Tag Archives: romance

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.

What is Love? Part 2

What exactly is love?

“Why can’t we just sniff each other like dogs and mate?”

“Why do women make this love thing so complicated?”

For one, the hunt wouldn’t be as interesting if it was too easy, truly. Being human takes work. To deal with the complex matrix that makes the human brain and find lasting love, we can take the word of any religion that tells us exactly what to do. Not.

You could figure it out by trial and error. How exhausting.

Really, you want to be smart about this whole love thing, right? Throughout history, romantic love has played major roles. Antony and Cleopatra, John and Abigail Adams, Bonnie and Clyde, Lucy and Desi, John and Yoko, and some of our parents. Repeat: some.

Making éros happen for the long haul takes 3 things:

  1. attraction
  2. readiness
  3. compatibility

Attraction

This is easy. All you need is a pair eyes. (If you don’t have eyes, sorry.) If every woman in the world took care of herself inside and out, the streets would be an ocean of eye candy. Since not every woman takes care of herself, the number of attractive women is limited. Still, there are plenty of women to light up your love rod. (Of course there’s the not-so-hot woman with personality who you might find is pretty “alright” after getting to know her. But that’s not the point right now.)

You want that attraction to last, of course. Looks don’t last forever, so it also takes associating those initial sparks with the intimacy that develops as a result of bonding. More on that later.

Readiness

Now, if you scoffed at the title of this article, you’re might not be ready to embrace this thing called love. Though you’ve probably been through enough trial and error to realize that it must exist. As tragic as true love ending in death, being ready means being willing to risk impending loss just to enjoy reknowned relationship bliss for even a brief moment on Earth.

Sometimes it takes life changes to realize readiness, such as the birth of a child, or witnessing the least commitment-minded person you know falling in love. Sometimes it takes pressure from family or friends. Sometimes we just grow up. A few are ready long before the rest of us because that’s how they were born.

Being ready for love takes having EQ. That is, emotional intelligence. If you didn’t know, EQ is like IQ, but it regards how one handles his or her emotions. A person with high EQ has the ability to empathize with others and handles heated situations with calm, for example. Not everyone who commits to a relationship has high EQ. But for true love to happen, it’s definitely helpful. True love could happen without high EQ, though that would be an emotional rollercoaster.

Readiness without drama certainly requires at least some emotional intelligence. Even better if it grows. EQ growth happens when working through emotions or painful memories and becoming resolved about them. It might take therapy, serious talks with someone you trust, or plenty of man-cave time.

Compatibility

If readiness isn’t challenging enough, there’s compatibility.

The problem with compatibility is that it’s easy to be deceived into thinking you get along with a woman just because you shared one amazing night or week together. More often than not, real compatibility lacks. It takes life experience, use of logic, or friends showing us how blind we are to see when compatibility is missing.

Sometimes similarities mask incompatibility. Just because you moved to the same neighborhood, worked in the same industry, and like the same music doesn’t make you and the girl you like compatible. The test of compatibility happens among day-to-day redundancies, such as dealing with how bills are paid, or how the house is kept.

Of course, you can’t know if you and a woman are compatible in daily life without becoming roommates. If that situation is out of the question, having friends who know you really well can help. You know, friends with that sixth sense.

Compatibility is unfortunately the one thing that couples absolutely need for true love but far too often miss. How can we be more astute in having compatibility in a relationship? That will be the topic in the next article in this series on love.

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.