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

love letters

just press play

here we are
moment by moment
there are feelings of joy
exhilaration and madness
when the universe says: go
there is a tendency to press pause
as the feels wash over our bodies
a signal of truth or danger
internal radar scanning the horizon
pushing our pulse up nicely
our eyes sparkle with adventure
seeking the soft landing
the easy target
the vulnerable prey
the source of our affection
has mysteriously arrived
ready and quivering to join up
sync hearts and schedules
when she says yes
the choice will be binary
yes or no

breathe easy
pay close attention to your internal signals
join networks
enter encrypted passwords
show activity
open to the fall and the flight
that comes with elation
as alignments build towards escape velocity
this is your moment
what you’ve been seeking
let go of expectations and preconceptions
ask for the yes to enter fully
into both of your lives
it’s go time
jump out of the plane
into the unknown freefall

let go

just press play






intoxicating desire

intoxicating desire

intoxicating desire

it happened without warning or planning
she was not part of our group
and yet
in a crowded outdoor bar with a few hundred people
we found ourselves kissing on the way to the bathroom
“don’t kiss me” she said 15 minutes before, 10 minutes after we met
as our friends swirled around us
it was as if…

“if you are in a room full of 100 or more people and there is one person
who connects with you, across the room, even before you speak…”

“yes,” they all said. “it’s a past life connection, you’ve been together before…”

and there she was
white jeans
curls of brown enhancing her dashing smile
i could not pull back
my instrumentation was malfunctioning
even as the warning lights were flashing
i soared higher with her
i strived to be more charming
to be kissed
and she invited me in
she asked me to go with her
“only once before,” i said, “have i been invited into a bathroom stall with a woman…”

she laughed
beckoned me in
i walked back to the bar
and waited
she came out and while washing her hands
gave me the signal again
come, and be kissed
come, and be my favorite person in the world
at this very instant
come and escape this moment with me
don’t worry or think about the danger
take your defenses down

but she could not hear the sound of my voice
i whispered ideas
she pushed back with random ideas
i asked or a pause
she leaned in closer
there was very little i could do… wait… that’s not true
i wanted to swoon
i heated up and wanted to boil over
i wanted what she was promising with her smile
i hungered for the passion unabashed that asked me to join her
in flight
and let go of everything else i knew before her

alone now, moments later, i’m spent
as if she’d pulled some vital essence from me
by kissing and sitting close to me
and promising to light up my phone with texts
i’m waiting
the screen is dark
i’m tired
i’m electrified
she opened a gateway
of unlimited danger and power
like a drug
i am drawn to her flame
and as sleep begins to arrive
i cannot say i am unhappy
i can only say
i await
yet another move
of her mysterious and intoxicating ways
i am altered


Dating Part-time After Divorce: I Get It, It Is Hard To Make Time

dating after divorce - finding time

dating after divorce - finding time

I get it. It’s hard to find the time to date. Even when you have opportunities and willing partners, sometimes it’s just more of a hassle than going on your own. Let me share an example of my evening, tonight.

I’m invited to a cool house party for a musician friend who’s going to perform. And I sort of have two potential “dates” for the evening, but… I’m not calling either one. What? Hard to get closer, hard to find another lover, if we’re always going by ourselves. Let’s examine.

So in the slice of time that is available outside of being a single parent, and doing our work, there is some space for another person.

My first choice would be the second “woman with potential” who has been renamed “the muse.” After three months of courting, on all available “every other Saturday nights” we never even shared a sexual kiss. It’s okay. But having an aspirational relationship is one thing. Being in a relationship with someone who’s not that interested in going further, is another. And after her three-week vacation up East, she’s been too busy to get together. Best to let that sleeping muse rest quietly in her own world. She was happy and self-sufficient before I came into the picture, and she’ll be fine with or without me. She’s still aspirational, but on an artistic plane, rather than relationship one. Okay.

My second choice would mark the fourth date with a woman from OK Cupid. She’s cute enough and smart enough. And we’ve hinted around sexual discussions enough to know that an opening could be available for that. But… She’s not who I’m looking for. And I guess she knows it. My several “wanna have lunch” texts, which were really about having lunch, have gone unanswered. I guess she senses the heat is on or I’d be more active.

There’s even a third woman who came on pretty strong on OK Cupid and has since then gone dark. I just opened the site to see what she’s up to and she’s apparently blocked me or dropped off the site. Okay.

There will be negotiations to find the slice of available time to be together, but it will be an effort in mutual attraction.

So, I could call one of the first two women. And make plans to have a drink and some food before the show. And get a little contact time with either of these lovely women. BUT, it’s easier to not call them and go to the show alone. Maybe there will be a nice woman there to chat up. (grin)

So in the slice of time that is available outside of being a single parent, and doing our work, there is some space for another person. But the more you get into the alone time the harder it is to work to fill it with opportunities. So the time goes along, and we’re alone, and it’s okay.

I’m pretty sure this is the story with the Muse. She’s not had a long-term relationship for years and years. And her sixteen-year-old daughter needs her. But even she said, “I might be using her to keep from making time available to be in a relationship.” And the bigger tell was when she returned from a three-week hiatus and hasn’t really made any effort to connect. Then again, neither have I.

I write love poems to soothe myself. I improve my fitness to make myself feel better about myself. And I am readying the live band show in two weeks to bring my full creative potency back into fruition.

And when she shows up it won’t have to be WORK. There will be negotiations to find the slice of available time to be together, but it will be an effort in mutual attraction.


The Off Parent

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Sex and the “Wanna Be With You” Vibe

the loss of sexual heat

sexual desire in women

It’s a culturally accepted concept: That men need sex much more frequently. And I would also assume, from my personal experience, that it would not be hard to get most people to agree that women can go without sex much more easily than men. BUT… The science may be in, showing that women WANT sex as much as men, but the cultural norms keep women from acting on their desires as easily as men do.

That’s what keeps women heading across the street to the convenience store for toy-powering batteries rather than heading out to the clubs to pick up casual sexual partners. Certainly, in our culture, it would be easier for a woman to “bed” a man than the other way around. But this new report shows that it’s not the sexual mechanisms that are so different, it’s the expected behaviors of the sexes that keep men on prowl and women in their home hideouts.

“Female animals don’t just enjoy sex, they are not shy about pursuing it. Bergner’s new book is a reexamination of everything we think we know about sex and female biology. An excerpt in The New York Times Magazine two weeks ago explained how, contrary to long-standing cultural beliefs that women are turned on by stability and emotional intimacy, long-term monogamy actually saps women’s sex drives. A German researcher “shows women and men in new relationships reporting, on average, more or less equal lust for each other. But for women who’ve been with their partners between one and four years, a dive begins — and continues, leaving male desire far higher.” We fundamentally misunderstand women’s lust, says Bergner. And not just when it comes to married women.” – When Women Pursue Sex, Even Men Don’t Get It – NY Magazine

Wait! What?

“Long-term monogamy actually saps women’s sex drives.”

I read this with some sadness. Wanting to say aloud, “Yeah, I know.”

But it’s not all bad news.

“A University of Michigan researcher found in 2011 that “gender differences are minimized when women feel that they can avoid being stigmatized for their behavior.” Women like having sex. They don’t like being socially punished for it.” – ibid

Another resource for learning about the sexual habits and needs of the sexes comes from a book called Modern Dating: A Field Guide:

“Everyone’s being kind of wishy-washy,” Atik says. “Women want sex, but they don’t want to be seen as forward (or worse, desperate). Men want sex but are intimidated, unconfident, or don’t want to be seen as domineering. We’re not sure who should be the sexual instigators, and then no one really steps up to the plate.”

So the NY Mag article summarizes our problem very simply.

“Here, again, perhaps the animal kingdom can be a source of inspiration. Sex for pleasure: Lady birds do it, lady bees do it, and, I’m sure by dint of their socioeconomic status and feminism 101 classes, even educated lady fleas do it. The sooner we can agree that pleasure is one major motivation to pursue sex — for both men and women — the sooner we can all start instigating it.” – When Women Pursue Sex, Even Men Don’t Get It – NY Magazine

Okay, so the idea here is that we both want sex. Men have been trained to ask and pursue. Women, on the other hand, have been trained to wait for the man to ask, but are reluctant to ask for themselves. A single woman friend the other night texted me, “Would it be okay if I contact him for a date, again?”

“Of course. You will know exactly where you stand by his response. If he’s into you it will be a HUGE turn-on.”

It worked for her. She sent him a casual “hey” text and he immediately asked her out on the next date. In chatting with her later she said, he reported that he was waiting to see if she made any indications about wanting to go out again.

So… He was waiting for some “sign.” And when she provided the come-on, he responded with the next adventure, potentially amorous. In thinking about my only “woman with potential” I wonder, is she just unable to figure out how to let me know she’s interested in more? Or in our case, since we’ve known each other for so long, and appear to have rich and full lives independent of one another…

Fuck. When does it get to the next stage? When is it okay to lean into the deep hug and go for the full-on kiss? My instinct is, not until the indicators are there, the angle and receptiveness are aligned. In other words, she will let me know.

Today, I’m okay with that. I’ll keep checking OKCupid, but I’m okay with that. And certainly, she knows how much I am putting out the “wanna be with you” vibe.


The Off Parent

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you’re a song i want to sing

love poem - your a song I want to sing - john mcelhenney

love poem - your a song I want to sing - john mcelhenney[from Making Love To Other Women – poetry]

you’re a song i want to sing
a mode of being I want to embrace
you’re like middle c
a shore to my ocean
moving into and out of you
without touching
never, not touching

you’re a song i want to sing
in a key of life i’ve never known
and words are no match for the feeling
and the feeling is no indicator of the depth
there’s so little information
and yet, so much to the sweep and sound
of your voice, breath, breathing
like waves and whispers

you’re a song I want to sing
and i can’t decide where to begin
and that’s okay

you never end
as we drift and ebb


Trying to Talk About Sex with My Wife: Texting In Bed

texting about sex

texting about sex

“I’m having sex, 90% of the time alone.”

This conversation happened in bed in the form of a poem we wrote back and forth between us. Texting appeared easier than talking sometimes. She seemed to need time to consider and formulate her responses. I was in a sexually starved marriage. She had other problems. Sex was not one of her issues. Once a month, if at all, was okay with her. It was MY issue, obviously. There were other enlightening moments, but it was clearly a core problem in our marriage. When one partner begins freezing out the other one, sexually, there is a disconnect. Intimacy is a basic need. When the sex dies, in my opinion, the relationship is close behind.

+++ texting  – unedited +++

i’m having sex, 90% of the time alone
so financial crisis moments appear and go away
and I too feel fatigue when my trustworthiness is raised again and again
not a crisis
more of a chronic situation of the relationship
weariness of wanting to go into it

now you have to put some stuff in.

also weary of the dialogue around sex – frequency
my time is so spoken for
i don’t see that changing
if we could actually put every moment spent on considering the vectors of the situation of not that much (together) sex
in to crafting a situation where it could happen
we would create actual sexual encounters.
i get weary of focus on my not meeting your needs for sex
pretty much feel like your framing of the issue is you want more sex
so what can we do to get me available for more sex
and that this framing is in your mind
not expressed so much by action

In my (quite open to possibility of distortion on my part) world, I am a)working, b)sleeping, c)doing a mission-critical thing for kids, d) doing some other mission-critical thing (house, etc). Not really spending any bandwidth researching the dynamics of things you are doing or not doing that don’t meet my needs. I do speak up with clear asks, but that’s all I can muster.

so it is frustrating and feels weird that you have this thing going on where I continue not to meet your needs

at the same time I have no bandwidth left to meet any other needs period.

so do YOU have sexual desire?


and are you happy with your sex life?

in the context of reality – other real, now dynamics of time etc – sure

then we have a mismatch in desire, wouldn’t you say?

And that is a critical path issue for me. As much as money or housekeeping or kidkeeping is for the WE.

Yes. It is a critical path issue for you to __________________?

Discuss with you what’s missing. What’s wrong with this situation. Evaluate what’s going on. Is it desire? Trust? Money? Work? Housekeeping?

My TXT last Sunday saying, “I’m thinking about masterbating… but I’d rather have sex with you was a good opening.” and we were successful in connecting.

We need more casual wins.

What I am curious about is… how things have changed for you from what I imagine our SEX life was like 3 years ago.

I do not buy the house, work, sleepy idea. Something else perhaps?

What has changed for me is… The “connection” that you were speaking about say 2 months ago
to me the miss or lack is due to lack of contact and intimacy.

Sex doesn’t seem to be a part of that equation for you. Now, of course I am telling you it is. (grin)

Definitely it is a critical path issue for both of us, because you are materially unhappy (altho not in a crisis way) with the frequency and ____________ (connection?) of our sex (intimate?) life and therefore it makes the WE.

The txt was notable to me. so direct.

The not buying about sleepy and house…it’s like the conversation we had where you were asking me: what do you need? And I told you. “To see the numbers.” and that that was really what I needed was so out of range of believeable to you – you didn’t buy it – that it never occured to you to do the numbers, or engage with me to say OK, lets do the numbers now.

But it was true. I needed to see the numbers. YOU never actually need to see the numbers for that particular kind of situation. But I do.

So you ask what would help….per sex….and I nearly always come around to: house (a visually peaceful – that sensuality for me), sleep or workout (that’s body – a key to my sensuality). But you CANT BUY it. Because it’s not your experience of the world, I guess.

I’m empathetic with NOT BUYING another person’s experience. Certainly I miss on this more than rarely.

On the mismatch of desire. Maybe we have a mismatch in the desire for genital rubbing and intercourse v other sensuality. I feel like I live in a world of visual sensuality, and touch, and working out – exertion, and some kinds of foods – beautiful, fresh foods. And then there is sex, like, in bed sex.

And ? for you the sensuality of life stacks up differently. Sex straight UP gets more brain cells – loving the clean curves and surfaces gets fewer. Fresh pinapple, not so much. Ice cream – a lot!!

More pragmatically, there is a cycle we are in that at least does not help. I can’t sleep next to you. When we are spooned, the snoring is so loud – some just because of what spooning does, put your mouth in my ear, I wake up. Then, if I am awake, I have to go to another room. This was not the case 3 years ago.

I don’t have a point of entry in to that situation. Not sure.

You have not told me recently about the snoring and that is the reason you are leaving the bedroom so frequently. I am always happy to apply a breathrite strip. They seem to help. And I need to lose weight. I am actively working on that.

Back a the discussion about what you needed, it was not that I didn’t buy your experience. In fact, we agreed that restarting money discussions was probably critical path.

We didn’t DO the financial plans again until we were reminded by our counselor of the critical WE in everything.

+++ end of texting +++

I used to say “It wasn’t my idea,” about the divorce. And in my divorce recovery group, I was definitely self-identified as the dumpee. But what was different is I was beginning to express my dissatisfaction with the status quo. Her money-house-tired story had reached the end of my accepting it. I was tired of having sex alone 90% of the time. I was demanding we talk about it.

What didn’t know was she was already in the process of figuring out her options. Probably, in terms of her critical path issues, house and money she was beginning the process of trying to figure out what she would get if she decided to go for a divorce.

When she admitted in therapy that she had already consulted with a lawyer, I was stunned. “Well,” I said. “I guess you are a lot further down the road than I am about this.” And she got motivated to find full-time work and basically created a job within a few months. And then, I suppose she saw the potential for escape from her private hell.

I remember saying to her, once the “divorce” was agreed to, “So you think it’s me that’s making you so mad all the time? And you think I’m going to walk out that door and you are somehow going to transform into a happy person? Wow. I think you are wrong.”

The WE is the construct and loving connection of the relationship. What we learned from our time in couples therapy: everything we do together, every commitment we make and break, every communication we share, is part of the WE. As our WE collapsed under the isolation and frustration that was occurring between us, my then-wife simply got mad and stayed mad. She didn’t want to be intimate. She was mad. She woke up mad. She stayed mad all day.

Today, nine years later, she’s still more like a hornet than a rational human being when dealing with me.


The Off Parent