a right blessing

Forgive me for the double entendre, but I’ve swiped right on a couple of fellows who have become friends and I’m going to share a bit about one of the more unconventional of these…

We met for lunch one weekday when I was already fairly certain things with Brad were headed toward an actual relationship and, furthermore, I don’t get too excited about these first meetings anyway. We greeted one another, sat down, ordered curry and he immediately let me know he was married.

Which it did not say on his profile.

And quickly followed with how he was merely looking for friendships and had his wife’s permission to use the site, blah, blah, blah… I didn’t think much of it and wasn’t sure I’d see him again after lunch. But he was insistent I bring the children and join his family for a go-karting party one day. So we went and had fun. And then another lunch, followed by brunch with his family, afternoon trail runs, and so on.

He is from what we still refer to as a third-world country, as in there’s still not typically electricity on for 24 hours a day. And, while his family was prominent and lived well, he has made his home in the suburban midwest with a white wife and modest lifestyle. He has said many times that he was “sleepwalking through life” and wanted to meet vibrant people, substantial people, to help him learn how to live a more fulfilling life.

Like many men his age, he is a bonehead — smart and focused in his field, a reasonably good earner, and yet so, so dumb when it comes to happiness and fulfillment. He once texted me with a conundrum:  He had yard work to do, but his wife wanted to take the children to the apple orchard. I told him to listen to his wife, give her what she wanted and offer his presence to his children. The yard work could wait. Another time, over a glass of wine, he invited my family to lunch at their home adding, as an aside, that it was the day after his wedding anniversary. I asked him what he was doing to celebrate. He hadn’t thought about it. So I admonished him to make dinner plans, rent a hotel room downtown and send the children to their aunt’s for the night. It was as though he’d had a revelation! The lightbulb over his head went on and he exclaimed, “I would never think to do something like that! And my wife mentioned she’s always wanted to spend a night together in a hotel.” Then I admonished him again for not listening to his wife, as she’d already given him the road map, and told him I would not accept his lunch invitation for that day.

With nothing to lose in this strange new friendship, we are brutally honest with one another. My boundaries are firm and clear. I am full-on, unfiltered me. And he is wildly smitten in the most innocent of ways. He admires me, values me and wants the best for me. He appreciates when I chastise him and tell him to treat his wife and family as his primary priorities. His wife has even thanked me.

The other night, we Tindered together. That is, I resisted swiping out of boredom for a couple of days so that I could show him what’s out there. And it was fun to see how much more choosy he was for me than I am for myself (I figure it will net out in the conversation, if these fellows endeavor to start one.) He swiped left on anyone who wasn’t fit, good-looking and college educated. He swiped left on anyone from a certain college that wasn’t up to his standards. He swiped left on photos of children (as I do –a dating profile is where you state that you’re a parent, but don’t show pictures of kids). He approves of the software company CEO who “super liked” me, and wants him to have a jet, because I deserve it. In other words, I should probably be swiping right more selectively, as he does.

And, in any case, it’s wonderful to have someone who not only thinks I’m worthy of a great and generous love, but who also translates my relating of relationship needs and wants into ways to serve his wife and family. In this way, swiping right on him has been a tremendously rewarding blessing and it seems appropriate to express that gratitude this Thanksgiving.

May you all feel the joy of gratitude this weekend!

left on scene

On our last date, Brad and I toured my neighborhood, stopping for drinks and small plates at a few of the local establishments. As always, we had fun talking and touching. We ended our evening making out on my sofa, and he thanked me for a fun and relaxing evening once he’d arrived safely at home.

The next day, he texted me “Good morning, sexy!” Then later, one of those strangely detached messages about hanging out at Best Buy while waiting for one of his children to be done with practice.

And then nothing.

It’s been two weeks. A girlfriend admonished me to Google him to ensure he wasn’t injured in a car crash.

But I knew.

I told my son he hadn’t been texting me back. He said, “Mommy, he’s busy with work and his kids; I’m sure he’ll text you.”

I told my daughter I’d been ghosted. She said I’d been left on scene. I guess that’s what the kids are saying these days.

It’s easy to see looking back that he wasn’t really emotionally in it. It’s easy to revisit and recall the exchanges we had in which I was looking for a connection, but got detachment in return. Along the way you wonder what it means; and whether something will change and evolve. It never does. You’d think I’d have learned that by now. And it still hurts.

The worst parts are:

  1. Having to put on a sad movie to watch with my son so that it would seem normal that I was crying during our usual Friday night family time.
  2. I miss him.
  3. Dealing with the anger that’s been boiling up. Seriously, there are compassionate ways to end relationships, and this was not one of them.

a blossoming relationship?

Since I last left you, Brad and I went on a half a dozen more dates — from a fun sushi dinner to dinner at his place to a microbrewery tour and sampling. Gosh, we’ve had fun! We’re flirty and cute together — and I love how boyish-looking he is!

And all the while, I continued to wonder if this was going anywhere. Between our parenting schedules, we managed to see each other every ten days to two weeks — which was simply not enough for me to feel a growing emotional closeness. He greeted me with such affection that, even if I was feeling a little grumpy about the interval between our dates or the quality of our communication between times, any tension simply dissipated on contact.

Finally, after our evening the brewery, I said to him:  “You know one of the things that I find so attractive about you is that you’re so ‘F*CK YEAH!’ about life…so if I’m anything less than a ‘F*CK YEAH!’ to you, you’ve got to cut me loose.”

Without hesitation, he exclaimed, “F*CK YES!”

And we kissed (some more). And talked about whether we were ready to be in a relationship…YES! And we talked about meeting him meeting my children and our consummating the relationship (remember my rule:  intercourse only after exclusivity) and other things to come. And even if we hadn’t yet negotiated all of the details, I tossed and turned for hours that night with the giddiness of a schoolgirl so so happy that I could now call Brad my “boyfriend.”

As a few days went by, it became clear that the momentum had not, in fact, changed. Nor had our communication:  while mine might be sweet and flirty, his was tactical / functional — the sort of communication you might get from a husband…or an even more disinterested party, e.g.:

“I’m in training today. How’s your morning?”

And so I looked forward to our next date, during which I would share this communication challenge / opportunity as something that might be a risk for us in a relationship…

back to the beginning?

Several weeks ago, I would have told you that the gentleman I’ve called Brad and I were on our way to a relationship. And now I’m not so sure…

The two of us, as I’ve said, have potential:

  • Such amazing chemistry.
  • We have fun together.
  • We think highly of each other and each other’s characters.
  • The stars and numbers suggest a certain compatibility, if you give such things credence.

Let’s recap:  The couple of weeks after our first meeting, Brad was in full-on seduction mode. Then he learned he would soon be out of work. But we kept communicating and seduction turned to courtship, which was even better! Something has always felt just a little different with Brad…and I guess I want to believe that’s a good sign, rather than him just being a novelty. A little more than two weeks ago, he took me on an all-day outing to celebrate my birthday. We held hands, talked, laughed, kissed and ended the day back at his home, where he gave me a hot oil massage…yes, with a happy ending.

It was our eighth date in as many weeks. And he still has not asked me for exclusivity, to be his girlfriend, introduced me to friends or any such thing. Thus, we have not gone all the way. For the record, I was ready to say yes to exclusivity as of our fourth date.

So this, to me, is weird. I am confused. And if I were to hazard a guess about what’s going on, here are some of the possibilities:

  1. He’s just not that into me. When we are together, I can tell you with certainty that this is not true; he is very into me. But I feel a certain amount “out of sight, out of mind” when we’re apart. He is not pressing for my time, trying to crowd out the others, or asking me to be his girlfriend. And this is exactly what I’d say to any girlfriend who described a similar situation, which is why I listed it first. Which leads me to…
  2. He’s on a different timeline. It’s possible that he just has a much slower pace than I have patience for. In fact, he told me he’s had a year-long relationship since his divorce — and that his girlfriend OF A YEAR never met his children. Don’t get me wrong — I think it’s great that he’s cautious, that he takes his time… but this is getting ridiculous. Our next live, in-person conversation will make clear that this does not work for me. I’m interested in a relationship. He is not the prize; a great relationship is the prize. And he can bow out if that’s not what he wants.
  3. He’s on “pause” until he finds his next gig. I’ve never thought twice about dating this man though he is, technically at this moment, jobless. He’s the sort of fellow with ambition and thrust, and whose phone has been ringing consistently since the first moment he found out his company was closing the division he led. He has said the sorts of things that suggest he believes he needs to be earning at a certain level to be worthy of me. If that’s the concern he has; I’m cool with it. Maybe he just needs to do the new job thing first, before taking a relationship to the next level. Meanwhile, he’s continued to treat me when we go out, even though I’d be just as happy talking a walk or gazing at stars.

Candidly, I’ve been feeling these things for awhile, but I’ve been letting it go while Mercury was retrograde. Now that it’s gone direct, though, it’s time to make my desires known and gain some clarity.

Whatever it is, I’m going to be cool. I’m not going to be devastated if we decide we want different things. I’m going to continue to meet and go out with men. It’s the relationship I want, remember, so I’ll keep meeting people until I meet the guy who wants that with me. Maybe it’s Brad, maybe it’s someone else. But, as I swipe and find an entirely new batch of matches, I kind of feel like I’m back at the beginning…

my last first kiss

It’s just occurred to me that, if I’m really ready to meet my life mate and future husband, one of these fellows I meet and connect with could be my last first kiss. And when I think about it, that’s kind of an awe-inspiring realization… Would I be cool with knowing that, say for example, “Brad” (about whom I wrote in my last post) is the only man I’ll kiss for the rest of my life? I think yeah.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand just how fraught the whole concept of monogamy is. Just look at the Ashley Madison doxing scandal, with the fallen moralists, suicides and wounded spouses — it’s nothing if not a complicated issue. But I want that. I want to believe that it’s not just possible or some sort of life sentence, but that a healthy committed partnership can be fulfilling for decades — including sexually. I don’t imagine it’s easy, as I’ve never had a relationship that lasted more than a dozen years. I want it anyway. I want to believe in it anyway.

Furthermore, as much as I love the excitement and newness and exploration of a relationship in early bloom, you’ll recall I’ve written that I loved plain old perfunctory vanilla missionary married sex. I loved the efficiency as much as the intimacy, and it didn’t bother me if it was over in ten minutes, because I also love me some sleep!

That said, if there is a chance that one of the fellows I’ve already met is my last first…well, there’s only one with whom I’ve had epic make-out sessions. I mean practically high school-ish in nature…which, for me, meant lots and lots of kissing and touching with firm boundaries about where his hands or mouth were allowed. Arousal is a wonderful part of it, rather than an urgent imperative that must be immediately satisfied. It’s funny how lovely and freeing it is to have firm boundaries and, for perhaps the first time in my life, not let my libido get ahead of me.

In fact, last evening Brad took me on a picnic in a park near a creek, where we listened to the water rush over the rocks, serenaded by crickets and frogs. We sat on a blanket and snacked on veggies, crackers and cheese while sipping wine and talking. We kissed and it was as though time stood still. We’ve relaxed into these moments of discovery and, damn!, I’m having fun!

Pretty sure he is, too.

swiping left and right

I’ve been at this swiping thing for three or four weeks now, so let’s suss out a few more lessons / observations on seeking life-long love on Tinder…

First, here’s my approach — and don’t hesitate to tell me if you think I’m wrong on this one:  Swiping is my “first move.” In other words, if I’ve swiped right, that’s my move. I’m probably not going to send the first message, too. Why? Because I want the guy who likes what he sees and reads to reach out and make his move. And, yes, I’m definitely discerning the content of the message. A simple “hi” doesn’t score many points.

Here’s where things go from there:

  • Some guys just keep the conversation going on too long before making a move. I don’t want a pen pal; I just want enough back and forth to know we have common interests and the guy can carry on an intelligent conversation. Then ask me out already! Isn’t the entire idea to meet?
  • I’m cutting guys loose quickly. There are a couple I’ve simply un-matched on the app because I didn’t feel like conversing any longer. Some I’ve simply said, “I don’t feel our communication styles are meshing.” And one guy who was messaging and texting me, then somehow found me on Facebook and sent a friend request (denied! stalkerish!), and then got really sarcastic bordering on belligerent, so I’ve blocked him from contacting me on my phone as well.
  • I’ve seen one guy — I’ll call him Brad — three times. Wasn’t exactly excited about our first meeting…until we were laughing together at the end and he kissed me. A little forward, I’ll admit, but I like a bold man. And as skeptical as I’ve been about certain things, he has proven himself intelligent, capable, funny, and so much more. He doesn’t seem to have been broken by his divorce; he has a rich, full life. Like Mr. Meltsmyheart, he constantly surprises me in the depth and breadth of our conversations and his pursuits. And he has not yet said or done a single thing that raises a red flag for me, aside from physically having his foot firmly on the accelerator — and I can put the brakes on that. From the get go, he was in it to win it! We have the ever-elusive chemistry in spades. When I’m with him, I feel really ready for a relationship in a way that’s difficult to articulate and something I don’t recall feeling for a long time…”ease,” I guess. We can be quiet or we can talk. We’re still getting to know each other, sure, but it’s comfortable and there’s no friction. And then he was told he’d be out of a job at the end of the month — surprise! — and he’s not in hot pursuit mode anymore. I like him enough to be a little scared about what the timing of this means… And yet he has great perspective about it and invited me to go skydiving with him to celebrate a good three-year run at that gig. Good thing I’m dating other guys to keep from investing too much before its time and to keep my wits about me!
  • The other guy I’ve seen three times — call him Mark — is a good conversationalist with good taste. We have more than a little bit in common and I enjoy his company. And when he kissed me goodnight on our last date, I couldn’t help but wish he were Brad. Uh-oh. The chemistry is just not the same. And, in comparison (and I know comparisons are so not fair!), he does seem like his divorce broke him and he’s still picking up the pieces. I want a man fully realized — a homeowner with some semblance of his life in tact, not a guy still living in a shabby apartment. I don’t feel broken and, as I’ve said so many times, I’m only looking for an equal.
  • The guys I think I’m going to like are often not the ones I like the most and, based on text messages before or after first or second dates, the front runner is always changing. I wanted to like Chet, the successful sales guy with a home in an appealing suburb, more than I do. And I haven’t even met Adam, but his text messages make me think I’ll really like him.

In other words, I’m still feeling it all out…trying to be aware of how I’m feeling in the moment when I spend time with someone, take it all one day at a time, dig into the nominal drama I’m creating in my head and deal with it. So far, it’s mostly happy hunting.

call me tinderella

I’ve been on Tinder for a few weeks and have made several observations and absorbed a number of lessons in this short time.

First, and most importantly, perspective:  It’s amazing how quickly the pining and constant thoughts about Mr. Meltsmyheart have faded with the attention and prospect of attention from other men. And I’ve simply decided I’m not going to worry about it. If I enjoy myself with someone, I’ll see him again. So there are a couple of guys that I’ll see again, if they ask, and there are some others that I may meet. Simple.

Second — and this is a significant revelation — men find me attractive! I’ve written about some of what’s being going on in my life for the past several months, and it’s been stressful, and one of the hardest things that I didn’t even realize until recently was feeling completely, totally invisible. None of my friends set me up on dates, no one seemed to flirt with me, I’m not sure I caught a single second glance…for months! And now I’m finding that there are real, actual men out there who find me desirable. Whee-ha…bring it!

Third, men are every bit as bat-shit crazy and lie as often as women, and this is clearly evident in their profiles. And there are more of them who are “laid-back” and use “sarcastic” as a selling point than you would ever guess! One of the common themes I saw within Tinder’s tiny space for copy on each profile was a simple line suggesting “if you don’t look like your profile picture, you’re buying me drinks until you do.” So clearly some men are predisposed to think that women are not being honest, yet I’ve encountered a few who clearly are older than their profiles report.

Fourth, what’s with the pictures?! I’ve seen so many out-of-focus, bad angle and plainly unflattering images that I’m dumbstruck. Do you not get that this is a site where you’re basically selling yourself on looks? Best foot forward and all that! Here are some of the other ridiculous images I’ve seen:

  • Those whose first photo is of their children! (No, I do not share photos of my children on a dating site. Nor do I advise it.) Simply write that you have x children with general age information in your profile.
  • The obligatory midwestern fishing or hunting photos. I’ve said it before (in my best caveman voice):  “Me bringum home food!”
  • Who are all those women?! Why are you posing with women and then using those in your dating profile? Help me understand this…I am so curious to understand what sort of sense this makes!
  • Cartoon characters. What in heaven’s name does an image of Daffy Duck have to do with you or — more importantly — me being attracted to you?! Am I supposed to make some sort of sense of that?
  • Or photos of tigers — or art images of tigers! No context. Are you trying to tell me that’s your spirit animal? Or do you actually make those arty images? Because if there’s one thing I’m never going to proudly exclaim to my friends or family, it’s, “Look at what Jack does! Isn’t it brilliant?!” Cringe.
  • Omigod the number of motorcycles, snowmobiles, dirt bikes, boats… I like toys, too. They’re just not all in my photos.
  • Photos in gym mirrors. There is no subtle way of holding your mobile phone for a selfie in a fitness center mirror.
  • No photo at all. And no words. Really? Does that work for you?

At any rate, while I first found this swiping left or right on the basis of a photo or a few and what amounts to a short paragraph shallow, if anything, I’ve learned to consider the subtext of the photos. If your first one has a picture of you holding a shot glass, I probably swiped left. If you have broad, yang facial features, I probably swiped right. But still I find that I am remarkably inconsistent in this. And sometimes I just swipe wrong because fat fingers and app confusion…oh well.

Finally, there’s the feigned outrage…illustrated by this brief exchange I had with one fella:

Him:  Hi

Me:  Hi

Him, hours later:  That’s all you have to say?

Me:  Apparently it was at 2:09pm, while I was at work.

Him:  Good answer.

Him:  I’m a really great catch.

Him:  unmatches me.

So is it my job to lead and carry the conversation? Or is it reasonable to say “hi” back to someone who said “hi” to me? Am I missing something as basic as that? Apparently this particular man took offense that I didn’t gush about how excited I was that he’d deigned to say hello to me, and he was offended enough to storm off in a huff…which is okay by me, frankly, because I don’t do well with those whose anger is simmering right there beneath the surface, just waiting for an opportunity to claim “disrespect!”

I try to be a positive person, and I very much work at assuming positive intent. Certainly I hope others will approach me similarly, because I ain’t got time for a petulant man-child’s drama.


Meanwhile, for now anyway, Imma keep on swiping!


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