Stairway to Taboo Conversations…

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Ask Sarah – Raul’s Take

As I said yesterday, I polled several friends on the question I received through my website.

And as he’s often wont to do, Raul wrote down some of his thoughts/reactions.  I appreciated them, so I thought I’d post ’em.

So, here we go again – Raul speaks.  …

“Sarah, what is your perspective on dating before the ink is dry on the divorce papers. It has been a year since the decision to divorce was made and I have been living on my own for five months now. I’m worried that answering “separated” on my dating profile will get me overlooked. Answering “married” will most likely come off like someone trying to cheat. However answering “single” might end up backfiring when you eventually have to tell your date it isn’t official yet. Am I just over-thinking this or should I just wait till I’m officially divorced before pursuing any new relationships?”

I think this question is a lot more than what, on the surface, seems like a commandment-against-adultery issue.  It is a broader moral question that goes right to the foundation stone of all relationships – trust.

One thing that absolutely infuriates people is when one person in a relationship, knowing that they are or soon will be exiting that relationship, begins to secretly build a second one before the first has ended.  Is the current scenario so far removed just because the two original parties to the relationship have decided to call it quits?  Or because they have initiated some formal legal process?  Or because they have moved out to separate homes for some length of time?  Even though the facts are different on the surface, I believe the heart of it is the same.  Why?  Because “separated” is a misnomer.  Marriage, like pregnancy, is a binary proposition – you either are or you are not.  So let’s be honest about what “separated” really is:  unhappily married.

When you begin a secret second relationship while you’re married, we call it cheating…but just because someone starts a second relationship openly, in the light of day, doesn’t mean that the original marriage vow doesn’t exist.  It’s still infidelity (from the Latin fidelis, meaning faithful, loyal).  That infidelity is both a betrayal of the spouse as well as being unfaithful to the seriousness of your own promise.  The only difference about doing it openly is that you’re more honest and forthright about your willingness to break the vow.  Think about what that says about you to other people.

Ask your reader to put the shoe on the other foot – would he be impressed by a girl that marked ‘single,’ then revealed on the first date (or sometime later) that well, she’s actually married?  Probably not.  Would he find someone trustworthy that marked ‘separated,’ knowing that she didn’t take her marriage vow seriously enough to keep from dating before it had been truly dissolved?  I hope not.  If he were single would he consider dating a girl who marked ‘married’?  Never!  So if he wouldn’t like those qualities in someone else, would the right potential girlfriend value those qualities in him?

Now let’s think about this shoe-on the-other-foot scenario another way:  What are we searching for in a life partner?  Someone good.  Good down to their bones, not just someone who starts off seeming like a good thing.  So let’s stipulate that a good person is someone who recognizes and does – or certainly tries to do – the right thing in any given situation.  And what do we know about doing the right thing?  That doing the right thing is not always doing the easy thing.  In fact, you can often tell the right path by the very fact that it is harder.  The right thing is getting divorced before you start to date someone else.  Is it harder? Of course it is.  But that only bolsters my conviction that it is, indeed, the right thing to do.  The kind of person she should want to start a new relationship with is not the kind of person that will want to start something with a [happily or unhappily] married person.  I hate to say it, but unless he does the right thing and divorces first, he will most likely attract people who: 1) do not truly, deeply take marriage vows (and the trust that those relationship commitments are based on) seriously, and 2) do not place a high priority on other peoples’ goodness – their willingness to try to recognize and do the right thing.  The best girls out there will want to date someone that is truly single, and who strives to do the right thing…Why? Because they don’t want someone that is all- too-easily tempted to do the wrong thing (Like cheat!  See how it all goes in a circle here?).

OK, we’ve identified the right thing – If you want to start a new relationship, you should be single first, and that means getting un-married.  If both parties are truly serious about divorce (as opposed to even entertaining the possibility of getting back together), it’s tempting to say something like, “Just get it done already.  People let these things drag on for so long, and to no purpose.  Get. It. Done.”  But divorce is a complicated, many-faceted thing, and it is beyond the scope of this reader’s question to go into how, why, and whether such matters can be expedited, or done less expensively, etc.  Suffice it to say that each divorce is different, and contains a great deal of emotional processing that takes place outside the confines of a contract to divvy up various assets.  In the worst-case scenario, one ends up in a messy, protracted divorce proceeding.  Some might argue that that in itself is reason to let yourself begin something new – who knows how long ending the first relationship might take?  But would you want to begin a relationship with someone embroiled in that drama?  Of course not.  And if you’re the person in that drama, do you honestly believe you’d be a good relationship partner for someone else?  The fact is, doing so would be a selfish act:  Although you might feel better by starting a new relationship with some nice guy, you ultimately do a disservice to that person by sucking them into the maelstrom of your divorce.

Too long?   Then here’s my summary (which, of course, is also long):

1)     The reader should not be on a dating site.  Period.  Full stop.  I know – it’s so harsh!  But don’t think about it through the lens of what you’re giving up (all those smokin’ hot women with kitten pics!), think of the rewards he gets, instead:  1) He rewards himself by not giving in to temptation breaking his original vows.  Once you break them, you can’t go back – even if you’re the only one who knows – so why tempt yourself?  2) He rewards himself by not putting the divorce negotiations in a precarious position (in a bitter dispute, the wife’s knowledge of the dating could be used as leverage to alter key points – money, property, and especially custody arrangements, etc. because the adultery here [real or potential] casts him in a questionable moral light). 3) By not dating yet, he rewards himself by avoiding the bad girls – those who don’t value trust – because whoever he dates now won’t care about the fact that he is [unhappily] married (however handsome/charming/etc. she might otherwise be).  4) He is doing himself a favor by creating an impetus to finalize the divorce.  The sooner that ink is dry, the sooner he can begin to search for something new – think of it as a reward for doing the right thing.  And he will be attracting better women because of it – another reward!  5) He will also have the quiet pride of knowing that he did things the right way, in the right order – and that has a value all its own.

2)     If the reader insists on dating-while-separated, then the reader MUST state on his profile that he is married or separated, because that is the truth and anything else is at best a lie, at worst a gross and willful misrepresentation of the facts.  He is still married in the eyes of God and Man, and even if some people don’t care about the former, the latter still has plenty of repercussions on its own.  There is a social stigma attached to dating outside of marriage it for a reason!  (ex:  Would he want his kids teased at school because of it if gossip got out?)

3)     There is nothing wrong with meeting new people, building friendships, and socializing.  That is not out-of-bounds.  But the intimacy of a relationship – particularly the physical intimacy of holding, touching, kissing, and loving someone – should be built upon a solid foundation.  If you’re still married (however much you’ve managed to diminish the value of that marriage in your own mind), you are definitely NOT building on a solid foundation.

Well, that’s what Raul thinks, anyhow.  🙂

Ask Sarah – Dating While Separated?

ask sarah

As some of you have already seen, there is a spot on the new website to “Ask Sarah.”  This is the spot to write in any question/musing from the quick “He just texted me this:  [write out his text], …what should I text him back?” to bigger questions about love, relationships, dating, etc.

Sometimes I’ll write back just to you, other times (like today), I’ll use the question as fodder for a post.  In fact, today’s question has inspired TWO posts!

So, thank you to the first reader who used this tool, and wrote THIS question:

“Sarah, what is your perspective on dating before the ink is dry on the divorce papers. It has been a year since the decision to divorce was made and I have been living on my own for five months now. I’m worried that answering “separated” on my dating profile will get me overlooked. Answering “married” will most likely come off like someone trying to cheat. However answering “single” might end up backfiring when you eventually have to tell your date it isn’t official yet. Am I just over-thinking this or should I just wait till I’m officially divorced before pursuing any new relationships?”

Dear Limbo-land,

Being in this situation stinks.  I know because I was in it once. 

I’ll tell you MY answer… and then let you hear from some other ‘voices’ as well.

You see, I had varying thoughts and angles on answering this, and found myself feeling a bit torn, because I can see it from both sides… so, while I was formulating my own response, I decided to poll a few wise folks to see what they thought too – I asked a pastor, counselor, a couple friends on the dating scene, a couple who are happily ‘taken,’ and all different ages.  I got a variety of answers – all different angles, but usually hitting the same spot on the target:

Don’t do it.  But, if you do – be completely honest.

So – I’ll give you my response and then post some of theirs at the end.

I think, as hard as it is, you can’t go wrong by waiting.  There are so many good reasons to wait until the divorce is official to start dating.  That said, I also recognize that there are some sticky-wickets/exceptions. 

For instance, I know a man – a good man – whose wife became a drug addict and disappeared from his and the life of their two daughters.  He was left holding the bag (working, full-time single parenting, and figuring out if the marriage could be restored).  She cheated, left town, and hasn’t shown any interest in seeing him OR her daughters since.  He was assigned full custody of the girls, but the divorce kept getting pushed back because the judge REALLY wanted her present.  To the tune of over two years.  OVER TWO YEARS.  After the initial grieving of the loss of the marriage (which had begun long before she took off, as you can imagine), is he supposed to wait too?  Tricky stuff. 

I only say all that to get at this point – this must be a case-by-case decision.

But, for MOST situations, I think the best and right answer is to wait to date.

From my own experience, people who think they’re ready… often aren’t.  I dated someone who wasn’t “officially” divorced yet… it was stuck in legal-land for over a year before movement happened.  And, even though the marriage was over, and he thought he was ready to love someone else, he had work to do – internal work, that is – that came back to bite us.  And in the end, he (by his own admission), had no business putting himself online when he did.  We were unequally matched, not by legal terms, but in our emotional readiness.

So, waiting on the divorce forces you to have time to do the necessary self-awareness check to see where you are in your own heart/mind/soul. 
There is a difference between being DONE with the marriage and being READY for someone new.

This is a really important distinction and I think it’s why who many counselors encourage such a long time of no-dating after divorce.

You see, depending on the way the marriage ended (anywhere from the shocking quick end (“I met someone else.  I don’t love you anymore.  I’m leaving.”  Boom.) to the long, slow death of years of fighting or resentment, finally brought to an end by someone filing for divorce), you have varying timetables for grieving/mourning the marriage.  Some people will have done so much of this work during the time of separation/divorce, that by the time the ink IS dry, they’ve really come to terms with the death of the marriage.  Others need more.

But, regardless of how long the grieving process takes, there is a whole OTHER step, which is re-evaluating yourself as a man/woman preparing to date, and eventually LOVE again.

I mean – depending on how LONG you were married… you may be a different person, with different priorities and desires for a partner now.  You may need to spend some time reminding yourself of who you are, so you’re confident enough to not be that needy/clingy partner to the first person who shows you affection.  You might need to do some internal work (and I highly encourage working with a therapist as well… I hear they are AMAZING people… 🙂 ) on any areas of fragility/damage caused by your ex or issues with your ex.  There is so much to do to prepare to be the kind of person who is not only attractive to the opposite sex, but has the character to be a GOOD partner. 

All of this can be going on when the “ink is drying.”  And you have the sweet benefit of knowing, when it’s all said and done, that you did the right thing by waiting.

You didn’t force a potential new partner to wonder if this is the way you live your life…in slightly deceptive waters.

You didn’t potentially complicate/lengthen the divorce process by looking possibly unfaithful.

You didn’t give your heart or body to another while your vows were still technically bound up with another.  If you said “til death do us part,” the least you can do is honor that by waiting for the death/dissolution of the marriage.

I realize all this is SO much easier said than done.  I was in this boat a few years ago and struggled with it myself.  But, being on this side of things, I am more firm that I ever was, that this is a difficult time, but a rich time for growth.  Don’t rush the dating. 

I dare say a few months of uncomfortable limbo, will pay off exponentially in a future relationship when you can say you waited, and used that time to prepare for your new life…
and new love.

So, those are my thoughts.  Let’s hear from some others:

I wouldn’t give a second look at the profile of someone who is married or separated. But if someone who selected single was honest with me at our first date, I’d have no problem! I mean…that person is single and unattached, so it I isn’t a lie.”  -JW

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He’s wise and mature, recognizing that he is already divorced mentally if not on paper.  He’s been on his own for awhile.  And wants to be honest.  [That being said,…]

I guess I wonder, what’s the rush!  What just happened <divorce!> was HUGE and while I know we are all eager to move on, it takes time – and waiting for the ink to dry might be an important emotional/mental milestone.

This is a case by case situation.

Having dated a divorced person, I can speak to one woman’s perspective.  We began dating 3 months after the ink was dry. He had a meltdown about six months in.  He wasn’t ready.  At the risk of sounding naïve or patronizing, I think divorced folks should do a year or counseling / grieving / mourning before dating.  Let all the holidays and milestones pass as a single person before making memories with a new person.”   -CS

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Until the paperwork is complete there shouldn’t be any online date browsing. I put great stock in official status. …No shopping for new love until the divorce is official. 

Suppose the issue wasn’t divorce but terminal illness. Suppose one’s spouse is in hospice. Is it okay to go on a date since the marriage will soon be over?  Odd analogy, I’ll admit but marriage, like pregnancy, is either fully in progress or fully complete. There is no almost.”  -RG

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“Look ahead to the kind of woman you want to find/date/marry/etc. Is she the kind of woman who might see this as a deception? Or possibly unsavory? Or a story she would be ashamed to tell her family or friends? I don’t think there is a clear wrong or right here, but I would err on the side of caution and just delete your profile (or pause it) until the ink is dry. You’ll enjoy your dates much more if you can go into them without having to explain yourself before or during the date itself.”   -LI

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“We’re adults and adult relationships, by their nature, are complex.  He should mark “single” on his profile, but be VERY clear in the body of his profile about what’s going on.  He has to be honest.”   -TD

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“I think it’s likely that “separated” would get someone overlooked on dating sites, and I think that’s probably the “icing on the cake” reason why waiting until the divorce is final is a good idea. I think that the fact that there is still a legal marriage in play should put the kibosh on dating, as frustrating as I’m sure that is. Once the divorce is final, I think there is an important and fundamental change that occurs, on a meta-level you could say.

There might be some room for exceptions to dating someone you already know, who knows your situation and is a good friend and all that, before the divorce is final, but I think generally a “no dating until I’m single” mantra is a good one.”   -LJ

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And the last answer I got – from “Raul” (who some of you may remember from earlier guest posts) – was so good and thorough, that I’ve decided to post it on its own tomorrow.

So, “Dating while Separated,” I hope this helps narrow things down for you.  I suspect (though I’m often wrong), that deep down, you’d already decided what the right answer was, but just wanted some feedback to help you as you carried that out…

Stay tuned for more thoughts on this topic tomorrow, when Raul returns.

*-*-T-E-R and Smoocher Was her Name-O …pt. III

I don’t think it’ll come as any great shock to most of you that I like to smooch.  I do.  Are there people who DON’T?
And I give a lot of mental airtime to the idea of kissing… after all, not only is it fun to do, but I honestly think it is a significant form of communication and connection. 

Now, this doesn’t mean I go throwing it around…and I’m happy to define my terms here, but when I’m on a date and I’m learning about the guy… if I feel an attraction, why wouldn’t I want to know how he communicates in that way? 

Let me be clear…there are all sorts of ways to kiss. 
There are sweet short kisses that tell you what you need to know and simultaneously impress you in their restraint, 
and then all the way at the other end of the continuum, you’re muggin’ down on the couch of some wine bar for all the world to see.  
And then, … in some rare cases, thre are those dates that end with your neck getting licked…like a dog. 
No, I do not lie.  My dear friend went on a date that ended just like that.  No kiss.  No makeout session.  Just one long clean lick of the neck and off he went… probably to go chase a tennis ball.
Say it with me:  “Guh-ross.”

So, today’s 2-part question is – how does kissing play into the beginning phase of the dating process…and how does it affect the relationship afterward, if you decide to stay friends?

Everyone is different with their “rules.”  (By the way, if you think you don’t have rules and that you just “go with the flow” and see where the wind takes you, you’re wrong.  You may be open to spontaneity, but you have boundaries and lines you won’t cross…they may not be as tidy and defined as mine, but you’ve got ’em.  We all do.  For instance, one of my rules (now), is – ‘no second date if he licks me.’  Just sayin’…).
But everyone differs on whether they’ll kiss on the first date, and if so, what KIND of smooch it’ll be…
For me, it’s less about a line in the sand I’ve made, and more about the nature of the date.  If we are connecting and enjoying each other and there’s a natural opportunity for a kiss, I’m going to go for it.  After all – it’s more information!  Is he a good kisser?  (as defined my more than technique… looking for passion and thoughtfulness… to see more about how I gauge a kiss, check out this post.)  My time is limited and if I go on 5 dates with a guy before ever getting smooched, only to find that he’s inconsiderate, overly aggressive, or a myriad other deal-killers, those are 5 dates worth of nights I’m never getting back!

I know some of you are thinking…. well, what if that makes you too easy? 
Look…I’m not giving away the whole enchilada… just a kiss. 
It matches my personality – outgoing, expressive, passionate. 

And… to clarify…I go on PLENTY of first dates where I DON’T kiss.  It’s not a given.  It just isn’t ‘off’ the table.

In some cases, I’ve had girlfriends who kissed on the first date and then never heard back from the guy.  They thought that maybe it was because they’d “given too much away on the first date.” 
Doubtful
I dare say I’ve never met ANY guy who wouldn’t call a girl back for a second date because she kissed him at the end of the date.  Not unless the kiss was BAD….or something ELSE was going on.  Readers, feel free to disagree with me.

Next…post-snogging relationships.  If you decide to take your relationship to the friend zone (“Iiiii’ve been to the fri-iend zone…fri-iend zone… take me riiiiiight into-oooooooo the frie-end zooooone……. ok, sorry…I simply couldn’t resist it), and you’ve already been to smoochville?  Simple answer.  Just talk about it.  One converstaion is all it will take.  Quick and dirty.  Something like this:
Hey – you’re so fun.  I’d love to keep this friendship going, but I just don’t think we’re a good romantic match.  And yes…I know… we’ve kissed.  But I can be cool about it if you can.”  Boom.  Done.
Who knows…you may even laugh about it.  You MAY even be able to give each other tips for going forward!  It HAS been known to happen.

Basically, I’m saying there’s no need to be afraid of kissing.

BUT.   (and, naturally, I’m assuming the appropriate high school youth pastor posture as I say this)…
know your limits and lines going INTO a date. 
It may sound parental and silly, given that many of us are adults in our 30’s, 40’s and up… but I still have to remind myself of my standards and ‘rules’ for physical connection.  And if I know what I will and won’t do on a date, going into it, that frees me up to be able to enjoy a snog-fest, should it come my way.

*-A-T-E-R and Caller Was her Name-O …pt. II

We left off last time with giving your phone number out easily and freely… because… why not?

So, then what?
Maybe you get a flirty banter going…and then on to a date.  Fantastic!

But sometimes you get the most charming back and forth on the phone or text, but it just sits there indefinitely… ugh…

Let’s look at the case of my friend:  we’ll call her Karen.  She met a guy on a 20-mile bike ride/race/drinking thing…(sounds fun, huh?  Except for the biking part).  They talked on and off for 2 hours, ended up having a smooch fest in the parking lot and he put his number into her phone.  The next day he called, but quickly had to get off the phone for some technical difficulty issue, but texted her promptly thereafter.  Then, nothing.

Karen wanted to know if she should shoot him a text to let him know she was still interested.  I said, DEFINITELY.  I mean, …again – what’s the harm?  If he likes her, he’ll be glad to know he’s not alone and that she is intrigued as well.  If he is done with her, then she has nothing to lose.  He’s already a loser.  Ya know?

She (wisely) took my advice and was emboldened to write him back.  They’ve been texting ever since, but sporadically.  They’ll go strong for a while and then nothing…and then she’s left wondering if she should initiate again to pick it back up or if that will create a bad habit of her always having to light the communication fire.  Also… it’s now been over 2 weeks of on/off texting and he hasn’t asked her out again.  She’s pretty traditional and won’t do the asking…so here we sit.  And wait.  In textual, but stagnant land.
(which, by clarification, is not nearly as much fun as the title suggests…)

This brings up an interesting point I’ve noticed as I’ve talked with my single friends, and as I’ve been on ‘the scene’ myself.

1.  Women (other than myself) often don’t want to be the initiators of texting or getting together
NOT because they’re shy or old-fashioned, but because they don’t want to set a precedent early on that they will be the take-control person in the relationship.  Many of my friends have expressed fear that if they act more assertively in asking a guy out, that he’ll take the cue and run with it…never to pursue her again.  And that will define their relationship forever…him being lazy in the back seat and her being forced to “nag” him into action.  Ick.

And yet, I don’t think they’re all wrong.  I also don’t think that initiating the first meet-up necessarily turns them into the rat in the skinner box either – ever conditioned to be on the sidelines of the dating relationship and never to take the reigns.  But, this is how the tricky world of dating gets so convoluted….she doesn’t want to be read as the necessary agressor, he doesn’t want to move forward not knowing if she’s truly interested or only game-playing…so neither of them paddles the boat…and so it sits.  Unmoving in the middle of the lake.  Wow…exciting stuff…

Sigh…it’s like we’re on a giant strategy game board and and each piece is pacing and darting…just watching and waiting to see how to best make their move in such a way that they’ll save face, not look like an idiot, pursue with enthusiasm but not be seen as overly agresive, and still be thought of as romantic and sweet, but not TOO sweet or doormat-ish, …….it’s EXHAUSTING!

Next time…does mugging down hurt your chances of a second date?  (or a real first date?… or being friends later?)

D-A-T-E-R and Flirter Was her Name-O …pt. I

A friend recently asked me about how to know when it’s the right time to give out your number, and how/when to initiate conversation after meeting someone, including texting, etc. and as a woman, where the line is of initiating/driving the communication.  
Whew!  
Good stuff, let’s just dive right in.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that this is an area of struggle for me because my natural tendency is to aggressively pursue something I see that I like…but I’ve gotten into trouble being too pushy after an initial good first date/meeting and it’s spooked guys.  So, let me BEGIN with the full disclosure clause, that I MAY not be the best source of wisdom on this matter.  Between curiosity and naive optimism… I will text/hound a guy until he has to practically pry my proverbial fingers off of him.  Sexy, huh?

That being said…I always have lots of opinions!

First – how/when to give out your number… 

I’m a big proponent of giving it out quickly.  BE BOLD, ladies!  What’s the harm? 
To me, texting and talking are much faster methods of assessing whether there could be a love connection than the messaging systems on the online dating sites (especially the eHarm…good GRIEF…I grow at least 6 gray hairs every time I have to wait for a guy to “respond to my closed ended questions,” etc…. snore… I’m asleep.  Wake me up when there’s an atual DATE on the table).

So, if I’m messaging someone and he seems like a potential match, I’ll usually throw out the digits pretty quickly and even ask him if he’s interested in grabbing a drink sometime.  There is NO time to waste!!  Life is short (and often smoochless), so…I say, strike while the iron is handsome.

And when I’m out and about – if I meet a cute guy without a wedding ring, I’ll often pass him my number as I leave the place (coffeehouse, bar/restaurant, taxodermist’s office…you know…the usuals).  It can be anything from striking up conversation and then giving him my card (I’ll tell you later about the cards I ALWAYS carry with me), to literally scrawling on a napkin, something flirty and simple like: 
You’re cute.  I’m cute.  We should go grab a drink sometime and be cute together.  555-123….” 
(I know, right?  WHAT are the odds that my cell number starts out just like all the phone numbers in the movies?  Crazy.)

But, once you get beyond the initial phone number exchange…then what? 

Tune in tomorrow to find out…

Good Girls Gone Crazy

SO…. yesterday, we talked about this trend of women actually liking men who make themselves seemingly unavailable.  And the worst part of it is this:  it perpetuates the cycle by validating to men on the dating scene that yes, they can indeed win women by being jerks.  UGH!  Once again, we women are sabotaging ourselves.

How did this start?  Why do they do it?  And what’s an honest, ‘say-how-you-really-feel’ girl to DO?

Let’s use today’s post to consider the many varied and estupido reasons that women would be drawn to a meanie.

A couple of my personal theories…  And then (since it IS voting day), we’ll put it to a poll.

A.  The self-loathing theory.

A large number of women (men too, come to think of it), have such little self-worth, that in some twisted turn of sub-conscious events, they seek out “proof” of their un-worthiness by only chasing after someone who’s treating them poorly or turns to the uninterested side, because that somehow validates what they already believe to be true.  Rather than face the cognitive dissonance of “I think I’m not worth much,” yet “he seems to like me,” they wait for a a guy to NOT like them, so they can remain in the belief that they’re not worth a better guy.  This is so sad.  And yet… I think it’s often the case.  I blame the terrorists.

B.  The Grass-is-Greener theory.

This one’s simple.  You have something you like, but because we’re self-absorbed people, we grow lazy/greedy and don’t do the work to cultivate the good thing.  So, it goes away.  But as soon as it’s gone, we realize we want what we now “can’t have.”  It’s the “can’t have” part that makes it so deliciously tempting, you see.  Like when you’ve finished your last bite of cake, but your friend still has a whole piece…and you REALLY want it.  We’re broken people.  We want what we can’t have.  Even if we had our chance to have it, and blew it.

C.  The In-The-Pocket Theory

This is a selfish, but oft-used plan to keep your options open.  It’s essentially putting every remotely viable guy into the “Duckie” category (from Pretty in Pink).
Unfortunately, this method of hedging their dating bets, is sanctioned….even suggested by dating ‘professionals.’  Acclaimed matchmaker and author, Patti Stanger, recommends always having a “Pair and a Spare.”  The idea is that you always have some less-than-my-prince guys in your back pocket to help you in your dating career/decisions.
(By the way, if you hadn’t already picked up on my disdain for her methods, you can read my review of her book, “Becoming Your Own Matchmaker” here.)

This “Pair and a Spare” should, according to her, include:  1. The Best Straight Guy Friend (“Harry” from “When Harry Met Sally”).  2.  The “Big Maybe” – this guy roughly meets your standards, but doesn’t thrill you.  Still, he’s enjoyable to hang out with as your second choice, and he’s not yet descended to the friend zone.  And the second part of the “pair” is 3.  The One You Really Like.  I guess, ostensibly, having the other two is supposed to help you not put all your eggs in the #3 basket, thereby putting you in a one-down power position.

Ridic.

D.  The Project Theory

We help create the distancing jerk and then insert our self in his life to help improve him.  This should be called the manipulative/controlling/passive-aggressive theory, but that seems semantically cumbersome.

You play the coy game to such a degree that the guy, in his frustration, backs off or lets go of you.  Then, you reassert interest in him in such a way that it seems like HE was the jerk, and then you can ‘save’ him.  And who doesn’t have a teensy bit of a savior complex in ’em?  This appeals to the nurturing manner in women.  We want to take care of our children, make our houses look nice, tend to the people in our lives and leave everyone a little happier, a little more ‘perfect’ than we found them.  But this is the ultimate recipe for future heartbreak, because the means not only aren’t justified by the end (a “perfect” guy), but they don’t even achieve the end, because they’re so manipulative that you either end up with a pissed off guy who doesn’t want to be controlled by you anymore, or you turn him into an emasculated doormat without opinions or passions.  Swoon.

E.   The “It’s Evolutionary, my dear Watson” theory

This theory rests on the notion that we women have a primal need to be protected – a desire for shelter and safeguarding.  And in a more primitive culture, we would be able to observe men displaying acts of physical strength to prove their merit on this front.  But, in our society where intellect and attitude are the new big rock and sheer force that take down the dangerous beast in our path, we want to see a man ‘show off’ his aggressive prowess, and we’re drawn to it.  The only problem is that, in our brokenness, we crave this to such an extent that we end up valuing meanness, confusing it for passion and protection, rather than seeking out thoughtfulness and a capacity for problem-solving where a man is intelligently defensive of us, rather than verbally or emotionally beating us up to win our cavewoman approval.

So, what say you?
Remember…it’s unAmerican not to vote… (or unCanadian… or unMalawian… or whatever lovely country you hail from).

VOTE!

And there are no non-swing states here,…no electoral college… your vote actually counts.  Well…to feed my curiosity, that is.    🙂