Posts Tagged ‘dating’

That’s All She Wrote

February 5, 2017

Life is full of stories, and I’m a storyteller. Perhaps it comes from my Irish ancestry. Perhaps it comes from my delight in hearing my father’s stories on the rare occasions he could be nudged into telling them. Writing is in my blood, and storytelling tends to be the expression.

When I began posting about my dating experience, it was largely at the prompting of a friend who wanted to hear the stories of my travels with an open heart. I took up the challenge because there seemed to be so many misconceptions about what it means to be over the age of sixty, let alone over the age of sixty and dating. Not all of us have put ourselves out to pasture at that age. Many of us view life as an ongoing adventure that we don’t want to waste, and many of us still consider love and a sex life as part of that adventure.

So I began blogging about my dating experience. I did so more than two months into that experience and after having my first bruised heart under my belt. I have tried to be kind on the page to the men I’ve dated, but I have done that while also being honest about my experience and my feelings. I have sometimes been philosophical and sometimes been more frank about sensuality and sexuality than some readers might have preferred. Hopefully, I have done both with at least a bit of appreciation for the humor in being human.

When I began the blog, I did so knowing that it might scare off a few men. My attitude was that any man scared off by the blog probably did not have the maturity, open-mindedness, and self-confidence for me anyway. I am not a wallflower, nor am I very guarded. But I did not anticipate where the writing would take me, nor did I anticipate just how the writing would be taken by the men who read it. I also did not anticipate how many men would put effort into vetting potential dates.

I told men I dated about the blog at the first meeting. It seemed only fair. I also changed my profile, stripping out information that might identify me, to improve my chances of actually having that first date. I didn’t like doing that, but I began to understand that many–or even most–people are not as open as me. A little less information might be helpful.

Now, more than eight months into it, I have decided to cease blogging about my dating experience. A big part of that is the result of being weary of scaring men off. But it is more than that. When I did an internal scan for the energy around continuing to do this writing, I found that I could feel no energy around it. And for me, that says it all. If I experience an internal sense of energy around something, I know that it is the right thing for me to do. If what I feel instead is a kind of energy black hole, I know that it is not the right thing for me to do.

Will I give up the online dating process? No. Not at this point anyway. I’m just taking my experience of it off-line. And it is the experience that is primary.

Will I have something else to say on this blog? Probably. Eventually. Over the years, the subject matter about which I have written has changed depending on what is going on in my life and what I have the juice to write about. I have to say, though, I’ve had more fun writing about my dating experience than anything else I’ve written about in some time. To that extent, it has returned to me more than I have given it.

If you are single and dating, all the best to you. If you are over the age of fifty and using online dating as a vehicle for it, I bow to you. You have guts, trust, and at least some sense of romance in your makeup. I’m with you.

If you want an ear, you can e-mail me at mmulhall@earthlink.net or just comment on this post.

Thank you for following these posts.

Blowing kisses at you,

Melanie

Copyright 2017 by Melanie Mulhall

Changing My Profile

January 24, 2017

I had four choices when it came to dealing with the problem of scaring off men: do nothing, be even more transparent in my profile than I already was, strip remaining identifying information out of my profile, stop writing about my dating experience in my blog, or, the most extreme choice, give up on online dating.

Albert Einstein’s admonition came to mind: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. I abandoned the notion of doing nothing.

Becoming even more transparent in my profile by fessing up to my blog was appealing because it fit with my commitment to directness, authenticity, and transparency. Before I began writing about my dating experience, I had joked that to write about it might weed out the boys from the men. It had probably done that, but it seemed to be scaring off otherwise perfectly good men too.

The third possibility was stripping identifying information from my profile. I had already made a change to my profile by changing my online moniker. It had been connected with my business name, thereby making it almost effortless to find me quickly. I gave myself a moniker that could not identify me. I had also stripped out some of the references to shamanism because it obfuscated things. The primary identifying words remaining in my profile were writer and editor. It seemed easy enough to eliminate those words, and I reminded myself that close female friends had been urging me to give less information about myself on my profile for some time.

The fourth possibility was to just stop writing about my dating experiences in my blog. Of course, the blog posts I’d already written could still be found unless I took more drastic action, but anyone finding the blog would at least be able to tell, from the date of the latest post about dating, that I had stopped writing about it. I wasn’t ready to give up blogging about dating.

The last possibility was to just abandon the online dating world altogether. It seemed a defeatist approach, but I did want to consider it. I was a member of two paid online dating services. I received endless views and contacts through one of them, but some of those views and contacts were from men out of state and few of the rest were from men I would choose to date. And when I did a search using geographical and age parameters, there was almost no one I found appealing. The other site had a much larger pool of possible partners, but I had less views and contacts from men on that site, and I had enough experience with my messages to men being ignored to tell me that even when I reached out, I wasn’t getting much response. Of course, I had to admit that the problem of my transparency might be impacting that. I wasn’t ready to give up on the idea of online dating, though I was ready to look at what other sites might be better for me when my paid memberships were up.

It seemed that the most sensible approach was to revise my profile, stripping out any identifying information. There were a couple of others things I could do too. When asked my name, I had been telling men that I reserve giving my name until I have a phone or face-to-face meeting with a man. Instead of saying that, I could just as easily give them my middle name. I couldn’t be easily identified from it, and it is a real part of my full name. The other thing I could do was to avoid giving out my cell phone number. A reverse search made me quickly identifiable from that number. I had attempted using a Google number at one point, but that hadn’t worked well. Just holding the phone number in reserve until a meeting seemed the best route. Alternatively, I could give my land line number because, thanks to a quirky issue with how it is listed, I was hard to track down from it. But I would need to screen a man before doing that.

I went to both online sites and not only stripped out identifying information, but also refined my profiles. Then I sat back to see what would happen.

Just changing a profile or adding photos tends to bump a profile up in the page listings on these sites, so I had to take that into account. And I had read the first part of the year always brought an upsurge in online dating activity, so I also had to take that into account. But I not only received a bit of a burst in views, I received new requests for back-and-forth communication and, ultimately, meetings.

One thing I hadn’t changed, though, was my commitment to being up front about my blog once I met a man. When I had done that in the past, few men seemed to be put off by it. Would that still be the case? Or would the sheer number of posts, coupled with the erotic quality of a few of them, scare off any man who left a first meeting with me and did a little blog reading?

There were many unknowns, and I was back to being a dating anthropologist.

 

Copyright 2017 by Melanie Mulhall

Scaring Off Men

January 17, 2017

There was no question in my mind that I was scaring off men with my blog. I could only guess that was the case with some, such as the architect. And I knew that I had nearly scared off Ned, which I would not have understood if he hadn’t been so open about it.

Thanks to another open (if not fearless) man, I knew I was scaring off others. The first message from him suggested that we meet. We traded a few messages and set a day and time for a drink at a local restaurant. He gave me his cell phone number; I gave him mine. Then, a couple of days later, he sent me a message canceling the rendezvous.

In a moment of curiosity coupled with the belief that I had nothing to lose, I sent a message saying, “What happened? Are you willing to share?”

His reply invoked Greener’s Law. He was referring to a quote the origins of which have been attributed to many but called Greener’s Law because William Greener had once been quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying, “Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel.”

I had to give him credit for being succinct, and there was something downright funny about his communication. I sent another message explaining what I reveal about my blog to men who actually get to the point of meeting me: I don’t write about every man I date and don’t write about any man who doesn’t want to be written about. When I do write about someone, I change their name and identifying information. And the blog is not in real time. I told him I appreciated his position and wished him the best.

I expected to hear nothing more from him, but he replied saying that my profile, coupled with my first message to him and ninety seconds (presumably of online research), told him everything he needed to know the day after is first message to me. He said that my “tells” were right out there. He had not only read some of my blog posts (including some written about my husband’s journey toward death), he had looked up my book online. In fact, he referred to a section in chapter four of my book and commented that he thought the concept I was presenting was an important one. He was touched by some of my writing. And in his final message to me, he referred to me as a good and talented woman.

Yet, he had been scared off.

The reference to Greener’s Law suggested that he feared if we dated and I became annoyed with him, I might lambast him in my blog. But I suspected it was more than that. The man might not have wanted to know about any of my dating experiences before him, let alone those that involved erotic activity, and he might have been put off by the fact that the blog was publically accessible on the internet.

I hadn’t been immediately drawn to him by virtue of his appearance, but I had been drawn by his profile, and after trading messages with him, it was evident that he was both intelligent and inquisitive. I was sorry he’d been scared off.

When I shared the story with my friend Melisa Pearce over lunch, she thought that he might be a man worth going out with and advocated sending him a message saying that I wanted the chance to be scrutinized by him as thoroughly in person as I’d been scrutinized online. His last message to me had sounded pretty final, and I doubted such an appeal would move him off his position, but I had to admit that Melisa’s approach was a brilliant one. Not only was I intrigued by the man, I wanted a chance to probe him a bit about the impact of my online profile and my blog on the men who saw them.

I sent the message; I heard nothing back.

Another man thoroughly scared off.

How many other men had I scared off? And what, if anything, should I do about it?

 

Note: The name Melisa Pearce is real. She is a valued friend and the founder/owner of Touched by a Horse and creator of the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method.

 

Copyright 2017 by Melanie Mulhall

The Carrie Bradshaw of Broomfield

January 10, 2017

More than once, my friend Melisa Pearce suggested that I had the Carrie Bradshaw problem: scaring off men with my writing. It prompted me to binge watch (over the course of a week or so) all six seasons of Sex and the City. I didn’t have cable when the show was airing, though I’d seen a number of episodes and later owned entire seasons on DVD. But I hadn’t seen all of the episodes, and it was time to do so.

I have referred to myself as a dating anthropologist, so when Carrie Bradshaw referred to herself using the same language in one of the earliest episodes, I knew the fictional character and I had at least something in common. That wasn’t the only thing. Carrie Bradshaw wrote a newspaper column about sex and dating, and some of those columns were compiled into a book. I’d never written a newspaper column, but I had written magazine columns over the years, though not about dating. Likewise, I’d written a book, but not one that had anything to do with dating, unless you used romancing the next company you want to work for as symbolic of romancing a man. I do, however, have a blog about dating. And I have been encouraged to turn it into a book.

Carrie had a tendency to pose questions about dating and life. Sometimes she did so in question format; at other times in statement format, often beginning with, “I couldn’t help but wonder . . .” I too have a tendency to pose questions about dating and life, though mine are usually rattling around in my head or posed over a glass of wine with a friend instead of ending up in my blog. I tend to write my blog as if I know what I’m talking about, though regular readers can easily see that I am often clueless. So was Carrie.

Granted, Carrie Bradshaw was a whole lot younger than me in that series. But I found it strangely surprising that dating and sex were not all that different for women in their thirties during the Carrie Bradshaw era than women in their sixties in the current era.

Carrie and I also have shoes in common. While not rich enough to own an estimated forty thousand dollars in shoes, as she guessed hers to be worth, and while owning not a single pair of Manolo Blahniks, I do have somewhere over ninety pairs of footwear, which sometimes prompts me to refer to myself as the Imelda Marcos of Broomfield, Colorado.

Apparently, I am also the Carrie Bradshaw of Broomfield, Colorado.

But in watching six seasons of episodes, I could find only two occurrences in which Carrie had scared off men with her writing. Carrie did scare off the politician with whom she had a few dates. But as far as I’m concerned, she was well shed of any man whose career was in politics. Carrie also scared off fellow writer Jack Berger, but not because she wrote about dating and sex. She scared him off because she was a more commercially successful writer than him, which is another problem altogether.

After watching all six seasons, I couldn’t help but wonder (using the Carrieism) how Carrie Bradshaw would fare in the blogging world. The woman had her photo on the side of a bus, accompanied by the statement that she knew about good sex, for god’s sake. If anything could scare off all the right men and attract all the players and perverts, one would think that would do the job. But it hadn’t. Was she charmed? Was I doomed? Had the dating climate changed in the years since the series aired? Was the fact that men these days could find you online in a New York minute a part of the problem?

I wondered what Candace Bushnell would do in my predicament. And I also couldn’t help but wonder what her alter ego, Carrie Bradshaw, would do in my position.

 

Note: The name Melisa Pearce is real. She’s a friend I count myself lucky to have. Melisa is the founder and owner of Touched by a Horse and the creator of the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method. Carrie Bradshaw is, of course, the famous character created by author Candace Bushnell.

 

Copyright 2017 by Melanie Mulhall

Crimes against the Heart, Part 2

January 3, 2017

A friend of mine from the gym had not one, but two crimes against the heart committed against him during the holidays. Raz is several years older than me and otherwise not a fit for me as a dating partner, but I have listened to his stories and given him a bit of support because he is relatively naïve when it comes to dating. When he considered shaving his long, scruffy beard, I encouraged him to do so and assured him that he would be a better chick magnet when he did. And he has been.

Like most of us, dating partners have come and gone for Raz. But he had been dating two women he liked for several weeks. Then one of them suddenly stopped communicating with him. Not long after, the second stopped communicating with him, directly following a date. I know Raz well enough to know that he is a sweet man who looked after an ailing wife for a number of years before her death. He’s more than a little old-fashioned, and he would never consciously do anything to offend or harm a woman. That said, I also know that I have only heard part of the story. I don’t know what the women were thinking or what motivated them to cease communication. I trust that they had their reasons.

The problem here is not that they broke it off with him, but that they broke it off by simply ceasing to communicate after several weeks of dating him. They ghosted him, in slang dating terms. They simply disappeared. They didn’t do it early on, when the communication was only at the messaging stage, and they didn’t do it after the first meeting. They did it after numerous dates with the man.

Raz was hurt and confused. When the first woman ghosted him, he was baffled. When the second woman ghosted him, he was annoyed enough to text her about his disappointment. They had talked about the importance of honesty and communication in a relationship, and in his mind, she had violated both.

It goes without saying that catfishers and scammers are committing malfeasant crimes against the heart. But I think these women also did because they broke it off with him in a cowardly and brutal way.

It’s easy to commit lesser crimes against the heart in the online dating world, in part because we are pretty much anonymous online. In fact, rudeness seems rampant in that world. If someone you have never met sends you a message and you don’t reply, no one is likely to send you a hurt e-mail or voice message. You can blow them off with assumed impunity. But when you begin treating other human beings as invisible and irrelevant, it might be a mistake to assume that there are no consequences. At the very least, it is an act of crimes against the heart misfeasance.

I’m not suggesting that we should allow ourselves to be held hostage by someone we’ve never met who keeps sending messages after we’ve given a polite not interested. And I’m not suggesting that every photo like, flirt, wink, or otherwise superficial communication should be responded to. I’m just suggesting that in my universe, the shamanic one, which looks a whole lot like the universe physicists are describing these days, we’re all in this together because at some level, we’re all one. And to the extent that we don’t treat others with dignity and respect, we are, at some level, not treating ourselves with dignity and respect either.

I have sent enough polite, kind replies to messages sent to me by men who are not remotely suitable for me to know that it can be time-consuming and mind-numbing to take the high road. On the other hand, it’s heart-numbing not to.

Are there other ways to commit major and minor crimes against the heart? Of course. Between this post and my earlier one (“Crimes against the Hear, Part 1”) I’ve barely scratched the surface. And I’d love for my readers to weigh in on it.

 

Note: The name Raz is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.

 

Copyright 2017 by Melanie Mulhall

Alone for the Holidays

December 27, 2016

It wasn’t as bad as being alone on an otherwise deserted island, but it wasn’t ideal either. It appeared that I would be alone for the holidays.

Thanksgiving is the most difficult day of the year for me (search for “Cheating Death One More Time,” posted November 18, 2011). Fortunately, my good friends and neighbors, Kathy and Glen Hoff, invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them and their extended family. I had officiated the wedding of their granddaughter Paige, and I’d been to events with the family before, including Thanksgiving the previous year, so it was comfortable and family-like for me. I even went over Thanksgiving morning to help Kathy with food preparation, and I contributed a little food to the event.

I heard from three men that Thanksgiving. The first was my stepson Richard Cornell; the second, my friend John; and the third, Jake. While Richard is the youngest of my late husband’s sons, he’s still only sixteen years younger than me, so not quite young enough to be my son . . . unless I had been very precocious in my youth. But I love him as a son, and it means a great deal to me that he bothers to call me every once in a while. I was sorry I’d missed his call that morning when I was at Kathy Hoff’s house helping with food preparation. I had dated John a couple of times, but no romance developed. Instead, we became friends. He is bright and very active with a mind that likes to penetrate everything using the left brain. I make a good foil for him. Jake had texted me the night before Thanksgiving saying he hoped I had some fun plans. Then we traded a few texts Thanksgiving Day. Considering how careful he was to keep things from getting more than superficially personal, it touched me that he’d texted.

Once Thanksgiving was under my belt, my attention turned to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. For some reason, Christmas isn’t quite as problematic for me as Thanksgiving. Even though Howard had an incident necessitating a call to hospice Christmas night and even though he’d died a few days later, I knew he was close to death on Christmas Day, 2010, and it was time for him to go, so Christmas is a rather benign day for me.

I have fond memories of many a Christmas Eve with my late husband. For many years, we had the Christmas Eve ritual of going out to dinner. Every year, we went to a different place. The most memorable was the Christmas Eve dinner just a month after I moved to Colorado. We dined at the historic Oxford Hotel in Denver. I have no idea what I ate. I was in love; it was a love fest. It was snowing gently when we left the restaurant. We didn’t hurry. It was like being in a Hallmark movie.

I had fond memories of Christmas Day with Howard too. Across many years, I served champagne and little food delicacies as we opened gifts on Christmas morning. Then, after phone calls to and from family, we would get bundled up and head for Rocky Mountain National Park, where we wished the elk a merry Christmas before returning home to Christmas dinner. I had been mostly fine with Christmas since Howard’s death, content to be alone. I didn’t feel that way this year.

Again, fortune was with me. One of my favorite people (who also happens to be one of my apprentices), Lynn Smith, had invited me to Christmas brunch at her house. I was looking forward to spending time with her and the others who would be there.

But as much as I kept myself occupied on Christmas Eve, I was restless. I wanted to create some new rituals and future memories with someone. And New Year’s Eve was shaping up to be another holiday alone too. Why was I bothered about being alone this year when it hadn’t bothered me previously?

Apparently, once Pandora’s Box had been opened with Derek, some interior muscle had been brought back to life. It had little to do with sex (though sex was a wonderful offshoot) but everything to do with relationship. I wanted to love and be loved. I still couldn’t see myself marrying again, and I still couldn’t really see myself living with a man. But I wanted love.

Though not usually petulant, I was feeling sulky and ill-humored, and I didn’t like it. Then I went out to get the mail, and the little boy from next door ran over to wish me a merry Christmas and give me a hug–the same little boy who had brought me flowers from his yard during the summer. I knew that little boy was going to grow up to be a magic man because I no longer felt petulant. I went inside to pack up some soap I’d made that I planned to give to three of my favorite neighbors. And while the boy next door might be growing into his magic, my soap has full-blown magic to it. The scent is of my own creation, a mixture of essential oils. But what makes it magic is the love I consciously insert into it.

When I went to Kathy and Glen Hoff’s house to give them one of the gift bags, they invited me to come over for a little Christmas cheer that evening. Their big extended family would be there, and Andrea, Glenn’s daughter, informed me that there was always at least one straggler. I was happy to be a straggler with that crowd.

When I got back to the house, there were two text messages. One was from Jake. I’d left a message to wish him a happy Christmas Eve earlier. He’d replied. The other was from John. I hadn’t texted him because he was out of the state, spending Christmas with his son. I didn’t want to interrupt that visit. But he had interrupted it himself long enough to text me. I didn’t like admitting to myself that being remembered and contacted mattered so much to me. It was a remnant from half a lifetime earlier when I’d left a thoroughly abusive marriage and attempted to prove to myself just how independent I was. I sighed and let myself accept the fact that being cared for enough to be contacted did mean something to me.

Before the holidays, I’d bought a new dress. I had nothing specific in mind for that dress, but it made my waist look about as small as Scarlett O’Hara’s, it hugged by bosom appealingly, and it’s crinolined underskirt made me feel like a princess. I looked great in it and had hoped I’d find a reason to wear it. It appeared that it would still just be hanging in the closet into the coming year.

melanies-holiday-dress-for-2016

But that fact no longer mattered so much. I’d been reminded that what I really need is to be able to give love to others, whether in the form of magical handmade soap gifted to my friends, my time and attention when a friend wanted it, or my body and full self offered up to a man. And I’d been reminded that I also need to receive love from others, which might come to me as an innocent hug from a magical little boy, an invitation to a holiday gathering, or a text from someone I care about.

I had given and received a bit of love, and I realized that I wasn’t alone for the holidays after all.

 

Note: The names Derek, Jake, and John are fictitious and have been used out of respect for the men involved. The names Richard Cornell, Kathy and Glen Hoff, Andrea, Paige, and Lynn Smith are real, and I am blessed to have these people in my life.

 

Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall

 

Crimes against the Heart, Part 1

December 20, 2016

In the dating world, there are many ways to commit crimes against the heart–the hearts of others and your own. Some are serious offenses, malfeasance. Others are minor offenses, misdemeanors. But crimes they are.

The concept of friends with benefits is a good example of something fraught with possibilities of doing damage. First, there is no real consensus about what a friends with benefits relationship is, let alone what the difference is between this arrangement and a f*** buddy. Some believe you must be friends before you can have a friends with benefits relationship. Others believe it is foolish to believe there is any friend component to a friends with benefits relationship. There are numerous and diverse “rules” about these relationships, and depending on who is coming up with them, they can be contradictory. In some quarters, it is believed that there should be no cuddling after sex, no sleepover, and no daily texting in a friends with benefits (FWB) relationship. Why? Because it is thought to be a short road between these things and both intimacy and emotional connection. And a friends with benefits relationship for many is, in theory, one that involves sex without the impediment of feelings, let alone deep feelings.

The problem with this is that the human being is a fourfold one with mind, body, spirit, and emotions. The head might be totally on board with the concept of a FWB relationship. The body will definitely be on board. If it is not, there is no point in such an arrangement. But what about spirit and emotions? Can you disconnect mind and body from spirit and emotions? If you can, for how long? And if you can, what does that say about you? If you cannot really disconnect them, what are the consequences of trying to do so?

My own view of what might constitute a FWB relationship was a work in progress. I didn’t necessarily think one had to be long-term friends to have such a relationship. I did think it needed to be between two people who had no expectations of one another, including no expectations of long-term romantic relationship, apart from the expectation of behaving with respect and human dignity. Compassion, kindness, affection? Yes. Bells-and-banjos love? No. Chemistry and sex? Definitely. Friendship or at least friendly connection? Yes.

I had seen Jake twice, and we had over a thousand texts between us. Despite the fact that we had not really known one another beyond a phone conversation and some messages before our relating went from dinner to dessert, I thought of the connection as a friends with benefits one, in part because there was an underlying kindness in his behavior towards me, in part because I gave a damn about him beyond the bedroom, and in part because we had actually conversed about things other than sex. I knew he did not see me as a potential long-term partner. As far as I could tell, some of that hinged on the age difference between us and some of it hinged on the fact that I was not connected to the dance world that was so important to him. Beyond those two things, I had no idea.

Did I view him as a potential long-term partner? No. It wasn’t about age. It was more about lifestyle. I doubted that Jake had the breadth of interests I need in a man. And I doubted he had the depth I need either. But I liked the handful of things I was coming to know about him, I had affection for him, and I had a level of trust in him as a sexual partner. For me, trust in the bedroom is related to what happens outside the bedroom. If I am dismissed, disrespected, or demeaned by a man outside the bedroom, there is no way that man is going to be invited into my bedroom. There will not be enough trust to get him there.

Was a friends with benefits arrangement or something similar sustainable between us for anything beyond the very short term? I knew that some people had sustained such relationships for a matter of years, though I doubted there were many such people.

My heart had cracked open a long time ago, and every time I thought it could not crack open any further, I was proven wrong. The heart, it seems, has an infinite ability to expand. Thus far, I had been able to feel affection and compassion for Jake without any sense of attachment but with a desire for his happiness, whatever that meant to him. I wasn’t concerned about committing a crime against my own heart or his. And I knew that if I began to feel I was at risk of committing such crimes, I would end the relationship.

I wasn’t so sure about Jake, though. I was pretty sure he would drop me like a hot wire if he thought I was getting too attached. And I was pretty sure that he thought he had command over his own emotions, at least where I was concerned. But what about the state of his heart?

Jake professed to want a long-term relationship, and he had what he frequently referred to as parameters for that relationship. It had been a dozen or more years since his divorce;  he’d been single for a long time. From what he had told me about his experience, I knew  he’d formed his own rules around whatever casual sexual relationship he had with a woman. A kiss, a hug, getting naked, and going home afterward were the essential components of it. In his way of thinking, the next time he saw a woman might be the last time, either by his choice or hers. He should not get too close. Which was why, I suspected, he used diminutives when referring to me instead of my name. But he was sufficiently savvy to figure out enough of what a woman’s boundaries and needs were  to stay within her good graces, at least for a time. Still, he was very self-protected. He attempted to keep things completely out of the emotional realm.

The problems with that were three-fold. First, the next time we see anyone in our life might be the last time we see them. Life is fragile. So are human relationships. Any attempt at utter control is futile.

Second, he was not just a nice guy, he was a basically kind person. To the extent that he could keep his heart and his sexual contact with a woman bifurcated, he risked committing a serious crime against his own heart. I did not believe it was in his nature to be hard-hearted. And the longer he tried, the more calcified his heart was going to become.

The third problem was that he had spent enough time attempting to keep emotions out of his sexual relationships that I had serious doubts he could effortlessly turn the emotions back on with a sexual partner he loved and wanted a long-term relationship with. He wasn’t risking a Madonna-whore complex because this wasn’t about a woman he would necessarily have a child with. He was risking something more fundamental: a beloved-whore complex. Would he be able to have abandoned, fun sex with a woman he saw as his beloved after keeping his heart out of the bedroom for so long? I had my doubts.

Jake was at risk of malfeasant crimes against the heart. And if he committed them, he would get a ticket from the karma police he might not want to pay.

Note: The name Jake is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.

 

Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall

The Supermoon

December 13, 2016

The supermoon was inspiring. At more than fourteen percent larger in appearance and thirty percent brighter than the average full moon, it mesmerized me as it rose between the neighbor’s tree and house. It hadn’t been this large in appearance since before I was born and wouldn’t be again until November 25, 2034. I did the math. I didn’t want to think about how old I would be in 2034 . . . if I was still alive then.

I texted Jake. “Stop whatever you’re doing and look at the moon.”

I heard nothing back from him, but the supermoon was spanning two nights, so I texted again the next night. “If you missed it last night, you get another shot at seeing the supermoon tonight. Best seen as it rises (shortly after five). Powerful moon influencing feelings, passion, earthly pleasures. (And you just thought it was your testosterone.) Take a deep breath, surrender to it, and imagine the juiciness. As they say, the goddess is alive and magic is afoot.”

He texted back saying that he had actually seen it the previous night while on his way into a dance and jokingly admitted he had, indeed, thought it was his testosterone.

“Men always seem to think that the juice rising within them is all their own testosterone,” I texted back. “We women (the embodiment of the goddess) usually just let you think that.”

He found that funny and said that a thought had crossed his mind about that moon. He was fantasizing an assignation, outdoors at my house while watching the moon. He was graphic about the details of what he had in mind. But . . . he had a lot to do that night. He was busy the following two nights and then would be leaving town for an extended weekend. Still, he wanted to know if we could see the moon from my deck.

The deck was not the place for what he had in mind. Too visible. The gazebo was the place for it.

“Stop talking and get over here, ” I texted back.

But this was the only night he had to do laundry before he left town. If he did come over, it would have to be a very short visit to fulfill the fantasy that was not only in his head (actually, both heads), but now also in mine. He was not even sure he needed to do laundry. He had to check.

“Again, stop talking and get over here,” I texted back.

He left his phone to check on the laundry situation.

While he was doing that, I decided that he was going to lose points, big time, if he tossed me aside for his laundry–or maybe be tossed aside himself. I’m an understanding woman, but there are limits to it.

Ten minutes later, he texted saying that he did have to do laundry, but it might have to be done a little later than he’d planned. Still, he was concerned about whether I was actually okay with him coming and going (so to speak) as quickly as he would need to.

I admitted that I didn’t find it optimal, but also admitted that I wanted him.

He had worked late and had just gotten home before my first text came in. After a quick shower, he would make the drive from his end of the metro area to mine. He texted again as he was leaving with a suggestion about what I might consider wearing, though he admitted that he thought I should wear anything that would keep me comfortably warm. It was November, after all.

I have never needed a man’s help in putting myself together, and I didn’t that night. I was already dressed by then anyway. I thought he would be pleased.

I kept an eye out when enough time had passed for him to make his way across the city, and I was at the front door by the time he got out of his car.

“You . . . look . . . so . . . sexy,” he said in a low, deep voice filled with hunger as he walked toward the house.

The inside door wasn’t even closed before we reached for one another. It had been two months. I was way overdue for the physical presence of him. Whatever the past two months had been like for him, he was totally with me in that moment. My knees nearly buckled. When we finally pulled back long enough for me to close the door, I held up a foot so he could see that downstream from the white bustier and gauzy skirt, I was wearing ankle strap stiletto sandals. My best friend and I had referred to shoes like that as hooker shoes when we were in our early thirties, but one of our friends would have called them find-me-f***-me shoes. Whatever you called them, they seemed like the appropriate footwear for fulfilling the fantasy he had described in his text.

I led him up the stairs, through the house, out through the kitchen door to the upper deck, down the deck stairs, and out to the gazebo. Before he arrived, I’d had the presence of mind to bring out a blanket, just in case we needed it to stave off the cold. I doubted we would need it. Heat was radiating off us.

The moon was as inspiring as it had been the night before. We took the inspiration and ran with it, picking up where we had left off at the front door. In short order, I turned to look at the moon and find purchase on the gazebo railing. The railing was just a little high in relation to my height for what I had in mind, but I struggled to get a foothold. Jake had his own struggles. He was fumbling with his sartorial trappings, as well as his corporeal ones. Behind me, his arms around me and his head close to mine, he murmured, I mumbled, and we ultimately laughed at our ample fervor coupled with our deficient dexterity. In essence, our enthusiasm outstripped our ability to gracefully engage.

Despite the fact that I had quickly abandoned the railing for one of the chairs, I was not a masterful mistress, and he was not quite the adroit master. We were, however, both fearless right up to the moment that he knocked over the iron and marble table. It went down with a decisive, loud thud. I was having too much fun, despite our ineptness–or maybe even because of it–to care. But Jake was concerned about attracting the neighbors’ attention.

We gathered up what we needed to, left the gazebo, and made our way to the house with him in the lead. My skirt got caught on both the heel of my shoe and the railing, and I murmured a little sound of distress. Jake stopped in his tracks.

“Are you hurt? Are you okay?” he asked, his voice carrying a tone of honest concern.

And that small act represented one of the primary reasons (chemistry aside) I was willing to engage in spontaneous, uninhibited, intemperate activities with him despite the fact that we were not candidates for a long-term relationship. There was an underlying vein of caring and kindness to the man.

Once inside, our physical deftness returned. Hands and legs, mouths and torsos, hips and fingers were all back where they belonged, and our muscle memory of their use eventually kicked in. The ankle strap sandals remained on. Later, he accused me of almost growling at one point. It had inspired him as much as the supermoon.

I had been committed to keeping the rendezvous brief because he needed to get back home, but he stayed longer than he’d planned. I’m pretty sure, though, that he had a smile on his face when he did his laundry.

 

Note: The name Jake is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.

 

Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall

A Date Orchestrated by the Dead

November 15, 2016

I’m not foolish enough to think that the reason for my seeing a man is always obvious. Beyond human ken or conscious planning, events and meetings are often orchestrated in ways that lead the clueless human to believe that she is the composer and is in control. I know better, and I like to stay loose and aware, open to synchronicity and acquiescent to the hand of guidance.

Ron had only been a widower for a year and a half. That gave me pause, eliciting memories of Derek and how he had not been ready for a new relationship after a similar period of time following his wife’s death. But Ron had reached out to me, and I wanted to be open to the possibilities. He had sold his house and most of his possessions, moved from the East Coast to Colorado, and was ready for new adventures. He appeared to be an active, outdoorsy sort of man.

We met within a couple of days of our initial online contact, and I knew within the first couple of minutes that this was not going to be one of the great romances of our times. He was perhaps 5’8″ and small framed, a slight man. And while I am small myself, slight men seldom appeal to me. I like my men to have some physical substance to them–enough musculature that I know I’m in the presence of the opposite sex. He was a few years younger than me, but he seemed older and somewhat caved in on himself. And his energy field was full of the past. He might have wanted to be ready for new adventures, but I doubted he was.

We chatted over drinks. Not only did I reveal that I blog about my dating experience (something I get out in the open as soon as possible when I meet a man), but I told him that I had spent a year blogging about my late husband’s journey toward death. We had widowhood in common, and he seemed to want to talk about his late wife: their relationship, her illness, her death. He came close to tears a time or two as he talked.

And then an interesting thing happened. His dead wife began to come through to me. I am deeply psychic and yes, dead people sometimes come through when I do psychic readings. And yes, Derek’s wife had communicated with me when he and I were dating, but she had never come through while he was with me and had never asked me to convey a message. She seemed to know that this was not something he could have easily received, at least not from me. But Ron’s wife seemed eager for me to let Ron know that she was there, talking to me.

Fortunately, Ron was not only open to it, he seemed somehow unsurprised, albeit a bit tentative. I asked if he wanted to hear what I was getting. He did. The rest of our conversation was punctuated with comments by Ron’s dead wife whenever she had something to say.

We talked through drinks and dinner. Three and a half hours after meeting, we left the pub. He walked me to my Forester, but made a stop at his SUV, which was parked near mine. He opened the hatch, pulled out a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and presented them to me. Had he simply wanted to avoid embarrassing his date by bringing them into the pub or had he held them until he knew he would actually want to give them to his date? Whatever his motivation for keeping them until that moment, it was a lovely gesture.

I told him that while I did not think we were meant to be romantically involved, I did know that we were meant to meet. He understood. As it turned out, He’d read Suzane Northrop’s book, Everything Happens for a Reason.

I was pretty sure his dead wife had orchestrated our meeting so she could communicate with her husband. And I was happy to be the conduit.

It didn’t contribute to my dating life, but it did contribute to Ron’s peace of mind. That was enough for me. And as I drove home, it occurred to me that Ron’s wife had probably ordered the flowers for me from the other side.

 

Note: The names Derek and Ron are fictitious and have been used out of respect for the men involved.

 

Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall

Strange Bedfellows

November 8, 2016

When I was divorced and in my thirties, I had numerous male friends. Some of them, including at least one who was married, made it clear that they were available for taking the friendship into the sexual realm. I didn’t take any of them up on the offer. At the same time in my life, I had romantic partners. Most of the time, I was a serial monogamist. One notable exception was a brief period during which I was seeing two men who knew one another because they were on the same soccer team. When they began treating me like something to be competed over, I got the two of them in the same room, told them I didn’t like being treated that way, and threatened to stop seeing them both if they didn’t cease the competitiveness. But I didn’t talk to either of them about the other.

Now, half a lifetime from those experiences, I realized that I could use a male friend to talk to about the odd dating experiences that had recently come out of left field. I could talk to my best friend, Antonio, about pretty much anything, but he wasn’t a good candidate for this particular discussion because he had been married for many years and had no knowledge of the online dating subculture.

Jake knew I had a date two days after our meeting. The day of that date, he sent me a short text. A few days later, he sent another, saying he hoped my week was going well. I texted him back saying that I’d had an odd little thing out of left field happen on Monday. He wanted to know what it was, and I told him it would take too many words to get across in a simple text. In classic Jake style, he asked if I’d had a craving for chocolate . . . or something.

“Or something,” I admitted. It was true that I’d had a craving or two related to him since our meeting. “But that wasn’t the left field thing.”

Two days later, he texted again, asking if there had been any more left field moments. Actually, there had been an odd little incident, though not related to dating. I’d been abruptly awakened from a deep sleep with the thought that I’d left my credit card at the restaurant I’d been to with female friends that evening. I mumbled to myself that I don’t do that sort of thing, but I was so thoroughly awake that I hauled myself out of bed, went down to my office and looked in my billfold, just to confirm that the credit card was there. It wasn’t. I had been awakened by my guides to alert me to that fact. They’d picked a moment when my mind was receptive. I was grateful. Days or weeks might have gone by without my having discovered it because I didn’t use that credit card often.

I admitted that another odd thing had actually happened. Jake wanted to call me to hear about it, but I was waiting for a call from a potential client and couldn’t talk.

Two days after my date with the man I suspected of having some degenerative brain disease, I texted Jake. “I hope that the old superstition that things happen in threes is true because the third out of left field thing happened on Sunday.”  I was hoping that superstition was true because I definitely didn’t need a fourth odd occurrence.

He texted back that his curiosity was killing him. The phone rang before I saw another text saying he would call me in two minutes.

I told him about all three odd, out of left field occurrences. He was friend-like: attentive and supportive. He agreed that I need a man who is my physical and mental equal, and he didn’t seem to simply be looking out for his own interests as he talked about it. He even shared a couple of stories from his own dating experience. He was so sensible and so objective that I found myself wondering if he had simply lost all interest in me as a woman and could therefore retreat into younger brother role completely.

After we hung up, I sent him the link to my blog. I had told him about my blog early on, before friendly banter had morphed into physical demonstration. Now I was giving him a direct link to it. Was I deliberately trying to scare him off? If so, why? Was I afraid I would become too fond of him and wanted to send him packing before that happened? Did I want to see what he was made of, see if he could handle reading about the other men I’d dated?

Actually, my feelings about him were complicated. I liked him. I wanted to spend time with him. But I also cared enough about him to want for him what he wanted for himself. And I knew that wasn’t me. It was a woman closer to his own age, preferably one who was good at the style of dancing he was competitive in. And what I wanted for myself was a man for whom I was first choice, not someone to dally with while waiting for the right woman to come along. Jake and I were definitely strange bedfellows.

This was more complex than mere friendship. It was more complex than a f*** buddy relationship would be. In some respects, it was more complex than a romance would be. I hadn’t just gone down the rabbit hole. I was wandering around Wonderland, full of wonder and clueless about what I was doing.

Was that a good thing or a bad thing?

 

Note: The name Jake is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.

 

Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall