Wasteland

May 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

Romance in Real LifeI’ve been racking my brain for a new topic for this blog, but everything I think of seems like such a bore.  I don’t want Romance in Real Life to be a series of posts about men behaving badly nor do I want it to be some kind of instructional guide for online dating.  I want it to be about romance, damn it!  I don’t want it to be about lack of romance, though, alas, that does seem to be my main real life material these days.

I haven’t met anyone I felt even the slightest interest in for what feels like forever.  After a series of truly execrable dates during which men behaved very badly indeed, I decided to turn my online dating profile off.  I also stopped my involvement with the matchmaking service – it was a scam.

It’s a romantic wasteland around here and I’m not the only one I know who feels that way.  One of my friends thinks the blame lies with where we live – dating in New York is a hopeless misery, she says.  One of my friends thinks it’s the economy’s fault – he believes everyone is in some state of emotional paralysis due to their financial woes.  Single people have one set of issues, married people another: there was a deluge of weddings amongst the people I know a few years ago; now there seems to be wave after wave of divorces.  I am surrounded by the loveless and lovelorn and we’re all pretty darn mopey about it.

It was a gorgeous spring day here today so I took a long walk.  The sun was shining, the air was cool and crisp, but (finally!) without the frigid bite of winter.  I noticed the flowers on the trees are giving way to new-growth vibrant-green leaves.  I saw beautiful clusters of daffodils and tulips in bloom all over town.

Everyone, it seemed, was out enjoying the weather.  The sidewalks were crowded with pedestrians, joggers, and the occasional scooter enthusiast.  People were walking their dogs – and in some cases, dogs were walking their people.  The flight attendant who lives a few buildings down from me whizzed by on his roller-blades and shouted “Hi, neighbor!”

The sidewalks of New York are more or less always full of pedestrian traffic, but on a beautiful day it can feel too crowded.  A few people I know have what they call ‘sidewalk rage’ – a condition caused by getting stuck time and again behind slow-paced walkers who are also taking up too much of the width of the sidewalk to easily pass.

I was walking at a pretty fast pace and passed people again and again, but at one point I got stuck behind a couple in the midst of a bitter argument.  The woman’s voice was shrill and grating.  The man barely spoke at all.  When I finally passed them, I turned to get a look at the man’s face.  He looked put-out and contemptuous, like he was tolerating the company of a crackpot stranger.  But I could hear every word she said and it was clear they had been together for a long time.  It seemed to me his facial expression was designed to drive his partner even more insane, and sure enough, within moments her voice ratcheted up in volume again.  My guess is she knew her tone was ineffective, yet couldn’t help herself.  I’ve been there – almost exactly – trying to bridge some impossible gap while my partner simply tuned me out.

I turned the corner and shortly found myself walking in step with a woman on a mobile phone.  “You’d think an older man would be more ready to settle down, but I swear they’re the craziest!”  I was about to say Amen, sister, thinking of my 54-year-old ex, when she said “I mean, that guy was 37, for god’s sake!”  I quickened my 38-year-old feet and passed her, thankful her voice faded into the background within moments.

I figured the next thing I’d see was an angry woman hurling garments out of an apartment window.  Her locked-out man would be on the sidewalk, looking up and shouting, “Come on, baby!  It didn’t mean anything!  I swear it!” while his neckties rained down around him on the pavement.  That didn’t happen, on trend though it would have been.  I did, however, pass a pair of women discussing the fact that ‘he’ hadn’t called, texted or emailed for a week.

I decided to tune my fellow New Yorkers out and put my earphones on.  I hit the workout playlist on my iPod.  First up: Robyn’s Dancing On My Own, followed by Madonna’s Sorry, then Cascada’s What Hurts the Most – song after song for the lovelorn – I hadn’t before noticed that my workout music, chosen primarily for a treadmill-ready beat, is chock-full of heartache, betrayal, and unrequited love.

I scrolled through the playlist looking for something – anything – not about heartbreak and found Lady GaGa’s Just Dance.  I hadn’t listened to the song in quite some time.  It threw me viscerally back to the spring of 2009 when the song was in heavy rotation on my iPod.  I was involved in a whirlwind romance and I remembered the flirty fun we had.  I was crazy about that man.  I don’t feel that way very often, but how I wish I would meet someone to feel that way about again!

I walked in a large rectangle – north, west, south, and then east back to my building.  When I turned onto my street, I saw a couple making out on their front stoop.  He was sitting on the short wall next to the stairs and she was standing on the first step between his knees.  His arms were looped around her waist and her arms were around his neck.  In between kisses they rubbed noses and said things too softly for me to hear.  I felt a wee bit jealous, but mainly I was happy to see some romance.  It felt like a sign, like new life emerging in the desert, and like maybe there is an end in sight to this romantic wasteland I find myself in.

XOXO – Evelyn

Matchmaker

March 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

Romance in Real LifeI don’t think of matchmakers as being part of the modern world, but there are, in fact, a few of them about.  Six months ago my mother saw an advertisement for a matchmaking service she thought looked appealing.  She called me to tell me about it and suggested I give it a try.  I got on their website and thought it looked potentially interesting, but noticed there was no pricing information anywhere, which made me think they were very expensive.  I more or less dismissed the idea because of that assumption – I don’t know about you, but I don’t have stacks of cash lying around earmarked for random experiments.

My mother, however, didn’t agree with that logic and over the last few months she asked me repeatedly if I had called yet.  I said no, I hadn’t – it looked too pricey, I was sure I was right.  Why didn’t I just call and find out, she asked again and again, until finally one morning at the beginning of February I did.  After all, my mother was right – there was no harm in getting more information.

I called and spoke with an enthusiastic, charismatic woman.  I expressed my interest in the matchmaking service and asked how much it was.  She changed the subject without answering my question and soon we had been talking for well over two hours.  It was a lively, amusing conversation in which we discussed dating, men, and what I was looking for in a partner.  She explained how the service worked and I found myself full of enthusiastic optimism – our conversation had me convinced the matchmaking service was going to make dating fun again, and that Mr. Right was sure to be one of their clients.  By the time she revealed the extravagant cost of the service it seemed like money I needed to spend.  It was crystal clear to me that the price was worth it – I was finally going to find The One!

Soon after I hung up the phone I felt a twinge of buyer’s remorse – I couldn’t really afford to spend that money.  I wasn’t in danger of not making my rent or anything, but I would have to tighten my belt quite a few uncomfortable notches to make it through the next few months.  Yet, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like maybe the expense was a good thing.  I figured the price itself would weed out the men I’d like to avoid.  It seemed to me that only men who are honestly looking for a real-deal partner would pay so much money.  Paying the fee struck me as a statement of values in itself – surely only a person who highly valued the notion of having a partner would spend that kind of money in search of one.  This logic was shared by many people I know – they came up with it on their own too, without my “leading the witness.”  The price was a good thing, everyone I spoke to said, and they had a great feeling about the service.

The bane of my existence with online dating is that so many men say they are looking for long-term relationships when they are not.  I think they feel like they have to say that to attract enough women.  Casting a wide net is part of their online dating strategy.  They don’t want to only interact with the few women who have indicated they are seeking something short-lived.  It’s an interesting hypocrisy: these men don’t want a serious relationship, but they seem to want their not-serious relationship with a woman who is otherwise not inclined to be casual.  In terms of gross generalizations, they seem to want to be the exception for a ‘good girl’ and don’t seem to want the women who are trolling for sex the way they are.

Online dating is cheap – sometimes it’s free, sometimes it’s as much as a few dollars a day, but it isn’t a big financial obligation.  So being disingenuous in an online profile doesn’t cost much – if the man interacts with a lot of women who aren’t for him, it’s merely a waste of time – it doesn’t have financial consequences.

I figured the cost of the matchmaking service would eliminate that factor.   Unlike with online dating, casting a wide net is not supposed to be part of the process.  The concept is quality over quantity – I will supposedly only be set up with people who, after the matchmaker’s careful consideration, might be a real match for me.  The matchmaker knows everyone involved, what we are looking for, and moreover, she allegedly has some sort of instinct for these things.

I’ve only been on one date set up by my matchmaker so far, but it was not what I was expecting.  I am not quite 100% ready to declare myself the victim of a scam, but I’m close.  It would have been one thing if it had merely been the case that my date and I had bad chemistry – that issue is simply outside the matchmaker’s control.  But while we did indeed have terrible chemistry, that wasn’t the problem.

It became immediately evident that my matchmaker did not know anything about the man with whom I was having dinner.  None of the objective resume-like facts she had shared with me about him before we met were true.  So much for her careful consideration!  Not only that, my date baldly stated that he was looking for a fling and had no interest in a long term-relationship.  So much for my theory!

My sister had been thinking she would recommend the service to a single friend.  I called her on my way home to tell her she must not do so.  Then I called my parents to let them know that I felt like a total rube.  I would say lesson learned, but what lesson did I learn exactly?  I have made no conclusions.  Perhaps my matchmaker is a con artist or perhaps that was a sloppy moment in an otherwise stellar career.  Perhaps some matchmakers are truly gifted and have set up many happy couples.  Then again, perhaps finding a mate is too delicate and subjective to ever effectively outsource.

I won’t be getting my money back and my time with my matchmaker has yet to run out, so I’ll be going on another date with another man she chooses for me.  I suspect that if she introduces me to The One, or even just The One for Right Now, it will simply be a matter of dumb luck.

XOXO – Evelyn

Do you have experience with a similar service?  Has anyone out there met The One through a matchmaker?  Do tell!

We Meet Again, Saint Valentine

February 1, 2013 § 2 Comments

Romance in Real LifeFebruary 14th is around the corner and according to romantic comedies, women’s magazines, TV sitcoms, and the like, Valentine’s Day should be very depressing for me, a single woman.  It should highlight and emphasize how alone I am, make me feel depressed and totally focused on the fact that there is no man in sight (as my mother recently and oh-so-charmingly put it).  I should apparently spend the day on the couch weeping and self-medicating by eating whole cartons of ice cream.

But the truth is if it weren’t for the pharmacy aisle dedicated to heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, I probably wouldn’t remember it was coming up at all.  Valentine’s Day has never loomed large in my mind.  If I am in a relationship, I think it’s a lovely additional opportunity to celebrate romance.  If I’m single and feeling lonely, that is true whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not – the day doesn’t aggravate the condition.

When I was in grade school, we decorated paper lunch bags with doilies, glitter, and stickers sometime before February 14th.  During lunch on Valentine’s Day we put our decorated paper bags on our desks to be used as mailboxes.  Each student went from desk to desk depositing cards in the other students’ bags.  We then sat at our desks and opened all the little cards while we ate the sandwiches our parents had put in our lunch boxes and drank cold little pints of milk the school provided.  Some of the valentines were homemade construction paper cutouts and some were those little cards that come in a plastic wrapped box of 20.  Some of the envelopes bulged with candy, and some were flat and sugar-free.

We each gave a card to every single member of the class.  The Valentine’s Day card exchange was not allowed to be a popularity contest – we didn’t give cards only to kids we liked, and no one was left out.  The whole exercise struck me as totally meaningless – I gave cards to each child with pre-inscribed romantic little messages like Be Mine, which meant nothing at all and everyone understood that.

I suppose I could have been outraged by the hypocrisy of it all.  For example, every year I gave a valentine to the biggest bully in my class (who tortured me on a daily basis) and it struck me as absolutely absurd to give her a card with some loving little message.  But I didn’t lose any sleep over it and it didn’t stick in my craw.  The card exchange was simply part of our school’s annual routine – for me it was neither important nor onerous.

When we were teenagers, one of my sisters went to a school at which there was some kind of Valentine’s Day fund raiser.  Carnations were sold on campus for about a dollar and the students could send a flower to someone else in the school with a little note tied to the stem with ribbon.  I’m sure it wasn’t the school’s intention, but the carnation sale was very much a popularity contest – some kids had a bouquet of carnations at the end of the day, some had none.  I think there was quite a bit of stress attached to it for everyone, especially for the students who didn’t receive any flowers.  But I didn’t go to that school, so it was a nonissue for me.

The only Valentine’s Day I can think of that was stressful for me was the one during which I was in a failing relationship because the day so clearly illustrated how bad things between us had become.  The man I was involved with decided to boycott Valentine’s Day, saying he wouldn’t be manipulated by the card and candy companies into celebrating a fake holiday.  I asked him if that was what he said to his parents on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and he admitted, with a sheepish look, that no, he didn’t say that to them.

I think the Valentine’s Day boycott was most likely nonsense said to cover the fact that he couldn’t be bothered with me or with our relationship anymore.  The year before, when he still did give a damn, he had given me a book of love poems with a sweet note.  I’m not sure if he was sending me a message on purpose or not, but what I heard that Valentine’s Day was that making his little point about the greeting card industrial complex was more important than me.  The emotional reality that I, the Valentine, came after his oh-so-trite ‘principle’ was painful for me.  I felt unloved and unhappy, but ultimately that Valentine’s Day fiasco was merely a symptom of the relationship’s disintegration and it’s not like I was previously unaware that we were on the rocks.  The boycott was simply an additional nail in the coffin of a soon-to-be-over romance.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I once received three dozen red roses from a man I was about to go out on a first date with.  February 14th happened to fall between the day he asked me out and our date.  The flowers were extravagant, unexpected, sweet, and set the tone for our short romance, which flared hot and then, alas, quickly burned out (but it was fun while it lasted!).

This year I am single and I’ll probably mark the occasion by sending a few Happy Valentine’s Day emails out to friends and family and then spend the evening curled up with a good book.  But then again, you never know – I have quite a few first dates lined up between now and then.  Perhaps I will meet someone before the 14th and be giddy with happiness, in the first intoxicating phase of a new infatuation with someone I haven’t, as of this moment, met yet.  A girl can hope!

XOXO – Evelyn

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Do you have plans to celebrate?  I hope you all have a lovely time, whether you go out with your Valentine, spend time with friends, or have a quiet, relaxed evening at home.

So Very Common

January 1, 2013 § 2 Comments

Romance in Real LifeI have what feels like a million acquaintances here in New York – a lot of neighbors, the staff at the corner bodega, the mailman, the junky on the corner (who follows me with an umbrella when it’s raining, trying to hold it over my head in the hope that I will pay for the service), an elderly Irish woman whose walker I carry up the stairs of her pre-war walkup every single day despite the fact that she always – ALWAYS – has some new problem with me and ends all of our chats with the irritating statement that she’ll pray for me (because I am apparently in need of much divine assistance).

I am referring to people I see on a regular basis who are not friends, but with whom I exchange enough small talk to actually know quite a bit about.  I just ran into the newly wed son of my superintendent.  He is an adorable 30 year old man and very friendly.  He lives in the basement of my building with his equally adorable new wife.

During the year he was engaged he glowed with happiness (he continues to do so – he is clearly totally smitten with his spouse).  But instead of saying he was happy and in love he kept referring to the wedding as though it was his doom – the end of his already mourned bachelorhood.  That was consistently his focus when he spoke of the wedding or his fiancé – he repeatedly articulated that he felt his upcoming nuptials would be the death of his freedom and carefree youth.  He never said anything positive – the only reason I know how he really feels is because it’s written all over his face when they are together – he looks downright sick with love – he can’t keep his melting eyes off her.

I recently asked him if they had big New Year’s Eve plans and he replied “those days are over,” with a sigh.  I smiled as though I commiserated while I thought what an ass.  Why are the days of big New Year’s Eve parties over because he has a wife?  WHY?  Why do so many people think this way?  And if they do think that way why on earth do they get married?  And worse, why do people who don’t seem to actually feel that way at all embrace that sort of talk?  Does my super’s son think it is cool to belong to some sort of club of distressed and hopeless married men?

Think about the husband/father characters that populate TV sitcoms – farting on the couch, a constant stream of snark streaming from their mouths.  The moments their love for their wives and children are revealed are so rare that they seem somehow infinitely precious.  The audience reaction really ought to be that if he feels such love how dare he express the opposite 99% of the time, yet everyone laughs but me.  I don’t see how it’s funny and never have.

That sort of humor and general attitude is so very common.  And I mean that in the most snobbish, scathingly disgusted way, which is exactly how I put it when an old boyfriend of my own tried to cast me as the ball-and-chain.  “Do we have to be so very common?” I asked with a sneer, knowing it would cut like a knife – his biggest fear was that he was not special.  “I want nothing at all to do with that model of domesticity,” I said with the dead calm that means I am so pissed the people near me should run for cover.  “If the only good times to be had are the ones when you escape me, the woman in the way of your happiness, I really truly want to break up right this second.”  His introduction of the concept that I was his jailer and the relationship’s ‘heavy’ made my skin crawl with revulsion.

He thought about it and later said that no, he didn’t feel that way at all and he didn’t know why he had said it.  Equating one’s partner to a ball and chain was the kind of thing his friends were always doing, he said, and the words had popped out of his mouth without thought.  He was infected with the mindset, but it in fact was not his own.  And this is what I think is going on with my super’s son.

Perhaps one day when I am an elderly woman who needs help with my walker I will feel free to express my opinions to people I barely know about how they are screwing up their own lives.  For now I stay silent.  But I want to yell at my super’s son.  I want to say “Don’t sully your romance with your low-rent man humor.  Love is precious!  Love is where most of us derive meaning!  Love is too important for your stupid sitcom jokes!  And I can see with crystal clarity – it is, after all, written all over your face – that you desperately love your wife.  So go home and ask her what big plans you two should make for New Year’s Eve and when the clock strikes midnight kiss her like you mean it – because you do.”

Alas, while I am not exactly shy with an opinion, I am about forty years too young for such unfiltered rants aimed at barely known acquaintances on the street corner.  In the meantime I will continue to look for an extraordinary man for my very own uncommon romance.  I find nothing less will do.

XOXO – Evelyn

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope you had a lovely holiday season and have a wonderful 2013!  Does anyone have a bone melting New Year’s kiss to report?  Please share for those of us who did not so we can live vicariously through you.

The Lost Boys

December 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Romance in Real LifeI was flipping through a collection of essays about love at a bookstore the other day and noticed one of them was written by an author I went on a date with a while ago.  Hey, I know you, I thought, and read the piece he had written right there where I stood.  The essay was composed of a series of theories as to why he was still single at the age of 46.  He was sure he had probably met a few The Ones over the years.  He analyzed his fears about what he does ‘wrong’ when it comes to women and his romantic relationships.  It was interesting and terribly sweet – he said he wanted to be in love more than anything else and described his desire for intimacy and a partner while he pondered why he didn’t have either.

I remember his online dating profile well.  It was the kind I prefer – he didn’t have a list of qualities he was looking for in a woman as though he were shopping for an inanimate object.  His profile was as human and funny as the essay I mention above was.  I found myself wishing we had gone on another date and wondered why we had not.  He approached me online and, in the way of internet dating veterans, he quickly asked me out (anyone who has done much online dating knows a long email correspondence is a disastrous waste of time and energy).  We met a few days later at a coffee shop and spent a pleasant 90 minutes or so chatting.  The date was merely that – a pleasant conversation.  I didn’t leave feeling smitten and I assume that was mutual as I never heard from him again.

I have been on many dates after which I didn’t feel even slightly in love.  But neither did I know for a fact that there was no possibility of something developing.  I don’t have an expectation of love at first sight and if I find someone to be nice and interesting I think that merits a second date.  As far as I can tell none of the men I have gone out with in the past few years have felt that way – it seems a first date is an all-or-nothing proposition – if he isn’t struck by the love-at-first-sight lightning bolt he doesn’t bother with a second date.

It is hard to know someone.  It is hopeless to expect to know someone after 90 minutes of conversation.  I have been on many dates after which I thought he was nice and I would like to get to know him better and then never heard from the guy again.  In most of those cases it hasn’t been a big deal – the loss of a man I’m not sure I’m interested in is hardly worth worrying over.  But as part of a larger trend it IS something of concern.  It is true in a city like New York that a new date is (literally) around the corner – one can go through potential partners like paper tissues – disposable people for a disposable culture.  But to connect with someone can take time.  I think it is asking too much to expect to feel something epic over one glass of wine.

Now, maybe in every single case the men I refer to as The Lost Boys just knew I wasn’t The One.  That is certainly a possibility.  I have known for a fact that I wasn’t interested in quite a few men within minutes of meeting them – it IS possible to know the chemistry is simply wrong in a very short amount of time.  But somehow I doubt that’s been the case with every one of my first-is-last dates.

In fact, a few of the men who’ve disappeared after one date have left me completely baffled and feeling like I am either a very bad judge of people or completely crazy.  I’m talking about dates that were more than pleasant – ones that felt like a real, solid interest and possible connection were happening.  Dates after which I would have said there was no doubt we would go out again.

A doctor I went out with a few years ago is a particularly good example.  The electric chemistry on that date crackled all night and I knew it was mutual – it was shooting out of his eyes like laser beams.  He kissed me halfway through the date right after the waiter cleared our appetizers.  The kiss became way too hot for a public setting – we were devouring each other at the restaurant table – the waiter asked us to cut it out or leave (yikes!)  By the time we said goodnight I was feeling like quite the smitten kitten.  And it wasn’t simply because of his magical lips – the man was whip smart, engaged, engaging, and super cute.  I felt let down when I didn’t hear from him and wondered how I could have misread the situation so badly – the attraction had apparently been one-sided after all.

I don’t know why so many of the men I’ve been out with have disappeared after one date.  I’m sure they all had their own reasons.  And I don’t know why this is such a universal problem – every single dating woman I know complains about this phenomenon.  From what I observe, men make up their minds awfully quickly about people.  I think it’s a mistake but I think it’s their loss.

I do know this: I don’t want a man who isn’t inspired to ask me out again.  I just don’t.  The question of whether a connection could have developed over time is moot because for me, apathy is a huge turn-off.  But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stick in my craw when I read an essay about loveless loneliness written by a man who was able to make up his mind about me in 90 minutes.

XOXO – Evelyn

PS: I can hear some of you thinking Evelyn, why are you so old-fashioned?  It’s 2012!  Ask the guy out yourself!  In response to which I’ll say: in some cases I did ask them out.  I have no rule against asking men out nor do I believe that a woman must be the passive recipient of courtship.  However, in over 20 years of dating I have never – not once – had it work out when I pursued a man.  Perhaps I have only met the un-evolved members of the male sex, but in my experience if I don’t allow the man to feel like he’s on the hunt or in charge of the chase, it kills his interest.  I don’t believe this is the way it should be, but unfortunately this seems to be the way it is.  You should not interpret what I am saying as advice, however.  If you want to pursue a man, go for it!  It IS 2012, after all!

The Buck Stops Here

November 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

After the biggest breakup of my life I cried for months.  I couldn’t face life without that man, yet we had been so unhappy.  Love did not conquer all, and no matter how we tried to work out our problems, things never got better.  So while my heart wanted me to stay and try again, my feet walked me out the door.  I mourned that relationship for a long time during which I had no interest in any other man.  I didn’t start dating again for a few years – it took me that long to become ready to meet someone new.  My ex, however, had a new girlfriend two weeks after I moved out of our home.

She is a big blonde like me.  I know this because of her diary-like blog which I read with some regularity during those first post-breakup months.  Like some kind of cutter I would look at pictures of them and read about how wonderful she thought he was.  She is, as far as I could tell, a very nice person.  She was madly in love with him and I decided she, like me, deserved better.  I spent many hours on the couch ranting to my shrink about my ex’s new girlfriend – going on and on about how I didn’t envy her and how he was now her problem.  My shrink said that he might be a totally different man with her – that I shouldn’t assume they would have the same issues we had – that our specific dynamic was an important factor and that she might inspire radically different behavior from him.

I hated that idea.  He was who he was, I said, and they would have the same issues we had.  But I’ve always wondered – is he radically different with her?  The answer to that is, unfortunately (or should I say fortunately?) not on her blog.  I looked it up to get the answer to my question, but she stopped blogging long ago while their relationship was still shiny and new.  I will say, however, that I hope they are happy.  Enough time has gone by that I actually mean it, too.

Life is funny and a few years later I got a sort of answer to my question.  I was dating a new man, one who is seventeen years older than me, with a list of ex-girlfriends a mile long.  A few of them are writers and have discussed him in their work which gave me the unusual experience of being able to see what he was like with at least two other women from their point of view.  In one case he is a character in a novel, in another his entire relationship – from before the first date to long after the breakup – was written about in great detail in an online journal.  I read both the novel and the blog and he was, without a doubt, the exact same man in those relationships as he was with me.  And I mean identical.  The character in the novel said – word for word – things he said to me.  I even, much to my dismay, read a sex scene that brilliantly and accurately portrayed sex with him – my sex life at that time had been another woman’s sex life two decades earlier.

The evidence suggested that he hadn’t changed in any way – the black and white proof was in the pages of (an extremely well-written) novel and glowing out of my computer screen in a different writer’s blog.  His casual cruelties, petty tyrannies, the way he canoodled, the things he said, his methods of manipulation, his juvenile temper tantrums – they were all the same, same, same.  Neither of those women had inspired different behavior from him.  He is who he is and the problems he brought to each relationship appeared to be identical.

I’m not trying to pass the buck here – I’m sure I contributed plenty to the downfall of both the relationships I mention above.  It is just that it is so much easier to identify the problematic behavior of other people than to clearly see one’s own.  Yes, the issues my ex-boyfriends had affected our relationships, but at the very least I chose to be with them.  I suspect that just as the man I mention above brings the same crap to all his relationships, I bring my own particular brand of crap to mine and I have no interest in spending my life repeating the same mistakes.  The question is: what exactly am I doing?  How am I destroying my own love life?  Why do my relationships keep failing?  How do I need to change and grow to be in a healthy, loving relationship?  If it’s simply that I choose the wrong men, how do I choose the right man?  If it’s something I need to change about my behavior, how do I know what needs to change?  The above stories are useful only if I can learn from them – as the sign on President Truman’s desk said: The Buck Stops Here.

I saw Jane Fonda in an interview recently.  She discussed how she was, for the first time – at the age of 74 – in a wonderful, loving relationship with a present, emotionally available man.  She said if she had met him earlier in her life she would have run screaming in the other direction, that she hadn’t been ready, that she had needed to resolve her own issues to be ready to love and be loved.  It was beautiful and inspirational to me (love her!) yet my questions all remain the same.

While I am very happy for Ms. Fonda, I would really like to know how I get there.  Do I go back to the shrink?  Do I, as my mother says, simply need to date more (she is convinced it’s a numbers game and if I go on enough dates I’ll eventually meet Mr. Right – I’m not so sure).  Do I, like in the movie High Fidelity, call all my exes and interview them to see what I did ‘wrong’?  (Okay, so that was a bluff.  I am totally not doing that).

Relationships, by definition, involve another person, so obviously simply resolving personal issues won’t magically make Mr. Right appear.  But the only thing I can work on is my own behavior – if there are actions I can take to try to ‘fix’ my love life they can only have to do with me.  I think it’s comforting to imagine there is something I can do even if I’m not sure what that is yet.

XOXO – Evelyn

If you’d like to add your two cents, your comments are more than welcome!

My First Kiss eReader Giveaway

October 1, 2012 § 70 Comments

Was your first kiss romance novel worthy?  Mine sure wasn’t.  My first kiss was romance-free and happened at summer camp when I was thirteen years old.  A boy I wasn’t particularly attracted to and I were having one heck of an awkward conversation one evening during the down-time we campers enjoyed between dinner and lights out.  We were in the grassy common area between the bunks with a lot of other chatty kids.  The late summer sun was setting, the crickets were chirping, and we were surrounded by lush green mountains.  The scene had romantic potential but the boy was not for me.  I wasn’t feeling amorous and I know I was not wearing a kiss me facial expression, so when he, without warning, grabbed me and stuck his pokey little tongue in my mouth I froze in shock.

After about ten seconds of his mouth mashed on mine he stopped as suddenly as he had started.  He didn’t say a word to me before he turned away and sauntered over to where his friends stood across the lawn.  He grinned while they high-fived him and clapped him on the back.  It was ghastly.  That sexual assault of a kiss might have been slightly less odious if it had been the result of his mad passion for me, but that was clearly not the case – it was immediately obvious that the kiss had been the result of some kind of dare.  We never spoke again.

To make matters worse, my name was linked to his for the rest of the summer.  Fellow campers with wiggling eyebrows continually asked me how things were going with him as though we were an item.  Any denial from me resulted in relentless teasing, so I tried hard to ignore them.  Thank goodness none of the kids at that camp were from my hometown and I was able to leave it all behind when I went home at the end of August.  It wasn’t the experience I would have picked for my first kiss, but I wasn’t given a choice in the matter.

How about you?  Was your first kiss dreamy or ghastly?  Was it delivered with perfect technique or too slobbery?  Was it romantic or a horror show?  Leave a comment and share your first kiss experience!  Doing so will enter you for a chance to win the Romance in Real Life My First Kiss eReader Giveaway!

Leaving a comment on this post between October 1 and October 31, 2012 is the only thing you need to do for a chance to win.  Please only enter once.

Your information is not being collected and commenting will not result in my sending you spam in the future.  Though please be sure you don’t check “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” because if you do, you will receive all the comments left on this blog post and I won’t be able to change that.

This contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.

There will be one winner and s/he will be randomly selected on November 1st.  The winner will receive her/his choice of one of the following: a Kindle Keyboard 3G, a NOOK Simple Touch™ with GlowLight™, a Kobo Glo or a Sony eReader (or any of those brand’s e-readers of equal or lesser value).

I’ll look forward to your comments and wish you luck with the drawing!

XOXO – Evelyn

 

November 1, 2012 Update:  The winner of the drawing is Rosemary K!  Congratulations, Rosemary!

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