Date Archives August 2010

The art of tantric dating

It’s  5:23 AM. I started this last night but exhaustion won out before I could finish. I’m sorta scared to see what I wrote … let me take a peek first before we all go in together. Wait here.

All right. It’s not gorgeous in there but I’ve tidied up a bit. Put on those mining helmets. We’re apparently going deep into the dark recesses of my brain. If anyone would just like to wait here today because of the unpredictable nature of this blog post, that’s fine. We’ll all reconvene at the next one.

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 So, once again peeps, it’s confession time. I’ve been hiding something from all of you and it’s time to be out with it. I’m a heart-on-my-sleeve girl and I might be able to keep your secrets but I’m not great at keeping my own.

So let it be known: I’ve been dating.

Listen, no one is more surprised than I am. Except maybe the poor guy who accompanied me on those dates. And right here, I think it’s important that we all stop and applaud him for performing the important public service of stumbling with me through my first few steps back into the Land of Single People. It wasn’t always pretty but he was a trooper. Sir, I salute you.

And no, I’m not going to tell you who it was. Because how on earth am I ever supposed to date if the (legions of) guys who I go out with have to worry that I’m going to write about them later? It can’t happen. Sorry to disappoint you, blogmuffins. Those conversations are best left to smokey bars with cocktails in hands. (Yes, that is absolutely an invitation to buy me a drink.)

OK. I’ll give you this. A tiny hint. Because you never know. Some of you might know this guy. It’s a small world after all. It’s a small, small world (bitches). Soooo…. let me just say that he has a handlebar mustache and he enjoys twirling the ends of it while pondering the best way to tie damsels to train tracks. He also once killed a grizzly bear by singing to it. (Damn. I may have said too much on that one.) Also, he is a carnivore.

Heh heh heh…

The point I’m trying to make here is: fuggetaboutit. And it’s nothing to get all nuts about anyway. Because it’s nothing serious. It’s all light and fun and completely like a big fluffly pink dessert — whimsical, tasty, full of little bubbles that tickle your nose.

Except when it’s not like that at all.

Because it can be confusing out here, blogmuffins.

I think dating is like one of those pictures that everyone had hanging in their apartments in the early 90s — the ones that looked like a big blob of nothing until you were able to relax your eyes enough to get to the point where … there! It’s the Statue of Liberty! And once you saw what the real picture was, it was really easy to see it again even though several of your friends were still struggling. When I was married, I could see the hidden picture in the single world very clearly. I could give great advice to my single friends. Once I had no horse in that race and I was sitting safely on the sidelines, my eyes relaxed and the entire scene was clear. 

But then I got tossed back into the picture and I can’t seem to refocus. 

OK, married people. I was one of you not so long ago and I can still tap into your thoughts with the awesome power of my divorced brain. And here’s what I’m hearing, “Trish, come on. Relax. It doesn’t have to be any big deal. It’s early. Why don’t you just have fun with it? It’s too soon to get into anything serious right now.”

I  hear you. I respect your viewpoint. I tell myself the very same things, in fact. But there’s a problem with that logic.

That problem is this: Dating can be fun. Dating can be light. Dating can be a rip-roarin’ hootenanny of hilarity. But … the fact that you’re dating denotes something else. Because when you’re dating, you’re playing with real money.

And now, I must pause to say this is awkward. Because when I started this blog I told myself that I had to be a brave girl and write like no one else was ever going to read it, otherwise it was going to turn into something all sanitary and showroom-pretty but not very interesting or real. My biggest goal here, beyond anything, is to be authentic. So I will do that now even though I know that these words are going to be sitting here for anyone who feels like doing a little Internet recon on me (and who isn’t guilty of that?), including handlebar-mustache guy and any other men who have been or will be warped enough to read this blog and go out with me anyway. But also, I have nothing to hide so I will tell my truth.

Hunker down. Here it is.

The fact that you’re out there in the world dating, to me anyway, denotes that you’re open to the possibility of letting another person into your life in a big way (unless you’re just trying to get laid — in which case, it seems that there would be easier ways to pull that off). You’re vulnerable. You’re standing there on the planet and God is looking down and going, “Hey, any of you people down there want to fall in love?” And, very timidly , you raise your hand and squeak out, “I do.” So God starts throwing people at you. You do your hair, you think about what you’ll wear, you go to the movies and you laugh to your girlfriends. It’s fun and it’s funny.

But then, if you’re out here for the second time like I am, you have to hit the pause button and go, “Wait a sec … what am I doing here?” Because if memory serves, dating the first time around was very goal-oriented.  The goal was getting the guy to like me, or the goal was having a relationship or the goal was getting engaged (although I was a little late to that particular game and apparently didn’t play it very well). So now I don’t want to “get” anyone to like me. I don’t have anything to sell here.  Someone either likes me or he doesn’t. I don’t know what’s going on inside of someone’s head — that’s their business. What’s more important is that I contend with what’s going on in my  head. So I need to ask myself, “Do I like this person? Am I having fun?”

And as for “having a relationship,” well, I have mixed feelings about that. Having that (or marriage) as an end-goal seems kind of like taking a seed that’s just starting to sprout and transplanting into a pot labeled “petunia.” And now, since this thing is growing in the petunia pot, that means that it’s expected to take on the characteristics of a petunia. Or else something must be wrong with it.

So I have a theory that I’m working on that just might be the thing that lets me go out and date without my head exploding. I like to call this theory tantric dating.

Maybe you’ve heard of tantic sex, made ever more popular by rockstar-guy Sting and his lady love, Trudy? Here’s the idea: It is sex with no goal. It’s maybe even sex without intercourse. The idea is to fully experience the other person and allow yourself to be fully experienced and through that, reaching some sort of transcendence. That means going along for as long as you care to go along, possibly without ever reaching “the money shot” moment (as our friends in the porn industry refer to it). The goal is no goal. There’s no finish line to race toward, just breathing, experiencing, soaking it all in and being fully present.

So I’m trying to adapt this theory to dating. That means no thinking about what’s coming up or what’s past. No score card to check off. Yet, there’s still an openness to it (because if there’s not, what’s the point?). For the moments that you are with another person, you’re fully there. You’re giving of yourself at whatever level feels comfortable and hopefully the other person is, too, without the constant head chatter of, “But what does it all MEAN???”

That way, there’s the possibility to let that little seed grow into whatever it is that it wants to be. Maybe it really does want to be a petunia. But maybe it’s a bean sprout or a dandelion or a giant sequoia. Because the little space that exists between two people — be it friends, lovers, family, anyone — has its own unique energy. The possibilties are endless . Maybe we close off those possibilities by attaching a name too soon.

So here’s my no-plan plan (because I’m still me and this is as close to no plan as I can get — the little seed that is Trish still overthinks everything): Meet people. Enjoy getting to know them. Let them get to know me. Be open. Let the seed do its thing. For however long it wants to. In whatever direction it wants to. Let the seed lead the way.

And once again, I’m writing a blog and realizing that my latent hippy tendencies are on full display. So be it. (But since this is a blog about dating, I think it’s important to reiterate that no, I don’t have hairy armpits. Just want to be clear about that.)

So that’s where I sit, right here, right now, drinking my coffee at my desk in the corner by the stairs, cultivating my respective seeds with the two munchkins as they do their early-morning thing.

Thanks for stopping by, peeps. I’ll keep you posted.

I’m back!

Shh. It’s early. I have sneaked (snuck?) downstairs to have a little rendezvous with you before the kidsters are awake. I inadvertently made coffee the consistency of pancake syrup but I’m just going to suck down that nasty bidness anyway so my brain can wake up. And then you and I can have our special time together.

Because I have missed you.

Let me just get my excuses for not writing out of the way so we can move on to more interesting things: moving, doubling my job, kids underfoot, little bit o’ family travel and some grownup-style socializing here and there (momma must get out, after all) have all teamed up and roundly kicked my roundly ass. As a result, my body is no longer accepting the synthetic sleep serum that I’ve been offering it (caffeine) and is instead insisting on the real deal. But sleep is like organic fruit — I know why it’s better for me but it’s so darn expensive sometimes.

It’s before 5:30 AM as a I write this. I’ve become quite fond of this time of day over the last 7 years since I’ve become a mother — not because I love getting up early but because the wee AM hours are often the only time I can grab to work or to write. And I’d like to make a little report to those of you who aren’t up at this time: It’s getting pretty sweet out there right now. That’s because it’s still dark. I love the summertime as much as anyone but the delicate slide into fall gets me every year. It’s so impossibly gentle yet so powerful, like the small of a woman’s back. I just want to grab a seat on a hillside somewhere and not get up until it’s November.

So enough of that. I know that’s not why you come here. You want to find out what’s going on in the life of single-momma Trish — and I suspect that you don’t want to hear about the dishes that need done or how fast the kids are growing. You want the good stuff. You want to know if I’ve gotten over that shy thing yet (nope — but working on it), if I’ve started hiking my boobs up to my chin in order to attract a little attention from the male-creatures in the tribe (not quite to my chin) and if I’ve managed to entice one of those man beasts to press his lips delicately or not-so-delicately against mine (not telling, bitches).

And it makes me laugh that you all want to know about that. But I get it. Because while so many of you have expressed your concern, your sympathy and your support during this time, you’ve also expressed another thing: jealousy.

Not that anyone wants to get divorced. But I think the prospect of a little freedom is tantalizing to a lot of you married types. The thought of getting “out there” again, knowing all that you know now … oh, the things you’d do.

And there’s another interesting thing going on with all of you since I dropped the D-word. Let me explain: When I was in college, I had a delightful friend who couldn’t keep it in her pants. (Yo girl! Holla!)  This was no secret, first of all because we lived in a dorm and second of all because she was quite generous in sharing tales of exactly who was or was not circumcised. And she was/is a screamingly hilarious chick. (No, I’m not talking about myself.) And, as often happens on co-ed college campuses in our great nation, there was a lot sex going on — much of it of the guilty variety. You know, girls sleeping with people they later regretted or sleeping with guys to land a boyfriend (which rarely works), people neglecting to use proper protection, classmates adding new and exciting levels of kink to their sexual dance cards … you get the idea. As it became known that my hilarious friend was pretty open about her exploits, people started talking to her about theirs. I guess it was like no matter what you (I mean they) had done, you could go confess to so-and-so because she always had a story that would top yours. There was that reassurance of thinking that what you’d done wasn’t so very bad after all.

Since I’ve come clean about the divorce, I sort of feel like that girl in that I’ve slept with everyone in my dorm (kidding). But now that I’m out there with the failed marriage thing, and been open to certain point, I find that people want to tell me their stories about their marriage woes. And I want to hear them. Not because I get off on hearing about people’s problems, but because I’m interested and I care. (Because I looooves you!)

I also suspect that people want to tell me about their marriages as a point of comparison. They want to know if they’re having normal marriage trouble or if they’re having big, scary trouble that will eventually be their undoing. It’s like talking to a cancer patient who started out only having flu symptoms — and maybe you’ve been having flu symptoms, too. You want to know how to tell the difference  between a minor bug and a potentially fatal condition and you’re wondering if the cancer patient has any insight.

Now let me pause right here to say that if you have shared your story with me, please know that it is safely tucked inside my head and I have no intention of hauling it out for the world to see. If you read something here that sounds like you, please know that someone else  or several someone elses have told me similar stories. Because many of the stories I’ve heard are strikingly similar.

The fact is, marriage can be a lonely place. Even if you’re married to your best friend. Even if you wouldn’t change partners for the world. Even if you’re still attracted to the person on the other end of that ball and chain. Why is that? Is it because we stand there in front of the whole world and go, “See this plate of spaghetti? I love it. I love spaghetti and this plate of spaghetti in particular is so intricately delicious that I pledge, for the rest of my life, that this is the only food I will ever eat again! Come visit me in 50 years and I’ll be sitting right here, still chowing on this exact plate of spaghetti! When I’m on my death bed and they ask me what I want for my last meal, I’ll say it loud and proud, ‘Bring me my spaghetti!'”

But come on. It’s a tall order. That’s not saying that I don’t believe in marriage, because I think there can be a lot of fantastic things going on in the good ones. But I’m saying it’s really easy to get tired of doing the mental work to relate to that spaghetti anymore. And eventually it becomes easier to just skip some meals rather than go back to that same plate of food.

OK, I think my little metaphor is falling apart here. Let’s speak plainly, shall we? Here are the things that I’m hearing over and over:

1. My spouse doesn’t understand what I’m going through.

2. We’re not having sex.

Right now I’m imagining a bunch of you going, “Wha? You mean we’re not the only ones?” Nope. There’s a whole subculture going on here, people. I have heard this A LOT.

I wish that I could trot out some great advice for all of you celibate, lonely married people at this moment but honestly, I’m too busy trying to get laid. (Another joke.)

However, since I’m a chick I can offer just a wee bit of insight to the dudes out there. This probably won’t help any of you, but what the hell?

If you’re in the land of supposed domestic bliss, and especially if you have children, you need to help the fuck out. (Said with love. Lots of love.) I think some of you are great at this. I have seen this in action. But I’m talking this kind of help: Send your woman off for the day (or several days). Hold down the fort. Don’t be a whiney baby about it. Let her go off by herself or with some girlfriends and let her remember who she is. Because the mental load of motherhood is much more formidable than the list of tasks on her to-do list. Yeah, she wants to sit down and take a break, but she also wants to stop thinking about what everyone else needs and just think about herself for a bit. Let her remember that she’s funny and interesting and worthwhile for a bunch of reasons that have nothing to do with getting someone’s breakfast. Motherhood can be phenomenal in a million ways. But it can also be a big, fat identity crisis. When roughly 99.2% of your day belongs to the care and upkeep of other people, it’s pretty easy to not feel so sexy. Having the expectation of 0% privacy throughout the day doesn’t help, either. It’s hard to take the time to conduct all of that personal groundskeeping that women require when you have short little people peeping around the shower curtain.

On the reverse side, ladies, you need to take the time if he’s offering it. Go. Don’t look back. If he’s not offering it, comandeer it. Explain why you need it (which he may or may not get — doesn’t matter) but then GO.

And obviously, men want more sex. And if they’re getting plenty, chances are that they still probably want more. And then even more. I’m just guessing about this …

Sooo … the question is, how do we get this all humming along so that everyone is happy? I read something a while ago by John Gray (the Mars/Venus guy) that relationships are cyclical, in that woman need romance and intimacy in order to feel sexual and men need sex in order to feel intimate and romantic. The thing is that someone has to get this cycle started. So if you’re reading this, I challenge you to be the one. Consider it your homework assignment. BUT …. but, but, but … don’t expect an overnight miracle here. You have to work this program for a while, I think, before the cycle starts running on its own. I also just recently heard something from a wise person who said, “You wouldn’t go to the gym once and then go, ‘Well, nothing happened so I guess it didn’t work.'” Put in the time. (And yes, to answer the obvious question, I applied all of this to my own marriage. I’m not saying this system fixes everything but it’s an important starting point.)

Obviously, I’m no expert at any of this. However, I have a friend who I think is a good case study. She is the most contented person I know, in her life and in her marriage. Her husband really shares the load at home (they both work). They each let the other get away, guilt-free, pretty often. They’re getting busy a couple times a week — not always like rock stars, but still, there’s a frequency. I think they have some pretty spectacular fights here and there but they’re airing things out. Another key: I suspect that she feels pretty sexy — as she should because she’s a hot momma. So there’s something to be said for taking care of yourself (although between you and me, I doubt the bitch has ever had to work very hard on it). But even if you don’t have a rockin’ bod, it’s worth taking the time (yes, I understand time is hard to come by) to wear clothes that make you feel pretty and to go out get a good haircut, etc. Those things help. Because ultimately, neglecting yourself is neglecting your relationship. Ladies, speak up about this.  Spell it out. Inform your man-beast that it takes work to look hot and sexy and to FEEL hot and sexy so you’ll be motivated to get him all hot and sexy.

And it’s now 9:00 in the morning and I’ve been writing all of this while getting breakfast for the munchkins and changing diapers and sitting in a lawn chair in the basement so I can keep an eye on them while they’re playing and now sitting on the sticky deck. If they only knew what their momma was up to. Enjoy this now, peeps. Someday they’ll be old enough to have Internet access and then I’m going to have to start writing about knitting patterns and how to make a great meatloaf.

Reminder: Do your homework. Report back.