Two Years and One Insecurity Later: State of the Relationship Address

queer_house

 

So this is somewhere in the second year of the blog. Sex, Love & Ire began after I was ghosted and probably catfished (fake profile) on a dating site. The event at the time was pretty hard for me to take.

After having this and other disappointing experiences I realized that something was amiss. I shouldn’t be having small emotional breakdowns over these types of scenarios. Dating shouldn’t be this hard, but why was it taking such a toll on me?

My thoughts drifted from this matter as I found myself in a relationship soon after. Ultimately though, I knew the answer to my question. I was afraid of being alone.

Flash forward two years and I’m single once more. I knew I had to make a change. I should be comfortable, even happy, being alone before I begin dating. I couldn’t keep fumbling around with those who weren’t a good fit for me in an attempt to satiate my insecurities. I also couldn’t keep trying to push myself into relationships when someone was a good fit. Those situations need to evolve at their own pace. It was unfair to everyone involved.

I decided to stop dating until I was secure with being single. Having been in a relationship for 20 some odd years it was never a reality I had to face. It was time I did.

And so it was that I set out on a quest to heal myself and become comfortable with where I was in life. My mission mostly looked like this: each time I felt the urge to get on a dating app I would ask myself why I wanted to do so. I discovered it was mostly because I was bored or lonely. When that answer came I knew I had to give myself more time. So I waited and went about my life. Easier said than done.

I started doing things alone that I usually didn’t. Going to concerts, meals, movies, auto races and trips across country all became a means to help me come to terms with spending time alone.

I can’t say how long it takes for the average person to get into a good state of mind for dating. Anyone who quantifies this is probably full of shit. Everyone moves through life at different speeds and we all certainly have our own levels of personal work to do.

For me, after three months I felt good about where I was. I started dabbling in online dating again. I didn’t think things would progress so quickly but the change I felt was remarkable. I went online, matching with people and conversing without the worry of whether or not they liked me. If someone ghosted me or barely responded I just figured they were busy or we weren’t a good fit and went on my way. When I have no matches for a week or so (this happens to me often) it was no problem. I was at ease for the first time and the whole process of finding someone felt healthy. I was more balanced and making better choices.

Then it happened; I matched and started messaging with someone. She wanted badly for me to call her right away so she could hear my voice. I wasn’t comfortable with this and maybe that should have been reason enough to decline. I don’t mind phone calls, but something about this request was a bit off. However, because I often push my boundaries we talked briefly.

The two minute phone conversation was heavily laden with sexual innuendos and even outright statements about having sex. This was all on her end because I am tragically bad at flirting; nearly incapable would be another way of putting it. Heavy sexual advances can actually make me uncomfortable (when I don’t know a person) and unfortunately that’s the only level of flirtation that I can detect. Everything I mentioned she steered back to heavy flirting. I wasn’t having it. She was driven in her need to flirt and something about it felt familiar and unstable. In some ways it felt like me a couple of years back.

I was on a strict timeline so I said goodbye and told her she would hear from me. “Do you promise” she said. “Of course” I replied and concluded our conversation.

That night I sent some follow up messages to her and each time I received a one word reply. I’m pretty verbose and a bit of a sapiosexual (finds intelligence attractive) so brevity and a lack of interest are obvious red flags for me. I stopped messaging, I’m sure she wanted it that way.

I started to think about our encounter and how similar it was to when I was actually stood up. So much of the language was similar. Even her voice and the tempo at which she talked so closely resembled my first encounter of being catfished that I began to wonder if it was the same person.

Two years ago I this would have sent me for another mini tailspin but I felt healthy and calm exiting this incident. The difference in my reaction was amazing. Here I had my first interaction with someone online and it was a total bust (well I dodged a bullet really) but it didn’t bother me. I didn’t cry, I didn’t start another blog (whew), it didn’t send me into any kind of emotional spiral. This was just something that happened and because I’m now okay with being single I could walk through that fire unscathed. Of course I don’t like being played but I really don’t feel that I was. My new found comfort had allowed me to see the dynamics of what was happening. Not only could I sense the other person’s insecurity it was a bit of a turn off.

I should take this moment to say that I know my security with being single won’t make me impervious; there will still be hurt. I will still find people with which I want to explore a relationship and they won’t feel the same. There is no way to guard against that and anyway, I don’t want to. Some things should hurt.

The remarkable thing about this experience was I realized that until the fear of being single is dealt with it will remain. When I was with someone that fear (arguably) went away but after the relationship ended it was waiting for me like a loyal companion.

This has been a valuable experience for me. I’ve learned that becoming comfortable in being single isn’t a way of giving up on finding someone, rather it frees me to be a better version of myself. When the right person comes along I will be available and when the wrong person comes barreling at me I can sidestep that collision. Dealing with my insecurity was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I see and know people that haven’t taken the time to be secure with themselves. You know them too. They are the ones that move from relationship to relationship with hardly a month between. For many this type of behavior doesn’t even seem extreme so used to seeing it are we. If any of this sounds familiar consider taking a moment to become happy with being single. If you do I will promise this much; the version of you that exits this experience will be such a better person than you can imagine.

 

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“Will You Give Me Herpes?”

Those were the words that were staring me in the face on my screen. I didn’t know what to think. Was someone pulling a prank or testing me in some weird fashion? As it turns out they were dead serious. This person had an STD fetish and while they didn’t want anything that could potentially end their life, they were very interested in contracting genital herpes.

I was taken aback for a second. After all, here was this aspect of me that I would gladly delete from my life if I could (pretty sure most with HSV would) and now someone else actually wanted this pesky little virus.

My answer came pretty readily. No, I would not intentionally give someone herpes. I have two goals related to this infection and the first is that my partners will be informed of my condition before engaging in any activity that is a risk to them. The second is to take every measure to ensure that I transfer this to no one. Life is unpredictable of course, but I need to know that I’m protecting who I’m with as much as possible.

If I were to have unprotected sex with them my first goal could remain intact as they would be informed. My second goal though could not survive. They explicitly wanted me to help them get herpes. Now, I don’t think that sharing herpes is as easy a task as it may seem but logistics was obviously not the problem here. I couldn’t bring myself to knowingly give someone this virus. Just for the sake of argument, even if I could bring myself to participate in this person’s fetish I would bump up against my next difficulty.

What if they later on they come to regret having herpes? This is admittedly a complex issue for me because I firmly believe in a person’s autonomy. People should be able to make their own decisions and those decisions don’t have to align with my desires. However, this decision does directly involve me and as an actor in this moral dilemma I get to have a say about how I use my body.

Putting aside the philosophical argument of whether full autonomy can ever be experienced I’m going to maintain here that it can. It’s one of the reasons I want to be completely truthful with those in my life. I want their decisions to be made with every bit of information possible. The more info they have the better decision they can make. If a partner knows my condition, the nature of the disease, means of transmission, and precautionary measures we can employ then they have as much knowledge as I do. We have at least reached parity on that front.

If I went ahead and tried to help them I would be respecting their autonomy. However, I had reason to believe that they weren’t acting in their best interest. To start with they had a STD fetish. Sometimes fetishes become almost like a pathology which would be cause for concern. I ruled this out though because in my very non-professional opinion there was a desire present to avoid injury such as HIV. I feel like this avoidance of harm sidestepped the pathology issue.

Regardless, fetishes come and go. This person was also 18 years of age and the younglings are still figuring out who they are and what they want. For fucks sake, I’m 41 (as of this writing) and I’m still working on that. It’s part of self growth and it’s a continuous process as we age. Our work is never done in this respect.

I dislike undermining someone’s autonomy but there is a chance that later in life they might regret intentionally contracting herpes. I don’t want to be part of that scenario. That is my choice. If they decide to continue trying to get some type of STD/I then that is their choice.

Another thought I had was isn’t life about experiences and wouldn’t not having sex be a lack of experience? As someone who is single I don’t have sex more days than I do, but it doesn’t feel like a lack of experience. Then again, on those days I don’t have an offer laid at my feet like this.

Ultimately, I concluded that perhaps I may miss out on a sexual experience or two with this person but that regret is much to do about nothing so long as I can avoid a much worse ethical regret. I don’t feel as if I’m missing out. Even if life is only about experiences (a notion I do not explicitly subscribe to) then this whole situation is certainly a much more unique scenario (i.e. experience) than having sex will likely ever be.

All in all, this is the right decision for me to make. I want to protect this person even though I’ve never met them and even though I am disregarding their wishes. I also want to feel good about my role in the world and my relationships with others. This is certainly a situation I never thought I would encounter and yet here I am.

I would say life definitely threw me a curve with this one but I am happy with the outcome. Maybe this person will fulfill their fetish. So be it. If that happens then at least I can rest well knowing I wasn’t part of it. That good feeling will last far longer than any from sex ever will.

A Tale of Three Loves: Personal time and relationships

When I was dating the woman who would become my first wife. Initially, I wanted to spend every moment with her that was possible. However, early on (like the first week of us dating) she established Friday nights as the night we would spend with friends. That was a big deal because at the time it established one of the three nights we had available to us for her own interests. After spending the first few nights at home alone hoping she would somehow change her mind, I got my ass out of the house and started making plans with my friends. I realized that Friday night was for my interests as well. That independence was one of the best gifts she could have given me. It allowed me to avoid being one of those people who shed all of their friends as soon as they had a significant other and it caused me to define myself outside of another person.

This led me to develop cycling as a hobby. I established new friends statewide, started racing with some success, co-founded and ran my own race team and helped build and maintain the first mountain bike trail system in a neighboring county. I was one of the people who actually contributed to the growth of the sport. These were good times.

Flash forward a bit (18 years) and I was going through a divorce from my first wife and had started dating my second wife. I was in the best shape of my life and had just completed my first race of the year. It was my best finish ever which was an excellent way to start the year. It was also my last race for almost three years which not coincidentally was nearly the length of my second relationship.

You see my new love expected more of my time than I was used to. While I didn’t mind the idea of spending more time with her I didn’t like that it had to be at the expense of my other interests and even who I was. She leveraged her idea by saying, “This is what couples do. You didn’t spend time together in your last relationship because you two had problems.”

It sounded legit and as it pertains to the tail end of my first marriage it was correct. However, for the first 13 years or so having our own time and space worked remarkably well. Time apart wasn’t what ended my first marriage, but I didn’t really connect those dots at the time. I desperately wanted to please this new person. There was also a practical aspect to the situation. I was using every dime to pay off my debts from my first marriage and racing is an expensive proposition. The money I saved could be put to good use paying bills.

So, I stopped racing, only did trail building a couple of times, gave the remaining interest in my race team to my friends and pretty much just checked out. By this time I was living in a new city which further isolated me from my main source of pleasure and friendship.

Then I moved again, this time 1000 miles away. I played hermit my first year and didn’t make a single friend. When I tried to carve out time for cycling or photography I was made to feel guilty about using some of my time off to do this if she also had the day free. I became completely beholden to her schedule and could only feel good about going out if she was also out. I don’t think either of us were really conscious of this dynamic as it was occurring. She was just speaking to her needs and I was trying to meet those. In reality, I’m sure both of us were acting on our insecurities.

However, I eventually realized that this wasn’t working for me. I started to change the dynamic by saying I wanted more personal time to explore my interests. It took a number of conversations, but eventually we agreed and I did go out. I started working on my photography and throwing a leg over the top tube of my bike again and it was wonderful. It was just like old times and I was having a blast. I felt like I had a small part of the real me back again.

About six months later my second marriage was over. I don’t really think that my newly established independence was the cause of it. If anything, my willingness to give up my time and her desire to garner the majority of my attention was likely the symptom of a deeper flaw. We were just trying to bandage it with being together, both being afraid of what would happen when we weren’t.

Now that I have some distance from that scenario though I can see the mistakes I made. I used to be self-made and independent. I was ashamed of that needy insecure person I was at 17. All it took to reverse my fortune was a new relationship. It renewed my insecurities about a partner’s fidelity which most likely hinges on my perception of self-worth. Even though I didn’t want to relinquish my personal space I let my fears dictate my actions. I gave up the balance that made me who I was. The conversation, and subsequent compromise, should have happened much earlier in the relationship. Maybe I couldn’t afford to race, but just going out to ride or do trail work takes little money.

There’s a practical aspect to this as well. When you give the itinerary of your life over to another person and that relationship ends then you are essentially left with nothing; a place where your life should have been, but isn’t. You are more than just your partner and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s wonderfully healthy.

I read stories about parents who balance work and home life so that they can each go out and go for a run, bike ride or to hang with their friends and I appreciate that. It’s something I need to learn more about and definitely something I have trouble with in a new relationship. When everything is fresh in a relationship and comfort and trust have yet to be established my insecurities can kick in when I’m apart from someone. It’s one of my weaknesses to overcome.

I know that I’m happier with time set aside for myself. I just need to make myself strike that balance until I’m finally comfortable with it. That’s going to take time and tackling a few of my demons (again). To that end, someone bring me a tall glass of beer and a cute priest.

Changing Your Last Impression

I’m not sure the reason but people often talk to me about relationship problems they’re having. Maybe it’s because I seem to be open and accepting, that I readily share my experiences with them or that I rock jean shorts.

Regardless, one of the problems I’ve been hearing from people as of late deals with their concern over the last impression that a former partner has. Usually this is expressed as something along the lines of “I can’t make my ex believe the reason that I left them. How can I get  them to understand?”

Usually I inquire about the nature of their relationship, the reason for them leaving and what their former partner thinks about the situation. While this can be useful information and I may be able to offer my suggestion for approaching the situation differently I always put emphasis on this one huge fact; you probably can’t.

I can hear you saying, “Wait isn’t he supposed to offer a solution?” The answer is yes, I am supposed to give you something to help you along, though it may not technically be a solution. Also, quit judging me already for fucks sake!

There are two big reasons that immediately come to mind that may cause someone not to believe you.

The first one is going to be a toughy because let’s be honest; you could be lying. I know you didn’t come here to get berated, but we’ve all had that person whose breakup reason was just a line of bullshit. For instance, the woman who told me that a 20 minute drive to see me was an obstacle was a bullshit reason. On the other hand, the girl that broke up with me in grade school because I threw rocks at her and her friend was completely legitimate (to be fair they started it – I think). So lies happen in relationships and let’s face it you could be that person. Are you really being honest about your motivations?

For the record, a break up is the perfect time to be completely honest. Just make sure to be kind in the process. Honesty is not an excuse to be mean. If you want the person to believe you though be as transparent and honest as possible. Forget about saving face and be prepared to admit a few things you did wrong (or that they felt you did wrong). Say you’re sorry for what was a mistake, but don’t apologize for your emotions or make them apologize for the way they feel.

Admitting these things and fessing up may be what it takes to earn your former partners trust. I’ve found that honesty is an amazing thing.

So assuming you have already been completely honest and your ex doesn’t believe you it’s important to remember another thing. The person you are petitioning may have their own reasons for not believing you.

They may be protecting their ego, guarding against more hurt or dealing with a myriad of insecurities. You can’t help them (or you as the case may be) on this front. You’re just going to have to lay out your case as truthfully as possible, hope for the best, and then go your own way.

They may eventually put some weight behind what you’ve said and believe you. Sometimes, people need time to process everything and gain some distance before they can even start to consider the merits of another person’s reasoning.

On the other hand, they might always feel like you lied to them. There’s not much you can do. Just as you want them to accept what you say, you may have to accept their explanation and move on. It’s shitty, but true.

Well, that’s pretty much all I can think to say on the subject (abrupt ending anyone). It’s not rocket science of course, but I never promised you the world cupcake. Sometimes though, it’s nice to read someone else’s thoughts just to get the wheels turning. To that end: I hope you enjoyed.

Your Dating Profile Sucks

Part 1: Photos

So here you are online dating, but is your profile working for or against you. I can definitively say you’re making a number of mistakes that are hurting your chances at matching with someone else.

I suppose your first question should be “why should I listen to this guy?” I understand completely. I mean who the fuck am I anyway? It’s true that I’m pretty run of the mill and maybe not the person most people try to attract. I’m just a radical, feminist kinda guy who loves to paint his nails and wear women’s clothing. It’s all pretty standard conservative stuff really.

However, all of that awesomeness aside, you should listen to me because I have read literally thousands of dating profiles. More than that I examine them. Have you ever looked at someone’s profile and known that something about it doesn’t sit well with you but you can’t place it? Well, I can place it. I know what mistakes people make because I see them over and over, every day. These mistakes in wording and judgement are pushing people like me, or someone who doesn’t cross dress if that’s not your cup of tea (weirdo), away. You are missing prime opportunities to draw in quality people no matter how attractive you are.

The good news is that while the mistakes are many, they are super easy to fix. Moreover, correcting these missteps will almost certainly improve your chances and make you stand apart from the crowd. Let me help you to create a better profile.

As an aside: I’ve found that I can’t, nor do I want to, write this without being snarky. So just keep in mind that this is all in good fun. Except for my tips, those are dead serious.

Today I’m going to deal with photos. Since that’s a major part of a profile, and something you really can’t have any luck generating interest without, it’s a logical place to start.

Photo Tips For Everyone

Your photos are supposed to generate interest about you and make someone actually want to meet you. Ideally each photo should be about something different. In my case, this means I only post one of me cycling. Any more than that and someone is going to think “Alright lycra boy I get it. You ride a bike. My five year old can do that.” Even though it’s a big interest of mine I don’t want to make someone think negatively if it’s perfectly avoidable. Plus, my interests are more varied than cycling anyway. I’m more than a one trick pony and so are you.

So as you read through these tips keep that in mind. You want to avoid the pitfalls listed below while also creating some variety.

  • To start with, you need at least four current pictures. More than that ideally. If you can max your profile out with photos then do it already. The photos should be within the last six months and absolutely none outside of a year.  Anyone who has dated at all has had the experience of meeting someone who looked a bit more ragged than their photos suggested. Trust me, you don’t want to be someone else’s horror story.Having said that, I think it’s reasonable to have one photo that has been edited. I go back and forth on this truthfully, but I have never been offended by one retouched photo. However, if they all look edited no one is going to trust what they see and with good reason.
  • Have a full body pic. If every pic is from above looking down or only shows you from the shoulders up then people are going to assume the worst and not give you a chance. I know this is going to shock you but unless you have a complicated system of pulleys and mirrors people are going to see your whole body when they meet you for a date. You might as well show them ahead of time. If they don’t like what they see and bug out then you’ve saved yourself some time, cash and maybe self-esteem. Maybe it is shallow that someone disregard you for your body type but wouldn’t you rather that shallow person dismiss you at your profile rather than on a date with you. This is one of those times when it’s okay to weed people out from the start.
  • Find out what people are posting photos of in your area and don’t do that. Seriously, If I see another photo of a woman doing yoga on a mountaintop or in a meadow I’m going to start dating out of state. Boring! Mix it up people. Use a friend’s profile or change your filter settings for an hour or so and do a little perusing. Hell, just ask your friends what they’re tired of seeing. If they use a dating service at all they will be able to tell you pretty quickly.
  • Stop posting “I help third world country” pics. Look, it’s great that you took a week’s paid vacation to go show some people in Africa the abundance of America’s agricultural products while posing for a selfie or two, but you’ll look like the asshole I just described even if your heart is in the right place. Just say that you were fortunate enough to be able to volunteer with the Peace Corps or Doctors Without Borders rather than showing it. The same goes for missionary work.
  • No memes. Your prospective date doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your gym/love/life philosophy (or whatever your favorite quote is). You’re losing a prime opportunity to showcase something about yourself to the world through a picture. Plus, it screams “I’m not interesting so here’s some words in the form of a photo.”
  • No artistic work. So you’re a photographer or a painter; that’s cool. Look some people prefer the artistic types (I tend to), but just like with memes you are losing a chance to have people get a look at you. Send them a link to your website or a photo if they ask, but make your profile photos work for you not your hobby or career. Plus, it makes it seem like you care more about your work than your dating life. Maybe that’s true, but you don’t want to insinuate it right from the start. – There is one way to pull this off. If you have a photo of you standing in front of your art gallery or holding a painting then use it so long as you are clearly featured. Only do this once. Remember you’re selling you not your work.
  • Pets and children. Of course, I lumped them together. They both drool, love chew toys and you can’t leave either one unattended in a car without cracking the windows. Everyone knows you love them, but unless you are in the photo with them leave that stuff on your Facebook page where it can annoy the people you know and not the one’s who might want to date you.This is especially true if they aren’t your kids. Instead of having a photo with some children and saying, “these aren’t my kids” just don’t post the photo. If it’s important enough to specify that they aren’t your own children then you shouldn’t have it there in the first place. Eliminate the confusion. Your date can find out about your wonderful nieces and nephews through conversation or a creepy first date family slide show.
  • Leave your good looking friends at home. Yeah, I just went there. I know this is horribly fucking shallow, but remember you’re on a dating site where people are using photos as a measure of attraction. So if you’re not the most attractive body in the photo guess where the attention is going to go? There’s a reason people write “can I match with your friend” on their dating profiles (don’t do this either by the way unless you want to look like a giant dick). The point is, don’t give people a reason not to look at you.
  • So by now you should understand pretty firmly that any photo not of you is dead weight and actually a hindrance on your profile. However, if you decide, against all of my stellar advice, to post a photo of scenery or some other asinine thing do not make it your first picture that everyone will see. If you do people will pass you by without a second thought.
  • No grainy photos. I shouldn’t have to say this. Even the crappiest of cameras produces a usable image nowadays, but somehow people keep posting these horribly pixelated images. Your prospective dates want to see you not Qbert.

Here are some specific tips for the masculine and the feminine among you. I’ve only grouped them this way because they are common mistakes that I see primarily men or women making. However, I still recommend reading all of them because they can still apply across the biological and gender spectrum.

Women: First, if you want to stand out from the crowd then you have to actually get away from the crowd! No group pics! Okay maybe one, but only if your photos number 5 or more. Here’s the deal. No one gives a rat’s ass about your friends. Don’t get me wrong, your friends are awesome to you and when you find someone to date consistently hopefully your partner will come to love your friends as much as you do, but they’re useless on your profile and they detract from you. Put up one photo to prove you have friends and focus the rest on you. Avoid groups of five or more because no one can see you anyway. You might as well post a photo of the Milky Way with an arrow saying “I am here.”

The above rule includes photos of you and one other person. I kid you not, I’ve looked through numerous dating profiles where every picture is of two people. If someone has to keep swiping back and forth to compare features like they’re part of some C.S.I. facial recognition team then expect them to not even bother.

I know we’re all special snowflakes and I appreciate that, but even snow flakes have to be examined under magnification because from a distance they all look the same. So make sure people only have one flake to look at, you.

Guys: For fucks sake! Stop taking selfies in your car or in front of your bathroom mirror or any mirror for that matter. You know how you look at people who make a duck face in their pictures, well that’s how they’re looking at you. It’s that bad.

While we’re at it. You only get one picture where you are wearing glasses and/or a ball cap (anything that obscures your face). What’s that? You have four photos and you’re wearing sunglasses in each one of them? Well, unless you’re Cyclops from X-Men lose the damn shades! People want to see what you look like, not imagine it.

All of these things hint at insecurity. It says that you’re more comfortable taking the picture yourself than having someone else do it and that when you’re in public you hide behind fashion accessories. (I’m playing fast and loose with the term fashion since we’re talking about baseball caps).

You’re going to have to make a bold move here. Next time you’re out with your friends have them take pictures of you doing whatever it is you’re doing. People don’t need to see your friends in the photo but they’ll know that your phone doesn’t have iHover so there must be someone holding it.

On the flip side of things, if you’re secure with yourself it is imperative that you keep your shirt on at all times. If you don’t most people are going to think you misplaced your Grindr/Fetlife photo and/or that you are a tool. The one exception would be a beach photo and you should only have one of those unless having two means one of them shows you buried in sand up to your nipples.

While we’re at it, consider it a good idea to leave those dead animal photos off of your profile. By all means, go ahead and mention that you hunt and/or fish. This way you’ll still scare off the animal rights activists, but people who are fence sitting won’t be repelled by the site of you and a carcass.

True story: I used to hunt (still would if it were easier to do where I lived) but the idea of someone posing with an animal they killed is completely disrespectful to me. Almost nothing makes me run from a profile faster and I guarantee I’m not the only one.

And for the love of everything good in the world, please consider smiling. I don’t want to talk to the guy who looks like he was just told he has two weeks to live, much less date him and neither will anyone else. I’ve seen guys who actually look mean and scary with their somber countenance. I know it’s unfair to tell another person to smile. I’m sorry and I fucking hate it when someone tells me to smile.  It’s arrogant, condescending and an insensitive form of emotional erasure. However, almost all of us smile at some point throughout the day. Consider showing that in at least one photo (ideally more) so people know it is part of your life and that you aren’t so dead serious.

Take a number of photos and have someone who knows you pick out the best one. It may not look natural because you never allow yourself to be photographed that way, but a close acquaintance will know because they see you smile often. Trust their judgement.

Finale

Well there you have it; a whole fist full of pointers about how to better your profile photos. Stay tuned for more dating profile advice down the road. Next I’ll cover what your writing should include and what you should leave out.

In the meantime, what do you think? Is there something I forgot to include when it comes to profile pictures? Sound off because I’d love to hear from you. Give me your love & ire.

Sometimes Love Isn’t Enough: State of the Relationship Address 3

queer_house

 

I just had a two month relationship end and I’m heartbroken.

I never thought this would happen to me; that I would be so in love with someone and them with me but that ending the relationship would be the best way forward for me. It’s kind of like a movie where there are irreconcilable forces at work which drive two lovers apart. Except at the end of my story there’s no metamorphosis which causes one or both people to change, making them get back together and live happily ever after. Real change is hard, sometimes it never happens. Reality can be shitty like that.

A general statement of why we separated would be that our relationship consisted of a continuous cycle of highs and lows. The highs were amazing and those moments led me to believe that we would have a wonderful future together. The lows on the other hand were unbearable to the both of us, but in very different ways.

This high-low cycle would repeat itself every 4-7 days and I struggled emotionally and intellectually trying to cope with the varying circumstances and the different treatment I would receive with each mood. I tried to handle it, but I couldn’t.

Instead I started to break. One moment I felt like I was allowed to be happy and the next I wasn’t. I felt like my every move was being acted out under surveillance, my every word transcribed and analyzed to be used against me. I started to doubt my own experiences and my thoughts. I lost who I was as a person and I felt like I was sinking. One day I realized that the happiness that took me two years to build was gone. I knew I had to stop the cycle while there was still enough of me left to do so.

And yet, I love her. Does that sound weird? Fucked-up even? It no doubt reads that way and yet if you’ve been in a similar situation you’ll probably understand. In fact, maybe that’s the only way to really comprehend it all. You see, it’s not that she wanted to do any of those things to me or make me feel that way. Rather, she was gripped by fear and insecurity which led to our ruin. The effects it had on her were no picnic either I’m sure. No . . . we didn’t mean for it to go down like that, but it happened nonetheless.

It’s hard for me to go through this knowing that we could likely still be together if I wanted to (or so it was at one time). I miss so many things about her. I miss the way things seemed natural and easy with us in a way I had never experienced before. I miss her caressing my body as if she were worshiping me. She had the darkest brown eyes I had ever seen. So wonderfully dark and glossy that it was near impossible to tell where her pupil stopped and her iris began. I’ll never get to gaze deeply into them again or kiss the spot where her nose meets her forehead. I’ll miss all those funny expressions she made when we were goofing around and the way she jokingly said she “was very serious.” I miss the life we had begun to lay out together and the feeling that it had the very real potential of being the best relationship I ever had. I will miss so much more of her than anyone else will ever know.

Yeah . . . this really fucking sucks. I want to go back and tell her I’m sorry, I made a mistake, we can start over again and that I love her. Only two of those things would be true. She tells me I gave up on her and maybe I did, but it was to save myself. It wasn’t a mistake (I wish it was) and I can’t go back no matter how much I want to.

As of this writing, it will be a week since we went our separate ways. This is also the day that I’ve hurt the most.

Between the pouring of tears (of which there were many writing this) there are a few glimmers of hope. Every now and then I find that my happiness is reemerging. I’ve also started to work on my dating profile. I have no immediate desire to start dating again, right now dating feels like doing a disservice to what we had, but the fact that I can see a future where that can happen is a promising sign for down the road. The profile is just a small step among many.

For now, I’m healing through hurting in that cathartic way that only pain can sometimes do. While I know that this will eventually pass, I also know that this is something I must experience. It’s where my head and my heart currently reside and that’s okay.

 

A postscript to my former lover: If you read this I hope you know that I love you very much and that I’m extremely grateful for all the wonderful moments we shared. I’ll never forget our time and what you meant to me. With all my heart, I thank you.

Men and the Culture We Create

In talking to women I’ve been able to notice a few common threads when it comes to their dealings with men. One in particular has troubled me from the moment I realized the implication.

Usually we’re talking about dating and the horrible behavior that people bring into that sphere of interaction. Too often women tell me things men have said to them or done to them that were truly abysmal and then passed it off as being normal.

While I am appalled by the behavior of the men, I’m equally if not even more horrified by the culture we have created in which this behavior is deemed normal or expected and goes unchallenged. Whether it be guys that feel entitled to grope women or the actual site of women walking with their keys in their hand ready to use it as a weapon against men, we have created a environment where toxic masculinity is just thought of as normal. This social construct disturbs me to my very core.

This article and the author’s experiences brought the horrors of guy culture to the forefront of my mind.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-i-wish-men-knew-about-that-creepy-guy-at-starbucks_us_572b6ddde4b016f37894e05d?

Dating Will Break You

I was going to write something about how I’m in love with dating. I’m sure I still will pen that article, but I wanted to take a very brief moment to share something else. Something almost the opposite of that. It’s not edited or poetic. It just is.

At times dating will break you. I had a date tonight that was pretty good, but at the end of it she said, “I’m not romantically attracted to you.” I was fine with this, thanked her for the honesty and said good night. Later at home it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I want to be with someone in a meaningful way and it seems like I’m so far away from this. I want to have someone to love and I want to be loved. It’s such a simple thing but yet so hard to achieve.

Tomorrow, I’ll dust myself off and jump back in with both feet. I’ll eventually find someone that will have made the struggle worth it.

For now though, I’m going to cry and that’s okay too.

State of the Relationship Address 2: Growth hormones

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I’ve been enjoying the freedom of being single as of late. With that relationship shift came a greater leeway for dating, which meant new sexual partners and experiences as well as personal growth. It has been good to find out that there is a dating scene for someone approaching 40 (that’s me) and that there is a whole group of people out there who find me desirable. Until now, I had no indication that any of this was the case. It’s been a lot of fun but there’s been something missing and I’m starting to wonder if the lack of a strong emotional component has something to do with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been seeing (just as good a word as any I suppose) someone for a couple of months and when we’re together I’m definitely encountering some emotions, but they’re a product of the intense physical connections we’re sharing and not necessarily centered around romantic love. I know she would say the same of me in return because she‘s super fucking cool and we openly discuss stuff like this without any reprisal.

When we’re together in the throes of lust I find myself wanting to tell her that I love her. Now I do love her, but it’s in a platonic way not a romantic one (I’ve told her this too). Thankfully I didn’t say anything, but I noticed that when I thought about saying I love you that my level of arousal would increase.

It’s possible that I have the need to say I love you in order to put the experience in familiar territory since most of my sexual experiences have happened while I was in love. I think maybe there is something more at work though which is simply that a part of me wants to be in love.

In the past, I’m pretty sure that in both of my relationships where I have expressed my love that I initially said it too soon for that very reason. Thankfully, both of those relationships lasted long enough to where that hasty sentiment became a very real emotion.

Regardless, this realization has left me longing for the prospect of something more significant from my dating experiences. This all happened in pretty short order and that was something I wasn’t expecting. However, I can tell my slutty phase (and I mean that in the most positive way possible) is in decline because of it. I’m sure I have space for other hookups if the proper person comes along, but I can feel the urge building to accept something a little more serious should a relationship move that way.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t progress through the stages of life so quickly. Whether you want to call it a rebound, sowing my oats, sexual liberation or what have you it’s only been two months since I started sleeping around. I wonder if I should be moving on from this place in my life so soon.

I had a friend tell me once that she was always impressed by how readily I accepted what was in front of me and just logically worked through it at a superhuman pace. While part of me wants to say that she is prone to exaggeration, I’ve had proof that this really is the case.

When my second wife and I decided to end the marriage portion of our relationship (meaning we’re still friends) I experienced almost no jealousy or anger. I had worked through most of those emotions when we opened up our relationship nine months prior. Instead, I spent most of my time working on making sense of our conversations and understanding what had happened. Again, my friends remarked on how well I was doing. Apparently this had been a subject of conversation where they had marveled at how I was handling things. The result of my self-work and evaluation was that a month after my marriage had ended I felt perfectly comfortable dating.

I would say that I’m lucky except that I’ve been working on becoming this kind of person for the last twenty years. It’s not been an accident nor has it been easy. It’s taken an enormous amount of emotional work and some pretty deep soul searching and confidence building. This is why I have very little trepidation about shifting my relationship focus.

After all, it’s not like I’m going to be proposing to every man or woman that I go on a date with. Statistically I’ll be going on quite a few more dates before I find someone for the long term. However, I am ready to select my partners in a way that doesn’t necessarily undercut my chance of long term success which is something that I couldn’t say before (self-sabotage anyone?). Somehow this feels like a healthier place to be. Time will tell if I’m meant to be here. For now there’s no pressure, this is just another part of my story.

Former Hook-up Artist Turns Over New Leaf

Neil Strauss was popular for having written a guide to picking up women. One of his more deplorable techniques was to try and lower a woman’s self esteem so she would sleep with him. A sure sign that his self-esteem was pretty low at the time also.

However, here he seems to have pulled his life together in a more positive manner. I’ll let you be the judge.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/10/neil-strauss-the-game-book-truth