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

Posts tagged “touch

the art of holding hands

[from the collection nyc m]

how our fingers entwine says a lot about the state of our connection
someone who doesn’t hold hands well… not an option
if you know your love language is touch
the hands will be a bit tell for you
is there a mutual reaching out
does she touch back or pull away slightly
is there a grabbiness or playful flexibility in her
it tells a lot more about her than you know
and when you find the match
another empathic soul stretching for god
and the love found between two people
as a prayer and song of thanksgiving
the hands will constantly be seeking a join
a comfort and calm in the casual wrap
the playful hand within a hand
the single finger grip
or entwined one by one
it’s almost a roadmap for love-making
this holding of hands
between two people
who cannot physically get any closer
yet desire
some entry point, some warm wire of communication
that only a hand-in-hand can provide
plenty of love transfers over the air, the eyes, the sounds and words
but the touch of a warm hand, cold hand, dry or moist hand
gives entry
feedback
clarity
to the connection
and expression of another’s
sensual desire

6-25-15

off-lovewatches


Dating Lessons: Gentle Catch and Release

OFF-catch-release

You don’t want to hurt the people you’re dating, and when there’s not a match you want to be gentle with the let down.

I understand not being ready for a relationship. I understand taking your time getting to know someone.

A recent “potential” emailed me an hour ago that she was canceling our date on Saturday night and putting me in the friend zone. I kept the email because I wanted to be sure I understood her message. Here’s a phrase I’m hearing more frequently, “I like you, but I don’t see it developing into more than that.” Well, at least she let me know. We were really only three “hello dates” and one “I need to give you some feedback” in, so while I’m slightly saddened I’m more curious about the jump out of my boat.

I was asking myself similar questions, about this particular woman. Things like:

  • I like her but there’s no real spark
  • I wonder what she’s like when she’s excited
  • We’ve already had one “feedback” session
  • Wouldn’t something be sparking up by now

But two other moments passed yesterday that had me in the “wtf” zone in my own thinking, so I suppose she was telegraphing her information ahead of time, but needed an email to let me know. Fine.

There was a moment, as we were parting at the end of a third encounter (the one where I’d proposed the date for the weekend) and as I hugged her I noticed there was zero energy coming back from her. Normally there’s a slight buzz, a warm fuzzy, or some joy that comes from the act of hugging another person. As I walked to my car I wondered, “Hmm, that was a bit odd.” We were getting to know each other better, we seemed to be on track towards a date…

Later in the afternoon I grew more curious. I texted her the Unadulterated Love post from a few days ago, as she had asked me to share the link to this blog. So I did. But as I sent it, I started wondering what effect this bold talk about joyous sex might have on our trajectory. Certainly I could have sent her a link to the blog and not aimed her at the sex bits right away. But since we’d been talking in-person about the Love Languages and this was the post that linked to something else we’d been discussing I let it fly.

Later in the evening I sent a “how’s it going” text just to let her know I was thinking about her. And I followed up with

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 4.50.13 PM

Okay, so that’s officially flirting with a purpose. Especially since we’d talked repeatedly about my LL being touch. So I was asking her, so how to you plug into this wacky world of love languages. I guess the underlying question was, “and that hug this morning… Um… What’s that about?”

She responded about liking all the love languages and how they were related to situations. Um, what?

I tried to follow-up, “Most people gravitate towards one or two, but perhaps you haven’t dug into them fully. Or perhaps you are above them, kind of meta.”

She said it’d been 8 years or so since she’d looked at them.

Okay, so you’re embarking on an exploratory journey, and you’re getting to know someone. They pitch out Love Language = Touch or bust as their motto, and you… haven’t checked them out in 8 years? Okay, I’m starting to get a picture here.

I understand not being ready for a relationship. I understand taking your time getting to know someone. And I’m glad she did seek me out so we could have a few of these illuminating conversations in-person, but it’s clear to me she was NOT a touch-oriented person, and as I asked about her love language twice, that was enough to trigger the “not developing” email. I sure am glad I didn’t send her the poem. (easy surrender)

Easy release. And back into the pond for me.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: fish #3, tim regan, creative commons usage


Sex is Fun: Should You Settle for Apathetic Sex?

sex is fun[Disclaimer: This post is not about my experiences with any women, past, present or future. All examples/stories are fictitious and made up in my twisted little mind.]

Sex should be fun. And after divorce, for whatever reason you got divorced, you’ve got a new lease on your sex life. What might have become routine or mundane sex can now be awakened again. Sex can be exhilarating again. Touching someone for the first time, should be a thrill. And perhaps in your marriage, touching your partner became a bit of a chore, or (for me) a navigation through a conditional minefield that often resulted in a fight rather than sex.

FIRST LAW OF DATING AFTER DIVORCE: Don’t take your show on the road until you’ve gotten through the bitterness, anger, and sadness of your divorce.

If you know your love language is TOUCH, you’ve got to get this straight: sex is one of the ways we feel connected, loved, included. Sex isn’t the only way. We’re the one’s always reaching out to brush our partner’s back as we pass through a room. It IS more about touch than sex, but if sex goes off the table, so goes the healthy feelings of love for the Touch-person. I am a touch person. My wife is a “do things for me” person. And while we made it long enough to have two wonderful kids, we couldn’t navigate the end game of love and sex beyond the parenting duties. Some things became more important than sex. The term TTFS became a joke for a while, but then it became a curse. (TTFS: too tired for sex.)

Well, if that’s where you find yourself, entering the new kingdom of adult sex, welcome. We’ve got a lot of things to learn and a lot of new potential partners to meet. Again, it’s not all about sex, but a lot of it is about sex. At least initially, sex is what drives us men so hard to seek a partner. It’s kinda hard-wired. Like our animal DNA trying to find a way to spread in any means possible.

Of course, adult, post-divorce sex, for me has nothing to do with procreation and everything to do with … Well, we’re still exploring what the goals are in my self-talk, but we do agree that sex should be fun. Sex as a chore, or sex without joy isn’t sex at all. It’s something else. It’s what we don’t want. Yuck.

So where are we? We’re recently out of a long-term relationship. (4-years for me today) We’re starving for touch. (Me, a touch-focused person.) And we’ve done a lot of work at healing ourselves post-divorce. (If you haven’t done your “work” to get through your divorce sadness and anger, you’re likely to act out, or repeat the same situation again. Do the work. Get yourself healthy before you get back in the game of love and sex.) So what are our options?

  1. Meeting people at social gatherings (churches, athletic events, school events, bars, live music clubs)
  2. Meeting people through friends (I don’t know why, but people don’t think of introducing their single friends very much.
  3. Meeting people through networking (old friends, high-school sweethearts, Facebook connections, reunions)
  4. Meeting people through the net (Online dating, online dating, online hookups, online sex, hookup apps)
  5. Not meeting people and staying home watching movies or porn. (ACK! This can work for a bit, but you need to get back out there if you’re going to get your needs met.

FIRST LAW OF DATING AFTER DIVORCE: Don’t take your show on the road until you’ve gotten through the bitterness, anger, and sadness of your divorce.

Most of those options are fine, but only #4 gives you any real power to take the matter into your own hands. So let’s look at the couple of types of online dating sites available and discuss the pros and cons of each.

Plain old Dating Sites (This group has your best potential of resulting in a relationship, if that’s what you want.)

  • OK Cupid – one of the big daddy’s of online dating. It’s free, there are a lot of potential mates, and their questions are deep and extensive. Sometimes you can learn way too much before you ever meet the person, using OKC.
  • eHarmony – the “we know best” dating site. I hated it because there was no browsing. eH sets you up with matches. And those are the only people you can contact or even look at. No thanks.
  • Match.com – sort of like OK Cupid but you pay to get on. What I’ve noticed recently is there are a lot more women in my age group and women in my tribe on Match. You will know what I’m talking about when you spend anytime on these sites.
  • Plenty-of-Fish – Another big free site. I set up a profile years ago, but didn’t find any initial hits when I started.

Of all of these, I have been happy with OKC (my only relationship was initiated on OKC) and Match.com. You’ll find what you like and what you don’t. And there are tons more. See what floats your boat.

Sex with experienced partners is a blast. Get this, they are probably hungry for sex too. But don’t jump in to fast, sex with a less-than-stable person can really mess up your simple life.

Hookup Sites (Um, these are mostly spam sites with people trying to generate money through porn or pay-per-view video sex chat. Not my cup of tea. But you might be curious, so check them out.

  • Adult Friend Finder (The motherload of “Maybe get laid tonight” sites) Free to join, pay to make contact. But make sure you spend a bit of time looking before you pay. You’ll notice most of the profiles are way to good to be true, and they’re not. 20-yo hotties do not look for men 40 – 60 yo. Nope. They are going to ask you to view their private show, or private set of pictures, or something… “You don’t need a credit card or anything to join, come see me there…” Nope, don’t do it. Ever. It’s bullshit.
  • Fling (there are a billion of these spin-offs and half the ads on AFF are to other dating/hookup-tonight sites.) These are all spam-tastic sites. They will start mailing you 10 – 15 matches an hour. Women willing to hookup with you today. BUT you’ll have to pay for the privilege of reading their email, where they will invite you to view their pictures on…
  • Tender (the App that seems to have caught on in the younger groups) Use your Facebook friends and friends of friends to find attractive potentials and if they find you attractive too you can communicate. It’s never worked for me, keeps timing out when it tries to establish my Facebook connection. Oh well.

There are tons of new sites and apps daily for whatever kink you’re into. But most of them are revenue generators and could care less if YOU get lucky. And most of the profiles are either fake or made by professional performers who would like to perform for you in some way or another.

Cheating Sites

  • AshleyMadison (Yep, there’s a dating site for people in committed relationships who want some on the side) If you’re cool with the idea, go for it. You’re going to pay to read any emails from anyone. And you’ll be emailed to death with “Likes” and “Collect $ Emails” from lots of women. But you pay to get access to chat, or email, or often to even see a single picture. Um, yeah, forget about it.

I’m sure there are other cheating sites, and probably cheating apps, but that’s way off the path in my book. If you want to hookup for a night do it. If you’re married or in a committed relationship and have that urge, take matters into your own hands and forget about it. It’s not worth it.

Apathetic sex is what got me here. When sex became more of a chore than a joy our marriage was winding down. The two were inextricably entwined in my book.

Okay, so let’s say you’ve found some matches on the legit dating sites, you’ve had a few dates, and …

Sex with experienced partners is a blast. Get this, they are probably hungry for sex too. But don’t jump in to fast, sex with a less-than-stable person can really mess up your simple life. The stories I’ve heard… Not good. So don’t jump in the sack too fast, even if you want to, it’s best to get a picture of the potential partner over a few dates and even a few disappointments. You’ll learn a lot. And maybe even start to have a real attraction to the person rather than just the sex appeal. But on to the sex.

Yes please. With partners your own age (and new women, who you’ve never slept with, who are not your partner over the last 11 years, who are excited and as revved up about sex as you are) you may be in for a treat. These folks SHOULD know what they want. They should have ideas about sex and pleasure and connecting. And if you’re lucky you’ll both be amazed and fascinated with the passion and power of having sex with someone new. I’m sure it’s a drug. I’m also sure people get addicted to the rush of new sex, new love, new partners. I don’t think that’s me, but it is a thrill either way, to see a new body disrobed and ready before you.

Hopefully, you have some idea of what makes you tick as well. And if the dance party goes well, perhaps you make it on to the post-coital date where you really begin to evaluate the person as a potential mate. Or not. That mate-thing is up to you. I know a friend who’s into sex with as many partners as possible. When the commitment things comes up, he’s gone. Not my idea of intimacy, but he seems satisfied with his high.

Apathetic sex is what got me here. When sex became more of a chore than a joy our marriage was winding down. The two were inextricably entwined in my book. My ex, with a different love language, was happy with infrequent sex. I was dying.

I’m not dying now. I’m not drowning in sex juices either. That’s not my way. I think I’m a serial monogamist. If that involves dating, or coupling, or marriage, I have no idea. And the good thing is, I don’t have to decide until I have to decide. I haven’t gotten close to marriage, but I have had one girlfriend. And whatever that means, I’m open to having another. [BTW: this is not an advertisement for me or my dating profile. (grin)]

Good sex to you all out there. Do what feels good. Walk away from what hurts or seems inappropriate. With divorce on the rise, we’re growing in numbers, and that’s good for all of us.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: egypt sex, creative commons usage


Casual Red Dresses and Hints of Victoria’s Secret Beneath

dating and dresses

It’s not surprising that the first woman with potential has flamed out. But the beginning was so promising.

Three weeks ago she called me. Did I want to meet her at a local art gallery? She was wearing a wonderfully casual red dress and the tan straps of her Victoria’s Secret bra continued to peak at me from around the sleeves. She was perfect at that moment. She opened like a flower. She spoke of promising things. She said, “I don’t really want to fuck around with my next relationship.” Perhaps you can see where I began to hold a spark for her.

Later than night we ate dinner together. She was aching to be ravished. I could sense it. She had not worn the casual red dress as a warning, it was an invitation. As I texted her later I mentioned looking forward to kissing her, at some point. She responded in kind. And how she appreciated me being patient with her, “being a few steps behind you, in the relationship thing.”

And then, over the next few weeks, we spiraled into conversation upon conversation about what our dating might be like. And I could feel the life draining out of the hope of the casual red dress. And in describing her to a friend I found myself explaining too much. Why hadn’t we kissed? Over the next 5 dates and encounters. Why had the “time” equation run aground?

I am a bit ashamed to say that she reached out to me on Thursday, seeing if I wanted to make plans for the weekend. I didn’t. I have not called her back. I’m sort of dreading it. I know she’s already received the message of my silence. I have a voicemail right now, but I don’t want to listen.

What am I to say? “I’m sorry, but I can’t separate your lack of passion from the memory of my ex-wife’s lack of passion. While I was hanging around waiting for you to catch up, or show any sign that “touch” might be important to you, I lost interest. I can’t change you. I think I’ve seen your relationship DNA and it’s very different from mine.”

Yes, that’s exactly what I need to tell her.

Do I have to do it in person?

This time the answer may be yes. But she’s a very smart woman. Perhaps I can let her know my sentiment above in an email and see if she wants to pursue and persuade me. But, even that feels silly. I’m already gone. When I wrote the over-thinking post I knew I was no longer interested. My craving for her, became a light shining on the complete lack of affection coming back from her. There were lots of words and ideas and thoughts about how it might be. Or, more clearly, how it would have to be for her to be involved. And I simply opted-out of the negotiation.

I re-edited my online dating profile as well. “When it happens, it should be easy.” I said, as my lead sentence. I’m not going to beg or tussle when trying to find time to be together. BUT the same goes for “touch.” If that’s simply not part of their casual show of affection, then I’m NEVER GOING TO GET ENOUGH.

I guess I should read the Love Language section on loving someone with a different language. But I don’t really want to. I want someone with my same need for TOUCH as a point of reference.

Touch is what was lacking in my marriage. I am happy to negotiate time and energy and schedules. But if we don’t speak the same language, then our translations are always going to be a form of compromise.

UPDATE: She responded to my email saying something similar. As if she was having the same idea. No need to carry that spark any further. It’s great to have energy and time freed up. But I’d like to have someone to spend it on.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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The Next Chapter to Write: Picture a Girl…

I’m looking to burn brighter while standing next to someone who is already burning brightly themselves.

the woman I want is ...

I can see her across the room. In a crowded restaurant on St. Patrick’s day (today). I can see the one woman I’d like to meet. How is it we can sense, taste, imagine so much into a person we’ve never met.

“And then she smiles and I know I’d be lost…”

It really is something beyond our comprehension, this attraction. It’s not entirely under our control. We have options and choices, but when the proverbial “chemistry” is right, everything else can fall away. Our expectations, plans, and maps can be blown away by the proper force of nature. And if you’ve experienced it, you know you can’t settle for anything less. There is no compromise in the heart. In my imaginings, this charge is what sustains us through the harder moments, that are surely to come.

In my first crush-to-marriage I was smitten by a dark and beautiful woman who challenged authority with great flair. And I was certain that I needed the fiery artist who could and would kick my ass. I learned that fiery is NOT what I needed. Turns out she had a rage inside due to early sexual abuse, that I was not prepared to defend against.

In my second marriage, I was smitten by a beautiful woman who I’d known in high school. I think now, with some perspective on things, that I let my crush obscure some relationship issues early on. Ultimately we had a good run, we have two amazing children together, and we’ve moved on. I do think that my attraction and intoxication with my 2nd wife allowed me to compromise on a few traits that are critical path for me in the future.

Touch.

The Love Languages book does a great job of outlining the types of ways people feel loved. Unequivocally, mine is touch. When I enter a room and see someone I care about, I want to touch them in someway, to establish a connection. Sort of the way a dog will always greet you with a wet nose and a wagging tale.

Can express deep emotion.

Aside from anger, my ex-y had a hard time expressing emotions. We joked in therapy, as if we had done a complete role reversal, but it really wasn’t a joke. So she learned her emotional stoicism from her father. And in her love language, she felt the most connected when someone did something for her. Like a chore, or a home repair. (I’m not kidding.) This must have been the way her father coped with his emotionally damaged wife. And my ex-y learned that when things got difficult, you could always put attention on the house, or the bills, or the projections for next month.

I think that was most evident when there was a crisis. I would want to be held, snuggle, take a nap or make love. She wanted to look at the spreadsheet and try and calculate our options.

Another common issue with people who don’t express emotion very well, when she would drink, occasionally the emotions would bubble out and we’d have what I thought was a breakthrough. “Wow, if she could hold on to that idea and learn to be more like that,” I’d think. But it wasn’t a lasting effect and the epiphanies were usually only on my side.

So, back to tonight, in a crowded room I noticed my “match.” She laughed easily. She had a great smile and sparkly-curly dark locks that appeared still wet from the pre-party shower. And my projection would like to map all these wonderful things into her persona. A map, a caricature, a projection of who I want her to be.

Expressive of emotional trust and vulnerability. Love language: touch.

And a few other things thrown in:

  • financially stable
  • happy with their life/kids/work
  • okay with their ex
  • spiritually seeking
  • creatively inclined
  • low drama

Sure those are resume bullets, like an online dating profile. And they are merely a guide for the relationship I would like to form. And standing across the room with her friends, we knew nothing about each other. But the disturbance in the force was clear for me. There was one woman in the entire place that would work for me. And that’s something much more chemical and primal than all of these ideas of who or what I am looking for.

So I need that. The chemical buzz. The awakening. And then I need my priorities to remain in tact. TWO MUST HAVES: Emotionally expressive & Love Language of Touch. The two exact key misses I had in my relationship with the ex-y.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

references

 Note: As I am writing this post an email comes in from the ex-y. She wants to know about timing on this month’s check. You see, it’s perfect. She’s doing what she does, going to the spreadsheet, for whatever is going on in her life. And often, even when we were married, my current state, or effort, or situation, does not apply. You see, I got her the last half of February’s money last week. And it’s not enough to know that I haven’t missed a payment, she’s asking for when. And she doesn’t deserve the information about my car breaking down on Saturday, and my company comptroller being on Spring Break rather than writing me my next check. She doesn’t deserve that information, and in fact, she wouldn’t care. It wasn’t about emotional commitment, or what’s going on, it’s about checking the box, balancing the excel spreadsheet, and establishing the money first. She started the email with a “thank you so much for the money, last week…” Yeah, right. It’s not personal, it’s just business. Ah, she’s a step ahead of me in this whole process, again.

Resources:


Anger is Energy – If You Don’t Thrash

a fish out of water has two choices - the off parentA fish caught and out of the water on the grass has two options: 1. thrash: jump, struggle, flip, flop; or 2. breathe.

Eventually the fish will die if not returned to the water. But the fish has very little to do with its survival at that point. You might say it’s up to God, or the fisherman, which to the fish is sort of like God.

Anger today is a good thing. It reminds me I have feelings and energy. It reminds me that I still care about finding a better life for myself and my kids. My ex-y can find her own way.

But thrashing against the obstacles is a waste of energy that could be used elsewhere. And one of the greatest drains of that energy is anger at the ex-y. I guess she did the best she could. I mean, that’s how God would see it, right?

I tend to see things a bit differently with a little distance. BUT… anger at the choices and changes that have already happened, do little to inform or direct my efforts at moving forward. What anger can do is motivate my ass into gear. But I have to make sure I make use of that motivation in productive rather than destructive ways.

Even if she has requested changes or been mean and contradictory to me, that’s not my problem. That. Is. Who. She. Is.

And the anger I have around her behavior cannot be fed back into the system to change things. The more I wanted the marriage to work, the more I demanded for changes, the more I thrashed in some ways. I was not aware that she had already left the marriage. I was not clear that the death of her sexual drive was more about her than me. And while I did thrash against both the sexless marriage and the end of marriage, I was ultimately powerless to get myself back into the warm water of our early relationship.

So today, I am angry. A friend sent a picture of my daughter that he found on a random simcard. My beautiful life is there in hi-definition as I am lifting my smiling daughter into the air and kissing her belly. And there is a sliver of my ex-y’s face in the photo too. You could almost miss it.

And I was immediately sad, not mad. The imagined life, the dreams at that moment, frozen and captured in a moment of family joy. And the anger is about the betrayal of both my daughter and myself by that remote face with the beautiful smile and eyes closed.

She made the decision. She gave up. She walked into a lawyer’s office to get her “options.” And all of our lives are altered because of that decision. And the wonderful little girl in the picture now has a distant father. A father who is there as often and openly as possible. But I can feel the tug on her as she reaches for my hand in the car, walking to the grocery store, when she claims to have a stomach ache every Friday morning so maybe she won’t have to go to school and she can stay at my house.

But I could not change the trajectory once the new departure point was set in motion. I can, however, understand that I was not ever going to be able to change my ex-y into being the touchy-feely person I wanted her to be. She’s much more comfortable in the confines of an excel spreadsheet.

So when the warmth was sucked out of the marriage, there was very little left if I was not generating it. But for my little girl and my son, I can generate twice as much love and holding as before. I can show my daughter what a Dad is like that shows up and says, “I love you,” all the time. I can provide the reflection to my kids that they are loved. I can make them feel loved. I can still hold them in the air, metaphorically, and kiss their childish bellies.

I will not change. I will not let the bitterness or anger get in the way of me loving my kids with everything I’ve got.

AND… I will have an opportunity to share that with another woman at some point. I know it.

If I can just breathe and not thrash.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

Resources:


perhaps you were a cat from another country

cat from another country - divorce poem

 [from The Black Pages – poetry]

listen to this poem (mp3 file)

the cat’s tail rubbing across my leg as he heads back into the new house
somewhere I picked that habit up myself, stroke, pat, brush, touch
perhaps you were a cat from another country, where casual touch led to violence
maybe it was fear, or even an unknowing of yourself and the things that made you happy

touching is reconnecting
a happy touch is fulfilling in itself
oh, my cat buries his entire body in my chest, like a small writhing fur coat
and i too have the capacity for emersion and merging, we know it when we feel it
perhaps you had been hurt before, and maybe even I did things that closed you more

now the cat and I exchange love, a cat you’ll never know
thanks for the kids, you’re a proud mom, and you are a great mom
and my incessant need for connection will be met elsewhere

The Off Parent

4-30-11

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