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Archive for the ‘boys boys boys’ Category

I know. It’s been forever. But I have to get this out of my head and into some kind of order–so here it is, and if anyone ever reads it, that’s a plus.

So this guy I was dating last year and who some of you know about and some of you don’t–he raped me. No one knows this–besides me, obviously–and it took me ages to figure it out. Not because it wasn’t obvious, but because, classic Maeve, I decided that I was over-reacting and being too sensitive and I should get over it and get over myself for being so upset. Actual thought at the time was something like, “this experience is so much like rape and yet somehow not rape because I know he’s a good person and he cares about me, and yet, it has affected me so strongly! I don’t get it.” Sometimes for a smart girl, I am very thick.
I did not break up with him over the rape. Partly because work was so insane and kept me so busy that I didn’t even have time to think about what happened to me. Partly because I managed to convince myself that it was not rape, only something much like rape that was somehow not rape because he was a good person who wouldn’t hurt me, so I should get over it.
I did yell at him, though–but not at the time. At the time, we had a very calm and mature discussion about how important it is to ALWAYS LISTEN TO A GIRL WHEN SHE SAYS NO, that I don’t say no when I don’t mean it, and he should not ever second-guess or over-ride me when I say no about anything. Would you believe there was a ton of other stuff he wouldn’t listen to me say no about either, and I still didn’t get it? I am giving you this x–I don’t want it–I want to give it to you–I do not want it, do not give it to me–here it is, it is yours–I am throwing it out–why did you throw it out?–I DON’T WANT IT. Controlling and manipulative and really just evil, all in a nice-guy cloak so he can try to manipulate people (i.e. me) into a position of obligation, and then make demands, like for sex. Which was not the situation with the rape, but did happen after the rape, when oddly enough I didn’t much want to have sex with him anymore and he was feeling hard-done-by, so lashed out at me (again under a “nice guy” guise of “but I only did it because I knew you really wanted me to”). That was when I yelled at him.
He then complained about my anger. He had to walk on eggshells, he said. I go for the jugular, he said. Why am I so rude to him? he said.
Believe it or not, this post is not about the rape.
This is backstory. It has absolutely affected me in ways I’m not yet able to discuss or even describe. Though it has taken a real toll on my dating life,  believe me. Not sure what it is going to take for me to be able to trust someone again. At the very least, more time. But this is just context for the story that I am going to relate.
Recently, I was thinking about this, and giving myself a ferociously hard time, because how stupid do I have to be, to be raped and STILL blame myself for being single and unable to make a relationship work? For sticking around and trying to resolve it with someone who thinks it’s ok to rape someone? Why the hell didn’t I run for the exits? In what universe does someone deserve a second chance after they rape someone? And so on.
And I realized that I am always giving allowances for what people tell me their intentions are. If a guy tells me he’s a good guy who means well and would never hurt me, then even when he hurts me, I give him the benefit of the doubt and try not to “over-react.” Which means that in practice I under-react. I stay with a sex addict for ten years, because at least he’s not beating me, he’s not gambling away our life savings, he’s not hurting PP. Oh hey, here’s a guy who lives in his cousin’s basement and quits his job regularly to write comic books that never ever get finished, and who complains about how all the women he’s dated before were shallow bimbos because they weren’t happy to date a guy without a job or any money–he’d be a good life partner. Let’s try this out. How about this married guy? He says he loves me and if I really loved him, I wouldn’t care how miserable I am and I would wait for as long as it takes for him to decide he’s ready to leave his wife. Sounds like a plan. This one who is chasing me all over and won’t leave me alone and is monitoring my movements says it’s just because he misses me; instead of turfing him after two weeks I should date him for three months because, who knows! Maybe I can talk him into seeing reason. And now this guy, who never listened when I said no, talked about marrying me at two months, manipulated me into meeting his family and his kids much earlier than I was ready for, treated his ex-wife like garbage and tried to destroy her life–oh, and bugged her house–and RAPED ME–I haven’t given it enough time yet, maybe we can talk it out, I am so sensitive and over-react so much, I shouldn’t trust my emotions, I should totally trust him instead when he says that he would never hurt me, even when he’s hurting me.
My god. The man raped me. What did I do? I talked to him about communication. I then gave him another chance.
And the Trader. This is where it wraps up.
Even with the Trader, I thought. His stupid mean jokes, making fun of me in public, smiling at me when I was angry at him, constantly pushing my boundaries–and I kept not getting angry and not getting angry because ‘his intentions were good’ and he was a good person who cared about me, and when I did get angry because he worked so hard to make me angry–and he did–then my anger became the problem. My anger! When I didn’t yell at him, call him names, raise my voice–no. I stood there, I looked angry, I’m sure I sounded angry, but I am not hyper-sensitive and I don’t over-react. Someone stalked me and I didn’t break up with them for two months. Someone RAPED me and I didn’t break up with them for three months! Someone cheated on me for over NINE YEARS and I told myself to get over it! I have put up with this job for THREE YEARS, which is two years more than anyone else in my role has managed to tolerate it for–I do not over-react! And I need to never ever tell myself that again, because it puts me in situations where people can actually physically endanger me and I still don’t speak up. From now on and for the rest of my life, I will never ever ever use someone else’s stated intentions to excuse how they treat me, ever again. If someone does something to make me feel like shit, then it’s shit, and that’s that, and it doesn’t need to make sense to them, and I don’t care what they think about it. What someone else tells me their intentions are is now none of my business. If it feels like disrespect, it’s disrespect. If it feels hurtful, it’s hurtful. If it feels insulting, it’s insulting. And my god, even with the Trader, I did that dance for 18 months. Thank god I broke up with him.
I say all of this because the Trader and I have become friends. Or I should say had become.
I should also say that it was an explicit, stated part of our previous relationship that I must never question his intentions. The only thing that could get him angry, he said, was if I did not believe  his intentions were good.
Well. It was, coincidentally, a conversation with the Trader where I was first able to put my newfound resolution (to care about my own feelings more than someone else’s stated intentions) to the test. He brought up one of the recent rape-in-the-military scandals. We have previously talked about women in the military many times, his position being that women should not be in the military, because men cannot form proper killing machine teams with women in the vicinity. Total sexist bullshit, I know. He is very sexist, but wants credit for believing in equality because “you know when I met my ex-wife I didn’t even demand that she give up her career, I supported it even!” and “I got her a nanny and a housekeeper when TraderTot was small” and “after the divorce my friends told me I should just have put my foot down, that she went crazy because I let her get away with too much,” and somehow in his mind this adds up to equality. Why, oh why, oh why, did I ever put up with this?
At any rate, we were talking about the rape scandals, and I told him how I felt about it: that the military attracts men who are trying to prove their masculinity (this has been demonstrated in some really excellent studies), and one of the ways such men prove their masculinity is by abusing women (very good studies there too–I’m not making this up, it’s not hypothetical). That a military composed so much of men with so few women in it is going to be even more hyper-masculine in this destructive way; the entire culture of the military needs to be changed. We can just swap out one Military Dude Whose Job It Is To Protect Women From Other Military Dudes, with another one. Because a military that views women as objects with which Manly Men demonstrate their virility and penis-hood by raping and beating is not, actually, going to be effective at protecting the women in that society who do after all comprise 50+% of it. You know? I mean, how is that military going to effectively protect the interests of the half of the population that they consider to be Not Fully Human? Not well, is what I am thinking.
So I said this, but politely.
He wanted credit still for not being sexist.
Sure, he said, I can see what you’re saying in how a male military might lead to an unequal outcome, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not equal. It doesn’t mean that I don’t support equality, by not wanting women in the military.
No, I said. It’s sexist, patronizing, and insulting. It is not equal, to argue that women will interfere with men’s special killing teams when that killing team is supposed to exist to protect the interests of women as well as men.  (You see what I did there? He wanted credit for his intentions; I said no. First time ever. But no, his stated intentions did not get him a pass or a cookie for being enlightened and proto-feminist for not wanting women in the military.)
He then stopped talking to me.
Literally, just stopped. Walked away, and did not talk to me again for weeks. No word of explanation. Just gone.
Fine, I thought. I will wait. I am sure as hell not going to become part of his constant tornado of “women drama” that surrounds him at all times of the day and night by trying to get an explanation out of him, or talk it over. Let him go and be a sulky jerk.
He cancelled plans by saying that he was just in a really terrible place and couldn’t pretend to be happy right now. OK, sure. I was going to cancel our plans anyway, since I have no particular desire to see him, seeing as he’s a sulky jerk.
When he finally decided to tell me–still no apology or even indication that just walking away was anything other than normal or acceptable–it was about more drama from his ex-wife, another battle over time with Trader-Tot, and how this had him staring into the abyss. “What, that’s it?” is how my response can be paraphrased. “Umm, seriously? Your fancy-pants expensive arbitrator saved the day yet again, right? Everything is just the way you want it? No crisis? Right?”
Don’t think he was impressed, as he is still not speaking to me. I don’t much care, and don’t miss him.
In the not-speaking-to periods, I have done some pretty deep thinking. I remembered how nervous I was of him, how scared sometimes; how something just didn’t add up, in the story he told of himself and his divorce and who he was. His stupid mean jokes, that he wouldn’t stop. The way he constantly complains about all of the DRAMA from the women in his life, not having any clue that he causes it. (Actual conversation about his most recent break-up: Me: Well, that sounds pretty drama free. That’s nice. Trader: Oh yes, there was no drama there. None. I would sometimes say shit like you know I do and sit there looking afraid I guess like she was going to go drama, and she’d constantly reassure me that that’s not what she does. -and then I stared at him, perplexed and somewhat sad, as he apparently had no memory that this also perfectly describes the first few months of our relationship and how he behaved then, and how eventually he did find ways to make me “go drama,” and then blame me for them.) No complaints about DRAMA from men. How he would talk about how “scared” he is of the anger of the women in his life, including mine, when the expressions of anger were minimal to non-existent. The way, when I would try to talk to him about things he was doing that angered me, and he would just sit there with that stupid smirk on his face, as if he couldn’t care less but I sure was cute when I was being all hyper-sensitive. All of it. I re-read all my old entries.
I remembered a party of his I had been to recently, where he had invited a woman he hates. Don’t ask me why. But he hates her, and is constantly complaining of her immaturity, her craziness, her DRAMA. She comes to this party, and he spends the whole thing “joking” with her about how immature and crazy she is. Huh, I remembered thinking; sometimes those mean jokes are really not jokes.
I re-read the links about abusive relationships.
I thought, well fuck, he actually did show a lot of warning signs of emotionally abusive relationships: the boundary pushing, the mean “jokes,” the early push for too much commitment and moving much too fast, the stories of how he and his ex were engaged within six months of meeting, how he made her move across the Atlantic for him, his insistence on rigid sex roles (again disguised as a “joke”–he still jokes with me about how ‘unladylike’ I am), his broken and forgotten promises, his over-selling of what he was going to do with his life to match what he thought I wanted, his belief that he was entitled to behave however he wanted without consequence because he told me he meant well–pretty much all of the warning signs were there. The only one that wasn’t was “hypersensitivity,” which is over-reacting to perceived slights, but in the Trader’s case there was no reaction to anything I said of an emotional nature.
And I remembered the dream about the broken sentient robot that told mean jokes.
The sentient part made sense already–the mean jokes made sense in spades–but why a robot?
He’s a robot, you ninny, because he doesn’t have a heart.
I would very much like to never speak to him again. But PP would miss seeing him and TT. The only reason I have not cut him out of my life permanently, right now, is PP. And I don’t know what to do, or how to handle that. She is already very upset about the last guy (the rapist, who also let himself into my house in my absence to find and remove his things without asking or telling me–which she found out about, and which scared her). And she’s lost so much. I don’t want her to lose more on my account.
But the Trader is not a nice guy with a bad history of relationships and a crazy ex. He’s an abusive, misogynistic asshole. I’d bet you my house he abused his ex-wife, though not physically; I’d bet you anything she said he was plotting her murder because she was genuinely afraid of him. I’ll bet you that is the black box connecting the sweet, innocent girl of the courtship with the crazy lady of the divorce: an unrelenting campaign of verbal and emotional abuse that he doesn’t even recognize because he thinks that’s how you’re supposed to treat women.
And now the question is, what boundaries do I put in place so that I don’t go crazy trying to be friends with someone that my daughter would miss if I cut him out of my life?
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Brief Update

1. I’m alive. No thanks to the medical device that’s supposed to keep me that way, but a story for another time, Dear Readers. (Nothing serious. Irritating rather than frightening.)

2. I need a nickname. (One day I should do a search to find out how many times I’ve used that phrase over the last four years. It’s my very own personal cliche.) But I don’t know what to use.

It’s the musician guy. He’s a single dad with a couple of bands and other artistic ventures and some side businesses to pay the bills. We met up last week between my workday and his gig; a picnic in not particularly nice weather by the lake. It was a bit rushed due to the time constraints but nice–relaxed, casual, and much more fun than the standard coffee date. He’s cute. He has a nice smile. He seems sweet, and is very open. We had one of those “me too!” conversations, which may not say much if you haven’t made a habit of being an oddball (“I like American Idol.” “Me too!”) but doesn’t happen often when you have (“I was an anarchist in my 20s.” “Me too!”). We have, so far, very similar perspectives on politics and social issues.

So far.

Anyway, feel free to suggest a nickname. I can’t decide on one myself.

Do you hear me knocking on wood from where you are? I like him, a lot, but that inner voice keeps reminding me that the last time I really liked someone a lot, it didn’t turn out so well because he (they) turned out to be jerk(s).

We have another date this weekend and I am really excited about it. And so is he (that open thing). I think I’ll let most of this one happen off-stage though. Bug me directly if you want more details. 🙂

3. Oh right! Other guys:

Told Jokester I was going to pass on more dates. If I’m flipping out over some other guy, it wouldn’t be fair. Tuba was a disaster, totally non-face related, just was wooden and kind of sardonic and full of himself in person, then he went home and sent me a web diagnosis of PP based on a story I’d told him about a game she likes to play. Apparently it is indicative of deep psychological problems. Had a date with the other single dad, no spark. Nothing in common. Smiled politely over a diet coke for a while then went home. Have let the other email correspondences drop.

Yep, really like the unnicknameable one. Not fair to be dating others if I’m not really interested, so I won’t. The unnicknameable one–lord that’s a mouthful–and I have already discussed how neither of us are currently dating other people. We’ll see what happens.

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fun with statistics

Actually, this is not fun, and I rather suspect that most people would never think to put “fun” and “statistics” in the same sentence to begin with, but: here is what I have been occupying myself with this weekend.

Let’s say I’d like to find someone as smart, nice and open-minded as myself.

My IQ is 3 standard deviations from the mean, so that’s 1/750, just about.

I’m in the first centile for niceness and second for open-mindedness. So that’s:

1/750 x 1/100 x 1/50 = 0.00000027, or 1/3,750,000.

According to these very helpful statistics, there is one person in the local metropolitan area who is as intelligent (according to IQ), agreeable and open as I am, and it’s me.

I would like to stress that this is not or do I consider it to be any kind of measure of virtue or worthwhileness, just a few basic intelligence and personality measures that are correlated with relationship satisfaction. If you’d rather look at it differently you could easily claim that I’m just very hard to please. Or I could be, if I’d ever applied this in reality.

Let’s add in the other stuff I’ve been looking for, just for maximum torture effect:

Taller than me (1/2), male (1/2), between my age and about ten years older (1/7), reasonably attractive (1/3), fairly conscientious (1/3): 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/7 x 1/3 = 1/84 on its own, which is not so bad. But let’s add this to the above equation:

1/750 x 1/100 x 1/50 x 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/7 x 1/3 = 1/315,000,000

So there would be about 1.5 guys on this continent who would have all of these qualities.

1.5. What do you think the odds are that they live near Beyond Bob? Not so good? That’s what I’m guessing. Hell, the chances he lives in this country are pretty fucking slim. Notice that I haven’t stipulated he must be single, mostly because I haven’t looked up the statistics for that.

Before you all jump on my case–even silently–let me point out that I very obviously haven’t been using all of these as screening criteria or I wouldn’t have gone on any dates with anyone since leaving the Ex. I knew that the person I would really, really like to be with was likely not to be nearby and/or single so I should be practical and not expect to get the whole list in one package. But frankly, at one in three hundred and fifteen million, how much exactly am I going to have to bend to get down to the one in fifteen thousand range that would make it reasonably likely he might live within a ten minute drive of my house?

1/15 x 1/4 x 1/4 x 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/4 x 1/3 = 1/11,520, or: if I look for someone smart, reasonably nice and open-minded, male, taller than me, within 20 years of my age and reasonably conscientious, there is a chance that he might exist within my community and there might be as many as 217 such individuals within the local metropolitan area. Some of whom are bound to be single, and a few of whom might be interested in me in turn.

Those are better odds than “there might be somebody somewhere but I’ll never find him” but still not particularly good, and in order to get to that, chances are high that I will need to get used to the idea of being a better partner for him than he will be for me, in most respects. As in: I will probably be some combination of nicer, smarter, more emotionally stable, etc. than whoever I’m with. So then I start thinking about trade-offs and what someone else could have to offer that would bring me satisfaction beyond what I could provide for myself, outside of money (which I don’t particularly value) and help with the housework (which I have purchased).

I have no idea what to do with this.

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When the vacation ends, you have to go back to work.

Bah. But I’m here, and caught up, which is good.

And I have Plans! To read, sew, run, hike, get out of the house, go to poetry group, and possibly go on a couple of dates, while PP is away. Psych has vanished into the ether–pretty well literally, as I keep getting emails from him, but farther and farther apart, and all saying the same thing: “Wow, it’s been a horrible week! I’ll write more soon!” Then a few days pass and I get another message just like it. The last one came through on the 23rd. So my guess is that things will not be panning out with him.

That’s ok. I had a date yesterday with, mmm, Jokester. An auditor by day, a stand-up-comic by night. I know. He’s not GQ material but he seems very decent, clever, and (guess!) very funny. He’s a bit more conventional than I am and I’m not sure if there’s enough common ground there for a relationship, but I enjoyed myself enough to meet up with him again and see. And I have a date on Wednesday with the guy who seems great except for the face like a totaled car. It will either go very well or disastrously. (Very well=face does not matter and we hit it off swimmingly–emails have all gone very well so far. Disastrously=cannot be attracted to him and feel terribly awkward the entire time. We shall see.) Nickname shall be … Tuba, because he plays one in his spare time.

Both are single dads with low-drama relationships with their exes, regular jobs, and who live reasonably nearby. There’s another single dad with no nickname yet who’s asked me out but we haven’t yet set anything. He seems a bit desperate; I’m iffy on the first date. We’ll see. There’s, oh gosh, probably another 3 or 4 who haven’t yet asked me out but probably will and if they did I’d probably say yes to a first meeting. So as you can see I am not overly distraught by the disappearance of Psych.

There’s another one who has recently asked to meet up–nothing set yet but it should be soon–and it will either be fabulous or a total disaster. Single dad, a bit farther away, financially self-sufficient from what I can tell but not a regular job (freelance stuff), and the guitarist for one of my favourite bands in my early twenties. Nope, no expectations, no pressure, not at all. I’ll give him a nickname when/if we set a date.

AND. You won’t believe this. Remember the rich guy a bunch of years back who tried to tell me that we could have a long-distance relationship because he could buy a second house here and everything would work out just fine? Yeah. He’s back, and trying to tell me that we could have a long-distance relationship (possibly leading to a long-distance marriage) because he could buy a second house here and everything would work out just fine. We are very compatible; it’s not often one gets a chance to correct a mistake and I should be careful not to make that mistake again.

Ummm.

makes a couple of million a year<->doesn’t much care about money
thinks nothing of a relationship founded on air travel<-> has a moral and ethical objection to unnecessary air travel
loves shopping<->hates shopping
do not have citizenship in the same country

Yep. Totally compatible. What am I thinking to throw this guy over again?

Oh! AND AND.

Hike is now on another dating site I’m on (making me wonder if eH booted him) and he was checking my profile out there (maybe pissed because I used a picture of me he’d taken as my profile shot?). Ick. I blocked him. You should have seen his photo: he looked like someone had just asked him a question he didn’t understand, much less know the answer to.

I can think of a few that might fit.

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The vacation was fabulous, and thank you for asking, and oh my god I wish we were still there. Every day was wonderful. Each had its share of less-than-wonderful minutes (“I AM TIRED OF WALKING! I CANNOT WALK FOR EVEN ONE MORE STEP! I AM GOING TO SIT DOWN AND REST RIGHT! HERE! Oh, Mummy, look, there’s a squirrel!” and off she runs) but on the whole we had such great fun, and I’m so glad we spent the ungodly amount of money that we did on this big Mummy-and-daughter vacation.

Now I will spend a slightly-less-than-ungodly amount of money printing out photographs. Some of them even have skies in them. As opposed to that wonderful white glare that I interpret as an angry Digital Camera God wreaking his vengeance.

Anyway.

I would like to say a moment of thanks for the many wonderful gentlemen who unintentionally parody themselves on dating websites.

For GoofyGuy, whose profile shot shows him looking as if he’s watching his beloved dog of 20 years be euthanized for a brain tumour.

For HappyGoLucky2010, whose profile photo looks like a mug shot.

For SalInParadise, about 2000 miles away from me and over 10 years  younger, who nonetheless added me to his favourites list. And for HandsomeDude99, 1000 miles away from me, who would like to know if I’m interested in a date.

For ImSane!, who sent me exactly five messages, each one a glowing tribute to his own many charms, the wonders of his photographs, his impressive hobbies, and his fascinating goals and dreams.

For CrushedByLife, who told me that he came home from work one day last week, staring into the abyss of his failed marriage and was roused to life again by a timely drink, and by the way, would I be up for a movie? (I feel badly about this one as I do not want to make him feel rejected, but was so badly alarmed by his message that I couldn’t come up with something suitable to say in reply–and now it’s been much too long.)

For the guy whose name I can’t remember, who posted so many flattering photographs of himself in various poses in his bathroom, open medicine cabinet plainly visible behind him. He has a nice shower curtain.

For SunnyScotsman, who lives in another country but sends me multiple messages whenever I log on.

Oh, yes, lots of sane and normal guys who I am talking to like a sane and normal girl … but if it weren’t for the nuts, how much fun could it be?

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I need a new nickname, Dear Readers. One for a guy who is irish, smart, bookish, and a psychologist. It’s not lending itself to anything really obvious for me so for now I’ll go with Psych. So: coffee date with Psych today at a local cafe. Went very well; he’s personable, friendly, very smart, we talked for a couple of hours about tons of things and enjoyed it greatly, and who should walk in just as we were thinking about heading out but two of my coworkers, who then took up a table on the opposite side of the cafe and smirked at us (nicely). And then we all struck up a conversation, so score one for Psych who was also able to chat with my very nice colleagues. There will be a date #2 later this week, before PP comes back. Tomorrow I’m meeting up withe FriendBoy and looking forward to it greatly. Plans with GameBoy fell through (he needed to take the kids this weekend). Tomorrow evening I’m meeting up with a local hiking group for the first time, and really looking forward to that too–local hiking friends! I need that badly.

This mini social update brought you to you by PPlessness. I miss her like stink already. Today I will cook, sew, write, read, run, and pretend to be productive instead of lonely and miserable.

~~~~~

So as I began thinking of this post, I dropped my near-full can of Diet Coke and spilled it all over the floor–appropriate, I think, for writing about a non-goal-oriented, serendipitous, grace-under-fire approach to success.

For all of the progress women have made over the last several decades, certain attitudes remain distressingly common and difficult to eradicate: to be successful as a female, one must be youthful, attractive, desirable to men, and in long-lasting and heterosexual relationship. It doesn’t matter what else you have, do or are in the rest of your life. If you can’t master these four, expect to be pitied. A man who ages well, remains single, and has other accomplishments is admired and envied; a woman is pitied, as if nothing else matters if she can’t get a man and keep him happy.

If this doesn’t describe why women continue to buy and devour relationship self-help books, I don’t know what does. Arguably, women need men far less than men need women. So how else to make sure that women chase men around trying to service and satisfy them, other than to convince them that they are pathetic failures, desperate, sad and lonely caricatures of women?

Women’s magazines–chick flicks–chicklit–and those god-damned relationship self-help books–the happy endings are all a kiss with the handsome prince, however defined. Men are not sold this bill of goods, though as anyone who has ever lived with a man could tell you, men are really the ones who need the presence of the opposite sex in order to function on a daily basis. But I keep coming back to a few things, including one (just ONE) of the relationship self-help books, which pertinently noted that in order for girls to grow into women seeing singledom as a positive option, women who are single need to see it so themselves, and act like they’re not just in a holding pattern waiting for a man to show up and complete them. The rest of the book I can no longer recall (though clearly I should go back and reread it).

And I keep thinking–you know, I want to be in a relationship. Very much. I want my happily ever after, too, and for real this time, not a pretty mask on an empty horror. I would like to live with someone I love and who loves me and PP and makes our lives better. But that’s the key–it has to make our lives better. I have to believe going in that this isn’t an even trade, but an improvement. I’ve been in a bad marriage before. Being single, even being single when you really don’t want to be single, is a hell of a lot better than being in a bad marriage.

Still, I get caught up in the feelings of inadequacy, as if there is something wrong with me and I have failed because I’m not in a relationship. Or because it’s been four years since the separation and The One has yet to appear. So it’s headshake time.

Here they are: Maeve’s Reasons Why Single Moms are Already Successful:

1. Biological: Your genes don’t care if you’re married or common-law or a prostitute. They just want to get passed on. Single moms, by definition, have done this already. My genes give me an A+.

2. Autonomy: Single moms don’t have to get anyone’s permission to paint the living room, put flowered curtains in the bathroom, sleep on whatever side of the bed they damned well please, make what they like for dinner, or spend an extra $50 on a frill. The downside of running the house by yourself is a total downer, meaning exhaustion and over-extension and too many bills, but the upside is truly beautiful. No televised sports games. No arguments over discipline or schoolwork. No cable bill. No snoring. No pile of stinky underwear beside the bed. No lidless toothpaste tube leaking toothpaste all over the sink. No in-laws. No doing 50% more housework, no pressure to take a paycut and work part-time since we don’t “need” my income. No choice between nagging someone to do a little bit of housework vs. just giving up and doing it all yourself.

3. Financial: We bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and give exactly zero thought to whether or not it wounds some fragile male ego to say so.

4. Variety: You know what cures the middle-aged female labido? Singledom. Boredom is death to desire, Dear Readers. No fears there, so long as I’m not committed to anyone. When I was with the Ex, thanks to boredom and the Ick factor of sex with someone who was trying to have sex with the entire female half of the western hemisphere, we did not have a whole lot of (ahem) intimate time (and when we did, I was a bundle of resentment, which also is no fun for either party). That hasn’t been an issue for a while now.

5. Career: The Married Me was trapped in a boring, stultifying, dead-end (yet comfortable and secure) job largely because it met my ex-husband’s needs. Thanks to autonomy (see #2), I now have a job I like in a career I love and live somewhere I’m crazy about. I write in my spare time. I read oodles of books, and complete my craft projects.

6. Authenticity: I am building a life that matches who I am and who I want to be.

7. Happiness: I practically ooze all of that gratitude-happiness-meaning stuff the Positive Psychology gurus go on and on about.

No wonder I am being picky and demanding in relationships. Marriage has not been good to me, and as I write this I realize that I feel I’d be giving up an awful lot for something of dubious value. I still want that partnership, but it has to be a good partnership, one in which I’d gain more than I’d lose–meaning that the above needs to remain intanct. I need to know I can still live my environmental and social values, still do work that is meaningful, not sacrifice my personal life to meeting the needs of the household and my partner, not cede my equality. I’m still going to date, not just because I do want a relationship that can lead to a real partnership someday and I won’t find it at home in my pajamas, more’s the shame, but also because celibacy isn’t a lifestyle I can appreciate for more than a few weeks.

In the meantime, thankyouverymuch, Western Culture, but women haven’t needed men to be successful for a very long time now. Feel free to catch up with reality whenever you’d like.

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new lesson learned

I should not ignore what a guy tells me about himself in the first few weeks of dating.

Rather, I should expect the direct opposite.

The Ex spent his time talking up the importance of monogamy when we first met. The Trader, how happy he was, how optimistic, and much he wanted a drama-free and boring relationship. The Starving Artist, how much he wanted to be responsible and stable. And now Hike, who told me so convincingly about what a nice guy he was, and how he treated others with respect and consideration.

I’ve decided that this is the way to a person’s blind spot: they blind themselves, whether consciously or not, with all the talk about how much they are not this thing that they so badly do not want to be.

Which makes me wonder about what it is about myself that I cover up with too much talk. I don’t think I actually talk about myself at all when I first meet someone. I figure I’m better off just talking about what I care about, and acting like myself, and then the other person can come to their own likely accurate conclusions about who I am. But I’ll have to pay attention over the next little while to the things I do say, and what I say too often.

And: listen to the guys, listen to what they talk up. Gandhi spent a lot of time in his last emails telling me how suffering is optional, pain is optional, it’s important to choose happiness over fear–all fine, really, but it tells me he probably is suffering and in pain. Otherwise I don’t think I’ve heard too much concerning from the other guys I’m talking to.

Meanwhile, the new PM has been telling me how important it is to have good communication skills and let people take responsibility for their own work, not control too much, and not encourage them to be dependent on the PM. Hmmm.

(Speaking of which: it’s not just me she’s alienated. She has cut off contact with one of her clients, angered local government offices by being pushy with inappropriate questions, and completely frustrated our field workers. I shouldn’t be happy about this, but I am. How long do you think it will take the higher-ups to realize that she’s a disaster?)

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