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

Posts tagged “no compromise

Go Big This Time, Or Go Home: Looking for a Long-Term Relationship

girl in the deep end


Several more creative titles came to mind when framing up this post: “She’s Come Undone,” or “Girl In the Deep End of the Pool.” But I needed to remember that this is not a philosophical post, it’s a hardship post. It’s about the harder side of dating, that I had yet to encounter.

She texted me, “Don’t stand me up. I need a drink.”

But I’d already decided a few days ago that she was NOT the one. AND in my current state of mind, anything, anyone, BUT THE ONE, is a waste of time. So why is this so much harder to do than I anticipated?

The hard thing to realize, even if I know it, is that she will not hurt any less tomorrow if I go along with the plan tonight.

She’s nice. She’s pretty. She really really really likes me. (Might be a red flag.) And she just wants to get together again. In response to my “I’m not ready for this relationship right now,” text she pleaded, “Just call me. It’s not going to be hard. It will be a good call.” She was quite convincing about how easy-going she is. And how she understands “people with kids.”

She doesn’t understand at all.

So I paused the train. I attempted to get off without hurting any feelings. But it’s not going to be that easy. And today, Monday, it’s not going that well. She’s had a hard day. She began buzzing my phone about two hours ago. When her “contract” workday ended. I talked to her. And again she confessed to having a really shitty day. Looks like her work might not continue after another two weeks. And in the place where I would feel compassion and outreach for someone, I was wanting to be in a relationship with, I simply felt tired by the exchange. I didn’t want to meet her for a drink. And at this moment… I won’t. But she doesn’t know that yet.

Why is it easier for us to see disaster in another person’s life so much easier than in our own? I was having dinner with a friend last night and it was easy to coach her a bit in the “get the assholes stuff out of your house NOW” vein. And today she’s texting me, “How did it go?” I’m embarrassed to say, I was still embroiled.

I don’t want to be the bad guy. I don’t want to be the hurter. UG. BUT… here’s the point I’m clear on, I’m not going to be in a “relationship” with this woman. We kissed, it was good. We kissed a lot. And I realized I was not interested in her. END OF STORY.

The hard thing to realize, even if I know it, is that she will not hurt any less tomorrow if I go along with the plan tonight. In fact, I know, she will feel worse. Much less me. I don’t want to spend this evening nursing this dying quail of a relationship. I want to move on. I want to go for a walk. I want to think about NEXT. And her kisses don’t sound like a good idea under any circumstances.

While she’s not a drug addict or a mean person, she’s not the right relationship for me. Anything less is compromising.

So how do we extricate ourselves from a person who simply does not want to be extricated? How do we grow the balls to say NO with a firm and loving hand? EVEN when they’ve had a bad day, a hard life, any number of hardships. We still need to say NO. But it hurts.

So I’m going to call her now. I’m going to say no. I’m going to be firm.

Oh fuck, maybe I’ll go for a walk first. Sort my head a bit. Then call her. Tonight and her waiting is nothing compared to the drop of the other shoe. And I need to get myself in a place where I will not compromise. I told my friend, last night, “You need to get clear of this shit.” While she’s not a drug addict or a mean person, she’s not the right relationship for me. Anything less is compromising. And that’s the deal I have with myself today. NO COMPROMISE.

Easy to say, harder to do.

I’ll post an update, but first a walk. A good, long, walk. Alone. (Instead, I bought tickets for a movie and called her from the park near the theater. The story continues here: Obeying the Speed Limits, and The Daily Journey)


The Off Parent

*post originally written April 2013

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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

Not Obeying the Speed Limits, Enjoying the Daily Journey

Coming home from the movie, I noticed how hard it is for me to drive the speed limit. I think I have that tendency in relationships too. (This post continues the story started here: Go Big This Time, or Go Home)

speed limits in dating and love

In the most recent installment, we learned that kissing can make quick work of the intimacy that usually has to be built up over time. So my warning, to myself, obey the speed limits. With good reason the kissy girl slowed the “runaway train down” so we could figure out what relationship might look like before we tore each other’s clothes off and dove head first into sex.

Turns out, even with less than a week under our belt, the kissing had formed a bond for her that was less easily loosened than maybe if we had not lip locked so quickly. I have no regrets about that. But I learn.

It was hard tonight, telling her, repeating, and reframing the proposition that I wasn’t interested in a relationship with her. “That’s fine, but I thought we could just hang out and not rush into anything.”

Needless to say she was confused and disappointed. And she was convinced that I had not handled the situation as well as I could. Fine points, I guess, as you are in the middle of a breaking up with someone, but let’s take them at face value.

“You could’ve told me the second you knew something wasn’t working for you,” she said. “In stead of dragging it out over the last three days.” Okay, but I tried. My txt “I’m not ready to be in this relationship,” wasn’t clear enough. I can hear that. But I didn’t really have any clear time to deal with this discussion, until today. And in my mind, I was still figuring it out. I had the idea that meeting in person to say it might be a better approach.

And speeding up the process for sex, or passion, or kissing, is not a good idea. I want the relating to be ahead of the feeling. I want the experience of being “with” this person to be something coveted and sacred long before we make love.

I said. “I did try to say that I was having second thoughts.” And I mentioned the idea of the other person not having kids, and thus not quite understanding the “kid thing,” was an issue. But I was not clear at that moment, that I was saying NO to everything.

“Still you left me hanging all day. What were those texts about?”

She had texted me earlier in the day to discuss plans for the evening. She had asked for flirting. I didn’t give that. “When we talked on the phone, I was trying to be clear. BUT, I had back to back meetings most of the day. It wasn’t until six this evening that I was really clear enough to have this conversation, clearly and definitively. But I’m clear about it now.”

Okay, so the drama is over. She has gotten the picture. I’m done. I’m not interested in hanging out and “having some fun together.” And I’m certain that I was not prepared to kiss again. Not even a little bit. The drug of even that is a powerful enough to cloud my clear thinking.

It’s hard. It’s messy. And I do give her the point that I jumped right up to the passion play pretty quickly after we met. It was a mutual thing, but I did do my part to fuel the fantasy. And then I saw the New Girl. And it became very clear, I was trying to justify or rationalise the relationship with KG and I wasn’t even in the ball park.

Seeing this “ideal” woman, who DID in fact show up in full regalia and say, “So are you checking me out?” She is most certainly still in the projected fantasy mode, but this time she and I are clear the slow pace is more important than the passion play. Well, at least that’s how she explained it to me.

“I’m not really big into passion. I’m not looking to fall madly in love with someone,” she said, yesterday on our walk.

“You’re not into passion?” I asked.

“Not at all. It’s just, I’m just more fixated on regular life. Sometimes all that passion, that stuff we were so high on when we were in our twenties, some how that’s not all that important to me, or how real life is.”

“Yes, I can see that. I lost my priorities when the big passion came on with my ex-wife. I let go of some of the things I now see were critical path for me.”

We sat in that moment. We rubbed her dog’s belly. We drank our Topo Chico. We enjoyed the moment.

She showed me her hands. “I want to be more like this,” she opened her hand, palm up. “Rather than this,”  she flipped her hand and gripped the table. I agreed and took her hand in mine. Just for a minute we sat and held hands.

Then she volunteered, “When I say my vows again. I want it to be something like this. ‘I would like to spend the rest of my life with you, and we can be together.”

“I can see that.” I said. She was echoing my definition of beauty, that I had articulated in our first “lunch.”

The key words, the key idea, “for the rest of my life” resonated brightly with me.

That commitment does not allow for “almost” or compromise. Not at this point in my life. I don’t want to spend a single night in “almost.” I’d rather be alone. But I don’t want to be alone. So I have to look for the “rest of my life” girl.

And speeding up the process for sex, or passion, or kissing, is not a good idea. I want the relating to be ahead of the feeling. I want the experience of being “with” this person to be something coveted and sacred long before we make love. Kissing, maybe sooner than that. I mean, as I learned, kissing is a pretty powerful opening.

It’s a big journey. But the next relationship is the biggest one of my life. And I want the mundane to be ecstatic simply because we are doing them together.

But even that has no business being hurried. When GF 1.0 kissed me on the first date, I was swept up in the moment. And while that ended reasonably well, and even today’s Kissing Girl went away without a mortal wound, it was difficult and tiresome. We have a finite amount of energy, and I intend to use as much of it as I can, and use it wisely.

So, for me, I’m going to throttle down the runaway train, and be more conscious of the “being” together rather than the rush. I felt the rush with NG, right away. Seeing her, being with her, and the moment she asked me the telling question, I felt a thrill at even being inside her house. I had thought about her before.

So now we are in the micro-crush phase. We take small steps. We look and evaluate our compatibility on innumerable levels. How do they deal with disappointments even in this stage. How do you let them know of a change in plans? How frequently is contact desired, initiated, responded to? It’s all a microcosm of real life.

I really like the idea, of “being together” and letting the other stuff fall into place. Certainly I’d be sad if I didn’t think there would be BIG PASSION again. Because I can see how with the build and desire that I have already for NG, it would be HUGE, it will be HUGE if we kiss. And even BIGGER if we made love. But I want to experience every single nuance of the build between now and then. And I want to keep on experiencing the little steps of awakening excitement on through the “rest of our lives” together.

It’s a big journey. But the next relationship is the biggest one of my life. And I want the mundane to be ecstatic  simply because we are doing them together. Idealistic? Perhaps. But I’m clear on one thing. Almost is NOT ENOUGH.

When poetry and song are part of the equation even before we’ve really started, all I can say, is we’re off to a great start. Even if the fantasy is still just mine, at this point, let’s see how the reality develops before my very eyes.

Update: In a short email KG said she was sorry. She asked, “Friends?” Here’s my response.

You are bright and beautiful. And I wish you all the best in your search. But I don’t think I can be friends. 


The Off Parent

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