A Career Dater Finally Quits Her Job

b1110503da138461db47e9ad8643011dOther than a few squabbles about bulk buying at Costco, the transition to married life has been pretty smooth. It’s new, but not weird. It’s an adjustment, but not a tough one. It’s a life change, but one that I welcomed, and probably needed.

After living alone and being on my own for so long, you’d think that marriage would be a total culture shock – and it is – but it’s really not that shocking. Or crazy. It’s kind of normal actually, like I’ve been a wife all my life. Weird.

No, the crazy part of transitioning into marriage was transitioning out of dating– a way of life for me for nearly 50 years.

I was a career dater. I dated all the time, at all times of the day. Breakfast dates, coffee dates, lunch dates, dinner dates, drink dates, even a driving date to the mechanic to pick up my car.

I’ve had blind dates, online dates, chance meetings, dates disguised as business meetings, and one Facebook encounter that would lead to the date of all dates (thank you Robby Scharf, for ending the longest single streak on record, next to yours of course).

After a long and illustrious dating career – one filled with strike outs, some base hits, an occasional home run, and lots of times at bat – I finally and gladly retired. I happily hung up the jersey, emptied out my locker, and said goodbye to the game. I’m using a lot of baseball metaphors here, but you get the point.

In other words, I left the business.

I didn’t realize how much work went into being single until I got married. And let’s face it, dating is like having a second job. I don’t care if you’re a guy or a girl, dating is work. Looking good, spending money, getting out there, going to parties, going to the gym, being charming, being social, being “on,” making an effort, making eye contact, strategizing, chatting, flirting, schmoozing, is all very time consuming, not to mention exhausting.

Online dating alone is like a second job. You spend hours managing your sites, swiping through prospects, messaging, texting, flirting, winking, whatever. You have to sort through profiles, respond to inquiries, distinguish between suitors and posers, coordinate schedules and make plans. Just weeding out the riff-raff is work.

So you can imagine when you’re used to doing it 24/7 and all of a sudden, it stops. It’s like quitting a job you’ve had all your life. This is why the transition has been so peculiar – I mean, one minute I’m hanging out at happy hour with my gal pals, the next minute I’m making my husband a meatloaf, and actually enjoying it.

Hold on. I have to repeat that. “Husband and meatloaf,” two words I never thought I’d say in the same sentence.

Some feminists might gag at this, but I have also discovered that I love doing his laundry, underwear included. Every time I fold a pair of his boxers, I think: Wow, look at me! I’m a wife! And the fact that Robby hasn’t thrown up yet from my cooking must mean I’m holding my own in the kitchen.

Dating might have felt like a second job at times, but I always did it with a good attitude. The key for me (and for any single person out there) is to not take it too seriously, to have fun, and to always keep your sense of humor. That way, it won’t feel like a job. A prison sentence, yes, but not a job.

And here’s the great news when you’re ready to retire: instead of getting an office party and gold watch, you might just get a diamond ring and a wedding.

5 Ways To Know If Mr. Right Has The Right Stuff

IMG_4286Many years ago, my good friend Kathie Gordon gave me this needlepoint pillow for my birthday. It was in the 90’s, and I was in my late-30s. For the single girl who had everything, it was a perfect gift.

At the time I thought finding Mr. Right was right around the corner, and to be honest, I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to meet him, but I knew he had to be somewhere in the neighborhood. But as time went by and the 90’s turned into the 00’s, and I turned into an old maid, I realized that Mr. Right wasn’t right around the corner, but in fact, he was a million miles away.

That pillow has sat on my couch through countless dates, hundreds of fix-ups, tons more blind dates, boyfriends, break-ups and bullshit, and it always asked the same question:

“Star light, star bright, where oh where is Mr. Right?”

Actually, I’ve found Mr. Right many times – in bits and pieces, that is.

One Mr. Almost Right was professionally successful, but emotionally unavailable; one was age-appropriate, but had arrested development; one was great looking, but couldn’t keep his dick in his pants; one was a Harvard grad, but was a total idiot; one was a superior athlete, but had no moves whatsoever. It was very frustrating.

I would kick and scream, stomp my feet, and yell at the top of my lungs to the universe: “Fuck you Universe! Where the hell is Mr. Right!?”

While I was busy yelling at no one in particular, something happened: I wised-up and started dating smarter. I also became hardened and jaded, which comes in handy out there in the dating world.

Here’s what I’ve learned: Mr. Right comes in many different packages. He’s not perfect, and he doesn’t have to be. All he has to do is THE RIGHT THING.

The following is my MR. RIGHT CHECKLIST, five simple observations that will ascertain early on whether your new dude has what it takes to be your Mr. Right.

  1. He communicates early and often. He isn’t afraid to express his feelings, his thoughts, his values, and his plans. He’s open, honest, and authentic about who his is and what he wants in life.
  2. He doesn’t try to get to know you through texting. A real man who’s interested in you picks up the phone and TALKS not TEXTS. A guy who carries on an all-day conversation thread is simply hiding behind his texts. Too much gets lost in translation, and too much can be misinterpreted, so don’t tolerate it.
  3. He would move heaven and earth to see you, even if it’s for a quick coffee at Starbucks. Having real face time with someone is crucial, and if he means business, he’ll do whatever it takes to see you. Effort is everything.
  4. He pursues and courts you like a proper gentleman. He makes plans, asks questions, doesn’t wait till the last minute, doesn’t push or pressure you. And if he starts sexting too soon, you’ll know all he wants is to get inside your pants, not inside your mind.
  5. He does the right thing. Whether it’s bringing you flowers for no reason, being nice to your mother, or coming to your door to pick you up instead of calling you from the car, a guy who digs you will always do the right thing.

* * * * * * * * * * *

So when you’re out there dating, keep your eyes open. Observe, maintain your standards, and always honor your highest good. Watch for red flags. Being a little cynical and skeptical isn’t necessarily a bad thing – in fact, it can weed out the riff-raff real fast.

Demand a certain level of decorum, transparency, etiquette, and protocol at all times. It may sound old-fashioned, but trust me, you’ll respect yourself much more in the morning.

Above all, don’t be in too much of a hurry. Love has a way of finding you when the time is right, and so will Mr. Right.

Still Single? Throw Yourself A Wedding!

Group Karaoke

Single? Married? Divorced? Who cares? Let’s party!

When I took the stage at Boardwalk 11 Karaoke Bar at my 50th birthday party last February, I was triumphant. Victorious. I felt proud of who I was, and what I had accomplished – getting to 50 as an independent, self-reliant woman.

That wasn’t exactly the picture a few months before though. In the run-up to my birthday, I was the perfect storm of despair: I was going through a break-up, my career was stagnating, my window of fertility had officially closed, I was still not married, and I was turning 50 – a number that probably would’ve been a lot less daunting and depressing if I had a husband and kids.

From November to January, I was totally numb. Nothing felt good, nothing tasted good, music didn’t sound good, not even the cutest guy looked good. It appeared that after multiple times at bat, and many attempts at love, I had officially struck out. On top of it, I was about to leave my 40s and enter midlife, a milestone that was ceremoniously marked when I received my first AARP card in the mail.

The holidays and New Year’s were a blur. I remember going to bed just before midnight on New Year’s eve thinking to myself: “Please let me wake up and have it be six months from now so the pain will be gone and my heart will be healed.” The next day I woke up, and the next, and the next day after that. Slowly, life resumed. I hit reset, I recalibrated, and I got reacquainted with my self-worth, which I seemed to have lost along the way.

By mid-January, I made a decision that would be life-changing: I decided to let go and surrender to my singleness. I detached from the outcome, stopped fighting the power, and submitted to being single. As I mentioned in my very first blog post, it was the most liberating and empowering move I could’ve ever made.

I made another decision in mid-January: To celebrate. So what if I wasn’t married? Who cared if I was still single? Did it really matter that my life didn’t exactly go as planned? There were so many other things to be happy about, so much to be grateful for, so many other blessings to count. I thought why have a pity party when I can have a real party? So I threw myself a huge 50th birthday bash and called it the wedding I was never going to have.

When I stepped on to the stage to sing last February, with my friends and family cheering me on, I knew I had made the right choice:  to revel in the thrill of victory instead of dwelling in the agony of defeat.

IMG_4191

Look what I found and I wasn’t even looking.

The minute I stepped off the stage, I spotted Robby Scharf at the bar. I initially met Robby months earlier on Facebook when he contacted me out of concern for a mutual friend. It wasn’t a Facebook hook-up; he really was a good guy with good intentions. I thought he had a nice face, and had heard he was in a band (maybe he could sing karaoke?) So on a whim, I invited him to my party and he showed up! Except for our mutual Facebook friends, Robby and I were practically strangers. But there he was at my birthday, Mr. Right, standing right before my eyes, with a big smile and a warmth I felt the minute I hugged him hello.

I wasn’t looking, I wasn’t expecting it, and I had all but given up, but something magical happened that night at Boardwalk 11 Karaoke Bar. And now here I am, exactly one year later, engaged to be married and singing a much different tune.

Some Accidental Advice From An Accidental Bride

2fc24b029a9d5e9df07aa15d8085f134On my long journey to the altar, I seem to have picked up some accidental wisdom along the way.

Call it unintended self-illumination or inadvertent enlightenment, the path to marriage has taught me a lot. Now, I realize that getting married isn’t the end-all, be-all pinnacle of success, but for me it’s a bit of an accidental achievement, since I tried for so long, and always seemed to come up short.

While on this marriage quest, I learned a thing or two about love and relationships, and what I did to fuck it all up.

I made mistakes and bad choices. I trusted and got burned. I didn’t know my worth, and I didn’t always honor my highest good. In other words, I got my ass kicked.

But I did get some good insights out of it!

With 50 years of single life under my belt, I feel uniquely qualified to share those insights with you. Some of them might sound familiar, some might feel old, but no matter how you spin it, they work.

1. Have Aspirations, Not Expectations

Nothing will set you up for disappointment faster than having expectations, not meeting them, or having others not meet them. You can aspire to achieving things, you can hope for the best, but make sure you keep your expectations in check.

2. Set Clear Boundaries

Setting boundaries with people is the ultimate act of self-respect and self-preservation. By designating personal limits and healthy parameters with others, you’ll not only save yourself a lot of time and energy, you’ll save your sanity and protect your soul.

3. Heal Your Wounds

Fix what’s damaged and heal what’s broken. Go deep. Do the work. Read, meditate, get therapy. Don’t be afraid to face the hard truths about yourself. It will take you places in yourself and give you incredible clarity.

4. Don’t Pick The Scab

Once your wound has formed a scab, don’t pick at it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a broken heart, a bruised ego, or a wounded psyche – let it heal. Picking the scab undermines your progress, prolongs the pain, and impedes your ability to move forward.

5. Stay On The Path Of Right Action

Staying on the path of right action means making good choices, using your good judgment and being smart. Don’t do things you know are ill-advised and potentially damaging to your self-worth. Everyone makes mistakes, just make sure you get right back on track if you fall off.

6. Have An Attitude Of Gratitude

You’ve heard this a million times, but it’s true: being grateful will take the edge off any resentment, regret, and bitterness you may be harboring. Be thankful for every little thing you have, and any little kindness you get in the world.

7. Breathe Deep And Let Go Of Things

Like I said in my very first blog post, when you let go, when you release and surrender, magical things can happen. So stop worrying, waiting, and wondering– you might actually get what you want. Breathe deep and let life happen.

I’m not sure if I chose this path, or this path chose me, but here I am, about to get married and I couldn’t be happier or more relieved (I’m not going to lie– it took a lot of work to get here). Yes, I have a magnificent fiancé and sparkly engagement ring to show for my efforts, but I also have wisdom – which is just as precious.