Posts tagged relationships
I got engaged! To the love of my life! It’s that fairy tale fantasy I have doubted many times on the record could ever really be true. Yet as I move onward into marriage (have I mentioned how amazing my fiancé is?), I have been reflecting on my single days-gone-by and finding myself nostalgic. Voila, the top 5 things I miss:
1. The certainty that I am more important than anyone. I don’t believe in compromises that leave both partners in a relationship weaker, or less-than-fully-happy. I love Hanna Rosin’s idea of the ‘seesaw marriage’ in which partners take turns shouldering burdens so that they can each fulfill their own potential (she talks about it at length in her book, The End of Men). You can alternate working and going back to school. You can come up with creative ways to share the housekeeping. You get the idea. Add children to this mix and the see-sawing gets ever more complicated and multi-dimensional. I believe we all can have it all and be great parents, too. It just may take a very complex Excel spreadsheet to figure out how.
But when you’re single, you don’t have to get creative about WHO is going to pursue their passions, splurge on the designer loafers, dash off to Istanbul for the weekend, oh, and take out the dog for his walk. It’s all you, baby. For better or worse. And most of the time, having absolute discretion over your priorities and being able to adjust them at will is a goddamn blessing. Embrace your sole importance, all you single ladies.
2. Emotional, Spiritual, Mental, Financial Independence. Emotional dependence on your man allows you to open up and be truly, freely vulnerable. Spiritual dependence on your man - and on the universe, to protect him and your life together - gives you a rich, full experience of the complicated microfibers of our human existence. Mentally depending on your man to take on his share of life tasks and challenges, and knowing that he will, is a stabilizing gift. Depending on more than one income to save and spend obviously brings security.
However, feeling complete in (or at least basically on top of) each of these areas all by myself gave me such a compelling sense of power and personality when I was single. I did not need anyone but myself, and I reveled in that independence. My man and I are now figuring out who we are, together, in each of these areas. It’s a new, exciting process. But I miss the solidity I had before, and that I hope to build now again, anew.
3. Not having to be nice about things I find obnoxious. OK, I don’t HAVE to be nice when my man does something to piss me off, especially when he knows it will piss me off. But more and more in my relationship, I find that patience, good humor, and compassion all work to diffuse annoying situations. Complaining about the less-than-perfect and bemoaning when mistakes are made is a surefire way to put both you and your man at your worst. So, more and more, I am a lot nicer now. I have abundant patience, which, believe me, is astonishing. I think this phenomenon is what people are getting at when they say their partner “makes them a better person.” I wouldn’t say I’ve become better; I’ve just learned to bite my tongue. When I was single, I was less inclined to play the diplomat and had more incentive to instigate. I miss those good old fiery days!
4. The sense of sexy mystery just before he orders a drink. I now take incredible comfort in the routines my man and I have created together. They bring me happiness in leaps and bounds. I love knowing this person utterly, and I love being able to look at him and sense exactly what he’s needing or craving in that moment. But when I fantasize, I look back on the early days, when I sat next to him at the bar and thought to myself, “What the hell is a tequila gimlet? That’s a great idea!”
5. Having the option not to love someone. When you are single and a guy is in your gaggle, it is up to YOU how you cultivate that relationship. You can decide if and when a guy has fallen out of your favor, or disappointed you too deeply, or revealed something less-than-savory about his character. But when you are engaged - soon-to-be-married - you lose the right to that judgment. You and your man are taking on each other. You are going to disappoint each other in some ways. You may even severely let each other down. But you don’t get to step outside your relationship and re-jigger. You’re in it and inextricably bound to it. Your relationship is larger than both of you. Gone are the days when I could have downgraded my fiancé from Boyfriend Prospect to Ego Booster or Accessory.
From now on, the choice has been made, and my man is only moving up. I am choosing this, and choosing him, because I know that he above all others is worthy. So, single ladies, heed my advice and cherish your gaggles while you still have them in free motion. Cultivating your gaggle is the best way to learn about yourself and find the right guy - it is also the element of single life I truly miss the most.
Thanks Horia Varlan for the photo!
Coming next week to bookstores and amazon everywhere! Get ready to revolutionize your love life… #thegaggle #dating #romance #relationships #single #proud (at www.The-Gaggle.com)
Sleep Alone and Like It! (Or, How Not to Succumb to Pressure About Being Single) / Love Poem for the Day
As young women, we feel tremendous societal pressure, especially when we’re single. We are pressured to be in a relationship, to justify our life choices, to fit into a conventional mold. Inspired by Erika Funkhouser’s poem “When She Lies Down at Night,” I want to talk about how we can deal with loneliness and how we may be able to let go of social pressure.
How Should You Handle a Breakup? / Love Poem for the Day
‘YOUR eyes that once were never weary of mine
Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,
Because our love is waning.’
And then She:
‘Although our love is waning, let us stand
By the lone border of the lake once more,
Together in that hour of gentleness
When the poor tired child, passion, falls asleep.
How far away the stars seem, and how far
Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!’
Pensive they paced along the faded leaves,
While slowly he whose hand held hers replied:
‘Passion has often worn our wandering hearts.’
The woods were round them, and the yellow leaves
Fell like faint meteors in the gloom, and once
A rabbit old and lame limped down the path;
Autumn was over him: and now they stood
On the lone border of the lake once more:
Turning, he saw that she had thrust dead leaves
Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes,
In bosom and hair.
‘Ah, do not mourn,’ he said,
‘That we are tired, for other loves await us;
Hate on and love through unrepining hours.
Before us lies eternity; our souls
Are love, and a continual farewell.’
Before I sign myself over to the nearest green-fielded sanitarium where bespectacled doctors will probe my mind with inquisitive stares and nurses in white hats will wheel me about with a plaid flannel blanket on my knees, I thought I would write one last dispatch on this beloved gaggle blog in which I warn you, Dear Readers:
When you embark down the path of loving commitment to another human being in a consummate and consummated lifelong relationship, craziness will not be far behind you.
My boyfriend and I had “the talk” a year ago, but in the past month – thanks to Hurricane Sandy and the temporary relocation to Philadelphia it brought upon us, as well as our mutual mad rush of closet organizing, apartment-and-house improvement, co-obsession over the dog’s new diet, and a rogue (and incorrect) headline on The Ricki Lake Showannouncing we were married – we have upped the ante of our already-established loving bliss and actually begun the busy business of living our lives together.
This fact has brought upon me such an overwhelming sense of heart-wrenching joy (I can’t believe this incredible person actually wants to be with me!!!!!) and terrifying fear (what if something happens to him????) that I have been going out of my batsh*t crazy, motherf**ing mind.
In lieu of sending (yet another) spate of anxious text messages to my beloved (hi how are you? / where are you? / how are you doing? / are you ok? / I LOVE YOU / I LOVE YOU / emoji emoji emoji emoji), I am going to enumerate and attempt to account for the symptoms of my distress.
Consider it an offering to science.
God bless and damn the networking-non-date. The best and worst one I have ever been on started pure and innocently. They always do.
Tim was a colleague of mine who worked from home. We had friendly e-correspondence and I knew his address, because I processed his paycheck every other week. When I moved to his neighborhood, I emailed him to see if he wanted to get coffee or a drink.
I had no agenda! I swear! I didn’t even know what he looked like! I was really just in the market for friends, acquaintances, some work gossip and a few tips on neighborhood spots.
Tim and I met at a local bistro and one drink turned into several. An hour turned into two. Three? His hometown was a family vacation spot I knew well; we both had a passion for ancient history; we loved jazz; we had so much in common!
Throughout our conversation, I could sense that Tim was interested in me – he laughed a little too hard at my jokes, he was bowled over by my witticisms, I sensed his passion for jazz was a bit exaggerated. Though he was young, handsome and lanky in that charming dweeb-from-Brooklyn sort of way, I did not return his interest. Fun as it was, the non-date just wasn’t clicking for me. When he suggested we trade jazz CDs and then meet for a drink the following week at another local bar, I made a vague excuse and resolved to let things chill between us. I didn’t want to lead this guy on.
Weeks went by and our e-friendship at work continued to be lovely. No awkward fallout from the non-date! However, I was constantly aware that this guy had been into me. I should put subtle stops on that as needed, I told myself.
Enter the office Christmas party. Tim shows up – with his pregnant wife! Who immediately starts telling me about their four-year-old daughter! She’s telling me how great the neighborhood is for kids! She wants to show me around! We should have coffee or a drink!
I was astonished. Had I completely mis-read Tim’s enthusiasm and overtures? Was I THAT vain? This guy was (apparently) married with a kid and a baby on the way! …But why had THAT cozy set of facts never come up in our multiple hour conversation? I had left our non-date with the very clear impression that he was single, available, and dying to trade jazz CDs and get more drinks (like, alone, together, the two of us). He had never mentioned the wife. Or the kids. It still makes my brain explode. WHY?!
Was anyone in the wrong here? I sensed Tim’s slight embarrassment as I chatted with his wife. Maybe he had just been enjoying the drink with me, living vicariously, as if he were still single and able to pursue whatever girls he wanted. But what if I had been interested in him? How many non-dates (“trading jazz CDs”) would we have gone on before the matter of the wife would come up? If at all? Is this how extra-martial affairs “innocently” started?
One thing was for sure. When I was in a relationship, my boyfriend/husband was going to be talking about me. A LOT.
No one does “judgmental” like my Mom.
“Sweetheart, I don’t understand. If you were building a real relationship with this boy, then why would one text message destroy it all?”
She didn’t get it. George and I had been friends in college. We’d recently re-connected years later in New York and started having brunch, texting all the time, meeting up for drinks, swinging by our favorite burger joint, and making out. A lot. (We weren’t having sex, Mom, FYI.)
It thrilled me that maybe – maybe – we would have The Talk soon and he would become my boyfriend. How wild, hilarious, awesome and unexpected would that be, after all the years we had known each other!
Then came the text message.
Is Playing it Safe in Love Cowardly, or the Right Move?
I discuss Stephen Dunn’s poem, Turning to the Page in my latest talk on Love Poem for the Day.