Monday, June 30, 2008

She Changed Her Name--for This?

On Friday, the girls and I took my father and Peter out to dinner to celebrate Father's Day, which fell a couple of weeks ago. (You know how that goes: My father spent Father's Day with one of my siblings; Peter and I hung out with his brother and his family).

We went to our favorite American restaurant, where tables are covered with linen, and the dress code is casual but definitely neat. I was enjoying a glass of wine when a couple in their early 30s came in with 3-year-old twin girls. The girls were beautiful, long curly-haired things in bright white sandals and matching sundresses. The husband wore a polo shirt and crisp chinos.

The wife? Well, the wife had on a white t-shirt with a logo on it that made her look like a walking rectangle. She'd thrown her hair up into one of those heinous hinged clips.

She looked strikingly out of place next to her family.

If you gave her a second look, you could see she was a good-looking woman. Under the promotional tee, she had a decent figure. But she's about five years from showing up on one of those makeover shows, where women always confess they let themselves go in order to put their husbands and children first.

It's the EBM syndrome: Everybody But Me. It's hard to believe that it remains prevalent in the 21st Century, but I see these its victims everywhere, especially at church.

The result of ceaseless self-sacrifice rarely results in admiration. People say, "Wow. She looks like crap." And people treat people the way they treat themselves. When a woman says "Everybody but me," nobody's going to disagree with her.

Case in point: During the meal, this woman's husband said not one word to her. I did catch him bark a couple of syllables to one of the twins, but for the most part he kept to himself and shoveled food into his mouth (he's a passable dresser, but he has the table manners of a wolverine).

I had to wonder what this woman was thinking when she raided her bank account (or, worse, went into debt) to pay for her dream wedding to this guy. If she'd known she'd end up his ignored servant in a free t-shirt, would she have bothered?

Probably.

After a while, the twins got restless. The woman stopped eating and allowed them both to sit in her lap, so that her husband could continue his meal undisturbed.

I wanted to slap her.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Difference Between Love and Self-Inflicted Torture

Hello, Terry-

I love this man. He said he loves me, but he's afraid of his family. We've had sex, but he never calls me or contacts me anymore.

I want him for a life partner. Please give me some ideas. I need him.

Thank you.

P.



Hello, P-

When you have sex with a man, sometimes a little voice tells you that you love him or need him because you had sex with him. You tell yourself you have to love him because you had sex with him, and if you don't love him, oh my gosh, you're a bad person! You buy into the myth that nice girls don't ever, ever sleep with people they don't know well enough to love.

Please give yourself a break.

It's also probable that the attention and affection you received from this person felt great. It might have been the most affection or attention you've gotten in a while, and let's face it, affection and attention can be addictive. You're human, and all humans thrive on affection and attention.

So you're infatuated with the man who provided it.

But is he worth it? Please take a deep breath and consider this carefully.

He doesn't call. He doesn't contact you. He gave you some lame song and dance about being afraid of his family, which makes him rather pathetic. Okay, he's obviously decent in the sack (or you wouldn't be hung up on him), but what else does he have to offer besides excuses and leaving you sad and lonely?

You say you want him for a life partner. Does this mean you want him to be the person you share the newspaper with on Sunday morning, the father of your children, the man who you can rely upon to take care of you if you get sick?

Does he really have the qualities the job requires?

My best advice is to forget this guy. If he comes around again, tell him that you've decided to hold out for a man who loves you, calls you, and never makes excuses.

Terry

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Picking a Winner

I enjoyed Susan Courtad's funny and perceptive piece at The Imperfect Parent about Hollywood's single parents. It reminded me of yet another celeb single parent who's in the news lately.

Christie Brinkley, the biggest model in the world during the 1980s, the woman the magazines insisted we aspire to grow up to be, is embroiled in a nasty fourth divorce.

Despite the roller-coaster love life, Christie is still beautiful at the age of 54. The fact that she's beautiful tells me two things:

-Beauty does not necessarily attract love and happiness.

-Beauty attracts certain men who are more interested in being seen with a beautiful woman than in having a mutually-satisfying relationship.

Christie filed for divorce from her current husband after she found out he was having an affair with a 19-year-old girl.

Gross.

Her previous husband turned out to be a disappointment. She claimed she discovered him to be a "totally false person." You think Christie would have learned from this experience and vetted her next husband better.

As for Peter Cook, the husband with the teenaged girlfriend, get this: He has a new lady in his life! There's actually another woman on the planet willing to date this individual.

And then there's Charlie Sheen, who Christie didn't marry, but Denise Richards (whom Susan Courtad refers to in her piece) did. After their marriage exploded, a tape surfaced of Charlie telling Denise to go cry to her "bald mother" who had undergone chemotherapy (and has since died).

Last week another tape surfaced of Charlie calling Denise all sorts of other things that forced him to apologize to the African-American community.

The amazing thing? He's found yet another woman to marry him. Despite his involvement in the Heidi Fleiss scandal (Charlie liked the hookers) and the craziness with Denise, this guy scored another wife.

Sure, it might be cool to have Martin Sheen for a father-in-law. He seems like a lovely man. But if it means I have to show up at the altar with Charlie, I'd rather stay home and read some books.

Some women really need to choose their men more carefully.

Monday, June 23, 2008

How to Have a Summer Romance

Or better yet, how to read the signs when you're in for a serious blow-off:

The Best Weekend Ever

Well, almost ever.

Peter, the girls, and I drove down to Long Island to our friends' block party, where we met up with lots of fun old friends. Then I hopped the LIRR (sans family) to Manhattan to meet my brother and his fiancee to have dinner and see The Cure at Radio City.

The block party was just taking off when I had to leave to catch my train, and I hoped to God The Cure would be worth it. I hate it when you waste hours of your life on a mediocre show. Better to just stick with the Ipod.

But The Cure wailed for three solid hours in which I was transported into another time and another space. Robert Smith may be slightly puffy, but his voice still has the same endearing desperate quality it always did. It was a helluva show. (Take that, Brett Michaels!)

My brother's fiancee, a lovely and accomplished person, said, "Those guys have incredible stamina for old people." I said, "How old do you think they are?" She said, "Robert Smith must be 50!"

Is 50 old?

Turns out Robert Smith is not 50. He's 49, but still? Is 50 old? Is it? I mean, I'm not 50, but if I'm lucky, it's on the horizon.

And, as for ancient Robert Smith and the boys, they performed this 3-hour act after playing Madison Square Garden the night before. My fit 30-something brother, who works out in a gym most mornings and made cracks about some of the audience "getting ready to collect Social Security," had to sit down during the third hour.

"I worked today," he said. "I'm exhausted."

Oh, yeah? So who you calling old?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Real Men Are Not Threatened By Strong Women

So says an ultra-masculine relationship expert by the name of Steve Santagati in this short and compelling CBS segment (preceded by a short commercial). Steve, you're singing my song:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A 'Meaningful Relationship' After Two Dates?

Dear Terry-

I dated a man twice I met on online dating.

I heard a lot from him in the beginning. Then he tapered off. He would catch me at times and email me that he would catch me when he can.

However, when I confronted him to tell him that in order to have a meaningful relationship we should see each other more often. It was then that he told me that in order for us to have meaningful relationship we would have to live closer, so he decided to call it quits.

He is a widower and was once engaged before and broke it off with the woman. I think even if I lived near him, he would have found another excuse to not continue. It seemed like he only wants a physical relationship now. I want to be in a committed relationship. Did I do the right thing by confronting him?

-I.S.


Dear I.S.-

When a guy's calls taper off, you can definitely assume he's not interested in pursuing a relationship, especially when he tells you he'll "catch" you when he can.

So you did the right thing there.

As far as a "meaningful relationship" goes, what does that mean? It means different things to different people. Decide exactly how you define it (and then take the term out of your vocabulary because it scares people).

Determine what constitutes a happy relationship in your mind. In other words, what qualities would the man have, what things would you be doing together 10 years from now?

You need to know, so that the next time you date somebody, you have an internal guide to help you decide whether he's a) the person you'd want such a relationship with, and b) if he's capable of being the one to enjoy it with you.

You won't have to tell him what he needs to do to make your relationship "meaningful." If he's the right guy, he'll be calling you, showing up when he says he will, letting you know he loves you, and making your happiness a priority (as you should make his).

That's not to say that you should ever expect anyone to read your mind. If you have something to say, say it.

But ask yourself how you would feel if a man--after two dates-- said, "You know, Darling, if we're going to have a meaningful relationship, we need to see each other more often."

Would you even know him well enough after two dates to want a long-term relationship with him? For all you know, he could be one of those creeps who got busted on To Catch a Predator.

The next time you meet a Mr. Maybe, take your time getting to know him. If he doesn't call you after a couple of dates, assume he's not the one for you and keep going.

Know what you want from a relationship. Not every man you meet will have the same goals as you, but the right one will. He's out there. Keep moving until you find him.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

You Can't Build a Relationship on a Brazilian

Terry-

I want your opinion on this!

I have read in some dating magazines and books that in order to keep that man - take some Advil and go get waxed you know where. Now I have tried the shaving thing, and it's just darn uncomfortable when it grows back in - not to mention hair down there has a purpose. What do you say to the guy who rejects you because you don't spread to have some woman rip away at your nether regions?

Now mind you - I don't care for a hairy back and if given the choice I would prefer not to have an armadillo. I would NOT reject a good man for this. Is it the same fat vs. thin argument? Men are visual, who can blame them and if they take care of themselves why shouldn't you?

For all purposes - I am well groomed, I do shave my legs and pits and don't have loose strands peeking out of my bathing suit. What's the etiquette on Brazilian or not? Plus it's not cheap.

-J.
Canada - home of the beaver!


Dear J.-

Excuse me while I retrieve my head from the ceiling.

First I'll address your question: What do you say to a man who rejects you because you are not inclined to subject yourself to the overrated ritual euphemistically known as a Brazilian?

You tell him, "Try watching a little less porn, Jackass."

The notion that it is somehow your duty to submit yourself to this masochism to please a man is beyond me. I've never--let me repeat--never met a healthy man who rejected a woman based on the appearance of her lady parts (as Tina Fey likes to call them).

The next time you read a so-called women's magazine, ask yourself, "Do I feel better about myself after reading this thing? Or worse?"

If you feel worse, the magazine has done its job, which is to make you feel insecure enough to buy its advertisers' products in an attempt to feel better about yourself. Remember, the function of some advertising is not to suggest a solution to a problem, but to create a problem that the product can solve for you:

Want a man to love you? Today's man can only love you if you appear to have reached the sexual maturity of a First Grader.

Other arguments for the Brazilian include:

-All the hot female celebrities get Brazilians; it's no big deal. Why not you?

-A Brazilian is exotic. You will feel so much sexier!

Listen, if you're really and truly intrigued by the idea of a Brazilian, if it makes sense to you, go for it. Just make sure you're doing it for the right reason, which would be for yourself, not to please or attract some guy.

Let me repeat: I've never met a healthy man (you know, one without a porn addiction or serious control issues) who cared that much about the appearance of his girlfriend's parts. He's just happy she has them.

As for the "men are visual" argument, think about that one for a minute, will you? The Brazilian wax is a relatively new phenomenon. Men and women have been getting along since the dawn of time without it.

Did your mother worry about getting Brazilians to keep a man's interest? Did your grandmother? My guess is that your female ancestors did just fine without paying a stranger to tear sheets of hair from the tenderest spots of their anatomies.

The visual argument is genius. It also excuses tons of bad behavior: Your boyfriend ogles other women? He's not a jackass. He's visual.

The visual argument moves lots of product, let me tell you.

Relationships are based on sexual attraction, sure, but sexual attraction usually develops before you and a man have seen each other naked. Lasting relationships are based on more than sexual attraction. They're based on love, respect, humor, and the desire for the other partner's happiness.

Save your money and your skin. A Brazilian is not necessary to keep a (healthy) man's affection. But a self-involved jerk with a commercially-imposed sense of what's sexy?

That's another story.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Must She Always Be Alone?

Dear Terry,

I am not dating anyone right now. Smart, talented, attractive mid-forties. I keep looking back at my exes. One is married, and another has had a girlfriend for eight years.

I wonder where did I go wrong? How come I am still alone?

I also want to add that I gave up one boyfriend since did not want to get married. But now he is living with his girlfriend of eight years.

Should I have done that? Just lived together?

-Alone for Now


Dear Now-

Do you remember what happened to Lot's wife when she looked back? Well, stop looking back. There's nothing to be gained from mooning over dead relationships that probably died for good reason.

If you didn't want to live with a guy without being married to him, you did the right thing by not living with him. You would not have been happy then, and you would not be happy now.

Chances are, you'd still be trying to convince him to get married, and clearly he wasn't kidding when he said he did not want to get married -- to you or to anyone else (see present girlfriend for evidence).

You ask where you've gone wrong, but maybe you haven't gone wrong at all. Things happen for a reason (I really believe this). Maybe the first guy, the one who did get married, would have made you miserable. Be open to the possibility that you've been saved from something.

You say you're smart, talented, attractive. Be confident there's a man out there who wants what you have.

But let me play devil's advocate:

Say you don't ever get married. Say a prophet just happens to pop over to borrow a cup of sugar and tells you, "God told to me this morning that you're destined to remain alone, so you'd better start enjoying yourself?"

How would you change your life?

Would you travel? Buy yourself flowers? Try new foods? Study Latin? Treat yourself as a treasure that's yet to be discovered?

You see, I do not believe that a woman needs a man to be happy. (I do believe that if she's going to stay happy she'd better hook up with the right man, however.) I also know there are no guarantees in life, except that we will all die one day.

The job may move to Mexico, the husband may drop dead of a heart attack, the house may wash away in a flood. But you will always have you, so you'd better start enjoying you. Stop worrying about snagging a man.

Keep in mind the great qualities you have to offer. Start enjoying the whole, talented, self-supporting, smart, attractive woman you are. When you feel good about yourself, when you're happy and full, you attract good circumstances and better people.

In the meantime, I recommend you read a fabulous book by a woman who would have traded places with you in a minute. She got a divorce and embarked on an adventure that fed her mind, body, and soul. The book is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Buy it or get it at the library. It's a life-changer.

Friday, June 13, 2008

This Guy Really, Really Wanted to Get Married

So he married a woman a few hours after he met her. They just celebrated their 10th anniversary.

Pretty amazing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

At the Book Club

Last night, I met some friends I've made in the state where it's reportedly impossible to make friends for our book club. (Keep this in mind when somebody tells you it's impossible to meet single men who aren't complete losers.)

The books we discussed were Please Excuse My Daughter by Julie Klam (liked it) and The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (liked it, too). We chose two new books for our next meeting (I recommended Me of Little Faith by my hero, Lewis Black, forgetting that a couple of chickens are probably not as laid back as I am about frequent appearances of the F-word. A friend recommended the second book, The Ten Year Nap, by Meg Wolitzer). So we've got one fiction and one non-fiction title to read, and we're off!

We drank wine, ate too much, and sat under the stars on our friend Melanie's deck. What a beautiful night; it made for sweet relief after the oppressive heat and humidity we suffered the previous three days!

Nothing like time out with the females. In case you missed my invitation for a girls' getaway in September, you can see it by clicking here.

Would love to have you!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tell Him to Have a Happy Life

Dear Terry-

My boyfriend and I have been together on and off for about 5 years. He is 29, a few months ago he received a scholarship from his work to do Masters Degree in UK, which I found out from the other people. Since then he's been treating me like trash, planning his trip without telling me anything, making long calls to certain woman who is in UK, but from here, he denied having an affair with her.

Three weeks ago he took me to his place, telling me he doesn’t want to be cheating anymore; that woman is his girlfriend, he and I have no future together and when he goes to UK they will be together.

I wrote him an e-mail telling him to have a happy life, and he should stop calling and email me because he can't keep sharing his intimate feelings with me while there is another woman in his life, when we meet we shall smile. He emphasizes that they are so into it; I said nothing.

He began calling me every day after three days sending texts that he has changed his mind he wants to be with me and take me with him.

The funny thing is our parents don’t know about us. I asked him for something formal which he refused, I respect my parents. I can't just go just like that. As of now, I told him that we should never have sex, and I will never visit his place unless he proves he really wants to be with me by introducing me to his parents and visit mine.

I am confused, Terry. Does he love me, or does he just want to use me because he didn’t say the relationship is over with her? I don’t know what to do.

I need your help.

-Confused


Dear Confused-

Would you allow a friend to treat you this way? Wouldn't you have doubts about a friend who refused to introduce you to her parents? Who announced your friendship didn't have a future, and then called and emailed to tell you she'd changed her mind?

I suspect you'd have serious reservations about such a person. I would, anyway.

You were right (and dignified, I might add) when you told this man to stop contacting you, and to have a happy life. The next time he contacts you, please tell him what he told you: "We have no future together."

Does he love you, you ask? I think a man who behaves this way only loves himself. I don't think he is capable of making you happy. I don't believe he is capable of making any woman happy.

Can you imagine being saddled with this person for the rest of your life? He'd make you miserable.

You're better off without him, but I suspect you already know this. Stop building him up in your mind. Evict him! He's just not good enough for you.

-Terry

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Taking a Break

I've been spending way too much time on this computer, and my eyeballs are about to blast out of my head. I'll be taking a break from this page for a couple of days.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Funny Man Vs. an Unfunny Man

Okay, this post has nothing to do with dating, but I have to get something off my chest.

Last night I stayed up late to work out a computer glitch and ended up witnessing Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Now, Conan bugs me. The guy scrapes for laughs. Case in point was last night's quip about TV Land's new show, She's Got the Look, about would-be models over the age of 35.

Conan said something to the effect of, "It's perfect for viewers who don't prefer their models young and hot."

The joke got zero laughs. Deservedly.

Then he went on to make fun of Ed McMahon, the 85-year-old former Tonight Show co-host, who is in danger of losing his home to foreclosure. That joke also garnered zero laughs.

Talk about crap comedy.

Conan is mean, which is not the same as funny. Or smart.

When he takes over The Tonight Show next year, I'll continue to avoid it (I don't watch it now because Jay Leno isn't funny, either), but I will probably watch Late Night more often (because Jimmy Fallon will replace Conan, and he is).

In happy news, one of my favorite comedians, Lewis Black, who does happen to be smart and funny has just put out a new book entitled Me of Little Faith. I plan to pick it up at full price at the independent bookstore in my neighborhood because I a) love Lewis, and b) I treasure this independent bookstore and want to keep it in business.

Lewis Black is scheduled to appear on Conan this evening to promote Me of Little Faith. I'll tune in, despite Conan.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Guys Who Only Like Their Coffee Strong

Hi, Terry:

I have recently had the experience where a guy I was seeing for about a month sent me a text to say he couldn't see me at the moment as he had decided to get counselling. No phone call..a text..after weeks of a fun time..things going great.

You gave me a great reply to this situation on distancing behaviour from men..a friend of mine said to me today though, that he could understand the guy doing that because I am a strong woman..It's not right..but he understands this male behaviour.

So, my question is...Do you think that women can be part of the problem in scenarios like this?

I am strong..but in an assertive not an aggressive way. I don't want anyone to feel obligated to me, and expect to be treated with respect.

What are your thoughts on men who see the woman as causing the men's reaction in the first place?

Sian


Dear Sian:

I don't care if you burned the guy's house down. There's no excuse for ending your relationship with a text message. I mean, think about it. Who ends a relationship with a text informing you he's off to get counseling?

And your friend's reaction? Pass the smelling salts!

This guy suggests that your former beau's cowardly exit results from your being a strong woman, which he perceives as somewhat scary and unfortunate.

But listen: Strong men are not threatened by strong women. On the contrary, strong men relish and delight in a strong women because they're human. They want a friend, as well as a lover. They want someone they can count on to put them on the right path when they lose their way (because, once in a while, we all lose our way). And even though it frightens them that they may get sick and will die some day, they understand the value of having a partner who possesses the strength take care of them when they do (unless you get sick and die first, that is).

Sorry for being morbid, but this is life, and these are the facts.

Please don't ever question your desire for respect. However, it does concern me when you say you don't want anyone to be obligated to you. I may be misunderstanding you here, but if you mean that you don't want a man to feel that he has to take care of you, please remember:

Every human being wants to feel needed.

So, if you're dating a man, and he asks to do something for you, let him. Of course you can do it yourself, and he's not implying that you can't. He's merely trying to get closer to you. If you like him, you must make room for him. Letting him do little things for you will make him feel valued.

In the meantime, stop worrying about MR G2G2 COUNSELING. A man who breaks up via text is no loss.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Dating for Cash and Prizes

During my single days, I'd go on a first date with the occasional guy who seemed convinced that all women would take him for whatever he was worth.

And there was no second date. Paranoia's a serious turn-off.

But a couple of weeks ago, I came across an article in one of the New York papers that described how one woman Manhattan-dweller is dealing with the rising cost of living. Here's the quote that made my hair stand up on end:

"I've upped the dating," [she] says. "I tend to date chivalrous types who can take me out to nice places. It's helped me survive the recession."
Women like this exist, sure, but I'd die before I became one. I wouldn't want one for a friend, either.

Ugh.