my last failed relationship

Do you ever get yourself into something and then, somewhere along the way, you realize it’s a bad deal, but you’re in it and you forget for awhile how to get out?

That pretty much sums up my last relationship. Even looking back at how it began, there was nothing that really suggested it could last. Our early dates didn’t generate warm and fuzzy feelings inside me. And yet, somehow, I got sucked in. And, before I knew it, I found myself feeling as though I was four years into an unhappy marriage — to which I’d never committed in the first place.

For the record, we dated for approximately ten months.

He was positive at first and could be surprisingly sweet. But we disagreed about political viewpoints that made me think he was a closet misogynist. And life was throwing a few sucker punches his way. He became negative; he used language that painted himself as a victim ever so subtly; he complained about being broke and his health problems; he sucked me into his drama.

And it’s so easy to see now because TWICE since we’ve broken up, he’s done something so crazy I can barely recount it:

  1. Right around the new year, he called to ask if we could get coffee and talk. He said he needed a friend. I agreed to meet him. He told me about the woman who’d broken his heart. (This was all of two months after we’d broken up, mind you.) And then, before I understood what was happening, he was telling me how much he missed us and that we were steady and stable and I wasn’t crazy and couldn’t we just go back to where we were? To me, where we were was a realization that, no matter the circumstances, I was never going to want to move in with, much less marry him. To him, where we were must have looked different.
  2. Three months later, he called and said he needed a friend and would I meet him for a drink? I swore that this time, if he asked me to reunite, I would never answer his call or agree to meet him again. This time, he told me about the women he’d dated in the past few months — those who’d broke his heart, those whose hearts he’d broken — and his engagement. Yes, engagement. But he’d called it off. He’d asked her to marry him on Tuesday, then asked for the ring back on Friday. You see, women are all crazy and bipolar and couldn’t we just start over where we left off? Yep; he did it again! And I’m quite sure it’s never dawned on him how that might feel to me.

Anyway, maybe that sort of explains why I haven’t written much lately and why I haven’t been dating lately. You see, when you attract someone who ends up hitching a ride on the crazy train, you have to take a moment to look in the mirror and wonder what’s going on with your own energy for you to attract a situation like that. And I’ll be honest, the emotional ground beneath my feet still feels a little shaky. I can’t really put my finger on why…but it does. So I’m not going to look for someone else who, at this moment in my life, is only likely to add drama. I’m going to take care of myself for awhile. And, if it so happens that someone comes along when I’m taking care of me, I’ll be okay with that.

am I being judgmental?

Two things, really:

One. It was recently suggested to me that I was being judgmental. Okay, so if I’m completely honest, it’s not the very first time the word has been used to describe me. Yet I’ve never identified with the description. Certainly I’m opinionated (and vocal). Certainly I’m pretty convinced about what’s right for me (which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the moment or situation). Certainly I know what I like. But I would never describe myself as judgmental. (In fact, my Myers-Briggs type includes P for perceiving, not J for judging.) Also, I think most who know me would agree that I befriend all kinds of people. Rather than hanging in cliques, I’ve most often been a part of groups of misfits, a motley bunch of mates of all sizes, shapes, colors and personalities. While there’s a very distinct physical and psychographic “type” of guy to whom I’m attracted, I have literally dated every imaginable sort of fellow:  tall, short, thin, obese, bald, hairy, intellectual, dull, artsy, rich, poor, fulfilled, empty, solid, neurotic…and I’ve been drawn to each one by some unique quality. So I don’t think the description of me as judgmental can stick, even if it appears to fit for a moment or more. Ultimately, it’s not a description that sees the full picture. But I suppose it might describe a momentary mood or short-lived behavior.

Two. I reactivated my online dating profile for a moment to take a peek at what new men might have come aboard. My intent was to pop in and then right back out if I didn’t see anything too compelling. After all, I need to focus on my new job and my children just now. But the site won’t allow me to deactivate my profile again for a week. Yikes! …so, I’ve gotten a couple of messages, including one from a fellow who might appear to be a compelling match. And he’s articulate, which has been a rather larger hurdle than you might think. (Again, one needs to be able to keep a conversation going…) And I’d normally consider meeting this fellow in person. But then I looked and saw that his annual income is half (actually less than) mine.

Again, in the past, I would not have thought twice about going out with him. What harm could it do? But now, having lived through a situation in which I supported a man (and might have been reasonably happy in said situation had certain other conditions been met), I just don’t think it’s possible. Here’s my truth now:  I live in a city, a metropolitan area. Given a mortgage and a car payment and two children, there’s a certain level of income required to live even moderately well (which is to say, to not want to tear out one’s hair at the stress of wondering how to stay afloat). And this gentleman, no matter how kind and loving and supportive he might be, is just not at a level of income that could support a family…not that I’m suggesting any man should support me and my children. I’m forty. I’m independent. And it’s no longer a matter of potential, as it was in our twenties. I’m simply no longer willing to put myself into a situation wherein I’m carrying most of the financial weight for a man. Even if he’s the greatest guy on the planet or the best possible match for me. Even if he’s the most supportive and loving human alive. Even if he’s well-balanced and does something like saving animals or teaching children with special needs. I’m simply being practical. I want a mate whose pay is something a tad closer to parity. So I’m thinking that I will likely decline his invitation to meet solely because of his income…

Is that so wrong? Or am I being judgmental?

can an online app help couples stay connected?

News of the recent launch of Tokii, an online community designed to help busy couples stay connected, has me fascinated. Can anything online help couples maintain healthy relationships in the real world? Isn’t the fact that we spend too much time interacting with technology and not even relating to one another as humans part of the problem?

Of course I contemplate my own failed relationship and whether anything could have saved us. We tried counseling, I went on a self-improvement binge and, in the end, when we had ultimately stopped rehashing our problems, we stopped communicating about anything. Sure, there were moments of brightness, during which we might share a laugh, but we couldn’t sustain it.

And that’s why I look at this concept and think it’s positively genius! Two people already in a relationship connect on Tokii (it’s not an online dating site) and use simple tools to help them communicate:

  • LoveZones is where you can complete a quiz that helps you and your partner understand how you like to receive love. While I haven’t joined and tried it (because I’m not part of a couple), this sounds a lot like Gary Chapman’s approach in his brilliant book The Five Love Languages, and I cannot say enough about how enlightening this could be for couples! Merely understanding how you and your partner innately prefer to give and receive love could solve many communication challenges for those not feeling loved in their relationship.
  • MoodMeter simply allows users to update their moods, letting their partner know how their day is going (and perhaps what challenges one may encounter when one gets home).
  • Finally, the TradingPost allows couples to make a playful game of negotiating for what they want, whether those wants involve chores, activities (think getting him to take ballroom dancing lessons with you) or sexual fantasies.

I believe there could be tremendous value in Tokii for one simple reason:  Sometimes it’s easier to be honest with an intermediary, even if the intermediary is technology.

Having been in a number of long-distance relationships, I can attest that it can sometimes be easier to be completely honest over the phone or via email than face-to-face. And how many stories have we all heard of people who drag a spouse to a counselor’s office only to notify them (in a safe environment, with an intermediary) that their relationship is over? I can readily see how, during those times when it seemed impossible to communicate with my husband, we might have maintained some small thread of connection if we’d already been playfully sharing our moods and expressing our desires via an online “trading post.”

I don’t know that this tool or anything else can save a relationship that’s abusive or otherwise truly doomed, but I genuinely envision Tokii as a giant leap forward in our collective relationship consciousness. There are computer programs, websites, and online and mobile applications for nearly everything these days — it’s about time our primary relationships, which most of us would say are a top priority, have an app of their own!