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

Posts tagged “my own self-image

If You Were a Car, What Car Would You Be? And Why?


I’m a marketing man, by trade, so often we use little tricks to get clients to think about their businesses. “What kind of car would your business be? Describe the features and outstanding qualities that distinguish your make and model.”

I have found that this metaphor, cars, works for people as well. And in my efforts to dial in myself and my type, I think it might be fun to play a bit with the “what kind of car are you” and “what kind of car are you looking for” metaphor for a minute and see if we gain any insights.

You might still be carrying some scars from previous races, but overall, you are still a fine example of beauty and grace.

First me. I am a 2004 BMW 3-series. Great look and body style. Performance oriented. Flashier 10 years ago, but still classic. I’m sporting a bit of extra weight due to some prior body damage, but you can still recognize the lines and strength of the design.

Okay, so I’m not the perfectly maintained version of myself. I’ve got some things I can still work on. And probably the main feature, that I’m less that enthusiastic about is my belly. (There I admitted it.) My love handles have been with me my entire life, and they expand and shrink with the seasons and how much attention I’m paying to diet and exercise. Okay, I’m fine with that. And I think… I think I’m pretty comfortable with myself. But I’m sucking in my gut a lot more than I’d like. It’s like a tightness, almost an anxiety feeling, when I’m trying to compress myself to look a bit fitter than I am. But I’ve done this almost my entire life. So I am familiar with the feeling. I’m pretty sure I’d be more confident and joyous about myself if I spent a tiny bit more time walking or playing tennis, and a few less nights snacking and staying up late. Okay, that’s me.

Her. This one is harder. So I’ll take it in stages.

German engineering. I want a performance car. I want design and form to follow the function of speed and agility. I have a high standard. American cars are almost abhorrent to me. Again, this is MY bias. I  understand that. But I’m looking for a well-designed and classy form.

Within 5 years of my own vintage. The newer models are cool, and offer more features, more performance, but I’m less obsessed with perfection and flash. I’d prefer a car with a few miles on it, broken in, all the kinks worked out, well-maintained, but less needy.

Minimal body damage. When something is broken you fix it. When a tire is worn or low you replace it. You might still be carrying some scars from previous races, but overall, you are still a fine example of beauty and grace. You don’t have to be flawless. I’m not sure my body damage falls within my own range of desirability or not. I think I do, but I’d rather get a bit more of my racing shape back, rather that compromise.

No compromise. The big thing is having a car you love to drive. Spending time inside, even in traffic, or carpooling kids back and forth, is a pleasure. I want to be well matched. Confident and casual about our relationship. I want you to drive sometimes, but I’ll do the lion’s share.

No maintenance lights. A few “check engine” warnings and we’re probably going to part ways. If you haven’t kept a descent maintenance schedule, we might have some problems ahead. I’m flexible, but I won’t be stuck in the repair shop and very happy about it. Do your work, fix your major mechanical flaws, and let’s meet up for a Sunday morning drive together. We should fit. We should purr together and not feel the need to race ahead or prove anything.

Once we’ve travelled together for a few trips, perhaps she will join me in my car, or I will gladly hop in her car for a spin up the mountain pass.

Confidence and stability. Performance driving cars share a love for the road. Curves, dips, and hills are all part of the landscape. And with a well-built car, the twists are a joy to navigate. Cars with less attention to handling become more unstable as the journey continues. I’d like a partner in the confidence and stability class.

However she shows up, the next woman will be a performance car. She will have a few miles on her, like me, and have some wisdom and aging scars. Once we’ve travelled together for a few trips, perhaps she will join me in my car, or I will gladly hop in her car for a spin up the mountain pass. I’m into speed and beauty, but I’m also realistic about myself and my vintage. All the new models, primed and polished, are fun to look at, but I don’t aspire to be in a new model. The payments are too high, and the insurance is killer.

If you’re looking for a classic German sports car, with low miles and good mechanical structure… I am too.


The Off Parent

Note: This post really got me thinking about my shape. The body damage is unnecessary. I am carrying extra weight from stress, depression, anger, sadness, and plain old laziness. Too lazy to eat right. Too lazy to pick up a few more healthy snacks. But mainly, just unwilling to make a commitment to change my diet in the same way I have changed my attitudes about divorce and my single life. That all changes today. A new blog is born. Seek me out and I’ll give you the address. And you can hold me accountable for the next major life transition. Back to my classic beauty and form. I might be nearing 52, but I’m primed for the second half of my life. I’d rather do it from a comfortable place in my skin, and not just an accepting place.

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image: sporty front end of my new beemer, ian mcwilliams, creative commons usage

More Sexual Signals, Online Dating Thoughts & Self-Observations

google beauty - resultsOkay, I’m starting to dig a bit deeper into what “attractive” means to me. And even observing men as HOT or NOT and trying to understand even my own scale of what’s important or not. (No, I’m not considering a sexual re-orientation, but merely noticing what I think women might be noticing.)

My own self-image is somewhat mixed, and perhaps it’s time for a hard look at what the disconnect was with my most recent heightened-and-potential partner. (see The Taste of Tail Feathers Again)

First and foremost, even in my own self-assessment, there is a lot more than the physical body in determining my desire and desirability. Let me see if I can distill the non-physical attractions–FOR ME.

1. Enthusiasm – Energy
If you act your age, we’re probably not a good fit. Sure AGE is just a number, but I can count on one had the people I graduated from high school with who still share the same joie de vivre as I do. It’s not about getting older. It’s about giving up on the dreams and goals of becoming a rockstar, perhaps, or a rocket scientist. Bring the energy and joy and I will not even notice wrinkling and other signs of our age.

2. Positivism
I loved being asked by a potential partner, this summer, “Are you always this positive?” If you’ve got anger issues or cynicism you might work on that before working the dating scene. Unless you’re happy with that approach to life. I think we’ve got our own path in life, and regardless of the challenges and setbacks, we either grow and move forward or we give up. Don’t give up. You’re attitude, even about your ex, colors your life. Make sure you’re the one that exemplifies positivism.

3. Joy
A smile can set a thousand armies into battle, the same goes for hearts. You need to find your smile and share it. And this is partially physical, but it’s not about teeth. (Of course, if you have teeth problems, you might have those checked out. OK Cupid’s survey on immediate touch points for both men and women when evaluating the attractiveness of the other sex was TEETH. What? I know.)

4. Self-confidence
Whatever your shape or attractiveness, you need to deal with it and LOVE IT. If you don’t love yourself (YES, just as you are right now, not 20 lbs lighter) that dissonance is going to come through. Even in online profiles you can tell the people who are not prepared to stand in a bright room and take their clothes off. Even with 20 lbs I’d like to lose, I’ve got an OKAY vibe about myself. And maybe that’s a problem as I reach for someone at a much higher fitness level, or maybe it’s not.

Folks will date UP, or reach for a higher category, but won’t often reach down to a lower level of fitness.

Now let’s check in with the physical attractiveness for a second. What are the signals that I look for in a woman? What’s intangible? What’s negotiable? What’s a deal killer?

Let’s start with fitness and thinness, as this seems to be an obsession. (And I’m not claiming to be immune to the mass marketing of ultra-thin beauty.) [Of course, the rest of the story here, and in our thin-obsessed media, is that thin is NOT healthy. Ultra-thin, even less so. Many of the things, besides Photoshop, those women go through to look like that, even with Photoshop. It’s unhealthy.] Let’s look at OKCupid’s fitness classes.

  • Rather not say
  • Thin
  • Overweight
  • Skinny
  • Average
  • Fit
  • Athletic
  • Jacked
  • A little extra
  • Curvy
  • Full-figured
  • Used up

Wow, that’s quite a range. I wonder what the difference between Thin and Skinny is? Or Fit vs Athletic? So let’s do a little test. Where would you place yourself? First: honestly where do you fall? Second: what are you going to use on your profile? Third: do you have aspirations to a different category all together?

I’ll go. First: Overweight (or A little extra, but I’m going with Overweight); Second: on my profile, my sales pitch, Athletic (I do have a football player build, have always, since I was a kid.); Third: where I’d like to be FIT. And for me that means getting a clearer view of my abs, and not just when I’m sucking in my gut. And actually, I’d rather not have to suck in my gut anyway.

So, here’s an observation I’m noticing. Folks will date UP, or reach for a higher category then they believe themselves to be, but won’t often reach down to someone in a very different attractiveness category, or in this case, level of fitness.

But for me, that’s only part of the answer. For me it’s a ratio thing, when it comes to fitness and body type. I will admit to be enamored by the ultra-thin. But I’m not so sure this is who I will end up with. In fact, I don’t believe the ultra-thin are into the athletic-build. They probably like ultra-thin guys.  I don’t know what this is about. I’m not all that into six-pack abs on a woman, but I don’t mind a bit of definition on the belly. But I do actually like a belly. My wife was most attractive to me after she had our kids and was a bit more curvy. I’m sure there would’ve been a limit to my flexibility if she had grown into a new category, but she didn’t.

Of course, then comes the real work of scoping out compatibility. I haven’t even gotten to start on that yet. All this stuff I’ve been writing… It’s mostly theoretical.

And that opens the discussion about what is MY real category. In my mind, with all my positivism and self-confidence engaged I am easily “a few extra pounds” but in REALITY, I’m Overweight. ACK. That sucks. And perhaps when I court the affection of a “thin” or “fit” woman I’m simply asking them to leap down a category or TWO to join my loving heart and brilliant mind. And that might be a stretch. But my limits aren’t that rigid. At least I don’t think they are. Maybe they are.

Let’s gather a few more data points. When seeing a woman from a distance (say a few aisles away in the grocery store) my animal brain begins to do some rudimentary calculations. And here’s how I think it goes. 1. Ratio: is something way out of proportion? 2. Hair style, color. 3. Clothing style, colors, type of clothes.

Then as we get closer the smile and facial beauty take over. But from a distance, MY range is pretty wide. At least that’s how I perceive it. Sitting just inside a Whole Foods about 65% of the women, in this distant assessment, would meet up with my criteria of attractive. (Again, this is more animal and hardwired, than actually evaluation.) BUT then, as we get closer and I begin to scan smiles, eyes, skin color, and overall radiance, my WOW rating drops to about 20%. From there all but 5% would fall into the ASPIRATIONAL rather than RATIONAL category. Oh, so we’re talking 5% of 65%. That’s a low number. (Something like 3 women out of a hundred.) And this is Whole Foods, after all, where the beautiful people hang out. And again, this is just attractiveness.

One of the things I’ve learned from online dating, is to recognize my signals more easily. It’s a bit like house shopping online. You need the curb appeal first before even starting to look at the details. Same with online dating profiles. If someone’s picture is odd, or obscure, or sad, it’s easy to click the hide button. A good portion of my time on OKC is spent hiding the definite NOs. At this point, what’s the risk. The problem with online dating is there are too many people to weed through. Too many houses with keystone windows or Tuscan architecture, neither of which are in my taste range.

Of course, then comes the real work of scoping out compatibility. I haven’t even gotten to start on that yet. All this stuff I’ve been writing… It’s mostly theoretical. I’m ready for the 0.35% woman to come and burn my maps. Within reason, mind you. I’ve learned what torching your plans for infatuation and physical beauty can get you. Two beautiful kids, maybe, but into trouble after that.


The Off Parent

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image: screengrab after Googling “beauty”