Tag Archives: relationships

A Year of Hope – Part 3

(Continued from Part 2.)

For an entire week I neglected my motorcycle. The spark plugs are hard to get to, much like those incognito feelings that haunt us and make us feel lost. It’s because of these plugs my bike wouldn’t start.

I waited to see what James would do. How was his ignition working? Would his motor turn to put his words into motion?

We are ridiculously flawed. It doesn’t matter how together we look on the outside. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Our delectable second date at Blue Ribbon Brooklyn was followed by dinner the next night in the same neighborhood at a popular Italian place called Al di La.

Before we went in, James left me at Al di La’s wine bar while he jogged down the street to give an extra $10 to our waiter from the night before. Talk about extra mile.

He returned from his stalwart act.

“Was he there?” I asked.

“He was. He was surprised.”

Naturally. At this point something happened to my heart like a scab had been picked from it, loosening the skin underneath.

Our seating arrangement was unlike the first two dates where we sat adjacent to one another. By this time, however, it didn’t matter how we sat. We were so comfortable with each other that a little food stuck mid-bite was no embarrassment.

He reached his hand midway across the table where mine came to meet his.

“When can you fly out? Are you ready?” he asked.

“Friday, possibly Thursday. My bag is already packed.”

It wasn’t.

Our dinner ended on glasses of tawny port and discourse on the Republican primary.

We drove home.

“Sushi tomorrow?” He wanted to see me as much as possible before leaving town.

I wanted to trust James with all my heart. But I couldn’t. There were still old heart wounds with scabs still on them. Every invitation brought up in me a fear that he would not follow through.

But the next day he surprised me again showing up in the middle of the day while I worked from home. I had become sick with a cold. He didn’t seem to care, except that he didn’t kiss me that day. Then in the evening, he came over again and picked up take out from a nearby sushi restaurant. Four visits in three days.

He was a knight. Or he was over-infatuated.

 

The following weekend I got my bike running. Those damned spark plugs. To get to them, the fuel lines and gauge get disconnected, the seat and tank removed, and plugs unscrewed. Sure enough, the middle two spark plugs were fouled with wet, black oil. The valve seals were leaking oil into the middle two cylinders.

Troubleshooting an engine that doesn’t start requires a step-by-step analysis. Is the battery charged? Is there fuel in the tank? Does the starter turn? Are there sparks? The Saturday before, my bike reached the fourth question. The answer was no. This was unlike the new relationship on the horizon.

Every day we didn’t see each other, we texted, emailed, or called each other.

I wondered during his travels if he drank a lot. What kind of people he met. If women tried to pick him up. If he tried to pick up women. They were questions that arise with new relationships that are only answered by time, situations, and trust.

One week after our second date, he calls. “What do you think of Mendocino?”

“Sounds great.” I had never been there.

“Will you check out what’s going on there?”

Two hours researching built excitement about ocean cave kayaking, horseback riding on a 10-mile deserted beach, wine tastings, and Mendocino’s crab and wine event. Airbnb advertised the Elk Inn, a perfect oceanside B&B and spa not found on Expedia. I forgot about all the work I had to do that week.

Expectations are what you have when someone else convinces you to plan time out of your busy life.

The next morning he calls. “Are you ready? When can you fly out?”

“Friday. Maybe Thursday. I have to find a dog sitter.”

“How about if we go someplace warmer?”

What if this all fell through? What if I packed my bag, sent the dog to the sitter, and had no ticket?

Tuesday I pull my carry-on down from its storage place and speak to a potential dog sitter. In the evening, still no ticket.

Wednesday we meet the new sitter. Arrangements are set. James texts, “Can you leave Thursday?”

“Yes.” I had moved my schedule around. Wait, Thursday is tomorrow.

With all the effort to plan a trip with a guy I just met, the last thing I would allow is to be left with a packed bag and nowhere to go.

Before riding a motorcycle, I did other dangerous activities like skydiving and skiing double diamond trails. In spite of plenty of invitations, I hadn’t skied in over 20 years. So, I made it my plan B. It was too cold to ride a motorcycle, and the valve seals were leaking.

When you ride a motorcycle, it’s important to have emergency phone numbers and a tool kit at all times. Motorcycle riders are infamously known as organ donors, and their bikes are infamously known to crash or break down. Perhaps this was experience enough to be prepared at all costs.

Wednesday evening arrives. Still no ticket.

Thursday morning the phone rings. It’s him.

 

Bag packed, I looked back into my apartment and bid farewell to the dirty dishes and piles of paperwork.

On Friday, I arrived at my destination, took care of business, and settled down to watch smiling faces as they laughed with the delight of their day off.

The chairlift carried me into a snow-blurred sky.

I thought about James’ phone call. I had answered. He hung up.

How Much Is Too Much?

 

I met Sheila a couple of weeks ago, and I have to admit, I am rather taken by her. She’s funny, fun to be around, smart, and attractive. What’s more, she’s new to town, ready and willing to try new things and go to places she’s not been before.

At this point, I can’t tell whether she sees me as just a friendly tour guide, or something more. I’m pretty cool about things, and either way, I’m happy, but I really want to know at some point. I figure pretty soon I might make some subtle advances and see if they’re returned, and that’s where the debate comes in. . .

My best female, friend, Brenda advises against this. Her philosophy seems to be to play the aloof card. In fact, with Sheila’s out of town on business and her birthday mere days away, I thought it might be nice to call and sing happy birthday on her answering machine. Is it a little goofy? Yes, but that’s me; that’s who I am. She seems to like me so far . . . right?

Brenda’s response, “NOOOOOOOOOOOO, you can’t do that!!! You’ll immediately place yourself in the friend category . . . Bad idea!!!”

“Well maybe I should just call, then?”, dejected by the strong admonition.

“No don’t call her, “ she nodded, convinced that this, too, was a bad idea.

“What? Am I just supposed to ignore her birthday?”, I replied, shocked at the advice I was hearing.  Brenda didn’t really have an answer for that . . .

I mean, I like this woman. Are we in 4th grade again? What am I supposed to do? Pull her hair? Call her names? I thought we were past all of this stuff as adults, and while I understand that panting like a loyal dog is not a way to win her heart, ignoring her doesn’t seem like a good thing either.

I’m a “do what I say I’m gonna do” kind of guy. If I tell you I will call. I will call. I don’t wait until the last second. If I want to take you out, I won’t wait past Wednesday to set something up. I just don’t see any point in pretending like I don’t care, if I do.

I realize, this philosophy can be taken too far, and may make some women uncomfortable. I know where that point is. I’m not gushing over her. I make eye contact, and get good eye contact in return. I keep plans light, and flexible, but I’m consistently available when I say I will be. If she wants to make plans, and I’m busy, I offer up another time or an alternate plan that works better with my schedule.

At the end of the day however, my heart is on my sleeve, and I believe I’m being told, that’s not a good thing. I think need to get some more clarity on where the line is.

Which brings me to my dilemma, ladies – especially the single ladies: How much aloof, is too much aloof? Do you ever get to a point where you cut him off because he’s too aloof? On the other hand, how much is too much? What are the rules, or are there any rules?

Your input is valuable . . .

 

Incidentally, I texted Sheila on her birthday . . . at the risk of losing my anonymity, it read like this . . .

“May your day be filled with fun.

May your belly be filled with laughs.

And may your mouth be filled with cake.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

I hope you’re doing something fun!!!”

 

Was it too much?

What Is Love? Part I

In the next few weeks, I will focus on that seemingly ever-elusive topic: love. Personally, I like the idea of lasting love and have devoted the last 3 years of my life to explain in plain English how to have it. Hence, the series:

What Is Love?

Part 1 – Love: Where did we go wrong?

Somewhere in the midst of caveman clubbing, hair-dragging, and procreation, romantic love developed. And in spite of the ancient writings of King Solomon and the Kama Sutra, our culture is largely ignorant on how to have lasting love with a significant other. Could this be due to what American culture is: apple pie, cowboy boots, Hollywood, and suburbia? Tsk, Americans aren’t that shallow.

Western history nonetheless has caused people of breeding generations to question love.

Exponential population growth definitely doesn’t help with the answer. Only 100 years ago, the world’s population was less than 2 billion. This year it will reach 7 billion. Maybe the trouble of finding true love today is simply a matter of decreasing odds. If that’s the case, some of us are smart, raising that probability by meeting our soul mates in college, in the neighborhood, or through a friend. Fewer are plain lucky. Most of us are sadly left to sift through the masses, or worse, online dating profiles.

“These days we question why couples stay together more than why they split.”

Are people staying together out of convenience, for comfort or companionship? It seems less likely that a couple is together for love. In that rare relationship in which the old man says of his elderly wife how beautiful she is, we’ve got to ask how to achieve that true love. Does it really exist?

In Greek there are 4 different words for love: éros, philia, storge, and agápe. Eros is the love we all know in the world of romance to mean intimate, or passionate love. Philia refers to friendship among family and friends. Storge is affection such as felt by parents for their children. And agape is unconditional love coming from compassion and understanding. These are rough translations, because in Greek, all four of these words are used to describe truly romantic marriage.

In English, love has been reduced to a buzzword. We say “I love you” even without romance. Even natives of other languages say “I love you” in English more than in their first language. This is ridiculous.

So, how can real love be reestablished?

Let’s think about reasons why we love. Let’s take man’s best friend for example. You give your new dog food, a toy, a place to lie down, maybe take her for a walk or play with her. That dog says thanks by showering you with kisses, guarding you when strangers approach, and panting with excitement when you come home. Reciprocity abounds as a bond develops. In a short amount of time, you grow to love that dog as she becomes part of your family. Pretty easy. If only loving women worked the same way.

The confusion with love these days begins with a word that isn’t love at all. Lust, or epithumeo in Greek, has passion and can be confused easily with éros. You see a pretty girl and the way she looks does something to your hunter instinct as it sniffs out the viability of this prey. A few things in common gives you ammunition for the kill. She falls. Devouring her makes happiness and oxytocin, but it doesn’t last. Next day, the carcass rots. Not love.

Then there’s the opposite problem – the “friend”.

Of course you love (philia) your friend. She’s easy enough on the eyes and you respect her companionship. In fact, you might as well be joined at the hip because she is you in female form. But she doesn’t turn on that hunter instinct. Too bad.

As finding someone to love in all 4 Greek forms is increasingly difficult, it’s important to remember that the benefits of ensuring success may outweigh the struggle, especially when we walk away from failure with experiential lessons. In the words of Alanis Morissette, you live, you learn. Besides, we’ve all gone wrong about love at times in our lives, except maybe for the fortunate few.

In the days when fertility and sexuality was celebrated on February 15 (later to become the 14th), courtship and romance was not very common. More often, marriages were arranged for financial, social, or political reasons. Today, we have every reason to be grateful for our liberties. Nobody wants to be miserable. Everyone wants love.

This series on the topic will explore different factors of love in romantic relationships – how to find it, how to use it, and exactly what it is. Let’s figure out how to make the most of it.

When a Matchmaker is a Good Idea

There’s nothing like Valentine’s Day to remind us of how alone we single people are. But after experiencing failed relationships, better to be alone than bear with more heartbreak, right? The eternal optimist such as myself might prefer the risk anyway.

Rather than delve quickly and deeply into a new relationship, I’ve decided to take things slow. Well, not really. What I mean is, I’m not dating for the sake of dating anymore.

At the age of 39 with a growing business, I don’t have much time to date. My book is selling and people are responding positively to my “pick-up” methods. I mean, people like what I’m teaching. They’re not really pickup strategies. They’re really ways to discern personality attributes when meeting strangers, acquaintances, and potential dates. Do I use them in seeking a partner? Of course! But I still want help, because I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. (And I really don’t ask for much…I don’t think.)

After two marriage proposals, a few engagements, and other relationships I don’t regret, I’ve finally decided it’s time to settle down. I’ve heard that finding a spouse within a year can be done with plenty of proactivity. Unfortunately, I’m lacking the time needed to utilize these tested spouse-finding strategies. So, I decided to inquire matchmakers.

A lot of matchmakers have teams of people looking for the characteristics their clients are looking for. It’s like exponentially increasing the odds of finding the one. My requirements are pretty simple: a natural leader with a spiritual side. The question I had to ask is who would understand what I’m looking for. Finding the right matchmaker to work with can be challenging.

In the process of researching the various backgrounds and practices of matchmakers, I found that a lot of them offer a lot of socializing opportunities in addition to counseling, date coaching, and introductions. But one matchmaker in particular stood out – Janis Spindel.

Unlike Patti Stanger, the Millionaire Matchmaker – who works with a range of characters and sometimes uses her clients for entertainment value – Janis focuses seriously on finding men their soul mates. Her clients are men who are ready to get married and who she’s comfortable working with. On top of that, Janis is married to her husband of about 30 years and has two grown daughters – one of whom, Carly, has her own dating agenda.

Choosing to work with clients Janis likes earns my respect, because that means she wants her work to be quality. How can you not respect that? Besides, why would anyone want to work with someone whose lifestyle and character is different from his or her own? Wouldn’t you trust someone within your own circle of friends more than someone in an unknown network? I certainly wouldn’t want a matchmaker to set me up if she or he didn’t get me.

Since I couldn’t hire Janis myself (since she only works with men as her clients, not to mention being beyond my means), I decided to share our conversation with the world.

Click on the image to watch the video of our talk and see for yourself what a real matchmaker does.

Click to watch the interview with Janis Spindel

Short on time? Click here for 2 minutes of highlights.

Valentine’s Day. I actually don’t feel sad at all. Besides, it’s $10 burger and beer night at the Water Street Bar and Grill in Brooklyn. Maybe I’ll get a chance meeting with my soul mate…probably not. Hey, you never know.

The Social Network’s Irrational Man

Those of you who have read my writing before probably have read something about the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) and Jungian personality type theory. Seeing the movie The Social Network, I’m compelled once again.

We constantly hear about women and their emotions– how irrational they can be or how much women flip-flop. However, men can also be irrational.

A perfect example of a man with an emotional decision-making tendency is Eduardo Saverin’s character in The Social Network, portrayed by Andrew Garfield. In the beginning of the movie, Saverin is a close friend of Mark Zuckerberg. As co-founder of the fastest-growing online social network of the decade, Saverin has a mind for business. As a young college student, Saverin also has an emotional mind and makes a grave mistake. He gets upset, then rashly threatens the success of Zuckerberg’s creation.

Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg, in contrast maintained his logical cool. (Let’s say logiccool.) Zuckerberg is a classic intuitive thinker. In spite of the opposition, Zuckerberg didn’t make rash decisions, but used logic to determine his next move.

Of course, the movie probably overly-dramatizes Saverin’s choices, but it does give an excellent example of what an emotional decision-making man might look like. Granted, Saverin is young when he nearly pulls the plug on Facebook. (We were all young, and we have all made rash decisions. Okay, maybe not all of us.) But if your heartstrings are attached enough– say, to something you’ve invested in– your decision-making tendency will be illuminated.

A study published in 2008 indicated that 40% of American men are emotional decision-makers. These men, like women who are “emotional” tend to make decisions based on feelings before using logic. So, why does society acknowledge male logic more than male irrationality? Possible obvious answer: male dominance in business, marketing, politics, religion, and…uhhh, society? Whatever the real answer, we often fail to acknowledge that many men make irrational decisions because of their emotions. Because of this, we tend to make assumptions and generalizations about the dynamics of relationships. Then, life goes in an unexpected manner; someone gets upset; and the drama perpetuates.

Of course, there are other factors involved when it comes to emotions, namely, hormones. When it comes to understanding what makes relationships work well, whether they be romantic or work-related, knowing personality differences can elucidate.

So, understand personality type theory. Stop the drama before it sucks energy from your soul. But how?

To get more logiccool, first you need to know your tendency. Are you the type of person to make decisions because of logical thought or do you act because you want revenge, feel hurt or angry, or are in love? It takes more than one question to really determine your tendency. Be assured, 99% of people lean one way or the other.

If your tendency is to go by emotions more often than logic, be aware of the tendency, and stop yourself before making decisions. Take extra time to think before acting. Pretty simple, eh? Well, in the heat of a moment, it might not be so easy. Though the more opportunities to practice taking time, the more likely you will attain that logiccool.

Wing Girl Kim is the author of the AlphaDog book.

Sexting

Myself being a follower of proper work ethic, I once had an affair with my co-worker.  Possessing the typical spine-tingling bravado attributed to all things generally looked down upon, this affair in nearly every way was stereotypical:  Secret, awkward, and sexual.  However, one basic difference separated this affair from your typical make-out-in-the-backroom-and-behind-closed-doors deal.  This was an affair done solely through the phenomenon that is text messaging.

Like all liaisons, my flirtation started innocently enough: A playful trading of numbers during a shared lunch break (we both  happened to adore Baja Fresh) to see who could text whom faster.  We worked in a rather large chain bookstore in Santa Monica, and let me tell you– us booksellers are nerdy and bored, bored people.  We found the simplest of things amusing.   How was I to know that a simple G-rated text such as “Hi I can text faster than you” would, a week later, lead to the soft-core porn of “I want to bend you over and fuck you hard”?  (Imagine getting this message while driving away from an eight-hour work day and you can see that the thrill of a text message liaison can, at times, far out do the thrill of a real affair—danger involved alone.)

After all, I only texted the guy.  In our era of avoidance, text messaging is the ultimate vehicle for communication and evasion.   Hell, it’s even safer than instant messaging online.  With the internet being people’s second homes, getting someone’s screen-name involves a near knowledge or trust of the person.  Screenname means friendship… or the possibility of one.  (You could, after all, block the person or always have an away message up.)  And don’t even get me started on Facebook… once you are Facebook friends with someone they might as well be one of your drinking buddies, unless you are really diligent about what particular photos you display.  Today, nearly everyone has a cell phone.  Giving out your cell number is no biggie.  And neither is texting.  It’s just another part of our obsession with communication without really communicating.

The beauty and secret lure of the text message is that you never have to acknowledge it.  Coworker and I could be working the same shift, texting one another the most flirtatious (later, dirty) of sentences and act perfectly natural around one another.  This was a reticent rule.  The text message world we visited outside of work could never be visited while we habited our bookstore or were within view of one another.   This way, we never, ever had to face up to what we were doing.  Our cellular connection took us to a world without consequences.

For a time.

Like the liaison itself, the breaking of the rules also started relatively innocently.  One night, as I lay down under faded purple plaid sheets dressed in my favorite college-days pajamas (an over-sized Winnie the Poo nightshirt) my cell made the familiar gurgle of exclamation that had already started to bring a smile on my face.  I knew who it would be.  Secretly I checked my suggestive text, and there was Coworker’s newest and latest “Long and hard or soft and gentle?”  I giggled and looked around, ashamed.  I didn’t tal like that, not with anyone else.  (And certainly not since.)  Yet, as my blush lessened, I suddenly felt free… wild.  Nobody could see!  Nobody could hear.  The only mood music was my roommate’s breathing.  With a sly grin, I texted him back.  We proceeded to have the strangest version of phone sex I have ever had.  My thumbs had calluses.

The next day, a customer wearing a bikini top came in and asked for a book on anal sex. (No.)  Coworker was stacking the ever-popular Men Are From Mars books near me.  I looked up and caught Coworker’s eye.  He winked.  I blushed.  We connected.

And suddenly our connection wasn’t so technological anymore.

Swiftly, a text message about how we should copulate standing up would come to mind when a customer told me they couldn’t reach a book in the C++ section.   Coworker started to bend the unspoken (and even un-texted) rule by texting me about how cute I looked in my skirt.  Pleased, I replied that he looked cute in his metrosexual way—he is still the only man I know who can pull off pink and tight jeans.

Yet our flirtation brought with its fling and fantasy, a problem.  The more we texted, the more we flirted, the more I liked Coworker.  It had started to become something other than sexual, something other than cellular.

I took the ever-bending line of our decorum and straight up broke it about a month in when I texted Coworker about something non-sexual while working.  I asked him about his ex-girlfriend with whom he had a dinner date that night after work.  Coworker was wearing a nice green plaid shirt; he looked good.  I didn’t want to admit it, but I was jealous.

While text messaging is just a bunch of letters showing up on your cell phone screen, the words can convey emotions.  I could feel the shock in his in reply to my text “Nervous about dinner tonight?”  Where was the sexual innuendo (“I’d do you for dinner” for example)?  Where was the flirtation?  This sounded needy.  This sounded…

Real.

“A little,” he replied.  “Surprised you asked.”

I opened a Dummies Guide To BBQ and hid my cell phone between recipes for grilling sauce as I replied, “Just interested.  Curious.”  I paused, watched as a customer across the store chose a book on Labradors.  “Do you still like her?”  I bit my lips and hit send.  My heart was beating as I put the Dummies book back in its place, and hid my cell back in my nametag.  The thrill of the forbidden (cell phones on the floor are a strict no-no) was overcome by the worry as to his reply.

My phone buzzed.  “Maybe.”  A few seconds later, just as I could feel a customer approaching (we develop a second sense for you guys):  “Yes.”

Suddenly, text messaging wasn’t so thrilling anymore.  It was painful.  Just like a real crush.  Holding back tears, I helped a nervous old lady who smelled like bad fish find Angelina Ballerina for her six-year-old granddaughter.  I then proceeded to lock myself in the backroom closet and cry.  Somehow, even through the barrier of wires and screens and bad connections, my heart had still managed to get hurt.

The next night a group of us went out to a late night dinner at Denny’s.  Coworker and I did not—could not—look one another in the eye.  I spent most of the time being passive aggressive and ignoring him.  He spent most of the time hitting on a lesbian in front of her girlfriend.  Both of us engaged in futile efforts of fun rather than facing the predicament: my obvious upset.

There is constant talk in our media today about how the internet requires new laws to control the freedom of communication it promotes—freedom of speech, freedom of downloading, freedom of porn, whatever.  But the internet, while breaking boundaries, can also create them.  Its wires can tangle up a heart just as easily as any “maybe I’ll call” from a guy or a wink from that foxy lady down the street.  When is that ever brought up?  We don’t discuss, not seriously, at least, how the medium of electronic media—be it my cell phone or even the internet—affects day to day human interaction.  Sure, we joke at a party that we spend more time on AIM than we do doing homework, we brag to our gal pals about how we Facebook stalked whatever cute guy caught our fancy and made the mistake of telling us his last name, or the casual study is released on CNN about how children need to spend more time in the park than watching the boob tube.  But what about us adults and our relationships?  Online dating is becoming more and more popular.  One of my friends is now living with a woman he met on Ok Cupid; and I now know two married couples who met on eHarmony.  So while technology has certainly helped the lonely and more socially inept, I do believe it can cause a whole new form of awkwardness.  Nobody “talks on the phone” anymore, none of us use up our minutes.  Now when we sign up for phone plans what matters is not unlimited daytime minutes, but unlimited texts.  And I know now that I am not the only one who flirts, dear heavens, conducts full blown relationship communication, with her cell.

And there’s the catch.  In the end, reality hits.  Sure, kids spend “too much time” watching television or playing with their Wii or whatnot.  But they are, thank God (or Zeus or whomever), forced to eventually go to school, grow up, talk to fellow geeks (and I write that with love).  I was—and so was Coworker—eventually forced to have real human interaction and feelings.  What the digital media does is simply put it off for a while.  But not forever.  In the end, pesky human need and curiosity always peeks over the fence, reaching through the wires and over the keyboard for a fellow human hand.