podcast debut

This is the first podcast at philosofina.com. I’m so excited! And nervous, too. For this first podcast I decided to answer some questions from readers, so here it goes.

What are your most popular posts?

My most popular post has been Leaving Mormonism, where I talk about my crisis of faith and my changing relationship with the Mormon church I was born and raised in. The post was controversial and there was some negative feedback, I expected that, but what most surprised me in a wonderful way was the outpouring of supportive messages I received from others who struggle with their faith, as well as words of love and understanding from nonbelievers and faithful Mormons alike.

The next most popular is a post that was simultaneously published on Stoicism Today, a piece called Stoicism for Passionate People. I’ve been pleased with the positive feedback on that post as well and it seems some of the regular readers of this blog discovered it from that Stoicism Today link.

Why is the blog named Philosofina?

I like philosophy. I think everyone needs to have a personal philosophy of life and this blog is where I develop mine from one post to another. That, and I just like the name. I get a lot of compliments on it.

Who is your favorite philosopher?

Michel de Montaigne, 16th-century French nobleman and inventor of the personal essay. I have this vivid mental image of Montaigne sitting down at his writing desk with a serious topic in mind, but once he started scratching that quill across the paper, all hell broke lose because he had this rich, fertile, imagination that would not be contained. It had its way with him every time. His writing is always fresh and organic, interspersed with tangents where he related funny anecdotes and personal stories, like listening to the best storyteller at the party. I love how playful and irreverent he is, never takes himself too seriously, and yet he has these profound insights on the complexity and contradictions in human nature. Montaigne also had a series of major life challenges in his thirties, at the very same ages that I had the same kinds of events in my life. And those events provoked in him, as they did in me, a time of self-reflection that ultimately led him to make some major changes in his life.  I feel like Montaigne and I have a lot in common and he is a major inspiration.

Why do you write so much about relationships and dating?

Since I married when I was still in my teens, I never dated until three years ago after I divorced. When you first enter the dating world at my age instead of at 18 or 20, you have a much different awareness of yourself and others, you look at it all with some distance and perspective, and you can’t help but notice and laugh at all of these strange things we do in our courtship and mating rituals. I have dated quite a bit because I’m always curious to meet new people. It’s sometimes been fun and sometimes maddening, but ALWAYS fascinating, and I love to write about what I’m seeing and experiencing and the insights I have. Several people have told me I should do a talk show about dating and relationships, and I’m considering it. Sounds fun!

What is a life coach? Is that like a therapist or something?

You hire a life coach if you want to transform your life. Life coaches help you to develop a greater awareness than you would otherwise be able to on your own, providing a better perspective from which to make important choices. A life coach can help move you back into action when you are stuck. You hire a life coach to provoke you, to ask the questions you need to be asked and say the things you need to hear.

A life coach can help you identify your values and create a life purpose, find resources within yourself to make the changes you want to make in your life, help you see the blind spots and hang-ups you have that are holding you back from making those changes, and learn to recognize the voices in your own mind that could be sabotaging your success.

As far as how life coaching may be related to seeing a psychologist, for example, I can only speak from my own experience. A few years ago after going through some difficult challenges, I felt depressed and eventually I started seeing a psychologist. After seeing me a couple times, the psychologist told me that we needed to go back into my childhood to see why it is that I have the insecurities and fears that I have. I asked how that would help me feel better, and she said that as we uncovered different layers, I would discover the root of my problems. I asked how THAT would make me feel better, and she said that the knowledge of where my insecurities and fears came from would help me to overcome them. I went a few more times, but I felt bored and frustrated by the process. I didn’t want to focus on my problems. All I wanted was to make my life beautiful again.

I stopped going to the psychologist and started focusing on doing and being those few things that I absolutely knew, regardless of any passing identity crisis, made me feel like me. In other words, I started living my values. I nourished my soul with great music, books, art, and friendships, and I wrote about it all. I got myself into a better place. When I finally listened to my own little heart, it told me how to heal myself. Around that time I discovered life coaching, and I was hooked! Because for me, that is what coaching is, getting the help you need to learn to listen to your own heart and letting it tell you what is best for you rather than taking advice from others. It’s about exploring within and developing new registers you never even imagined were there. While psychotherapy may be more focused on your emotional or mental problems and looking back toward the past, life coaching is focused in the here and now with a view toward the future.

What issues and topics do you work with as a coach?

I have coached people on dating and relationship issues, physical fitness goals, weight loss, self-confidence, friendships, parenting, pregnancy, writing, self-mastery and forming habits, and other things. Right now I am developing personalized programs to help people:

  • thrive as singles
  • emerge from an identity crisis as stronger, better, new versions of themselves
  • feel confident, secure, and empowered in their sexuality
  • discover their passions

I don’t have a niche, but I think I do have a theme that runs through my work with people, and that is helping people discover and live up to the greatness they have within. I think one of the worst tragedies of life is how we allow ourselves to be mediocre out of fear our own greatness and because we don’t want those around us to feel threatened by it. I love nothing better than working with people who want to let their light shine in spite of these fears.

Marianne Williamson says it well:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. […] And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Have you worked with a coach? What did you work on?

I have definitely worked with coaches and I have a life coach of my own. In the past one thing I have worked on is embracing my sexy side. I’ve found that change isn’t always easy and it takes time, but it happens! I am amazed at the progress I’ve made. It’s also been fascinating to me to see how other aspects of my life have changed now that I have more confidence in this one area. Fascinating and very encouraging! Maybe I’ll talk more about that in my next podcast.

blue moon

20110319-JLB_4506-4041This evening I went for a walk along the beach of Belfast Bay just after the sun had set. The sky was still tinged orange in the west and I started my walk toward the east. I saw that the  moon was just beginning to rise. 2015’s blue moon. It was the palest of whites when it first peeked over the horizon but soon it was a luminous pink and orange, something like this photo I found online. It was much more impressive than this photo. I watched it rise and for some reason I remembered a conversation I had a couple weeks ago.

I was at home in Málaga eating grilled sardines under the stars with a poet who I suspect of being a wise man. I was telling him that my life was very lovely and orderly for many years, and in fact people used to tell me that I had the perfect family and the ideal life, like something out of the movies. I was seldom unhappy or angry. He said, “Well, I think such a life as that is a shit. How are you to appreciate it and really know you are happy if you never suffer, if you just go through life feeling great all the time?” That’s how poets talk. Spiritual gurus are slightly (or very) condescending and poets just say straight out, Your life was a shit.

But I think he’s on to something. For the past couple years my life has been a mess. At first I was embarrassed by it. I was failing all the time and I felt ashamed of these failures and angry at myself for letting them happen. I felt like a loser, like I couldn’t do anything right anymore. The internal work I’ve done through coaching and Stoic meditation has gone a long way in helping me see how wonderful it is to fail. It means I’ve taken a risk, I’ve hopefully learned something, and I’m living my life in a bold way. I can fail quite spectacularly now and feel relatively unfazed by it. It does hurt a bit still, but usually I’m so quickly on to the next endeavor that I’m not down for long.

For example, for the past six months or so I’ve been kissing a lot of frogs. I’m learning that there are many types of frogs. According to this article there are nearly 4000 types, including toads which are part of the frog family. I think I’ve kissed some of those too. I do hope I will find the type that turns into a prince before I get too close to the 4000 mark, but I’m making progress. See, a couple years ago it would have really grossed me out to be kissing all these frogs and it would have traumatized me. But now I take it less seriously and I also see that this experience is helping me to become quite an expert in the herpetological field. I’m now able to identify many types of frogs by their identifying spots or the shape of their nostrils without having to kiss them at all. As in, this is the type who lies, this is the type who doesn’t have a lot going on upstairs, etc.

It’s all good. My life is no longer picture perfect, nor is it a shit. It’s a beautiful mess. I’m a beautiful mess.

 

What can’t you stand?

It was an intense weekend. I did CTI’s Process course which is about expanding into the present moment, having curiosity about it, being able to name whatever’s going on inside of you at any given moment, and slowing down to appreciate and enjoy the journey. It’s about being fully alive.

We also learned how to recognize blocked emotion, bring it to the surface, and help clients be with their emotions. One exercise we did to explore blocked emotion was to name what it is we absolutely can not stand and recognize what it is within ourselves that is causing us to fixate on this issue. For example, people who loathe hypocrisy may have difficulty reconciling contradictory elements within themselves. “You spot it, you got it” is the idea.

After completing the course on Sunday, I decided to text this guy I had been seeing. We were getting to know each other but I started to see things I didn’t like and I didn’t feel comfortable at all the last time I saw him. I think he realized it and maybe felt the same. We just weren’t compatible for a relationship. Over a week had gone by without communication between us and I felt awkward. I wanted us to be friendly acquaintances at least, if not friends, so I started what I thought was a friendly, neutral conversation with him. That was probably my first mistake. I should have waited longer to contact him. Anyway. Somewhat out of the blue he said he was really really sorry, but he just didn’t think it would work out between us, but that I’m a beautiful woman and I shouldn’t let his rejection of me upset me too much or make me feel insecure or inferior.

So. At this point I should have said, that’s fine, thank you for your consideration of my feelings and just let it go. Right? That’s what I should have done. But his passive aggressive ass-hattery riled me so much that I couldn’t. I fell into the trap headfirst. I had to get into it with him. I will spare you all of the mean things we said to each other. It was not a pretty sight. It made me feel terrible, in fact. Even though I recognized that his attacks were obviously ego-based, the things he said still hurt me. (You know what his answer was a few weeks ago when I asked him what he couldn’t stand? Egocentrism. I think “you spot it, you got it” is right.)

I do not like it at all that I couldn’t just let it go. I felt disappointed in myself after that exchange. I felt like I had lowered myself. Why did it have to bother me in the least that he wanted to feel superior by “dumping” me? Who the hell cares? Well, it seems that my ego did. I don’t want to be the kind of person who let’s my ego dictate what I say and do. I want to love. I want whatever I do in the arena of romantic relationships to be loving and kind. Ego, you are not welcome here, even when sorely provoked! I want to be a big enough person that those kinds of remarks are just water off a duck’s back.

So, what do I do? The next time something like that happens, I need to sit there with that feeling of humiliation and just let myself feel it without striking back. I can see from this incident with this guy that it would have been MUCH better to just let it go. That would have made me feel good about myself. I need to remember that.

Are you thinking about what it is you can’t stand, and what that indicates about you?

make yourself the interesting

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Because men in the kitchen are sexeh. And I’m in love with Jack Lemmon.

There is this phrase in Spanish, “hacerse el interesante,” which means playing hard to get. It’s one of those concepts that come up a lot in my talks with friends about dating. There is an entire book dedicated to teaching women who want to land a husband how to play this little game. It’s called The Rules. The book boasts that you may even be able to land “a player” if you play by these rules. Because, you know. It’s every woman’s dream to marry a womanizer.

Making yourself the interesting absolutely works. I’ve seen it in action many times. Before my very eyes, a handsome, intelligent, and talented guy friend of mine was lassoed by an uptight, marginally attractive, insanely jealous woman. She did that Rules crap on him and he’s been with her for three years. I recently mentioned to him an incident in which she was disrespectful to me and he replied that he didn’t think it was nice of me to say such things to him, because after all, she’s the woman he’s with right now. He was right that I shouldn’t have said anything and I regretted it. But… the woman he’s with right now? Wow. They live together and everything. If I made that type of commitment to someone he’d better be referring to me as the love of his life! And that’s the thing with doing The Rules. The guy doesn’t know the real you until it’s “too late.” He’s already made some kind of commitment and if he’s a decent guy who doesn’t like his boat rocked too much, he’ll honor it.

I read The Rules a few months ago and it did have an effect on me, though not the intended. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I have a contrary streak a mile wide. If someone tells me that this is the only correct way then I immediately have to prove the opposite. So after reading The Rules, I decided that I was no longer going to passively sit back and let men chase after me. No. *I* was going to do the chasing. So I started chasing. I started making very direct propositions of the sort that were made to me from guys, somewhat modified to be more feminine. I found that guys loved it. They responded immediately and intensely. The only problem was… then I was no longer interested. I couldn’t follow through! I found that when I was doing the talking, I was all talk and no action. How disappointing! Because really, I think sometimes men just get tired of always being the assertive ones. When a girl makes the first move it must be a breath of fresh air. So it works for them. Sadly, it doesn’t work for me. It seems deep down I prefer to be chased.

Instead of making yourself the interesting, you could always just be interesting. That works. Instead of playing hard to get, you could actually be hard to get, in the sense that you have boundaries and a good sense of self worth, so not just anyone has access to you. This works for both genders. It turns me off when I myself am too assertive, but also when guys are to me. I like them to keep me wondering. I love enigmatic men, even if I sort of hate them, too. I think I do play hard to get, but not intentionally. I do it because it’s fun. It’s part of the little dance.

Is it possible that spring is in the air? I think I’m getting over my pickle face toward potential suitors. Suddenly men seem very nice indeed.

El Higiénico

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Not long after I divorced I created a profile on an online dating site. Newly single for the first time in my adult life, I was excited to meet guys and go on dates and at the time it seemed like as good a way as any. Actually, for a shy girl it seemed superior to meeting someone at a bar or club where at the time all I could do was blush and look at my shoes when guys approached. This way I could hide behind my online profile, which I carefully created to be classy yet playful, and check out potential dates from the comfort of my laptop and pjs.

I was initially delighted with all the messages I received and it was all so fun. My mobile phone was on fire as I struggled to answer all the messages from my potential suitors. I felt like the popular girl! I was open to meeting in person anyone who seemed reasonably attractive, interesting, and polite in their messages, sometimes if only out of curiosity. However, I quickly realized the following:

This is no place for the grammatically pedantic. I decided I was only interested in dating men whose native Spanish was at least as good as my non-native Spanish. In the online dating community, that decision winnowed down my options to a depressing few.

When you are going to meet someone for the first time, you must have an exit strategy. I learned that meeting someone for drinks on my way to another event was usually best. Jules Evans calls it the Two Beer Rule in his very funny and spot-on post about online dating. The Two Beer Rule (or sometimes, one Coke) is a must, because:

Some people are able to make themselves attractive, interesting, and polite in their online profile and in messages, but then in person they are none of those things. (See El Higienco below for the prime example.) I once met a guy for sodas while I was shopping in the city center. From the moment we sat down he would not stop trying to touch my hands, legs, and face, as well as gaze soulfully into my eyes. I suddenly remembered that I had promised a friend to do something or other and I made a hasty departure as soon as we paid for the Cokes. When I gave him the two kisses in the Spanish goodbye, he grabbed my tush with both hands and squeezed hard. When I told a friend this story she said, “He knew that was going to be his only opportunity to squeeze that ass and he took it.” I only had to endure a few minutes of the octopus’ company, but imagine if I had met this guy for dinner or even worse, to see a movie?

I eventually stopped meeting guys online because it never worked for me. I didn’t like almost any of them. I liked several as friends but not in that way that makes your knees go weak and your innards turn to water. But then, I’m unlikely to react to any guy I first meet that way. I’m a cold one, I suppose. Nearly all of the online guys came on too strong right away and that’s always a turn off for me. I need a more subtle game. I have liked guys who tease and let me tease. Guys who give me space. Guys who are perfectly fine with me flirting gently, then outrageously, then cooly pretending I didn’t do any of that. I like to play. I hope not in a manipulative way. I don’t like to play with people’s feelings. More than a game, it’s my let’s-see-if-you-can-catch-me mating dance. Online dating does not lend itself to my elaborate, subtle, drawn-out dances. As Jules says, online dating is too efficient and brutally direct, too mechanical to be seductive.

And now, as promised, I bring you… El Higiénico.

He was one of the many guys I was communicating with on this dating website but he lived in a city about two and a half hours from where I live. He was very handsome in his pictures, American, a writer, and funny. A few weeks after we started communicating online I went to visit a friend in the city where El Higiénico lived, and we made plans to meet. I was staying at a hotel far from where he lived and unbeknownst to me at the time, he picked a meeting place close to where he lived. He told me to take the bus. That may have been only the second time in my life I had been on a city bus. I ended up having to change buses to get there and it was confusing. It was a hot late summer afternoon in southern Spain and I arrived at our meeting a bit sweaty and annoyed. However, I think I probably looked sweet, fresh-faced, and demure in my conservative skirt and blouse. I was a kind-hearted, innocent Mormon girl, excited to meet a new guy. And he knew all of this from our messages.

He was handsome in a boyish way. He was 33 but could have passed for 25. He was very fit. He asked me if I wanted to go anywhere particular and I told him I wanted shade and a drink of water. For some reason he ignored this and led me on a walk in the hot sun. I kept looking around for a vending machine or kiosk that sold water, but none were in sight. I asked him about his writing career and he told me that the last article he had written was an exposé on the dubious labeling of fish in markets and grocery stores in Spain. And then he told me all the things he hated about living in Spain, including the rude and ignorant people, food, sports, music, news programs, and weather. Topping his list of things to hate in Spain were Spanish women. He told me that he is a person who cares very much about hygiene and potential germs, and he found Spanish women to be unhygienic. He went into disturbing detail on this point. To change the subject I asked him about teaching English, which I knew he did in addition to writing. He told me that teaching English is the one cool thing about living in Spain because he was able to work only two hours per day and earn enough money to put him “in the Spanish middle class.” I don’t remember now what that sum was. However, he repeated this several times. I asked him more about his writing. I think by this time I was weak with dehydration and had to sit down. There was no shade where he had taken me, so we sat in the sun. He then asked me about my writing and the following conversation took place.

Me: Well, I haven’t written much the past year or so. My dad died about a year and a half ago and since then I…

Higiénico: [whispers] Cancer?

Me: Um, what?

Higiénico: Was it cancer that killed him?

Me: No. He died during open-heart surgery. And it changed me somehow, I guess I got depressed. I had no interest in writing anymore and I…

Higiénico: Look, Lindsay. Stop a second. I need to be clear with you here. I’ve reached the age of 33 and I think at this age I don’t have to beat around the bush. What I really want to do is fuck. Sure, I want to go out to the movies, go for dinner or whatever, and then fuck. It’s that simple. Does that seem like something that would interest you?

Me: Frankly, if that were what I wanted to do, I don’t believe I’d have to leave Málaga. I think I would likely have a fine selection right there to choose from.

At his point El Higiénico lifted up his shirt, grabbed my wrist, and placed my hand on his abdomen.

Higiénico: There. Feel that? What do you say to that? That’s nice, huh? You like that, huh? Those are rock hard abs.

Me: Very nice, yes.

Higiénico: And the thing is, Lindsay, you wouldn’t have to come to me. I [paused for effect and in a sweeping motion with his hands, indicated that his entire body was involved here] would come to you. I could come down for the weekend, we’d take the kids to the beach, eat some sardines at a chiringuito, and then go to your place and fuck.

Me: I see. Hmm.

Higiénico: I think you’d like it.

Me: I’m not seeing that happening.

When I have told this story, most people have asked why I didn’t slap him or cut him off right then and there, or tell him I had a headache (which I did actually) and go back to my hotel. But when I told my sister Maria, she said, “See, if it were me, at that point I’d have to stick around and see what else the bastard had to say.” It is in these ways Maria and I can tell we share DNA, because of course I stuck around. And the bastard had more to say.

We decided to go for ice cream. He told me about his ex wife, a Spanish woman and former model he was married to for ten years. He told me again about how much he loathes Spanish women. And again about teaching English two hours per day and that being enough to put him in the Spanish middle class. And then:

Higiénico: How many messages do you get on that dating site?

Me: The first couple days I got about a hundred messages. Now maybe 10-20 per day.

Higiénico. Wow. Well, but that’s only because you are over 35 and divorced. Everyone figures you are desperate for sex. I get probably five messages per week, which is a lot for a guy because women almost never write first. Have you ever had a homosexual experience?

Me: No.

Higiénico: You’re lying.

Me: Nope.

Higiénico: I know you’re lying because everyone has had a homosexual experience at least once. On a Friday or Saturday night in a club, at about 4 am everyone who hasn’t paired off already turns gay. The men start checking out men and the women start checking out other women because they are all so desperate to get laid. It’s just human nature, not a big deal. Anyway, I often get messages from guys at around 4 am on a Friday night saying, ‘Dude, I’m not gay but I just need to get laid. You up for it?’

Me: Uh-huh.

El Higiénico had asked me earlier what my plans were that evening. I told him I was going to a friend’s orchestra concert and then we were going out after for drinks.

Higiénico: Lindsay, I’ll tell you what I think you should do tonight. After the concert, go to your hotel. Give me a call and I will go there and then go up to your room. Do you have a jacuzzi?

Me: No.

Higiénico: Damn. Well, we will start by giving each other massages. And then, we will have respectful, hygienic sex. And it will be glorious.

Me: I don’t think so. I’m not feeling it.

Higiénico: Lindsay, [at this point his tone becomes very condescending, as if he were talking with a frustrating child] if you would only try it, you would see that you like it. It’s as easy as that. Try it, and you will like it. You think I’m hot, right? So how could you not like respectful, hygienic sex with me?

Me: I don’t feel inspired.

Higiénico: [nearly yelling] That’s because you are so repressed! You are completely sexually repressed! I can tell by how fast you walk. Only people who are sexually repressed walk as fast as you do.

Me: Ok. Could be.

I shrugged, smiled, and hailed a taxi. As I got into the taxi, El Higiénico told me he’d be waiting for my phone call. But alas, it was not to be. That was the last I heard of him, or him of me.

Every single person I have told this story to has asked me what he meant by “hygienic” sex. A body condom? No oral? What? Everyone is disappointed that I didn’t find out what he meant by that. I’m ok with leaving it to the imagination.

be this guy

After publishing yesterday’s list of churlish male behavior, I was asked to post the top ten best and most attractive guy behavior I’ve experienced. And that was when I realized I have not, unfortunately, kept such a list. Here are a few I remember, probably because besides showing kindness, consideration, and good taste ;-), they seemed sincere.

1. “Please send me a message once you get home so I’ll know you’re ok. Otherwise I’ll worry.”

2. “I can see why those shoes are making your poor little feet hurt! I’m glad I’m not wearing them. I will give you a piggy back ride all the way to your car. Three blocks away? No problem.”

3. “I love your stories and I love how you tell them.”

4. “My favorite part of your nose is that round bump on the end.”

5. “Pearls really suit you. I should give you my grandmother’s pearls.”

6. Said to a friend in my hearing: “I don’t know. For me, I prefer elegant women. Like that one.” [nodding his head in my direction]

7. Made me breakfast in bed with the exact amount of sliced tomato on his pan tostado as on mine. In fact, maybe a little more sliced tomato on mine, though I couldn’t swear to it.

Number six, by the way, is not bad at all as far as pick up lines go. Most interesting women would rather be called “elegant” than “sexy.” I mean, don’t you think so? And while we’re on the topic… Guys? You might practice looking at women you like without having this look in your eyes like you want to ravish them right then and there. There is a time and a place for that look, and it’s not when you first meet someone. In fact, it’s probably best to reserve that look for after the girl you fancy has indicated that you are of romantic interest to her. You might even reserve that look until after you get to know her. It’s just an idea to consider.

There are additional beautiful things guys have said or done for me that I remember. Words or deeds that made me feel exceptionally loved and special. Listing those things publicly feels wrong so I’m keeping them in my heart.

Now I’ve made myself cry a little. You know, it was more fun to write yesterday’s bad boy post. But writing this one made me happy.

don’t be that guy

womanizer

My sisters and friends have encouraged me to write a book listing all the idiotic things guys have said to me when trying to win my heart, affection, or whatever it is they were after. I don’t think I have quite enough for a book yet, but at this rate, I soon will. The following was said to me all within the same year, early 2013 to early 2014, or thereabouts. I’ve been keeping a list.

1. “Because not only can I facilitate you with that bank account, but with many other things as well.” Sleazy Bank Teller Guy who was trying to get me to open an additional bank account, AND go with him to the feria.

2. “After seeing you yesterday I thought a lot about it, and I decided that I just don’t want to complicate my life right now. You completely fit the profile for the type of girl I always fall in love with: your looks, your gentle voice, your intelligence and sense of humor… But I’ve decided I don’t want to fall in love. I just want to have sex with you.” Text from a guy who’d been utterly charming and with whom I felt a lot of chemistry on a first date.

3. “I am married, but probably not for long. Two years ago my wife cheated on me and then she tricked me into getting her pregnant. Now that we have our son I’m not sure what I should do. It would be a shame for him to grow up without a father. Anyway, what I can offer you is lots of sex and companionship and support. I can help you with your business because I’m really good at those things.” A man I met through Instagram who casually invited me for coffee, supposedly to show me cool editing techniques on my iphone.

4. “When can we get together so I can give you some real kisses in person?” Facebook message from prominent married man in our community who, after I pretended this overture was just a joke, unfriended me on Facebook. (I had signed a message to him “muchos besos,” and that was his reply.)

5. “I realize that I am like most guys in Spain. I want a girl that I’m sure of, but with the freedom to look for a nicer one who will be better for me.” [slight pause.] “And I’d still love to go out with you some time if you’re interested.” A guy that I cannot reveal details about because if his boss found out, he would be fired from his job for hitting on me. He tried to get me to go out with him for months. When he said the above, he had just been telling me about the annoying girl he was dating.

6. “Yes, I have a girlfriend, and I’m proud to say that I have been faithful to her for an entire year.” Reply from a guy who friended me on Facebook. When I saw pictures of him with a girl, I asked if that was his girlfriend. He had been inviting me to take a siesta with him almost every day for the past two months since I met him. My answer was always negative, thus, his admirable fidelity.

7. “No, I don’t have a girlfriend. I have an ex girlfriend.” Found out later the “ex” part was not true.

8. “So, when are we going to get together?” This and other flirtatious texts from a guy, I was later informed, was simultaneously trying to convince the guy I was seeing at the time that I was completely nuts. Actually, believe it or not, this guy and I are good friends now and all is forgiven.

9. “Yeah, I’ve got a girlfriend and for now everything is going just right because I have her in line. She knows that the day that she starts up with any nonsense I am gone. No explanations, no negotiations, because that’s how I roll. Because see, it’s like this, Lindsay. If you are with me, one minute you could be here and the next we’re in Thailand alone, with the jungle all around us, but you feel safe because I am by your side. You know you have a man sleeping next to you. And you know? There are few of us left, I’m talking about real men who are strong and know how to take care of you. That is what you need, Lindsay, is a real man. This blonde knows that I don’t need her. If she gets out of line she is out of my life in a heartbeat, and the woman always has to know that. The minute she knows she is indispensible in your life, you are done. You are toast, because she starts calling the shots. If you are with me, I have to know that you would die for me. It’s not about me being first in your life, it’s about me being first, first, first, second, third, fourth… you know? But what you have in exchange is a man, and that is worth a lot.” Only a small part of what my physical therapist, who had previously made it clear to me that he liked me, said to me one day while he worked on my back. 

10. “But that guy doesn’t care about you. He only wants to use you for sex. I’m not like that, but other guys are.” Almost every guy who has tried something.

And this list does not even include quotes from the notorious El Higiénico. He deserves his own post.

Update: See follow-up post, Be This Guy.

single and flourishing

IMG_2838_2When Benedict Cumberbatch announced his engagement, I called my daughters into the kitchen and broke the bad news. “It looks like Mr. Cumberbatch will not be your future stepfather after all,” I told them. After my ex-husband remarried a few months ago, my daughters had decided that I needed someone, too. And that someone would be Benedict Cumberbatch.

“He’s your age, Mum. He’s into classic English literature and he’s really funny.” They even had me take a personality test and then claimed that my personality test results were an exact compatible match with Benedict Cumberbatch’s personality test results.

A few days after I told them about the pending Cumberbatch nuptials, they came into the kitchen (that’s where we hang out) and showed me a picture. “Do you know who this is, Mum?” I told them it looked like Loki. They replied that yes, it was Tom Hiddleston, who loves Shakespeare, is a great dancer, a feminist, and is very romantic. They showed me additional pictures and some Tom Hiddleston quotes that did indeed strike me as both feminist and romantic.

It’s not just my daughters who want to see me with a significant other. Most of my friends and family have made it known to me that they think I should get one of those. Pretty much everyone brought it up again recently when my ex remarried. Incidentally, I’m glad he found someone. She seems like the ideal match for him and he wasn’t thriving as a single.

I wasn’t either, at first. I married my first boyfriend when I was 19 and we stayed together until two and a half years ago. When we separated, I quickly realized that I didn’t know how to take care of my own emotional needs. My entire life, I’d had hugs and gentle words readily available to sooth me when I was sad or lonely. Of course I felt horribly sad when we separated, and there was no one there. There were many nights that I couldn’t help crying for a while before falling asleep. I hated myself for feeling all this self pity, but now when I look back I see that I was brave. I wasn’t only dealing with the failure of my marriage, but several other personal crises besides. Looking back from where I am now, I have to admit that I am proud of myself for not giving up and for eventually finding ways to get myself out of that miserable place. It took lots of failure, embarrassing and demoralizing failure, to achieve some measure of success.

I’m sure that in some ways it would have made me feel better to get a boyfriend right away. I would have had hugs and gentle words again. I wouldn’t have felt so lonely. And love fills you up with lovely dopamine and oxytocin. However, I could see many more reasons that it was NOT the time to start a serious relationship. Between depression, new fears, sudden self-doubt, and shifting values, I was unrecognizable to myself. I knew that before I let someone fall in love with me, I had to figure out who “me” was. Also, I decided that I would never again be dependent on a man for anything. I would never again lose myself in a relationship. I wanted to become more independent before starting a new relationship.

Being single these past two years has allowed me the opportunity to develop skills and attitudes I wouldn’t have otherwise. For example, as I mentioned in this post, after separating from my husband I discovered that I was horribly self-critical and that I had only been able to keep from destroying my self-esteem through his kind influence. Once he was out of the picture, my self-criticism was free to go to town on my vulnerable little psyche. With all the failure I was almost constantly experiencing as I forged ahead in my new life, there was ample material to work with. I didn’t have to look far to find ways to make myself feel like an idiot.

Eventually I learned to ditch the self-criticism and adopt a healthier self-regard. What if Benedict Cumberbatch and I had fallen in love (as surely we would have if we had met) two years ago? Then he might have taken on the role of moderating my self-criticism and I would have continued with that bad habit.

There have been other ways I’ve changed these past two years. Maybe I’ll write about them in future posts.

I’ve met and casually dated quite a few guys as a single woman and learned a lot about what I like and what I don’t like. I have noticed that there are many men who feel they have to be in a relationship to feel happy and fulfilled, and you can smell that a mile away. It’s a turn off. I know there are women who are like that, too. I saw this article recently, written for people who see being single as, to put it mildly, less than ideal. I think there are some good ideas there. I like thinking of being single as a time to be in a relationship with myself, get to know myself, discover my passions, etc. It’s a time to make yourself more interesting, not to other people, but to yourself.

There are the obvious pros to being single. Like being able to read in bed until 4 am, look scary-ugly around the house, eat salad for three weeks if you feel like it, or ice cream and gazpacho for dinner, in that order. Being single is having the freedom to participate guilt-free in these and other “secret single behaviors.” This New York Times article calls it eccentric, I call it awesome. Who needs social checks and balances?

Another thing to enjoy about being single is the anticipation. The knowing that more likely than not you will some day meet someone who loves to listen to your dumb stories, who makes you laugh until you get the hiccups, and whose kiss sets off fireworks. And who knows how or where this person might turn up? It’s an adventure. People who already have a significant other don’t have that feeling.

People who already have a significant other are spending a great deal of their resources on maintaining their relationship. They are fighting, making up, breaking up, getting back together, getting jealous, worrying that the passion might be gone, trying to recover the passion, and envying their unattached friends. When you do not have a significant other you can take all of that time and energy you would be otherwise using that way, and I don’t know, build a self-sustaining house boat, learn three foreign languages, or start an NGO.

I’ve only been single for about four years of my entire adult life. The less-than-two years before I was married and the two since I divorced. I see no reason to rush into another serious relationship. I think I can now say that I am flourishing as a single. But… well. Ok, check out what Tom Hiddleston says below about falling in love. Gulp. The girls say they think he would be a wonderful kitchen dancer, and what with that and loving Shakespeare and being a feminist, he’d fit right in around here. I’m just sayin.

When I fall in love with someone, then that doesn’t “just” happen… When I love someone’s character, over time I’ll see that personality, I love so much, shining through their eyes and fusing with their appearance, turning them in the most beautiful girl in the world. It’s not about appearance, it’s about someone’s beautiful, amazing, wonderful, fantastic personality, you’ll see every time you look at her. It’s about the fact that when you look in her eyes, you just feel home… You forget all your problems, all your fears, you just feel safe, you feel like you’ve finally found a place where you belong… A place you can spend an eternity, where you will spend an eternity, cause those enchanting, beautiful eyes will slow down time and make every second; looking in her beautiful eyes, right into her amazing personality, last more than a lifetime. ~Tom Hiddleston