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.

Between You, Me and Your Mom

src: theashleysrealityroundup.com

I’m not exactly sure how I get myself into these situations—okay, that’s partially a lie—but once again I found myself playing the mediator between a mother and son this past week. Now, this is not something I recommend the uninitiated just attempt with only her big heart and big mouth to back her. The bond between a mother and son is often an especially tricky one, with multiple layers of fierce devotion, unquestioned loyalty mixed with confusing resentment and guilt in all flavors. In my experiences, this is even more so when the son is an only child, a child of single mother or whose parents divorced at a young age.

The attempted mother-son mediation often puts a strain on a relationship, even when a loving wife, girlfriend or even platonic best friend has the best of intentions. I have heard plenty of horror stories about well-meaning women barreling in on a mother-in-law or boyfriend’s mother, on behalf of her man only to find it blowing up in her face. And if this woman who is not yet your mother in law finds herself hating and resenting you now, don’t assume it’s going to get better once she realizes you’re a permanent member of the family.

When I was a naïve 17-year-old, I was dating a wonderful guy with the biggest heart – who also happened to be a true mama’s boy. The odd thing was, his particular mother somehow raised an intelligent, compassionate, open-minded man who saw the content of a person’s mind, heart and soul before he noticed the color of their skin. This tall, pale Polish-Italian guy fell head over heels for a honey-skinned girl with the melting pot of ethnic backgrounds. His Italian mother was, let’s just say, not pleased (ironically both her parents wound up treating me more like a member of the family than she ever did).

After multiple digging and degrading comments to her son, though I was nothing but loving to her son and nice and respectful to her, I decided to take matters into my own hands. While I was across the country at college, mama bear was trying to whisper poison into her son’s ears, and it only made him resent her more not pull away from me. So I decided to write her a long, heartfelt letter.

I told her how much I cared about her son and how I had no intention of hurting him. I knew she was taking out on me an old grudge she had against a former friend of my boyfriend’s older sister, who turned out to be a hurtful bitch and just so happened to have brown skin too. I told her the kind of person I was, describing my character, my background and basically attempting to defend myself, without explicitly saying how I was not that girl who hurt her daughter.

Most of all, however, I touched upon how it hurt her son to constantly have to he these nasty things about me. I told her I knew how much he loved his mother and how her words impacted him. In more diplomatic terms, I explained how continuing to disparage me would only put a wedge between her and her son. It took approximately five handwritten pages. Then…silence.

The result? Eventually, she reached out and made amends to her son. Frankly, some of what she said was crap about thinking about how people might treat future grandchildren (right!), but the gesture was appreciated. She never apologized to me, but she stopped giving me the evil eye when she thought I wasn’t looking. She started trying to be a little more pleasant when I was around.

Were we ever friends? No, but that wasn’t the aim—backing off her son was, and on that, we succeeded.

My next attempts at mother-son mediation did not have me as the center of the contention. It was mother versus son,  too similar personalities rubbing up against each other. I often had to play referee and yell for a time-out.

The Bulldog had what you can only describe as a mercurial personality. One moment, he was sweet, affectionate and more of an observer. The next, he was punching a hole in the wall with his fist, telling off strangers at a bar to where they wanted to punch him, or he was shouting blistering rants at clients on the other end of the phone.

src: pbskids.org/itsmylife/

His mother, unfortunately, could also fly off the handle once she was triggered. And nothing could set Bulldog or his mother off more than each other. I remember being paralyzed with horror in the middle of a restaurant in Las Vegas when Bulldog and his mom began swearing and shouting horrible things at each other.

Something like “You’re ridiculous. I’m f***ing leaving,” was said, followed by, “Fine, get the hell out of here!” And before I knew it, I was left at a table with his parents while my boyfriend sprinted angrily out of the restaurant.

I glanced at his father who gave me an apologetic look. I glanced at his mother, whose face was red with fury but whose eyes were filled with tears. I shook my head, reaching out my hand, saying, “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,” and then I ran to catch up with my ride. To say I was absolutely furious with him was putting it mildly. He knew his mom. He knew not to goad her. He knew to just let it go.

But I wasn’t so upset for just this one time. It was also for the time we were staying at their house, and there was an argument where he was too stubborn to back down that we left, not having a place to stay. So I had to get on the phone and find us a ridiculously overpriced hotel room for a night until I could convince him in the morning to stop being enough of an asshole to apologize.

And finally there was the time his parents were staying at our house, and I watched his mother’s face collapse right in front of me. Bulldog had just left me alone with her while she was crying, saying to me, “I don’t know why he says such things. I raised him better than that!”

I finally looked her in the eye and decided we needed to have a heart to heart. She needed to know that she wasn’t the only target of his wrath. I explained to her how his best friend literally had written Bulldog out of his life for the last time several months earlier because he couldn’t take his volcanic temper and insults anymore – apologies weren’t enough. I explained to her just how much pressure he was under with running his own franchise, how he’d taken on far more than he realized he was doing, how he didn’t know how to ask for help, how he wasn’t getting enough sleep, and how there’d be months where business was so slow we were struggling to pay the bills.

You could fairly ask me, where did I get off? Obviously, his family had been dysfunctional in their communicating just fine without me for many years, thank you very much. But I was somehow part of this family now, for better or for worse. They were putting me right in the thick of things.

And she was his mother, and she deserved to know what wasn’t personal and what buttons were especially tender for her son right now. He sure wasn’t going to tell her by himself. The Bulldog and his dad had a closer relationship, but there were still some layers of pride he hadn’t fully let down. Letting Bulldog’s mom see what was really going on opened up her eyes in a way that allowed her to really see Bulldog better, not just his snarling reactions. By no means is their relationship perfect even now, but I do know that we all started communicating with a bit more sensitivity from that point on.

For full disclosure, my very first communiqué with the Gentle Giant’s mother sprang from some insecurity issues on my part, envious of how close she was to his female best friend/ex-girlfriend. Honestly though, before our first date GG and his mom had discussed me fairly in-depth, he’d showed her my Facebook page, and I knew his mom and I had several things in common, and he had invited me to reach out to her even then regarding my career but I felt weird about it at the time.

Anyway, I did eventually send her an email after a couple weeks. Then, we did meet face-to-face during a move, which was a little weird. I worried she didn’t like me at all. Then I was completely shocked when she invited us both to dinner, and that seemed to go swimmingly. So well that I got a really sweet email from her, so I sent one back, and so it went.

This past week, GG and the mom had a discussion where he attempted to share frustration about an issue that unfortunately his mom took personally. He knew as soon as he hung up the phone that she was upset, and he told me how badly he felt about it. So imagine my surprise when a couple hours later I also get an email from his mom venting about the conversation, sharing her hurt feelings.

Now, I had talked with GG about this before stepping in, but I told him I thought it was just a matter of how things were communicated. He was trying to express A (frustration at this matter) and she heard B (he doesn’t appreciate me). The tough thing was I completely understood GG’s frustration, and I also understood his mom’s side of things – how easy it is to take words personally and internalize them – yet I wasn’t sure I knew a better way to phrase it so that GG’s mom wouldn’t take offense at what I said either.

So I thought about it. I wrote. I ran it by one of my friends who is really good at saying what she means from the best place in her heart. Then I crossed my fingers and hit send.

An email from GG’s mom was in my in-box.

Thanks so much for taking the time to really address my hurt feelings. What you wrote does make a lot of sense, and was very eloquently said.

She went on to tell me how much her son means to her and how much she loves him. It made me audibly “aww.” That’s what’s it all supposed to be about.

Phew. Then she really made me feel good by saying she saw why I chose the career I did: “You have a real talent for putting things in perspective.” We exchanged virtual hugs and encouragement.

Don’t worry—I’m not getting cocky. I just luckily chose the right situation to step into this time. I swear I am not making a habit out of doing this – except when I’m getting paid to do so.