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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.

Weird.

Meanwhile, for now anyway, Imma keep on swiping!


mirror mirror

Any Harry Potter fans out there? My children and I love the series, the characters, the theme parks, the movies… you get the idea. So last night, to celebrate JK Rowling’s birthday, we watched the first movie together.

In it, Harry discovers a mirror in which he can see the parents who died when he was an infant. They are standing behind him, smiling, his mother with a hand on his shoulder. Like a phantom pain, you can see how he nearly feels it and how badly he wants to feel it. Eventually, the headmaster and great wizard Dumbledore approaches Harry to gently send him away with these words:

“It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts… this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.”

And this struck me deeply, as that’s exactly what I’ve been doing on and off for the past 27 months with Jeffrey, Mr. Meltsmyheart (though certainly more off than on, because I’m not that crazy!):  I allowed myself to be transfixed by a fantasy, perhaps not quite driven mad, but certainly showing occasional signs of cray-cray. And that’s simply not the norm for a healthy, well-adjusted me. (Not that I’m always healthy or well-adjusted, but I’d like to think I am spend more time than not within those guardrails.)

Perhaps this article on break-ups sheds some light on what’s going on with the brain and why this has been an off-again, on-again obsessive theme for me. And, as I believe I’ve mentioned before, there has been enough other unpleasant emotional stuff going on in my life that it’s no wonder I prefer the addictive feeling of longing and heartache to the raw and wrenching work of simply dealing with everything else.

To be fair, I have done both:

  • My will, trust and other legal documents have been updated. I’ve shored up my risk portfolio. And I’ve started talking to my family about my wishes in the unlikely event of my untimely demise.
  • This evening I will say goodbye to Tom, the friend I mentioned earlier, who finally succumbed to his battle with brain cancer. I managed to stop in and visit him every few weeks over the past several months, and it feels good to me to have provided him some company and friendship.
  • I have spent time in the sun and working out, doing my damnedest to turn the corner on a general malaise that has been hard to shake but that I cannot, in good conscience, quite call depression. And I finally feel I’ve largely shaken it.
  • Oprah and Deepak sent me an invitation I couldn’t refuse, and I’ve spent 21 days enjoying their guided meditations on gratitude using their free app. I love to do the Chopra Center 21-day meditation challenges when I can, and I found this one genuinely spoke to me.
  • I have taken action on the dating front, as well, and am now swiping left and right, often feeling disturbingly superficial about it all. There are many lessons to be learned from this activity, some of which I’m sure you’ll hear about soon. Why Tinder? A close friend met her fiancé with it, and sheer volume…another geeky friend encouraged me with, “so much of it is just a numbers game” — meaning, meet a lot of people and you’re bound to find one who’s a match eventually. (Of course he is also fond of bringing up a phrase from the used car industry:  “There’s a butt for every seat.” I am genuinely repulsed by this analogy.)

My Mirror of Erised (“desire” in reverse, for those of who hadn’t figured that out) is safely stored away and all those fantasies…well, the top of that head of dark hair I’ve so often imagined between my thighs could be anybody, right!?


when life hands you a shit sandwich…

Lately a lot of people have been asking me how I’m doing:  they know my ex has been struggling with health problems; they know my boss is certifiable; they know I’m a full-on single parent with a demanding job and hellacious commute and children’s activities and more than too much to try and squeeze into a day.

I tell them, “I’m fine.”

I am a liar.

The truth is that I’ve been struggling. For months. More than ever. And it hurts. I’ve never been in a place where my herbal antidepressants seem so ineffective, my endless optimism is so drained, my outlook — regardless of what I may tell my friends — is so bleak. I exercise and it is not enough. Summer is not enough. I am able to have fun; I am able to function; I can experience joy, but there’s a ceiling on this joy — an upper limit I don’t recall experiencing before. And my heart is broken.

Broken for the man I once loved and for the decline even our children must now observe. Broken for the friendships and full, rich life I once had and those who no longer call now that I’m a single parent. (What?! Do you think I’m somehow a threat to your relationship because I don’t have a husband? My life is still full and rich…so there!) Broken for my friend with a brain tumor, dying slowly or maybe less so after a lengthy seizure about a week ago.

There is a word for how I feel…lonely. I am constantly surrounded by friends, co-workers, children and people who want nothing but the best for me. And none of that is the same as being loved fully and unconditionally for who I am by a lover and mate. So I naturally poured my heartache into the fantasy of my one unrequited love, making so much more of that crush than ever really was…about whom, by now, I must have written a dozen times. Without ever even trying, the man completely lay me bare, left me defenseless. And I loved it because I loved me in the context of him:  I loved the me who cared for a man because he was good and kind and competent and caring — and not for any superficial reason.

He had passion for me, too, in my dreams. I’ve woken at least a dozen times in his loving arms…I mean, it seemed like I had until I really woke up.

“I want to meet him,” says my friend and co-worker, Char. “But I think I’d probably slap him.” Char was raised by a single mother and, therefore, assumes that I am a stronger and better woman than I am. She thinks he’s crazy. (I do, too.)

Pouring my feelings into longing for someone with whom I’ve never had a relationship must somehow be easier than having to deal with the fact that my ex is an alcoholic and that my children have to watch his decline and all the other garbage that I won’t even go into right now. Heavens, it gets old to dredge up this shit!

So I swing between this genuine pain I am feeling, because I truly feel as thought the spate of difficulties is perhaps more trouble than I deserve just now, and the rational, Peppermint Patty voice inside my head telling me to “buck up” and, frankly (even though I’m not Catholic), guilt about feeling as I am when I know full well most of these are first world problems.

I surround myself with happy, positive people and am blessed to have this rich group of friends. Except, right now, it seems as though they’re all looking around pointing at rainbows and, the second I turn my head to look, thunder claps down around me. And I’ve been self isolating, which is never a good sign.

I don’t waste time wondering why. I do wonder how on earth I might find time to take forward steps…dare I say, to put myself out there, to date. Alas, I have no time to offer another person. I’m not even sure I have the time to be a good parent!

So when I took a walk with my therapist friend recently, she echoed what she’s heard from me for months and gently asked whether I thought it was time to try a different course of action. Yes. And what did I plan to do?

(That’s a good friend right there!)

I committed to a plan. And I spent more time in the sun and worked out and started meditating again and, for the past week or so, I have felt better. My head seems to be on straight again. My heart does not feel noticeably broken. And this, too, shall pass.


confidence shaken (not stirred)

When I re-read my post from yesterday and think of all the bullshit I’ve done to create an imaginary boyfriend in my head — and yes, among friends, I even refer to him as my IBF — I think this is exactly the sort of crap I’d expect from a younger version of myself. But not professional, healthy, adult, mother-of-two me.

And then I wonder why did I allow this to become such a big deal and why has this guy taken on such mythological proportions in my head?

Here’s why:  I was so utterly convinced — and still am — that we had something so incredibly worth exploring together that it never dawned on me that we wouldn’t. He’s worth it. I’m worth it. We had / have a chemistry and a closeness and enough in common to make us worth it, whatever other obstacles there may have been. We also have genuine differences; any two people do. And somewhere along the line, based on what he had gotten to know about me, I think he decided they were too big or too important to ignore. But he was very private in many ways, so I don’t know what those things are or how far apart we are, and I never had an opportunity to be part of that discussion or decision, so it has always felt unresolved.

It shouldn’t matter anyway, because the only way a relationship can be successful (in my experience) is if a man pursues it…which he started to, and then didn’t. Game over. Move on.

That experience has shaken my confidence more than probably any other relationship encounter I’ve had in the past five years.

There’s a solution for it, though; one I have some faith will work. I’ve got to start dating again. However unready I feel I am, I have to put myself out there and begin again.


I have a jeremy, and his name is jeffrey

I read this Modern Love essay months ago, and it continues to resonate:

“He’s the guy we never really dated and never really got over.”

“I think maybe you’re addicted to the memories, in love with a person you’ve idealized who probably isn’t real.”

My Jeremy’s name is Jeffrey. And, unlike the essay’s author, I am not in college and am, in fact, twice “college age” and I ought to know better. I do know better. Yet I can’t seem to help myself.

It’s baffling that an otherwise successful, intelligent adult woman who keeps my financial house in order, my parenting on point (I think, for the most part) and my professional life progressing, can’t seem to properly contextualize, process and move on from a relationship that never actually happened. I’ll even go so far as to say that it’s a little crazy. And yet, this is what I’m doing.

It’s as though to avoid dealing with some of the emotional processing, grieving and other emotional self work I must do to deal with my ex’s issues (and the real possibility he may leave my children fatherless in the not-too-distant future), my friend’s progressing cancer, my grandmother’s decline and a certain measure of dysfunction in the workplace, I’ve decided to create a mental loop wherein I’ve poured all my unfulfilled hopes and pain into longing for an imaginary relationship scenario that I know, intellectually, is not a real possibility.

Yet the heart wants…


can a modern woman love an old-fashioned man?

Here I shall reveal my latest idiocy:  I had happy hour with the guy…yeah, the one I can’t get over. Something inside me thinks:  it’s been a long time, I won’t still feel it, we’ll just catch up like old friends and then part ways. I keep thinking I will find a way to bless what I’ve learned and move on. And, even though I suspect it was just two colleagues keeping in touch to him, I have spent the last two days and will spend the next many more wishing and hoping that something inside him, something about the way he perceived me, would shift and that he would be compelled to call and ask to see me again.

Simultaneously, I wish something inside me would change and allow me to get on with my life and attract a relationship with someone who can love and appreciate me without ever waffling about it.

In other words, the happy hour was just one among an unabridged dictionary’s worth of missteps with Mr. Meltsmyheart.

I wish I could recall how it came up but, at one point, he complained to me that chivalry is dead and an old-fashioned guy like him didn’t stand a chance with women today, particularly liberated ones.

Okay…first:  WHAT?! Why the heck did he think I was (am) so head-over-heels interested in him? It was all that commanding, masculine energy that turned me to mush inside! It was my intuition telling me that, after a long day of putting on my man pants, going to work, making a million decisions and having to be in charge or everything under the sun, with a man like him I could relax into my femininity and enjoy it. It was knowing that he could treat a woman with respect. It was sensing that, if we ever became physically involved, he would treat those moments of intimate discovery with a certain amount of reverence. It was believing that he might have the maturity and relationship skills to cherish me. It was feeling a growing sweetness within myself whenever we were together.

I fell for him because of those feelings. And because of his kindness, warmth, wit, intellect, decency, calm, commitment, hard work and so much more. For all the right reasons, for once. And I still revel in all of those senses and feelings when he’s near! The way I feel in his presence always leaves me wanting for more. And probably that’s why I was so heartbroken that it never went anywhere.

Did I say all that? No. But I did tell him how far off he was, and just how much a woman like me desires more than anything to find a chivalrous man, with manners and decency — a man stronger than me, who can stand up to me and for me, a man worthy of leading our family. I offered up an example:  the Southern gentlemen I’d dated a few years back, who opened doors, arranged dates and knew how to properly behave. Ah, it was dreamy!

He was shocked, completely taken aback. “You just blew my mind,” he confessed.

I don’t recall exactly where our chat went from there, as we soon had to part to pick up our evening parenting duties. We hugged our goodbyes and, later, when I thanked him for a nice time, I teased that I liked poking holes in his theory of me, too.

…I just wish it were mind blowing enough to keep him coming back for more!


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