How Can You Want What You Already Have?

Many readers individually messaged me to journey further into my last blog post “What Happens When the Honeymoon Phase is Over?”

So awaaaaay we go . . .

  1. You’re eating your third pralines and cream ice-cream cone. It’s your favorite flavor and you’ve had a real craving because it’s been forever since you treated yourself to it. How many licks into it do you still really and truly have strong interest for it? Maybe a bag of salty Lays potato chips is starting to sound better right about now?
  2. You always wanted to be a novelist. It was your life’s dream. And now you’ve put out three books — congratulations on achieving your goal! Ho hum, now it’s feeling kinda old hat. What’s next on your bucket list? Becoming a literary agent … a professional who helps others reach their own writing goals. Now THAT sounds fascinating, right?
  3. You’re in a relationship with someone you thought was highly intriguing, rather mysterious, and definitely “hard-to-get.” But they finally noticed you and now you’ve settled in for a monogamous commitment. How is it then that your bedroom life has become a predictable yawn, and why do your eyes zero in on the next elusive stranger who happens to flit by?

Of course the common thread in all three scenarios is … Desire. What propels it and what causes it to dissipate? Is a burning desire as simple as wanting what we cannot have? “The grass is always greener” or “The Forbidden Fruit?” Lets take that last phrase literally for a moment. If you hear a newsflash that after tomorrow bananas will be outlawed, what will go through your head? Yes, it will soon be illegal to grow them, ingest them, or use them in slapstick comedy … so of course what will you suddenly want more than anything, starting tomorrow? Even if you never really cared for them in the first place. That’s right….get peeling! Cuz you’re about to go bananas for bananas.

Every failed dieter knows this lesson when their “Last Supper” on Sunday night consists of everything the new diet deems “off-limits” come Monday morning.

Impending scarcity leads to desire!

But what can lead to maintaining desire?? Is it as simple as remembering that “Variety is the spice of life?” Sticking with the banana metaphor here — let’s say bananas actually have always been your all-time favorite food. And some new wacky reality television gameshow will pay you to eat nothing but bananas. In fact each day that you consume only bananas, you’ll earn a hundred dollars. (Being paid to eat your favorite food? Piece of cake! Or banana cream pie!) But I’ll wager you won’t leave the show with anywhere close to a thousand bucks in your pocket. And what do you wanna bet that you split (banana split?) even sooner than a week? Yes bananas quickly became extremely Dole dull, didn’t they?

Feast or Famine!

So if desire (and lack thereof) is predicated on levels of deprivation and/or abundance, is it possible to sustain our hunger, yearning, aching, lusting, hankering, coveting something (or someone) once we secure it? I’m going to go out on a limb here by stating that we attempt to maintain passion and desire by the unconscious act of pushing away the things that we really want, keeping ourselves in a constant state of arousal? Psychologists take note: maybe it’s not the “fear of failure” that causes us to self-sabotage after-all? Maybe it’s just the brain’s way of keeping us interested.

Still not convinced? Why does a dog bury a bone when he knows it’s possible to indulgently sleep with the bone 24/7 in its bed or doghouse. But nooooooo. The dog hides the bone from himself so it has some distance from the bone and can sorely miss the bone. Later it becomes a thrilling surprise to happen to be digging in the backyard garden and whoa… would you look at that? It’s baaaaaack! Alright don’t go Googling this because you’ll find some silly explanation about how dogs need to instinctively protect their food from other predators because it hearkens back to the days before they were domesticated. Just do me a favor and stick with me on this.

However if you think my theories are for the dogs, let me get more human with you. On this blog it’s no secret my life romances haven’t sustained themselves longer than ten years. Early in my first marriage as a young and immature woman, I actually created arguments out of thin air with my new husband. I couldn’t figure out why I did this repeatedly until it dawned on me that our reconciliation was super exciting to me. I would bring myself to the brink of “losing something” so I could reawaken my desire for it once again and have the challenge (and satisfaction) of earning it back. Makeup sex anyone?

Only slightly more mature, I enter into a second marriage secretly thrilled that this husband travels frequently for business so I’ll have time and space to actually pine for him. Whenever he returned, things instantly became new and fresh again! Judaism understands how physical separation enhances a marriage, and actually will sometimes promote it as a side benefit to Family Purity Laws. Curious? Read more HERE.

In my next long-term relationship, (where I somehow manage to grow even more selfish and immature) I calmly ended things after they became overly predictable and lackluster some five years later. But this time, rather than trying to manipulate and trick desire into coming back . . . surprise (!) — desire had its own way with me when I least expected it. And was it ever painful.

Because another woman found my carelessly discarded ex-boyfriend to be the answer to her dreams and quickly nabbed him, my sudden reignited passion for him went through the roof, and let me just say that I became extremely physically ill realizing how playing mind-games and trying to control and manipulate had backfired on me big time. I then proceeded to (single-handedly!) help all the authors of books titled, “How to Get Your Ex Back, Even If You Were the One Who Broke Up” send their kids to college. Not a proud moment.

Does Stephanie ever stop riding a Streetcar Named Desire?

I will abruptly end here without telling you the answer (so your desire for me to post more about this topic stays heightened?) but I want to leave you with a terrific video from Esther Perel that has over 3.5 million views and counting. Click on THIS (but be sure and skip the ad, sorry!) and then leave me a comment with your thoughts. And I hereby promise to always want you as a follower, even if you already are one!

                                       Where did I purposely bury my heart’s desire????

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What Happens After The Honeymoon is Over?

         Going, going . . . GONE!

 

They say it’s inevitable and happens to all relationships. Who are “They??” I hate them! The initial magic starts to fade, the rush of learning new things as a “couple” subsides, the novel unpredictability and the exciting challenge starts to feel like a sure thing and a walk in the park with your eyes closed. And yes you can get mugged when you walk in the park with your eyes closed, but that’s not the novel unpredictability you want. Boredom sets in. Then the fact that you’re bored sends you into questioning the relationship and soon you’re googling, “How to Regain that Spark” and finding over 1.6 million of these kind of titles right HERE.

My First Husband told me we would never have to worry about this problem because he had the perfect solution — after the wedding, we would simply not embark on a traditional honeymoon trip. If it never began, it could never end. Logic like this is only one of the hundreds of reasons he will continue to be justifiably referred to as “My First Husband.”

My Second Husband and I had a whirlwind courtship and married rather quickly so our honeymoon phase was quickly interrupted by extreme morning sickness, baby preparations, and worries about Down Syndrome when test results came back highly elevated. Luckily our daughter was born perfectly healthy, but our romantic life was no longer “highly elevated.” Sadly, that elevator never went above the bargain basement floor after all the newfound responsibilities of parenting kicked our butts.

After my second divorce, my obsession with keeping the Honeymoon Stage alive kicked into high gear and truly began in earnest. We’re talking a full-time job, (I wasn’t just moonlighting in Honeymooning!) and I was determined to think outside the (Victoria’s Secret shipping) box.

Here are the tactics, tips, tricks, and techniques I tried, but to no avail:

FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT: Notice that is NOT a typo. The phrase doesn’t read, “Familiarity Breeds Content.” Therefore I decided if part of the problem was we eventually knew each other inside and out, I would be intentionally mysterious and hard to pin down. Here was how that looked . . .

HIM: So what’s your favorite color?

ME: Why do you ask?

HIM: I’d like to buy you something.

ME: I feel it’s too soon to release that information, so I’ll just say Rainbow. My favorite color is rainbow.

HIM: Yeah, my choices are yellow, red, or pink. Roses don’t come rainbow. Never mind that. What’s your favorite ice-cream flavor, I’ll pick some up.

ME: It’s not Rocky Road. It’s not Cookies N’ Cream. It’s not Salted Caramel, it’s not Mint Chip, it’s not ….

HIM: Oh my god, woman. What IS it then?

ME: If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.

ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER: I really thought I had it right with this one! I intentionally put physical distance between us as often as I could, encouraging him to go on lengthy business trips, scheduling back to back writer’s conferences, and going out with girlfriends instead of more frequent dates with him. Surely I would miss him, crave him, pine for him, and then our eventual reunion would be off the charts Electric! Uh…apparently there’s this whole other conflicting adage that goes like this – “Out of sight, out of mind!” And sadly, that’s the one that ruled my heart. I soon forgot what exactly attracted me to him in the first place, and if I was doing so fine and dandy alone, what was even the point of reconvening??

THIS WON’T HAPPEN TO US: This is the tact you take when you think that you and your new lover are different from the rest of the population and can beat the system if you approach it preventatively. Clear out your bookshelves, add more storage space on your cellphone, and make room on your calendar, because you will buy so many enrichment books, download so many relationship podcasts, and attend so many Couple’s Workshops that you could power the sunrise on a cloudy day with all your romantic insights. Except the sun WILL eventually set on the honeymoon stage for you two as well. And so you should now resort to . . .

DAZZLING, DARING, DOPAMINE: Supposedly this is the neurotransmitter that makes it all so incredible!  If you can maintain high levels of this compound in your brain, you’ve got it made in the shade. But don’t stay in the shade! Get out into the sunshine and go parasailing, sky-diving, windsurfing, skiing, river-rafting, and rollercoaster riding! But as you’ll soon find out, you should break up with your mate and start dating the owner of Groupon. Do you know how expensive all of this adventurous stuff is to do? Not to mention the cost of landing in the ER with a broken rib or a sprained ankle. There has to be a better way?

THE BETTER WAY: Many of my Couple Friends state this, “Stephanie, you’ll actually be grateful when the Honeymoon Stage wears off. Because that’s when the real deep and truly satisfying intimacy begins and you go to a whole new level that there’s just no way to articulate. Believe us when we say there’s nothing like the intuitive knowledge of finishing your partner’s sentences for them and then falling asleep to the rhythmic sounds of their snores.” Essentially they are saying, “Forget dopamine. Serotonin is where it’s at!” These are the same people who become diabetic and can never eat sugar again but will try to convince you, “I never realized just how sweet broccoli tastes. It’s indescribable.” These are highly suspect individuals for sure!

Readers: If you’ve found a surefire way to keep the Honeymoon Stage everlasting, please put it in the comments section. Alternatively, if you know the reason why it’s totally unimportant to do so, please also chime in the comments section — I beg of you! For now, I’m sticking to the conclusion that when you’re with the absolute right person, it doesn’t take hard work, contrived behaviors, or gimmicks — it all just unfolds the way it’s supposed to. Stay tuned for an update on my fairytale hypothesis!

Science says THIS has an expiration date. Noooooooo!

When is a Dress Not Just a Dress?

I wanted to buy a new dress. I wanted the dress to be one I could go to work in, go out fancy in, or just lounge around at home in. I wanted to get compliments on it from others, but also feel totally satisfied wearing it just for myself. And above all, I wanted the dress to fit me perfectly, and be so well made it lasted a lifetime.

I went online and felt myself responding to lots of ads for a classic LBD (Little Black Dress) and soon became overwhelmed and rather frightened at what I was finding out there. After all, buying the perfect dress was a huge commitment. Each day I’d pore over the descriptions and photographs and send my specific questions to the advertisers who would respond with very generalized answers like, “It’s one size fits all.” or “The sleeves can be worn off or on the shoulders.” This went on for months until I realized this wasn’t getting me any closer to my dream of actually WEARING a real dress.

Perhaps choosing a dress in person was a more organic and natural way of achieving my goal. A longtime mall-hater, I braved the traffic to get to a crowded department store and immediately found a fitting room where I told the personal attendant in great detail what I was looking for. “I’ll fix you up,” she said and returned holding a blue dress (mostly matching my description) and hung it in the tiny little room with all the mirrors.

Something came over me and I decided to take it home without even trying it on, even though blue wasn’t the color I had in mind. In my bedroom I admired it from all angles, then shoved it in the back of my closet. Around 2 am, I grew restless with insomnia and decided to slip it over my naked body and immediately knew it was all wrong for me. Disgusted with myself, I flung it over the little table next to my bed (my one nightstand) and vowed never to lay eyes on it again.

Thoroughly ashamed, the next morning I faced the same lady who sold me the dress as I sheepishly explained I’d been impulsive. This time I elaborated even more about what I was looking for and she said, “That’s a lot to ask from a single frock.”

“Oh so it’s a frock now?” I said amused. “Yes, I’m aware. I’ve had two that didn’t work out for me in the past.”

“You’ve already gone through more than one frock? What a crock.” she said, looking at me critically.

“You can mock the frock, but my first had a lot of baggage.”

“Does that mean it came with a matching purse?”

“Not exactly. And my second one was really clingy.”

“Stay away from polyester and spandex,” she warned.

“Look, I’m just looking for a frock I can rock, as they say. And I don’t really want to settle.”

Without hesitation she brought a different kind of dress in and immediately I was drawn to the plunging neckline, the sexy slit up the thigh, and the sparkly material. Could this be The One? “I’ll take it!”

“Try it on this time,” she admonished. I listened to her sage advice and it was love at first sight. Much wiser from my prior experience I inquired, “How long do I have to return it?”

“Sixty days with receipt and tags attached,” she stated.

No problem, although I felt slightly anxious with the time limit. Would I know in only two short months?

“I’ll just wear this dress everywhere and tuck the tags under my long hair, so nobody will be the wiser.” I thought.  I was anxious to get friends’ and family’s opinions. This was a big step.

“Wow! That’s a real Bad Boy dress!” Tiffany told me that afternoon at a fundraiser party.

“What are you saying? You think this dress could cheat on me?” I asked feeling worried.

“Are you kidding? I’d let that dress press up against my breasts in a New York minute,” my friend whispered seductively, which really disturbed me, so I left to meet my family for dinner.

“What were you thinking? A dress like this? How can it be practical?” my mother was having trouble controlling herself. “It’s not like you’ll wear it in stormy weather. And you’ll trip in the high heels needed to keep that hemline from dragging on the floor and you’ll break something.”

My mother was always exaggerating. My children would feel differently.

“We liked the nice dress you wore everyday when we were born,” my kids chimed in together. “Please, mommy?”

“But you know how I feel about that ratty old thing. Besides it’s been given away to Goodwill. Who knows what other woman could be parading around in it these days,” I reminded them. They looked disdainfully at the new dress I had on and slowly shook their heads.

Back at the mall I sat forlornly watching other women walk happily around in their basic dresses. I asked a few of them how long they’d had theirs and was given answers that ranged from many years to six decades. How in the world were they all able to do this?

“Gentle cycle only,” one elderly woman confided in me. “And I mend it as soon as any threads unravel.” I nodded with appreciation. But that still didn’t explain how one dress could meet all their every day needs. And how they didn’t become bored with it.

More determined, I went into a bookstore and read up on fashion for hours. I became so knowledgable, I felt like I could even design my own gown, but I had a better idea. I found a resale consignment clothing store and bought a simple dress that looked like it had been well cared for by a previous owner. I drove, holding the dress in my arms to a dry-cleaners I knew did alterations.

I had photographs of all the revamping I wanted done. Much of it was rather drastic, but the dress would be more versatile and exciting when I needed it to be. And I wanted zippers added to attach and detach parts of the dress to really change it up!

“You vant excitement?” Olga, the Russian seamstress asked me, “You do exciting things vearing this dress. That’s all. I not alter this dress. You vill tank me later.”

Rude much? Unbelievable. I stared at the dress but to my surprise, I suddenly felt a strong attachment for it welling up inside me. But still I kept the tags on — I was no dummy anymore. Plus I had a real case of the jitters, like I should buy several others as back-ups in case this one didn’t come through for me, but something prevented me from doing any more shopping that day.

Throughout the months to come, I wore the dress everywhere and discovered a big secret. Accessorizing! I added a belt and the dress became perfect for editorial meetings. Diamond drop earrings and my hair in an updo and the dress took me out dancing. I put on a string of pearls and dark sunglasses and my dress saw me through a heartbreaking funeral. And really, when you think about it, not many dresses can do that. This dress obviously had my back, literally.

One day while walking past the consignment store where I’d found my beautiful garment, I noticed a sign in the window. “Make sure you like it. All sales Final.” Gosh, I’d kept the tag on all this time as a precautionary measure, just in case. But I felt no panic. This time there was something very reassuring about the word — ‘Final.’

I gingerly patted the soft sleeve and reached inside to pull out the cardboard tag that had been feeling kinda scratchy against my arm all this time, and gave it a tiny tug. It came off easily in my hand and I saw there was handwriting on the back where the price was stamped. “Sewn with Love by Olga. Wear in Love for Life.”

I’m keeping my dress. And the tag. Forever. Because I finally understand what it means to be all in.

 

 

 

Lessons I Learned From Going on Dates and Bringing my Toy!

There was a time when first meetings with men from online websites consisted solely of mundane beach walks and ho-hum coffee talks. But then I decided to make it more interesting and bring some “props.”  Here’s some of the takeaway and things I gleaned:

BUBBLES

From my purse I extracted two tiny vials of soap bubbles purchased from Target. This was not as bizarre as it sounds because we were sitting in a park.

HIM: Bubbles. Really??

Me: I think they’re fun! Let’s see who can blow and preserve the most by catching them on our wands.

HIM: Sure.

Me: Uh, could you stop intentionally poking my bubbles? That’s literally the opposite of what I suggested we do.

HIM: Just ten more?

Me: Really. It’s very important to me to see how long a beautiful but fragile bubble can last. Don’t you put stock in symbolism??

HIM: Sorry. I can’t seem to stop. Pop! Pop! Pop!

Little children began to gather around us, but the date actually ended when my dream bubble literally burst as it dawned on me that (after five days of non-stop compatible emailing) this was someone who was either mean-spirited or had a strange case of OCD and I should certainly “blow off” any further dates with him.

PLAY-DOH

From my purse, I deftly pulled out five mini canisters of that iconic children’s colored modeling compound and sniffed the distinctive scent (always takes me back fifty years!) then watched as the smile faded from my date’s face. I then proceeded to roll out a replica of his annoying frown using red Play-Doh and stuck it on the blue ball of Play-Doh, which now represented his dumb head! But he wouldn’t participate because he said he doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. Then he chastised me for combining the different colors together because (his words!) it will be hard to separate them and put them away neatly. The date ended when he inquired, “So how long have you been a preschool teacher?” And I responded, “I’m not. What an odd question. Whatever made you think I was?”

SILLY PUTTY

I withdrew from my purse (I know! I’ve got some great purse, huh?!) the classic red plastic egg which housed the addictive Silly Putty and handed it to my date to see how he’d use it. He was very enthusiastic! This was a great sign. Game on! But instead of pinching it, rolling it, or putting his thumb into it to make a hollow hole and then squeezing it tightly to produce the loudest, most satisfying cracking sound ever, he asked to see my drivers license. What?? Over and over he pressed the flat rubbery substance against my photo and after it magically transferred onto the Silly Putty, he’d distort my image by pulling it this way and that while murmuring things like, “Look! You’ve got the longest nose in the world. Honk honk!  And the skinniest neck, giraffe lady! Haha.” And “I’m gonna make your hair stick up even further than it actually does. Watch!” Game over. Date definitely over. PS. Even if he didn’t make my face look grotesquely cartoonish, he had some weird accent that made him refer to it as “Silly Potty” and there was only so much of that I could take.

JACKS

It did not help matters that my timing with this specific object was rather unfortunate because this guy’s name was actually “Jack” and he thought by picking this particular toy, I was insinuating that he was a “Player.” Sheesh, some people put too much stock in symbolism. He also kept asking, “What era did you grow up in? My great great great grandmother played Jacks.” There were too many “greats” in his sentence for my liking. Finally we lost the little red ball completely and he thought a better game was to see who could stand upon all the Jacks the longest (barefoot!) without grimacing.

LITE-BRITE

Remember this beloved contraption with the little colored pegs? I should have known how this would turn out when I texted my date, asking him to bring batteries so we could use my favorite “toy.” He immediately messaged back, “Oh, I’m on it, babe! And I can’t wait for you to be on it, too. Heh heh.” Words cannot describe how disappointed he was to see what I actually had in mind for a “toy” when we met in real life.  But my bigger mistake? Lite-Brite only works in a dim room. And therefore it was in the dark co-ed public restroom with the door locked, when my mind became fully illuminated that Lite-Brite should never be attempted with a Grope Dope.

SLINKY

This man used the wonderful metal spring to bind my wrists and ankles to the park bench and then stole my purse and cellphone while singing the original product jingle — “Slinky, Slinky, it’s fun for a girl and a boy.”

MAGIC 8-BALL

What do you do with a guy who cannot understand that you can only ask a Magic 8-Ball “yes or no” questions? This isn’t a difficult concept, seriously! Yet he kept asking it things like, “What will Stephanie be like in bed?” and “How many times will Stephanie climax?” and “Where’s the most unique place we’ll do it?” Finally, out of frustration I shouted, “No!  Don’t you get it? You can’t ask stuff like that. You have to ask something like, “Will Stephanie sleep with me even though I’m a complete idiot?” He was thrilled this suggestion came directly from me and made this exact inquiry three different times, claiming the answers in a row were, “It is decidedly so” and “Without a doubt!” and “You may rely on it” but then he’d shake the black ball up really quickly before I could verify any of that. Which was a moot point anyhow because “my sources (AND my senses!) said “No f*#@ing way.”

Barbie & Ken Dolls

Really I thought these toys would have zero chance of coming out of my purse, but to my surprise his reaction was, “Cool. How about we use them to act out different gender issues and dating challenges by utilizing their bodies and our voices.” Creative. I’m liking it! Then he actually suggests that he’ll be Barbie (It was really a Midge doll, but did he need to know that?) and use her to depict the type of woman he likes to be with. This oughta be interesting. And then he tells me to be Ken. Ha. Fat chance. But hey, if I can learn some telltale things, it’s probably worth talking in an embarrassingly deep voice.

Ken: Hey baby. How about you and I play a little Lite-Brite in the public bathroom??

Barbie: I don’t do sexual innuendo. Let’s grab a salad and see the live version of Les Miserábles.

(Salad, not pizza? And OMG that’s my absolute favorite show! Nobody ever wants to see that show. This guy has potential.) 

Ken: Are you sure? Okay hop in and we’ll take the “scenic” route. Heh heh.

Barbie: Sorry. I don’t let guys I’ve just met drive me places. I make it a rule to meet them there.

Ken: (slaps Barbie’s ass) Hard to get! That gets me hard.

Barbie (slaps Ken’s face)

Ken: Man, you’re a prudish bitch.

Barbie: Yeah. And quirky too. But I’m sure they’ll be another Bimbo err Barbie who will be into it with you. Good luck with your herpes.

Quirky? It’s like someone gave this guy the CliffNotes on me before he arrived. Immediately I snatch the dolls and stuff them away in my bag, and pull out this favorite childhood toy instead.

Because finally I found someone who’s a barrel of fun and perhaps a guy I’ll truly want to have a little monkey business with. 😉

Readers: What’s your favorite Childhood Toy? Leave it in the comments!

You’ve Heard of Ghost Writing Before, But Ghost Dating??

A ghostwriter is hired to write literary works that are officially credited to another person as the author. There is normally an included clause for anonymity so the ghostwriter can never steal the person’s thunder, which doesn’t seem quite fair since he/she is the person doing all the hard work!

I’ve ghostwritten material before, in fact even other blogs. Consider this: You may have just come from reading another post on WordPress that I am secretly the author of? Hey, it could happen!

But in the online dating world? You betcha! I’ve created many profiles for people who pay me to compose a creative ad because they’re at a loss for words as to how to best describe themselves or what to say to captivate someone to be interested enough to respond.

I charge a fee for this, which gets rather tricky when my friends approach me and ask me to write one for them “as a favor.”

In instances like this, bartering seems to be the best approach. For instance, I recently did a complimentary profile for a local eligible bachelor acquaintance who just happened to be a renowned surgeon. In return, he took my daughter’s tonsils out for free. That’s a great deal, right? (Especially when you consider that my “chatty” teenager had to be quiet for days ….yay! — and his new cool profile might procure him a wife who births bunches of children with more unnecessary body organs he can operate on all he wants!) That’s a win/win if ever there was one.

By the way, I created his profile headline to go something like this:

I’m Good With My Hands, So Can I Grab Your Heart?

Nobody had to know it involves anesthesia, right?

The big game-changer in all of this was when my female best friend not only asked me to write her a stunning profile, but begged me to go one step further and also compose (on her behalf) any replies to interested respondents. In return she would trade a month’s worth of homemade meals since she was a professional chef. Yum! (Cyrano de Bergerac  without the big nose anyone??)  Game on!

In the beginning it was easy because my friend didn’t attract many intelligent potential suitors. These dullard men were impressed by anything I wrote that went above “Hey there, Handsome!” or “Wow, you have a nice smile!”

Soon she wanted me to modify her profile so she WOULD draw in a higher caliber of man. Yep, she wanted me to (gasp!) lie about her appearance, her profession, and her hobbies. Within minutes I took her from a mousy brown-haired receptionist in a law office who enjoyed scrapbooking — to an alluring raven-tressed attorney with a passion for naked chess.

(Hey if there can be strip-poker, why not a more intellectual game also played in the nude?)

And by the way, I crafted her profile headline to go something like this:

If You Can Sustain an Objection, Let’s Adjourn to the Bedroom Cuz I’ve Got a Great Rebuttal!

Soon the responses began to pour in like crazy and I was very busy fielding them back with clever, smart retorts. The first week I got paid in lasagna, chicken cacciatore, beef stroganoff, and cobb salad!

I met with my girlfriend to show her all the people I was corresponding with “as her.” She was quite impressed with the lively conversations I was able to develop. But one online dialogue stood out the most for her. It was with someone in the medical field and our messages were full of volleying sexual quips back and forth and our tremendous internet chemistry literally leapt off the screen. Here’s an example of one of our initial communications:

Me: Hi! I’m sure you’re a doctor with a lot of patience. Maybe you’d like to give me a shot?

Him: That depends. Would it all be in vein?

Me: Oh you’re so funny. I can’t wait to hear what you’ll prescribe for my relief from this excruciatingly painful experience of online dating.

Him: Well I’m actually a surgeon, so I hope I make the final cut. You might say I’m The Wizard of Gauze.

Me: Haha. You have me in stitches, Dr!

“Ohhhhh! That’s the guy I want to be with,” my friend announced matter-of-factly after reading page after page of our witty rapport.

“Are you sure he’s the one?” I asked. “Maybe one of the other men would be a better match?”

“Nope, I’ve made up my mind. Can you set up the initial meeting date?”

“Okaaaaay. I’ll write to him tonight,” I hesitatingly confirmed. “Should it be in the day or evening?”

“When are you available?” she inquired.

I stood there incredulous. “Wait! You want ME to go and meet him for you?  Am I supposed to sleep with him too??”

She deliberated a moment, then told me that wouldn’t be necessary because she’d take it from there. I looked at her skeptically, but she threw in a fettuccine alfredo PLUS key-lime pie, so at that point I had no choice but to proceed.

The night of the big meeting approached and I was nervous at how to explain this entire complicated predicament. The doctor and I got along famously, just as well in fact as we did when he first hired me to write his dating profile and then again in the recovery room after he’d taken out my daughter’s tonsils.

Handsome, smart, funny. I almost wished I was available to date him. But then I remembered what was happening.

Him: So thank you again Stephanie for handling all these many email responses for me. Boy these women sure like to type, huh? It’s been a really busy week in the hospital and you’ve responded to these even better than I could.

Me: Yes well, I guess that’s what happens when you have a son who breaks his leg in football and needs a cast. Thank you for your medical barter —  Can you give me a quick eye-lift next week too?

Him:  You’ve earned it, Sugar. And I love how you had me say, “All in vein.” Ha ha. I wouldn’t have thought being so punny could turn a woman on so much. And look at her response about being in stitches after finding out that I’m a surgeon…boy she can certainly hold her own, eh? She must kill the jury in the courtroom.  Please write to her immediately and tell her I want to set up a meeting with the woman who entertained me so much!

I wanted to tell him, “Uh, You’re actually having it right this very moment.”

Instead I went home, quickly gathered up my recovering son and daughter, (plus all my deliciously pre-made meals!) and absconded to a deserted mountain cabin.

Whether the both of them finally figured out they were simultaneously paying me to write their emails and that all along, I was actually just talking to ….. myself, I’ll never know. But that will be the last time I dabble in ghost-writing!

Should You Start Parenting Yourself? “We’ll See!”

There’s a theory floating around these days that if you missed out on crucial emotionally satisfying input from your mother and/or your father as a child, you will walk around seeking what you lacked in your past via other people in your present. Particularly in romantic relationships. Uh oh!

There’s another theory wafting about that says (and I’m over-simplifying) that when you become upset in life, you actually have what it takes to soothe and comfort yourself.

Now nobody has come out and combined both of these theories together in a weirdly logical way, but I will boldly integrate them right now by asking the obvious question. “Can we just be our own parent and become happy and content forever??”

Always up for a multiple personality experiment to help my blog content, (Translation=I LIKE talking to myself!) I will give it a try for the next 24-hours.

My name is Stephanie so therefore a Capital “S” IN BOLD will be the version of my parent side and lower-case “s’ will represent me, the woman I actually am today.  Ready?  Here I go….

s: Wow, it’s really colder outside than it looked. I’m freezing right now.

S: That’s what you get when you don’t keep an extra sweater or jacket in your car.

s: Yes that would have been smart. But right now, I’m super hungry and am going to focus on picking up some food at Le Fondue.

S: Le Fondue? Do you think money grows on trees? And stop frowning, do you want your face to freeze that way?

s: The answers to those questions respectively are Maybe and Botox. But seriously, all my friends get salads, soups, and crepes from Le Fondue.

S: Well if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do that too? Now go home and cook something healthy.

s: Why would all my friends do that? Unless of course, they all had a mother like you.

S: Don’t you get smart with me! Did you hear me? Answer my question.

s: No, of course I wouldn’t jump off a bridge. But why do I have to go home?

S: Because I said so.

s: Well then can I eat at Le Fondue tomorrow night?

S: Ask your father.

Alright, alright. I’m not doing 24 hours of this nonsense, I cannot even do five minutes. I guess the point is that our “inner parent” may not be much better than our original childhood role model was. (Oh hi mom! This blog is not about you, it’s supposed to be humorous and fictional.)

Well if theory number one (above) is true, then I guess the man I’m embarking on a new relationship with may get slightly frustrated with me from time to time. I suppose he can always just say, “As long as you’re living under my roof, you’ll behave appropriately.” Wait a sec, that doesn’t seem quite right either. Hmmm.

Well until I figure all this relationship/childhood/happiness/life stuff out, this post can serve another purpose — my covert way of officially welcoming him to the WordPress blogosphere because he’s trying out blogging for the very first time.  If you’d like to read some terrific and eclectic poetry and prose, you can take a shortcut to peruse his stuff right HERE. 

Meanwhile, I’m off to buy a special Time-Out chair so that when I tell myself, “I’ve had just about enough of you and your shenanigans, Young Lady!” I’ll have a designated place to sit in seclusion — because I’m really not disciplined enough to ground myself (without a car or cellphone!) for an entire weekend.

 

Object of Affection Vs. Object of Obsession?

Have you seen the new Netflix television series called “YOU?” It’s based on the novel of the same name and it’s unsettling, to say the least. But the concept can also be confusing because . . .

Falling in REAL love can make you act irrationally and exhibit emotional and physiological instability. Don’t believe me? Click HERE for scientific research. That’s right! You become focused solely on the person you’re head over heels with, and think of nothing else for weeks on end. It closely mimics obsession.

How then can you tell the difference between someone exhibiting the above symptoms (especially with love at first sight, or the beginning stages of becoming smitten) and an imbalanced type of personality who may even have stalker potential?

Obviously certain cases of the latter are extremely easy to identify. Having lots of experience in the single, online dating world has earned me more than my fair share of horror stories.  One man I messaged with (a mere two times!) is an example of someone who needs to wear one of those tee-shirts that proclaim, “I am the guy your mother warned you about!”

 

Long story short, my dating profile made the mistake of mentioning I was published on The Huffington Post. Somehow he ascertained my real last name and found my articles there. From that point he was able to find my cellphone number and then (utilizing a kind of “reverse caller ID location app”) obtain my home address and show up that night ringing my doorbell. You can imagine my shock. Especially because he wasn’t holding a large cheese pizza since that was what I’d just ordered.

But let’s not write-off these Creeper types as ignorant or unintelligent. They read! They google!  All they need is one article like this “17 Signs of Falling in Love that Make it Real and they can adopt every single one of these traits and voilá … you’re likely to be fooled!

That’s why you have my blog to demonstrate sure-fire ways to discern the difference (using examples from a wide variety of categories and behaviors below) just by examining subtle nuances. Stuff you’d never even think about if it weren’t for me. You’re welcome!

Level of Observance

With Love — They’ll watch you doze

With Stalker — They’ll watch you decompose

Favorite Veggie

With Love — Heart-shaped red radishes

With Stalker — Celery Stalks

Social Media

With Love — Finds you on Facebook

With Stalker — You find yourself on How to Use “MaceBook.”

Telephone Etiquette

With Love — “You hang up first. No YOU hang up first. Okay, let’s both hang up together. 1, 2, 3 Go!”

With Stalker — They hang up on your voicemail message. 123 times a day.

Thoughts

With Love — You’re always on my mind.

With Stalker — You’re out of your mind.

Favorite Dessert

With Love — Raspberry crêpe with whipped cream

With Stalker — HarrassBerry Creep with unzipped scheme

Gifts

With Love — Flowers, mementos, cards, candy, concert tickets

Stalker — All the above, but given as Stalking Stuffers — even though it’s not Xmas!

Favorite Scent

With Love — Calvin Klein “Obsession”

With Stalker — Victoria’s Secret “Love”

 

I know that seems reversed just to throw you off track — but never fear, “The Nose Knows!”

Favorite Song

With Love — “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles

With Stalker — “Jeepers, Creepers, Where’d Ya Get Those Peepers?” 2nd Fave – “Every Breath You Take” by the Police

Favorite Quote

With Love — “Love means never having to say you’re sorry!”

With Stalker — “Love means never having to say calamari.”

This means when you’re in a seafood restaurant with a Creeper type, you won’t be forced to order the squid. And that’s a pretty redeeming trait!

Readers: I’ve made light of this topic in this post, but stalking is a serious crime. If you or someone you know is a victim, there are resources for help HERE.

The Security Guard’s Relationship With Me (That He Didn’t Know He Was Having!)

It all started one day this past summer after moving to a townhouse inside a gated community with a real live security guard who sits in a little shack by the entrance and monitors everyone’s comings and goings. You know the modern version of the kind who shouts, “Hark! Who Goes There?”

As I unpacked boxes — lamenting my lack of closet space, my phone rang with news that my little Shih-Tzu had been picked up by the Gate Guard. “Thank goodness her collar tags still reflect my same cell number even though my address has changed,” I said aloud as I rushed over to claim my Lola.

“Better be careful with this little one,” admonished the Gate Guard with raised eyebrow, “She almost crossed that busy street.” Great. The Gate Guard thinks I’m a negligent pet owner now.

That night we ordered pizza. Obviously. What family doesn’t order pizza on moving day? My cellphone rang and as I answered it, I heard the gate guard tell the driver that it sure smelled good. Guiltily, I granted permission for him to let Papa Antonio’s delivery service through the gate. “Extra cheese??” the Gate Guard commented to me in what could have been considered a very indicting tone. Great. The Gate Guard knows I’m lactose intolerant and undisciplined now.

The more people who came to see my new place, the more self-conscious I became. It seemed to me the Gate Guard knew everything about my life just from the types of visitors I had. “I wonder why so many men come through here asking for her address?” I imagined him contemplating luridly. After the fifth guy came before noon, I felt an explanation was needed. “You see, I’ve been having a lot of work done on my place today and right now I have a clogged toilet and a hornet’s nest on my back patio,” I offered weakly when he called to get my okay for two more fellows named, “Buzz Hoff” and “John’s Flush” to be let through.

“Uh huh. Whatever,” the Gate Guard said flippantly. Great. The Gate Guard thinks I’m running a house-of ill-repute now. How judgmental.

It wasn’t long before I was certain the Gate Guard (Whom I’d taken to referring as “GG” now) formulated a strong hunch that I wasn’t much of a cook. I pictured him welcoming Chinese, Greek, Mexican, and yes more Italian food trucks into our community and pointing them all toward my place with sort of a disapproving look on his face. And that’s why, when I passed him by one day on foot on the way to the mailboxes, I felt obliged to let him know my oven was broken. “I’m sure it is,” he responded, grinning widely. Great. GG knows I’m a liar now. 

GG also became quite familiar with my mother and probably thought it was really lame that she’d already come over here 18 times in the two weeks since I’d moved in. That accounts for the reason I exclaimed loudly out my rolled-down car window the next time I exited through his shack, “We’re Jewish!” while he looked bewildered and yelled out after I passed, “Well….Shalom then, I guess!” Great. GG thinks I’m a religious fanatic now. Such Chutzpa!

During a stressful week that was particularly prolific with pizza, GG (who also rides around on a golf-cart patrolling our neighborhood, ridding us of burglars and kidnappers, but probably more often dealing with sidewalk solicitors) passed me walking on the street late at night and slowed down to ask real friendly-like, “Getting some much needed exercise after all that pizza?” Great. GG thinks I’m getting fat now. What nerve.

“I have two constantly hungry teenagers,” I justified. “And I only eat the veggie toppings and spit out the cheese!” Great. GG knows I have an eating disorder now.

When he passed me by again a full 2.5 hours later, still riding on his stupid golf-cart, he came to a complete stop this time looking incredulous and inquired, “Still walking??”

“Yes. I have to stay out here until my pedometer says 11 miles or until my watch says 11:11pm, whichever comes second.” He gave a weird little nod, issued a tentative wave, and sped quickly away. Great. GG knows I have obsessive compulsive disorder now. 

During Thanksgiving, I had my mother and a few other family members over for dinner, all except my four older kids who sadly all moved far away. I noticed GG was burning the midnight oil in his little guard shack after my guests departed. I decided to take him a food care-package because everyone deserves to eat turkey and pumpkin pie. When he slid open his glass door I said, “You’re the same age as my son who couldn’t come home tonight. Thought you’d enjoy.” He took it, thanked me, but added that his own mother was keeping dinner warm for him. He emphasized the words, “My OWN MOTHER.” Great. GG thinks I’m some sad little empty-nester who wants to adopt him now. 

A few days later, a survey came in the mail asking how the community has been running? It also asked for feedback on certain employees, including the Gate Guards, of which there were several. I filled it out and wrote a comment specifically about GG which went like this, “GG does his job okay, but he’s very presumptuous and jumps to all sorts of conclusions about my lifestyle. He’s nosy and invades privacy. I would appreciate it if you’d tell him to keep his opinions to himself, otherwise you should probably fire him because he makes your residents feel very uncomfortable.” I then realized I didn’t know his real name so they wouldn’t know who I was specifically referring to.

I drove down to the shack and knocked matter-of-factly until GG opened the window and I could lean my head in closer to scrutinize his name badge. He instinctively took a few steps back so I couldn’t read anything at all. Great. GG thinks I’m a Mrs. Robinson type and I’m here to seduce him now. And so I said, “Relax, I just need your name.”

“My name is Gregory Garrison, but my good friends call me GG. And by the way your pumpkin pie was better than my moms, you’re an excellent cook and the nicest, most interesting resident I’ve met since working here. They told me if I don’t get enough good reviews, I’m going to be let go after Christmas. I just wanted to tell you that you’ll be the one I’ll miss the most.”

I stood with my mouth wide open, completely dumbfounded. Great. GG probably thinks I’m shy and at a loss for words now.

But I wasn’t. I drove immediately home to erase my comment on the survey form. In it’s place I printed these emphatic words. “Gregory Garrison, (GG) is an asset to our community and should be given a raise for his competency…. but especially for his sweet, caring, personable behavior.

Dear Readers, Is there someone doing a regular job in your life that you are either completely oblivious to or have the wrong impression of? Reaching out or giving the benefit of the doubt is such a wonderful thing. Happy Holidays!

Debating or Deliberating (Online) Dating? 8 Weird Tips!

The time has come. You’ve moved into the age of digital technology with reading your books on Amazon Kindle, conducting online banking, posting social media, streaming movies, downloading music, applying to job websites, placing restaurant To-G0 orders, and a whole host of other realms. Now you’re gonna matchmake for yourself on the world wide web!

Here are 8 Unique Do’s and Don’t’s you won’t read elsewhere:

  1. If given the choice between making up a personalized User Name (Like Love4Life4U) or just a plain assigned number, (like 24601 for you Les Mis fans) opt for the latter. That way when you write to potential dates you can say witty things in your salutation messages like, “Your days are numbered!” or “Your number’s up.” And if your assigned digits turn out to be 157391, you can always open with, “Hi there! I’d sure love to get ‘even’ with you!”
  2. A new online dating catchphrase is, “Looking for my partner in crime!” Now everyone knows your future mate doesn’t want your vague generalities, so take great pains to spell out the nitty gritty details — specify who will be the getaway driver and who hands the teller the hold-up note. This way your Bonnie and Clyde relationship is sure to start off getting a life sentence . . . of happiness.
  3. Some people purposely set up their profiles to sound like used clothing, cars, or furniture “For Sale” ads on Craigs list. While it’s okay to be cute and describe yourself with adjectives like, “Well loved” or “Gently distressed” or “Comes from a smoke-free home” — for goodness sake don’t say, “Carefully ridden!” unless you truly are offering your bicycle to the highest bidder.
  4. Always attempt to write a bit more than just a single word under the category called “Personality.” Sometimes I’ll only see, “Terrific!” or “Radiant!” or simply, “Humble” and I’m thinking, “Who is this I’m gonna be dating? The spider from Charlotte’s Web?”
  5. NEVER read the site’s question prompts very carefully before answering. For instance, Plenty of Fish asks everyone, “Are you ambitious?” and most people just fill in the blank with “Yes!” Or “Very!” Unless of course they’re honest and just state, “Not really!” But one guy wrote, “I try never to be vague or puzzling. I hope I’ve made myself clear!” I couldn’t resist messaging him for an explanation on his answer. It turns out he thought he was being asked, “Are you ambiguous?” Weeks later I noticed that even after I made him aware of the real question, he kept his answer the same . . . he was no dummy, he was receiving more attention from baffled women like me than if he’d given the standard boring answer every other guy did!
  6. It’s been said before, but be sure and put up VERY recent photos of yourself because they’re just going to meet you in real life eventually and feel misled and fooled if you don’t look like your image. However there seems to be a popular new trend of people posting photographs of themselves back from their heyday (and captioning them with the true date so there’s no confusion) as if to say, “See what you missed out on by not answering this ad twenty years ago??” If you choose to take this tact, definitely also post a photo of you 15 years from now looking especially decrepit and feeble with the words, “And if you hesitate even longer, here’s what our future holds!” That will surely make them respond in a heartbeat….or at least hopefully before yours ceases.
  7. Try to write back to those people you aren’t interested in with some sort of constructive criticism so they can improve their odds the next time around. Say, “Nice eyes, but maybe lose the tarantula.” Or once you’re absolutely certain they live very far away, you could encourage them by saying, “Sorry, geographically undesirable, but I’m sure some nice woman on Mars will fall hard for you!” Or just do what I do and send them a screenshot of their profile and your red pen marks throughout with obnoxious editing suggestions inviting them to try again. So far I’ve gotten 18 resubmitted back to me with all the corrections made and improved hooks and conclusions, leading me to publish an Anthology of Online Dating Profiles in 2019. Look for it!
  8. Stop putting “Must Love . . . ” i.e. “Must Love Dogs, or Cats, or Kids, or Handmaid’s Tale, or Democrats” or whatever you need them to adore fervently. And switch to what they must detest. That’s right, you can bond over mutual hatred. Personally I like to write, “Must totally loathe mushrooms, olives, and anchovies!” so I know that when they show up disinterested in robbing a bank with me, not looking anything like their photo, or holding a tarantula, we can at least share a decent pizza.

Readers:  Any unusual dating profile advice you might want to give one another?? Feel free to leave it in the comments.

Illustrative of couple representing online dating

Can You Have TOO Many Tips, Tricks, & Techniques For a Healthy Relationship?

Most people (and by people, I mean women!) who want lasting romantic love will (at some point!) delve into the Couple’s Self-Help industry, whether it be to further intimacy, increase the quality of communication, or just breathe new life into a relationship gasping for air.

But can you have TOO much of a good thing?

The answer to that question is in a flashback from many months ago…

Me: Oh…Flowers!? And you thought flowers would validate my self-worth because??

Him: Shouldn’t you ask that question using “i messages” so I don’t feel so blamed?

Me: Yes, of course. How thoughtless of me. Let me rephrase. When did I ever say getting flowers was how I felt love?

Him: Well you clearly scored high in the “Receiving Gifts” category in the test Gary Chapman, author of 5 Love Languages, has on his website.

Me: Actually Handsome One, I scored the highest in a category called, “Words of Affirmation,” hence I’m a writer.

Him: Well you overlooked the card, Dear Heart. There are lots of words of affirmation written on that card under the purple tulip next to the baby’s breath.

Me: Also if you recall, “Quality Time” was my second highest ranked Love Language.

Him: Right. And do you realize it took an hour to order this bouquet online and then another 45 minutes for me to drive to pick it up just for you?

Me:  i messages please !!!

Him: Sorry, let me rephrase that. I spent a lot of time doing something I felt would be loving and now I just feel criticized. Mirror that back for me, would you SweetCakes?

Me: Sure thing Honeybear! What I hear you saying is … you feel very put down after spending a lot of time on something you thought would make me happy. Even though I’m allergic and flowers also just wilt and drop dead, which is ironic and symbolic. Is that an accurate reflection?

Him: All except the drop dead part. Well maybe that’s spot-on too right now.

Me: I want to acknowledge your frustration and say this is a problem we can definitely work on as a team and find a good solution.

Him: Can you also acknowledge a good solution would be giving me a blow-job?

And now a flashback from several weeks ago, with different self-help techniques, but still a similar ending.

Him: Gosh, I’m starving. Let’s reminisce about old times. Our Relationship Therapist says walking down memory lane is productive in that it bonds us together. So remember when we first started going out and you used to cook all my favorite homemade meals?

Me: But our other Couple’s Counselor also tells us not to dwell on the past and to stay grounded in the present moment. And at precisely this moment, there’s a chicken pot pie in the freezer with your name on it.

Him: But my mother always served those cheap Swanson’s TV dinners to my dad and you know how our Love Advisor doesn’t want our family-of-origin old wounds to get reopened. So how’s about some of your BBQ meatloaf?

Me: Ironically, my own Inner Child’s traumatic hurt has now just been triggered as well by the mention of meatloaf.

Him: Meatloaf triggers you?? What are you, a closet vegetarian?

Me: Once while my dad was spanking me for lying, the famous band Meat Loaf’s most popular song, “I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that!” played on the radio.

Him: Really? And this memory scarred you so much — you would do anything for our love except cook me your homemade meatloaf??

Me: That is correct. You microwaving chicken pot pie is much more cathartic for us as a couple.

Him: Well you know how our psychologist tells us to role-play painful situations in order to move past them?

Me: Yes?

Him: (Bending me over his knee, hand raised threateningly over my behind as he shouts, “Who’s Your Daddy?” while Bat Out of Hell plays on his iPhone.)

And finally here’s a flashback from just yesterday:

Me: Let’s spend more quality time appreciating one another. Remember the Intimacy Bootcamp we attended where they said the idea is not to have sex, but to just be more mindful of each other’s bodies and souls?

Him: The one that made us take salsa dance lessons together, do partner yoga, share our fantasies all night instead of sleeping, pen erotica until I got writer’s cramp, and then forced us to do couple’s massage with that coconut oil that made you break out in a rash?

Me: Yes, that’s the one.

Him: The one that said “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey?” And “It’s not the finished product, it’s the process.” And “It’s not the size of the boat, it’s the motion of the ocean.”

Me: (looking skeptical) They never said that last one.

Him: Well let’s go in the bedroom and check out my yacht anyhow.

Me: Wait! I’m going to reference what you just said in the index of our book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Have a Healthy Relationship with Someone Who Makes Everything About Sex and Food.”

Him: Great! And meanwhile I’ll just look up what you’re doing in our other book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Have a Healthy Relationship With Someone Who Looks in the Index of Books Titled, What To Expect When You’re Expecting to Have a Healthy Relationship With Someone Who Makes Everything About Sex and Food.”

Me: (Sigh) Okay you win….Meatloaf or Intercourse?

Him: Yes, please.

Me: You honestly want both sex and food right now at the same time?

Him: I’m feeling judged. Say that again using i messages, please.

Me: I honestly want both sex and food right now at the same time!

Him: Perfect. I knew we were soul mates.