in favor of love

It’s a daily struggle for me to balance my raging 40-year-old libido with my greater desire for meaningful connection and partnership.

While it’s tempting to revel in the hedonistic pleasures of casual sex, I am trying to stay focused on the long-term. I’m saying no to casual offers in order to nurture my deeper desires. On a spiritual level, I’m demonstrating to the universe what’s important to me and asking for support in attracting my soul mate. In essence, I’m energetically “voting” for something more meaningful. On a purely physical level, this can be maddening.

I found myself tested a couple of days ago, while driving home from my Chicago vacation. A (married, with a hall pass) male friend texted me, “Read your blog. You deserve better.” He was referring to Chi-guy, of course. He then volunteered to give me a massage that very evening (he is professionally trained), an offer that was likely to lead to some very fuzzy boundaries at the least and several guilt-inducing orgasms at most. (Imagine me, raised in neither the Jewish nor Catholic traditions, feeling guilt! It’s a feeling that has eluded me most of my life.) Whether with a married or single man, it would be easy to allow such a dalliance to distract me from what I really want.

So I made a different choice:  I called a new friend and asked him to meet me for a late movie, leaving out any mention of the misbehavior from which he might be saving me. Instead, we opted for conversation on the lovely patio of an historic restaurant in an old neighborhood…and I daresay the stimulating conversation was more satisfying, though in an entirely different way, than that hot night of sex I may have missed out on.

witnessing the shift

I am in a completely different place than I’ve ever been before:  I feel empowered, strong and clear in a way that I probably haven’t ever before in my life.

Let me explain…

I’ve been using creative visualization, conscious intent, meditation and gratitude to heal my heart, transform my energy and get my head on straight. And, despite my deep desire for partnership, I am finally un-stuck to the outcome. In other words, I’m detached. I’ve set my intent, asked the universe to deliver and let go of the need to control how things manifest.

As it relates to dating, here’s how this shift has affected my mindset:

  • I’ve started to enjoy dating. I go out to meet people and practice leaning back in to my feminine energy. I know that the universe has a spectacular sense of humor, so I just open myself to where the experience might go. I’m laughing about that guy I’ve seen twice who keeps finding ways to tell me that there’s no chance for romance between us…but then wants to see me again. Whatever!
  • I trust that I’ve attracted people into my life for a reason. I stay attuned to whatever that lesson or gift might be.
  • I may offer or suggest, but I won’t chase. I may lead or invite, but I don’t make the first move. I let him manage the accelerator; I’ll be ready to brake, if necessary.
  • I shrug off rejection. His loss. He’s doing me a favor by opting out early. I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with anyone I had to convince to like me. And I’ll take whatever gift or lesson I might have learned from the experience. As my good friend Max said, “When a woman chases men, she always catches the weak ones first.”
  • I enter situations with no expectations. Look at my recent trip to Chicago…  Sure, I hoped to share a few moments of closeness with Chi-guy. Instead, I learned that he’s in a relationship and didn’t tell me about it. There was a time that I might have been hurt or upset to learn this. Now, I’m bemused and curious about why he didn’t mention it (is it because he likes my attention?), and I was only very slightly saddened and disappointed. In fact, I was surprised at how un-emotional I was about it…because I knew that he was doing me a favor. If a man thinks he has nothing to offer me…well, then, he clearly doesn’t.
  • I’m flirting with all kinds of men and women in all kinds of situations. I like to flirt; I feel good, and it makes others feel good. It keeps me in touch with my pleasure center.
  • I say “yes” more often. I ask for help and accept it. I’m open to support.
  • I’m saying “no” to distractions to what I want. As much as my 40-year-old libido would love some satisfaction, I’m just not interested without the rewards of emotional intimacy. I’m holding out for the relationship.
  • I know the right man for me will be strong, masculine and forgiving. And, most of all, he will demonstrate through action that he truly and deeply wants to make me happy.
  • I am deeply grateful for the very masculine attention I receive. It’s wonderful to notice!
In summary, my boundaries are healthier than ever, I have greater clarity and I’m genuinely happy in my life. I’m pleased with the choices I’m making and the direction I’m going. Even though I haven’t manifested that amazing ideal job, life partner or other desires, I’m relaxed and peaceful about it. These things are coming to me — I can feel it!

a few recent discoveries

There are those who say we learn something new every day…I don’t know about every day, but my mind is always open to discoveries. Here are a few recent ones:

  • Justin Vernon, a.k.a. Bon Iver, was a huge X-Files and Indigo Girls fan. That dude and I would get along just fine!
  • When I was younger, all the males in the family and neighborhood helped shingle our church’s parsonage. Therefore, I always thought roofing was something anyone could do. Thus, it pissed me off that there was a man in my home who was home all the time and our garage didn’t have a decent roof — it’s not rocket science, after all! If my brother could do it, so could my mate, right?! Well…now I’ve seen a master at work, and roofing done right does take a little more skill than some young teenage boys hammering nails into a roof. In the end, I’m happy to have paid for this incredibly high-quality work.
  • My sister-in-law recommended I see Crazy, Stupid, Love, which she described as “hysterical.” I couldn’t agree more — the film captured several of the complex issues of marriage, infidelity and maintaining our identities within relationships, making for some poignant moments and a lot of laughs. Highly recommended!
  • Finally, my @failedatforty Twitter presence won me a free copy of Marriage Confidential by Pamela Haag, a brilliant, thoughtful and well-researched examination of modern marriage. While I’m only half-way through the book, I’ve discovered that I was a workhorse wife with a Tom Sawyer husband. It’s a thought-provoking read as we consider the history of marriage, in which roles were once so clearly defined, compared to the present, wherein we look to a spouse to be our everything — a best friend, soul mate, co-parent, earner, lover and more. That’s a lot to ask of one other person, and I think this book could provide the foundation for many great discussions among couples who are married or considering marriage.

bad breakup? vent online

So I’ve just discovered an entirely niche genre of website, which is absolutely new to me. Their URLs provide as good a description as I might be able to conjure:

And there are even several Facebook groups with similar names and purposes.

The take-away is that, if you’ve dated a con artist or dirtbag, you’re no longer limited to venting to family and friends — you can now virtually tell the entire world. The downside, I suppose, is that most relationship stories have two sides and just one of them could ruin the other’s reputation.

I discovered these sites while looking into this fellow several days ago now. I’m delighted to report that he didn’t make any of the lists. And I enjoyed a lovely evening under the stars with him last night.

the Chicago trip Chi-guy wrap

Having mentioned my Chicago family vacation and seeing Chi-guy, I feel somewhat obligated to provide a bit of a summary. And it’s been a few days since my last post…

First, let me divulge that I know my feelings for Chi-guy have been deeper and stronger than they’ve ever had reason to be. I have such love for this man, this flawed fellow human — it’s almost as though we’ve gone through some terrifying, exhilarating experience together (i.e. parallel divorces) that’s bonded us…except I’m not sure whether he feels that bond, at least not in the same way. At any rate, he is just a regular man. Amazing in some ways — witty, playful, so smart, sexy, handsome — and flawed in others:  overindulgent as a father, cynical, and sometimes his humor veers toward mean funny (as I once described as douchebag humor in this post about him).

Let me also say that I’m done chasing men and have learned to let go of expectations. I had no thoughts that anything romantic or physical might happen — particularly since I was traveling with children (one of whom refuses to go to sleep in new / strange places without me). Still, there was a twinkling of hopeful “what if?” in the back of my mind…

Here’s what didn’t happen:

  • Romantic interludes or overtures:  he did not seek me out after our children had fallen asleep to wrap his arms around me and make-out (fun though that might have been)…but we did get to spend a little quality time chatting on his deck. And we didn’t enact this shower fantasy of mine.
  • Falling more deeply into infatuation:  I love this man. I don’t even know why, really. But it’s the sort of agape feeling of wanting the best for another and letting go. I have no pangs of yearning or wantonness for him (that I think I probably did several months ago).

So what happened?

  • We drove to his place and he dropped us at our downtown hotel, since the parking is free and convenient in his neighborhood.
  • He gave us a couple of museum family passes to enjoy some of the grand attractions in the city.
  • He picked us back up a couple of days later and took us for dinner, and then we had a sleepover play date (involving that horrid creation, the inflatable air bed) with him and his daughter.
  • He was ever the well-mannered, charming, generous man I’ve come to know, while still maintaining his boundaries.
  • His omitting the presence in his life of a girlfriend to me and a play date with me to her got him into a bit of hot water (with her, not me).

feeling giddy

I’m on vacation. I brought the children to Chicago to see some sights…and you know who’s in this town:  Chi-guy! I’ve already seen him (and, sadly, he’s feeling sick)… But, oh, what a gentleman! What manners!

My children are with me, and tomorrow we have a play date planned with him and his daughter, so I have no illusions of any “adult” fun. It’s just that the energy of this city excites me — and something about Chi-guy’s dreamy energy gives me a delightfully giddy, girlie feeling!


women, men and infidelity

This one ought to raise a few people’s ire…

So, it’s like 2007-ish, right? And the rumors begin to circulate that Brad Pitt has left his wife, Jennifer Anniston, for his Mr. & Mrs. Smith co-star Angelina Jolie. Suddenly, the tabloids and press and groups of women are on fire everywhere with vitriol for this hussy who stole away the innocent Jen’s husband.

Well…what always surprised me about this phenomenon is how rarely Brad’s part in all this is mentioned (and, yes, I’ve now gone generic:  Brad and Jen are any committed couple, and Angelina is any “other” woman). There were two people in a committed relationship, two people responsible for their fidelity — and, yet, Brad got none of the blame, while Angelina — who had very little responsibility for another couple’s relationship, I might argue — took the brunt of the mass outrage:

  • She lured him.
  • Look at her! Who could blame him!
  • She’s a home wrecker.
Frankly, I think that’s all a bunch of bunk. Since when should men get a free pass for this behavior? He couldn’t help himself…Really?! Is that all the self-righteous masses could say?!

And what of Jen and Brad in their relationship? They were responsible for nurturing, loving, communicating and compromising with one another. Somehow, it broke apart from within first. A strong and solid committed man would be impervious to external influences, right?

Well, even I admit that Italy and Angelina could be tempting…

I’ve personally experienced or witnessed many shades of this hue — from my own parents’ divorce (which ended in infidelity) to the temptations I encountered while feeling vulnerable while in my own marriage to feeling completely helpless when I couldn’t seem to recapture any of my husband’s wayward energy. I never cheated, and I don’t know that my ex did, either…but we weren’t equally committed at all times (or ever). And yet I was always conscious of our responsibility for our relationship.

If my ex had been unfaithful (and I suppose it’s possible that he was), I can assure you I would have held him squarely responsible. This does not mean that I would have had any positive or warm feelings toward the other woman; only that I wouldn’t automatically assume malicious intent on her part. What if she had done nothing to lure him? What if he had made the first move?

When I was younger, my attitude was far more cavalier. I had a few encounters with married men myself. I don’t condone this behavior; I now view it as wrong. At the time, my behaviors were foolish and naive, with no intent to hurt others. I never made any first moves. I assumed these men just didn’t value their marriages. And if they didn’t, why should I bother? (And, of course, I see how such dalliances hurt me most of all in the end.)

Having lived through more than a decade of commitment, I certainly see how misguided my perspective once was. I believe those around us — our friends, our families and society in general — ought to be generally inclined to support us in our commitments, whatever they may be. Still, I lean toward placing the greatest onus for any marriage or commitment on the two people in it. And, while I hope others around us will adopt behaviors that support those commitments, I’m not sure the support of those outside of our commitments is the relationship glue we should rely on.

to be or not to be…friends

I didn’t go on an online dating site because I want to meet new friends. Ultimately, I want to meet the man with whom I hope to spend the rest of my life. And I’d like to have fun doing it! I would like to meet someone to date, to have fun with, to enjoy a little romance.

And yet, the best relationships begin with a strong foundation of friendship…

So what does one do when there seems to mutual interest, and then one backs off and offers friendship?

It would be disingenuous for me to say that I’m looking for new friendships in this manner. Instead, getting the brush-off and then being asked to be friends feels more like being on “keep warm” or “back burner” status. In other words, not something I enjoy.

I want to be on the front burner, the burner turned to hot, feeling a little sizzle!

gotta love that, dawg!

I’m a compete sucker for John Cusack. In anything. I don’t really care how bad it is, I will get sucked in anyway. He is virtually perfect (but whoever does his wardrobing could use a slap upside the head). So, when I came across what turned out to be Must Love Dogs, I couldn’t resist. My favorite part is his character’s second date over dinner at an Armenian (I think) restaurant. There, he fumbles out a speech that goes something like this:

“You know what? Can we just skip the small talk? Who are you? Who am I? What are we doing here tonight?

I just have this theory that when you first meet somebody, that’s the time when you have to be totally honest, because you have nothing to lose. Five, ten years down the road, it gets a lot harder; you can’t just wake up and say, ‘this is the real me.’ It doesn’t work that way.

You know what I’m talking about? This is it. We’re never going to see each other as clearly, as nakedly, as we do in this moment, right now, in this instant. I’m really scaring you right now, aren’t I?…

I’m just divorced and I had my heart broken badly by a woman who I really loved… but I think your heart grows back bigger. Once you get the shit beat out of you and the universe lets your heart grow back bigger … and I think that’s the function of all this heartache and pain, you know? You’ve got to go through that to come out at a better place. That’s how I see it anyway.”

I loved this soliloquy. So that’s what I meant when I said my heart is more open. It got the shit beat out of it, but it knows that it can now love more openly, more deeply, and better than before. And the best part is that it’s going to allow itself to be loved back a whole lot better, too!

the hundred-year cry

You’ve heard of hundred-year floods or hundred-year storms…well, today may be the day of the hundred-year cry.

A confluence of factors, including losing my favorite shades over the weekend, scaring off yet another bloke and a once-monthly flood of hormones have collided to create the ideal conditions for this sort of emotional release. In fact, it’s likely to be a necessity.

So how did I scare away the fellow you ask? Uh, not sure. I seem to be the one- or two-date queen these days (more often my choice). I suck at this dating stuff. I admit it. I haven’t dated in well over a decade. Neither did I have good relationship models  in my formative years — and my last relationship was disastrous. My ex used verbal manipulations and silence to control his environment — is it any wonder my communication skills are a little rough?

In this case, I’m not sure what it was that I said…I only meant to have a quick chat, feeling bloody awful as I did with hormone brain and allergies…my mind was too foggy for any serious discussion. And serious this gentleman is. It seemed he suddenly realized, though I said so before, that I am a mostly full-time parent…and then he was backpedaling:  I could call him when I have time, I could call him when my vibrator batteries run out (this was actually quite funny at the time, based on an earlier joke in our conversation), maybe we could be friends…after all, seems I don’t really have time to date…

What did I say? Probably too much, as usual. And probably not the right things to keep him interested. Somehow I failed to spit out:

  • That I’m willing to find babysitters or neighbors to allow me time out, especially for a man who interests me.
  • That I found him physically attractive.
  • That I was genuinely interested in getting to know him better.
  • That he seemed far too substantive to be a substitute dildo.

Perhaps more importantly, I’m not sure I conveyed a level of enthusiasm on par with his own. And then it faded…

Why? Well…I’m scared and I’m out of practice. I’ve never been in sales. My heart got broken. It’s healed bigger and more open than it was before. But it’s still a little tender and I’m still a little guarded. I am trying. And I find it difficult to show my true feelings so early. I don’t want to seem over-eager or desperate. But I am trying to be present and open and take the right kind of risks. I suppose there’s something in this that seems like game-playing, though I have neither the intent nor skill.

I know this guy’s done me a favor by opting out early. I respect and appreciate that. Still, there’s a little part of me that feels like I’ve failed…again. I wanted to get past the “interview” stage, to get to the hand-holding and tender touches, to connect, to feel a man’s soft lips touch mine, and to experience regular conversation and touch that I’ve been missing for so long. Something that seemed so natural for so much of my youth seems so elusive now, particularly in the bizarre, forced world of online dating. Another opportunity slipped away…

And that’s why this won’t be your run-of-the-mill monthly release; it’s going to be a serious cathartic experience.