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Oct 31

I am woman, hear me ask for help

Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 in Advice, Happiness, Honesty, Kat, Men, Relationships, Self image, Women

I was in line at the supermarket when a 30-something woman talking on her cellphone wheeled up behind me; I could hear everything she was saying. She was talking about a breakup, or at least it had all the hallmarks of a specific kind of breakup — she was guessing, second-guessing, making excuses, sounding hopeful and teary-eyed all at once.

It was a “He’s Just Not That Into You” Moment if I ever heard one. And a uniquely gal moment.    

I tried to focus my attention on the magazines at the checkout stand, but those were even more depressing — Cosmo wants to boost my confidence and clue me in on guys’ top sex secrets, O magazine wants to tell me how to try my true calling and how to be beautiful.

I know women can’t be the only ones who have self-doubts, but I don’t think guys obsess about it as much as we do — nor do they have such of barrage of messages coming from all sorts of media. I mean, would a guy ever pick up a book like “Why She Disappeared?” Yet, we have “Why He Disappeared” (written by Evan Marc Katz, whom I admire. Hey, I’ll take relationship advice from a guy over a woman any day!).

Are women innately more insecure than men are? Or, do we seek self-awareness more than men do?

Not to say that men don’t look at themselves and their relationships critically; I’m sure they do. And there’s advice for men out there, too, otherwise you wouldn’t see the thriving PUA movement.

It’s just that most of the self-help and relationship books are geared toward women and we’re scooping them up are like crazy. Would all those “Mars and Venus” books and seminars be around if it weren’t for women? Would Oprah and Dr. Phil be who they are without women? Not a chance!

I don’t think it’s because we’re insecure; I think it’s because women blame ourselves when things go wrong and look to others to help us, while guys try to fix things themselves.

So how can we, uh, fix this? (No, I’m not asking for your advice!) I think we need to teach our daughters to be less other-directed, stop blaming ourselves and give them the knowledge to figure things out for themselves first before looking for help. And we need to teach our sons that there’s nothing unmanly about asking others for help and to create safe places for them to express their emotional vulnerabilities.

OK, now I am asking for your advice:

  • Why do women blame themselves so much?
  • Why would men rather go it alone than ask for help?

 

Sep 27

Is it OK to date someone who’s separated?

Posted on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 in Advice, dating, Honesty, Kat, Men, Relationships, Singles, Women

I couldn’t wait to get together with Mia; she’d met a guy who sounded pretty darn as close to perfect as you can get and I wanted to know more. So we met at the arts fest, not even feeling the raindrops because our conversation was so animated.

“OK, what are the stats?”

“He’s 52, tall, fit, nice salt-and-pepper hair …”

“Uh-huh. And?”

“Loves to hike, super-smart and super-sweet. Coached his kids’ soccer teams …”

“Sounds good. And?”

“And he’s a real gentleman. He paid for our dates, even though I insisted I’ll pay. He didn’t come on real strong; I practically had to throw myself at him to get him to kiss me.”

“Ah, he likes a bit of the chase? Nice!”

“And I’m starting to get crazy about him.”

“Mia, it’s way too soon for that! But I know — it’s hard not to feel excited about someone who’s so great. How long has he been divorced?”

“Hmm, well …

“Well, what?”

“He’s just separated.”

“As in ‘just’ how long ago?”

“Two months.”

I think my mouth must have dropped far enough to smudge my cute new black cotton wedgies — that’s how shocked I was.

“Mia, what are you doing with a newly separated guy?”

“Enjoying our time together, why?” she sniffed.

“Because, because … because, it’s all wrong!”

“Says who?”

Says probably about every dating expert out there, although you don’t want to necessarily follow everything they say. But, who needs a dating expert to tell us that getting involved with someone fresh out of a marriage — and I wouldn’t call separated “out” of anything — is a bad idea?

Separated means a lot of things to different people. When Rob and I separated, it was to spend time alone to figure out whether we were going to salvage the marriage or not — that hardly made me dating material. For all Mia knows, this guy and his not-quite-ex could be still working on their relationship, giving each other “space,” dipping their toes into the dating scene to see if they can attract someone new or all of the above. Or maybe they’re actually somewhat happily married and he’s just scouting around for a mistress. Who knows?

As Singlemommyhood notes: “Separated always means in limbo. There is unfinished business — whether it’s emotional, legal, or financial.”

Which is what I told Mia (thanks Dr. Leah).

And Mia would hear nothing of it. Now you know why dating experts and shrinks stay in business — even if we know we’re in a situation that has way too many complications, we still delve right in, hoping this time it will be different.

Maybe it will be.

Probably not.

To me, even a newly divorced guy is a big dating no-no; no one’s ready to be available in a new relationship when he just got out of one. And, if he says he is, it’s because he’s lonely and/or he wants sex.

Getting involved with someone like that is taking a big gamble, one you’re likely going to lose.

  • Would you date a separated man or woman?
  • How about a newly divorced person?

Photo © Angelika Bentin – Fotolia.com

Sep 6

Unemployed and looking for love

Posted on Tuesday, September 6, 2011 in Advice, dating, Divorce, hookups, Kat, Men, Relationships, Singles, Women

I was at a Labor Day barbecue, so of course it made sense to talk about work. But a lot of the conversation was about not working.

Two more friends have lost their jobs — Dan and Michael. I feel really bad for both of them, but I feel a lot worse for Dan. Michael is married, and his wife, Natalie, works; he’s OK for now (although this puts their marriage at a greater risk of divorce). Dan is single and although he’s smart, talented and an all-around great guy who can probably survive for a while on his savings, who wants to date an unemployed man?

No one. At least, that’s what he told me. 

“Dan, you don’t actually tell people you’re unemployed, do you?”

“Yeah, because I am — along with I don’t know how many millions of other people.”

“But, that’s shocking for people to hear, especially women you want to date; you need
to spin it.”

“Like what? That I’m on a sabbatical or I’m an independent consultant? Oh, please!”

“Can’t hurt.”

“It’s not exactly honest, either. Not the best way to start a relationship.”

He has a point.

I’m all for honesty, and if you’re jobless and don’t share that with a new love right from the start, it will be a big ugly mess explaining it later when it eventually gets discovered — and you just know it will! As it must.

That’s a much bigger problem for guys than women, not surprisingly. Unemployed women are still datable and guys are not —  if that isn’t proof about how far we haven’t come as a society, I don’t know what is.

I suppose Dan can give up dating for a while — all that extra time and energy (and cash!) can be spent looking for a new job, volunteering or learning new skills. But, if one part of your life is out of whack — like your health or your job or your love life — it really helps to have the other parts a little more stable. Knowing someone has your back and still finds you lovable makes losing a job somewhat less traumatic — for a while, anyway.

Of course, Dan can continue his dating routine, which is pretty much a lot of hookups and friends with benefits arrangements, like most people date nowadays anyway. As weird as it sounds, it actually seems to be the perfect way to have fun and connect with people given what’s going on; you don’t need to wine and dine anyone! Could it be that our casual sex dating rituals are a byproduct of the recession?

I don’t think our economy is getting back to normal any time soon — if you’re unemployed or underemployed and looking for love, what do you do?

Like this? You might like:

He’s jobless — do you date him?

Photo © Christopher Hall – Fotolia.com