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

Posts tagged “what is beauty?

Redefining Dating, As a Man, As a Dad, As a Lover

OFF-observer

I’m learning so much these days, having revoked my own dating pass. I’m done with dating for a bit. I’m resetting and recovering my center. It’s not like anything major happened. But after one recent near miss I’m taking back all of the energy I used to put into “dates” and bringing the focus back on building myself. I think I’m rebuilt, but I’m still refining my roll, as they say.

As I’m sitting in a nearby coffee shop I’m observing the flow of people and noting my own wandering eye. WHAT IS IT? Really. Which women resonate with a “yes” in the flowing line of candidates (in fantasy only) versus a “meh.”

  • Body type
  • Attitude (You can see it in their eyes and smile, or opposite of smile)
  • Hair (over done, colored, natural, dark, blonde or graying)
  • Clothes (what mode are they in: work, yoga, casual Friday, dressed to the nines)
  • A pretty face (some magical equation combined with historical context)
  • Vibe

Sure it’s impossible to get an accurate picture of the whole woman from 15 – 20 feet way. But the elusive “chemistry” is not as random as you might think. Rare, but not random. So what is it? What’s my combination?

For the moment, even in the presence of a willing and available woman I have taken a step back from my own inner “spark” so I can see more clearly.

The “spark” as I tend to call it is obvious in the first 10 seconds. Beyond that I’m taking my own projections and using my desires as a magnifying glass from which to evaluate each woman.

[NOTE: Let me be clear, this is a design and branding exercise, not a predatory process. I am not actually looking to “relate” to these women. I’m merely observing my thoughts as they pass by. The availability or reality of the actual woman is not part of my evaluation. Sky’s the limit.]

In life, women stream by all the time. Married, young, athletic, damaged, bright, angry, euphoric, women, all are part of the flow of life. It’s our observations and actions in this flood that are going to determine if we remain alone and hungry, or if we are willing and able to take the plunge into a relationship.

As I’ve released the “dating” concept for the moment, I’m learning some new things about myself in this detached state.

  • I am much more easy-going around all women when I’m not actively sizing them up
  • As I am not “interested” I’m more able to see them clearly as multifaceted humans and not just “women of potential”
  • I’ve got a lot of energy to use in other aspects of my life
  • I can see my craving for a woman more clearly for what it is, a craving, an addiction
  • I can savor the anticipation and desire and all the wanderings of my mind without any of the logistics or planning that’s required in actually taking action
  • By not taking any action, I’m allowing these women I come in contact with to be more natural and relaxed.

I’m not saying, “Hey, I’m not interested in you,” but the idea is circulating in my mind. For the moment, even in the presence of a willing and available woman I have taken a step back from my own inner “spark” so I can see more clearly.

This week I had a clear hit. A date potential that sort of came out of the blue. And all of the components were in place. She was cute, articulate, enthusiastic, and she had a very direct approach to life. She was also training in an exotic sport, that was clearly a passion. I’m attracted to women of passion. Always passion.

After a week or so we found the night we could meet in-person. Again, this time, while I was enthusiastic, I was somewhat reflective of the opportunity rather than “looking for a relationship.” At one point, an hour before we met, I was a little concerned that I was going to underwhelm her, that I was too subdued. I was just tired from a busy day that had started at 5 am.

When we met and sat eating a late dinner, I was able to keep my “observer” at the table with us. I was watching her and even watching myself, as we chatted and flirted. And while I noticed her fine figure, her sparkling eyes, and her contagious enthusiasm, I was also aware that something else was feeling odd.

I didn’t get turned off, because I had never been turned on. So I listened.

That was enough. I didn’t need to judge her. I didn’t get turned off, because I had never been turned on. So I listened. I noticed how she often didn’t hear what I’d just said. She was on some kind of monologue performance. There wasn’t much room in her active and imaginative genius for me or my ideas.

As we parted she mentioned wanting to write an article for my blog. She was all over the map. “Um, okay,” I said, surprised by the new concept. “No, really. I’m a great writer,” she said. She didn’t notice that this is a first-person narrative, about me and my experience. I’m not sure where she thought her “post” might go. I’m not all that interested to find out.

It would be great to think we have evolved beyond Hot or Not, but really it’s hard-wired. The immediate reaction that we label “chemistry” is really a swipe to the left “nope” or a swipe to the right “yes.” It’s what happens next that is more important. In my paused state, I think I am able to evaluate more objectively what turns me on and what registers as a “pass.” Because I’ve taken myself off the playing field it is easier for me to recognize the players, even my own playbook becomes more obvious.

The swipe happens in our mind regardless of our evolution.  Our own game plans kick into gear almost automatically. By interrupting the pursuit I’ve been able to sit back and watch in a new way. My idea is that when I’m ready to re-engage with the process of pursuit I’ll be clearer in my actions and intentions.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

back to On Dating Again

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image: random coffee shop, the author, cc 2014


Burn the Maps! Do You Think You Know About Dating After Divorce?

Burn the Maps - the off parent

Do I repeat myself? Then I repeat myself. I am large. I contain multitudes. — Walt Whitman

So much of this blog has been about trying to figure things out. Figure myself out (wants, desires, depressions, ecstasies), to figure out my divorce (what happened, how to get over it, and how to move on in a healthy way), to figure out single parenting as a dad, and ultimately, where we find ourselves (me) today, dating and the mechanics of desire, relationship, coupling, or not coupling. And this much is clear. I have no idea what I’m talking about.

It’s like trying to write about being a parent if you have never had kids. Or imagining what it will be like when you’re married, before you’ve ever experienced it. And I believe I’m on a similar precipice. I THINK I want the next relationship. But it’s only because that’s what I know, that’s what I think I’m comfortable with. “I’m good in relationship,” I like to say to myself, and occasional dates. I’m looking for that again.

Pause. Relax. Enjoy the process. There is no hurry. Really. Get this. There. Is. No. Hurry.

But am I? Or is it just what’s familiar? I was married the first time for seven years. Then single and sad for a couple of years and married again for eleven years. So since I was 27 years old, I’ve spent most of my time married. So I kinda know what that was like. And both experiences were eye-opening and transformational. And it’s my natural tendency to want to get back in that couple-mode again. At least I think so.

As I am embarking on this more recent path of discovering myself in “dating” mode I’m not sure I have all the information or tools. I certainly don’t know what my optimal date would look like, though I’m trying to construct maps. I’m doing my reading, planning, and sketching thing, and trying to figure it out. But the real answer is this: There is no figuring it out.

I simply don’t know. And all the posts leading up to this moment, this awareness, are theoretical meanderings of a man who thinks he wants to be back in “relationship.” And they are all lies. Because I can’t know. I can’t imagine. I am trying to write the symphony to the next love of my life without having met her. How do I know where to begin? How can I dream her up, if she’s not revealed herself to me? Quite simply, I can’t.

Here’s what I can do.

Pause. Relax. Enjoy the process. There is no hurry. Really. Get this. There. Is. No. Hurry.

And I can keep imagining my treasure maps, but I have to be willing to be swept away by the unknown and unexplainable. I think that’s what love is. OH BOY, I used the L word. When and how does *that* come into it?

I’ve learned that the spark comes from the eyes, the smile, and the intelligence inside. If there is joy, it usually shows through the eyes.

What I do know is this. Present moment exploration is the only way to go. Present moment conversations and discussions. Present moment dating. Present moment sex, if it presents itself. ANNNNDDDD STOP. That’s it. Stop. Stay with the “touch” part. Stay with the conversation about current events. Stay with the fascination about the person in front of you, and not the idea you have.

I do a lot of projecting. (Hello! Have you been reading this blog long?) And often that projection process is misleading both to myself and the potential date. I write love poems. And occasionally those love poems are inspired by actual events in my life, a kiss, a missed opportunity, a chance meeting with an old flame. But they are no more real than my maps of the “next relationship” or finding “The ONE.” Bunk. All bunk.

And yet… All very useful in self-revelation. I AM learning more about my desires. I am learning how to deconstruct my wants and desires and see which ones serve me and which ones I can leave behind. I’ve learned some really valuable lessons along the way, but they are not maps, they are notes.

I’ve learned that much of the programming I received about beauty came from pornographic magazines. But even when I was ten I was reading Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask, so I’ve been studying women and sex and pleasure for a while.

I can only imagine… And for now that’s all I’ve got. And these maps, which I will gladly set alight in her flame.

I’ve broken the idea, for myself, that youth is beauty. And what I’ve discovered is youth is more about the animal need to procreate and breed with the most attractive and available woman. And get this, women in their 20’s who are uber-fit and good-looking, will appear to be perfect mates, to my reptilian brain. And yet, I’m not interested in procreation, or having sex with 20-year-olds or really even 30-year-olds.

I’ve learned that the spark comes from the eyes, the smile, and the intelligence inside. If there is joy, it usually shows through the eyes. And if there’s deep intelligence, I find I’m more turned on than any physical attribute. Except of course the smile. And the joy.

I’ve learned that I don’t have much experience in dating after divorce. We are much different than we were “back in the day.” And our parameters and needs are very different. And our boundaries and priorities are very different as well. AND we won’t put up with much bullshit before we call a foul and move on.

I’ve learned that the real sparks are very hard to find. And valuing that connection is often more important than any idea or roadmap I’ve ever made up.

And finally I’ve learned that working on myself if the best strategy for finding who’s “next” for me. And that includes this writing (self-examination), exercise (health and self-care), and putting myself out there as “available.”

While I don’t like first dates, they are a necessary evil if you are going to date. [What does that word even mean? Date?] And I don’t like online dating. But I find it another necessary evil, like looking for a needle in a haystack. Looking for the spark to set the haystack on fire.

And really that’s what I’m looking for, the fire. To feel the burn and intoxication again. This time with some tethers to the ground (and sobriety of my past experiences). But for the fire to come and burn my maps, I have to start with the spark. And since I’ve only seen a few sparks in the last four years, I know the journey ahead may be longer than I want. (I guess it already has been. *Grin* )

And, here I will repeat myself again, I am excited and terrified about the transformation that will occur when SHE shows up. And yet I am pushing towards her, calling her in, writing love poems to “HER.”

I can only imagine… And for now that’s all I’ve got. And these maps, which I will gladly set alight in her flame.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

back to On Dating section

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For inspiration read this: Dating Don’ts for the Single Mom – from SingleParentingIsHard

image: screen grab from Republica video below.

+++ And though I say, “Baby, I’m ready to go,” I have no idea what that looks like.