do here, encourage the other person to be interested in us. If you appear bored, you’re showing me we’re a miss before we’ve even gotten started. And that’s okay, but it’s better if you just say it. Chemistry is something that is either there or it isn’t. But please don’t pretend it’s okay when you’d rather be brushing your teeth.

F. She Doesn’t Ask “What’s Next?”: So things have gone well on both sides, as far as I can tell. And we’re wrapping up. Please let me know if you’re interested in doing it again. That awkward moment, “Um, so… What are you doing this weekend?” is awkward on both sides. But a simple “What’s next,” can break the ice and make for a very easy conversation about timing and availability. Show you’re interested by initiating the conversation. Traditionally it’s up to the man, but we can both try and give the YES or NO signals more clearly.

There are very few nights you have to date, and fewer when you have the energy to do it. So let’s make the most of it.

Dating as an adult has a lot of advantages. For the most part, you don’t need the other person. Your identity is not invested in if they like you or not. You’re independently established and can pick and choose where to put your energy. If you’re interested in finding a partner, some of that energy should be spent dating.

There are disadvantages too. You’ve got kids and a complex schedule. There are very few nights you have to date, and fewer when you have the energy to do it. So let’s make the most of it. The simplest, quickest path to a yes or a no is best for everyone involved. You don’t have to be rude. You don’t need to gawk when their online dating profile photos don’t seem to match who you’re sitting with, by a long shot. But don’t say, “Okay, well, let’s do it again” when you mean, “Not a chance.”

Stay present and honest. A lot of information is processed between two people on their first date. Timing, speech patterns, body language, scent, eye contact, etc. Make sure you’re giving out the right signals, and hopefully I will make my feelings known as well. When we don’t have enough time, efficiency is our best ally.

We can do better, so, let’s do better.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: iphone date, Ding Yuin Shan, creative commons usage


After Divorce Strengthening Your Core Happiness Becomes Even More Important

OFF-openheart

The first “girlfriend” I had after divorce asked me early on in our dating experience, “What do you look like when you are happy?” She saw me struggling a bit with depression and sadness around my divorce and she genuinely wanted to know what my joy looked like. Perhaps so she could recognize it if it showed up, or to make sure she would still be in the mix when my happiness kicked off.

We’ve got a lot of programs to help strengthen your core abdominals, and therapy and philosophy to help us lift our hearts out of depression, but we are just learning about happiness. What makes people happy verses miserable. Guess what? It’s INSIDE YOU. It is not the other person. It’s not even your circumstances.

I know this sounds all woo woo, and looks a bit like a bumper sticker, but let me share a moment from an amazing book I’m reading. In this book a woman has recently been told by her husband that he no longer loves her. It throws her world into a tailspin, BUT… She decides, has decided before it happens, NOT to let other’s or circumstances dictate her inner joy. She has just come back from a vacation retracing her college year abroad in Italy, where this moment happened for her. (She travelled with her daughter. Her husband and son stayed back in Montana.)

I was lying in bed that last day in Florence, looking at my daughter sleeping with her mouth open, listening to a dog bark on a balcony above the streets of Florence–the Vespas whizzing by, the polite exchanges of Buongiorno, the smell of coffee, and yes, exhaust, and something very old.

But I didn’t feel the panic I’d thought I would, knowing I had to leave all of it behind. The desperate need to go out in that world beyond the thick wooden shutters and our own tiny balcony just one more time alone–to feel twenty and charged. The frenzy to contact my old footprints, in a state of ravenous adventure. I didn’t need to be anywhere other than in my bed watching my daughter sleep.

In not quite a twenty-year-old’s voice, but not quite a forty-year-old’s either, I hear, quiet and with morning breath, It’s all here. It always was. — Laura Munson

Wow. For me, what that meant, that epiphany she had, was letting go of the need to jump up and accomplish, or jump up and adventure ahead into the world of the exciting, and instead to merely BE PRESENT. BE AWARE OF THE JOY. LISTEN. BREATHE.

When you have kids, one of the most magical experiences is watching them sleep. There, just out of reach is your flesh and blood set off on a new mystical trajectory.

I know it sounds kind of simple and zen, but the reality is quite simple. And I too have been studying how to get there, to achieve inner peace, even under extenuating and challenging circumstances. And while I am often NOT there, on occasion, when I can take the time to notice the simple joy of things, I CAN BE HAPPY. And it’s not about anyone else. Or the money in my bank account, or if my king-size bed is filled with two cats and a dog rather than a lover. MY INNER PEACE comes from stopping the rush to be/do/accomplish.

When you have kids, one of the most magical experiences is watching them sleep. There, just out of reach is your flesh and blood set off on a new mystical trajectory. And if things seemed hard or frightening, you could return to that quiet, that calm of their secure and loved slumber, and imagine the same nurturing for yourself. By loving them deeply, you learn to love yourself.

I want to give the ex-y this book. But why? Do I hope to fix her? To help her? Do I still wish her happiness? Or do I want to show her what an actualized woman did in the face of her husband’s struggles?

I won’t. I’ve learned that extending energy to others, when it has not been invited, is simply a waste of energy. I gave her a CD a year ago. (Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong) I had hoped to speak to her through some of the words of this music. Three weeks later, the CD was right where she had put it on the kitchen counter. I took it back. I could use it in my car.

She was not interested in hearing or feeling into what happened between us. What failed. She’s moved on, a bit too quickly, in my opinion, but that’s her struggle and her happiness that I can no longer take any part in.

The song, Time Spent In Los Angeles, talks about seeing “that special kind of sadness, that tragic set of charms.” And the moment that I was trying to capture and share was something about when I left my rock star dreams (during a pop rock festival in Los Angeles) behind to become a more realistic husband.

But in my CORE HAPPINESS I am playing music. And the man she met was fully actualized. I was playing in a band, playing live, and writing music. That’s the man she fell in love with. And then something changed. Kids. Money. Work. 9-11. But it changed in her, not in me.

I remained, remain, a musician and happy artist. And I am MOST happy when I’m creating music and poetry. Maybe the music and poetry can bring on the happiness, I don’t know. But I have not lost my joy at playing and writing, even if it’s for my kids and me alone.

From time to time we lose sight of what makes us most happy. But we must keep listening. We must keep stopping in the moment, when the happiness is strongest, and firming it in.

And I won’t pass judgement on her at this point. Her core happiness is up to her to discover. And maybe it’s found with another relationship. Maybe there’s someone out there who “always” completes us. But I don’t think that’s where it’s found.

My joy is up to me. My core happiness comes from my own commitment to dig into it. And more importantly to give up on the outcome of the product and simply enjoy the process. Sure, I’d like everyone to enjoy one of my songs, someday. But the joy I experience at catching a moment just right (in song, poem, or even her in this confession) is mine alone. No amount of praise, fame, or money, or lack of those things can affect my inner satisfaction.

This is not an easy place to find in yourself. And from time to time we lose sight of what makes us most happy. But we must keep listening. We must keep stopping in the moment, when the happiness is strongest, and firming it in. Affirming, as Laura Munson did in Italy.

THIS RIGHT HERE. THIS IS MY JOY. BREATHE. AND REMEMBER THIS, no matter what.

REMEMBER YOUR INNER JOY IS YOURS ALONE.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: open heart, sebastian schrimpf, creative commons usage