Seriously - WTH?

Calling out the stupid...and boy is there a lot to call out.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Confessions of a Recovering “Nice Girl”


"Well behaved women rarely make history." - Eleanor Roosevelt.

Hi, my name is Shay and I am a recovering nice girl.

That probably sounds pretty strange. I mean, why would anyone want to recover from being nice? Haven’t parents and teachers drilled it into our heads to be nice?  Isn’t that what we strive to be? Aren’t girls supposed to be nice?

Growing up I was always considered to be a nice kid. My teachers loved me. I didn’t speak out of turn in class. I never questioned authority because I was taught to respect my elders. I maintained good grades. As a teenager, I never sneaked out of the house, went to wild parties and drank or experimented with any drugs. When I was bullied, I wouldn’t retaliate or pick fights because nice girls didn’t do stoop to that level. Instead I would try to rise above it, turn the other cheek, walk away, go home and cry.

As an adult I continued to be nice. I was a hard working, dedicated employee. I had a large group of friends and I prided myself in being a good friend - in many cases, a better friend. When friends betrayed me by talking about me behind my back or doing something hurtful, I would always forgive them because that is what nice girls did.

Dating was, well let’s just say I was never exactly in high demand. I was raised in a house where not only was sex something saved for marriage but it was viewed as something bordering on shameful. Nice girls didn’t have sex and they sure as hell didn’t enjoy it. In school, my virginity was no secret so I often went dateless. Occasionally I would hear about a boy liking me, but no one ever seemed to follow through. I seemed perpetually condemned to the dreaded friend zone. I was the one that the guys would come to complain about their girlfriends, get advice, tell me how great I was and then leave to go have sex with their girlfriends. I remember one time I was told that a certain boy was going to ask me to prom but he ended up asking someone else instead. When I asked him why he had changed his mind he told me that I was a nice girl and it was prom so he was going to expect to get some that night so he went for the “sure thing”. In an attempt to ease my disappointment he said, “You’re not the girl you date; you’re the girl you marry.” It was the first time I had heard that statement but it certainly wouldn’t be the last and for some stupid reason, this appeased me for a while.

As I got older, dating still sucked. Although my virginity had come and gone with my first serious boyfriend and I discovered I actually liked sex (a lot) I still wasn’t a one night stand or casual sex kind of girl.  I was a nice girl. And you know who likes nice girls? Bad boys. Maybe it was the challenge or imply the juxtaposition. Whatever it was, they seemed drawn to me like a moth to a flame and the feeling was definitely mutual.

A lot of people wonder how women can continuously fall for these bad guys – like we look at this broke, in between jobs, addict and think, “Ooo, I have got to get me some of that!” While I won’t go too much into it (that’s a subject for another article!) I will say that I blame 2 things: First, Hollywood. We have all seen the movies where the bad boy finds his true love, changes his ways and becomes the perfect guy for the nice (aka “good”) girl. Hell, we even occasionally hear about it happening in real life. Second, a bad boy doesn’t come across as bad boy when you first meet him. He always seems on the cusp of a metamorphosis into a good guy -  mysterious, misunderstood, a bit of a rule breaker, and to a nice girl that always plays by the book, that is a bit exciting. He is confident, doting, romantic and makes you feel like you are the only girl in the world. He tries to forge an instant connection, often suggesting you move in or marry him within a month or two of dating, before you figure out that he is really just a self involved head case that continuously sabotages his own happiness and is perfectly willing to take you down with him.

As a nice girl, I was willing to give up everything to show this guy that he was worthy of love. In my warped nice girl brain, sacrificing my hopes and dreams to support his latest harebrained scheme was a way to prove my love and hopefully make him believe in me the way I believed in him. After all, nice girls compromise. Nice girls sacrifice. Growing up, my mom used to constantly utter the phrase, “Relationships are 90/10 and YOU’RE THE 10” – something her grandfather had told her. And while I always balked that would never be me, I did succumb to all that “Stand by your man” crap. I was supportive. I was loyal. I put my needs on the back burner. I was nice. And most of all, I was miserable.

So after a few failed relationships and one failed marriage I decided I didn’t want to be a “nice girl” anymore. You see I finally realized that while people were saying “nice girl” what they were really meant was “doormat.” It’s true. Nice girls are agreeable. Nice girls have an overwhelming need to be liked. Nice girls don’t rock the boat. They don’t stand up for themselves. They don’t ask for raises. Nice girls are afraid of what people think. Nice girls live in constant fear of being judged, and often, even pass judgment on themselves. They don’t have sex with random people. They allow family members to be emotionally abusive because they don’t want to make waves. They forgive friends that only offer one sided friendship. They say yes to all favors even at the risk of spreading themselves too thin because they want to be perceived as “nice” always knowing that to say, “No” would run the risk of being referred to as the dreaded b-word. In fact, they are so fearful of being labeled a “bitch” that they continuously allow themselves to be manipulated and taken advantage of until they are left empty, miserable and often bitter.

People may have confused you into believing that being nice means being a doormat. It doesn’t. And that is why I recommend everyone stop being a nice girl as soon as possible. I am certain that I have been referred to as the b-word. And while years ago, it probably would have destroyed me, causing me to bend over backwards to prove that I wasn’t, today I no longer care. Well, I care a little and that is why I am a recovering nice girl. I wish it didn’t bother me but honestly, sometimes it does and sometimes I still cry. But I’m getting better because I finally realized, in most cases, when someone says “bitch” what they are actually saying is, “You won’t allow yourself to be bullied and manipulated by me anymore. I have to treat you with respect and boy does that piss me off.” So now I wear my Bitch badge proudly.

Recently my friend got in a debate with a guy that she had known since high school but hadn't seen in decades. Her opinion differed from his and in a last ditch effort, when he ran out of points to defend his position he tried to intimidate her by saying, “What happened to you? You used to be such a nice girl.”

In short, she didn’t just let him win the argument. She stood up for her convictions. And to him that meant she was no longer a nice girl. Maybe he even thought she was a bitch. But instead of cowering or being intimidated at the inference, she simply said, “I am still a nice girl. But what I am not is a pushover.”

It's time we redefine our idea of the word "nice." Don't let your need to be considered a nice person allow you to be manipulated out of your own needs, wants or desires. Be kind. Help others. Say "yes" to wild and crazy nights with friends. Say "no" to some favors;  Call people out on their bullshit. Stand up for yourself.  Live your life for you and don’t ever dim your own light so someone else’s can shine brighter. Be bad! Be bold! Be brave! And above all else, stop being so damned nice.

Sincerely,

A recovering nice girl


Monday, November 17, 2014

What I Have Learned about Turning 40

This year I have been doing something I have never done before. I have caught myself interjecting my age into sentences and various conversations. Age has never been something that has bothered me. In fact, in the past when someone has asked me my age I have even had to stop and think about it for a minute because I often say the age I am going to be instead of the age I am. So what's the new obsession with my age? Well in one week I am about to turn forty.

Yep, that's right. The BIG 4-0.

Now I have heard about people my age, male and female, that have done things ranging from spending the day crying under the covers in bed & refusing to talk to anyone, to having a major midlife crisis, to shrugging it off and not really acknowledging it at all. I will say this, most people at least say at some point, "Wow, I can't believe I am going to be forty."

I think the reason for the big forty awakening is because you are hit with a number of things when you turn or are about to turn forty. For example, Like most people, my friends are constantly posting pictures of their kids on Facebook. The disturbing thing about that is that instead of the cute baby's first steps videos or look who lost her first tooth pictures, the photos are of children graduating from high school or heading off to college, or (gulp*) of their babies having babies which makes my friends officially grandparents. Aren't grandparents supposed to be little, old, cute gray haired people that are always handing out candy or giving you a quarter? And the fact that my friends' children are heading off to school makes me realize one thing - their kids are now as old (or in many cases older) than the age I was when I first met their mother or father. Eeeeek!

Besides my friends having offspring that are old enough to drink and have kids, the other forty realization that slaps me in the face is that forty seems to be the age when you are really viewed as an adult. Yes, it's cute that we call 18 year olds adults, and allow people to officially drink and buy their own alcohol at 21 because they are adults, and you even get a break in your car insurance when you hit the big 2-5. But forty is the age when you are expected to really have your shit together.

According to societies' standards, by forty you should be married, have your career in full swing, and your family well underway, have stability, and saved at least half of your retirement. And well, all of this makes me more nervous than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Hmmmm, let's see how I stack up:

Married - check!
Divorced - check! (Ok, that wasn't on the list, but hey! look at me Bonus Accomplishment! Plus they kind of go hand in hand)
Career - Which one? Still trying to find that perfect fit.
Family - Do dogs and cats count? I had my tubes tied so I guess I can check that off, right?
Stability - I pay my bills , if you call that stable. However, one bad illness and I could end up on the street living in a cardboard box with my dogs and cats...but it would be a stable box.
Retirement - Ha! Can't even fathom that. My last long term investment was in my 1997 Toyota Corolla because I knew it would save me money on gas. Between my divorce and the Recession (you know, the one they say we never had), coupled with a few unexpected surgeries, my bank account pretty much consists of dust. Seriously, when I get my statement for my savings account from my bank it says, "Balance: HAHAHAHA! P.S. When are you going to get started on this?"

Like most people, it seems every time I start to get ahead, something happens like my car needs brakes, or I get a rock to the windshield, or my uterus tries to implode. You know, normal every day things that seem to keep me from getting on my feet and ahead of the game. It's frustrating when there seem to be obstacles at every turn. So instead of beating myself up for where I should be, I'm going to try to think about the things I've done, learned, and most of all, overcome.

At 40 I have:

Graduated high school and completed some college;
Survived a major accident;
Overcome (for the most part), several health issues that would have sidelined most people;
Written 2 books that were both published;
Owned a record label, pizzeria, Italian restaurant, horse farm, and recycling business;
Found hobbies I thoroughly enjoy (painting and writing);
Lived in 3 different states;
Experienced marriage...and even better, experienced divorce :)
Learned what I do and don't want in a partner and that I am perfectly comfortable being single too;
Made lifelong friends that I wouldn't trade for anything;
Understand the difference between friends you can count on & friends that are just fun friends;
Learned blood doesn't make you family. Loyalty does - that's why some friends are family.
Acknowledged that if I have to fight to keep someone in my life, they probably don't deserve to be there;
Learned to never take advice or care about the opinion of someone that I don't respect;
Saved or given a home to some incredible animals;
Traveled (not as much as I'd like, but I am still fortunate enough to have done some travelling);
Learned my clothing size has nothing to do with my self worth;
Realized it's OK to tell people, "No" when I don't want to do something;
Volunteered for various charities;
Learned the only person responsible for my happiness is me;
Acknowledged that people will treat you how you allow them to treat you;
Realized it's OK to like sex and own that fact;
Understood I will always come second to someone's addiction. That's not my problem, it's their's;
Realized some people want to be miserable; I also realized I should distance myself from those people so they don't make me miserable;
Learned to trust my gut;
Continued to feed my inner child to keep me young- sometimes with a cupcake; sometimes with cartoons (How The Grinch Stole Christmas!);
Realized feeding that child doesn't keep me looking young, but sunscreen, moisturizer, exercise, and water will;
Age is a mindset;
Carmines has the best Italian food in the country with Christini's in Orlando being a very close 2nd;
A wagging tail = an immediate smile;
Most of all, I realized I like me and it's OK if no one else does.

And while I had thought that I would be in a very different place by the time I reached forty, I'm not in a bad place. No one's life is perfect or turns out just the way they planned. I mean, how boring would that be? In the word's of Aerosmith, " Life's a journey not a destination" and I'm looking forward to what the next forty will bring.

What have you learned by the time you turned 20? 30? 40? 50? 60? 70+?



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Why You Shouldn't Tell Your Kid, "No."

OK, before everyone goes off on me about how we are raising a society of undisciplined, disrespectful brats, hear me out.

I think that we can all agree that parents today are...shall we say...CRAZY overprotective. Kids have to wear a helmet to ride a bike or they risk falling, hitting their head and having to eat through a tube for the rest of their lives. If a class is tough, clearly it is the teacher's fault. The class should be made easier or the parent will demand the child be transferred to a different class, where the teacher isn't "picking on him." Oh, and let's not forget that EVERYONE has to get a trophy so that no one gets their feelings hurt. You were born? Here's a trophy. You're 7 and wiped your own ass? Here's a trophy. Your team came in last place? Trophies all around! I mean GOD FORBID your child is made to believe they aren't good at something. Why risk the blow to their self esteem and years of therapy when a simple "Participation" ribbon lets everyone know, "Hey you! You are average! Just like everyone else"? You know, because that's the way life works. You get a job, don't work as hard as the person next to you, your mommy calls your superior to say if you don't get the promotion you'll be sad and your feelings will be hurt, so naturally, your boss gives you the promotion. No wonder our country is in the toilet.

So with that said you're probably wondering in a world where parents are afraid to (but should) tell their children, "No" why the hell am I saying not to do it? Because there is one area that I continuously hear moms and dads "protecting" their children right out of success. Recently, I have been present when various parents have made the following remarks (and some other equally detrimental ones) to their children and it absolutely infuriates me:

"I don't know why you want to try out for the [insert sport here] team. There are kids that have been playing since they were 5. You're not going to make it."

"You need to know your place in this world."

I have three words: SHAME ON YOU!

How dare you tell your child what they can and cannot accomplish! Whether you are doing it because you think you are protecting them from failure or simply because if you were in their position, you wouldn't have the guts to go for it, you need to stop and realize the negative impact you are making on your child's life.

Life is all about failure, overcoming obstacles, and striving to be our best self. A parent should never discourage their child from having goals and trying to be the best person they can.

Let me give you some examples:

When I wanted to try out for cheerleading in high school, my mom all but forbade me. She was so afraid I would be disappointed when I didn't make it, that it never even dawned on her that I might actually make it. ( I did).

Years later, I was in accident. After several surgeries, while trying to find meaning in tragedy, I decided to write a book to help people living with chronic pain. There was one catch...my head injury left me with the inability to look at a computer screen. That could have stopped me in my tracks, but I refused to let it. Not only did I write my novel, I got it published. 

Too small scale? How about these examples:

On  January 29th, 1954, a little black girl was born in rural Kosciusko, Mississippi. She survived a troubled adolescence in which she was sexually abused by relatives and male friends of her mother. As a teen, she moved to Tennessee to live with her father. She attended school, went to college and grew up to have her own talk show, and eventually her own network. Today she is one of he most powerful, well respected woman in the world. I am of course talking abut Oprah Winfrey. 

Sophomore year, Laney High School, N.C. Mike Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player to ever play, failed to make the Varsity team. Did that stop him? No. He busted his butt to become the best all around player and became the superstar we know today as the great #23, Michael Jordan.

And perhaps one of the most inspiring stories, March 24th, 1986, a mother gave birth to a child born with congenial amputation. Kyle Maynard had no arms below the elbow and no legs below the knee. Instead of his parents sheltering him and allowing him to use that as an excuse to do nothing with his life, they encouraged him to be as independent as possible. Kyle grew up wanting to wrestle. He joined the school wrestling team. At first he lost every match... then one day something happened. He won. And then it happened again. In fact, it happened 34 more times. He eventually went on to be inducted into The National Wrestling Hall of Fame. But Kyle didn't stop there. He trained hard and went on to compete as an amateur mixed martial arts fighter, and as if those feats weren't impressive enough, he decided he wanted to climb Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro...and did.

In any of these instances, it would have been very easy for the parents of these children to say, "It's too hard" or "You can't do it." 

"Oprah, you want to be a millionaire. You're crazy. Remember where you are from. Little black girls from Mississippi do not become millionaires."

"Michael, you couldn't even make the Varsity team.You think you are going to play professional ball some day? There are a million kids that have that dream and were good enough to make Varsity their first time out. You need to think more practically."

"Kyle, how is a kid with no arms and legs going to climb a mountain? You have to be realistic son. There are some things you are  going to have to accept that you just can't do."

So the next time you're speaking with your child and they tell you they want to find the cure for cancer or invent a flying car, or be a ballerina, I'm begging you, please be mindful of your words. Don't be that voice of doubt in your child's head that says, "You can't do it;" The one that causes a bundle of nerves and makes them too afraid to try out for the team, ask for that raise they deserve, or dare to change the world. Instead, be the one that teaches them how to accomplish their dreams. If your 5'7 son tells you he wants to make the basketball team, encourage him to try out and if he doesn't make it, instead of letting him give up, help him put together a game plan to improve his skills so he can make the team next time. Encourage him to practice and train with him whenever possible. Teach him the only failure in life is not trying and if you want something bad enough, you work for it, whether that be studying, hours of practice, interning, or daring to think outside the box. After all, it worked for Spud Webb. He went on to not only play in the NBA, but to win the Slam Dunk contest.

Remember, kids tend to share their dreams with the ones they are closest to in the hopes of receiving support and encouragement.  Imagine the look on Neil Armstrong's mother's face when he said," Hey Mom, you see that moon up there? I'm going to be the first person to walk on it someday." She had to think, "Sure you are son! And how do you plan on getting there? Walking?" But you know what, he did it. So if your child has a dream, no matter how ludicrous it may sound, don't crush it. Don't point out all the reasons why it can't happen. Don't say,"No." Instead, let them dream. Sit down with your kid and together, come up with a list of steps they can take to achieve their goals, whatever they may be. Let them know you believe  in them so that one day, when other people are trying to hold them back and telling them it's too hard! That's impossible! You can't do it! You can be the voice inside their head that says, "I believe in you.Yes you can."

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**Don't forget to check out my books Pain, Pain, Go Away and Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide for Single Women available on Amazon.com and at Barnes&Noble.com  **

Shay Stone books on Amazon
Shay Stone books Barnes & Noble


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Excerpt from New Book In Progress

... 

"He took her hand in his and pulled her close to him as they began to sway to the music. It felt amazing to finally hold her like he had wanted to for so long. In his arms, she felt safe, as though she belonged there; like she was home. The feeling was unnerving. She belonged to another, yet here she was in his embrace, feeling his warm breath on her neck, taking in his intoxicating smell. She felt dizzy, uncertain if it was the alcohol or his touch that was making her feel that way.

His cheek lightly touched against hers. Her skin was soft, like a perfect rose petal. God he wanted her so much. Without thought, he brushed her ear softly with his nose as he gently whispered the silky words of the song into her ear, “Let me hold you tight, if only for one night…”

She felt weak as his lips traced their way from her neck to her face. He kissed her eyes, and then with his thumb, gently caressed her soft, red lips. She felt as though he could hear her body crying out for him. With one hand placed firmly on the small of her back, he pulled her closer, moving his other hand through her hair as their lips met. He kissed her slowly at first, but then more passionately as he lost control of his restraint. His kiss awakened something in her she thought was lost. She could feel it in her stomach; in her knees; in her soul. She ran her fingers through his dark hair. She couldn't control herself...she didn't want to control herself." 

***Don't forget to check out my other book: Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide for Single Women currently available in hardcover and for Kindle and eBook at Amazon.com and at BarnesandNoble.com Links are below:

Ebook: Why Am I Still Single?

Hard Cover: Why Am I Still Single?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Does Love Still Exist?

We all know those couples. The ones that met when they were in high school or saw each other on the street, locked eyes and immediately knew they were soul mates and meant to spend the rest of their lives together. They got married, never questioned it and appear to have found the key to true love.

I hate these people.

See, for me love doesn't come easy. Allow me to clarify: I love my family, friends, and tell my dogs and cat that I love them daily. But when it comes to true love...real, romantic, spending the rest of your life together kind of love...it terrifies me and remains something that I don't know that I am capable of achieving.

I used to think I was alone when it came to this feeling, which made me feel like even more of an outcast. Then, one night after a little too much wine, I confessed something to a friend: Even though I had been married at one point in my life, I didn't know that I had ever been in love. I loved my ex-husband, but I wasn't in love with him. Now, there were probably many reasons for that - the least of which was our relationship was more of the roommate variety opposed to the husband and wife kind, much to my dismay. But then, after my divorce, dates with other men, a few marriage proposals, and even one man's request to have a child with him, I found that I still felt the same way. Whenever I would think about the idea of falling in love or enter into a relationship with someone I would get the same image in my head that would cause me to high tail it out of the relationship so fast I'd  leave a Scooby-Doo type shape of myself in the door behind me.

The Image:

 I'm standing alone, strong and independent. Then a black, transparent, ghostly shadow with long arms, and exaggerated, skinny fingers comes up behind me, wrapping it's arms around me so tight that I can't move and begin to choke. It pulls me tighter and closer into it until it envelopes me completely and I am lost forever.

OK, air... I need air.

I mean, seriously, what the hell was wrong with me? Was I cold-hearted? Unfeeling? Too realistic? Too logical for love? Or was I just simply incapable of love? Then my friend responded in a way that I did not expect, "Oh my God, you feel that way too?!? I thought it was just me."

My friend and I discussed it at length and dissected it to the point that would exhaust Freud. We both wanted to fall that deeply in love, but didn't know if it could ever happen. Neither one of us could imagine letting ourselves be that vulnerable and surrender control long enough to fall in love. Maybe it was trust issues; or maybe we were both control freaks; or maybe we just couldn't let go of how bad we had been burned by previous relationships. I remembered something my ex had said while we were still just dating, "You can never love anyone like you loved your first love."

At first the statement bothered me and I took offense to it, but then as I thought about it more, I began to understand. See when you go into a relationship for the first time, you open your heart and give it everything you have. You become infatuated with the person and they occupy your every thought. As you're driving in your car and a song comes on the radio, you find yourself thinking,This should be our song or this would make a great wedding song someday for us. You imagine your perfect future together - the house, the kids, the dog (or cat) with the fluffy tail, traveling the world, and living happily ever after. Then WHAM!!! You catch your guy (or girl) in bed with your best friend. You're mad, hurt, heart broken, and most of all, you're blindsided. The life you imagined for yourself with the person you never thought would hurt you is obliterated into a million pieces and you're left standing there thinking, what the hell just happened? How did I not see it coming?

Once you have been hurt like that, no one has the ability to do it again, because, on some subconscious level, it is always in the back of your mind. And I think that really is true. Was that what was holding me back? Is that why I could never feel that deep love?

Or was my definition of love wrong? I remember my first love. He had long dark hair and was a grade above me. We were friends, which meant that we hung out at school, but other than that, he didn't notice me. I used to pine over him, doodling his last name behind my first name, writing poems about him, imagining the day when he would wake up and realize we were destined to be together. Needless to say, he never did. He ended up knocking up his high school sweetheart, getting married in 12th grade, and having a mess of kids. And he broke my heart most likely without even knowing it.

My next first love came when I was around 20 years old. I say my next first because over time I realized I probably wasn't really in love when I was younger. It was more of a crush... an infatuation with the idea of the guy and life I created in my mind. My second first love I actually dated. If you have read my book Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide for Single Women (Chapter titled The Savior) , then you know it was visceral, very tumultuous, and almost destroyed me. It was also what I thought was love.  I did everything I was supposed to - when he had to move to another state, I went with him. When he struggled with addiction, I stood by him; when he didn't think he was worthy of love and tried to push me away, I wouldn't let him and tried to show him why he deserved to be loved and how good it could be. I sacrificed my wants, needs, and basically myself again and again thinking that it would  prove my love because to me, love was supposed to be unconditional.

Eventually I ended the relationship, but the pattern continued even into my marriage. The only way to prove that you loved someone was to support them no matter what, even at the expense of your own happiness. After all, if you were supporting their dreams, they would reciprocate and support your's as well and it would even out, Right?

Wrong. 

Inevitably my dreams were put on hold. At first, it was OK. I didn't mind showing my support because well, that's what women were supposed to do. Yep, I said it. Little Miss Independent just said that line of crap. Like many of my friends, I grew up in a time and with a mother that instilled in me that women sacrifice for the men in their life. To be fair, it is the way she grew up too. Women stayed home and took care of the house and kids while the husband worked. So naturally if his job required a move, the family relocated and everyone just had to adapt. My mother once told me, "I'm going to tell you what my grandfather told me. Relationships are 90/10 and you're [woman] the 10."

Naturally I balked at the sentiment. I would reply that relationships should be equal with both partners giving 100/100, to which my mom would laugh and say, "We'll see."

Still there I was in each of my relationships, throwing a bowling game so that my partner wouldn't ruin the night, mad because he was beaten by a girl, or putting my dreams on hold so my ex could pursue one dream after another assuring me that my time would be coming. Whenever I would try to pursue my own dreams, I would be accused of not being supportive.

After my divorce I realized two things -  1) Love isn't unconditional. You have to have conditions in order to have respect. No matter how loving and supportive someone can be, if you push them far enough, they can (and should) leave. My ex once told me that there was nothing I could do that would make him leave me, then got mad when I didn't return the sentiment. The truth was, there were things he could do that would cause me to leave him like cheating, physical violence, etc. Some people see unconditional love as romantic; others see it as carte blanche. People need boundaries and need to know that although you love them, you aren't going to be treated like a doormat to prove it and will walk away if necessary. And while that statement may scare some people that want a guarantee of forever no matter what happens, it can also provide a comfort because it shows that you are staying with someone by choice, not obligation.

The other thing I realized was that I had lost myself. It had never dawned on me just how much I was walking on eggshells and doing things to please my spouse at the cost of my own happiness just because he was so high maintenance and I wanted to seem supportive and avoid a fight, which although never turned physically violent, would involve him throwing things.  Finally, one night after being pushed too far, I stood up for myself and pushed back. When I did, I found myself.

Since then, I vowed to never lose myself again. Hence the image that relationships have taken on in my head: one of suffocation,  sadness, stress, panic, utter sacrifice and loss of self. Is that really what love was? And if so, why the hell would I want it?

I have to admit, I took some comfort in knowing that my friend felt the same way I did. At least I wasn't alone. In fact, the more people I talked to, the more I discovered just how many people were viewing love and relationships the same way I did. When it all came down to it, one person was the giver (the nurturer), and the other is the receiver.

The funny thing is, after everything, I still believed in love. Not the impending doom image of love, but real, crazy about each other, best friends, soul mates, lovers, spend the rest of your life together and still snuggle on the couch watching movies, hand holding when you're old, respectful, reciprocal, trustworthy, smile when you think of them, doesn't make sense love. Which is why I have avoided relationships. In my heart, I don't want to be proven wrong.

I want to...I need to know that it exists. I am still a huge commitment phobe and for the first time in years, I am dating, ironically another commitment phobe who has been very patient with me. And while that could mean we're doomed, it may just mean that we understand each other enough to take down our walls long enough to let each other in, even if we don't let anyone else enter. Only time will tell. But I know one thing for certain - I believe I'm willing  to redefine my idea of love and to try be open to it because I'm worthy of it and I deserve to be loved like that.

Someone once said, "Do what you've always done and you'll get what you've always got." Well, I don't like what I've gotten so far, so I'm going to give it a shot. Right now, all I can do is try. Because when it all comes down to it, I want to live in a world where there is true love.

Don't forget to check out my book Why Am I Still Single available in hardcover and Ebook/Kindle on Amazon.com Ebook link to Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.com Hard cover link B&N













Monday, August 11, 2014

Prince Charming - Guy #3 that is Keeping You Single

As little girls most of us grew up watching movies showcasing a women in some sort of predicament in which she needed to be rescued by her very own Prince Charming, at which time the happy couple, usually knowing each other for a full 15 minutes, would consequently ride off into the sunset creating the perfect happily ever after storybook ending.

Thanks Disney.

This became the standard to which we measured all of our relationships. Somewhere in the recesses of our brained it became engrained that the steps to a successful relationship were as follows:

Step 1: Be lonely and miserable while somehow remaining cheery and optimistic.
Step 2: Sing a song to (or with) animals or inanimate objects as they help you clean or get dressed
Step 3: See Prince Charming and immediately know it is true love.
Step 4: Wait for him to save you from your miserable life
Step 5: Live happily ever after.

Easy-peasy. End of story

OK, in retrospect maybe the whole bursting into song and singing to animals about our love lives should have been the first clue that Disney was full of crap, but we were kids. Then, as we got older, it seemed that many movies glorified the damsel in distress relationship scenario. Clearly Hollywood knew something we didn’t. So all we had to do was happen upon this beautiful man and wait for him to come and rescue us from our humdrum lives, right?

Unfortunately what Disney (and for years, Hollywood) failed to show us was what happened after the happy couple road off into the sunset together. We weren’t privy to the fights Cinderella and Prince Charming had about him getting falling down drunk and hitting on every maiden at the ball each night; or that Prince Philip was crazy jealous and demanded Snow White stop socializing with the Seven Dwarfs. We didn’t feel Ariel’s pain realizing that she didn’t really need her voice back because Prince Eric never listens to her anyway.

No instead we succumb to the fantasy that we would meet the love of our life and then everything that would be perfect and easy. And while many women went on to realize that fairytales aren’t real, some of you are still holding out for that Prince Charming – the man that knows you perfectly without knowing you at all.

The hope of this imaginary perfect man may lead to the dismissal of  men that you meet but may not have that instant animalistic attraction. And if you do find someone that you feel that visceral connection to, you may mistake that attraction for love at first sight. Often times, this causes a relationship built mainly on sex. The attraction is so strong that you tend to overlook other deal breaking flaws. It is important to understand the difference between infatuation and love and never confuse the two. ( See previous blog titled: Mr. Kryptonite). 

Another reason Prince Charming poses a threat to your romantic life is the tendency to see him as the key to your happiness. Sometimes when we get so wrapped up in the idea of love that we fool ourselves into thinking that the only way we can ever be happy and complete is to find the One. I'm going to let you in on a huge relationship secret that so many people don’t know: If you aren’t happy with yourself when you are alone, you won’t be happy with someone in a relationship. In order to achieve happiness you have to reach a level of self-acceptance and happiness with the person you are. If not, you will continue to look to someone else to fulfill that empty place inside and be disappointed when they don’t come through. After all, if you don’t know what makes you happy, how can they?

Once you reach a place where you are happy with yourself, you will be a better partner and companion. But even then relationships take work which leads us to the biggest of the Prince Charming Pitfalls - disappointment. Prince Charming has no flaws. He always does the right thing and never behaves contrary to what you expect. He is a classy, charismatic, chivalrous gentleman that is great with kids, has an amazing job, gets along with your family, and has the same morals and ideals as you do. He is always understanding, never cross or grumpy, and exists to make you happy. Prince Charming is placed on a pedestal and becomes this impossible ideal to which every man is measured. If a guy fails to stack up, it seems the only option is to end the relationship because, obviously, if the guy were the right guy, he would be automatically in sync with your wants and needs.

Real relationships are not so simple. People have conflicting opinions and different backgrounds. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship is destined for failure. It is important to communicate your feelings and expectations from the beginning and give someone time to understand them. Listen, none of us come with a manual. The only way to learn is over time through trial and error, so you have to give someone a chance. True that handsome guy on the bus may not embody everything you’ve ever imagined you’d end up with but have you ever stopped to think maybe you don’t possess all of the qualities his ideal woman does either. Maybe he thought he’d marry a bike riding, guitar wielding, 5’9” brunette covered in tattoos or a prim and proper southern bell that never uttered a curse word in her life. That doesn’t mean he can’t fall in love with a 5’4 red-head with a sailor’s mouth that has never ridden a bike in her life.

Fairytales are fine as long as you take them for what they are – unrealistic fantasies. Real people have flaws. Nobody is perfect. No one can read your mind. That doesn’t mean you should close the door on the possibility of a relationship just because upon meeting, a man doesn’t know the inner workings of your soul. Don't let a good guy with morals, that strives to be a better person, and tries to make you happy get away while you hold out for an imaginary Prince Charming that only exists in your dreams. Real trumps imaginary every time.


**Don’t forget to check out my book Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide For Single Women available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dating 101 (Because clearly some of you need it)

WHAT has happened to dating?

OK, I know I am veering off the series of my last few posts dealing with men that are keeping you single, but I have had an overwhelming amount of people (men and women) that have asked me the same question:

WHAT has happened to dating?

It seems since we have entered the age of cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, texting, and every other means of communication we have forgotten how to, well, communicate. It seems that no one knows how to date anymore. The days of a guy calling a girl, asking her out, taking her to dinner, paying, and then calling for a follow up date have been replaced by vague, "Wanna hangout?" texts. What does that even mean? Is it a date? Are we buds? Are you 12? Are we hanging out one on one or in a group? Are all of your friends going to be there? Should I invite mine? The simple text leads to a myriad of questions and frustration, and rightfully so.

To help out my single guys and girls out there I have developed a set of dating guidelines:

Rule #1: Ask her for her number, and then call her.
Don't get it through a friend or hit her up on Facebook or whatever various form of social media is your favorite. Be an adult. If you can't do this, then you are too young and immature to date. Grow a set, call her, and if the conversation goes well, ask her out.

Rule #2: Make it clear that you want to take her on a date.
Don't be vague and invite her to "hang out" or "kick it" with you and your friends. Again, you are not a 12 year old. You're not asking her to go to the mall and walk around because you aren't old enough to drive. A date is not a marriage proposal...it is a date. It is designed for you to get to know someone. No contracts are being signed. No rings are being exchanged. Don't freak out or get all weird.  If you meet someone and you like her, ask her out on an actual date.

Rule #3: Be respectful.
Don't wait until Thursday to ask her out on Friday.It implies that you were waiting for anything better to come up before you decided to settle for going out with her. It also implies that you think she has nothing to do but sit around and wait for you to call at which time, she should drop everything to spend time with you. It is disrespectful and arrogant and starts the date off on a bad foot. If she drops everything to go out, it sets a precedent that you can always call her last minute. If she tells you she is busy, it makes you feel like maybe she isn't interested enough to go out with you. Do the right thing and ask her out with at least 3 days notice.

Rule #4: Have a plan.
Don't call her or show up to pick her up without something in mind. Discuss a specific time and place. I always recommend having 2 or 3 ideas to choose from that you can present. Speak about it on the phone so you can dress appropriately. You don't want to show up in jeans and a t-shirt only to find her wearing a dress and heels. If you are going to do something outdoors-y , let her know. If you are taking her to a nice dinner followed by dancing, tell her. Whatever you do, make sure you take into account what she likes. Just because you are a hardcore baseball fan, doesn't mean she is. The first date should be about going somewhere that you both feel comfortable.

Rule #5: No group dates unless there are extenuating circumstances.
If possible, try not to make the first date a group date. Again, the first date should be about getting to know each other. If you go out in a group, your date may feel self-conscious, like they are being placed under a microscope. This may cause them to clam up. After all, she doesn't even know you yet. Now she has to dazzle your friends. Sure you may be comfortable and your pals make be warm and welcoming, but unless you discussed on the phone a favorite team or artist that you both love that you just happen to be going to see  that week and have an extra ticket, make the first date a one on one thing. Or if you do decide to go out in a group, take her to grab a bite before (or after) with just the two of  you.

Rule #6: Dress to impress.
Put some thought into the date and what you are wearing.Whether you are going to a 5-star restaurant or a football game, take pride in your appearance. I'm not saying you have to bust out a 3 piece suit but show her that you cared enough about the date and seeing her to not just put on what ever wrinkled clothes you grabbed off the floor because they smelled the least dirty. Shower, wear deodorant, comb your hair, and look presentable for the date. That means no holey shirts or pants.

Rule #7: Make the first date casual.
Yes, it is great that you can afford to go to the fanciest restaurant in town, but if you start off with that, you kind of have no where to go but down. Plus many people behave differently when they are dressed up and in an environment where they are expected to act a certain way. If you want to get to know someone, you should do so in a relaxed atmosphere. That way you focus less on where you are and more on what is being said.

Rule #8: Touch base before the date.
Look, it is awesome that you called her and made plans in advance, but just about every woman has that fear that she will get all dolled up, be sitting there waiting for you to pick her up (or meet her somewhere) and then, (Gulp!) you won't show. It's true. When it comes to first dates, in the recesses of our brain our insecurities start to peek out, we get nervous and think, "he's not going to show" or  "what if he forgets?" So if it is Monday and the date is on Friday, and you haven't talked or texted at all throughout the week, give her a quick call or shoot a little text the day before or the morning of that says something like," Looking forward to tomorrow (or tonight)." It calms the nerves and let's her know that you haven't completely forgotten about her. If you have spoken to her between the time you made the date and the actual date, this isn't necessary, but if you have had a crazy week or are just the type that doesn't like to talk much before a first date, touching base is a basic courtesy. Look things happen - grandmas die; bosses make you work late, people get sick. You don't know her, so it would be very easy to get wrapped up in something or just blow her off. It's good to be certain everything is still a go. And if it's not still a go for some reason or another, have the decency to let her know. Don't just stand her up. That's so not cool!

Rules #9:Don't be text needy.
Ladies, I know you are super excited about this handsome, funny, smart new guy you met. So far, he has done everything right. Don't screw it up by texting or calling him 500 times  If you are texting him every day, you are already coming off as needy and insecure. If he hasn't talked or texted you since you made plans and you want to shoot him a text the night before or the day of just to confirm, that his fine, but keep it to a minimum. You don't need to tell him every thought that pops in your head. If you do, you'll scare him away. Keep a little bit of mystery and give his mind time to wander, think about the date, and get excited about it.. He can't do that if you won't leave him alone. And do NOT under any circumstances, friend request him on FB. Nothing says, "Crazy Stalker Chick" like friend requesting him right after you meet him. There is no need to comb through his page, friends list, and decipher every post with your friends before you even go on one date. Besides, you don't know him. For all you know he may be a serial killer.You don't need to give him free access to where you live, what school you went to, where you are and who you are with, or your daily routine just yet.

Rule #10: No inappropriate texts.
Men, do not, under any circumstances text her a picture of your junk. And do not ask her to send pictures of her boobs or anything else. Let's just go ahead and say that any parts that would be covered by a bathing suit are off limits.I can't believe I even need to say this, but unfortunately I have friends that have met guys that thought this was appropriate to do. It is not.

Rule #11: Don't expect an immediate commitment.
You had the best date. Seriously, people will probably make movies one day about how it was thee perfect date. That's great. But now the date has been over for like an hour and you haven't heard from him. Now it's been a day...or two and you haven't heard from him. Or maybe you have...and have even gone out on 2 or 3 more dates and they have been fantastic. Now you can't help but wonder, is he seeing anyone else? Are you exclusive? Where is this going?

Before you go updating your relationship status, take a second and breathe. I get it. I'm not the kind of person that dates 5 guys at once. If I like a guy, I like him and am probably not seeing a handful of guys in addition to him. Still, there is no need to rush the whole relationship thing. Take the time to get to know someone. Go out with him a few times, meet his friends, see what he is all about before you decide this is the person you want to spend the next 2 months, 6 years, or the rest of your life with. Enjoy getting to know him.

Now, that said, he doesn't have the right to string you along forever. If you have gone out on 5 or 6 dates and you really like him, it is perfectly acceptable to ask what he is looking for before you let yourself get too attached. Is he looking for a relationship? A booty call? Or maybe he just got out of a toxic relationship and is just trying to get his dating feet wet. He doesn't have to commit to you right then, but it is a good idea to make sure you are on the same page before one of you gets too serious.

Rule #12: 3rd date schmird date.
Recently one of my friends went on a few dates that were very promising. She called me before date number 3 and was extremely nervous. They had only kissed once but she was afraid the 3rd date meant that he would want to get intimate. While she really liked him, she wasn't sure how she felt, how he felt, or where they might be heading.

Whether it was conversations among friends or polls done in a magazine somehow, people got the idea that the 3rd date = sex. Sure that may be true for some people, but it's not true for everyone or every relationship. Sex shouldn't be based on the number of dates; it should be based on how you feel. So if the 3rd date comes, don't stress or feel pressured into doing something you aren't ready to do. And while sometimes sex can be just about 2 people together in the moment, if you really like someone, talk to them before you take it to that level. Is it just sex or do you expect to be exclusive after this? Are you the only one he is sleeping with? While it might not be sexy, discussing your expectations before you get down and dirty can help to keep things from getting ugly afterward.

Rule #13: Don't expect him to pay.
Yes, it would be lovely to be taken out and not have to pay, but this is not the 1950's. Back then, most girls (women) didn't work, so it was customary for the man to pay. But today, both sexes work, the cost of living is high, and, in most cases, the pay isn't offsetting the extra money we are putting out. So if you go out, offer to pay your half. If he accepts it, fine. If he declines it, be gracious. If you are uncomfortable with not paying your share then let him get dinner and offer to pay for something else like snacks at the movies. But don't, under any circumstances, let him chintz out on the bill.

One of my friends had a guy ask her to dinner. After they finished eating and having drinks, the guy told her he didn't have any money and asked her to pay for the entire dinner. There is one word for this guy - Mooch! He knew before he asked her out that he didn't have any money, but instead of canceling, he decided to put her in an awkward position. He could have told her he was broke or picked something inexpensive to do, but he didn't. He just scammed her. If a guy can't at least pay his share, then he can't afford to date.  

I hope these help clarify some of the expectations and guidelines for dating in the age of technology and social media. These should get you through the first few dates. After that, you are on your own.

**Don't forget to check out my book Why Am I Still Single? A Tough Love Guide For Single women now available for Kindle and IPad at barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com**

Amazon book linkAmazon Link to Why Am I Still Single?