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Monthly Archives: November 2012

On-Line Dating

Those who read LAADD know that I tend to avoid the topic of dating. It’s a tough one. And honestly I have limited experience in that area. But recently I’ve received several questions about on-line dating services so I thought I would break down and share my own, albeit brief, story and thoughts on the subject.

One day, not very long after my wife and I had established separate addresses and our divorce was final, my daughters started to promote the idea that I should get a girlfriend. The eldest then sent me a link to Match.com and both encouraged me to sign up. And of course as soon as you change your relationship status on Facebook, within minutes you’re inundated with ads encouraging you to find someone special along with links that can accommodate your heavy heart.

When your world has been shattered and the love of your life has grown to be, let’s just say, not so much the love of your life, the ability to search for new love on line is a tempting one. An irrational one, but a tempting one none the less. And of course, like many of you, I signed up for one of these services and gave it a shot. Forked over a good chunk of change and eventually went on a lunch date or two. I managed to meet one or two interesting people through the process, but for the most part I found the experience remarkably disappointing and disheartening.

I left with an opinion that on-line dating services were really just preying on lonely people. People who were searching for a sense of feeling attractive and loved. I personally have a problem with companies that take advantage of people who are vulnerable. And truthfully, my initial experience did nothing to change my mind, in fact it only reenforced it. Then, of course someone suggested the big daddy, e-Harmony. “They’ve got it down to a science” I was told. “They’re commercials are awesome!” And so, somewhat reluctantly, and against my better judgement I gave it a shot. Shelled out $60 for a month and gave it a look. And within 4 days I felt the same sense of being taken advantage of and quickly called for a refund. That’s when the fun started.

“Unfortunately sir you’re outside the 3 day trial period and therefore a refund is not an option for you.” I heard this not once, but about 50 times through four calls with six service representatives. I explained the circumstances and that I hadn’t noticed the three day requirement and eventually offered to pay for the time I was on, but felt $60 for 4 days was a bit ridiculous, thinking any rational individual would see that truth. But to no avail. They just kept selling and selling and sticking to their policy with no wiggle room. Their script was well rehearsed and their reps very well trained to refute any rebuttal. They had my cash and weren’t letting go. If I didn’t have a bad taste in my mouth before, I certainly did now. For me this just confirmed my belief that, while it may work for some and there are likely success stories, for the most part they’re just a business that preys upon the lonely.

Obviously, this was just my own experience and obviously I was skeptical to begin with. But then I looked around on line and started to find story upon story from people of all walks of life that sounded very similar. You may find success with these on-line companies, but my honest opinion is that they’re more song and dance than substance. It’s a game of percentages and for them apparently every penny is sacred. It’s a business after all and whether you find success or just spend a few days (more than three anyway) on the site looking around; don’t expect to get any money back if you’re not thrilled with the product.

When your marriage is in turmoil or when it falls apart completely, it’s natural to look to others for a sense of feeling attractive, worthy and wanted. There’s comfort in that. And perhaps these on-line dating services help in some way to provide that confidence again as you receive “winks” from other members who want to get to know you better. But before you pull out your credit card, first take a look on line to read about other people’s experiences. Then take a good hard look at where you’re at in your personal rebirth. Are you seriously ready for a new relationship? Are you prepared to move forward? Is your heart truly healed and your head prepared to focus on someone new? And by all means, be prepared for what you’re getting into and keep your expectations realistic. The dating scene is a tough one whether off line or on.

Personally I’ve come to believe you really need to first focus on being comfortable with yourself and feel good about being alone. Get to know who you are and how great it can be to be self sufficient. That’s not to say you shouldn’t lean on others. It just means the more you can be OK being alone, the less likely you are to put too much pressure on a relationship, which in turn will make it healthier and balanced.

Remember, there are people out there who see your vulnerability as a chance to make a quick buck. They’ll promise you love, riches, lower interest rates, a free i-pad, even hair if they think they can tap that insecurity of yours and get you to pull out your credit card. Am I cynical? Yup. I’m also a hopeless romantic. But experience has taught me that all good things take a lot of time, a significant amount of effort a little luck and most important of all, the right state of mind. That last one is key. I’m a passionate person, but have learned the hard way more than once, that a decision based on emotion can really bite you in the ass (and the pocket book).

Have you had any experience with on-line dating services? Would love to hear about it good or bad.

 

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Black Friday Virgin

I had always scoffed at those of you who got in their cars at midnight to hit the retail world after doing the Thanksgiving dishes. I’d seen some of the news stories and really never ever, ever, … considered that endeavor. But somehow, this year turned out a little different and with three kids, potentially getting a high ticket item at 50% off times three, made it a tempting proposition. And then of course there was the curiousity factor.

And so I put on my big girl panties, along with a bullet proof vest and made my way for Target’s 9 p.m. opening. I arrived around 8:45 and nearly turned around when I saw the line; pretty much convinced my odds of anything being left by the time I got in were relatively slim. But I told myself, “self, you drove all this way, it’s worth a shot plus it’s free entertainment.”

Not really knowing what to expect I just kind of floated along, watching and listening. There was one short skirmish in line between a couple of very, um, shall we say high class ladies; one of which was apparently not a fan of cutting in line. She eloquently got her $%#@ point across to the other who received this information in an equally bleeping lady like fashion at which point we all moved on.

Besides that, it was pretty much uneventful, which is kind of boring for a blog entry I know, but somewhere in
here I’m sure there’s a valuable point to get across. I’ll try to come up with something if you’ll keep reading.

So I went in not really knowing what to expect. From the stories I’d seen on television I was expecting some
hair pulling, a little Barbie tug of war, maybe a kidney punch over a TV, anything really. But what I personally
saw were a bunch of people excited about the holiday; most of them helping others and saying excuse me and “sorry” when they bumped into someone. On some level I was actually a little disappointed. I mean, come on, even you have to admit it would have been nice to have seen at least one purse beating over a Barry Manilow CD or something. But nothing. I even ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in years. We passed each other in the check out line, made fun of the candy and soap he’d bought and promised to catch up after the holidays.

So for those of you who were concerned that all of this nonsense over material things was going to take away from quality time with the family, I have to point out that most of the people I saw were, well, families. There were mothers and daughters enjoying a tradition they’d created. Fathers and sons checking some things off the list. Entire families loading up carts. There was a lot of laughter, smiling and I’ll say it, patience. Sure there
were way too many carts in the isle and it was at times difficult to get around, but for the most part, all I saw was a festive crowd of people wrapped up more in the joy of giving than they were in the need for saving.

The reality is, whether it’s a soccer match, a New Years party or a Walmart opening their doors at midnight the day after Thanksgiving, there will always be some idiots who have had too much to drink and take things WAY too seriously. And those are typically the ones that make it on the news. I mean let’s face it. Where’s the
ratings drama in someone saying, “no, you take the last Wii U, I’ll just order one on-line.”

Truthfully, all in all, I have to say what I was a part of was actually a lot of fun and full of holiday spirit. Even the sales staff was trying to make it fun and festive for everyone. Some were dressed up in holiday garb and doing their best to assist people. And most of the people I rubbed elbows with were all in it for the right reasons. And let’s face it, when you’re a single parent adjusting to a new household budget, if you can find a way to save a few hundred bucks around the holiday and give your kids a joyous Christmas morning, it’s kind of worth the crowds.

Now, I don’t think I would ever want to be at the front of the line, but from my vantage point my first experience with Black Friday actually gave me a sense of being a part of something special, if that makes any sense.  Just to share the pop culture experience with others was kind of gratifying. And the best part is, I owe the entire experience to my ex-wife who suggested one of us go. And considering the effort she’d put forth on the Thanksgiving feast (which we all enjoyed as a family by the way), I’d say I got the the real bargain.

Oh and to my daughter who may be reading this. I got you underwear and socks. (at a great price!)

 

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Thanksgiving Take II

When I started to write this, I kept finding myself gravitating toward all of the negatives of the holiday season and the division of time with the kids. Last year was our second Thanksgiving since the divorce was final and I struggled a bit. I discovered that in many ways, as the wounds of the divorce had begun to heal, a new sense of meloncholy had started to set in as I began to recognize the emptiness left behind in the aftermath of our separation. Then I reminded myself that that’s not what this blog is about. Nor is it what the holidays are about.

We as families, together or divided, on good terms or bad, all share one common thread; we are all just that, a family. It may not be perfect, we may not always see eye to eye and the past year most certainly had its
moments of hurt, pain, resentment and anguish. We may not see ourselves in a Norman Rockwell painting. But the bottom line is, the kids still have the same mom and the same dad. They still look to each of us for love, support, comfort and understanding. And they look to us to lead.

The other thing to keep in mind is that these are our child’s memories we’re forging. We’ve already created a bit of a sting when it comes to how they’ll see their past as adults. But we still have a chance to make their holiday memories fond ones. Moments of peace between parents, toasting what we’re thankful for and finding reasons to laugh and smile.

And so, I only offer up my own words of encouragement. Remember the great things you still have. Whether or not you’re able to be with your kids at every holiday meal. Even if you’re entering the holidays during one of the more strenuous times in your relationship with your ex. Listen, my parents and I as well as my siblings and I argue all year long. We can get on each other’s last nerve. Yet come the holidays we manage to find a way to focus on the positives, even if only for a few hours, and celebrate our family.

Thanksgiving is a time to focus on the positives. It’s a chance to look at our kids and to do whatever you can to provide them with the security and foundation they may be struggling with. This isn’t about who’s the better parent, who let you down or who did more over the past twelve months. This is about being thankful for everything you’ve fought so hard to protect and everything you’ve done and can do to ensure your kids know they’re loved and wanted. And most of all, it’s about giving your kids something to be thankful for which above all should be memories they’ll cherish and great relationships with both their mom AND dad.

Peace to you this Thanksgiving. Now go hug your kids.

 

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Go TEAM!

So, we’re going to try a new system in our household.

In an effort to teach the kids the value of teamwork, we’re going to start having projects / chores that are completed as a team. Dishes, cleaning, raking leaves, washing the dog, anything that requires the efforts of all three working together. The effort / outcome will then be graded on an A-F scale with A equalling five points, B equalling four, all the way down to F which will garner one point. Points will then be added over time with
different events having specific point values. For example; bowling will equal 50 points, going to the movies will cost 100 points, a trip to Kings Island 500 points etc.

They’ll have the opportunity to win as a team or fail as a team and hopefully recognize that selfishness, arguing and working against each other will still require the job getting done, but not earn them any points.

In the past when two of them have argued or fought, the answer was to separate them. I’ve started sticking them in a room together for an hour (ala “The Parent Trap) to start clarifying my expectation that they’re going to have to work it out together. They’re going to be siblings the rest of their lives, time to start learning to lean on each other rather than constantly argue. Same holds true for chores. Doing the dishes, cleaning the house, helping with laundry; all of it is an opportunity for them to learn how to divvy up tasks and figure out how to achieve as a team rather than compete against each other.

First round was a little rough, but I think over time they’ll figure it out.

Have you tried something similar? Would love to hear what worked and what didn’t.

Stay tuned for updates from time to time.

 

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Screw Negativity!

When you’ve been knocked down enough times, you would think a victory would have you jumping for joy. And yet, what’s interesting, is that it’s much easier to instead anticipate and prepare for the next smack upside the head rather than relish the high. I’ve watched others close to me live their lives afraid to celebrate their own victories, instead choosing to find new reasons to worry.

I wrote once about life being a series of waves and how the trick is to learn how to ride the good ones for as long as you can. I still believe that’s the secret. Lord knows we’ll have plenty of opportunities to be battered by them, why not take a moment to stretch out your arms and cheer when you’ve managed to catch a good one and ride it for all its worth. You’ve earned it. You’ve earned the smile and that lilt in your soul. Don’t let pessimism and the hell your divorce, or anything else for that matter, keep you from experiencing joy.

Chances are you’ve had plenty of moments of worry, stress, angst, anger, depression, and just plain blahs. You deserve a victory now and then. Especially when you’ve worked your ass off to achieve it. You’ve pushed yourself emotionally, financially and physically to new limits. You’ve over come countless adversities and changed the very essence of who you are as a human being in the process.

So for the love of GOD allow yourself the moment of peace you’ve waited so long for. Sure tomorrow may knock you back down a beat, all the more reason to look adversity in the eye today and say, screw you, I’m happy damn it! The reality is, once you do it enough times, nothing can bring you down because you know in your heart you’re capable of overcoming anything life throws at you. Nothing can keep you from being happy.  Eventually, negative becomes just a word, a word that will invigorate you rather than suck the life out of you. Because you know the sweet taste of kicking negative’s ass and how it feels to be the positive force it can’t beat.

Perhaps you’ve forgotten that fact. Well, I’m reminding you.

 

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