“Loving” Your Ex

Blog post Julie friends with your ex

I’m still on vacation, dear readers, and have another guest blog post by *Julie Weinberg.

My ex-husband is one of my best friends. He’s remarried with two little boys and with our two kids we consider ourselves a family of seven: three adults raising four kids. We regularly have dinner together, go to our beloved Ravens games together, celebrate Thanksgiving together, and even occasionally vacation together. We’re that close.

It wasn’t always that way I promise. I often say that I married my best friend, lost him somewhere in a 20-year marriage, divorced an ass, and then found my best friend all over again.

How we navigated this tricky transition of divorce-to-friendship is something I’ve been asked about many, many times, including by Nadia, so here’s my story.

At the time of our divorce, I truly hated my ex and would have gladly signed the papers and walked away forever. Divorce comes packaged in feelings of disillusion, disappointment, and anger. I often and loudly opened that package with my friends–or anyone else that would listen. So becoming friends with him again someday wasn’t a goal or even a slight desire.

But we had kids, so I knew I had years ahead of me to deal with him at soccer games, school events, weekend drop offs and pick ups.

Our first step was to come to an agreement about things that were best for the kids’ sake. We made a pact to never fight in front of them, never put them in the middle or make them choose sides, and to always be polite to one another when in their presence.

The always be polite agreement turned into the most important one for our evolving relationship. Whether you have kids or not, it can be the cornerstone of a new, happier affiliation for you and your ex, too.

At first, even fake politeness was a challenge. My trick was to treat him like a work colleague that I did not respect or like but was stuck working with on some project. When a topic arose that started making me angry, I would just look at him, smile and say “not now” and he knew the discussion would have to wait.

The funny thing is, though, the expression “fake it till you make it” is true. My faking politeness became real politeness fairly quickly and once I turned that corner our relationship started to evolve.

Besides hoping the “fake it till you make it” technique would work, I also realized that I needed to let go of all the hurt, anger, and disappointment. It was eating me up inside and bringing me down. As a tightly wound, Type A personality, “just letting go” was enormously difficult for me. He did X, Y, Z to me, didn’t do A, B, C and I dwelled repeatedly on the wrongness of it all.

Visualization techniques proved extremely helpful with letting the negative feelings go. I imagined each remembered hurt as a soccer ball and one by one I’d kick them away in my mind. Or every time I started to think of something that made me angry, I’d visualize placing it on a leaf and watching the leaf float peacefully down a river and away from my mind. Try it! I swear it worked, even if just for a few moments. Then the more I did it, the better I felt and the more capable I was of letting my relationship with my ex organically grow into something really special.

The passing of time, of course, helps too. As the post-divorce weeks turned into months, then turned into a year, we both got on with our lives and all of the new, exciting experiences allowed me to be open to new friendships. I was making all kinds of new friends, my ex and his wife just turned into two of those.

Now, 7 years later, having my ex as a close friend is a topic I usually raise on a first date. I actually use it as a sort of screener: if a man feels challenged by it or is negative toward it, I know he’s not for me so I easily move on. If a man can’t respect the melded family I’ve worked to develop, he probably won’t like other aspects of my life. Given that there are so many fish in the sea, it’s good to find that out on our first coffee date rather than weeks into a relationship. I wish him well and send him on his way.

This relationship has also caused me to be far less understanding of a date who wants to rag on his ex. I understand the need to vent; but I don’t want to hear about how awful a guy’s ex is in detail, especially not on a first date. I always ask myself if he’s relating inappropriate, damaging or highly private details of his previously most valued relationship, what might he say to his friends about me down the road. Again, I prefer to wish him well and send him on his way, too.

These are some of the techniques I’ve used to get past the hurt and anger to develop a warm, close, and happy new relationship with my ex. The calmness to my spirit and added joy he and his new family have brought to my life made the effort well worth it.

*To learn more about Julie, visit her website julieweinbergbooks.com or purchase her book, I Wish There Were Baby Factories.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

Dating Young, Really Young

blog post Julie dating younger

I’m on vacation dear readers and have a treat for you – a guest blog post by *Julie Weinberg.

I met him on a golf course and he was 21 years younger than me, only 14 years older than my oldest child. It raised a few eyebrows. We walked into it with eyes wide open, each knowing the other’s age. At first, I thought it was just a lark, a notch in my belt I could talk about for years to come; but it turned out we really liked each other. We enjoyed each other’s company, had so much fun together and laughed like crazy all the time.

This fling turned into a yearlong relationship, and my friends grilled me with questions. The most common was, “What do you talk about?” As it turns out, lots and lots. Eighty percent of what anyone talks about with a partner — regardless of age — is the day in, day out minutiae of life: What happened at work, a TV show you watched, a funny interaction you saw at Starbucks.

Yes, awkward moments occurred when (gasp!) he hadn’t even heard of The Breakfast Club and didn’t know a single Billy Joel song. I had never used Napster or played a game of Texas Hold’em (which I now love). And then there was the time he laughed until he cried when he saw I bought Age Defying toothpaste. A bit embarrassing, I will admit.

I concede the first time we stepped out together and held hands it felt awkward. I wondered if everyone was staring and judging the inappropriate age difference. However, we didn’t care what people thought. We felt comfortable with each other. I also suffer from a strong defiant streak that’s not tempered by other’s opinions.

Over the course of the year, there were only a couple of times that someone (a waitress or store clerk) hesitated, trying to peg the relationship, “Would you and your, uh, um, friend…blah blah blah.” No one ever called me his mother, which of course, would have been the pinnacle of embarrassment.

“But you can’t learn anything from him!” those who loved me admonished. Not true. I learned about hobbies he enjoyed (e.g. Texas Hold‘em) and places he’d been that are now on my bucket list. The Rap music he listened to was new to me, but maybe a guy my own age would be into Country or Jazz and I’d be newly exposed to that. There was plenty to learn.

Plus, he had a youthful attitude and outlook that was so contagious. Let’s face it, life is hard and makes one jaded, but it takes years and years for that to happen. Dating someone much younger reminded me how great things were when I was less cynical and more open to new things.

Ok, but since we’re being honest with one another here, I’ll fess up that some things he wanted to do bored me or required more energy or interest than I had — but doesn’t that happen with anyone? His problems and worries sometimes made me want to roll my eyes because I’d gotten through similar situations many times over the years and knew now that it wasn’t worth the angst.

And yes, how I looked now became a “thing.” I never before cared much about a new wrinkle or sagging skin; now I lamented how quickly I seemed to age compared to him. This worry just made me work out more and dress more carefully, which were both overall good consequences to my general well being.

The hardest part for me, as the older one, was that he wasn’t a real partner. He could and did come to me for advice on everything, yet when I started looking into retirement investing, his wide-eyed stare let me know that he knew nothing about this, didn’t wish to learn about it at this stage in his life, and “Please could I change the subject?”

Financially, he had great earning potential but that was down the road, while I was already comfortable. Kids were the biggest stickler, as I already had two almost in middle school. He loved them but wanted some of his own and that wasn’t going to happen with me.

So the “fling” ended. I celebrated one of those Big Momentous Birthdays and he had one coming up the following year. We agreed he needed to find someone more appropriate and start that family he wanted. It ended quite amicably and we are still in touch.

Overall, I would say dating a younger guy is really not much different from any romantic involvement. All relationships have good and bad parts, ups and downs. The bottom line is if you like the person, there’s mutual attraction, and you seem to enjoy each other’s company, why not?

*To learn more about Julie, visit her website julieweinbergbooks.com or purchase her book, I Wish There Were Baby Factories.  

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

The Rule of Three?

blog-three-guys

There’s a psychologist and relationship expert who advises women to embark on a Dating Program of Three. This program, as described by Diana Kirschner in her book Love in 90 Days, counters what she calls the “three-date” rule, an urban legend in which women should decide by the third date if a guy is a keeper and have sex or lose him forever.

Kirschner’s alternate approach encourages women to date three men simultaneously without having sex with any of them. “By not seeing any one man too often, you find the men who are really into you and who will stay the course,” she writes.

The program protects you against what Kirschner calls the dangers of “love addiction.” Since you will see each guy less often, you won’t zero in on any one – a possible emotional risk.

Although kissing and canoodling are okay, says Kirschner, she stresses that by not having sex you avoid “premature infatuation, dependency, and a kind of pseudo-intimacy that almost always backfires.” You’ll also get to compare the guys – and their positive and negative differences will be more apparent.  Another benefit, according to Kirschner: You’ll be naturally less available so men will get to enjoy “the chase.”

The kicker: women are advised to keep dating three men for a couple of months after they have found someone who seems to be the “one.”

Although this is an intriguing program and theory, when I read this chapter of her book, I almost laughed. Such a bounty of men seemed like an impossible dream not to mention a Herculean juggling feat and libido challenge.

It’s hard finding one guy I like enough to date — and it’s not because I’m too picky. I’m not knocking this program. I think the book has a lot of valuable advice – but, since I haven’t tried this triad approach, I’m not convinced I could do it.

However, at this very moment, despite my protests, I stand on the cusp of possibly dating three guys simultaneously. As you well know, that moment could change quickly and may even have changed during the course of writing today’s post.

Stay awhile longer and share some of this farro with roasted mushrooms.

I’m convinced that my dating universe has at least temporarily expanded thanks to the new and fresh professional profile photos that I loaded onto all my dating sites and apps. I used Online Profile Pros to find a photographer near me. The site subcontracts with local photographers. Prospective clients can view sample photos, prices, and locations of the photographers near them.

Back to the contenders for my program of three (in order of contact, not preference):

#1- A Bumble match who does not match my ideal location and height but is interesting, intelligent, and shares my interest in a healthy lifestyle. We’re both travelling in the next couple of weeks but agreed to meet halfway between our cities when we return.

#2 – A Tinder match I first connected with on Bumble several months ago. After chatting on the app for a short time and setting up a date, he cancelled on me with a lame excuse two days before our planned meeting. I wrote him off and had a lot of doubts about him. I considered our second match on Tinder a curiosity, worth exploring primarily to see if my earlier reservations were unfounded. Pre-date, I was not that enthusiastic. Mid- and post-date, I was pleasantly surprised and felt some chemistry happening. There’s a good chance of a second date.

#3 – A Match.com match I first noticed on a Match event page for a happy hour I was unable to attend. When he later popped up on my Match home page, I decided to send him a wink, a tactic that has worked for me in the past. He responded and we chatted frequently for a couple of days with a tentative plan to meet this weekend. I was pretty excited about him even though he’s 10 years younger but then all of these contenders are younger than me.

However, during our first (and only) phone call I learned he has a 9-year-old daughter. This is close to being a deal breaker for me. My kids are adults and I feel I’ve been there, done that. I’m now less excited about #3 but still want to meet him. Given that I haven’t heard from him in 24 hours, however, our interlude of interest may be over.

Upon review, I see this list is pretty fragile. I’ll be happy if just one guy is a keeper. I’d love to try a full program of three but I’m not sure these contenders will remain in the game.

It’s all part of the dating single life in your 60s — or any age for that matter. Contenders come and go, fade in, and then out with a boom or a ghost-like whisper.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

The Letdown

Blog post couple running

I’m in a bit of a letdown mode right now after a much-anticipated first date that fizzled.

Have a slice of chocolate cake with me. Nutrition can be damned today since I need some chocodorphins (endorphins created by chocolate).

It’s not that the date was terrible but the meeting revealed a lack of truth in advertising.

I matched with Mr. J on Tinder. He had zero profile information but a nice face. In one of his pictures, he sat in front of a microphone. It appeared he was a newscaster or radio personality. This was one reason I didn’t feel it was essential to talk to him on the phone before meeting. I assumed he did not have a voice like Truman Capote though there are some annoying “radio voices” out there.

He started our conversation with “Hi.” I had little to go on so I asked him whether he was a radio newscaster or played one on TV. The texting took off from there and didn’t stop until we met 24 hours later. It turns out he is in radio though not in my hometown so I had not heard him on air.

We acquired a brief sense of each other: marital history, Pandora stations we listen to, and what we like to do in our free time. I also learned that this was his first day on Tinder. Many men say, “I just joined.” But I believed Mr. J. He’d been divorced awhile and done online dating but hadn’t joined what he thought was a hook-up APP. I assured him it didn’t have to be and when he asked, “What’s a nice girl like you doing on Tinder?” I pointed out that my profile specified I was not looking for a hookup.

We flirted, one of my favorite aspects of dating. And, there were no dick pix! Plus Mr. J was polite. After the first few texts, he said he was about to sit down to dinner with his son and asked if he could text me later. I almost fainted. Most men just stop mid-text with no warning and no (or a sorry) explanation if they resumed the chat.

After Mr. J’s dinner, he jumped back online and we texted and flirted until my fingers started to cramp up. The interlude ended with a plan to meet for a drink the next evening.

Before we said good night, Mr. J said he felt butterflies as a result of our virtual encounter. I acknowledged having them too. You know the kind of butterflies – good ones that mean you’re excited about someone.

The next day I was an energizer bunny. I decided to take advantage of that electrical buzz that comes from an anticipated first date and clean my house from top to bottom. That’s what awesome texting chemistry can do for you.

I didn’t have time to get a mani-pedi but I dressed carefully and — even though I’m a half-inch taller than Mr. J — decided to wear heels.

I got to the restaurant bar first. I only had a 10-minute drive; he had 60 minutes. I ordered a glass of wine, which did wonders for my first date nerves. There was a cute younger guy sitting at the bar alone but I deliberately did not make eye contact since I was waiting for someone.

Mr. J arrived. Oh. A quick once-over revealed a very unfit, overweight man. Nice face but not my physical type. Hopes dashed. This is a deal breaker for me. I’m fine with a little belly and I don’t seek perfection but when a man has truly let himself go, I just can’t be attracted.

I spend a considerable time working out at the gym, swimming, walking, and eating healthy (aside from the occasional chocolate cake lapse-see above) so I need someone who’s on that same page and whose appearance reflects that.

So, like so many of life’s disappointments, you just have to muddle through. We had a nice hour-long chat but there was no flirting. When I returned from a restroom break, Mr. J said he should probably head back home.

Later that evening, he texted me to say he arrived safely. Then he wrote, “I have this feeling you did not feel a spark.” “Sadly, that is true,” I replied. “I wish it were otherwise because I think you’re a great guy.” He thanked me and wished me luck. Polite to the end!

The next morning I was a used up energizer bunny – woefully in need of a charge. That’s what the rollercoaster dating life can do to you. I made a sign and put it on my desk:

Blog pix Ask for recent full body pix

 

 

It’s been a couple of days and I’m back to my upbeat self – helped by a couple of irons in the fire.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating. Or, as a new friend says, “happy solo honoring time.”

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Dating Roundup: Safety, Security, and Truth in Advertising

blog post woman on phone

It’s time to revisit safety, security, and fabricated profiles in online dating. It’s an ever-present topic for me as I sift through profiles and interact with matches. When I started online dating, I spent a lot more time vetting matches. I still vet them but I’ve become pretty good at recognizing the scammers so I often don’t need to go through all of the investigative hoops such as doing Google image searches. Along the way, I found some shortcuts and tips.

Pass the salmon burgers with sweet pickle relish while I discuss the issue and the shortcuts. Warning: parts of today’s chat get a bit geeky.

Coffee Meets Bagel recently sent me a good reminder about online safety with a list of common scammer behaviors and profile characteristics:

-Profession in the military or engineering, works out of the country

-Recently widowed with children

-Overly complimentary with flowery, romantic language right off the bat

-Poor English and grammar, but high level of education (Master’s, Ph.D., etc.)

-Quick to get you off the app and into email/some other messaging app, but not text (they don’t have a working cell phone).

I disagree about the texting. I find scammers will sometimes text but rarely will they speak on the phone to you.

One of my go-to security checks is the Google image search mentioned above. This tool searches the web for photos that match the one you’re checking out. So, for example, you can see if a person in another geographic location has the same photo. Sometimes you will find that the photo is of a celebrity in another country.

I’m often using dating apps on my phone or tablet rather than my laptop. I wondered if there is a way to do an image search on these devices.

Mobile Image Search Tools

Of course, consult Google whenever you have a question. Not only are there reverse image apps, but there are a couple of other tricks. A PC Magazine article about image searching from a cell phone identified one strategy: using CTRLQ, a so-called Google Image search “wrapper.” Created by Amit Agarwal, this website tool can be used to search images on mobile devices.

To search an image from a dating app, you must first save it.

How do you save those Tinder and other app profile pictures? Take a screenshot of the image. On an iPhone or iPad, simultaneously press and hold the sleep/wake button on the top or side of your device while also pressing and holding the home button. You’ll hear the click of the camera. Your saved image will be in the camera roll. You can then select that image when using an image search app (see below), CTRLQ, or the desktop version of Google (another way to do an image search on your phone). Try it; it’s an easy process.

If you have an Android phone, you can use a similar technique to save images. Digital Trends reviewed screen shot techniques for a variety of Android devices.

Image Search Phone Apps

If you have an iPhone, type “image search” in Apps and you’ll encounter a number of tools. I downloaded Veracity and found it to be seamless. I’m not aware of any Android image search apps but CTRLQ should work on these mobile devices.

Non-Geek Tips

Safety is not always the issue with false profiles. Sometimes it’s a matter of misrepresentation. For example, how many men have you dated who have obviously lied about age and height?

One possible clue that a man has lied about his age: he is willing to date women 5 + years older. An older age preference doesn’t necessarily mean a man is 5 years older than he says, but look at his picture and see if that could be the case.

Age fabrication may not bother you. However, some of my friends say, “Well, what else is he lying about?” I tend to be forgiving if there is only a couple of years difference…but a bigger lie is more troubling and a likely deal breaker.

Another quick way to check out a new match is to search his screen name. You may find his alias on other dating, sex, and general sites. You can learn a lot from this easy sleuthing.

An Almost Meet Cute

Enough about online issues! I’m still working on meeting men in real life.

I had a brief almost meet cute Friday night. Walking up a long subway escalator after a night of jazz at Westminster Church, a man was about to pass me on the left. “Wanna race?” he asked. I quickly looked at him (age appropriate, too short but nice face), smiled, and went into high gear escalator racing. He laughed and said, “I didn’t think you would.” “I’m very competitive,” I said as I gave him a run for his money (placing first in the Olympic sport of escalator racing). Several children trailed Mr. Racer. Grandkids? His kids? You never know. And I was with friends, so the exchange ended there.

Just another almost meet cute in DC. I’ve got a million of them…. some day, one has got to fully develop.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

The Olympics of Dating: A Fantasy

Olympics 1 for blog

Are you “Olympic ed” out? The number one Google search question about Rio last Wednesday was “When do the Olympics end?” Move over XXXI – we need a new Olympics of Dating. It’s time for another Nadia fantasy.

Join me in some crostini with tuna tapenade while I share my mildly naughty thoughts with you…and have a glass of champagne to celebrate tonight’s end of that other Olympics.

Qualifying Sports in the Olympics of Love

Meeting Freestyle

The sport of meeting the opposite sex is the basis for all the other games. First, find a partner!

Action, Rules, and Scoring: In this Dating Olympics event, men or women score based on the quantity of phone numbers acquired during a 24-hour interval. Each sportsman/woman is paired with a spotter/bodyguard who records the player’s success and makes sure there is no hanky panky (of the number fudging type).

Competitors are allowed to acquire phone numbers from matches on dating sites and apps and from people they meet in person. Extra points are given for verified meet-cutes.

Extreme Speed Dating  

Action, Rules, and Scoring: This sport, a takeoff of traditional speed dating, is measured in seconds rather than minutes. Competitors rotate “conversational” partners after 15 seconds. Given the limited timeframe allowed to get to know someone, intuition becomes more important than actual rapport. Appearance is everything because there is nothing else. High scorers (in both the men’s and women’s divisions) are those who proactively ask the most people out on a date that is accepted.

Synchronized Texting 

Action, Rules, and Scoring: In this favorite of Millennials, the player’s task is to match the exact word count and response time (down to the second) of texts received from a competitor on the opposing team. Extra points are awarded for creativity and engagement. Fouls are called for use of the salutations “heyyyyy” and “hi gorgeous/handsome, wanna see me naked?”

Synchronized Sexting

Action, Rules, and Scoring: The action and rules are similar to Synchronized Texting but there are no fouls for naked picture offers (as long as there is no coercion). Scoring is, well, you know.

Fence Mending

Action, Rules, and Scoring: Unlike fencing, the goal of Fence Mending is to “unstab” your competitor in a planned verbal battle. Competitors are judged for their sincerity in acknowledging bullheadedness, insensitivity, and stupidity.

Flirting

Action, Rules, and Scoring: Competitors use body and verbal language to charm their partner. Judges evaluate the degree of eye contact, smiling, light arm touching, and open body language. Winners progress to the next level, whatever that might be.

Canoedling 

Action, Rules, and Scoring: In this relatively new Olympic dating sport, competitors are judged on their ability to canoodle while maneuvering a canoe through a difficult obstacle course in shark-infested waters. Points are given for maintaining continuous physical contact with the designated teammate while fighting off a shark with the paddle.

Volley Talk

Action, Rules, and Scoring: Volley Talk, in which competitors are judged on their conversational equipoise, is one of the more popular Olympic Dating games. Extra points are given for intense listening, appropriate questioning, and eye contact. Penalties are given for monologuing, curbed enthusiasm, and cell phone action while one’s partner is talking.

Sex Gymnastics

Action, Rules, and Scoring: This is a Millennial dominated sport although a few valiant Gen Xers and Baby Boomers continue to compete. Competitors are judged on extreme flexibility, inversion, and orthopedic improbability. Fouls are not given for environmental wreckage, ripped clothing, exhibitionism, or adult beverage spilling. In fact, these occurrences incur extra points.

Have I left out any games? Let me know.

Until next week, happy competing — er dating — or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting Men in the Wild: Behavioral Science to the Rescue

blog post woman with wine

I’m taking a cue from the behavioral sciences to increase my comfort level with going to bars solo to meet men.

Join me in some slow cooker ratatouille and I’ll fill you in.

From what I have observed, most men are comfortable sitting in a bar solo with the intention of meeting women. Although some women also have a relaxed attitude about this tactic, a fair number of us, including me, are NOT at ease.

I have no problem going to a bar with a friend or two in hope of flirting with and meeting men. But going by myself is another story and since I believe that romantic success in a bar setting is more likely if one is alone, I have challenged myself to get comfortable with this approach.

This is where psychology comes in.

My discomfort as a solo bar goer does not qualify as a phobia and it certainly is not at the level of a panic attack. However, I reasoned that exposure therapy, a demonstrated treatment used to treat phobias, panic disorders, and other conditions, might help with a “softer” issue.

There are various types of exposure therapy. My plan is for “in vivo exposure,” basically forcing my butt out the door and into a nice happy hour venue with an age appropriate (loosely defined) clientele.

Exposure therapy may be combined with relaxation exercises to reduce anxiety and to help the individual associate the targeted activity or situation with relaxation. A nice glass or two of wine works well in the Nadia version of this technique.

Exposure therapy à la Nadia has another element, which I’m calling The Back Story. The Back Story is the story you tell yourself about a situation to help you deal with it. When you play that role, like the award-winning actress that you are, it’s easier to cope.

So if I tell myself that I’m visiting DC and don’t know anyone here, I feel more comfortable doing things solo. It sounds crazy but it seems to work. I am much more at ease going solo when travelling so an inventive Back Story helps me channel that comfort level in my hometown.

To date, I’ve had four solo bar outings (no friends accompanying me, no wing women etc.). And it has pretty much been a bust – other than having a nice glass of wine and delicious appetizers. I’ve talked to the bar wait staff and in one case discussed the food with two married men. But I have either picked a bad time (the bar is deserted or so crowded that strategic seating choices are limited) or a bad bar (in terms of clientele). And I still feel awkward when I go. But practice makes perfect (cliché happiness) and I plan to keep trying.

Maybe one day I’ll actually meet an eligible man at a happy hour.

How’s your search going?

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia