Thursday, February 28, 2008

More About Settling for Mr. Good Enough

Hi Terry,

I picked up a magazine this weekend called The Atlantic. I never heard of it before, but there were a few articles on the front cover that got my attention; namely, an article called "Marry Him -The Case of Settling for Mr. Good Enough" - pg. 76. I would love to hear your feedback/point of view of this article. If I had your writing ability (maybe I do, but not the balls to blog about it maybe?), I would write about it. I have never heard anything like it. Very interesting. If you don't get the magazine where you are try www.theatlantic.com perhaps.

I really do hope you get a chance to read it and blog about it. I love your blogs.

Take care and have a great week!

-Curious


Dear Curious:

Thanks for writing.

I haven't read the article, but I did see its author being interviewed about it on the Today Show. (View the clip here.)

While I don't believe in settling for a guy who doesn't make you happy, let me start by saying nobody --not me, not you, or any man on the planet -- is perfect. So, at some point, we all have to settle on some points. The question is, how much will you settle?

For example:

Some women and men want to start families before they reach a certain age. They meet a person with the same priorities. They may not be passionately in love with this person, but they marry to achieve their primary goal, which is to have children.

Did this couple settle?

Well, not really. Their goal was to buy a house and raise children, not to fall madly in love and walk into the sunset together. They went into the marriage with a certain set of expectations, and they probably aren't going to be disappointed (unless one of them does eventually fall in love -- with someone else -- and leaves the marriage).

When we talk about settling, it helps to consider priorities.

Some people are less concerned about having children. These women and men want to fall in love. They want someone they can take care of, who'll take care of them. They want a Number One. They want to be a Number One.

In this case, it is settling if they marry a person who a) is still in love with someone else, b) mentally undresses individuals of the opposite sex at family weddings, or c) just wants to get married to have kids.

About children: If you do go the "walk into the sunset" route, know that children will change things, if you let them. They can't help but try to take over your life. If you want your marriage to remain exciting, it's important to do what it takes to keep it that way. But you have to marry a man who's also willing to do what it takes to keep it that way. Such men do exist.

Before you marry anybody, find out if the guy a) wants children, and b) how he would react if you learned you couldn't have them (unfortunately, this happens to couples every single day).

Find out how he feels about his responsibilities as a father and yours as a mother. Find out if he'd expect you to undergo procedures if you were to have difficulty getting or staying pregnant. Find out how he feels about adoption.

No need to interrogate the guy under a lightbulb here, but it's important to discuss these things if before you bind yourself legally to him.

If a happy marriage is your top priority (as opposed to a marriage as a means to having children), you settle if you marry a man who doesn't feel as you do. For me, marriage is the foundation of a family. The children are a product of it, not the reason for it.

Other have a right to feel differently, and they do. When it comes to "settling," determine what you want out of a relationship. Aim to marry a man with the same priorities. Proceed accordingly.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

She Changed Her Thinking and Attracted a Good Man

When I opened this email the other day, it brought tears to my eyes. It's from a woman who used to settle for less than she deserved in relationships. I'm reprinting it here in case you're in a similar spot and searching for encouragement.

Thank you, C., for writing and sharing your inspiring story.


Hi, Terry:

I've met a lovely guy who lives nine miles away from me. He's kind, understanding, not too talky, great sense of humour. Looks a bit like a celebrity.

The *next man list* I made out which had about 100 qualities on it seems to have more ticked off it each time I meet him. He doesn't have a string of girlfriends, children, or an ex wife. Last night on about date 4, I discovered another favourite thing of mine, he has a hairy broad muscular chest. None of my friends can believe in this day and age I've met a single 40 year old man.

As I'm 5'10", I wanted a tall man, he's over 6ft. Of course, being well armed with knowledge from your information, I'm pacing it, he's ringing and can't get enough. It's empowering and I'm coming from a more balanced relaxed place. Because he's the only one ringing, no matter how many days go between, I know where I stand with him. If he tries anything slightly disrespectful, like trying to see me with no advance planning, he doesn't get away with it. In fact he didn't get to see me Valentine's Day because he didn't give me enough notice. That taught him a good lesson!!! He really upped his game after that.

You know the trouble I had with my previous 4 years on/off relationship, and the heartache I went through with upsets and unpredictability, me being the underdog. For over a year I read all your advice, would move on, and then keep going back to him. All my friends told me I looked (and I was) miserable. Yet when I finally let go of that rollercoaster relationship, and was totally honest about how dreadfully he was treating me, my life opened out.

Good things started to happen, instead of ever-decreasing circles, I began to find my world expanding and my confidence increasing. And I thank God since the breakup in January I've had none of the previous heartbreak associated with my ex.

I started making a list of what I wanted in a man and relationship about a year ago during yet another breakup. This year 2008, I really began to believe that when I let go of my ex, I would meet the new man on my list.

These are all difficult things to do when you listen to popular thinking like, a woman over 40 has only 1% chance of getting married, there are no good men left, coupled with fear of not meeting anyone again, men wanting younger women etc. Anyway, thanks for all the strong advice on how not to just settle, how to be my best feminine self, how to put myself first. The overall change in thinking didn't happen immediately but now it's becoming second nature.

Even if things don't work out with this new man, I KNOW there are plenty of fish in the sea and there is a perfect man for me out there. It's almost unnerving how many of the qualities in my list this new man has, and look at how soon I've met him. Last Saturday he said he has seen me before over the past few years, but hadn't the courage to ask me out. So as soon as I moved on from the going nowhere scenario, he appeared "as if by magic."

I hope stories like this encourage you to keep helping women, because there are a lot of women who really need to turn their thinking around. If you consistently hear a message with a truth in it, it will change your life.

My friend, who had lived a crazy life, taking speed and clubbing, has totally changed this year too. She says I've had an incredible influence on her. This past weekend she has had two men courting her attention, after years of being Miss-brought-home-from-the-nightout (never brought out)!

Another friend, who is 56, has ended a doormat type of relationship of 20 years since seeing the changes in me and my attitude about how I was too good for the lies, using and crap my ex doled out to me. She was living with this player type guy who golfed with my ex, even after 20 years with her, he wouldn't divorce his ex-wife or introduce her to his brothers and sisters! So you see, Terry, these are very positive knock-on effects in real lives you are having, and I really, really wanted you to know that :)

Thank you so much for all your time, for your dedication to improving women's self respect and their enjoyment of the wonder of their lives. Thank you for taking time to respond to me personally when I felt I was so confused and felt I was worth nothing. Take five minutes to appreciate some things happening on the other side of the world which are significantly better because of you.

XXXXXXXXXX

-C.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Getting Down in the Mud for Love

Last night, on Rock of Love 2, our vinyl-haired hero, Bret Michaels, presided over a rodeo.

The women contending for the grand prize of his love lassoed fake cattle and rode real horses, before the piece de resistance: getting down in the mud to wrestle bandanas off a passel of greased pigs.

Yee-hah.

After last week's episode, in which the Women of Low Self-Esteem were forced to battle each other -- barely dressed -- in a football game complicated by wind, rain, snow, and mud, I concluded that Bret really likes mud.

After last night's episode, we can safely conclude something else: He doesn't really like women.

The "winners" of this week's rodeo got to go on a date with him in some gimmick restaurant, where it was intentionally so dark Bret and the lasses had to form a congo line behind the maitre 'd to find their table. They couldn't see each other, let alone their food.

Nice date.

I don't know about you, but I like to see what I'm eating. If you've ever had the misfortune to find a hair in your salad at a 4-star restaurant, you know what I'm talking about.

But Bret's a happenin' guy. He likes to live on the edge.

Now, while he and the LSEs, Ambre, Kristy Joe, and Destiney (I think it was Destiney, anyway) couldn't see each other, technology allowed us in TV Land to see everything. Between gobbles of whatever was put in front of him, Bret (who possesses the table manners of a donkey) swapped saliva with Kristy Joe, unbeknownst to the other LSEs.

Eventually, Kristy Joe excused herself to go to the bathroom. Ambre identified herself and moved in, meeting no resistance from Bret. When it comes to sticking things in his mouth, our hero never discriminates.

Later on in the show, Bret eliminated Catherine, the "old" girl, who has been on the planet months longer than he has; and Peyton, the rocker girl he says he likes as a friend.

That leaves Bret with a bunch of kids who don't know a booby-prize when they see it, and Kristy Joe, the woman with restraining orders against her former and current husbands.

On another channel, in another universe, Jon Stewart made me laugh while hosting the Oscars.

Friday, February 22, 2008

How to Tell if He Likes You (Really)

Reading a guy's body language can be helpful (and entertaining) in the very beginning, but trying to read a guy's mind is a different story.

Don't do it.

If he says he'll call and doesn't, don't waste a single minute wondering why. If he says he likes you and then disappears, he's not worth your time. If he says he doesn't want a relationship, and then sticks his tongue in your mouth, he's not conflicted about his feelings.

He's a creep.

A man worth dating matches his words with his actions. If you're lying awake fretting about what he meant when he said one thing but did another, you're losing good sleep over a big fat zero.

You don't need any guy that badly.

If you're going to get involved with a man, he should never leave you in doubt about his feelings. He will value you. More important, you'll know it. If he says he'll call, he'll call. If he's going to be late, he'll apologize. If he wants a relationship, he'll say so. He won't chance losing a good thing.

But, you're thinking, maybe he's shy. Maybe he doesn't know how to express his feelings.

Shy men exist, sure, but by the time a man is an adult, he can usually figure out how to get what he wants. If he wants a promotion, he goes for it. If he wants a new pair of shoes, he goes out and buys them. If he wants a sandwich, he makes it.

If he wants to get to know a particular woman, he makes it happen.

And if he can't manage that much, do yourself a favor. Forget him. Hold out for a better man.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Better Men Through Reading

A lot of us go around saying things like, "All the good men are taken." Or, "All the good men are gay." Or, my particular favorite, "All the good men are married or in jail." (The woman who cleaned an office where I used to work came up with that one.)

And since our thoughts tend to determine own realities, we often turn out to be right.

It doesn't help when we're getting reinforcement all over the map about these limiting beliefs of ours. Movies, TV, magazines, and much of what is called "chick lit" continually remind us that men are lying, cheating, sex-obsessed serial disappointers--and we're doomed if we try to live without them.

Which, I've learned, is nonsense.

But if you want better men, it's critical to know that they truly exist. You can do this by surrounding yourself with them, even if you have to do it by reading about them. In the past year, I've read three books to help you along:

-A Widow's Walk by Marian Fontana. Fontana writes a beautiful, compelling, sad account about her husband's death in the 9/11 attacks. Without ever stooping to sentimentality, she makes it clear that New York City Firefighter Dave Fontana defied every negative stereotype about men. By the middle of the book, the reader can't help falling in love with him.

-Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead by Phil Lesh. Lesh reveals himself to be a smart, gentle man with a social conscience. He manages to tell a satisfying story of a rock-and-roll life, without ever maligning anyone or making excuses for his own mistakes.

After several romantic disappointments, he writes, he fell in love with the waitress who used to bring him breakfast near his home in Marin County. The way he describes this woman, to whom he's been happily married for over 20 years now, flies in the face of everything you've ever seen on, say, Rock of Love with Bret Michaels.

My favorite details about Phil: He washes dishes and used to drive his children to school.

-David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Sure, David's not a real person, but supposedly Copperfield is the most autobiographical of Dickens books (not that I'm a scholar on this subject). David is, to me, the ultimate man. He's earnest, intelligent, funny, and increasingly successful. He respects people regardless of their class. He genuinely esteems women and seeks them not just for their beauty but for their wisdom and character. To create such a man, I think Dickens must have possessed at least some of David's sensibility.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

He Suddenly Lost Interest

Terry-

I feel so sad - he used to be head over heels for me and do everything to try and get me, and he'd just be there all the time - and now it's so different. Why is this? What do I do? We go to the same school, and it's impossible for me not to see him everyday and we've been through so much together.

-M.



Dear M.-

First off, let me say how sorry I am for the rough time you're going through. I can't say why this guy went hot and cold on you, but believe me, most of us have experienced a passionate pursuer who suddenly lost interest.

And it hurts.

You don't say how old you are, but it's especially painful when you have to run into the creep who left you flat every single day at school or at the office.

My best advice is to stop asking yourself why the guy went cold. It probably doesn't have all that much to do with you, despite what you're telling yourself. Stop asking yourself what you said wrong, did wrong, wore wrong, ate wrong.

Give yourself a break.

Can you rekindle this guy's affection? Maybe, maybe not, and then you have to seriously ask yourself if it's even worth it. For instance, when you were together, did he have any annoying habits you chose to ignore?

Remind yourself of those annoying habits every time his cute face pops into your head.

Also:

Respond to his sudden lack of interest in kind. In other words, do not --under any circumstances --approach him. Do not email him or make excuses to talk to his friends.

Avoid him at all costs. When you do see him, keep your back straight. Smile, say hello, and keep moving.

One of two things will happen:

He'll realize he's made terrible a mistake and start coming around again. In this case, continue to treat him coolly. Do not allow yourself to become vulnerable until you're sure he won't drop you like an old shoe again. Keep yourself busy with friends and school until it's clear that he understands that you're the greatest thing to ever cross his path.

The other possibility is he won't come around again.

In this case, you will get over him in time. When that happens, it will become apparent that the poor guy isn't even in your league. You will run into him in the library and discover that his ears are too small for his head. You'll wonder what the heck you were ever thinking.

You'll move on to better things, and it'll be his loss.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How They Met

Here's a good one:

My aunt, who's in her 60s, and three friends from high school just came back from a vacation togther. They stayed with another friend, who lives in a magnificent house on a shimmering island. This friend has a husband who insisted on cooking meals for the five women.

"Was he any good?" I asked my aunt.

"Fantastic," she answered. "He's a fantastic guy altogether. You have to hear how he met my friend, though. It's too funny."

"Okay."

"My friend was a nun. For 10 years. She left the convent and took a job with a corporation. She said she didn't have any skills so they put her in the library. This guy kept coming in, saying he was doing research. He didn't mention that he was the CFO. They started dating. Then they got married, and they've been married ever since."

And living the good life on some island.

Truly, anything is possible.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Rock of Shove

Last night's episode of Rock of Love , featuring Poison singer Bret Michaels, saw the LSEs competing in a sadistic football game, the dopily named "Bret's Mud Bowl." The ladies were forced to show our hero their "athleticism" by beating the crap out of each other, while rolling under a sprinkler in cold mud and dressed in shorts and cropped tops.

After the game, the LSEs stood shivering. Ambre sought treatment for torn-up knees, but she suffered in vain: Her team lost, and Daisy, the opposing team's MVP, won top prize: the coveted Solo Date With Bret.

And where, pray tell, did our hero take Daisy to reward her for her "athleticism?"

Why, a lingerie store, of course.

After Daisy modeled a couple of numbers, Bret treated her to dinner right there in the store. Now that's every woman's dream, eh? One-stop shopping for fast-food and underwear.

Bret's idea (or VH1 producers' idea) of fun dates make me sleepy. I mean, these girls wear lingerie constantly, so where's the appeal in watching them model more of it? Now, if Bret were to take one of them to, say, an Obama rally, I might have reason to stay awake.

After the rockin' time at the lingerie store, Daisy and her temporary man returned to the castle, where he promptly started making out in the sloppiest fashion (seriously; my stomach turned) with Catherine, the 45-year-old he keeps finding himself drawn to.

I wonder if it's ever dawned on our hero that he's attracted to Catherine because she's the one "beautiful girl in the house," who's his age. He might even have something in common with her. Most of the other contestants are barely eligible to vote.

I can't tell you which of the LSEs got the axe this week because I couldn't keep my eyes open through the elimination phase. I fell asleep.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's Valentine's Day

And the pressure is on.

I really like Jeff Mac's perspective on this Hallmark holiday, though. Click here to read it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Her Husband Lived Like Tony Soprano

Hello Terry,

I would like to ask your opinion and advice. I was married 34 years to a man who I felt loved me tremendously, and I had a good life. In 2004, he became someone else and the result for me was emotional, mental, and financial abuse. I am now divorced since January 30, 2007.

I am 58 years young and in good shape and am told I look 45. I tell you this, because I have not dated during or after the divorce, almost three years. I am alone most of the time except for my children, night classes at college and a support group. Alone is fine for me, but feeling lonely hits sometimes. Since I had filed for divorce, people have chosen to inform me of my husband's last 34 years, and it's been more like a Tony Soprano storyline!

My question is do you think I'm 'hiding out,' avoiding any social situations to escape meeting someone? I would love to meet a man to share my life with, but I am doing nothing to make that happen. Do you think I'm so 'shell shocked' by the betrayal of my husband that I'm like that ostrich with its head in the sand, and what would your advice be to help myself?

Thank you,

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

P.S. I have had many invititations to dinner, lunch, drinks and whatever else they could do for me, but those invitations have been from married men!



Hello, Shy-

First off, let me offer you my condolences about this unthinkable ordeal. Do I think you're shell shocked? I'm not a psychologist, but I know this: I'd be devastated if I'd endured a tenth of what you did. Who wouldn't be rocked to their core after finding out that the man they loved for 34 years wasn't what he seemed?

And I can't imagine it helps when people come along to fill you in about his true character.

You may very well be 'hiding out,' and who could blame you? Your trust in the man you loved, not to mention your own instincts has been utterly shattered. You should congratulate yourself for making your best effort to move on by taking night classes and joining a support group. I respect that.

If you decide you really do want to meet someone, but you're terrified by the prospect, it might be a good idea to talk to a licensed therapist (get recommendations) to work your way through your very reasonable fears.

As for the married men asking you out all the time, well, they're not helping you to develop faith that a happy, trusting relationship is in the cards for you. Keep telling them to get lost.

Although I never experienced a betrayal that ran as deep as yours, one way I was able to work through my fears about relationships was by writing the word "marriage" on the top of a piece of paper. Then I wrote, without stopping to edit myself, whatever words popped into my head about it.

Most of it wasn't pretty, but then I got to see in blue in white what exactly held me back from moving forward. Once I brought my fears to light, I worked through them.

I wish you all the best in working through yours.

Be patient with yourself. You've only been divorced 13 months, after all. Give yourself all the time you need to gather your strength. If people upset you with news of your former husband, shut your ears to them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Criminal Background Checks, Online Dating, and the Rock of Love

Last month, the state of New Jersey enacted a law requiring online dating sites to reveal whether they do background checks on members. Apparently, Match.com doesn't do them, having concluded they don't offer extra protection. Another company, True.com, does.

Critics question whether background checks promote a false sense of security. For more information, click here.

Changing the subject, I did watch Rock of Love the other night. In this episode, our vinyl-haired hero made at least four headband changes (that I counted; I kept flipping back and forth to the Grammys).

Bret dealt with a couple of the LSEs who failed to meet the evening's challenge, which had something to do with motorcycles. To punish the women, he forced them to put on bikinis and clean his very own personal motorcycle with a toothbrush.

He truly is the type of man every parent hopes her daughter will grow up to marry.

As far as the Grammys went, I enjoyed seeing Ringo Starr and Tina Turner. The Foo Fighters blew me away. Amy Winehouse's speech made me cry. What stress that girl must be under! I hope she will recover, and I wish her the very best.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Settling for Mr. Good Enough



Once you get into your mid-30s, Atlantic writer Lori Gottlieb maintains that you should consider settling for a man who's less than what you really want. Kailen Rosenberg, a relationship expert, disagrees.

Watch the clip and decide for yourself.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Today I Need You

Pray for me.

No Marriage Is Divorce-Proof (and a Man is Not the Key to Happiness)

Anonymous directed this charming comment to my post of the other day:

"This is a bunch of hocus-pocus from someone who has not a clue as to what it is like to be over-35 and looking.

Hope Terry never has to find out. *No* marriage is divorce-proof, I am afraid. A lot of women are a bimbo away from divorce, especially if their husbands are decent looking and make a good income."


Well, I don't agree about the hocus-pocus part or the over 35-thing. I may get into that another time. However, I definitely agree with the observation that my marriage is not divorce-proof.

If I've given anybody the impression that Peter and I twirl around the place all day like Cinderella and Prince Charming, I've given you a bum steer.

Look, we're happy. We like each other. We love each other. We make an effort to to treat the other as we'd want the other to be treated. We pay attention to each other.

Not all the time, but most of the time.

Anybody who ever produced children know that they make demands. They're distracting. It's too easy to lose a marriage to children, or to let the marriage become all about the children. On occasion, we've teetered mightily close to that cliff.

Fortunately, one of us usually pulls the other back before we fall over.

After our first child was born, my mother insisted that date nights were critical for married people with children. But that's not very helpful if you're strapped to a man who wants to sit on the couch drinking Bud all night, or if he's picking up women on business trips. You need a partner who's willing. How many people are married to people who aren't willing?

And that's why making a list is important when you set out to meet that partner. Know what qualities will make you happy. A man may look fierce in a suit and make a million dollars, but if he makes his living selling questionable mortgages to people with limited English, he's probably not a good candidate.

If you know what you want, you improve your chances of getting it. But it doesn't matter if you attract the right partner if you suffer from low self-esteem. A man is not the key to happiness. Self-esteem is the key to happiness. Because even if you have the right guy, if you don't like yourself, it's eventually going to shipwreck your relationship.

But, back to my non-divorce-proof marriage: Is it possible that my husband will replace me one day with some bimbo? We went out for dinner last night, and we had a conversation about this reader's comment. He says no, but people wake up with chemical imbalances every day of the week. It could happen.

He noted the possibility that I could ditch him for a "himbo," too.

"Some women think all men are evil," I said.

"Some men are evil," he said. "A lot of women are evil, too."

Which is the truth (don't get me started on women who target a man in a particular tax bracket to pay for a lifestyle to compete with their sister's or college roommate's).

Did this conversation divorce-proof our marriage? No, because no marriage is divorce-proof.

And I'm not sure I'd ever want it to be.

As a good friend, who is going through a divorce as I write (and whose husband didn't leave her for a bimbo), noted, "Knowing that there's a possibility that a marriage could end makes it more valuable. It's like life. Some people don't want to think about death, but if you think about the fact that you're going to die someday, you're going to make your time count. The same goes for a marriage."

She's getting divorced because her husband didn't make the time count. And she likes herself far too much to allow herself to be taken for granted.

I'll tell you this much: If my husband ever does decide to take off, I'll tell him not to let the door hit him on his way out. I don't want to be with anyone who does not want to be with me. That's where the self-esteem thing kicks in.

And if we divorce, you will definitely be among the first to know.

Friday, February 08, 2008

How Do You Tell If He's the One?

Terry, I have a question here-

Say you've attracted a man that fits into what you've visualized. Or at least 90%. How do you know he's a "flagstone" in your path, or if he's the real one? Thanks!

-S


Hi, S-

Sorry for the delay in replying.

For me, it was a matter of paying more attention to what he did than what he said. I took notice of the way he treated not just me but other people, everybody from his mother to waitresses. I watched how he handled disappointment and conflict. I listened to the way he spoke about other people.

I spent time with his friends, male and female. You really can judge a person by the company they keep. Some women hate their boyfriends having female friends, but I think it's a good thing. Peter has a couple of great female friends, and their behavior and assessment of him provided a compass.

When we'd been dating a couple of months, a friend and I took a vacation to San Francisco and San Diego. It offered a great opportunity for all the old fears kick in: Will he pick me up at the airport as he promised? Is he too good to be true?

My friend and I went back to the hotel room after visiting Seaworld (those poor animals!) to rest up for the evening festivities. My friend snapped on Oprah (Oprah again!). The day's subject was men who had beaten their wives to death.

I lay there watching and wondering what the hell I was getting into. How many men beat their wives? According to Oprah, plenty. Had I become involved with such an individual? I had dated a smack-arounder once before.

My friend slumbered peacefully while I cranked myself into a fetal position, gasping through a panic attack. She woke up, and we went out. Had a lovely dinner, went to a comedy club, had a million drinks.

But then I remembered: I'd gotten to the point where I enjoyed being alone. If this guy didn't fit the bill, sure, I'd be disappointed, but I would most definitely live.

I'd like to tell you I stopped worrying about him picking me up at the airport, but I didn't. I had a history of dating unreliable people. On the flight, I tried to concentrate on Bonfire of the Vanities , but I didn't get far.

He did pick me up at the airport. The thing I like most about Peter is that he does what he says he's going to do. I guess if I could sum him up in one word it would be "earnest."

Also: At one point in the relatioship, I did say to him, "I've been hurt before. If this relationship isn't working for you, would you please let me know? I can take that, but I can't take the not calling and disappearing."

And then he asked the same thing of me, which gave me some peace of mind.

But in the end, I learned it's best to follow the advice of not only Jeff Mac of Manslations.com but my 3rd Grade teacher, Sr. Mary Maurice: "Actions speak louder than words."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Mr. Right Wants You, Too

I came home from my daughter's piano lesson yesterday to find one of my heroes, Louise Hay, being interviewed on Oprah, a show don't often watch. As you may already know, reading Louise Hay's book, You Can Heal Your Life, marked a turning point in my life.

She and Oprah discussed affirmations, the Law of Attraction, and how they help you get what you want. O magazine writer Martha Beck also appeared to discuss her recent column about women who attracted the right man by writing a magic list.

Of course this thrilled me. I heartily recommend writing a list because it worked for me. One reader shared her list with me, and I went on to share it here. Another reader scoffed at her for getting into the nitty-gritty, but it helps to know what you want. One of the happily married women Oprah interviewed seemed to include as many details.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Dating a Widower

Dear Terry,

Love your emails. If you decide to answer my request for advice, feel free to share this question with your readers. Just don't use my real name.

I'm 47, he's 50. Met in March 07, he had been a widower for 6 months after wife's long terminal illness.

We got engaged in July and were going to move in together in Sept, we were both living in New York at the time. In August he breaks up with me, loves me, adores me, having anxiety can't do it. I move back to my house in S. Carolina.

In October we get back together. Long distance relationship now but we see each other every week. Go to France and Greece for three weeks in November, have the time of our lives, he says he can't live without me.

The next weekend, Dec. 1, he flies to S.Carolina and tells me he can't do it, we break up again.

Throughout, he text messages me and sends me emails and voicemails he loves me, etc. etc. I haven't seen him since 12/1. We just spoke briefly this weekend, 1/27. Continues to tell me he loves me.

I plan to surprise visit him in about a month. The plan is to show up at this house in the morning, pick up something he couldn't find to return to me. Be happy, looking like a million bucks, and then tell him "if you are not careful you will lose me forever." Then happily leave with no further conversation or when we will see each other next...

Is he commitmentphobic? Just emotionally not available and nothing can win him back?

What do you think?

Please advise.

Confused and hurt in S. Carolina

P.S. We are both highly accomplished people, very full lives. I adore him, have never loved anyone like I love him.


Dear Confused:

You're in a tough spot, and my heart goes out to you.

I do believe this man has deep feelings for you, but you haven't known him even a year. His wife died in September 2006, not 18 months ago.

For your sake (yes, for your sake), I beseech you to make a cup of tea, put your feet up, and relax. Please consider this situation carefully.

I don't know whether this man's marriage was happy, mediocre, or miserable, but I do know this: It takes time to get over the loss of a pet, let alone the loss of a human who shared your living space for a number of years.

I'm not a bereavement counselor, but I also know, having lost my mother to a long terminal illness in August 2005, that my father had a hard time the first year without her due to all the firsts:

His first Thanksgiving without her, his first Christmas, his first Easter, his first birthday. And each of those firsts was fraught with memories of the last (my mother suffered a siezure on her last Easter morning, and three of us screeched over to Lenox Hill Hospital with her in an ambulance). I suspect your former fiance is dealing with this kind of thing.

It's been my experience that widowed people need time to find their feet. Once they do, they're happy again and free to get on with their lives. But the grieving part is necessary.

This man proposed to you just 10 months after his wife's death, and part of him may fear he hasn't given her her due. His feelings may run deep for you, but he wonders if he isn't rushing things.

I'd like you to consider the same thing.

What happens if you do get married, and he wakes up one morning and tells you he's made a mistake? If you're confused and hurt now, you'll be far worse then.

This guy is truly doing you a favor by slowing things down; he says he's "having anxiety," which is absolutely normal, given his position. (I'd worry about him if he weren't a bit anxious.) If you're really worried about him, suggest he join a bereavement group or see a grief counselor, but do give him time to work out all his thrashing emotions.

Let me tell you another story:

Another widower, a relative, missed his wife's companionship. He started dating shortly after her death and soon became engaged. In July 2006, friends and family flew in for his wedding ceremony. In May 2007, he called around to announce that "the bird of happiness" had fallen from the tree, and he had filed for divorce.

I do not want this to happen to you.

Whatever you do, please do not surprise this man with a visit and tell him he's going to lose you if he's not careful. I suspect he already knows that, and that's why he leaves proclamations of love on your electronic devices. You don't mention if he has friends or children he confides in, but if you surprise him, they may tell him you're pushing too hard. They may warn him that you don't have his best interests at heart.

Take a deep breath.

If you can handle it, see him every now and then if the opportunity arises. By all means, look like a million bucks. You have a full life, so focus on it when you're not with him. Do your best to put him out of your mind. If you have to, go to a movie by yourself every night of the week to avoid sitting around thinking about him. If another attractive man comes along, feel free to date him.

Also, if the messages your former fiance leaves become too distracting or painful, ask him to stop. Say, "I respect the fact that you aren't ready to pursue our relationship. It's time to let me go."

To answer your last question, I don't think this man is commitmentphobic. I do think he's emotionally unavailable right now. He hasn't given himself time to get over his wife's death, and nobody can get him over it but him.

For the sake of your future happiness, let him do that.

-Terry

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

That Guy Who Seemed to Really, Really Like You

Hi Terry,

What’s your take on this type of guy behaviour?

Introduced through mutual friends, we spent an entire day together recently on a scenic trip to a beachside resort. Throughout the day he paid me heaps of compliments, was charming, stared into my eyes over lunch, told me he was looking for a long-term relationship, touched me gently on the back whilst guiding me in and out of doorways and then insisted on paying for everything, you get the drift.

It sure felt like I was on a date, even though I was the one who invited him along as purely a friend. It was such a fun day, but since then I have not heard from him…...and now of course he has sparked my interest…what’s a girl to do?

-Bewildered

P.S. Terry, forgot to mention that the the day I spent with him was just over 2 weeks ago. And according to my friend that knows him, he is not seeing any one.



Dear Bewildered-

Oh, my gosh. I met this guy, too! And I was utterly convinced that he was the one, that he'd call, that God had answered my prayers, and we'd live happily ever after. I knew it because he looked into my soul, and he got me. And I got him.

And then he said goodbye, and I never heard from him again.

I'd like to tell you I only met this guy once, but I'd by lying. I met him several times in various forms over the course of my single life, and I fell for him every time.

I am utterly humiliated to tell you that after being bewitched by one of these demons I did a bit of detective work (this was before the Internet, so I'll give myself credit for cleverness) and found out where he lived. And then-- and oh, how it shames me that I did not have the foresight to use a pseudonym before outing myself this way-- I left a letter in his mailbox.

To which he did respond several weeks later while very, very drunk.

As I said, I fell for a bunch of these types over the years, but after using the Law of Attraction, I stopped. I knew I'd been completely cured when I made the acquaintance of yet another guy so similar to the one you describe, a real charmer who made me laugh and laugh.

And then, suddenly, a voice thundered in my head. It said, "You've met this guy before."

And then a friend said to me, out loud, "You've met guys like this before."

I shook his hand and moved along.

But you asked for my take on male behavior, not a history of my dating experiences, so let's move on.

I'm not sure why some men act this way, but I have some theories:

-He did indeed like you, but he suffers from some sort of performance anxiety. He knocked you dead on your first meeting; he could be afraid of disappointing you on the next.

-He is the type of twisted maniac who enjoys collecting women's phone numbers and then tearing them up into little pieces (I knew a couple of guys who used to do this).

-He meant it when he said he wants a long-term relationship, but he suffers psychological blocks that prevent him from achieving it. Only a licensed professional will ever help him dig himself out of the mine.

Whatever his problem is, don't make it your problem. If he ever manages to call you, I strongly suggest you play it cool. In other words, "Oh, I've got plans this weekend, but Wednesday might work" will do.

And, even then, don't get your hopes up. If he tells you again that he's interested in a long-term relationship, change the subject. I never trust people who discuss long-term intentions on a first or second meeting, anyway. Think of it this way: If you met a woman at a party and hit it off, would you announce, "I'm looking for a best friend?" No, because she'd think you're weird, and you'd scare her off.

Friendships develop over time or they don't. The same goes for romantic relationships. You don't go around telling men you meet you want a long-term relationship, do you? Well, this guy shouldn't be making such statements, either.

If you do go out with him, be the picture of insouciance. Do you hear me? Insouciance! Think Audrey Hepburn before the jig was up in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Tra-la-la-la-la.

And keep your options open. Don't put all your eggs in this fellow's cracked basket. Decide what qualities you want and need in a man and measure him by them. Decide what qualities you want and need in a man and visualize yourself with such a man.

Consider this: Perhaps your day with this guy equaled a flagstone on your path to a better man, a forthright soul who never requires you to analyze his behavior.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Have You Tried Online Dating?

Whether you've already dived in or you're thinking about it, you must read Susan Courtad's experiences here.

The Millionaire Matchmaker

Since VH1 rightly figured that much of their Rock of Love 2 audience would probably be watching the Super Bowl (that would include me), they didn't run a new episode last night. But I did catch an episode later on of Bravo's The Millionaire Matchmaker, which dating expert Ronnie Ann Ryan recommends.

I admit I didn't have high hopes for this reality show, which stars an individual by the name of Patti Stanger, who makes her living matching millionaire men with attractive women. It struck me as depressing. But according to her bio on the Bravo website:
"Ms. Stanger believes if a man wants to woo and win a 'Perfect 10' female, he must himself become a 'Perfect 10' both internally and externally in order to reach his objective."
That's encouraging. I'm also happy to say that in the episode she did treat the women beautifully. And she had no qualms about telling the men why they'd had trouble finding love in the first place.

Interestingly, a reader named Model Elaine commented on my post of January 28th. She asked if a man who's dated a woman for as long as three years is likely to ever propose to her. I told her I've seen it happen more than once. After going to The Millionaire Matchmaker website, I found Patti Stengler's take on this question. She says:

"It takes four seasons to get to know someone well enough to delve into marriage. If a man doesn't propose to you by the end of one year, you must end the relationship and move on, unless he agrees to therapy."
I agree with her about the four seasons part, definitely, and a man over the age of 35 certainly should be able to make a commitment. But some of the younger ones who're still paying off student loans, finishing grad school, or establishing themselves in business might need longer than that (Stangler's dealing with millionaires who face none of these obstacles).

Do not rush into marriage with a guy who carries a lot of debt, or you'll surely learn that financial troubles are to love what the Giants are to the Patriots.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

For Smiley, Who Wants a Certain Guy's Attention

It's Saturday morning and time to plan some serious fun. In the meantime, the writer of the following letter originally posted it in the comments area, where I answered it. I'm afraid she'll miss my response, so I'm reposting it here with a couple of additions:

Hi Terry,

You remind us time and again we are precious beings who deserve nothing but the best.

Hoping to seek your advice on something. There's this guy that I like. We've been going out in a big group with other friends for the past few months. We laugh, talk and have a lot of fun when we are out.

However, I am always the one to organise the big-group outings, and he has never asked me out on a single date. I suppose that means he's not interested in me in the romantic sense. Well, so how can I attract his attention, let him see me in a different light, and make the necessary moves?

-Smiley


Thanks for writing, Smiley. From the tone of your letter, it's easy to see that you are a special being who deserves nothing but the best.

You say that you have a lot of fun with this guy when you're in a big group. Now, do you make a special (but casual) effort to speak to him on his own? Are you smiling at him and making eye contact?

If so, and he's not picking up on it, you could be so bold as to say, "Hey, I have an extra ticket to ______________. Would you like to go with me?" (Since you're the one who's usually doing all the organizing, this wouldn't look at all outlandish.)

If he says yes, congratulations and good luck. You'll get that chance for him to see you in a special light. If he says no, it's his loss. Take another friend and have a great time!

Whatever happens, keep doing what you're doing. By taking the initiative in getting people together for fun, you exponentially increase your odds of meeting your perfect guy.

You're no down-on-your-luck complainer, that's for sure! You make things happen, and that's highly attractive.

I salute you.

-Terry

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Specter of Valentine's Day

Financial planner Bette Lynn Paez told me about a Valentine's Day party she and a bunch of single friends once threw. Every guest on the list had to a) be single, and b) bring along an unattached friend of the opposite sex.

To get conversations started, all of the attendees wore labels noting the last movie they'd seen or the location of their last vacation. I thought, wow, what a brilliant idea. Talk about taking a crappy Hallmark holiday and making it work for you.