Exclusively yours: Keeping your lover satisfied and wanting more

So he makes you feel special (tick), you’re having a good time (tick) and you’ve stuck to the 90-day rule – as in no sex for the first 90 days (yeah right!). Next step, says the Dating Bible, is to have “The Talk”. This is the moment where you establish mutual exclusivity, where you seal the so-called deal, and apparently this needs to be done vocally (and soberly) and, short of actually signing a piece of paper, must result in absolute clarity of consensus.

Silly old me for thinking presuppositions hold sway; for simply assuming that, if you’re spending as much time together as you can, exchanging secrets, sharing intimacies and exposing vulnerabilities – in short, if you’re surrendering yourself to the magical, unnerving process of falling in love – you’re establishing exclusivity. That despite the fact that you watch as someone literally blossoms before your eyes and that you yourself are positively aglow with the blush of love, it’s still naïve to take for granted that neither of you will fool around.

Do you really need a conversation to drive home the point? Yes, says The Book. Without having The Talk you’re as good as cast adrift in an ocean of potential infidelity. No matter how unchartered your course, the spoken word provides an anchor (or a gangway, depending on how you look at it).

Now I’m not denying that there is comfort in establishing that you’re both on the same page and I’m all for unsmudged boundaries and tidy little boxes, but somehow the idea of a cast-in-stone relationship antenuptual seems almost juvenile. For one thing, it says nothing for the implicit agreement that, when two people commit to the process of discovering one another, they naturally consent to trying their damndest not to hurt each other. As if, until the words “going steady” are actually uttered, we’re still free to inflict grievous bodily harm without blame or liability for the consequences. Secondly, in a world where marriage vows are broken every day, what weight does a verbal contract really carry? And if one partner refuses to sign? What then? Continue as before? Do not pass Go? Do not collect $200?

Sure, it’s nice to hear “Baby, be my one and only” but words ring hollow if the unspoken agreement is not already there. And once it is – once you’re both speaking the same language – is articulation even necessary?

– Single-again Samantha

Trivial pursuit – Dating after divorce

“Don’t look for love. Let it come looking for you.” If I had a dime for every time some one’s told me that.

But, as hard as it is to accept sometimes, there is a good deal of truth in it. What I’m not saying is that sitting on the sidelines is going to do wonders for your dating scorecard. But that striding out, war paint on and weapons engaged, may not be the best way to bag a man.

Still, it’s difficult not to check off imaginary boxes when evaluating a candidate for Mr Right status: “What is his mother like?” “How would we look going out together?” “How many relationships has he been in?” “What kind of father would he be?” “How might he look in fifty years time?”

We get bogged down by the incidentals, when the questions we should be asking are the important ones about how we feel: “Do I feel special?” “Do I feel loved and respected?” “Do I feel that the relationship is bringing out the best in me?”

And what about all the men who don’t check all those trivial boxes? Are they instantly struck from the bar? This is was happened with Tim – I reconnected with the guy after some years and instantly found myself having a good time in his company. But he didn’t check my boxes. He was a balding, overweight salesman whose mother had walked out on him as a kid. His relationship history was checkered and he was no natural around the kid. But he was kind and considerate, funny and flattering. We drank red wine, we talked about old times and we laughed. Still, he didn’t tick my boxes so I cut him loose, albeit as gently as possible.

Sometimes I think we look so hard for what we picture Mr Right to be like that we fail to see Mr Endless Possibilities right before our eyes… And then sometimes we stumble right over him – I guess that’s why they call it falling in love.

– Single-again Samantha

Online dating – how to spot a player

Trawling the online personals in search of Mr Right is a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack.

Cyberspace is a massive place and, with online dating a $1 billion per year industry, we’re talking a big numbers game here. So, in an effort to simplify things, I’ve devised a little personal checklist to help separate the keepers from the players…

For starters, a picture tells a thousand words: If I have to suck it up and post a photograph of myself up there, advertising my availability for all the world to see, then so, dammit does he. Refusal to do so means one of two things: A) He’s dating incognito for fear of ridicule from others – aside from raising an instant wussy red flag, this will make explaining later where the two of you met a sticky point. Or, B). He’s no oil painting – fair enough, but you’re going to discover this in the fullness of time anyway, so why beat around the bush? Reality is, if he’s not prepared to put a face to the name, he damn well better have the gift of the gab…

Which brings us to the personal profile. While spelling and grammatical mistakes make me flinch, there are certain words that instantly press my “skip” button: “Independent” is one of them and can be loosely defined as either “looking for a no-strings fling” or “too busy to invest any time”, both of which don’t bode well for a long-term commitment. “Casual” is another no-no and should immediately be suffixed by the word “sex”, because that’s exactly what the guy’s after.

Profiles that start with “I don’t know what to right here…” are lame and indicate a complete lack of effort. When, however, as is often the case, these words are then followed with a long diatribe of personal achievements and philosophical musings, again, consider yourself warned. This is the kind of guy who wears a flimsy mask over his acute self-absorption and can mean only one thing – interminably long, yawn-worthy hours of indulging his verbal masturbation.

I don’t bother either with a profile that includes a laundry list of likes and dislikes. This is someone who still believes in the notion of perfection and will have a closed mind to anyone who does not exactly meet his catalogue of precise criteria.

Finally, if he mentions his past relationship in his online dating profile, move on without further ado – as he clearly hasn’t.

– Single-again Samantha

Dating after divorce: The 3-date rule

Word in the locker room, ladies, is that many men have a rule that if they don’t get lucky by the third date, there isn’t a fourth…

Can one really be so prescriptive about dating, I wonder. And who on earth came up with the number three?

Somehow, though, the idea of having a set number of dates in which to wait before deciding it’s appropriate to hop into bed doesn’t seem such a bad thing. I don’t care what anyone says, there is a difference to the way men and women perceive sex and for a lot of women (I’d argue most), the sexual leap is a hugely emotional one too. So why not give yourself a predetermined number of dates in which to figure out whether this is someone you actually want to be sharing bodily juices with.

However, when it comes to making your intentions (or lack thereof) clear, it’s not so cut and dried. Timing, it would seem, is everything. It’s too late to say “sorry, buddy, but you’re not getting any tonight” when your bra and panties are hanging over the headboard.

I guess this begs the question: Whatever happened to, if it’s right it’s right? As a woman, I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I know if I’m going to sleep with a guy within five minutes of meeting him. And if I can’t at least picture myself in the sack with him, he doesn’t get a second date, I’m afraid. Life’s too short for games.

Of course, that’s not to say I will sleep with him. I have heard of the thrill of the chase. Thanks to my relationship guru sister, I’m well versed in the “treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen” school of thinking. She calls it delayed gratification – or eating the cake and leaving the frosting for last.

So, no, not a set cap on numbers of dates before sex, but yes to taking it slow. If for no other reason than to protect your heart.

– Single-again Samantha

Matron of honor

My sister Nicci is ten years my junior and still very much single (though not through lack of trying, as my mother would say). In her late twenties, Nicci is adamant she’s fast running out of time… and, well, men, and this, coupled with the fact that her biological clock’s ringing off the wall, makes her pretty upset about the whole business of being single.

So you can imagine Nicci’s reluctance to attend yet another family wedding, this time for our “baby” cousin. As Nicci enters the room, grannies and grandpas, aunties and uncles descend on her, pity and hankies to hand. “Poor Nicci, don’t worry lovey,” they say, “Next time it’ll be your turn.”

It gets so bad that there’s an unspoken agreement that no one jump to ensure Nicci catches the bouquet, which the bride will have been briefed to throw with remarkable accuracy in her direction.

Thank god this is one of the indignities of being single that the single-again woman can escape. The unspoken agreement is that you’ve had your chance and, well, you blew it. Step aside sista, your ride’s up.

And I’ll happily take my place on the shelf if it means avoiding those probing questions, sympathetic looks and clucking false teeth. I had enough of those when I broke the news of the divorce.

As for poor my attractive, confident younger sister… like carrion left to hyenas, she’ll shatter into a million pieces, weep uncontrollably throughout the speeches and catch a cab home as soon as she can legitimately get out of there. Although, it has to be said, not without a backward glance at the best man…

PS: By way of aside, does a divorced woman get to go back from matron of honor to maid of honor? Kind of like going back to being a virgin?

– Single-again Samanth

Single-again Samantha: Finding a Husband

The little one has been nagging me for a baby sister again. Tonight I told her the truth… that mommy needs to find a husband first. “Well find a husband, mommy,” she says. “I’m trying darling, I’m trying.”

A lot of things seem to need explaining these days. Like who made the world, what will happen if we look at the sun and why is mommy waxing down there. Surely one of the most cringe-worthy things to explain, though, is where did Dave go and why don’t we see Nick any more? These are men who have drifted into our lives and drifted out again. Some leaving a lesson, some a bad taste. I could brush them off, put it down to experience, but what am I teaching my child here? I don’t need a shrink to tell me that she’s learning that men just don’t stick around.

So, when she turned five (I know, I know, but better late than never), I made a pact with myself that no one would be granted entry into the inner sanctum of “our” space until I was one hundred percent sure of him. No, we haven’t found him yet and yes, it does make dating that much harder – for one thing, it always involves giving the sum of a down payment on a small car to the sitter and getting little more than a bit of opportunistic tongue action at the front door. No you can’t come in for coffee and, big no, you definitely can’t stay for breakfast. Sure, it signalled the end of all “play” dates, but it also sounded the death knell on the “whatever happened to John” conversations. And sure, it’s extremely inconvenient at times, but I do it for the sake of teaching my daughter that men are not driftwood… yet always in the hope that one day, one lucky man will get to stay.

– Single-again Samantha

Is that a wallet in your pocket…?

While I don’t really ever see myself not working, I do, on occasion, entertain the fantasy of being a “kept woman”. I imagine not having to catapult into the day after an over zealous session with the snooze button. I picture myself lacing up my trainers at teatime and going for a leisurely run… why? Because I’ve got nothing better to do.

I hate to admit to being ever so slightly seduced by Richard’s good fortunes. I mean, for our second date the guy offered to treat me to a massage and facial at one of the city’s most expensive spas. Problem was I couldn’t get the (not-so-pretty) picture of him being massaged next to me out of my head.

But I did dare to dream of being plucked out of my high-impact life in order to speed along the highway of love, silk scarf trailing behind, in Richard’s Mercedes Benz SLS convertible. I could see myself eating sushi without a care in the world for the colour of the plates – literally standing at the conveyor belt and flat-handing the stuff into my mouth. Oh, for the good life.

Len had money too, but he was arrogant about it. Or perhaps it was the fact that he pre-empted the date by saying that he wasn’t looking for a relationship – I mean, where do you go from there? He spent the evening boasting about the number of en-suites he’s added to his house in the mountains, where he’s also built a landing strip for his light aircraft. I was quite pleased when he choked on a chilli from a mouthful of my Vindaloo and stayed in the men’s for a while. Talk about bad chemistry.

Conclusion? The problem with my little fantasy, it seems, is that millionaires don’t grow on trees and, when they do crop up, they come with a price tag.

– Single-again Samantha

You know you’ve been single too long when…

You consider Al Anon meetings as a potential place to meet men.
Your trip to the Science museum with the kid is really a scoping session for single dads.
You get a small thrill when the toilet seat is left up, even if it is only by the plumber.
You widen the area of possibility by adding 10 years onto your “seeking” age bracket on your online profile.
You’ve had an online profile so long they’ve made you an honorary member of the site.
You start to view farting as an endearing quality in a man.
You actually listen to your mother’s dating advice.
You stop wearing Victoria’s Secret when you hit the town as, chances are, ain’t no one getting into your pants.
You have a mock argument with yourself over the remote control.
It’s been so long since you visited the other side of the bed, you need GPS co-ordinates to get there.
You talk to grown-ups in baby-speak and your dog in grown-up speak.
You’ve had your babysitter so long you’re now forking out for her pension.
You’re male friends start to look attractive and you seriously consider them as dating material.
You stop putting on lipstick when you pop out to the convenience store.
You eat so much take-out McDonalds has named a burger after you – no points for guessing it’s a meal made for one.
If your self-esteem plummeted any lower it would be doing the limbo.
Next to your bed is a growing stack of books with titles like Men Who Love Women Who Can’t Commit on Thursdays, Find Your Inner Child and Take it Shopping and Feng Shui Your Fridge.
The only time you get flowers is when they’re delivered to your house by mistake.
You spend the money you saved for breast implants on a comfortable new sofa.
You have no problem changing a tire but you struggle to boil an egg.
You go all girly when the guy at the check-out smiles at you.
A bag of dried pasta will see you through the month but a box of cookies won’t make it through Grey’s Anatomy.

-Single-again Samantha

Next Page »