Baggage

baggage blog post

Have you noticed how many dating profiles mention baggage? Let’s explore this topic while enjoying quinoa salad with swiss chard and goat cheese.

When I first read the term baggage in a profile – usually in the context of “please don’t have any,” I thought of it as a mix of experience and memories. I wondered how a person could get through life without either one of these. Then I realized that these guys are referring to emotional baggage, defined by Merriam Webster as “intangible things (as feeling, circumstances, or beliefs) that get in the way.”

Urban Dictionary’s top definition of emotional baggage is “painful memories, mistrust and hurt carried around from past sexual or emotional rejection.” This personality characteristic is also, according to Urban Dictionary, an “excuse commonly used by Peter Pans and other immature men to avoid commitment yet maintain a sexual relationship….as in I don’t think I can handle a real relationship right now. I need some time to get over my emotional baggage.”

I’d like to propose a broader definition of emotional baggage so that it encompasses any life experience that hinders you from moving forward to enjoy life and love.

In my post-divorce dating years, I have encountered widowers who can’t move on enough to be in a relationship, bitter divorced men stuck in an anger cycle, as well as men who have had serious or difficult medical issues and a subsequent loss of self esteem that they can’t overcome.

And there’s no gender rule here — women can experience the same inability to move forward. Just like men, women may get stuck in a post-divorce cycle of anger and low self-esteem. They’re unhappy and unable to move forward from the “baggage” of their failed relationship.

Then there are other people – men and women – who have had serious issues such as the death of a child, yet somehow, are able to carry on with an open albeit grieving heart.

I accept that in my age range, men may not have “baggage” per se but they, like me will likely have some blips on their heart’s EKG. Fortunately the heart can survive a lot and with modern technological advances, recovery is possible.

I like to think my baggage is carry-on – easily stowed under my seat. With occasional turbulence, it might roll out…but I just stuff it back.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

“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

 

 

 

Newbies Times Two

blog chick pix

Last weekend I had a double newbie experience. In one case, I was reminded of when I was a newbie. In the second experience, I had a drink with a new old newbie. Confused? I’ll explain while we enjoy some grilled tofu and heirloom tomato salad. This pairs nicely with watermelon mimosas.

Newbie #1 (me)

It was a normal online morning. I was deleting catfishers and young would-be studs four decades younger than me. I logged onto Match, the first dating site I joined a year after my separation. At the time, I thought Match worked fairly well for me – presenting me with daily reasonable partner selections and I heard from a number of them.

Back to present day: someone from those early Match days, Mr. H,  “viewed” me. In fact, this man was my first date in almost 40 years.

Back to the past. I remember flirting online with Mr. H, a tall, athletic divorced man with a solid profile that revealed a romantic and a philosophical side. I pushed the flirt envelope to advance the concept of meeting. He knew I was separated and wanted to be sure I was ready to enter fully into a relationship. I remember thinking he didn’t want to risk getting involved with someone who wasn’t over their ex. “I’m definitely ready for the next chapter,” I wrote. Mr. H lived about an hour away so we decided to meet halfway between our houses at an outdoor restaurant next to a lake. It was summertime.

What a flurry of nerves getting ready for that date! With my daughter advising me on wardrobe, I tried on several outfits – finally settling for a blue jean skirt, heels, and a trendy, sexy but tasteful blouse. Ladies, you can imagine my butterflies.

On the drive to the restaurant, I tried to relax and enjoy the music on the radio.

I arrived on time and walking toward the outdoor tables, I saw him. He looked exactly like his pictures – only better. I felt fluttery with nerves and anticipation. He walked toward me. Surprise — he kissed me hello. Remember, this was date #1 post separation. It was all so strange.

We made our way to a table and began a comfortable conversation. Mr. H had interesting and unusual experiences to share. I don’t remember thinking he was a conversational narcissist but I believe he talked more than me. Given my nerves, that was probably a good thing. Dating rating: A. As he walked to me car, he gave me a hug and said, “Let’s do this again.” I can’t remember what I said given my still nervous state but it was probably something like, “Sure, give me a call.” Today, assuming I liked the guy, I would be more direct.

I think I wrote Mr. H that I enjoyed our lunch. Even if he responded (sorry, dear readers, my memory fails here), we never went out again. In time, I totally forgot about him. Until last week. When I realized Mr. H had viewed me, I felt compelled to write to him. I briefly wondered whether I should see if he would write first. But then I remembered my “newbieness.” I felt I should acknowledge how awkward I must have been on our date. My goal was to say, “hey, I’m not a newbie anymore,” so that he would want to see me again. So, I sent Mr. H a short message: 

Hi,

I had to say hello. I believe we had a lunch date 6 or 7 years ago. Yes, I have a photographic memory 🙂 

I was such a newbie! I’m sure you recognized that (if you remember me). I think our “meeting” was my first date while separated – so of course I remember you.  

I’m sure you would agree that this whole divorce experience is quite a journey – and an opportunity for growth! 

I hope life is good.

Cheers,

Nadia

A week has gone by and he hasn’t responded.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have written to him. Perhaps he didn’t feel a connection when we met because I was a nervous mess. As I’ve said before, you never know what the other person is thinking or not thinking about you.

Newbie #2: Him

Newbie #2 was my first in-person, real life meeting with a Tinder Match. A notch on my dating belt. It’s not what you think. In fact, Mr. F is the antithesis of the so-called Tinder experience. Divorced for 18 years, Mr. F explained to me via text that he hadn’t dated at all in that time. Did I believe him? I wasn’t sure. He said his sons convinced him to finally move on with his life and added that he’ll want to go slow (again, throw out or back-burner your Tinder expectations). I responded, “That’s fine. I’ll be gentle with you .”

Unfortunately, I ignored my “rule” to ask for more pictures when a man only has a headshot. In Mr. F’s case, his headshot included sunglasses and a cap so it was hard to tell what he looked like. But I thought his bone structure indicated a good-looking man.

After 24 hours of messaging last Saturday and Sunday morning, we decided to meet for a drink Sunday afternoon. Mr. F had loaned his car to his son for the weekend so we arranged to meet in Georgetown – about halfway between our houses.

You know in the first few seconds of meeting someone whether there’s any attraction and in this case, Mr. F, did not live up to my expectations. He was thoughtful, had me sit at the only empty stool across from the crowded bar, ordered a drink etc. but when we sat down, he monopolized the conversation and it was clear we were not a match. And although that bone structure was in fact quite good, the former athlete and titled boxing champ was woefully out of shape. He had a hard time walking me to my car, a short distance away.

I think he was nervous (this may explain why he monopolized the conversation in person but not on our pre-meeting phone call). And that would go along with his newbieness. After 18 years of divorce, he truly was an old newbie.

There you have it. To paraphrase the closing lines of Naked City, there are eight million dating stories in this naked city. Today’s post has been two of them.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Facebook Stalking my Ex’s Girlfriend

blog woman at laptop 2

A couple of weeks ago, I made the mistake of Facebook stalking my ex’s current girlfriend (GF). I had not done this before and it was not premeditated. I was searching online for local music events and happened upon an upcoming performance by my ex- and his romantic partner. The duo’s title was their two last names. I had not known the GF’s last name and only accidentally learned of her first name when one of my children let it slip. So it was pretty easy to confirm that my ex’s band mate and GF are one in the same.

I’ll back up a bit to explain the situation. Join me in some warm fusilli salad while I fill you in. Although some divorced couples maintain communication, we don’t. Our children were adults when we divorced and now that all financial entanglements have been untangled, we have no “business” reason to communicate. And that’s fine with me. I’m just not feeling the desire to stay in touch.

Right after we divorced, I admit to some minor online stalking of my ex. I wanted to clarify the names of his bands to avoid attending a performance.

But after I had that intel, I had no further interest in e stalking. It was time to move on with my life. So it was a departure for me to snoop on his GF’s social media page.

More back story: this current GF is not the woman my ex took up with soon after we separated. She’s long gone. I was mildly curious about her replacement.

So when I popped open GF’S Facebook page, I saw that she was younger than my ex (and me) and blonde, like her predecessor. A cliché come to life. There are so many “experiential clichés” in life – e.g., middle-aged man buys a sports car.

The GF’s Facebook page had only a few photos and no pictures of my ex. A check of her “status” revealed she was “in a relationship” as of 2013. She didn’t name her significant other, but I knew it was my ex. And then I saw his complimentary comment about her latest photo.

I closed the page.

Here’s the funny part. If my ex came crawling back to me, I wouldn’t have him. Truth: I don’t want him. And yet, it hurts to see evidence of his relationship and how relatively easy it is (and has been) for him to find someone. This is a harsh reality of what I call dating disparity. In general, divorced men have an easier time finding a date, a companion, or a partner, than divorced women – especially in the boomer years. Challenge me on this but this has been my experience and what I have observed.

So when I’m in a dry spell and not meeting any men, when there are no possible relationships in my life, I think about dating disparity and my ex.

In contrast, when I’m dating and have lots of possibilities, there are few thoughts of either dating disparity or my ex.

I’m used to this cycle by now. Dating dry spells can lead to the blues and self-pity. But self-pity doesn’t offer any rewards. To counteract the blues, I learned that it helps to get busy, reach out to friends, do something new.

That’s why even though I knew in advance that opening the GF’s Facebook page might trigger some emotional shakiness; I also knew any blue notes would be brief. It’s called healing.

If you liked this post or any past ones, subscribe to get regular email delivery of Dating, Sex, and Life in your 60s.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Dating and Friendships: Compare and Contrast

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If you’re divorced or widowed and looking to expand your social life, you may find yourself simultaneously dating and seeking new friends. It struck me recently that there are some interesting similarities and differences between these two activities.

Let’s compare and contrast dating and friendships. Some friendship bread is in order. Note: We’re ignoring healthy during the holidays.

Compare and Contrast  

  • Finding Friends and Dates: Although friends can be found online (see http://bit.ly/1kEYQc0), it is much more common to meet friends in the wild – through other friends, Meetups, work, activities. It is harder to meet men in the wild. I have no problem talking to a female stranger at the gym, in the grocery store line, even a parking lot. But starting up a conversation with a male stranger I’m attracted to requires more balls than I usually have. And none of my women friends know any single men I could date (insert sad face). Rating: Different
  • Meeting/Connecting: Pheromones aside, connecting with a new friend and a new date can each bring a rush. It’s great to connect with someone who has compatible energies, interests, and philosophies. Rating: Similar
  • Sharing Innermost Thoughts: Hands down, getting to know a woman friend is easier and faster because she will usually share important and confidential life stories right away. A four-minute chat with a friend in a rest room can reveal more substance than what you would typically get from a man you have been dating for four months. Rating: Different
  • Presence of Conversational Narcissism (See http://bit.ly/1USqC10): Both women and men can be self absorbed in their conversations. It’s annoying whether you’re dating someone or trying out a new friend. I’ve met some wonderful listeners (both men and women) but I have also encountered a fair number of self-focused folks. Rating: More Similar than Different
  • Meeting Family and Friends: This may happen pretty quickly with a friend. It’s another story with a date. You can’t introduce a “match” to friends or family too early in the game. Meeting the family is a big deal when you’re dating someone. It’s less of a biggie to introduce a date to friends but could be awkward if you’re bringing over a new guy every few weeks. Rating: Different
  • Taking Care of You: If you need a referral to a medical specialist, a ride to the doctor, a home cooked meal that you don’t have to make, or reassurance about a personal problem, chances are you are going to get the best support from a good female friend. Not that men can’t help with all these things but women friends seem to instinctively know how to best take care of you. Just saying. Rating: Mostly different
  • Ghosting: Both women friends (new and long-standing) and men you are dating can ghost you (disappear suddenly without explanation). I think it is more commonly a dating than a friend issue since – sweeping generalization here — women like to talk things out. Rating: Primarily different
  • Texting: When you text a friend, you don’t have to worry about timing the way you do with a date. You’re just not thinking, “Will she wonder if I am too available and don’t have a life?”   Rating: Different
  • Sexting: Not an issue unless you’re bi. Rating: Irrelevant
  • Catfishing: Not an issue unless you’re lucky enough to have befriended a criminal. Rating: Mostly Irrelevant
  • Revoking (cancelling a first meeting — see http://bit.ly/1mhoG6G ). It would be rare for a new friend to cancel a first meeting but it happens in the online dating world. Rating: Different
  • Acceptance of Compliments: It’s pretty easy to accept a compliment from a man you’re dating. If he tells you, “You look hot,” you’re going to smile and bat your lashes. You’re not going to say, “I’m fatter than I should be and it took me 15 minutes to get into my Spanx.” In contrast, it’s hard for many women to accept a compliment from a woman friend. Watch Amy Schumer’s brilliant skit on this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzlvDV3mpZw  Rating: Different.

I’d love to hear what you think about this. Write!

Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Get your Angries Out

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Have you gotten your angries out? If you’re divorced, widowed, or single following the break-up of a serious relationship, you know what I mean. Whether you were the “dumpee,” the one left behind, or the instigator dumper, there’s bound to be some anger floating around your universe.

I went through an angry phase after my separation. This followed a phase of disbelief, which in turn was preceded by a coma-like period. Got that? Coma – disbelief – anger.

Perhaps you have experienced a marital coma state. In my case, it consisted of several years of slow disengagement from my then husband. When you’re in a coma, you know something is not right but you don’t want to face it, so you ignore it.

When I finally woke up from my coma thanks to a crucial conversation, disbelief set in. After a long marriage, it is indeed hard to believe that it is over. But once you do, it’s time for some healthy anger. Chow down on some angry shrimp as we talk about this emotion.

So once it was clear that I was going to be in a for a long, complicated and painful divorce process, there were lots of triggers for “the angries.”

Let’s run through a list of angry triggers that may resonate with you: the reason for the divorce, the lack of or ineffective attempt at reconciliation, the impact on your family, the impact on your self esteem, the impact on your finances, the actual divorce settlement, etc, etc., etc.

The purpose of this post is not to wallow in anger. It’s to lobby for the benefits of accepting the anger, embracing it while it lasts, and working through it so that you can dismiss it. It’s all part of the healing process.

So back to the end of disbelief. That’s when I started to channel The Incredible Hulk on a periodic basis. I’d be going along, coping, getting the business of healing done and then bam, out of the blue, something would happen to trigger a burst of anger, fortunately without the ripping of clothes and transformation to a green monster.

I remember one instance in particular. I was working out on the elliptical at home, listening to a Pandora station when You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette came on. I hadn’t been feeling angry but listening to the raw anger of the lyrics (what a perfect break-up song), brought out my own hostile thoughts.

I started to fantasize about a graphic revenge scenario. Think Kill Bill. This was not the kind of thing I typically imagined. As I stepped furiously on the machine, my own personal revenge movie streamed on my consciousness. I increased the volume of the song to fully experience it. When it was over, I was exhausted but somehow I had worked through the anger by working out and hearing another woman’s wrathful tale.

The next time I wanted to exercise, I downloaded You Oughta Know and had a 4-minute angry therapy workout. This plan served me well during the divorce process.

As time went on, bursts of anger got shorter and less frequent. Now, after 6 years of healing, I rarely experience the angries.

If you are newly separated, divorced, or widowed or just never got your angries out, seek out some home-brewed anger therapy. Find your favorite revenge song, strap on those sneakers, and work through that anger.

You’ll feel better, help mend your broken heart and strengthen it at the same time.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Single Lady Sings the Holiday Blues

silhouhette smaller for holiday blog

The blues ain’t nothin’ but a pain in your heart

When you get a bad start, you and your man have to part

I ain’t gonna just sit around and cry

                      Lady Sings the Blues, Billie Holiday

It’s Labor Day on Monday – not a religious or sentimental holiday – and yet, I’m wondering if I’ll have the holiday blues. What single person doesn’t know about this affliction?

Since my separation and divorce, I’ve lived through 32 major holidays — Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukah, New Year’s Eve/Day and Valentine’s Day. This will be the 33rd.

And that’s the key, isn’t it? I lived through them.

Some may argue that Valentine’s Day isn’t a major holiday but when you’re separated, divorced, or frustrated by the single dating life, a lack of a Valentine honey can be depressing.

And Labor Day always seems to remind me of intact family and relationship celebrations.

But I’m not going to wallow here. I’m going to tell you about some good post separation/divorce holidays I HAVE had and give you an action plan to prevent or at least help you cope with the blues. While we discuss this plan, let’s have some of Tori Avey’s Black-eyed pea burgers.

Last Valentine’s Day was the first one since my divorce in which I had a date. It was a good thing since I had recently endured a breakup with Mr. L, a man I had been seeing.

I wasn’t head over heels in love with my Valentine’s date and we only went out once after that but on February 14 we were both in the mood for a romantic celebration. We went to dinner and a play. He brought me chocolates and wore a dapper suit. I wore a red dress. Despite the freezing cold and snow, we had a good time.

The Valentine’s date was preceded by Hanukah and New Year’s Eve celebrations with family and Mr. L (even though we were too new for a “family meet.”) So I got a taste of the type of celebration I had been craving – a mix of family and a romantic interest. And that was a good feeling – even if I couldn’t duplicate it on every holiday. It provided hope and a sense that there was a “turnaround” in the way life events could play out for me as a single woman.

So what can one do to prevent or lessen the holiday blues? It’s not DNA sequencing science and hopefully you will get some new ideas or start thinking of your own tactics. (Side note: Since Labor Day is the day after tomorrow, some of these tips will be more useful to you for future holidays.)

12 Tips to Prevent the Holiday Blues:

  1. Make plans. In advance. At least a week before the holiday, reach out to friends or any family living locally to see if they can get together for an evening out, unless you are planning to entertain. See Tip #2.
  2. Host a gathering – whether dinner or a game night (on TV or a board game). Make sure to invite your single friends who may also suffer from the holiday blues.
  3. If you’re feeling brave, plan to get out of town on a solo travel adventure. Check out these resources for ideas and possible companions:

Wandermates

Solos Vacations

Brown Girls Fly

Meet Plan Go

Wanderful

Girls that Travel

Journey Woman

Girl about the Globe

Only Pack What You Can Carry

  1. Sign up for a Meetup event.  The closer it gets to a holiday, the more Meetup activities are scheduled. You’re not the only one at risk of the holiday blues.
  2. Commit to an engrossing project:
  • Organize your music downloads
  • Create a new music mix file for the gym
  • Purge and clean out your closet and pack up stuff to give away or sell
  • Organize photos into albums
  • If weather allows, plant or weed a garden
  1. If you enjoy arts and/or crafts, commit to a one or two-day project. Plan in advance and get any needed materials. Listen to music, have a glass of wine, and create!
  2. Plan a reading or TV series marathon. Make sure it’s a book or show that will transport you. Periodic escapism is healthy.
  3. If stores are open, shop. Retail therapy in moderation and within budget is therapeutic. You will be where people are even if you don’t know them and that might make you feel better.
  4. Work on improving or refreshing your dating profile. Join a new dating site or rejoin a site you cancelled because no one was on it. New guys are always joining. And holiday weekends are active times for online daters, perhaps because everyone has a touch of holiday blues.  Consider joining a crazy niche dating site you haven’t tried such as Bristlr.
  5. Stay up late and watch old romantic movies.  Throw caution to the wind and rent a pay per view film.
  6. Schedule a massage the day before a holiday (unless you can get one ON the holiday). A good massage = lovely.
  7. Go to the gym and exercise like crazy. You won’t be the only one there. Make those endorphins work overtime.

Whatever you do, don’t pay bills, organize old family photos (that include ones with your –ex), or do anything that is not fun and uplifting.

Let me know if you ever get the holiday blues and share ways you cope.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating,

XXXOOO

Nadia