The Fool-Proof Guide to Failing with Flair

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Tag Archives: Relationships

an open letter to nice guys

This is the first time I have re-blogged another person’s writing. This post made me laugh. All the posts I have read here so far made me laugh. You should laugh too, unless you are struggling with being a nice guy. If that is you, then you should take this a little more seriously. It’s some damn good advice. Wish I had thought of it. If you are at the opposite end of the spectrum-a total jerk-you should take this, and yourself, far less seriously. Read, laugh, learn, enjoy!

 

an open letter to nice guys.

Must Have Teeth

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As human beings we are programmed, at the most basic level, to want to be part of a pair at some point in our lives. We are built to be social not solitary. Politics, science and religion can agree on this one fact, even if they are at odds over the why and how. Sociology, culture, nurture, nature and all else aside, most of us want to feel connected to other people. We want to love and be loved, both emotionally and physically. We want to find someone who satisfies the “other” in us, with whom we can share our life and experiences. After all, what’s the point of being here if we are forever alone?

I may be a bit jaded and gun-shy about intimate relationships just now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about them, or don’t want friends, or never want to have sex again.  I’ve already said that I don’t currently hold any relationship ideology for myself. I’ve got work to do on my own “house” before I even consider whether I want a new roommate. I know I’m a little broken and need some time on my own. Sometimes I need to entertain myself though.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

I don’t belong, and never have belonged, to any dating websites. I don’t want to try to establish romantic relationships via chat or text or email. I’m old enough to still think of stuff like that as the last resort of the needy, desperate, or socially repugnant. I know that isn’t the case so much these days but I have determined that my judgment skills for picking out appropriate partners are remedial enough face-to-face. How can I trust them to be accurate without being able to read body language, or seeing how another person functions in real social situations? I have friends that have profiles on dating sites and they are not ugly or sociopaths or otherwise socially impaired. They just don’t have lives that lend themselves to meeting a variety of available romantic partners. I get it. Maybe it will work for them. Maybe it already has. I just can’t bring myself to join in.

I do have a guilty pleasure though. I like to read personal ads. I have never answered any, or been even remotely tempted, until today, to do so, but I find them highly entertaining. Years ago, when I was bored or in need of a laugh, I would go through the personal ads in the local papers and magazines. Now I just go to Craigslist. It’s hilarious. There are the occasional well-written and seemingly sincere ads, and I feel sorry for those people, because I know most of the responses their ads generate will be from hookers, marketers and spam sites. I read the “men seeking women” section (now m4w) because I’m a heterosexual woman but I’m sure there are amusing ads in the other categories as well.

Today I was perusing the jobs section on Craigslist. The job listings on CL are mostly a crap-shoot but I check them out on occasion anyway. After frustrating myself there for a couple of hours I decided to take a break and click over to the personals. There were lots of poorly written ads. (I have to confess here that another reason I don’t want to start a relationship via email is because I am critical of people’s writing skills. If you can’t spell, form a complete sentence, or use punctuation properly, you have a BIG strike against you before I even meet you. In fact, I probably don’t want to meet you if that’s the case. Judgmental? Yup. Hypocritical? Quite likely.) There were a couple of sweet, well written ads but mostly there were ads from guys who said they were looking for women who have certain qualities: athletic, skinny, fat, sexy, big boobs, funny, “thrifty, brave and kind”, alive, etc. There was one requested quality that showed up on almost every one of those lists though: “Must have teeth.”

Huh? Who the heck have these guys been dating? I most definitely never want to meet any of those guys. Apparently their current dating pools are filled with dentally challenged women. That may offer some prurient advantage for the less-discerning male, but I guess these guys like to share a steak and a smile with their dates every now and again. They just haven’t had a lot of luck with it. On the plus side, if that’s their major romantic concern, as long as you’ve got a nice smile, they probably won’t care much if you just got out of prison, have 6 kids, or can’t spell your own name.

There was one ad today that set my mouth-full-of-teeth on edge. The ads that are just asking for sex, or written with desperation and clichés, or from married men looking for a little something extra on the side don’t bother me. They are honest, if not enticing. Most of the guys who have lists of preferred qualities also include self-descriptions, likes, and dislikes. Some even come with pictures. However, the ad that made me grind my teeth (and put me at risk of not meeting the standard for dental whole-ness) was just a list of “must haves” for a woman looking to receive romantic consideration. Yes, “teeth” was on the list. So was an IQ above 115 and showering at least once a day. The list was numbered and extensive. It was arrogant and offensive. It was so offensive that I had to stop myself from getting a new, anonymous email address so I could respond and tell this guy how arrogant he is. I stopped myself because it would have been a waste of my time and energy, but also because I realized this poor idiot must have had some pretty awful romantic experiences and didn’t need judgment and vitriol from some woman who had no intention of getting to know him. At least the ad wasn’t a grammatical nightmare. I guess he’s got that going for him.

I think I’m done with my personal ad fetish. I don’t want to be alone forever, but I won’t help myself get over my issues, or find a future partner by reading ads from men who need to specifically request that their dates have teeth. And I certainly don’t need to get myself all riled up over the jerks that lurk around those places.

So long Craigslist Personals. It’s been fun but I think we have different goals. I hope we can still be friends.

 

Wedding Belle Blues

Wedding baby - OPEN BAR? DOES THAT MEAN YOU'RE GOING TOPLESS? drunk baby

Picture from Quick Meme. Caption by Effie.

 

Weddings make me anxious. No, it’s not because my own marriage didn’t work or because I have some feminist objection to the legal and religious origins of marriage that smack of ownership and patriarchy, though both of those things are true. There is still logic in marriage. If you are religious, weddings are public celebrations of union and family, sanctioned by God. If you are not religious, they are public celebrations of union and family sanctioned by the IRS and various other state and federal institutions. Either way, they are public celebrations of love and commitment and generally, happy occasions. Who doesn’t like to celebrate love and family, have a few drinks, and do the chicken dance? Don’t point an accusing finger at me. I am not a bitter, jaded curmudgeon. I really like all that stuff, and I like knowing that people are still hopeful and crazy enough to want to take on the world together. Still, weddings make me anxious because of my feet. Even on my best behavior, one of them invariably ends up in my mouth or gets broken. OK, OK, I am rarely on my best behavior after a few drinks and the Macarena but I can get through most other events that involve drinking and dancing without saying something stupid or injuring myself. (That may be a lie, but I’m going to run with it anyway.)

This foot-problem thing started years ago, when I was still young and never-been-married. I attended the wedding of a childhood friend, the first of us to tie the knot. There were several of us single, dateless girls, seated together at the reception, right in front of the band. I think I remember the lead singer making fun of us. I must have already been an anxious wedding-goer because I had several margaritas before we even sat down for dinner. The reception was held at a local country club and I have a hazy recollection, from later in the evening, of trying to convince some poor employee to let me take a golf cart on a joy ride. What is not vague in my memory is a particular remark I made in front of my friend’s conservative parents.

After dinner, the bride and groom made their greeting circuit around the room. By the time they reached the “singles” table, most of us had consumed a few too many and were joking, rather crudely, about “what marriage means”. My back was to the room while we poked fun at the couple in their new joint venture. They both found it amusing, and when my turn came to contribute to the ribbing, I remarked that marriage meant having sober sex for the first time. No one laughed. All eyes were focused above my head, on my friend’s parents, who had just arrived at our table and were standing directly behind me. Oh gawd! At least my foot tasted like tequila.

There have been any number of incidents like that over the years, at the weddings I have attended since then. Before we were married, my husband and I went to the wedding of one of his cousins. I didn’t know his extended family very well yet, or that the people at our table were all his cousins and their spouses or significant others. At one point I leaned over and made a comment to my future husband about the hair dye-jobs of an older couple at the next table. He quietly informed me that the couple was his aunt and uncle and that the man on my other side was their son. The sober sex comment from that first wedding may have been excusable. How could I have known that my friend’s parents would sneak up behind me just as I uttered a totally inappropriate and slutty comment? But honestly, how stupid or drunk was I, to be commenting about other guests at a family wedding of a relatively new beau? In front of people I didn’t know? Don’t answer that.

I went to a wedding a couple of weekends ago, once again, as a single, dateless woman. The wedding I attended before that had been the previous summer. I had a date for that wedding. Sort of. We sat next to each other at the reception and I went home with him at the end of the night the way I typically did when we were out drinking together. I even picked out the suit he wore. My “date” wasn’t much of a dance partner though, and spent a portion of the evening picking up other women. Literally. He carried one woman from the smoking area back to the dining area. True to wedding-form, I got drunk. Not having an enthusiastic (or available) dance partner didn’t stop me from joining the party though. I went right ahead and made a fool of myself by falling down and breaking my foot. I had kicked off my five-inch heels to avoid just such a disaster, but it was a wedding. Of course I was going to do something stupid.

This last wedding I attended, two weeks ago, was a little different. I don’t think I said anything inappropriate and I didn’t break any bones, but I completely lost track of time and forgot to send my RSVP by the requested date. The bride was gracious enough to text and give me a second chance. She also asked if I would be bringing a date. No, no, I would not. I showed up to the church alone and the usher gave me my very own pew to sit in. No one else had a whole pew to themselves. It was awkward. Because the bride was also a friend of my almost-ex-husband, he was there as well. He did have a date (his girlfriend of the last 4 years or so) and had to share his pew with her and a couple other people. Thankfully I was not seated at the “singles” table at the reception. I got to sit with my husband and his girlfriend. This was way less awkward than it sounds. I am friends with both of them and was quite relieved not to be sitting with complete strangers or with a group of unattached people ripe for ridicule by the DJ. I’m not sure everyone else at our table was as comfortable with our little triangle situation, but they were congenial and dinner was delicious.

I may have made some gaffes (that I am blissfully unaware of) that day, but I didn’t drink too much and I left before the dancing started. Maybe the foot-curse is over. Or maybe I’m just finally learning from my mistakes. I don’t think I’ll ever be a relaxed wedding guest but, if invited, I will always attend. Every married couple needs a wedding guest horror story. I’m nothing if not willing to oblige.

 

 

Seafood, or Relationships Part II

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There’s this guy who runs past the patio of the local bar where I hang out. I noticed him last Spring because he’s rather beautiful and he would run past at almost exactly the same time every evening. He’s young and fit. I’m old and, well, not so fit. Pretty much everyone at the bar knows I like to watch this guy run past. He was gone for the summer. I live in a college town and he probably went home to flutter a few hearts there. About a week ago a friend of mine (I’ll call her The Meanest–I have a tee shirt that says she is) told me she had seen him again. College is back in session.

I don’t want to date this guy, or talk to him, or even meet him. Leering is quite enough for me, thank you. Even if he wasn’t at least 20 years younger than I am, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have the slightest idea how not to be an idiot if I was face-to-face with him. I said as much to The Meanest as we were laughing about my totally inappropriate “crush”. Her response was that I wouldn’t know what to do with any guy who doesn’t wear a baseball hat, drink vodka, and have a beer belly. Touché. Of course, she’s wrong. I don’t have any idea what to do with them either.

I have to confess here that, at present, I hold no ideology regarding romantic or sexual relationships. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Those words also describe exactly how many romantic/sexual relationships I have at the moment. It’s not a coincidence.

Pretty much every man I’ve been involved with in my adult life has fallen into one or more of the following categories: cook, clown, musician, liar, commitment-phobe, extra needy, alcoholic, narcissist, and/ or tall. I think one even had reactive attachment disorder. Oh wait. That might be me. The list is not exhaustive and, of course, most of the guys had other qualities, occupations, shortcomings or flaws. I’m not exactly a walk in the park either and I’m sure they all have equally unflattering ways to describe me. We should all keep in mind that I chose each and every one of them. None of them are terrible human beings. After a certain age, life makes us all crazy. There’s nothing you can do about it.

My husband fit into several of those categories at one point or another during our relationship: cook, clown, tall, and a few of the less-savory categories as well. I don’t really have any desire to get into the not-so-nice, gory details of the death of our marriage. It wasn’t funny or fun and is at least part of the reason I’ve been extra nuts for the last 5 years. We are friends now and even though I could lodge legitimate complaints about his issues, my behavior, crazy reactions, and failures are my own fault. Also, when I say he was a clown, I mean that literally and not as some figurative slur. He was, and still occasionally is, a professional clown.

When my marriage finally broke all the way down I went diving, head first, back into the romantic tidal pool and grabbed the first emotional toddler I encountered. My own emotional state was sufficiently regressed such that I hardly noticed at first that I was drowning in 4 inches of romantic sludge, and that this man was holding my head under. It wasn’t malicious. He was only trying to find a way to keep from drowning himself. But even after I knew that to be the case, I just took my feet off the bottom and held myself down for him. Temporarily, newly or permanently broken women seem to be a specialty of his and monogamy is not one of his strong suits. As far as I can tell, it’s not even hanging in his closet any longer. I’m pretty sure I’m not the craziest notch on his belt but I have been insane enough to keep dipping back into his pool, on and off, for most of the last 5 years, and neither one of us has learned how to swim there yet. In all fairness, he told me, up front, that he was relationship-impaired. At first I thought that might change (doh!). Later on it was just something we had in common.

There have been a couple other guys in the mix over the last few years. I tried something completely different a little over a year ago, and dated a short, military guy. I was straightforward about not wanting to be “serious”. This was only going to be a short tour, but he signed on anyway. He was generous, heavy-handed with compliments, and well-intentioned but two weeks after we started dating, I woke up in the middle of the night to find him drunkenly crying about how much he loved me. It was awkward and unsettling and over.

I am now back on romantic dry land and I suspect it is the best place for me for a while. I have been considering moving to the desert permanently since I can’t seem to tell the difference between a clown-fish, jelly-fish and a shellfish (to which I am allergic) but then I would miss getting to see the occasional dolphin. Runner guy may well be a baby shark in porpoise clothing but I’m never going to swim close enough to find out, so I’m enjoying the illusion. From a safe distance.

Relationships, Part I

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Ah relationships. I figure if I’m going to do this thing I might as well start with a biggie. Relationships come in all sorts of fail-able categories: romantic, intimate-lite (my version of friends with benefits), marriage, sibling, parent-child, friendship, professional, and other miscellaneous, casual relationships. I have, at one time or another, failed at all of them. Go me.

The first type of relationship I want to tackle is one you may have with your therapist. What? Weird, right? Hear me out though.

In my opinion a relationship with a therapist is the trickiest relationship that has ever been invented. In a way it’s just a tiny bit like taking a lover. Hopefully it’s not one-in-the-same. I’ve had several therapist relationships over my lifetime and, if it’s not already obvious, I have failed at each and every one of them. I say it’s just a tiny bit like taking a lover because the chemistry has to be just right for it to be a productive, successful and satisfactory relationship. With a therapist though, the end-game is to get you un-fucked-up. With a lover, the end-game is simply to get you fucked. Often a therapist is needed because your lover was too good at his or her job. With a lover, if they don’t understand the best way to do their job, you can always give them pointers. Or not. Then you can use their ineptitude as a weapon in a fight or as an excuse to leave them. You can also leave a bad therapist but it’s more difficult to tell right off just how bad they may be at their job. And if you already knew how to get un-fucked-up on your own you wouldn’t need them in the first place, so giving pointers is probably out of the question.

I think my failure with therapy has had mostly to do with not having found a therapist with whom I share the right chemistry. I’ve really given it my all each and every time, except maybe with the family therapist my mother dragged us all to see when I was about ten. She decided, after one visit, that our family issues were mostly a result of my avoidance techniques when my sister and mother would fight. Huh? After that I wouldn’t talk in family therapy at all.

I have seen mostly female therapists because the one male therapist I chose to try out wanted me to see things from my husband’s perspective. I think he may have had relationship issues of his own. No, no, that’s not it at all. He was OK but I found that I was too guarded around him and that wasn’t going to do me any good. For whatever mysterious lady-reason, I find it easier to open up to a woman. Not that I have had any measurable luck or success with female therapists either but at least I don’t censor myself with them, and I am far less likely to cross that therapist-lover line.

The last therapist I had was a about as helpful as a hole in my head. I was separated from my husband and involved in an intimate-lite relationship that was causing me angst. I had also just lost my license to practice law and my house was in foreclosure. One of my kids was starting his own battle with substance abuse and I was certainly not living a life that would lend itself to the title “good example to follow”. Faced with all that information and more, the best advice she could give me was to use condoms with my lover. I got several lectures on sexually transmitted diseases. I stopped going to see her after the fifth session and I am fairly certain that she contributed significantly to my therapeutic PTSD.

I haven’t made any serious attempts to replace the STD lady but the moral of this story is not that you shouldn’t go to therapy if you’re as screwed up as I am. There is no moral. Maybe I have none (morals, that is). The thing is, I know what I need to do, I just don’t do it. I’m not sure any therapist can help me with that unless they know of some good motivational pharmaceuticals. No doubt I will one day venture out to try again, but not today. A failed therapist relationship requires some recovery time. No rebound for me, thank you.

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