Two Years To the Date of When I First Saw Your Face

Celebrating usIt’s been two years today since that fateful afternoon we first met face-to-face. After hours of talking, as late afternoon turned into night, warmth turned into a chill we tried to recapture by the outdoor stove, we realized we’d both been holding in our pee until we were about to burst, just so as not to part company. Unfortunately, by then every store in the area was closed. I suggested the Taco Bell that was less than a minute drive away. We laughed at ourselves that we wouldn’t stop talking until our bodies insisted we do, and we are still laughing about it today.

Not much has changed when it comes to the endless talking, which now continues right up until you fall asleep. We make each other laugh so hard, tears come out of our eyes sometimes, or I snort, which only makes us laugh harder. We cherish how words and emotions just pour out of ourselves when we’re together. There’s no façade or hiding parts of ourselves we’d like to keep in the dark. Together, we sort through the darkness until we find light, tend to each others wounds until it feels safe to breathe strong again.

You have done so quite literally for me on and off over the last six or so months. When my exuberant old, energetic physical self eventually sizzled out on me, you were there to pick me up, to hold my limbs until I stopped trembling, to care for me when I could not do so for myself, to feed and nourish my body, mind and soul.

You never stopped believing in me. You never gave up. You continued to search for answers, and rejoiced when I was able to strongly stand on my own two feet again. You gave me another reason to not give up and sink back into pity or despair.

Life is not perfection, nor do I think it’s meant to be. Stress has weighed on us in various ways along the path that has only tested our resolve. Our imaginations sometimes get the better of us. We super-sensitive souls occasionally face bumps when we misinterpret what the other really means but think is not really saying. A little more than a year ago, we almost allowed that to break us apart completely…But we always wind up reaching to come back to each other, stronger, more committed to filling our lives with joy and harmony together.

We have created so many wonderful memories over the past two years. We’ve created a home and life together that promises to only get better and better with age. You inspire me and encourage me every day. You lift me out of my despair. You rejoice in my accomplishments and triumphs as if they were your own, just as I beam with pride over your own success. I’m proud of how we’ve grown individually and together since we decided to take this journey. I love who we are now and where we are headed.

No matter how long it has been since we last set eyes on each other, I look forward to your embrace as we return to each others presence. I look forward to the time we will fill with our voices and laughter tonight and the next night and the next night. I look forward to all the amazing adventures and experiences we have stretched out endlessly before us—together.

Learn What Singles in America Are Saying About Dating, Sex and Relationships From Match.com

MatchOn February 8, Match.com presented its first Singles In America panel to announce the results from its 2014 Singles in America study. The event was hosted by Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger, who was joined by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton and other sex and relationship experts. This is the fourth year Match.com has done a comprehensive study of singles in the U.S., and as always, there were some surprising findings.

Stanger opened up the discussion by asking, “Who in the audience went on a first date and knew it was the one—so much so that you planned your future?” While none of the dating and relationship bloggers in the audience admitted that they had, Stanger said she’s done it a million times. And she is not alone.

According to the Singles in America study, 51 percent surveyed in America said they imagined a future together with someone on their first date. What is perhaps even more surprising is that men do it more often than women.

Dr. Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist and chief scientific adviser to Match.com, felt the results made perfect sense. “Men are much more romantic than women are. They fall in love faster because they are so visual,” she said. “When they meet somebody that they really love, they want to bring them home to friends and family sooner. They want to move in sooner. Man have many more intimate conversations with their wives than women do with their husbands because women have intimate conversations with their girlfriends.”

Not sure who these husbands are having conversations with if their wives are chatting with their girlfriends—I think that’s more accurately called a monologue, but what do I know?

The panel was mixed as to whether the velocity of emotions that come with a man’s visual mindset gave their counterpart power.

“I do believe it’s about power, but what I’m searching for is equality.” Perez Hilton said of the very visual mindset of the gay male community.”

Leading sexpert and Bravo TV star Emily Morris said that while she loves her power, she felt that men’s visual mindset made them more fickle. A man might believe his Friday night date was the one…until he went out on his Saturday date.

Fisher disagreed. “I don’t think it’s about power—that’s a feminist thing that’s gotten into everyone’s head,” she said. “It’s about love and about trying to figure out, you know, who you’re going to spend your life, about who you’re going to spread your DNA into the next generation with.”

Another surprising study finding was that 59 percent of singles want to plan their first date together. Audience members and the panel agreed that the person who asks for the date should plan it. Stanger asked how this works.

“It’s entirely possible that they’re already beginning to negotiate who’s flexible, who’s dominating, who’s gonna play some sort of false impression of who they are,” said Fisher. “The first three minutes of meeting somebody are powerfully important for many, many reasons. The brain is constantly categorizing…”

In last year’s survey , the top two things dates were judged by were their teeth and grammar. This year, the top three were grammar, confidence and teeth. Respectively, they show youth and health, your psychological stability and your background.

Dinner reigned supreme for a first date activity. Stanger put it like this:

Drinks are an audition

Lunch is an interview

Coffee is cheap

And dinner is for romance

After a first date, 46 percent of men and 35 percent of women want there to be follow-up within 24 hours. Only 6 percent of men still abide by the 3-day rule. Fifty-one percent prefer a phone conversation, but texting is a close second.

Speaking of texting, ladies, put down your cell phones and breathe. Texting multiple times before the man replies is their biggest turn-off. And men, stop sending sexy photos—for women, that’s a big turn-off.

Statistics try to scare you into thinking that marriage-minded singles are a rare commodity these days. However, the Singles in America Study found 53 percent of singles want to get married, and a whopping 89 percent of singles believe you can still live happily ever after. And a big proportion of gay men and women also indicate they want to get married.

So where are people most likely to meet their last first date? You guessed it—online!

For more on singles, sex, dating and relationships, watch it here!

Live streaming video by Ustream**This is a sponsored post for Match.com**

Are You Really Ready to Love In Sickness and In Health?

Are You Really Ready to Love in Sickness and in HealthA Picture of Illness in Action is Worth a Thousand Words

In the year and a half that the Warrior Poet and I have been together, I’m managed to keep this part of me hidden from my love. It wasn’t a conscious decision for me to hide it from him; it just turned out that way. He just happened to catch me in a mostly good spell. And while I had occasional flare ups outside of his company, I had never showed signs of my movement disorder in front of him. He never had to see me at my weakest.

I never had to ask him the question I’d wound up having to ask several men before him: Are you really ready to love in sickness and in health?

Read the rest of my article at Singles Warehouse to find out if WP is ready to step up to the plate:

http://www.singleswarehouse.co.uk/2013/11/really-ready-love-sickness-health/

Judge Judy shares grown-up guidelines for moving in together

src: shutterstock

src: shutterstock

I was lingering after dinner the other night, with Inside Edition in the background (don’t judge—my parents always have it on leftover from watching the news the couple hours before), when I heard that something actually relevant to current circumstances in my own, real, non-celebrity life was about to be discussed. Surprisingly, words of wisdom were about to be imparted by that infamous courtroom reality star, and because it spoke specifically to the next stage of life I was entering, I was curious enough to listen. Yep, when Judge Judy shares grown-up guidelines for moving in together, I’m all ears.

Last month, Judge Judy released her book, What Would Judy Say? A Grown-Up Guide to Living Together With Benefits. In it, she pairs no-nonsense advice with humor about the highs and lows of moving in with someone before marriage. While some of what she shared were common sense tips that were emphasized by my live-in experiences from the past, there were a few that gave me pause.

Man is handing a house key to a womanWhile the judge recognized couples don’t find it romantic to set guidelines, she stressed the importance of setting down rules before moving in. Before you start joining together your lives and possessions even more, it’s important to consider important questions like this biggie: What happens if it doesn’t work out—who stays in the apartment?

“Write it all out, just so that there’s no wiggle room,” she advises on CBS This Morning. “There are courts for people marry and it doesn’t work out, but there are no courts for just living together.”

Judge Judy, who has been married three times, twice to husband Jerry, had three big rules for Inside Edition:

1. Keep your property separate

While Judge Judy believes you should split expenses in half, she has strong feelings about not having joint property. And she doesn’t mean to simply keep your bank accounts separate; she goes one step further: “No joint anything!  No joint dog, no joint time share, no joint car.” A big part of me has to agree.

My college boyfriend, with whom I lived, and I took several of the same courses. To save money, often he would buy books and course readers for a class, and we would just share them. This was all fine and dandy for my bank account at the time, but when we broke up, I was left with only notes from some of my most beloved classes while our books got dusty in his parents’ basement, never to be looked at again.

Yet that’s nothing compared to the next serious boyfriend after him. When I moved out, I left our shared CDs and DVDs, which actually wasn’t that bad since I’d burned most of the CDs before I actually moved out.  I left behind a powerful vacuum cleaner given to me that did so well with animal fur and dust. I also left the Tempur-Pedic California King-Sized mattress and bed that I’d purchased for us primarily because my body was in pain 24/7. The dog he later welcomed into the home after I left wound up chewing up the mattress. Grr!

287119554_d88909ba45_oAnd last, but most important of all—what cut me to the core—was that he wouldn’t let me take our two cats with me, despite the fact that he got them for me and despite the fact that it was I who fed them, cleaned up their mess, played with them, took them to the vet and loved them up more than he ever had and ever would. Thinking it was suitable punishment for me leaving him (and I think also thinking I could never leave the cats behind, thus I could never leave him), my ex refused to let me bring them home with me. Now they spend most of their time half-feral in the basement. My beloved boy has developed an autoimmune disease (like mama, like cat son) that causes his fur to fall off, unless he gets shots.

So yes, I get Judge Judy’s point.

 2. Postpone having kids until you have a wedding ring.

“I’m old fashioned in that respect,” she said. And she will have no disagreement from me. Still not 100 percent that having kids is even in the cards for me, I have no problem waiting until I am absolutely sure that their father is someone who I truly want to be in our lives for the long haul, and I know will be.

AND

3. Set a time limit for how long you’ll live together

This is such a huge one that I find so often overlooked. When so many of people my generation and younger go into living together as a trial run, the attitude seems to be when it stops being fun and starts being miserable more than 75 percent (give or take) of the time, that’s when you book it out the door. So people are living together six months… or six years.

For people who believe in marriage, after an extended period happily living together, the mind starts to roll over that quaint phrase my close friend Sarah gave me for some time in another relationship life, “He has to shit, or get off the pot.”

Src:Engagementrings.lovetoknow.com

Src:Engagementrings.lovetoknow.com

The problem is Judge Judy doesn’t advise how long a time limit you should set. And that totally depends on the individuals that make up the relationship and the circumstances in which they find themselves. I know one ex’s true colors didn’t truly start to come out in full force until about six months after living together, but with others, it may take a year or more, all depending how open, honest and intimate the relationship is in the first place.

So while I personally don’t have answers for that, I would probably say that for me, if I have been with someone for three years, and at least a full year or more of that time has been living together, I would seriously hope my partner knew by then if he wanted to marry me or not—and at my age, that’s being generous, ha.

I’ll give Judge Judy the last word, of course. “”I would say it’s wise—live together, give it an old college try, if it doesn’t work, move on,” she said. “And if it does, get married.”

When You Reunite After a Breakup, How Do You Celebrate an Anniversary?

WhenYouReuniteAfterABreakupHowDoYouCelebrateAnAnniversaryThe beginning of May is momentous in the story of the Warrior Poet and I. Last year, on April 28, we exchanged our first emails, full of promise and heady excitement. We had our first date on Sunday, May 6, just four days after my first round of chemo—risky move on my part, right? We sat for more than six hours deep in fascinating conversation about anything and everything, hating to part, and that trend continues to this day. That date and the vast majority of the last year are definitely worthy of great celebration.

Yet the timing has certainly brought up an important question: How do you celebrate an anniversary after a breakup?

Check out Singles Warehouse for my latest post questioning:

Does Time Apart Negate An Anniversary?

http://www.singleswarehouse.co.uk/2013/05/when-you-reunite-after-a-breakup-how-do-you-celebrate-an-anniversary/

Is There One Secret Formula for a Successful Relationship?

IsThereASecretFormulaForRomanceHer eyes were filled with tears when we got into the car with them to go for our hike. She hid behind big sunglasses and the front passenger seat. The Warrior Poet and I had seen the two of them sitting in a different parking lot than the one we shortly met them at. We instinctively knew that they were having a fight. When we joined them in the car, the tension was blistering. It wasn’t the first time we’ve been in the midst of their conflict, and I daresay it would not be the last.

The Warrior Poet and I often wondered why they continued to weather the strain of such frequent friction. It was obvious they had intensely strong affection and attraction for one another, yet they seemed to be in constant strife. Just because we saw one vision for a happy relationship, did that mean that they weren’t equally satisfied with their one? Is there one formula for a successful relationship?

Read more about what I have to say on the topic at Singles Warehouse here:

Is there one formula for a successful relationship?

 

Top Tips for Traveling With Your Sweetie

Let’s say you have been dating someone with whom you have begun to feel comfortable spending extended periods of time. Perhaps you spend whole weekends together and developed your own rhythm and routine that feels easy and sweet to you both. So when you get a wedding invitation out of state or friends invite you both to come on a week’s vacation, you’re quick to take on this exciting and new step in your relationship.

You could just cross your fingers and hope for the best. Or you can go in a little prepared with some tips I’ve culled from years of experiences, both phenomenal and veering dangerously close to nightmarish.

Check them out at Singles Warehouse: http://www.singleswarehouse.co.uk/2012/09/top-tips-for-traveling-with-your-sweetie/

Taking Off the Blinders: When It’s Too Good To Be True

src: seattlestagedtosell.com

If there is one grand lesson I’ve learned about life and love, when it feels too good to be true, it usually is. If you stow that little nugget of truth in the back of your head, it will force you to keep at least a little part of yourself safely back—even when it’s tempting to just dive into the glorious beauty of what feels like the most delicious love affair with drunk blindness.

Though I didn’t really see signs, I felt them in my gut. I tried to explain why to a friend of mine. If we meshed so well intellectually, emotionally, and physically, had wonderful times together, and he seemed so into me, where did my hesitation come from? I rattled off a few concerns—that I wasn’t going to live up to his larger than life impression of me, that he was probably moving back to his native country in a year or so and that I had some worries that I would wind up wanting more from him emotionally time-wise than he had in his schedule to give.

It’s interesting because he chose that word—a gut feeling—to describe how he has felt that things might be a little off between us the last two weekends, like we were on different trajectories. This was after having two amazing weekends filled with dancing nights, lazy mornings twisted in each others arms, and hours of intimate conversations that he agreed made us feel like we’d known each other much longer than the period that we have.

This was after I’d spent the last 4 nights and 4 days in his home, two days longer than I’d intended because he’d said, “I don’t want to think about it,” when I asked him when he thought I should head home. That same day he bought a ridiculous amount of groceries, asking me what I wanted and needed as if I was going to be staying for another week, if not visiting again for a long visit soon.

Then, the next night, after we’d had a particularly bonding conversation, he went to do his nightly meditation. After we snuggled into bed, he brought up that if it were okay, he would like a couple of days to himself to quiet his thoughts and reconnect with himself. I said that was totally fine, reassuring him I wasn’t upset by his request because I needed to get back and take care of things at home.

The next day, he was in constant contact as I got ready to go, then took a taxi to take a train to take a bus back home. After a few days, however, I realized that while we were still keeping in touch, I was doing most of the initiating. I started to get a little suspicious. As the weekend was on the brink, and we hadn’t yet made our normal confirmation of our plans, I asked him if he wanted to get together. He said something about still needing some time to himself. I told him that I thought he might need that.

His reply:

 Thanks for understanding. You are very mindful and wise and I want to let you know that I value and respect that a lot!

After all the effusive, romantic and affectionate words he’s used with me in the past, these words struck a wrong chord with me. Something wasn’t right. But later that night, he sent me a message from the bar with his friend asking, “How is my honey doing?” To some joking request I’d made on his Facebook page where he’d posted a photo of the night, he’d say, “For you, SoloAt30, always… J”

Yesterday I heard nothing from him all day, so I finally decided to confront him. Was this needing time for himself actually code for wanting to see other people? Call it women’s intuition—or just a reality check. Though he was supposed to be working, he took time to make the phone call.

Blinders On by Angie Warren

I sat stunned, listening to the spew of bullshit, couched in words in attempt not to “cause suffering or hurt feelings.” He told me he did in fact have a drink with a girl this past week, but his friends said it would be okay since we weren’t exclusive, like boyfriend/girlfriend or anything.

Seeing each other exclusively for several weeks now, driving three, sometimes six hours a week to see me; being intimate with each other exclusively; calling me his girlfriend to me, to his roommate, his friends, family; telling his father in another country about me and introducing us informally via phone; making every effort to get close to my family, including calling himself “Uncle” around my nephew…I’m not sure what else I was supposed to think. Hey, maybe they run things differently in that central European country of his, but if he had to hide things and talk code to me about it, I am thinking not.

The worst thing about it is that he wasn’t going to talk to me about any of this—didn’t think he had to—if I hadn’t asked him. Said he hadn’t really put these thoughts and feelings into words yet, and struggled to even do so now, which was apparent because he couldn’t even give reasons for this off feeling in his gut.

Well, that off feeling in his gut I think is really that he met some other girl who intrigued him enough to want to go on a date with her, but he wanted time to see how that and maybe other dates with other women go before he possibly made any decisions with me. I told him that, and he got all huffy that I was accusing him of this American term of the “fade out.” But really, we both know that’s what this is, even if he is saying he’d like to meet me again sometime. Really?

Come on, seriously, grow a pair of balls. Just be real. Some of you guys wonder why we flip out. It’s not that you make a decision to move on. It’s that you toy with us and then lie about it to our faces before you cut us loose. It’s that you are secretly moving on before you finally tell us about it. That’s what pisses me off.

If you’re genuinely confused about how you feel, just be honest about that. This is supposed to be the king of communication, the one who kept urging me to talk and tell him how I was feeling about this and that. Why didn’t he feel like he should reciprocate?

Believe me—when I say I can handle it, I can. And by handling it, I mean hitting flush and moving on.

Be My Valentine Every Day of The Week

The very first Valentine’s in a new relationship always feels a bit like you’re carefully walking a wobbly tightrope. You want to convey sweet, even teasing, affection and give a taste of the romantic. Yet you don’t want to make too grand a gesture that will frighten your intended, nor say too much that might be potentially misinterpreted or that might make someone uneasy to continue to move forward with you.

This year I found myself looking through Valentine’s cards that were too distant and unemotional in tone or were too effusive about love and devotion. True, my valentine and I already shared great affection, growing friendship and meaningful experiences. We have been drunk on each other in the way of two souls who feel like they’ve already known each other for a very long time but need a period to reacquaint as so much time has passed since they last met. Yet the relationship is still so fresh and new. While our words are filled with hopes and dreams for times in the future, there is the uncertainty of budding romance.

In the greeting card aisle, I found a card that was playful, with very few words but a sentiment that truly fit us. I later filled in the blank space with some personal words that were a bit more romantic (even a bit sappy, but hey I was trying to rhyme). I made a mixed CD because he loves discovering new music, and as he originally comes from another country, there is still so much I have to share with him from my eclectic collection. I dressed up a little bit, and waited as he sent me texts counting down the minutes of his hour and half drive to come to me.

When he arrived, looking like a dream, he immediately lifted me off my feet into his arms—while somehow managing to keep the bouquet of roses in his hand from being crushed. The man is good—managing to charm my mom, get down on his knees to play with my nephew, do push-ups with my dad, and squeeze in as many hugs and sweet words to me as possible before whisking me away to dinner.

Truthfully, every day I spend with him is filled with moments of romance. Every single time, he opens the car door for me and helps me in and out of my coat. He guards me protectively from being jostled in a crowd or on the dance floor. He insists on sitting right by my side in restaurants whenever possible, just to have an excuse to snuggle close. He holds my hand in the car, walking in the street and sitting side by side on the couch. He gives constant hugs, kisses on the cheek and neck, and holds my hand, whether we’re alone or in public. And he never hesitates to tell me, “You are so beautiful.”

Valentine’s Day was no different. And because of this, the day truly carried the enchantment of fairy tale. When I am with this man, I feel truly seen and acknowledged from my smile to the core of my soul. I feel heard, respected, admired, supported and appreciated—not because some day propelled him to be reminded to do so, but because this is part of his being each and every day. He shows enthusiasm in my interests and passions, loves sharing his dreams and the various aspects his own life, and he’s snuck his way into my family so smoothly and quickly, I still grin and watch with amazement.

This is the stuff of this girl’s dreams, not fancy bouquets, boxes of chocolates, diamond rings or being whisked away to exotic locales…though don’t get me wrong, you won’t see me complain if he pronounces he wants to take me on a trip with him some day in the future.

‘Twas A Bittersweet—More Sweet than Bitter, Bitter Than Sweet—Year

For me, 2011 was the year of truly living SingleInMy30s. At age 33, it was in fact the first time in my 30s I was not involved in some exclusive—usually long-term—relationship for the vast majority of the year. The V-Man and I finally ended our second attempt at being together a couple months into the year…and from then on, I was free.

I can’t say that it was an easy year. My body slowly stopped allowing me to beat it into submission, to work it day and night with little to no rest. Soon my dream job became a nightmare job for my immune system, and I was left facing four months of chemotherapy.

I was forced to go on medical leave from my job, and when I wasn’t back on my feet fast enough, I had to leave it outright. To be honest, I think that hurt more than saying goodbye to V-Man, though those losses are somehow linked. Still, saying goodbye to that old dream, that exciting chapter of my life has led to an awesome new career path and wonderful opportunities I would never have expected.

Most importantly, it re-taught me something I thought I already had down cold—how to listen to my body. Now I truly do understand it’s not worth Hurtling Against the Brick Wall—again. My mantra for 2011? Find your balance.

From the dating perspective, I enjoyed dating a variety of men, broadening my horizons a bit more than ever before. There was the Ballroom Dancer, the Christian Rocker, the Cop, the Karaoke Crooner, to name but a few Up Next On the Stage… I didn’t regret every single one, though there were a couple of opportunities for a bruised ego–most famously, the experience captured in The Appeal of the Exotic Woman. Yet I didn’t allow myself to get too involved in the hunt. Timing was certainly off in 2011.

With all the time I had for myself this last year, there was plenty of time for self-reflection. I dealt with the love I’d left behind in 2010 and finally learned how to say goodbye, with A Letter to a Love Lost & A Lesson Learned and several other entries. I gave the bird to societal expectations of where I should be as a woman of a certain age, Tossing Out the Ticking Time Clock, and embracing my own unique path.

I also focused on my self, recognizing my own faults and weaknesses, and embracing my new strengths, while acknowledging the me-ness that I sometimes allow to get buried behind bitterness/reticence/resignation or tucked under the plastered on happy face for show. With a little help from surprise, surprise Shania Twain, I was reminded about Finding Your Voice Again.

And then finally, sweet romance did sneak up on me when and where I least expected it. We fell hard and fast. Since it is my love life, it couldn’t stay smooth sailing for too long. So I wound up the year with the realization that I wasn’t actually in a relationship. It looked like one, smelled like one and tasted like one, but apparently it wasn’t one. And after that was established, it acted even more like one…conveniently for the holiday vacation anyway.

So I’m not sure where that leaves me in 2012, except that I’m not looking to bring drama from 2011 into this year. I am a survivor of last year. I more than survived, I thrived and feel more alive than I have in a really long time, and I plan to only go up from here. Nothing and no one is allowed to take me down.