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

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

Brenda Breaks It Down – Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Doesn’t Apply To Herpes or HPV

Dear Brenda,

I started dating this guy in August of 2009. He was living with his daughter’s mother at the time but told me that they were not together. He spent his birthday with me in August and my birthday was in September so we spent my birthday together too. He gave me a $1000 and told me to by myself something nice and the week after he gave me $500.

We had sex in October and he didn’t want to use a condom. I asked him to, but he insisted that he didn’t like them. I have herpes and couldn’t tell him and I didn’t have an outbreak. After we had sex I talked to him the next day and the day after but then he stopped answering my calls. I automatically assumed I’d given him herpes and that he didn’t want to see or talk to me anymore because he wouldn’t answer or return my calls.

I got an abnormal pap smear in November that was caused by HPV, but they told me to wait six months to see if it will come back normal. I was so hurt that I was worried about giving him herpes and now I’m thinking he gave me HPV.

At the time we had sex, I noticed a bump on his private part and he said it was nothing and I told him that I think it’s HPV and that’s why my pap smear is abnormal and he argued that it was nothing.

So now he comes over and has sex with me and then he doesn’t call or answer his phone for days. When I ask him why he does this to me he says he is busy working.

And now my friends trying to hook me up with other guys because they think I’m being stupid for him.

I am feeling so depressed. What should I do? Please tell me what you think is going on.

Dear Too Hot for Herpes,

I’m just going to give it to as I see it. This might be hard to hear darlin’ with that bruised heart you’re carrying around, but the truth is, he doesn’t love or care about you. And while your friends mean well by trying to “hook” you up with other guys because they think you’re being “stupid” for him, the real deal is that you don’t need to be with anyone right now. Stevie Wonder and the Five Blind Boys of Alabama can see that, and so can I.

What I also see here is that you can’t handle the truth, and I’m talking about the truth about your health. The truth is that you have herpes and HPV darlin’ and that puts you at a greater risk for more serious infections, such as HIV, which in turn means that you must take better care of yourself and you must insist that whomever you have sex with wears a condom. Because all of that feel good that comes with sex is not worth dying over.

Now I’m not going to pretend that I’ve never had unprotected sex, I have. I’ve sat in clinics waiting for test results with my nerves about to jump out of my skin. I have friends with herpes who don’t tell because they’re embarrassed. The truth is that over 60 million Americans have herpes 1 out of every 6 women and 1 out of every 8 men. There’s still a lot of embarrassment about it, though there needn’t be. It’s not a death sentence; it’s a ‘be more careful’ sentence.

I also know that men will throw money at a woman, or things like purses or jewelry in order to get them in bed. They will tell you they love you, they’ll tell you whatever you want to hear. Don’t fall for the okey doke. You don’t have to accept gifts (Uh oh, I hear a pack of women howling that I’m wrong about this one) especially when the gifts are over the top. A $1000 (if that’s true) after just meeting someone is a bit over the top. Honestly. Men who do that have usually have nothing else to offer and they just want to get in your pants. Don’t fall for the okey doke.

What I think is going on is that you want a relationship with someone. Not just sex. You keep working it backwards by jumping into the most intimate part first without getting to know them or letting them get to know you. Relate to them out of the bedroom. Give them time to show you who they are, and pay attention. Put on the big girl panties and have an honest talk with them about herpes and HPV. Know your worth, you’re worth more $1500, your life is worth more than that.

– Brenda

Do age gaps in relationships work?

As a girl after my dad’s heart – trust me, there are a few unresolved approval issues there – you can kind of understand where my attraction for older men comes from. I tend to equate age with wisdom (frequently a big mistake)… or maybe it’s simply about the sexiness of salt and pepper.

My grandfather had twenty years on my gran and when he died, she was lost. But at how many years does it no longer become such a desirable partnership? When you’re in your horny forties and he’s going for colonoscopies?

There are arguments for and against, I guess. I don’t care what anyone says, women do mature, emotionally at least, faster than men do. A woman in her late twenties/early thirties on the hunt for a man to start making babies with in is a very difference headspace to a bloke who has the benefit of time on his side.

Then there are the cradle snatchers. Demi Moore and her pride of cougars whose husbands use words like “phat” and “wicked”. But what’s the alternative: Catherine Zeta-Jones? Both the kids and the old man in diapers at the same time?

Stereotypes aside, though, it’s good to have a husband who is ready to settle down and have a family – one who you haven’t had to drag kicking and screaming down the aisle. By the same token, it’s really nice to have a partner who grew up on the same music as you – who has lived though the same time in history as you.

I suppose, like all things in the inexplicable world of love, it comes own to fit. Either it works for you or it doesn’t. That’s what’s important. So what if he, like little Johnny, can be kept happy for hours with Playstation and popcorn? So what if you find his false teeth at the bottom of your glass of drinking water?

– Single-again Samantha

Brenda on being pregnant and alone

Dear Brenda,

My boyfriend just told me he doesn’t want to be in a relationship. I’m 7 months pregnant and been nothing but faithful. He doesn’t even come home some nights. What do I do?

Dear 7 Months and Counting,

Men scare easily. Especially when it has to do with commitment or anything that includes feelings. They often define themselves by their freedoms and a baby and a baby’s mother often disrupts their image of the ‘studly’ rock star they believe themselves to be. Don’t count him out just yet; just know that when it comes to reliability and support he’s a can short of six pack. I know his indifference hurts. He’s being an *sshole right now, and that doesn’t negate the fact that once you loved and something innocent and beautiful has formed from that.

So here you are darlin’ with this baby growing inside you, a tangible expression of hope and promise, your swelling belly a declaration that life goes on and on and on. And so must you. You must continue to care for yourself, to continue your prenatal care, keep your doctor appointments. You must read and educate yourself on what to expect during the remaining months of your pregnancy and what to expect during the birthing process. It is up to you to offer your soon-to-be-born child the best health possible starting out. In short, it’s not about him right now. It’s about the baby.

I realize that this is a time of uncertainty and wonder, of intimacy with this life inside you and anxiety about the future. There are options and decisions have to be made. You can choose to be a single mom or you can choose adoptive parents for your child. Either decision needs a conversation and a support system.

Being a single mother is wonderfully challenging, thrilling, hard, thankless, and is somewhat easier with a rock solid support system. And while single moms get a lot of sh*t for being just that, we (present company included) are a phenomenal bunch of get-it-done attitude, resilience, dedicated people who know our families are different and the same. We keep more balls in the air than an over-caffeinated circus clown. We ‘do the damn thang’ day after day after day.

The other option is a brave one, a selfless act that takes courage and support. I’m talking about adoption and have several friends who have adopted children both domestically and internationally. Some have sought open adoptions and are in constant contact with the birth mom, while in other situations the birth mother initiates all contact. And still, there are situations in which there is no contact with the birth mom whatsoever. Adoption has changed and there are so many ways to facilitate something that can work for you. What I do know is that these children are so wanted and loved and it is a delight to be a part of their lives, to see the tenderness, and the celebration of family that these parents might not have ever experienced. A woman who chooses adoptive parents for her child will never know the depth of happiness, or the resounding joy she has given a family. Incredible.

Whatever you decide to do darlin’ know that you will move through this, and no matter the decision you will alternately think you made the right one and the wrong one. Trust yourself. You will make the right. I trust you. Be well.

Brenda

Brenda on Jackholes and Boundaries – Lying men and broken promises.

Dear Brenda,

I’m writing to you because I want to get another opinion on the situation going on with my daughter.

She met a guy and was dating him for 3 months, he told her that he would give her a truck and that he sold his house and the money he got from the sale of his house was going to be put down on another house. He has taken money out of her purse, and because he said he was buying a house for them to live in she didn’t pay the rent on her apartment. She also sold her van, believing that he was going to give her his vehicle. He disappears for a day or two with no communication with her.

Now she has no vehicle, cause she sold it and has an eviction notice on her apartment, she has two young children that are now without a vehicle or a home, he also didn’t pay the cell phone bill like he said he did and it got shut off, so my daughter was left without any communication, transportation and is now homeless.

She said she was done with him, but now I find out that she is talking to him and letting him come over her house, I tried to tell her that she can’t believe anything he says and she should just cut her losses and not have anything to do with him. I told her I would not be helping her with rides unless she totally ends it with him. now she is angry with me, she just never seems to learn by her mistakes. I just wanted to know what you thought of the situation.

Thanks for listening.

Dear Mama Lion,

What amazes me about women is that some of us still believe in the knight in shining armor, who will give us a “trusty steed,” pay our phone bills and provide shelter for us and our children. We love so fiercely, and can become so blinded by happily ever after that we ignore the red flags, we don’t question, we forgive too quickly when boundaries are ignored or crossed.

For the record, this man is a jackhole, who is undeserving of the love and devotion that your daughter has shown him. Yes, she should cut her losses, lose his phone number, move and leave no forwarding address.

Still, I wonder if your daughter loves herself to see that she deserves more than someone who takes money from her purse, or promises to take care of a bill and then doesn’t keep that promise, and lies. Doesn’t she believe that she deserves more?

While Mamas will have the sex talk with their daughters, equally important is the discussion about boundaries. Boundaries will help our daughters make better decisions about acceptable behavior in regards to their body, how they are treated and their space. I hope you will talk with your daughter about boundaries, and how important it is to set them in the beginning of a friendship or relationship.

Your daughter needs to know her worth, and that she deserves better than a lying jackhole, she deserves someone who respects her as a woman and a mother and she must learn to demand no less than that.

Best of luck,

Brenda

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