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

Posts tagged “dating

dialing back desire

spent-tennis-shoes-250

[from strange horizons poems]

let’s say the universe works in mysterious ways
and imagining that
what if a woman showed up
casually
asked to play tennis
not an ordinary woman
not just anyone
a friend

and let’s also imagine
the universe in her mystery
is also capable of delivering you
right at the moment you are ready
whether you think so or not
and just as you’ve said
pause
opt-out
the woman stands up
with a beautiful smile
and some historical knowledge
that could serve as a catalyst
a familiarity
even when whole lifetimes have happened
between your last greeting

so even before the first ball is struck
or skirt worn
there’s a flight of fantasy
a scenario of seduction
and being seduced
because
there is no waiting
no lines
and no other moment
like this one

what if
she’s showed up
because
the universe has finally spun a complete cycle
and brought you back to the restart
try again
listen, look, observe

what if there’s nothing
just an acquaintance
and some new fuzzy yellow balls

that is more than enough
just
the idea
has
potency

i am hopeful
even when letting go
this is no different
this is just a turn of events
a series of events
that hasn’t happened yet

release
there’s no hurry
even if she is the one
if she is
and
she’s here
why
rush
why
hurry through
this
magic

1-7-15

image: spent tennis shoes of the author, cc 2014, creative commons usage


The Lover I Had This Time Last Year

OFF-greentango

I was trying to figure out why the cold weather and my upcoming birthday were starting to feel heavy rather than up lifting. And I got it. I’m alone. Damn. In this most exciting of times, dark cold nights, holidays and birthdays and time-off ahead, and what… Nothing.

I’ll admit I was so struck by her sexiness that all I wanted to do was jump into bed. She, however, wanted entertainment along with her sex.

Last year I was falling into some sort of intoxicated frenzy of a relationship. (see this poem from that time: it’s just desire) And while I know it wasn’t healthy, it was so sexual, I’m now recalling the warm friction and the full mornings lounging, lovemaking, and lounging again, until we had to get out of bed to find food. It was good and innocent, but lacking in some fundamental element that I have to have in addition to the good sex.

When courting this woman I was not aware that she was about to turn 40. (I was moving towards my 51st year.) And while that wasn’t the issue, there were definitely issues that ran along those lines. She was recently divorced and still working through a lot of conflict and drama with her ex. And, of course, I was a good stand-in confidant for her. But I didn’t really like being her sounding board for all things divorce. It made my heart heavy. I would try to sum up the conversations occasionally with, “Oh that dickish-ex.”

I was also struggling with my own issues, as my ex-y had pressed charges against me with the AG’s office, and now it looked like I might not be able to save my house. I was heading into the holidays with very little money, and very little self-esteem. And this woman was just the tonic I needed. Or so I thought.

She met a lot of my criteria for dating.

  • Smart.
  • Pretty. (she was way-out pretty)
  • Funny and playful.
  • Has kids.
  • Well-employed.
  • Gets me.

And still there was something fundamental that was missing in our interactions. I couldn’t put my finger on it. But when she railed at her ex, I sometimes felt like I was part of her inner dialogue. And sometimes she also said things to me that seemed (I don’t know) disconnected.

I’ll admit I was so struck by her sexiness that all I wanted to do was jump into bed. She, however, wanted entertainment along with her sex. She wanted to “go out.” But we didn’t even know what that meant for us. Probably two very different things.

Still I liked having her on my arm at the club to see a couple of my friends playing hot jazz. No dancing though. And we ate out a bit, and that’s nice. But as we rounded 9:30 pm she was ready to start the evening, I was ready to wind down. I blasted through some wine-soaked evenings with her, and came out the other side wondering, “What the hell did I do that for?”

Short answer. Sex.

We, fit well in that department. But in most other areas we didn’t have a lot of common interests. She loved music, but it was more from an iTunes perspective, not necessarily going out to see bands. She liked partying, and I wasn’t really ready to jump back in that pattern, with the potential job interviews coming up. And so we ate nice food, spent mornings in bed, and tried to find other stuff to do together.

If the idea of dating was to entertain each other every night we were together that got tiring pretty quickly, especially if the time to start was 10pm.

And that’s a part of *my* problem. I have a lot of projects I’m working on. (This blog included.) I’m not ever looking for something to do. I don’t need to disconnect to unwind. I plug-in and get creative. That’s my passion and my past time. So how am I going to fit a girlfriend in?

It’s an interesting question. I came close to sorting it out with my first girlfriend. We really liked being together. And we did like to go see music and movies together. And she had her own projects that gave her a lot of contentment as well. I got to feel what it was like to have someone who was cool with just hanging out. “What’s for dinner,” became a date invitation, even if it only meant one of us would grab some stuff to make dinner. That’s what I really wanted. Just some living and being with someone else.

If the idea of dating was to entertain each other every night we were together that got tiring pretty quickly, especially if the time to start was 10pm.

I’m missing the smell, feel, and presence of a woman. As the cold weather seeps under the doors I’m missing this amazing vixen that came into my life to light me up. And she did to that. She ignited my sexual enthusiasm in a way I hadn’t experienced since college. And while we didn’t stay together very long, I came away with the understanding of what good and happy sex looked like.

This winter I’m okay with the loneliness. I raise a glass of bubbly water to my hot lover from a year ago, as I let her memories go. I’m resigned to the rebuilding program I started 4.5 years ago. I am also committed to saying YES to someone amazing. Nothing less will do. But for now, I’ll be here, buzzing away at my creative tasks. The more amazing I become, the stronger my broadcasting signal grows. She’s out there. Lot’s of women of potential are out there. It’s up to me to call them in.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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 image: tango, juliano campos, creative commons usage


For Hire: Used Husband, Classic Model, Works Well With Kids

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I’m feeling a bit like a for sale or for hire ad on Craigslist.

Upbeat and optimistic dad of two middle-school kids, seeks pleasant and easy-going woman for casual and romantic evenings. Looking for an extraordinary woman in need of service and support. I’m touch-oriented. I thrive on honest and open communication. I’m over playing any mind games, and am looking for a steady relationship.

I didn’t really mean for this to be a personal ad. Let’s cut to the chase.

I’m a former husband and a current father. I am more focused on my kids than on my own relationship status, and for the moment, that’s how I believe it should be. I do have time in my schedule to accommodate a relationship, and now that I’ve gotten my act a little more together, I’m putting our a few feelers again. I’d like a relationship. I thrive in proximity to a nurturing and active woman. In fact, I expand creatively when I have some sexual chemistry in my life. Oh, what wonderful things that chemistry does to our souls.

When I’m not so aggressive about looking for an available woman, my entire body relaxes just a bit. Rather than hunting and pursuing, today I’m going to continue to refine my package.

In relationship I tend to think less about myself. Or, to put it another way, I spend a good bit of time thinking about, imagining, writing poetry, singing, in response to the growing warmth in my heart. I’m a hopeful romantic. I know the right romance is yet to come. I got close in marriage number two. And perhaps now, with a good bit of recovery time in between, I’m re-centered and ready.

Perhaps, I say, because I also enjoy my seemingly limitless alone time. When I’m in a creative mode the “off” evenings seem like a gift. I would’ve had a hard time negotiating a single evening off to go into my music studio before the kids went to bed. So I worked creatively between 10:30 and 2:30 at night. Any wonder I was a bit tired as the corporate work routine wore on, and my double-lit candle began to burn perilously close to meeting at the center. I was inspired and yet constrained. As a family man, as a fully engaged father, it was okay. But my creative drive was suffering under the time constraints.

Of course as a single man on a regular schedule with my kids I go into some weekends knowing I have 5 nights in a row with minimal obligations. I could set up some activities to keep me busy, but I’m over that period of my recovery. Now I see the juicy potential of that time and I am jumping into those nights with a euphoria that will be hard to give up, when a relationship re-grounds my flight. I’m looking forward to that, but it will be a change.

Already I had a moment of awareness when the last date nearly turned into a girlfriend over a three-day period of romantic, lusty, courtship. She bailed out. (See She Came On Like a Freight Train – The Woman Who Says “Yes”) And though she gave me some reason, I’m not sure it wasn’t just her “holy shit what if this happens” moment. She too was highly creative and a full-time single parent, with little or no support from her ex. That’s a scary place to be, I’m sure. But when she was pouring on the fuel in the first two days of our “dating” I began to not only get ramped up romantically, I began to turn my evening attentions towards her and away from my creative projects.

That is a transition I want, mind you, but it came on so quickly with her, that I didn’t really have a chance to warm to the idea. In a day we met from a Tinder connection, and in the second day she was texting me alluring (non-sexual) photos. But she was in my head. She was changing the course of my week and we’d just met.

In the end, I think the derailment was more an indicator of her actual stability rather than the projection she was showing me. She did have some amazing effect on me. I was ready and willing to lay down all available nights in search of her sweet spot. And that too was an indication of how unrealistic I had become while basking in the light of such a white-hot romance. When the euphoric state hits too fast, I’ve learned that something is off. Kind of like the woman who got this amazingly glazed look in her eyes as we were making love. I thought she was blissed out. Turns out she was vaping pot in the bathroom just before sex. Um… No. (see My Casual Sex Experience – First Lesson)

I don’t need drama or high theater. And at the moment I “want” more than “need” a woman.

Okay, so I got a big YES/NO and I’m a bit lonely at the moment. And by lonely I really mean hungry. I’m hungry for a woman, for that connection, for the scent, touch, tasted, and imaginative rush that comes from being with someone who turns you one. And at the same time (this is not a cop out) I am willing to wait and work on myself, my physical fitness, my musical project that hits the stage on Dec. 5th, my own internal creative inspiration. I’m happy. I’m alone. And I’m dialing back the hunter-mode a bit.

When I’m not so aggressive about looking for an available woman, my entire body relaxes just a bit. Rather than hunting and pursuing, today I’m going to continue to refine my package. Sure, I’m flirty and aware of every breathing female in a 50-foot radius, but I’m content to appreciate and smile. When there’s a smile back, I’m also satisfied with that. I’d rather see if there are additional signals, additional indications that might illuminate some “mutual” attraction, without the forcefulness of approach and courtship.

One recent example. I was picking up my daughter from a new friend’s house. The mom was there and very attractive, and yes I noticed, not wearing a ring. She was playful and touched my arm a few times as she expressed herself. (Ah, my type, a touchy -feely person.) And yet, also not my type: she was just heading into her divorce. She was preparing the house for sale. And according to my daughter, she and the dad didn’t get a long at all.

Quit a contrast from the rest of my daughter’s friends the weekend before when she said, “Everyone at the sleep over had divorced parents.” It’s becoming the norm. And at a 50% failure rate, you’re likely to have just as many divorces as you have marriages.

So she was amazingly pretty and open. She was not exactly in my “type” mode, but she was wearing little or no makeup, she was practical and happy to chat with me about our kids. She was reaching out to connect with me. And that was enough. I let the moment just be a nice moment. (Yes, I’ll admit I tried to get my daughter to give me some contact info so I could give her the martial arts instructor’s name.) And while I was revved up by her presence, I was also clear in one thing: divorces are hard and getting INTO a relationship as you’re getting OUT of your marriage is a terrible idea. I wasn’t going to stand-in for the maelstrom.

And so, I’ve been girlfriend free since the end of the summer and it’s fine. I’d rather not be. But I’d rather be alone that coping with another person’s major emotional distress. I don’t need drama or high theater. And at the moment I “want” more than “need” a woman. Sure, I’m hungry for a mate, but I’m also aware that I’m hungry for an adventure at the same time.

Re-center, refocus on myself and my growth. < My current mantra.

But I’m putting up the services available ads as a way to feel like I’m at least fishing for an amazing catch. I’m also enjoying the boat ride around this new pond of older single women.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: headless hunter, jd hancock, creative commons usage


Mis-Match in Online Dating: A 10-point Overview of Match.com

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I say it all the time, I’m not much into dating. I’d rather have a relationship. The idea of a new woman *is* exciting, however the steps to uncover and develop a relationship are much longer and (I won’t say laborious) tedious. Last week I was on a Match.com date and I was wondering how I ended up at the table with this woman. She was no match. And if I had looked a bit deeper into her photographs instead of wishing into them I would’ve avoided an hour of … uncomfortable conversation.

So I’m going to examine what Match.com has got going for it, and what parts of the process and site are unproductive, for me. Again, please note my current bias away from dating. And even with that bias, dating is the only way back to a relationship, if that’s what I ultimately want. So here we go.

I don’t check-in to Match.com on a regular basis. I’m in a self-seeking phase at the moment. I do still have the app on my phone and when someone signals that they are interested in me I get a little red dot on my phone and a message on the lock screen. “Someone sent you a wink.” My immediate reaction is always a sarcastic, “Oh boy!”

Let’s open up Match and look around for a minute.

match-mainscreen

I have periods of high activity on my end. I jump on, search for attractive and left leaning women and send them a “hello.” My ratio at this moment is 51 sent vs. 9 received. But that’s okay. We aspire, we connect based on very shallow preferences, and we see what happens. My profile seems to be getting plenty of views. 4 new views since the last time I checked in. And I’ve had some emails and conversations going between myself and several women. All good “activity.”

But the activity doesn’t necessarily mean matches. And my actual success ratio with actual dates via Match.com is about 51 dates to 1 relationship. Now, to be fair, that relationship is the first one post-divorce that changed my entire approach and perspective on what I was looking for, but… the numbers are not in our favor. That’s what you should understand early on. Dating is a numbers game. View a lot of profiles, put some interesting enticements in the water, and if you get a bite or two try and take it to the next step, the “hello” date. But there’s a lot of unproductive dates and wasted time spent trying to sift through the BS and uncover the winners. And if she is too much of a winner, she won’t have the time of day for you as a man. A recent date said she gets between 10 and 15 propositions a day. I get 1 or 2 a week. The ritual still falls along traditional lines: men pursue, women accept or reject our offers.

So let’s get some information about the women who “viewed me.”

match-viewedme

And while one out of seven isn’t bad, as I looked into this woman, before arranging the date, I realized I was forcing the “yes” a bit. She was attractive, but there were a number of things that didn’t jive for me. So I called it off. But this is the general window-shopping mode of match. You have one main image, their “seeking men” age range, and a brief headline. The green highlights are a paid feature you can add, but I’m not sure it does anything to dress up a marginal profile.

And maybe that’s issue number one with online dating in general. There are a lot of people just playing around. I have had an ongoing pursuit of a very attractive woman on Match who has accepted two dates and backed out both times within an hour of meeting. She let me know she’s not really ready for a relationship or even dating, but that trolling around on the site gives her some pleasure. She’s just playing. She doesn’t really want a date. Odd.

And there are certainly the profiles that begin, “My girlfriend made me put this up,” or “I’d never imagined I’d be on an online dating site, but…” that are clear indications that they are just playing around. Checking to see if Ryan Gosling shows up and professes a crush on them. Or something… I guess fielding 1o messages a night might be entertaining, if you’re bored and in need of a superficial ego boost. (That’s not a man’s experience, or this man’s experience. I don’t know, maybe Ryan is here and is having a hard time keeping his inbox from exploding.)

So let’s go deeper and open up one of the more appealing women who have viewed me. Now I guess, already I’m swimming against the current, because she didn’t leave any indication that she was interested. No like, wink, or message. But still, she thought my initial photo and profile blurb was attractive enough to check me out. Let’s see if we see any mutual connections.

match-seemore

 

And it seems the hardest part is finding a mutual interest, but that’s the same challenge with dating in general. The hope being, that somewhere in the 860 women who “match” my criteria there is a woman who is actually interested in a relationship and then interested in meeting me, in particular.

match-search

It’s a hard and long hunt, but what are the alternatives? Bars? Nah.

Match has one other special feature, but I’ve found it to be rather useless. Their expert algorithm calculates 7 matches a day. I’ve stopped even opening them. They are so far off that I find them more annoying than helpful.

So to sum up Match.com in my experience.

  1. Men are expected to reach out to the women and make the introductions
  2. Women tend to get a high volume of “hellos” from real suitors and creeps, while men tend to get very few
  3. A lot of people on Match.com are just messing around, socializing, playing with the idea of dating
  4. You have to weed through a lot of mis-matches before finding people who are in my zone
  5. The Weekly Matches feature is more of a distraction
  6. Finding my way through the 860 matches is a challenge and often feels hopeless
  7. A deep examination of the person’s photographs often says more than their words (looking for the one real photo, that captures the essence)
  8. Once a “hello” date is established there are still plenty of opportunities for the other person to back out (I just backed out of ms. checkmark)
  9. Finally, if you meet and BOTH feel some chemistry, there is a chance to “begin”
  10. If it’s a numbers game, we have to keep playing

Match is currently my favorite site. It seems the “pay” aspect weeds out a few more of the “playing around” people than OKCupid or Plenty of Fish. And while I prefer the questions on OKCupid, the profiles do a bit of the work, provided the woman answered honestly and with some depth.

It’s all a crap shoot. Photos lie. Profiles tell half-truths. And some of us, interested in actually establishing a relationship, spend time in the backwaters of the game sorting through “more like her” to find alternative sorting methods for the overwhelming number of non-matches it takes dig through to find a possible match.

Keep going, there are more people joining every day.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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Big 5 Relationship Questions to Answer Before You Start Dating Again

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Just like everything else in life, dating requires goals. Either you are working towards those goals, or away from them. And if you don’t even know them yet, I can assure you, you are working away from them. Getting clear about why you are dating is a great first step. The further you can go down the path of clarity, in understanding what you are looking for, why you are attracted to the people you are attracted to, and what you ultimate goal is… Well, without goals, you’re going to end up starting over a lot.

The -1 response is an easy No. The +1 response is also an easy Yes. But the ones I get confused about are the neutrals.

Each time I go on a date I try to get clearer about what worked and what didn’t. I’m not in this for the fun of it, I’m pretty focused on not-being-too-focused on dating. And each time I come up empty-handed, from a developing relationship, or even a dating experience that teaches me something new, I pause and reflect. I am in one of those moments. Just let down from a very nice/short high of “almost” and back to nothing.

Walking with a friend today, I answered the question again about long-term commitment.

“Are you looking to get married again?” my friend asked.

“I don’t know. But I’m looking for a relationship. What’s after that is a bit more about the relating and the mutual goals we set.”

Here are my BIG 5 RELATIONSHIP QUESTIONS you should answer before you start dating. Get yourself and your priorities oriented before you jump back into the dating pool. There is a lot of BS in the process of dating, both online profiles and meeting the person for the first time. And there are a lot of reason for wanting to date, many of which may not have anything to do with a relationship. That’s fine. I’m not interested in casual sex or building up my network of friends. I’m interested in a relationship. If that’s your perspective as well, perhaps these questions will provide some clarity out there in the ambiguous world of dating.

  1. Are you ready for a relationship or are you dating for fun and nighttime activities?
  2. Do you have a good sense of what makes you happy?
  3. What are the traits you are looking for in a partner? Is physical beauty the number one trait?
  4. How would a good first date experience look and feel?
  5. As you progress along the dating experience with someone, how would it unfold in your mind?

When you come to a relationship there has got to be a physical attraction, that’s a basic requirement for me. After we’ve done the “hi I think you’re cute” date we can both move on to what’s next. I’m noticing a new variation on the theme for me. When I’m meeting a woman for the first time I get one of three responses.

Negative: there’s no chemistry at all. The feeling may or may not be mutual. But there’s no moving forward for me.

Neutral: there might be chemistry, there might be a spark, but the response, or resonance with the other person is a bit less clear. Perhaps they are not an excitable time. Perhaps they don’t show their happiness in the same way I do. Or maybe their having a “meh” reaction and are having a hard time letting me know.

Positive: these are so rare for me, that I’m certain that they are the harbingers of a real relationship potential. These are the women who light up visually and verbally in our conversation. You don’t have to ask about a next date, because you’ve already begun planning things, or imagining things to do together.

If I am interested in a relationship, that’s going to take time, patience, perspective, and the right YES woman. And with all those things factored in, a MAYBE is so far-fetched that I am really wasting time.

What I’ve found about myself in these three situations is interesting. The -1 response is an easy No. The +1 response is also an easy Yes. But the ones I get confused about are the neutrals. And I think I’ve found myself pursuing neutrals even when I know the HIT is not there. Why? Because there are so few positives. So few women that light up the way I imagine I light up. So few women who are clear enough about what they want, and that find what I am has some of those qualities. So few YES responses. So I push on the maybe dates a bit too hard.

I’m learning. The YES is going to come from a Positive. When I am going after a neutral, I’m really compromising.

So let’s make a pact, in our next round of dating “work” I want to commit to pursuing only the clear YES women.

Everything else is a distraction. If I am interested in a relationship, that’s going to take time, patience, perspective, and the right YES woman. And with all those things factored in, a MAYBE is so far-fetched that I am really wasting time. I don’t want to mess around with “dating.” My goal is a relationship. And then a Relationship. And then a RELATIONSHIP. I’m not sure what those steps mean, but I am sure that it will only begin with a YES.

From here on NO and MAYBE are the same response. I want a YES and I want it whenever the right woman, who’s answered most of the questions above for herself, shows up and says, “What’s next.”

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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She Came On Like a Freight Train – The Woman Who Says “Yes”

OFF-yes-girl

The light at the end of the tunnel may be an oncoming train, or a love crush barreling down on you.

My first Tinder crush went swimmingly and ended without a whimper. The poem (i could fall in love with a dress if it shone in the sun) was written about the final moments of this most amazing firework pop and fizzle of a relationship to-date. She was here, she came on like a freight train, and now she has passed by in the night without so much as a whimper. And I let her go. We let each other go. “Maybe for later, when your life sorts itself out a bit,” I said to her.

“I’ve always done this. I’ve always gotten into a romantic relationship right at the beginning of some huge change. I did it with my divorce, I did it when I graduated from college, and I was doing it again with you. But I’ve got to stop, this time. I’ve got to make a change. Something has got to give.”

In fact, for me, the poem was a part of the letting go process. What started out as three amazingly intense days of courtship, felt a bit too good to be true. And maybe it was. Or maybe the universe shifted, for both of us, and we needed to regroup, alone. That is certainly the case for her. And me? Well, I’m not sure if the relationship part of it needed regrouping, but I was aware of my tendency to stretch out towards someone, even after the connection was severed.

I love the wake up text. The little ritual of saying “Good Morning, Sunshine.” Just letting the other person know you are thinking of them.

It’s about being 50/50. It’s about being contributing members of the growing relationship. And when one or another partner drops out of the 50/50 partnership, it’s about stopping and listening to hear what is going on. In our case, her life had taken a wild and unexpected turn, like a rocket blasting off from the back of our collective freight train, once I had gotten on the same track with her.

Enough metaphor. She was amazing. She looked and spoke as deliciously as she texted and showed up in her best profile pictures. I could see through the styling, and honored the core brilliance that came out from the moment we met. And we met with great joy, in the middle of a huge bookstore, playing hide and seek. And she found me in the blank book section. “My favorite section,” I had texted her earlier.

“Is it appropriate for persons’s under 18 years of age?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“Is it the kid’s section?”

“No.”

“Literature?”

“Great guess, but no.”

I picked the meeting spot, she picked the game. We hugged and laughed in the sweet smelling area of leather bindings and blank pages. And we talked and talked and walked around the store for a couple hours.

“I really would like to kiss you,” I said, somewhere in the middle of the second hour. “I’m just letting you know that.”

She smiled. “I would like that too,” she said, with a sly smile on her face. I was blinded a bit by the direct sunlight, but I was already feeling a bit smitten. “In a bit,” she continued.

We moved our coffees and chat into a more shady part of the outdoor park, and continued leaping from books, to blogs, to writing, to food. She was a #foodie. I am not a #foodie, but I worked with #foodies for two years. We had a lot to talk about and a lot of mutual energy to fuel us along.

She reached out her hands at some point and pulled my face in for the kiss. She planted the kiss. She initiated. She took charge. And I went back in for a second kiss a few minutes later. Reciprocating. But alas, the mosquitos and sunlight were pushing us back inside, and when there was no place to sit, we decided to rendezvous, perhaps tomorrow.

“Yes, definitely,” she said. ” I’d like to give you a kiss after your first day at your new job.”

And we texted a few more times over the night. The next morning we picked up with the chatter. This is the fun of new dating. I love the wake up text. The little ritual of saying “Good Morning, Sunshine.” Just letting the other person know you are thinking of them. And it goes both ways. It’s a simple tap. A connection that requires little more than a willingness to imagine a relationship.

We texted a few times and spoke once over the weekend. This is from full-tilt boogie, three days in a row, amazing morning selfie of a kiss, and on to ZIP.

It’s like a virtual “good morning” kiss. Except, of course, you’ve just met. But still, there is a lot of potential in those little hellos. And she was a master of the flirt. She called me on my way to work, and we had a spirited conversation about sex, and kids, and relationships, and work. And we made plans to meet for a glass of wine after work. DONE. She was efficient, hilarious, and full of love and life. I was liking this development.

In all but one of my post-divorce dating experiences I have been the over-sharing partner. I have courted when perhaps I should’ve played coy. I have sent a poem when I might have been better served to just be quiet. The whole absence makes the heart grow fonder, thing seems more like game playing as adults. If you like someone, tell them. If they like you back, jump in. She was certainly jumping in. And I was excited to see how things played out.

The wine bar date was no less exhilarating. Except this time I was anticipating the future kisses with mad fantasies. And she arrived looking like the smiling picture she had sent me earlier in the day. She was radiant. And we jostled along in our second date, wine bar, “what was your day like” conversation. It was a moment between anything actually happening. We had exchanged some very intimate information via text and phone calls, but we still didn’t really know each other. Not at all. But there was a lot of energy and intention, and that was enough to set us both on a fast track.

In the parking lot, saying goodbye she kissed me, or we kissed, again. This time there was no casual innuendo, it was all kissing. And while it didn’t last more than a minute, I was electrified. Not by the kiss, but by the potential behind the kiss. Here was a beautiful woman, saying she was ready for a relationship, saying that she thought I was cute and funny and smart, and kissing me madly in the parking lot. And we made plans to see each other the next day as well. And we parted. I walked to my car with the lift of someone who’s been well-kissed.

That was the first real moment between us, and the last good moment between us at the same time.

As things would progress, I was fired the next day, due mostly to this blog. And that collapse of my plan, nearly cratered the relationship all in one fail swoop. But she wanted to give me a hug, and to support me in this massive bummer. We met. We exchanged some more information about our current state of unknowingness. She started talking about how she had no business getting involved with anyone at this moment… And then she had to go get her daughter. We kissed awkwardly in the parking lot, in broad daylight, in a hurry. And she’d let me know her schedule over the next three days was going to be mad. So we parted in this semi-unresolved, semi-unstable place.

And then her life changed dramatically as well. (I can’t tell you about it, or I’d have to shoot you.) And I saw her smile and her texts almost drain right off my phone. The communication went from 80 mph back to a full-stop in a hurry.

I went with my “hold on loosely” strategy. Pinging, but not over pinging. A couple messages without any requests or commitment. Essentially I was supporting her in this new opportunity. And she was going with it, and full of her life. We texted a few times and spoke once over the weekend. This is from full-tilt boogie, three days in a row, amazing morning selfie of a kiss, and on to ZIP. Nothing? It was painful. It was also understandable.

The poem I was writing over the weekend to try and give a love poem to frame the joy I was getting into. Of course, the story played out, the poem went unfinished and then like magic the story completed to resolve the poem without the need for another letter.

I am ready for the dress in the sun. I am hoping there will be an intelligent and attractive woman inside who is also ready for me.

She had come and we had sparked. When we talked on the phone this morning, it was to say, “You were awesome, the timing is not awesome.” And I told her the poem was a capture of that amazing moment in the parking lot. Full of promise and potential and all imaginary. And now the poem was the answer, the complete story of us.

i could fall in love with a dress if it shone in the sunlight

I did start falling. And she let me. She responded with a “yes.” And now we’ve moved back into our individual stories, to see if at some time down the road our romance would make more sense. But we were both happy, when we spoke today. I was so glad to have rubbed up against her at such an amazing time for both of us. And we may or may not ever see each other again, and that’s okay too. But the poem captures the full experience for me.

I am ready for the dress in the sun. I am hoping there will be an intelligent and attractive woman inside who is also ready for me. This time, I got the dress and the girl, but the timing was amiss. But she gave me a taste of what things might look like when someone DOES show up, and that someone IS ready for a relationship.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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Dating A Divorced Dad: We Might Be Good For Each Other

OFF-kissme

This isn’t a mating call post, but more a look at some of the ways divorced dads are cool, flexible, and likely to understand divorced moms.

FIRST: Let’s compare notes on our kids. We’ve got our priorities straight. Our kids come first, our dates come second. Got it? Good. I don’t think any single parents will ever need to debate this. Now, dates without kids, or even parents who’s kids are long out of the nest, might present a bit more of a problem. There is an imbalance of time. I do spend more time with my kids than with my date. But, that’s only while we’re getting to know each other. But let’s stop right there and not get ahead of ourselves. We are talking about dating, after all.

So if this partner has their act together, even after a divorce, they’re probably pretty flexible and understanding when it comes to compromise and negotiating wants and needs.

SECOND: Let’s compare notes on our exes. I can lend a sympathetic ear to your stories about your dickish-ex. No problem, I’ve go my ex-y who can be a handful from time to time. I’m likely to take your side in any debate. And if you just need a sounding board, I’m here to say, “Wow, he really is a dick.”

THIRD: Let’s just say sex was getting less and less frequent and a bit less fun towards the end of my marriage. So, to say I’m hungry would be a bit of an understatement. Attentive might be a better word. I am so ready to make you feel good. Sure, we can get to me in a minute, but let’s just enjoy you for the moment.

FOURTH: By this time, even with a divorce and child support, we should have the money thing dialed in. Sure, there may be some setbacks (heck, I’m in the middle of the biggest one of my adult life right now, but…) along the money trail, but a partner with some history probably has found a way to make a living.

FIFTH: A well-balanced partner with kids and an ex has learned to get rid of the drama and strife. Divorce is one of the biggest stress potentials of our adult lives. So if this partner has their act together, even after a divorce, they’re probably pretty flexible and understanding when it comes to compromise and negotiating wants and needs. An unbalanced divorced parent is pretty easy to identify as well. Listen. Are they complaining about their ex? Do they have more drama than most people? If so you can move right along. But if your divorced partner still has a healthy sense of humor, they are likely to have a positive approach to navigating the path of developing a relationship.

If we can build our alignment of priorities around our kids health and happiness, then we can both relax when we are able to find time alone as a couple.

SIXTH: We’re going to understand if you’re too tired for the dinner and dancing plans. So you want to curl up on the couch, watch a romantic comedy and order chinese food? Sure, we get it. We’ll even rub your feet during the movie.

Relationships are not easy. But a divorced dad has a lot of experience under his belt that might come in handy as you too are dealing with parenting and dickish-ex issues. I’m pretty certain my next relationship will be with a divorced mom.

If we can build our alignment of priorities around our kids health and happiness, then we can both relax when we are able to find time alone as a couple. Perhaps that scarcity of time can build and sustain some of the honeymoon phase of the courtship. There is something quite motivating about sexual hunger for someone you are getting to know. Use that energy, prioritize your parenting, and have some fun. After all, we’re still talking about dating, we’re not going to get married or anything. (see What’s This About: Marriage?)

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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All Kinds of Women and the Sparks of Desire

OFF-lady

I spend more time thinking about dating and kissing than I actually get to date or kiss. It’s okay, it’s highly motivational. Today walking around the lake and watching the running, walking, and jogging girls, I was observing the things I found attractive.

It was the same sort of experience a few weeks ago when I turned my OK Cupid profile back on, just to check in. Just to remember how many women there are in the world looking for a partner. AND how few of them are within my range of desire. I know it’s my issue.

Looking over hundreds and hundreds of women you begin to make some assumptions on a dating site. Here are a few of my observations:

  1. Too pretty – never going to give me the time of day
  2. Too homely – not interested in those with lack of flair or confidence, please no more bathroom mirror shots, ever
  3. Too much makeup or glamour shots – never been my style
  4. Too young – I’m attracted to the younger women, but I’m not sure we’d have a lot in common
  5. Too many drink-in-hand shots – drinking is fine, but you don’t have to prove it, or flaunt it, might indicate a problem
  6. Too sporty – I also love fitness, but obsessive running, or talking all the time about your trainer… well, do it, but you don’t need to over do it
  7. Too religious – again, my bias, but I don’t have anything against religion, but you might not lead with it

And watching the athletic people exercising around the lake I made a few more observations:

  1. The uber-fit are often running with the uber-fit. Those amazing abs must be attracted to other amazing abs. I’d rather not spend so much time running.
  2. Women with baby strollers are beautiful, and of course YOUNG.
  3. We’re all walking and running to make our bodies more attractive or more healthy. Nice to see, and nice to have the energy and motivation to participate.
  4. My range of desire seems to be greater when the woman is exercising, or is it because I can see the whole body?
  5. Something about exercise shows energy and determination. That’s attractive.
  6. Some women look at you and look away. Some smile. Some never look up, as if afraid.
  7. As women pass by running, I notice the twist of their body, how they’re moving, their ratio (are they h/w proportionate), and did I get a whiff of their perfume? Too much perfume is a turn off, but just the right (essential oil-ish) scent is really good.

What would happen if a woman came along who was within my attractive range and was interested in a relationship? I guess I would get the opportunity to feel the pressure that I occasionally put on “dates.” I’m not sure what’s ahead, but I’m interested in finding out how I learn and grow in my next relationship, with a partner who wants a relationship.

Then sparks will fly.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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5 First-Date Tips for Women

first date tips for womenDating is the wave of the future for us newly single folks. And as we enter the dating stream later in life there are plenty of new things to learn. Most of us, haven’t been dating for quite some time. And we have to polish up our routine as well as our hair, clothes, and fitness. Here are 5 YES TIPS for women who are interested in perking and keeping the interest of a man. (These are my thoughts – your mileage may vary.)

1. If there’s an attraction, let us know it.
When my first partner after divorce said, “You’re a lot cuter than your profile,” during the first 15 minutes of our date, I knew I was fitting some criteria she had in her mind. Yay! It’s so rare to find that chemistry. When it’s there, don’t be shy, just say it. “You’re pretty cute,” is all it takes.

2. If we’re going into the friend folder, let us know it.
The most disappointing thing is being led to think there is a connection by a date who says, “Well, let’s get together again,” but really doesn’t mean it. If you don’t want to, say it. Or don’t pretend like you do. Let us down easy. And if you’re not into the conversation of the thing, maybe you can send an email via OKCupid or whatever site you use, to say, thanks but no thanks. It’s so nice to have closure. But don’t fake it, if you don’t feel it.

3. If there’s something you’d like to do together, say it.
Finding common ground can be one the hardest things to establish early on. Saying “Into live music” on your dating profile, but not knowing any where to go, or any band to go see, is a real miss. If you’re into something, and it’s something you enjoy doing, see if we might not do it together. Just ask, “Do you play tennis?” (Or whatever it is.) That’s an opening for us to join with you, “No, but I’d love to.”

4. If you’re having a good time, laugh, touch our arm, show it.
See how much you can make us laugh. Laughing and smiling gives us all the benefit of good vibes. Are you funny, playful, spontaneous? Show it. If you’re real side is quirky, but you’re playing it straight, you’re cheating us both of an opportunity to connect. Touching is a powerful signal. Even a light pat demonstrating some point, is a moment of contact that can start the imagination rolling.

5. If you want to see us again, I mean really, just say it.
“What’s next?”  Is the most magical phrase in the first date wrap up. If you’re interested in seeing the person again, don’t wait for the man to come up with the courage to ask, just say it. Ask. “Are you doing anything Friday” is a great one, too.

Looking for clues: Where you meet, what time, what kind of place, for drinks or coffee… all plays a part in setting the stage and tone for a first date. Consider going for a walk around a park rather than drinking, you’ll tend to get a clearer read if you’re exercising. Look at their body language. Notice their eyes, are they looking at you, or distracted.

6. Bonus Tip: If you want a kiss, tilt your head, close in, give us clear signals.
The first kiss is a critical moment. If you’re into kissing, and think the guy is cute, go for it. What have you got to lose. If he’s a lousy kisser you can avoid the future heartache of finding that out on the 5th date. If he’s hot and your water begins boiling with a kiss, you might be on to something rare: a connection.

What have I missed? Let me know in the comments and I’ll include them here or in a future post. From my perspective, it goes without saying that a man should abide by these same rules. Think how much simpler it would be if we just said and shared what we were really feeling.

Keep it real out there, and keep on going.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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This post was inspired by Tamara’s Post: 5 Dating Mistakes Women Make. | Tamara Star | Daily Transformations

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Our Sexual Brain and the Lies It Tells Us

OFF-torsoAt the base of the relationships between men and women, is the animal nature. The physiology and biology that propelled us out of the caves and into the stars is still really about hormones, chemicals in the brain, and our unquenchable desire to further our genetic lines. Even as evolved as we think we are, chemicals like testosterone and dopamine really more of our energy and motivation than we’d like to think.

I’ve been exploring my own fixation on youth and fitness and how that is largely driven by these same procreative, base needs. And how as a somewhat evolved male homosapien, I have some control over the more ape-like ancestral rushes that occasionally course through me. And today I hit on an example that might clarify a bit more of my own self-examination around these urges vs. what I really want.

Today I was playing tennis with my 11 yo daughter. I have been teaching her how to play. And today on the court I was sitting back and watching her practice serves. On the court next to us was an older woman who, though sightly more robust than my partnering preference, was doing a fine job of beating the pants off her male partner. At this same time, just outside the fence behind my daughter, a young coed, walking her dog, strolled by looking quite fit, but perhaps a bit young to be of interest other than an observation of her beauty.

Every flash of cleavage, every picture on the web, all the titillation around me would give stir to my ape-chemistry and I would derive a little motivational boost.

Seeing these three women at the same time, I got it in a flash. My animal brain and body was attracted to the coed. My love and parenting body was happily enjoying my daughter’s physical practice. And my mind, unencumbered by sexual fantasy, was also fascinated and interest in the woman playing tennis.

The sirens of sex.

I don’t have to give in to the sexual chemistry. And one thing I know about myself, when I’m getting some of my sexual needs met, my sublimated sexual energy is much less powerful. And I’ve been trying to understand some of this dynamic in myself as I’m trying to imagine and conjure up my next relationship.

Before I was paired up, as a boyfriend or a married man, I was a bit more like a wild animal. Every flash of cleavage, every picture on the web, all the titillation around me would give stir to my ape-chemistry and I would derive a little motivational boost. It wasn’t that I wanted to mate with each of the objects of desire, but there was some shortage in my life, some lack. Perhaps my ape-brain was looking for a mate. My evolved-brain was a bit more capable of parsing out the desire part from the sex part, and I was usually able to leave the potential mate unmolested.

But something cool happened when I got matted up. (And I am certain this is different for each man and woman — as we all have different histories and hoped-for futures.) When I was IN relationship, I no longer scanned the savannah for sex. While I could see an attractive young athlete and say, “Wow.” I no longer had any desire to pursue sex or children or even gawking at her.

That’s how I knew, in my evolved self, the GF#1 was not the IT girl for me. Even as I was in relationship with her, and committed to her, my ape-related drive was not satisfied. Even though I had a relationship with an attractive woman, my chemistry was not settled. I did not feel completed.

I knew when I was married that I was SET. I did not desire another woman, ever. I did not roam or roar for anyone else. But when the sexual connection was severed I roared like a wounded animal and fell into a long period of rebuilding.

I know that’s a bad metaphor. But something in my DNA likes to be mated. And when it is complete, or solid, I no longer cruise the herd looking for something fresh, new, and young. When I was married, even as things were going south, there was never a moment when I considered pursuing sex with another woman. I simply did not want anything, sexually, other than what I had. So, like an animal, when the sex when south too, I began to express my rage and sadness and loss.

It’s interesting to note, as a creature of chemistry and instinct, we are also driven by motivation, safely, and happiness. But, I am certain that part of my happiness was related to the sex and the chemicals it produced, the safety and trust it expressed, that when lost, I began to wonder for the first time about the viability of my relationship.

I never looked outside the marriage for that connection. And even after divorced I maintained a fairly celibate life as I knew my sexual-brain could get me into a lot of trouble when it was flooded with so much sadness, anger, and appetite.

I had never been adored like I was adored by GF#1. She was fearless, close, and spoke “touch” as her love language as well. I tried to get a clue about my sexual ennui over the three months of our relationship, and in the end agreed to release her back to the wild so she could find the roar for her that was as strong as her roar for me.

Today I connected a tiny bit more of my history and chemistry. And I identified the Sexual Sirens that are all around me, and saw for the first time how different they were to me, depending on my relationship status. If I was mated and getting regular sex. I could care less for their siren song. If I was alone, like a lone lion, I was eager to catch thrill and quick to give chase.

I knew when I was married that I was SET. I did not desire another woman, ever. I did not roam or roar for anyone else. But when the sexual connection was severed I roared like a wounded animal and fell into a long period of rebuilding.

Along those lines, then, my thinking is, when I’m sorting out and evaluating my next relationship, I will listen to the clues in my body and my brain that are either satisfied or hungry to guide a part of my understanding of the animal fit. There’s a lot more to a RELATIONSHIP than fit or chemistry, but boy, when those things go off there’s a lot of roaring to do.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Browsable Women: The Three Hells of Online Dating

the three hells of online datingLet’s talk about online dating and visual marketing. There are three forms of browsable women. (Substitute “men” if you like.)

1. Pornography

2. Mass media and cheesecake photos.

3. Online dating.

Each of these types of browsable partners has something to offer. Let’s see if there is a relationship between them, or if we can understand something about ourselves through a bit of exploration.

Only one of these pools of images has the potential for a real human connection. (With someone other than yourself, I mean.) One of these pools of images and videos has the potential for immediate sexual gratification, if at a lower level than the real human connection version. One of these pools offers but doesn’t reveal the potential for both of the previous pools.

I turned on my online dating profile again yesterday and I was a bit underwhelmed by the opportunities for real human interaction. (see “momentum” in previous post) But the non-human (self) interaction gets a bit boring when you’ve recently sampled something delicious and alive. I glanced at some nudie sites but there was ZERO arousal. And then I started finding myself looking at TheChive. (Home of the almost nude, cheesecake shots and teases.) And while this didn’t exactly fire me up, there was something more enticing about the tease.

Again, nothing physical about photos, but the covered breast often offers more than the plentiful and heaving breast.

Yesterday I spent most of my time hitting the HIDE button on profiles that could not possibly have been accurately returned by my search results. I was left with 20 smiling faces.

Either way, it’s odd, browsing for a pretty face online. It seems like there are several levels of this hell. 1. The topmost hell, cheesecake offers enticement without reward. 2. The second hell, gives plenty of sex at the expense of enthusiasm or potential. 3. The final hell is trying to browse actual women on a dating site and seeing how many are WTF?

Shopping for a house online is a similar experience. You browse by area then you look for the curb appeal. Without a nice preview photo you’re not even going to take the 10 seconds to look at the portfolio of pictures. That’s how it works.

And online dating, in my experience, is similar. And these days I’ve become even more selective in who I would consider. Yesterday I spent most of my time hitting the HIDE button on profiles that could not possibly have been accurately returned by my search results. I was left with 20 smiling faces. (This is from thousands, according to the site.) And from there I contacted 4 of them. I got a casual response from one of them.

So here we are, here I am, browsing women online and hoping to find a spark. A real live spark, not a fantasy one. And I’m travelling back and forth through the three levels of hell.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: a few of my “potential” dates from yesterday’s foraging.


What’s This About: Marriage?

creative commons usage: marriageWould you do it again? What’s the point? Is it symbolism or security you seek? I don’t know, but I’m willing to ask myself the questions about why I would ever want to get married again.

It came up in a recent discussion. “I don’t think I’ll ever do that again,” she said.

I noticed my reaction. “Hmm. I wonder what that’s about.” But I quickly turned the observation inward to try and parse out what I would want from marriage. Let’s see…

  1. I already have kids, so it is not about them or having a mom.
  2. I did love the ring. I loved what it symbolized. I cried the first time I took it off. I was a proud husband.
  3. Financially there are some advantages.
  4. Security. (Hmm. This is the hardest one.)

In the end, the marriage did not provide any security within my relationship. I mean, perhaps she would have decided to seek greener pastures sooner had it not been for the legal and financial wranglings that were required to divorce me. But from my side, perhaps I was a bit blind-sided by my unrealistic trust in the “marriage” part of our relationship.

So what kind of trust could be won from getting married again? Would it make our bond any more secure?

The woman I was chatting with responded to my financial comment by asking, “Is that really something you considered when getting married?”

“No,” I said, “But I would have to consider it a reason now. I mean we both have kids, so it wouldn’t be about them.”

And here we are, at the crux of the matter. Would MARRIAGE, the ring, the ceremony, the step-kid thing, give either of us more security? I don’t know. Is it part of my plan? Perhaps, but it is certainly not something I think of in the early months of a relationship. Although she did catch me saying, “If a relationship doesn’t have the potential of going long-term, then I’m not really interested.”

“What does that even mean, long-term,” she asked, with a sly smile.

“I don’t know.”

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Dating Tips for Modern Adults: Texts, Facebook, Profiles, Phonecalls

dating tips for the modern adultIt’s a lot more complex trying to figure out relationships these days, then it was before I met my ex-y. Today things like Facebook and text messages go for communications. And the signals can come from all directions. You’ve got to be a communications savvy person, or get lost. Or refuse to go “online” for your romantic prospecting. But if you’re not willing to up your online game, you’re going to be at a disadvantage.

These days phone calls are almost archaic. The dates I’ve set up over the last three years have involved only a handful of phone calls. Some never progress off the initial dating site. Others will give you a phone number as a back up, but won’t ever respond to texts. And then others…

It’s easy to get swept up in the joy of messaging as well. I’ve had a number of startup relationships that were amazing in text and not-so-much in person. And that too, is one of the problems with online dating. There is a lot of intensity and fantasy you can give into before you ever look into the other person’s eyes. There’s even a question on OK Cupid’s massive question database, “Do you think you can fall in love without ever meeting someone in person?” Really?

Let’s pull that idea apart for a second.

  1. Photos are not very good indicators of what a person really looks like. If they are using really old photos they could be 50 lbs heavier in real life. (It’s happened to me three times, so far. You want to ask, “Um, that photo… When was that taken?”)
  2. Romantic articulation is not a good indicator of a chemistry match. It’s a good indicator of a romantic writer.
  3. The imagination can run wild with #1 and #2. The let down can be shocking.

I have a new strategy (as of my last online dating date, two nights ago) get the texts going. And then trade selfies. This has only snipped one escalating online flirtation, but it was immediate. There is very little manipulation you can do to a selfie in most circumstances. And you want to get the raw story before committing to a date.

And dates take time. They can be fun or uncomfortable. But they are distractions, at some point, if you keep finding yourself sitting across from “what was I thinking?” more than a few times. You need to refine your criteria a bit.

Here are a couple informal tips I’ve learned so far.

  1. If there’s only one photo – they are probably hiding something.
  2. Look at all the photos. There’s usually that one photo that’s a bit more real, less romantic, than the others. You can sometimes see through the mirage of great photography in that one photo. (I only learned this after the fact. I’d go out on a date and come back home and ask “what did I miss?”)
  3. If they don’t have kids, they’re never going to understand me and mine.
  4. Look for something magical. One thing that you can really get into about the person. (Not a pretty smile.) What they do or profess to love that you also love. See if you can tease a few more details about that “concept” in your conversations via txt, email, or whatever.
  5. Pretty smiles are amazing. But they are not a complete package.
  6. Go ahead and say what you’re looking for in a relationship on your profile. I have it out there. “I’m looking for extraordinary.” I don’t want a half-charged woman. I’m not low-power or low-maintenance. I want brilliance.
  7. Keep plenty of time to yourself. If you are going out on dates in order to not be alone, you might look at that. You’ve got to keep refining what you want love to do, building the relationship without yourself, BEFORE you get in another relationship. Your goal should be to build on those things, not just a sexy connection.

There are a lot of ways to communicate online. If you really like this person in initial conversations, but it’s hard finding the time to date, you can ask to be “friends” on Facebook. (Another source of great REAL photos.) And don’t discount Facebook as a potential dating pool as well. Much more touchy on Facebook, to seek dates, but when there is a connection it’s easy to get a feel for what this person is into by looking at their Facebook wall. I’m happy to share mine early. I’m not trying to hide who I am. My Facebook profile is 100% public.

And it’s quite okay for them to unfriend you when they decide you’re not a fit. Don’t be offended. It’s not about picking up more Facebook friends. It’s about trying to establish a communications system between the two of you.

And finally: DON’T DATE ON FACEBOOK. Sharing your “new boyfriend” is very embarrassing when you have to go back and delete all their pictures. And those “first Ikea purchase together” photos just seem sad when you’ve known the person for two weeks. Leave your Relationship Status on Facebook as “make selection.” Nobody needs to be trolling you for dating. And you don’t need to be broadcasting to them or anyone else when you go from “In Relationship with Sandy” to “It’s Complicated” to “Single.” It embarrasses your friends for you. Just don’t do it. (Unless you’re in your twenties, then perhaps, everyone is doing it. I don’t know much about that demographic.)

It’s wild enough out there. You need to get your communications strategy in place. And then if the other person has a different pace or different style you can figure out how to adjust.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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The Woman Who Slept With Pitbulls

pitbull rescue girlShe wasn’t the first woman I’d made love to, but she was the first woman who seemed to have potential. She appeared to have her act together, and I loved her petite body. (See the beginning of the story here: Racing Into Love & Right Through the Exit)

This woman had a thing for her two pit bulls. Things at my house, seemed fairly normal, the one dog and the cat were well-behaved. At her house, the dogs ran the show. And these were some muscular dogs.

I liked them. I learned more about pitbulls in the first few hours at her house than I’d ever known about pitbulls. But it was a bit weird when they took over the bed. Sure, I like it when my little terrier cuddles up beside me in the bed, but these dogs were her sleeping companions. And there was barely enough room to squeeze in with them. And if push came to shove, it was also clear who would be injured first.

The dogs were the first sign that things might not be right in my new little love fantasy. The next sign was when we disagreed about something and she flipped right out. I think the topic was TV or reading, is one better than the other. (See she had an unabashedly heavy addiction for reality television. I even added a blurb about “if you’re really into tv” to my online dating profile after this experience.) She expressed it this way, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I was trying to say that reading was more engaging, might lead to more creative inspiration for the reader. She was simply furious. I’m not sure if she was mad that I was disagreeing with her, or if it was about her tv addiction, or maybe that her dogs really started liking me. At one point, as this first argument progressed she went upstairs in a huff. (Fury might be a better word for it.) And the male dog didn’t follow her. He stayed on the couch with his head on my lap. At one point she came down and got him.

Um… Red flag #1.

She proceeded to ratchet the argument up over the next hour or so, even though I was still trying to figure out what we were arguing about. And eventually I left. We were planning on spending the weekend together, maybe that’s what was freaking her out, and this was a way to make sure that didn’t happen. After the anger that followed me out the door, we both needed some cooling off time. This was… say… weekend number two, mind you, pretty dang early in a courtship to start blasting the other person.

We took a few days. Texted and emailed. And when Friday came around again, we made plans to have dinner. I was hopeful that the storm had passed. The email repairs, while mostly on my part, seemed to have settled things back into a cordial connection.

As dinner progressed things seemed to be a little tense, but workable. I was really interested in “relating” again after dinner. We were close to my house and perhaps…

She was talking about her grad school program and how much it was costing her trying to finish her degree. And then she said something that surprised me. “Yeah, those fucking research assistants and their grants.” I guess she was taking out a loan to get through school.

I paused. “Um, can I ask you a question?”

See already looked mad.

“So are you really angry that those people got grants. Or are you playing a sour grapes joke on me?” I thought she might have been making an odd joke. The tone of her statement was so exaggerated.

She froze and glared. I knew at that second, she had not been joking.

“I’m sorry. Did I just piss you off?”

She glared.

“I was thinking you were making a joke.”

“Do I look like I’m joking?”

Red flag #2. And we’re done.

She got into her car without really saying good-bye and unfriended me on Facebook about 15 minutes later. She also hide her profile from me on OK Cupid. Wow.

Beware the grad student who sleeps with pit bulls.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

image via creative commons use – pampered pitbull

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Surprising Myself and Contradicting Everything All At Once

Sex on the first date - would you really?I write most of these posts in the moment, as things are happening. And when I go back and read them, sometimes, I feel like I’m learning something. As if someone else wrote the posts, and I’m learning AGAIN how I feel about certain things.

THEN I have a complete reversal of my opinion. (I think that’s a common occurrence for any of us.) But when it involves something as essential as dating or sex, I’m surprised by my animal nature.

Example: Just yesterday I was writing about some of the more disappointing aspects of the movie Don Jon and this line, that I wrote, in today’s light, has a very different feel to me.

“Keeping your own sexual urges and satisfaction in hand (porn) can help you keep your dick in your pants at times when it might be easier just to go with the flow towards sex.” — Porn Addiction

So, here’s where it gets funny. On some days I feel very strongly about that statement. And my aversion to casual sex. And then a woman, last night, reaches out from OKCupid, and seems approachable. Let’s make that more clear.

OK CUPID question, would you sleep with someone on the first date?

Um, that’s me with the No. But that Yes sure is intriguing. Really? Do you think this is a tease? Or do you think I’ve found a cougar (she’s 8 years older than me, so perhaps I’m a catch)? I haven’t taken condoms with me to a date, ever. But I’m considering it, tonight. Why? What’s changed?

It’s been a long time. I don’t have any recent sexual contact, and maybe my body is craving touch. Probably more than sex. And this little hunger in my physical body is able to short-circuit my planning and stated intentions. What?

Now, imagining sex with this woman on the first date is a lot different than actually doing it. And from her pictures it’s hard to get a real idea of what she looks like. And of course chemistry is another thing all together. But a little bit of casual sex… Wow. Maybe it’s the change of the seasons, and I’m ready to be doing it again, soon.

Anyway, it’s amazing to see how animal we actually are. The day after professing my intention to hold out of the next ONE, I’m prepping and heading out to a date at a sophisticated club with an older woman who’s said YES to “first date sex.”

Exhilarating. And a bit confusing, until we realise, just how human/animal we actually are. And who says giving into the urge is a terrible thing. Last time, it yielded a three-month relationship that taught me more about relationships than I’d learned in my entire marriage. We are two adults. We can be honest. We can play the online dating games.

Let’s go see.

Update: It does seem absurd the notion, of sleeping with someone on a first date. I mean, how does that happen? I imagine you’d have to get pretty wasted. Not the case for me. Oh well, it was a fun flight of fancy.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

Note: Image is from a video that went viral today:  Yeva Shiyanova | Imagine Dragons – Radioactive

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Blended Family Mating Call; Or How Do You Find a Sane Single Mom?

trying to date a single momI’m in this dating thing to win. Part-time of course, the other 38% of my time I’m a single dad.

I didn’t really start this blog with the intention of turning it into a romance, dating, and love poem blog. Things have kind of evolved that way. I’m not sure it’s perfect, but it does capture the whole of me, the OFF parent, both when I’m “off” (without kids) and when I’m “on” (single-dad). But it’s not really an opening line, “I write a fairly successful divorce blog.” Um, no. I don’t think I tell them that for a long time.

But it’s one of the things I do. I write to get this transition down on paper. Some forensics: what the fk happened to the relationship I thought was going to be my respite and resting place forever? And some aspirational: love poetry trying to give voice to the romantic in my soul that is still stretching towards ecstasy. The lover in me that refuses to give up one item on my wish list just to get rid of loneliness. Nope. I’ll wait.

There was an immediate chemistry between us, as the party progressed we kept finding ourselves paired up and chatting. She was married. But she was also a bit flirty, a bit open, and very sexy.

I’ll seek. I’ll sing. I’ll write poems. And I’ll improve my roll, as it were, with the dates I do go on. But most of all, I’ll stay true to the things I am learning about my true desire and my true nature. And EVEN WHEN THINGS FEEL GREAT, as they did with “almost mythical” GF #1, I won’t stop until the final equation, the final circuit is complete.

I demand a stellar partner. And I will remain alone until we find each other.

Meanwhile, on planet Earth, the process of dating, re-dating, re-framing my OKCupid profile, continues. And while I took most of the summer off to work on myself, to ramp my musical performance engine back up, and to give my dating ambition a rest… I’m hungry.

Two years ago: Enter single mom of two young kids. Much younger than mine. Am I ready to be in a relationship with someone who has a three-year-old? (Um, wait… I’m getting ahead of myself.)

This single mom was not single when we met at a friend’s birthday party. There was an immediate chemistry between us, as the party progressed we kept finding ourselves paired up and chatting. She was married. But she was also a bit flirty, a bit open, and very sexy. I kept my intentions pure and when the evening ended I made the, “we should connect on Facebook” play. And she eventually came around to it after a few asks. Again… She was married.

Two months ago: A random LIKE on one of her Facebook pictures elicited a “Hey, what are you doing?” And in a matter of days I learn she’s divorced, and might like to grab a cup of coffee or drink sometime.

BINGO! The light goes on in my head. Sexy. CHECK. Chemistry. CHECK. Intelligent and engaging conversation. CHECK. And now she’s not married any more. And then this happens, over and over and over:

“Hey, how’s it going?”

Me, “Great. How’s your afternoon going?”

“Crazy busy.”

Me, “How about  a cup of coffee later?”

“Can’t, sitter just called in sick.”

Over and over and over.

I understand a couple of things from this ongoing (we still have not met face-to-face in the two months we’ve been pinging back and forth on Facebook) reconnect and lack of connection.

  1. Early stages of divorce are filled with all kinds of crazy emotions, crazy scheduling nightmares, asshole ex-parents, and all the other stuff that goes along with resetting and formulating every detail of your parenting life.
  2. Full-time working mom’s have a lot of responsibility. And their children come first.
  3. This particular mom might not have it all together yet.
  4. For some reason, even after two years, we are still drawn to each other.

Now, I’m also concerned about my own reactions to this woman’s advances and CONTINUAL disappointing outcomes.

  1. I’m still engaged even after she’s left me waiting for the text or call that would coordinate our “walk” or “glass of wine” or “going out after work.” Why am I still even listening to her?
  2. She shows up as a bit of a party girl on FB. (Maybe everyone does.) And she’s trying to reestablish her “liveliness” and “fun” via pictures.
  3. I’m SO flexible and accommodating that I’m going to get trampled by her lack of follow-through or any consideration of what she’s agreed to.

Here’s the most recent example, from last weekend.

Saturday morning, 10:30 am: She asks, “Hey what are you doing today?”

“About to go for a walk. What great weather. How about you?”

“Dropping off some tickets to a friend.”

I get it, single mom’s are busy. Newly divorced people have got their schedules and priorities on their kids. AND I’m a sucker for a pretty lady and will cuckold myself repeatedly if I think it might be fun.

We chat for a bit and she calls on the phone. It is great to hear her voice again. We fall into a familiar cadence, just like we did at the party. It’s a little bit exhilarating. She’s going to call me back in about 30 minutes and we’re going to meet for a walk around the lake.

She doesn’t call. I’m ready to walk and I pause to wait for her call.

Not wanting to be the aggressor, or be too pushy, I give her an hour and a half before I text her phone.

“Did you get roped in?”

“You know me so well,” comes her quick reply. Then nothing again for hours. I refrain from begging.

By late afternoon I finally text her again. “What’s up?”

“Spent too much time with my friend, and ran some errands, what’s up with you?”

Maybe I misinterpreted her initial text and our phone call that included plans. Maybe I should point it out and be done with her. But I don’t. I let it roll on by.

A few hours later she asks if I’m going to watch the football game. I engage without enthusiasm. I’m heading to a friend’s house for a game night. She closes with, “I’m having a some friends over here, we’re watching the game. A little girl time.”

Done. I’m done.

We exchange a few texts the next day and again I pawn myself and ask for coffee.

“Can’t. Taking kids to park.”

I get it, single mom’s are busy. Newly divorced people have got their schedules and priorities on their kids. AND I’m a sucker for a pretty lady and will cuckold myself repeatedly if I think it might be fun.

Okay, that’s a bit harsh on myself, I’m not overly obsessed with this woman. She’s still showing up like a pretty butterfly. But I’m not sure what she’s after. Maybe I’m a “potential” that’s nice for her to have in her pocket. And maybe she’s the same for me.

For now, we do the dance, I’ll continue to answer any openings with an offer and perhaps in another two months we’ll meet up. But I’m not counting on it. She’s like a siren, calling me to shore. I’m not sure she’s really a resting place for my weary and romantic head, but it beats having no muses for amusement.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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it’s about time

touch-off-virtual

[from Making Love To Other Women – poetry]

and then i open my mouth and I have no idea what comes out
i’m nervous, in love, tortured to make contact
and nothing

it’s not that absence makes the heart grow at all
absence is just lack of you, face time, touch time, touch
all these virtual pokes and likes and touch-ins
are no match for the rush of time, tic, time, tic
it’s about time

it’s about time

 

5-30-13


Dating and Romance: It’s Always About Time

OFF-happycouple

Last night I began to get the picture.

I spent a casual evening with one of the women with potential. And the contrast could not have been more pronounced. There was no kissing, no driven agenda, but just spending time together.

When the desire is there, and the feelings necessary to connect, the next ingredient is time.

If both participants don’t put forth the effort to make time for the relationship to grow… That’s the answer right there.

I felt a bit of a loss. I was looking forward to accepting that kissing offer she put out after our first “date.”

Just this week, the smiling girl backed out of an opportunity. And even when I offered additional options, and texted her the next day. There were no plans to be made. I’m fine with being the initiator, but I won’t be the only one putting out the offers. It’s very telling when the other person stops offering ideas.

So she’s gone quiet.

And often I would be the one, like a puppy dog, doing somersaults to try and interest them in the “next thing.” But not today. If the mutual effort is not there, that may be the biggest tell of all. Once the effort is not mutually beneficial, the energy for making it happen gets lopsided. And it DOES feel like a game. A bit. This idea of not calling them because you put the last offer in and it got no response. BUT, it’s also a very subtle system of energy and intention.

  1. Smiling girl is quite a runner. She makes time, every day, for running. She is distressed if she misses a day in her routine.
  2. Our first meeting was facilitated because she was too tired to run, so why don’t we get together.
  3. We had some fun at our first date and second date, where we had lunch on Mother’s Day.
  4. She backed out of our next opportunity, because she was late getting back into town, and was feeling tired…
  5. The next night, I texted her around the end of the day, “Just saying hi, seeing what’s next…”
  6. We exchanged pleasantries. She loves to complement my humor. “Ha ha ha ha.”
  7. Nothing.

In my equation, she interrupted the flow. It’s okay, I was stretching to see if I could actually be with a beautiful but non-creative person. (The jury is still out on that concept.) But, I felt a bit of a loss. I was looking forward to accepting that kissing offer she put out after our first “date.”

But I am also aware, that I was ready to engage in less-than-100%. For some reason, loneliness, thrill, change of pace, I was willing to move things forward, even when I had my doubts about the real value of the relationship potential. I think I was infatuated with her neck. (grin)

Contrast this with the wonderful developments of the second woman with potential, who’s presented herself again, as interested.

  1. We had made casual plans to go out on Saturday night.
  2. Mid-afternoon, yesterday, Friday, she said, “I had something else come up on Sat. Sorry. But I’m available tonight.”
  3. She would contact me after a professional networking party she needed to attend.
  4. When she did contact me, we checked in. She had stated earlier that she was not too full of energy at the moment. We made plans, even at 9:30.
  5. I came to her house without pomp or circumstance. She had gotten a dvd of a movie she wanted to see. We sat on the couch. We held hands. We chatted, laughed, and enjoyed each other’s company.
  6. She walked me to my car at midnight, when I was heading home. We held hands as we walked.
  7. I mentioned my joy at the evening, “Massively casual.”
  8. “Yes.”

There was no need in my book to try and confirm or set up a future time together. The time with her was easy, close, and yes… casual.

“Because if it did develop into a relationship, there’s then going to be more demand for time. More desire for time together.”

I’ve said to her in several calls and emails, that while I’m intentional, I am not ambitious or driven to move things along with her. I’m more interested in being with her. Spending time with someone I like. I’m fascinated by her. That is enough.

She is responsive. She is private and protective of her space and time. And she has some magical combination of massive sensuality and creative writerly fantasy woman. DANGER! (I kid myself!)

It’s easy for me to imagine how I would/could fall in love with her. But the first step is just time. Time before the adoration sets in. Time doing simple and mundane things. Mutually arranged and beneficial time together. It’s easy to feel confident when the effort to find another time flows from both sides. If it’s only one partner, the balance shifts in some fundamental way.

It’s important to me that the reaching out is mutual. Last night while we were side by side on the couch, she also reached out and held or stroked my arm from time to time. It was non-sexual, it was awesome, it was just pure affection. I cannot generate that myself. I can draw it in, ask for it, and attempt to stir it up in her, but the reaching out (or reaching back) is up to the other person.

The other woman with potential said something in one our over-thinking sessions, “Because if it did develop into a relationship, there’s then going to be more demand for time. More desire for time together.”

Yes.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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 image: beautiful young couple relaxing, richard foster, creative commons usage


Searching Online for the Last One

OFF-waterlove

How is it that I am in such a rush to find the next and last girlfriend/lover? I say to them, “I’m in no hurry,” but I’m kind of lying. I’m not clear what the pressure is. Lust? Passion? Loneliness? But I am sure that rushing never helps.

So I’m driving headlong towards the finish line of this story, The Off Parent. While I won’t end being the *off* parent, something about this blog/book/story line has divorce and dating written all over it. If I really wasn’t dating, and rather I was building my next marriage, and thus not divorced… Well, let’s just say I’m both eager for the story to end, and a little saddened by the closing chapters, because it means there will be no more story.

What’s the story here?

Divorce. Kids.

Depression. Dad. Men.

Dating. Relationships. Over40, er 50.

If I KNOW my love language is physical touch, how could I ever be fulfilled with someone who had some other priority? Would I always be longing for touch?

Well, if I’m imagining this next relationship is the LAST ONE, well, that too has its own kind of pressure, that perhaps is just as debilitating as the rushing of the process.

What I know, is this pause, getting off the online dating sites, has given me a bit more time to be quiet and listen to what’s going on in me. Too much activity and interest outside my own process, keeps me from listening very well to what’s going on.

I’m excited by both the potential women in my life. I’m eager, but trying to remain calm, collected, reflective. I’m doing my best to LISTEN when I would like to rush on and tell my side, my truth, my siren song. But I think I’m working too hard to call in the next lover.

And even in the potential relationships, landing one would mean letting go of the other.

I was sharing the ideas of both women to a friend today. I showed their Facebook pages and pictures of each woman. My friend asked a few questions. And I answered as honestly as I could. But I found myself more drawn to one of the two women, because she is soooooo classically beautiful. And, of course, she’s the one who’s the least responsive to moving things along. No worries.

My friend was asking me about each of them and their previous relationships and current approach to dating. “Neither of them have been in a long-term close relationship for quite some time.” UM. Didn’t that set off my ALARM? It sure did when I said it today.

Okay, so both of them are writers. Both of them have children from marriages that didn’t work out at all. Both of them are beautiful and intelligent. And both of them admit to not making relationships a priority in their recent past.

Okay.

So, another concept I really should start to understand about each of these women, individually, is their love language.

And the ADORE factor, the final ingredient, has not had time to grow with either of them. I think that is about time. Time together. Time managing complex lifestyles and complex work/family lives.

If I KNOW my love language is physical touch, how could I ever be fulfilled with someone who had some other priority? Would I always be longing for touch and this woman would be more interested in acts of kindness, or just quality time together?

And so, beautiful girl, she’s been fine with not seeing each other for almost two weeks, if we get together tomorrow, as we’ve tentatively planned. How’s that going to work out for my “touch” needs?

I know we’re not dating yet. In both cases, we’re chatting about dating, what we would want, and what we don’t want. But in the holding on loosely, I need to make sure I’m not loosening my own desires and my own knowledge that “touchy feely” is one of my base needs.

So I’m slowing down. And maybe I need to relax the idea of THE LAST ONE a little. If it works out like GF #1, where we are open and honest, perhaps the NEXT ONE lasts a year, or more. But trying to hold that out as the goal, and then allowing the pressures of my own desires to drive me towards a relationship that may not be right for me… It’s a lot of pressure.

And the courting phase does have its magic. Simple things like, the first time we kiss, are still on the horizon. If this is the LAST ONE, then this is IT. This is the LAST moment for that thrilling anticipation of something, or some one, new.

Like the color of her panties each time I am privileged enough to catch a glimpse of them, maybe, at some point, take them off. When this act has lost its mystery, is that what makes men and women go back out of the hunt?

I am here with two different women. The pressure I feel is something internal that is not really serving me or this process of listening and learning about myself and what feels right.

I long. I hunger. But those are not new feelings. When I jumped rabid at the Kissing Girl, perhaps I was showing some of the hollowness I’m feeling in my love life. It’s been a long time since I shared my bed with someone. GF #1 was a master at filling those needs. We cuddled and slept together quite well. And as Kissing Girl introduced me to her bedroom we talked about how cold and dark she liked the room. NICE! I was ready.

And yet, if I had rushed that one, I would still be pulling myself out of the wreckage.

So yesterday, when one of the women said she’d probably like to take Friday to just chill rather than get together, I was a tiny bit disappointed, but more about my own “awww” desire. And when the other woman didn’t call me back after saying she wanted to chat on the phone, I was hurt but responded today with another ping that got a nice response and potential plans this weekend.

I am out there. I am poised to listen more than talk, if I can remember to do it. And I am seeking knowledge of their love language, so I can understand how that part of the puzzle might fit together. It might sound cliché, but we didn’t have such a simple system of compatibility back when I was meeting the ex-y for the second time around.

Today I know I am in desire of a touch-centered lover, who is fearless in talking about emotions or tough subjects, and who I find enduringly attractive. I have two of those qualities with two different women who are operating at their own pace. I do not know if they are touch-centered. If they have not been in close relationships for a while, perhaps they are not. And their low need for touch would prove painful and terminal to me in the long run.

And the ADORE factor, the final ingredient, has not had time to grow with either of them. I think that is about time. Time together. Time managing complex lifestyles and complex work/family lives.

What I know is this time, tonight for example, gives me pause to reflect and learn. A moment not in the throes of wooing or courting or impressing, but hearing what is painful inside of me at this moment. What I am missing. And today, in telling the story of both these women to my friend, knowing that I don’t know their love language at all.

Pause.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: Loves | Lover, fairuze othman, creative commons usage


she believed in kissing

kissing before getting on a train

[from Making Love To Other Women – poetry]

she opened her mouth so wide i fell inside
and kisses slipped us into a dreamlike state
i was open and aware and allowing the momentum
we careened along the tracks like a train without brakes

and she sounded the alarm
or at least alerted the brakeman
we slowed without any major damage
but the pause was enough
i was grateful
she was a fantastic kisser
she believed in kissing
so did i
and she held many of the qualities I wanted
or said I wanted
i did not prepare for a boarding of my train
when she began unpacking her bags
and getting ready to join my sleeping car
i knew that we needed more than the attention of the brakeman
i called an emergency stop
she protested
she cajoled
she made me feel tired
i was not ready for a showdown
i did not want to force anyone off the train
i was not aware of selling or giving tickets

she taught me the sacred art of kissing
she thrilled and laughed and was hurt
when I asked her to leave
i was not prepared to put up a fight
i was also not prepared to allow a forced boarding

i left her standing at the station
she called out and waved
she said wonderful things and then angry things
she would not be boarding the train any time soon
or ever
but her kisses will be missed
and the heavy moment of having to hurt someone else
for any reason
even if the reason is self-preservation

she opened her mouth
and i danced on her tongue
and found myself lost inside her
and when i woke up
when i saw the baggage she was bringing

i
stopped
the
train
and
let
her
off

4-29-13


Alone is Different Than Aloneliness After Divorce

OFF-loneliness

There are hundreds of times during the day that I miss my kids. (The ex, not so much.) And on the days when they are not coming home to MY HOUSE, well…  I can choose to be sad about those days, or…

Alone I have all options open to me. My time is my own. While I still have to make money (and now, supporting two households, it’s even more than it was when I was still married) the time back, the time I would never have been able to negotiate during my marriage, is a great thing. When I’m up, that is.

When I’m down, all time away from my kids is sad time. However, I understand that a whole bunch of that is MY SADNESS, and probably has very little to do with my kids or my divorce.

When I’m DOWN, alone-ness is hard. The things I try to remember are:

  • It ends, I will feel better
  • If I can exercise, even walking around the block, it is better than moping
  • Eating is essential, and eating better is even more critical when you are self-medicating
  • I’m better off not sharing this deep and existential pain with my kids (they will have plenty of time to learn about it for themselves, and they can read my writing about it, LATER.)
  • Getting enough sleep is essential
  • Laughing (movies, games, social media) is good medicine for the mind
  • Waking up at your normal time (not sleeping in unless you are sick) and shaving and taking a shower is good for your body and mind

When I’m UP, well, there’s no lack of projects and activities that I want to get to. I do have to reign in a few things in my UP mode as well.

  • Getting enough sleep is essential (staying up one night in an inspirational fit is okay, two nights is a problem)
  • I still have to do my WORK and pay my BILLS (those things often bring me out of my dream-like creative state, but they must be done)
  • I have to prioritize my time (all play and no work, all fresh air and growth work without any billable hours will get me into trouble pretty quickly)

So today, Sunday, I am still balancing the creative big ideas and the need to get a few hours of work done before Monday morning. And that new guitar sitting over there looking quite pretty and seductive, will have to wait until I get my Dec. hours billed.

I’m alone, but not lonely. And I’m grateful for that. And that I know the difference has had a huge impact on my approach to the feelings of Alone-ness vs. Aloneliness.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: loneliness, ktoine, creative commons usage


To Love and Be Loved (Dating After Divorce)

dating after divorce, ok cupid, your matches, your profile

Adoration is a wonderful and powerful thing. The woman I am dating has been responsible for lifting me up with the sheer will and determination of her adoration.

But somehow the word “girlfriend” still feels weird in my mouth. Like “wife” did when I first got married. After a while you begin to like the sound of it. I’m not there yet.

Last night, at her house, she said, “You know next Wednesday it will be eight weeks.”

“Huh?”

“Since we met.”

So why am I so reticent? What is my hold up?

It’s back to that adoration thing. It is absolutely frickin wonderful to be adored. And adored like I have never been before. Adored after a devastating divorce which left me nearly crippled. And on so many ways, this is enough.

But in one way, it is not enough. And I think I’ve got a handle on part of it.

The adoration from someone is a powerful healing force. BUT the complete circle is not made until you too are adoring back. It’s like I’m half open. I’m grateful. I’m loving. But I’m not adoring.

She feels it. She pushes against it, even if it’s like pushing on a sore spot. Because I can’t say it’s there if it isn’t. I can’t profess my undying love (like I did in my first two marriages) if I’ve still got my eye out for something that hits my chemistry love button as well.

But I don’t have to make all those decisions now. I have to be honest. I have to not lie when she pines for my “l” word. And I don’t have to make the decision to be with her till death or divorce do us part. We’re still only 8 weeks into it.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Thursday Happier Hour and the SPO (Standard Possession Order) Morass

The Plumber Fkin Your Ex WifeThere is a business networking happy hour that happens once a month on a Thursday. And I’ve never made it. I probably should make it.

But when the world shifted on its axis and my kids orbits suddenly had large periods of time on the dark side of the planet, Thursdays became my joint-custody Standard Possession Order day of the week. You’ll get to know and love the language. SPO – standard possession order. And First, Third, and Fifth is another common process. And your attorney will probably want to start with the SPO and make variations from there. It’s all been worked out ahead of time for our benefit.

No sarcasm meant. But there’s no way to be grateful under the circumstances. But the kind counselor we went to for Divorce Counseling was happy to tell me, “It’s a pretty good deal for dads.”

Not being up on the literature or common practices I had my heart set on 50/50 down the middle, rotating the kids out very other weekend. This other 1, 3, 5 seems to be easier for some reason, but it does cause some unexpected problems. The minute you look to enter the kissing pool again, you’ll discover that if every dad has the kids 1-3-5, then the divorced moms have their kids exactly opposite. (grin)

So you want to date someone. Um, every single weekend you have OFF she has kid duty. I think back to that moment when Dr. Knows Better kept saying, it’s easier for everyone. I kept asking “WHY, what makes it easier?” If you have the same feeling, you might keep asking until you get an answer, or you and your soon-to-be ex decide on an alternative. Sure it made it easier on the doc, but now it’s a bit complicated if I want to meet someone after work for drinks.

The corollary to this law is kind of funny and painful at the same time: When your ex starts asking for changes in the schedule, it means they’re fucking somebody. Excuse me, “dating,” somebody. I mean, think about it, are you going to get into it with your ex over switching up the schedule if there isn’t some damn compelling reason?

I’m just pissed it’s happened twice from her side so far and nonce from mine. But I’m over all that jealousy stuff. Really. Over. It. She can DO who ever she pleases at this point, I’d rather DO someone else as well. So best to take my bitterness and get in better shape.

Oh that’s the one great thing Dr. You’re Getting a Divorce did set up. In our plan we cannot introduce a “dating” partner to our kids until the “relationship/dating” has been steady for six months. That’s awesome right. It sure helped my piece of mind when my ex-y started a rebound screwing of a plumber from a few towns over that first month after the divorce was final. At least she waited until it was final. I spewed a few spiteful barbs at that time. And thank goodness I got my ass into a divorce recovery class soon after.

Another funny moment happened about three months ago, my daughter was playing with my iPhone. She loves them and was looking at my pictures and stuff. (No surprises there. Think twice about taking those candid shots on your phone, won’t you?) And she noticed a few TXT messages coming in from a *Debbie.* And at one point she squealed , “SWEETHEART.”

Um, I had some explaining to do.

So I talked it out with them and now it’s sort of a running joke. “If I had a girlfriend, which I don’t, I couldn’t tell you anyway, but this woman, is not my girlfriend.”

At this point they roll their eyes. And one of them will say something like, “Yeah Dad, we don’t believe anything you say about that anyway. Because you can’t tell us.”

It did give me some satisfaction txting the ex-y, “I had the 6 months chat with the kids. It went well.”

Of course the hidden message was, “Cause there’s someone else…” But I left it unspoken.

And that’s the final piece of advice on this subject. NEVER fire the sharp barbs at your ex-y. They never hurt her as much as they hurt you. Being mean or mad at her is only a symptom of your unfinished emotional work. It never helps. Yes, I know, sometimes it feels good.

And that one I sent in regards to the plumber (nothing against The Plumber with the Dragon Tattoo) “WTF? Do you think this is a rebound? He’s not even in our TRIBE.” All I could think of inside was, “Thank god she can burn through this one without having to bring the kids into it.” And sure, it was over in less than a month, but I was hurt and freaking out a bit. And living at my sister’s house, for crissakes. Not a happy situation.

So the email arrived today for the happy hour tomorrow night, and I had a moment where I contemplated getting a sitter… And then I smiled and thought about my HAPPIER HOUR. With my kids.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Racing Into Love & Right Through the Exit: How Did We Get To the End Again So Quickly?

She drove a red Mini CooperConfession: I’ve had ONE relationship post-divorce. It lasted about 12 days. It was hot. It was frustrating. It freed me once and for all from the depressed imaginings that I was never going to be with another cute, sexy, happy, lover. It clipped the strings holding me to the fantasy of reconnection with my ex-y. (I know, ever after all this, I was still holding a torch of some sort.)

But I now imagine that my connection was more like an addiction. The last good thing I ever had, the last love I’d made in 14+ years, and she was still so close and we still had so many ties. And wouldn’t it be cool to date again. I still think she’s hot. (Fk, I didn’t mean to let that out.)

But the woman who waltzed in and crafted her way upstairs into my bed after a couple of dates and a few more beers, was a treat. Like a flavor of ice cream I’ve never tasted. Smart: check. Sexy: check. Happy: check-minus. Well-balanced: um… let me explain.

I have learned in my online date sampling, that I am more interested in a woman’s intellectual capacity than her dress size. I will admit to liking dark hair over blonde, but that’s a minor distraction and not a prejudice. Okay, so in comes this new woman, smart, sassy, driving a Mini Cooper and listening to cool music. She even breached the sex idea on day two when I suggested she come over to my house and do her “work” here.

“We’d probably just jump into the sack,” she said.

BINGO! The perfect flirt. I was hooked. And later on that night in the bar, she said, “The sexual tension is high. We should probably go before it gets too late.”

“Wanna come back to my place? I’ll drive. We can leave your car here.”

“Okay.”

So there I was… “back in the saddle” so to speak. We covered ground like birth control, testing for STDs and that neither of us were that into anal sex. It became the joke, “as long as you’re not talking about anal sex, we’re good.” She was fluid and fluent with her words. She knew what she was doing. And she obviously LOVED SEX. Hallelujah. It truly was a rebirth. (I did really need a resurrection of sorts.)

She gave it to me in spades. She was able to joke about the sex. Telling me she was going to be sore. And the next day telling me she was having trouble walking. (Grin.) My ego was completely stroked.

All clear at this point. And then we hit our first snag: TV.

Continues: The Woman Who Slept With Pitbulls

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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