Archive for relationships

Holding Out For My Fuck Yes

Posted in Dating, Relationships, single moms with tags , , , on September 22, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

I recently read an article that stripped away a lot of bullshit from my views of dating and relationships. Basically, all choices boil down to either a “fuck yes” or a “fuck no”. Whether it’s a casual sex relationship or a committed partner, do you feel that you can say an enthusiastic “fuck yes” to whatever decision you’re making? If not, then it should be a “fuck no”.

It’s so simple and so clear. It also means most of my relationships have been rationalized to death and should have been “fuck no’s” long before they ended.

For years I’ve struggled so much with being alone that I kept trying to talk myself into the relationship. I employed some of the following:

“No one’s perfect.”

“Life isn’t a fairytale.”

“I’m not looking for Prince Charming.”

“I’m not going to get everything I’m looking for.”

While all of those statements are true, they were also used to deal with the fact that there were serious things going on with the men I dated, deal breakers in our relationship that I was tolerating because I so desperately wanted to be loved and wanted. With several of the men I’ve been involved with, I could have said “Fuck yes” to them, warts and all, if only their behavior toward me had been different. Because it wasn’t, I should have said “Fuck no”.

I’ve most recently been dating someone I met at a Meet-up. Quiet, smart, funny, attractive: I ended up doing something I never do and asking him out after we met. He readily said yes and we went out several times. There were red flags for me: In his 40’s with no serious relationship under his belt and no kids, a very bachelor lifestyle, a possible relocation in his future and the hint of a possible addiction that heavily influences his life choices. Still…I liked him. A lot. Then further red flags developed: A jealousy issue which caused him to behave badly, some fatalistic apathy when confronted with my reaction, conflicting sentiments regarding what he actually wants from dating me and a strong confrontational/argumentative streak after a few drinks. Our last date left things verbally unresolved and with me driving away feeling conflicted. On the one hand, he’s smart and funny and cute and has the capability to be vulnerable with me about what he’s feeling. On the other…all the aforementioned red flags.

Then I read the article and I realized I was seriously over-complicating this. There’s nothing to meditate on and nothing to work through. This relationship is a “fuck no” and I don’t need to waste any more time thinking about it. If I have to talk myself into it, it’s not right.

The more I think about it, my life is pretty good on my own. I’d really enjoy having someone I could enjoy a relationship with, but at this point, it’s going to have to be a “fuck yes” for me to be enthusiastic about it. I’m not shutting down and I’m still open to meeting someone, because I DON’T need perfection or Prince Charming. I’m just not willing to give up what I have for something that is less.

I’m going to keep holding out for my “Fuck yes”.

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To Those Who Let Me Go: A Post of Gratitude

Posted in Dating, intuition, love, objectifying women, Parenting, parenting after divorce, Relationships, self-esteem, self-improvement, single moms with tags , , , on May 29, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Last night, as I was putting my youngest child to bed, she looked at me and said: “Mommy, I know why you haven’t found the right person yet. It’s because every man who has met you so far knows down deep he isn’t worthy of you, so he has to let you go. When you meet someone whose mind is open, who’s worthy of you, then it will be the right person and he won’t let you go. All those other guys were just saving you pain because they knew they weren’t worthy of your love.”

Sometimes my children humble me and I feel like the child listening to their wisdom.

After my last dating run-in, these were words I badly needed to hear and imprint upon my mind and heart. My former boss, with whom I am still good friends, recently said that he planned to give a memo to my new boss letting them know their highest priority needed to be building up my confidence…in all areas of my life. My first tendency, in almost everything, is to doubt myself. What did I do wrong? What could I have done to change things?

My last date did several things that were unacceptable. Despite having let him know I didn’t plan to sleep with him that night, he was super aggressive and at one point said, “Are you going to make me beg to fuck you?” When he stood from the couch and pulled me up with him, I gently and playfully said, “Sit back down.” To which he responded with barely concealed irritation: “Don’t tell me to sit. I’m not a dog.” Finally, trying to defuse what was becoming a tense situation while he attempted to move our physical relationship to the next level (despite my having said “No” several times), I informed him I was on my period and that it definitely wouldn’t be happening that night. He very seriously asked, “Well, haven’t you ever had sex on your period?”

As I documented in my last blog, I agreed to a third date (more on that later), which he then canceled within days, abruptly ,and with what would have been no explanation if I hadn’t asked outright. The man who had gone on and on about how intelligent, interesting, deep, funny, beautiful and sexy I was, abruptly lost interest after I wouldn’t sleep with him. Especially when he implied he’d found someone else who would by stating “I’ve gone on a date with someone else and I think I want to pursue that before you and I go further.” Complete and total 180, within 2 days.

First of all: I’m sad that I agreed to a third date. I’m sad that I’ve grown in so many ways, but have not yet grown into a woman who feels powerful enough to recognize when disrespect, rather than desire and devotion, is what’s being offered. I feel sad that the thought of being wanted, even by someone I’m not certain I want, still makes me feel like I am “more” than being alone. I once again have to look into my own personal mirror and realize that passiveness and desire to avoid confrontation is a problem that’s led to some heartbreaking situations; it’s still present, despite my efforts to rise up, speak my truths and stand my ground. I’ll fight for what I believe is right. I’ll fight for the sake of others. Apparently, fighting for myself is something I still need to master. I know that eventually my intuition and courage would have risen and I’d have listened to them enough to have not tolerated the situation indefinitely, but my first response is still one that honors the other person more than me. That absolutely has to change. It breaks my heart that my first internal question, after the boorish behavior of my date, was to wonder why he didn’t want me. My go-to feeling is one of shame and lack of worth, which creates a cycle in which I’m always grasping at someone else who can make me feel worthy, which means I’m then willing to accept things that SHOULD be unacceptable.

Second, my beautiful, precious child who loves me so much, has helped to inspire me toward a deeper awareness of all these thought patterns. This man didn’t cancel our date because I’m not enough; he canceled because he’s not. He’s not enough to inspire my trust or love and he’s not man enough to build my admiration. Instead of feeling like I’m unworthy, I need to feel grateful that he released me at a time when I didn’t see myself (or him) with enough clarity to make a decision that was in my best interest. I need to feel empowered to fight for myself, to love myself and to hold out for someone who really sees me. Not just someone who wants to “fuck” me, whether I am ready for that step or not, and who’ll leave for the first woman who doesn’t tell him no. I need to stay strong and realize that I am complete and worthy on my own.

So today, I’m trying to feel a sense of gratitude for all those men who released me from their lives, even when I didn’t understand why. Perhaps it is that on some level, they realized they couldn’t be the man I needed them to be, rather than it being an expression of my lack of worth. I’m going to try to have gratitude that in those moments when I felt lonely and weak and couldn’t reach clarity, something moved them to let me go. Because one day there will be a man who really sees me. He’ll see I’m often serious and introspective, but that I’m easily pulled into silly fun and I’m quick to laugh. He’ll recognize that my tranquility and ability to intellectualize situations masks strong and powerful emotions and he’ll think my passion is sexy. He’ll know that one of my greatest gifts and weaknesses is my ability give completely and deeply, but he won’t take advantage of it by always putting his own needs above mine. He’ll appreciate my sensuality, without feeling entitled to my sexuality unless I’m ready to share it. He won’t be perfect, because I’m certainly not. But he’ll be perfect for me.

I’m lonely, but I will work on believing in and trusting myself and not settling. I will choose to believe my daughter who holds my face in her hands and says, “Mommy, I don’t know why you’re not married again. It seems like every man in the world would be in love with you. You’re the most beautiful, wonderful, loving person I know and I love you so much.”

With someone like that on my side, how can I possibly lose hope?

In memory of a victorious, beautiful spirit: “To those who have given up on love: I say, “Trust life a little bit.” ~ Maya Angelous

Finding the Gratitude

Posted in Dating, intuition, love, Relationships with tags , , on November 28, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

It’s the eve of Thanksgiving and I always like to reflect on the wonderful things I have or have had in my life. It’s so easy to focus on the negative–the things I don’t have or the people who have hurt me in the past. So much of this blog is about processing all the shit. Frankly, there’s been a lot of shit in the past decade. For tonight, I’d like to just think of the good things. So tonight I’m going to take a walk down memory lane with my relationships, focusing only on the good from each one. I’m going to focus on both something I loved about the relationship and a life lesson I took away as a result of it.

From my ex-husband I took away two beautiful, brilliant, amazing kids. I will always be grateful that out of the love I once had for him, my two favorite things in life came into existence. From our relationship, I learned that it’s better to leave no matter how impossible the leaving seems, or you risk becoming someone you don’t recognize. I also learned that no matter what my own insecurities might be, to never let them hang out with a partner. It’s not sexy or attractive to look to your partner for your own self-esteem. I learned to start looking for my own.

From Z, the man I loved right after my marriage ended, I will always love the humor we shared. I love the deep thoughtfulness he brought to our conversations. I love that he loved me, even if it wasn’t enough in the end.  I also got my first lesson in not pretending something is enough, just so you won’t have to say goodbye.

L gave me a flirty sort of fun that made me think I might have found “the one”, at least for a couple of months. I loved how tender and protective he could be sometimes. There were many, many times that even after our breakup, he made me feel as though I had someone who cared enough about me that I could call and say “I need you to be there for me.” He was my second lesson in the failure of pretending something is enough when it’s not, just so I wouldn’t lose him. Maybe with enough lessons, I’ll learn! I also learned that if something went wrong the first time, a second or third time of trying is probably not going to make it right.

I had to spend more time thinking about D, to try to remember the good. Tonight is the two year anniversary of our first breakup. Interestingly enough, the good from the relationship is also tied to what it taught me. D was the first man with whom I saw the hope of a lasting relationship, who seemed to progress the relationship to a committed level that appeared as though it could go the distance. That was, briefly, a reassurance I’d badly needed. The life lesson came from learning that when it feels like a man is barely contributing to the relationship, it signals something that shouldn’t be ignored, no matter what excuse he gives for why he can’t give more. People put time and effort into what they value, yet I rarely felt valued. The life lesson is to not settle for something mediocre when you know you want and deserve more, out of a desperate desire to have someone willing to love and stay with you. If you don’t feel loved and desired, what’s the point? I also got a reminder in why trying to make things work multiple times, when the person broke your heart the first time, is a very bad idea. The gratitude comes in having the pain finally eased to where it doesn’t feel crippling and in knowing I learned so much about what I don’t want the next time.

With J, my barely born relationship, there were many things to love and feel gratitude for. I am grateful for the feeling of radiant joy I felt during the two months we were together; it was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I’m grateful for the easy physical affection he always established; he was quick to hold my hand, put his arms around me or kiss me at times when it wasn’t just about trying to get me in bad. In fact, walking hand-in-hand with him is the memory that comes to mind for me first. Well…after the sex! I am grateful for the fun and child-like joy I experienced on every date with him. I’m grateful for the deep sexuality that he brought out in me that managed, ironically enough, to feel healthy in a way some of my others have not. In the end, the life lesson I learned was to trust my intuition. Listen to the voice within that tells me when loving someone, although tempting, is a really bad idea.

In my life right now I have many things to be grateful for:

My children, with whom I share a deep bond of love. They are amazing and wonderful, even in the times when they drive me bonkers. They’ve made me a better person and I can only hope I’ll help them grow into better people.

A job that I enjoy and that I’m fairly good at, that also means something besides just a paycheck. It’s not every person who can find fulfillment and meaning in their work, outside of just making a living. I’ve found it.

A cozy little cottage home that shelters us. A car that still runs well. That all our basic physical needs are met and many, many beyond that. That on the Maslow hierarchy of needs, I’m at the top and have the luxury to sit here and ponder my life and the meaning of it.

I’m healthy. That the medical issue my youngest child has is treatable and that between her father and I, we can afford treatment that keeps her symptoms mostly at bay, most of the time.

That I have a community of friends and family to help be a support system for myself and my children. That I have some dear friends in whom I confide the secrets of my soul, whom I trust to keep them safe.

For everyone tonight and into the holiday weekend, I wish you joy and peace. I hope the list of good things in your life outweighs the bad. We all have our burdens to bear and sometimes they feel very heavy. May your burdens feel lightened by the grace of the good.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The Power of Intuition

Posted in Dating, intuition, love, online dating, Relationships, self-improvement with tags , , , , on November 24, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

I’ve always had a gift for reading people. Since I was young, I could size people up quickly. I could hear inflections in their voice, see quick glimpses of expression and observe subtle body language that seemed to elude a lot of other people. I could strongly sense if someone was friend or foe and a lot of things in-between.

There have, however, been two gaping holes in the power of my intuition throughout my life. One is the desire to have people be other than what they are and the belief that if I simply give someone enough of a chance, they can overcome the first impression that I receive from them. The second, hinging strongly upon the first, is my tendency to completely ignore my intuition when it comes to men that I’m interested in.

This was recently proven to me quite effectively in a benign sort of way. I met a man, an attractive man who ended up asking me out. He was very quiet throughout most of the social gathering and mainly stared at me. If I got a quick image at one point during our evening, as he sat placidly eating a large slice of cheesecake, of a brown-eyed cow chewing his cud, I chastised myself for my mean judgment and deemed him “reserved”. Yet…our subsequent three dates that followed would prove that “reserved” can also mean “quiet” or even “boring”. He would primarily sit, throughout the date, staring at me with nothing to say. I carried almost the entire conversation and he would speak only when prompted. At one point, when asked pointedly why he was staring at me without speaking, he volunteered: “You’re just so pretty to look at.” He gave enough interesting information on the first date that I determined there must be more beneath the surface, just waiting to come out if given enough time. Nope. After two more dates, it was more boring and awkward than ever. I quickly grew tired of being an ornament that he gazed at without speaking.

My most recent attempt at a relationship with J followed much the same path. Our email and phone conversations left me with an impression of someone who was slightly off, but after repeated attempts to woo me into a date, I acquiesced. Upon meeting him, my initial judgment was of someone who had a difficult time responding appropriately to social and emotional cues, seemed to nearly burn with  frenetic intensity and who had a significant amount of emotional damage. Yet…I told myself not to judge him by his childhood and his former addictions. Lust and a tender heart toward the little, abandoned boy he once was had me muting those voices in my head that said: “Run”. So I stayed, fell, and found out the hard way just how correct my intuition about him was.

I’ve had to admit that even D, as I approach the two year anniversary of the first time he emotionally gutted me, rubbed my intuition the wrong way upon our initial date. As he strutted toward me across the restaurant, finger pointed towards me in triumphant pleasure over a practical joke he played before he even met me face-to-face, my first thought was “Schmucky, insincere frat-boy turned yuppy with a strong streak of mean”. Instead of heeding that intuition, which I would receive tiny glimpses of again and again throughout our nearly 19 month arc, I let myself come to see his other good qualities and fell in love. If I’d simply walked away after that first date, I could have saved myself a lot of heartbreak and angst.

Yet therein lies my dilemma: No human being is ever only one thing. D did prove to be schmucky, insincere and to have a strong streak of meanness. He could also be unconventional, loving and tender. J was a person who had spent a lifetime running from his emotional damage and thus, couldn’t understand the emotional cues of others because of his addictions. Yet he was also intelligent, deep and exciting.

My glitch lies in always wanting to see the best qualities of another person. I’ve always believe that was the right thing to do, the loving thing to do. Yet I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy doing it. After all, the man who beats his wife so badly she ends up in the hospital didn’t win her, initially, with his abuse. He won her with his good qualities, with the best part of himself. In the end, though, if she’d listened to the voice that told her he seemed to fly off the handle easily or needed to control others a bit too much, perhaps she could have avoided that hospital trip altogether.

How would my life have been different if I’d listened to my intuition from the very first moment I met someone? Is being judgmental a bad thing or a good thing? Or does it depend on the individual doing the judging? I’ve always been able to sort out the surface from the interior pretty easily, so perhaps it’s easier to trust my gut. When do you temper a poor first impression with the ability to give people a second chance? These are some of the questions I’m having to ponder. According to my therapist, I need to be more judgmental. I’ve also realized my initial first impressions have always been right, I’ve simply ignored them. Yet… something about the concept of being judgmental troubles me.

Where is the boundary between acceptance and judgment?

Match..Oh Match…How I Loathe Thee

Posted in Dating, online dating with tags , , , on June 27, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

My membership with Match.com is getting ready to lapse and THIS time, I’m going to let it. It will be hard, because Match seems much like a gambling addiction would: A constant state of anxious high, wondering if this will be the big payoff, when in reality you’re certain to wind up broke (emotionally) and wondering why you sold your soul for something that never pays off. I’ve come to truly despise online dating, yet don’t know how to meet people in my day-to-day life. The thought of going off-the-grid makes me fear being loveless forever and doomed to die alone, with cats finally eating my dead corpse (which isn’t found by humans for days).

The fact that I don’t own cats is only mildly reassuring.

I’ve hit a dating dry spell and for the last month, every single man I’ve messaged that seems mildly attractive and interesting has blown me off completely. This fills me with panic and makes me wonder if I’m a loathsome beast who can only attract men who think hunting and fishing is the bomb and who use “lol” at the end of every sentence. Then I wonder if my self-esteem meter, that seems to be plummeting into the negatives since D, is somehow sending off a vibe that repels men even across the great internet. My mother, seeker of all that is new age, insists I’m sending out negative vibrational waves that are keeping people away. It’s her only explanation for what seems to be a mystery. I’m smart. I’m pretty. I’m articulate and have a range of cool interests. So what is the problem?

Am I only messaging douchebags? It’s possible; I definitely have the penchant for being drawn to them.

I recently read an article that placed my city on a list of “worst cities to meet men”. It’s entirely possible that the single men who have a lot going for them feel they are the elite. I had one man, with whom I exchanged several emails, balk at the suggestion of grabbing a drink. I asked point-blank if he was disinterested, to which he offered a coy “no” followed by ambiguity. He then offered up that he was just scared of commitment. WHAT? My reply? “Dude, I asked you out for a drink, not for your hand in marriage. I don’t even know if I’m interested in you unless we meet, so chill out.” He replied back with a quick “lol” and a sheepish reply, but I’d already lost interest. If a man is too afraid to even meet up for a drink for fear of implying too much interest, what does that say? Frustrating. How about the man who adds me as a “favorite”, but can barely respond to emails? Maddening and confusing.

I had a really, really hot doctor (supposedly) that lives an hour and a half away message me and ask if I’d like to drive to his town for a date that evening. His pictures are of him in a power suit or with an unbuttoned shirt, tanned abs rippling, smiling at the camera in a pose he clearly found seductive. Obviously he thought himself hot enough that I’d drop what I was doing and drive to him. What guy messages a woman he’s interested in to ask her to drive an hour and a half?? One who clearly thinks his photos will get him laid with minimal effort expended.

I had another man message me and ask if I was seeing or messing around with anyone. Naively, I didn’t quite get his meaning until he elaborated about the Friends With Benefits relationship he just ended, assuring me he was fully single now and ready to date. Since when did it become acceptable for a prospective date that I’ve not even met to discuss casual sexual partners in opening emails? Talk about TMI…

Now I’m within days of my subscription expiring and suddenly, several interesting men come up out of NOWHERE. What the hell? Just as I’m about to give up for awhile and really work on healing and therapy, now I’m tempted back into possibilities. I have a date tomorrow night and another one lined up for next week, along with a couple of other men that I’ve not made plans with yet. Will they pan out? Who knows? Once again, the online dating wheel is spinning and I have no idea what it will land on…

Oh, Match. I hate you and your promise of possibility. I despise your window-shopping clients, who forget that there are human beings behind the profile pictures. I despise your marketing ploys, which are often just false advertising aimed at lonely people. I’m still not renewing. Perhaps one day I’ll decide to revisit you, to see if the small offering of single men in my city has expanded. In the meantime, I’ve joined some social groups that center around actually doing things I enjoy. So perhaps I’ll never end up joining you again.

I’ve Got Your Crazy Right Here (Or Maybe Not)

Posted in Dating, online dating, Relationships with tags , , on March 6, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Within the past two weeks I’ve had three men refer to me as “one of the sanest women” they’d ever met. I’ve recently hung out with a man whom I dated for a few months last year (while desperately trying to get over D).and he actually said: “Thank you so much for being sane!” In light of my recent struggles with grief and some depression, the comment made me step back and reassess. You know what I’ve discovered? I actually am one of the more mentally healthy people you’ll meet in the dating pool.

It got me to thinking (which I’m sure is a shocker to my regular readers!): What is sanity? What would most people describe well-adjusted as being?

It’s probably not the woman who decides to throw all of her new husband’s clothing and possessions off the balcony of their honeymoon suite, when she sees him talking to another woman for two minutes at the bar. (Ex-wife of a former date). It’s not getting in a huff when a man declines your invitation to a hotel room after a first date and tells him “You obviously aren’t interested in a relationship and you’re just looking to toy with people!” (Story from the trenches). It’s definitely not setting up a New Year’s Eve date, with hotel room included, then bringing your child with you! (Former lover’s experience). It’s not texting or calling your ex-husband 15-20 times a day, even times when you know he’s on a date. (An ex’s ex-wife). It doesn’t scream sanity to go completely whacko and call your mother-in-law, raving like a lunatic and talking divorce, if your husband goes out for a rare evening with his friends. Nor is it dropping off a 5 foot tall painting of a dead tree, complete with symbolic vulva image, on the doorstep of someone you dated briefly, who told you it wasn’t working. (My former dating partner!).

Want to know what the craziest thing I’ve ever done to an ex is? After having him break my heart in November, I went ahead and purchased the very expensive rare beer club membership I had planned for his Christmas gift (Over $300) and sent it to him, making it look like I’d purchased it before he broke up with me. Upon relaying my shameful actions to a different ex (the same ex  to whom I dropped off his things after our tumultuous relationship ended, carefully wrapped so it wouldn’t get damaged), he exclaimed: “Wait! We broke up! I wish you’d sent me a “get even” rare beer club membership.”

Uhm…I think I need to work on my revenge strategies.

So, what do men consider “crazy”? A woman who hopes for more in the relationship and starts behaving like a “cling-on” (my father’s term for needy women)? A woman who allows her emotions to show too much? Drama? A woman who is too controlling?

I have three elements of “crazy”, all connected: 1.) A difficult time letting go, 2.) Intense grief and emotions surrounding transitions, that last longer than is typical for the average person, and 3.) A tendency toward “emotional cutting” connected with the situation (i.e., looking at old emails/texts/perusing their facebook page/etc.).

Who does this hurt? Oh right…me.

No doubt many men would prefer my brand of crazy to the drama/diva/shrew crazy they encounter in the dating/relationship world, because it doesn’t affect them too much. If anything, I sometimes think I appear too low-drama and sane in relationships; it might improve my life a bit if I added in a smidgeon of crazy bitch once in awhile. Or learned to fall in love with men who won’t abuse the fact that I don’t cling, rarely attempt to manipulate and don’t indulge in tantrums or crying jags over minor issues. As noted, I have my own brand of crazy, but I tend to be the one most affected by it, not my partners.

Still, it’s nice to know that to the outside world (and the men I date), I come across as pulled together and well-adjusted. Despite feeling emotionally fragile for awhile now, I’m managing my life pretty damned well. When I need to cry (which may be more often than I’d prefer), I mostly do it in private. When I need to rage, I listen to angry music on my elliptical. Inbetween…I live my life in a sane and well-adjusted way. Men…you’d better grab the opportunity to have a sane, reasonable woman while you can! I’ve seen what’s out there and it’s not pretty…

Now, I feel some crazy coming on. Shall tonight be a cry in the bath, while drinking wine, night? Or a loud, angry music, elliptical night? Perhaps I could pull up all the old emails from my ex and read them obsessively, hoping to find some deeper smidgeon of meaning behind the demise of our relationship…then cry. Oh wait, I deleted those so I couldn’t do that (in a stupid bid for MORE sanity). Hmmm….

Fine. I’ll stick with laundry, walking the dog, a meeting for my child’s class and a dinner date. But one of these days, watch out!

 

Downpayment On The Goods?

Posted in Dating, women's liberation with tags , , , , on October 23, 2012 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Driving to work this morning, listening to a morning radio talk show, I caught a popular segment called “Second Date Update”. People who’ve had a promising first date, yet never hear back from their possible love interest, contact the radio program so the DJ’s can assist them with getting a second date (or at least finding out why they didn’t). The show is usually good for some chuckles or a bit of voyeurism into other people’s dating lives (which, honestly, don’t we all enjoy?).

This morning, a woman called in saying she’d had a great first date with “Jack”. They went to an upscale restaurant, had great conversation and shared some laughter. According to her, the date was really great and she couldn’t understand why he hadn’t called to ask her for a second date. Enter the DJ’s: They call “Jack” and get him on the phone, to try to get his take on the evening. Jack’s version was similiar, with one exception: According to him, she had told him mid-way through the meal that she wanted the relationship to be platonic (plutonic is actually what he said, but I’m nitpicking) and just wanted to be friends. He said at that point he lost interest, got the check and ended the evening. Reasonable, right? Afterall, he was looking for a romantic relationship and not somebody to hang out with.

Still, this is where “Jack” turns into “Jack-Ass”…

According to him, it was her obligation to tell him she just wanted to be friends before he took her to a nice restaurant and spent a substantial amount on dinner. He said he wouldn’t put a downpayment on a sports car if he just planned to park it in the garage–he wanted to be able to drive it! He elaborated at length about the amount of money spent, did his best to demean her during the entire conversation and said she should have offered to pay half if it was a “friend” date, because he doesn’t spend that much money on just “friends”. He even went so far as to say the most he’d ever spent entertaining a friend was $65, elucidating this was for a returning war hero. He said, “Now tell me why in hell I should spend $120 for dinner with you, if we’re just gonna be friends, when you haven’t even been shot at?”

And thus we come to the crux of my blog: Do men feel we owe them something if they pick up the check? Are they really just putting a “downpayment” on the future event of sex? Now, most decent men would object and say, “Of course not!” Yet…are they being honest with themselves? Maybe they don’t expect sex that date, or the next, or even the one after that. Yet if they continue to spend money on wining and dining a woman, they have an end goal in mind. For most men, this at least includes sexual intimacy.

I have typically opted to go dutch on dates, for precisely this reason. I don’t want to feel any obligation to a man I barely know. Do I feel I have to sleep with a man if he pays for my dinner? Of course not. Still, if he continues to pay for dinner, I always feel there is some level of reciprocity that is anticipated. Perhaps 60 years ago, the pleasure of a woman’s feminine presence and company was enough, although I’d be willing to wager that wasn’t the case even then. Perhaps the knight slays the dragon for the princess as an act of gallantry; or maybe he’s really just hoping to get the king’s okay to shag his daughter (Sorry: Have her hand in marriage). Today, marriage isn’t always on the table. Sex, however, is almost ALWAYS on the table.

Of course, this isn’t meant to pick on men. I know LOTS of women who think the man should pay simply because they are women. I know plenty of women who would be willing to accept dates just to get a free dinner out. There are people who say they are “old-fashioned” and think a man should pay for at least the first date (if not every date). Really? Why? If you want things to be “old-fashioned”, are you willing to put on a pretty dress and pearls and meet him at the door with a martini in hand? Are you willing to stay at home and play housekeeper and take care of all his needs while he brings home the bacon? Are you willing to have him be the head of the household, since you’re assigning him the “protector” status? If so, that’s totally fine. However, don’t scream about your liberation or your equal rights. If you are seeking out a man to take care of you and be your protector (which is what you’re signaling when you expect him to pay), expect to be treated like someone who needs to be taken care of and protected. Expect to be treated like you are not his equal. Pull the gender card when it comes to who pays and be prepared to have him play the sex/inequality card. It’s not that he should, it’s not that it’s right, but reality isn’t always the ideal and we often create our own reality by the decisions we make.

I think we need to take the money out of the dating equation. Go dutch on dates. If a man insists on paying after you’ve offered to split the check, then offer to leave the tip. Pick up the check on your next date. Allow a man to woo you in ways other than monetarily. Take the pressure off the man financially (what a burden!). In return, guys, if you offer to pay, don’t have an agenda. Don’t make innocuous little jokes about “now that I’ve bought you dinner, I guess you’re going to have to put out”. By making the joke, it hints that you expect something in return, but know it’s not really kosher to say it in a straight-forward way. If you do decide to pay, consider it a gift freely given. If you are going to resent the gift, don’t offer it.

For all the great guys out there who would never dream of thinking a woman owed him because he pays on the dates, know there are lots of great women who appreciate you and won’t abuse it. We realize you won’t refer to us like we are objects you can “put a downpayment” on; we are human beings you are trying to get to know. We’re not naive; we know if you continue to ask us out you probably want to have sex with us (probably sooner, in many cases, than we are ready to have sex with you). We know it and appreciate you putting in the time it takes for us to be ready.

As for “Jack-Ass”, go find a professional. That way it will be an honest, monetary exchange, with a guaranteed rate of return. Ending the date and not contacting her for a second because she played the friend card doesn’t make you an asshole. Referring to her as an object, stating repeatedly and in detail the money you spent on her, acting like she was a gold-digger…well, that certainly does.