A Catchy Tune and Musings on Keeping Relationships Fresh

pina colada pix

Too many guys have dating profiles that are predictable, uninspired, and sometimes just blank. So it’s always a pleasure when a guy’s profile is a little bit different and even better when it slyly reveals something and/or gets you thinking about relationships.

Join me in a delightful Caribbean black bean dish that I made the other night while we discuss.

Mr. K’s profile on Plenty of Fish referred to the piña colada song.

pina colada pix 2

At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of his opener. It had been awhile since I’d heard that song. A quick trip to YouTube pulled up Rupert Holmes singing Escape, which is the name of “the piña colada song.” Watch the performance or read the lyrics to get the most out of this post.

You’ll find that Escape is about a couple that is a little bit tired of each other. Thanks to the personals column (remember those), they rediscover each other and learn they like some of the same things – including piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.

I imagined that Mr. K appreciated the nuances of the lyrics – that you don’t know everything about your partner and if things start to get stale you need to find a way to discover hidden shared passions that might restore the passion in your relationship.

Of course Mr. K may have simply liked the song’s melody and needed an opening line for his profile.

I often think about the unknown aspects of a partner’s thoughts and personality, whether I’m reminiscing about the end of my marriage or the relationships that came after. I recall several “aha” moments when verbal or body language clues showed me what was really going on in a partner’s head.

I’m okay with the realization that you cannot know absolutely everything about someone nor can they know all about you. With a bit of luck, you’ll know the most important things and you will feel secure in a partner’s love.

Related to the issue of knowing your partner (as much as possible) and feeling love and security is finding a way to keep things fresh. As the Escape lyrics say, long-term relationships can start to feel “Like a worn-out recording of a favorite song.”

The challenge to maintaining desire in a committed relationship, according to couples therapist and relationship expert Esther Perel, is reconciling security, predictability, safety, and permanence with the human need for mystery, adventure, novelty and the unknown.

Which brings us back to the personals ad scenario in the piña colada song. In lieu of placing an ad or signing up for a dating site, you might need to have an adventure with your partner or simply observe this person in his or her element.

As Perel says, “Because sometimes, as Proust says, mystery is not about traveling to new places, but it’s about looking with new eyes. And so, when I see my partner on his own or her own, doing something in which they are enveloped, I look at this person and I momentarily get a shift in perception, and I stay open to the mysteries that are living right next to me.”

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Resources:

Desire in Long Term Relationships

Esther Perel

Unlocking Erotic Intelligence

Fresh Eyes, Andy Grammer

A Single Gal’s Friday

blox pix woman vacuuming

It’s Friday about 1 p.m. and I’m cleaning the house in between giving myself both a manicure and a pedicure (the clear polish I’m using signals low anticipation of my date tonight). The mani-pedi specifics determine the level of interest I’m feeling for a pending first date.

Clear polish indicates the lowest level of excitement (unless I’m in a clear polish phase). A salon mani indicates a relatively high level of interest and a salon mani-pedi combo is the equivalent of …well, let’s just say my hormones are geared up. Men, don’t worry, this post isn’t all about manicures.

Sit down and have some of Jose Andrés’ gazpacho while we analyze Friday’s timeline.

Let’s back up from the mani-pedi/house cleaning frenzy to the day’s beginning:

6:00 a.m.: I make coffee and read the Times on my iPad. I’m distracted from the latest Administration fiasco by wondering whether Mr. D, the guy I’m supposed to meet that evening, will confirm our date or fade away. Our last communication was 3 days ago so I’m not sure of the status. As you may recall, I’ve been burned before.

9:20 a.m.: Showered and dressed, I’m packing up my stuff for the gym when my phone beeps that I have an email. Yes, it’s Mr. D, confirming our 5 p.m. date and saying he’s looking forward to meeting me. E-mail has been our primary form of communication. We haven’t spoken on the phone though we have exchanged cell numbers. I no longer require a pre-date phone call and, as it turns out, it wouldn’t have made a difference in the outcome.

9:45 a.m.: Working out – it’s cardio day and I’m taking a little break from swimming to give my arms a rest so I pound away on the low impact cardio machine while listening to tunes on RockMyRun.

10:45 a.m.: Run errands, none of them relevant to the dating life. No meet cutes to report but a yummy taste of fresh bread from the local bread store.

11:30 a.m.: Back home for a lunch of that gazpacho.

Let’s return to the cleaning/home nail salon activities. Here’s the deal with cleaning my house before a first date. Although I have never brought someone to my home at the end of a first date/meeting, lately I’ve been cleaning my house “just in case.” Just in case I meet someone who stirs up so much mutual chemistry that we must end our evening at my house. So I vacuum, clean the bathrooms, hide any evidence of my blog, and turn on my bedroom’s ambient lighting (eclectic electric lamps and candles). Somehow this exercise, even though I know it’s likely futile, makes me feel better – like there’s a possibility of romance and sex and who knows what else.

The reality is, since my divorce, first dates haven’t led to this outcome…but one never knows and I think I may be at a place (and at an age), where the pluses of such an encounter might just outweigh the potential minuses.

3:00 p.m.: I shower, reapply my makeup, and totally change my planned outfit for this evening – opting for black jeggings and a silky top (more casual than my original choice of a black skirt/blouse combo).

Mr. D suggested I choose our meeting place. I picked a laid back bar/restaurant. I try to mix up first date locations for the wait staff’s sake as well as my own. I base the choice of a casual or more formal venue on my sense of what might work best with a particular man (of course I have to like the place too).

4:45 p.m.: It’s raining like crazy as I drive to our date – slight butterflies, but mostly trying to maintain hope that this, my 100th give-or-take first date, will be a good one.

5:00 p.m.: I pull into the parking lot – right on time. Before I open the door, Mr. D calls me on my Google Voice number. Our first conversation – and it’s to tell me he’ll be 15 minutes late since he forgot his phone and had to return home to get it. Sigh. I tell him I’ll meet him inside. At least he doesn’t have a thick accent from his home state of New Jersey.

5:15 p.m.: It’s still pouring rain and I’m sitting in the last booth by the bar. I’m drinking a happy hour white wine, checking my phone for any updates from Mr. D, and looking at every single male who walks in the door. There’s a man who looks 80. That better may not be him! Phew, he keeps walking.

5:30 pm.: Okay, he’s now officially 30 minutes late and I’m trying to be calm. The waitress, sensing my frustration, tells me that rain and flooding are impacting traffic. I take another sip of pinot grigio, respond to a text from my brother, and note that there’s absolutely no one of interest sitting at the bar.

5:36 p.m.: I see a man enter the front door. He’s unattractive, definitely not 6′, walks rather stiffly, and appears to be wearing a “company” work shirt.  Oh, good, he’s leaving…wait, he’s taking out his cell phone to make a call. Yep, my phone is ringing. I tell Mr. D where I am (he apparently doesn’t text as I had sent him a text with my whereabouts) and he lumbers over to the booth.

Sigh. I would never have guessed that the man before me is the same one I’ve been communicating with on OurTime. Ladies, and gentlemen, I’m sure you have faced this situation before. You try to hide your utter disappointment at the disconnect between someone’s profile photos and the flesh and bone person in front of you. You have two choices: make the best of the situation or be a total bitch/dick, make an excuse and leave immediately. I try to make the best of it and stay for at least 30 minutes. I can talk to most anyone for 30-45 minutes. I draw on my journalism training and ask questions.

Mr. D is at least a nice man and makes an effort to get to know me. I stay for almost an hour (remember I waited 30+ minutes for him) but decline a second drink or any food. Side note: I’ve learned to not order food in these situations. Inevitably, the conversation stalls and you still have to eat/wait for the bill, etc. Mr. D plans on having another beer. He refuses my offer to pay for my wine and stands up to shake my hand (!) as I prepare to leave. Our height disparity is clear. “You’re tall!” he says. Yes, I think, as I remember that his profile promises a man who’s a full 2 inches taller than me.

6:45 p.m.: Home. Eating a sandwich made with bread from the bread store, and glad I don’t have to eat with Mr. D.

8:30 p.m. Looks like a Netflix night. It’s the premiere of The Incredible Jessica James and I’m loving the opening scene with actress Jessica Williams being brutally honest with a first Tinder date. Nothing like a funny movie to help soothe your disappointed heart.

9:30 p.m. My phone beeps with an email from Mr. D. (He definitely doesn’t text.) He writes that he enjoyed meeting me and hopes to see me again. I’ll email him tomorrow to say: I enjoyed meeting you too but, sorry, I don’t think we’re a match. At this moment, I’m more interested in what happens to Jessica.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

The Edge of 65 vs. 17

blog-pix-teenage-girl

As I laughed, cried, and cringed at the follies of high school junior Nadine in The Edge of Seventeen, I wondered why I love movies about the angst of teenage years. I enjoy a good story but could there be other reasons?

I started thinking about similarities between adolescence and single divorced middle age-essence. It must be time for another compare and contrast blog post.  As we ponder this question together, let’s enjoy a riff on a teenager’s lunch: veggie cheeseburger, sweet potato fries, and an adult “to hell with calories” milkshake.

Spoiler alert: I give away some of the plot developments in The Edge of Seventeen so if you’re interested in the film, read this post after you’ve seen it.

*Struggling to Define Yourself

A teenager like Nadine struggles to define herself. She wonders who she is and whether she’s on the right path in life.

A middle-aged single divorced woman also grapples with identity and the transformation that can go along with a major life change. However, with more life experience under her belt, it may be somewhat easier for her to go through this process compared to a teen’s journey.

Rating: Somewhat similar 

*Figuring out Timing and Sex

Nadine stumbles while trying to balance her desires and interest in sex with her need for real connection. Her passion leads to a sticky situation. A middle-aged single divorced woman has similar conflicts though the issue is not whether to lose her virginity but whether she should consider purely sexual relationships or focus on finding her “soul mate.”

Rating: Somewhat similar

*First/Second Date Problems: Nowhere to Go

The car often becomes the go-to make-out venue for a teenager with parents at home. Similarly, single divorced daters who aren’t prepared to indulge in a night of at-home between the sheets passion may find they are in a high school reenactment of lust between the bucket seats. Tip: Always keep breath mints in the car.

Rating: Oddly similar

*The Importance of Girlfriends

Nadine is fairly miserable as a young girl – until she develops a strong friendship with Krista. They become inseparable until Krista starts dating Nadine’s older brother. Nadine can’t accept this development and the friendship suffers. The loss affects Nadine deeply.

For teenage girls and women of all ages, girl/women friends are essential ingredients in the recipe for life happiness.

Rating: Similar

*Dramatic Mood Swings 

The title alone – referencing age 17 – is enough for you to anticipate the main character’s dramatic mood swings, often influenced by hormonal triggers. Single divorced women of a certain age have also been known to experience hormonal shifts and mood swings. It’s part of our fabulous nature.

Rating: Somewhat similar

*Family Challenges

Nadine, like all teens, struggles with her relationship with her family – in this case, her widowed mother and her more popular older brother. Her difficulties are fueled by her search for independence and identity.

Divorced or widowed middle-aged women may have conflicts with their children as they all navigate life following the death or divorce of a spouse. In the case of the divorcee, she also has to contend with her often-difficult relationship with her ex-spouse.

Rating: Similar

*Bold, impetuous Behavior

It’s no surprise that Nadine demonstrates bold, impetuous behavior – it’s one of the hallmarks of the teen years. She takes her mother’s car keys and drives off (without a license) and later accidentally sends a sex-themed text message to her crush.

Bold, impetuous behavior by older women is more likely to be of a positive nature, rather than actions that often seem like a cry for help. The mature woman, for example, might boldly ask a man out – or over – but unless she has been drinking – her actions are more likely to have been carefully thought out.

Rating: More dissimilar than similar 

Can you think of any other teenage vs. middle age comparisons?

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Touch

blog-post-touch 

Human Touch, Springsteen

This week’s Modern Love column got me thinking about touch…not that I ever really stop thinking about this important sense. When you’re single and don’t have a steady relationship, it can be a regular topic of consideration.

The subject of touch calls for comfort food and what better choice than a seasonal pumpkin recipe from Ruth Reichl’s book Comfort me with Apples.

You’re thinking, Nadia is talking about sex. Well, yes, and no. Certainly touch and sex are intertwined. Although I guess technically you could have sex with minimal touch, you can most definitely have touch with no sex.

In the Modern Love column, the writer, a single mother, longs for touch – but realizes it is the emotional closeness and intimacy with another that touch can (but doesn’t always) bring that she most desires. She finds that touch – both non-sexual physical touch and non-physical “moments of touch” – are not substitutes for a lover but “real” things in their own right.

When you have a lover, all kinds of sexual and non-sexual touch are available from the menu.

But when you are in between partners, your friends and family, and even strangers can offer physical and emotional moments of non-sexual touch. Hug a friend and/or family member. Shake hands with someone you’re introduced to. Pat an acquaintance on the back for a job well done. Beyond these options, there are ways to supplement the physical non-sexual touch you need. You may keep these up even after a lover magically appears from one of your matches.

Massage by a trained massage therapist can be a great way to not only help with those aches, pains, and muscle spasms but also to fulfill that human need for touch. Shop around for the right therapist who matches your temperament and is sensitive to your direction. Local schools of massage therapy can make this “luxury” affordable. Hire a less expensive recent program graduate who is fully trained and professional just inexperienced in the business aspects. If you have never had a massage, you may feel shy or unsure during the first session but a good therapist will ease your concerns and make any needed accommodations.

Getting your hair done – particularly having your hair washed and head massaged – is a relaxing way to acquire “touch” time. Manicures and pedicures also provide moments of touch.

Cuddle parties are another source of non-sexual touch. I only recently heard of these events. At first, I assumed they were some type of group sex venue but they appear to be legitimate workshop/social events run by trained facilitators who ensure a safe experience of giving and receiving non-sexual and fully clothed touch. I can’t personally vouch for cuddle parties. If you’re intrigued, check out cuddleparty.com for more information.

Finally, I’ll share a variation of the cuddle party with you as described by a man I went out with once. Mr. Q was separated and obviously conflicted. He was in an on-again/off-again “cuddle” relationship with a woman. This woman, fearing emotional involvement with a separated man, chose not to have sex with Mr. Q but met him periodically to cuddle – without clothes on. I don’t know exactly what happened during those encounters and the “relationship” may not have been technically platonic. However, it worked for this “couple.”

I like to think that moments of touch are like calories you need to feel humanly full. Enjoy those calories in whatever recipe works for you…massage, hugs, personal or official cuddle parties.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

Beach Interlude

blog woman on beach

On a family beach vacation last week, I stayed active on the dating sites and apps. I thought, “Why not meet someone for a drink while I’m here. And if we hit it off, a 3 hour distance is not impossible.”

At this point in my dating journey, I’m open to seeing a special someone primarily on weekends.

Let’s talk over a melted goat cheese with avocado toast concoction I created today. See the end of this post for the recipe.

While perusing the dating sites, Mr. J, a tall aquatic specimen on Plenty of Fish, reached out to me. He commented on my profile and my height. We chatted extensively via text over the next 24 hours. Much of the conversation was about music. We had similar musical tastes and Mr. J sent some artist and song suggestions for me to check out on YouTube. Based on his music favorites, he is definitely a romantic.

You’re probably wondering whether our texting led to an in person meeting. I told Mr. J I would be heading home in a couple of days. At first, I thought he would pick up on that and suggest meeting for a drink. I’m now glad he didn’t ask me out. Let’s back up a bit to discuss this in more detail.

Two reasons I’m glad we never met

The first reason has to do with Mr. J’s attraction factor. In his main picture, he looks somewhat attractive. The photo is rather dark but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought he might look better in person. I have gone out with guys who were more attractive than their photos (the reverse has been true as well).

Mr. J’s supplementary photos were less flattering but I ignored them, focusing on the main one. Why did I do that? I’m trying not to be too picky – to be open to possibilities. And I also know that some very attractive people are just not photogenic. But a bigger reason has to do with my yearning for a relationship.   So, I sometimes flirt online with someone who’s not really my type until I am hit over the head with the fact that the guy is not right for me.

It’s not just men who are visual creatures. And attractiveness (which, fortunately, means something different to everyone or we’d all be fighting over the same fellow) has a lot to do with chemistry. It’s not the only factor in chemistry, but it’s part of the attraction soup.

When I showed Mr. J’s profile to my sister, her reaction was a reality check. I came to my senses. It was unlikely that I would be attracted to Mr. J if we met.

The second reason I’m glad I didn’t meet him is because Mr. J, who had an interest in writing, quickly incorporated sexual themes into his messages. When I said I was interested in his writing, he replied with erotica. It was directed to me, and I’m not saying it didn’t raise my temperature. However, when you haven’t met someone, there’s a fine line between flirting and creepiness. He crossed that line. I faded away.

My family vacation ended without a romantic detour.

To leave you on a hopeful note, there are some interesting new features on some of the dating sites and apps I’d like to explore with you…but I’ll discuss those in another post.

For all of you foodies, here’s Nadia’s Recipe for Melted Goat Cheese and Avocado Toast: 

Ingredients:

2 slices whole grain bread (regular not monster-sized slices)

1 oz. soft goat cheese. If you don’t yet have a digital scale (hint, hint), use your judgment regarding amount

¼ of a ripe avocado

Fresh lime juice

Directions:

Toast bread. Spread goat cheese on one slice and microwave until just melted (about 18 seconds)

Mash avocado and add a couple of squeezes of fresh lime juice.   Spread avocado on the other slice of bread.

Make a sandwich and enjoy with a side of fresh fruit! I had a peach.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Sunsetting the Walk of Shame

blog walk of shame pix

Union Station, June 10: I had just settled into my seat in the quiet car on the train from DC to NY when I saw a young woman in her early 20s board. No luggage. She wore a cream-colored spaghetti-strapped summer dress and a pink shawl. The weather was somewhat chilly that Friday morning and the sky was overcast but the previous night had been warm and summery. I thought, “Here’s a woman whose walk of shame is courtesy of Amtrak’s regional.”

No one paid any attention to her but then people on the quiet car are often typing on their laptops, reading, or sleeping. She got off a short time later in Baltimore. I was curious about her story. First date? Did she intend to be out all night or did the evening unfold in an unexpected way.

Then I wondered about the origins of “walk of shame” and how – and why – the term is only associated with women. Certainly those who walk in “shame” were with men the previous night. Have some grilled halibut nicoise with vegetables while I share some history.

As always, when curious, consult Google. Ms. Google identified an informative article in Business Insider that describes the origins of the term. In medieval France, adulterers were punished by roping the couple together naked and forcing them to walk through town. According to the medieval expert who wrote the article, sometimes villagers beat them with clubs. Trumpeters led the way to make certain the townspeople saw them. If the man escaped either before or after his arrest, he avoided the public humiliation but the woman was still paraded, without clothes, through town. The woman did not have this escape clause option.

I have never done a walk of shame but then I don’t think there’s anything to be ashamed of. And yet, that was the term that came to mind when I saw the “girl” on the train (with apologies to Paula Hawkins).

It’s hard to change long-held language associations even when attitudes have changed. Unfortunately some people are still stuck in the dark ages.   As President Obama said last Tuesday, ““We need to change the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality but gives men a pat on the back for theirs.”

If turnabout is fair play, I think I will punish or at least slap the wrists of a few men for their shameful (for various reasons) dating profiles. These men should be doing that walk. You know I like to leave you with a bit of humor.

Didn’t I know this guy in middle school?

blog post june 19 #1

The next one is subtler. Note the two sentences after he mentions the Poconos.

blog post june 19 #2

Lists can be helpful but it’s important to know when to stop:

blog post june 19 #3

Here’s looking at you kid – right through that window.

blog post june 19 #4

Until next week, happy dating or not dating – and without shame!

XXXOOO

Nadia

Blog Birthday: 14 Lessons Learned about Dating, Sex, and Life in Your 60s

Wonder woman for blog

In honor of the 1-year birthday of this blog (February 14), I’m going to indulge in a brief interlude of narcissism. Today’s theme: what I learned in the last year about dating, sex, and life in your 60s – and blogging.

My goal, as always, is to impart useful knowledge, make you laugh, or just be that wing woman sitting at the whine bar with you while we wonder why the hell we can’t find the one.

I’m going to write this blog post in real dating time. In other words, I’m writing this post while texting two guys simultaneously – a guy from Tinder and a Bumble match.

Given my track record lately, one will turn out to be a Russian spy who has traveled forward in time from the cold war era and the other one will actually be a married trans woman. But hope springs eternal…so I text on.

Join me in an anti-Valentine’s Day treat of creamy Gorgonzola and portobello mushroom risotto created by a wonderfully named chef called Nadia G (of Bitchin’ Kitchen fame). Just substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock and you will eat like Nadia A.

And now I present my top 14 lessons learned in the last year about dating, sex, life in your 60s, and blogging:

*Maximizing opportunities keeps hope alive. I’m on multiple dating sites and apps. Later this month, I will try speed dating a second time (via a new speed dating meet-up) and attend a Match happy hour with live in the flesh as opposed to virtual men.

*Keep trying something new. This is related to the maximizing opportunities point above. The single life is not only about dating but also about finding ways to make new friends and to enrich your life through education, culture, or sport. I signed up for a Spanish class, multiple new meet-up groups, and went to museums, art galleries, poetry readings, and story telling events.

*Keep trying something old in a new way. Because I have CRS (Can’t Remember Shit), I have no idea what I meant when I jotted this down in my first draft of this post…. but it sounds good so I’m keeping it. Please tell me what you think I meant.

*It’s good to get out of your comfort zone. Take this in any way you want. Going to a bar happy hour by myself was a leap for this shy blogger.

*Say yes to as much as you can. Even if you’re tired. Even if you’re cranky. Go, do, enjoy.

*If a man starts to make you feel bad about yourself in any way, run to the nearest exit. Consider the source and do not believe anything he says about you.

*Similarly, if a man doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, look elsewhere.

*Get used to the roller coaster of dating. One day you’ll be messaging or talking to 3 guys – all seemingly good possibilities and by the end of the next day, one has disappeared, one is revealed as a scammer, and the other one is starting to creep you out.

*Smile to yourself when you’re out with a couple (married or otherwise) that drives each other crazy or engages in petty fighting. At this moment, say, TGIS (Thank God I’m Single.)

*If a man’s total focus is on sex – either before or after you meet – drop him even if you want sex.

*Put on your big girl panties and tell your man what you need and what you want.

*Keep a journal or write a blog to help you figure out your life. Writing an anonymous blog helped motivate me to try new things – for the good of the blog. 

*Be as physically active as you can to relieve stress and to feel better about yourself.

*Be a woman who roars. Revel in your strength and independence. It feels good to add oil and transmission fluid to your car, tighten that loose toilet seat, manage a home renovation project, and book an overseas trip.

What have you learned in the last year? Let me know. If you liked this post or any past ones, sign up to get regular email delivery of this blog. To maximize your pleasure, sign up for my Twitter feed and like my Facebook page. You’ll get frequent daily updates of news and features about dating, relationships, sex, the single life, and life in your 60s.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia