Thursday, 29 March 2012

Unrequited love

The message pinged through on my email this morning.  It was from Blind Date Man (BDM).  He had seen his sister over the weekend and she had been giving him a hard time for not ‘growing up’ and settling down.

Since I first encountered BDM, we have met up several times.  We e-mail and text each other on a regular basis and make each other laugh.  However, there has been no romantic interaction.

BDM has spoken to his sister about me on a number of occasions.  And her response is that he clearly has a ‘thing’ about me (that I cannot reciprocate, which is a point of frustration for me, because he’s such a nice guy) and should therefore not continue to see me – as it is holding him back.

And so, in his infinite wisdom, BDM decided to tell me and ask what I thought about the subject!

I think the word that best describes how I felt when I read his e-mail is: “awkward”!  Of course, it’s hugely flattering to know that someone ‘fancies’ you or has feelings for you.  If the person is just an acquaintance, or someone you only see with a group of people, it doesn’t matter so much.  But when this person is your friend.  Someone you mail and text on a regular basis and see on a one to one basis, it changes the whole thing!

There is a sense of responsibility for the other person’s feelings – but it’s all confused and tied up with not wanting to be patronising. 

Goodness knows I have had more than one occasion when I had feelings for someone who wasn’t remotely interested in me.  On one of those occasions, I fear I was less than subtle.  The man concerned was, on reflection, either lacking the maturity to cope with it (that’s the kind option), or just a shit (the more likely option)…  He made me fully aware that he knew how I felt and then made clear, publically, that I was the last woman on the planet he would ever want to touch with a six foot pole.  Mortifying? Heartbreaking?  Oh, yes – it was one big lesson in humility!

I have no doubt that this has a lot to do with my confused feelings.  But of course there is a big difference here.  I would never publically humiliate anyone and the fact that I don’t want to be romantically involved with him saddens me too.  He is hilariously funny, kind, good company and has accepted that I am not interested with good grace.  And not many people cope well with being turned down.  I honestly don’t think I’d have coped as well in his situation.

So what to do?  Big sister says I’m holding him back.  But there are other issues here.  He has a few domestic matters to resolve. (I won’t go into them.  He is not involved with anyone else – but to even try and explain would sound too comical!).  And he is about to start a new job and possibly move house.  For the time being, he has enough on his plate.  But when these things have settled down, will I be a hindrance? 

Would a prospective new girlfriend be threatened by our relationship?  Are our messages to each other too personal – would a girlfriend find them unacceptable?  To be honest, if I was the ‘other’ woman, I would probably find them threatening.  But then, if he found someone he was serious about, he would, I am sure, be too busy texting her to be bothered to text me.  The relationship between us would therefore evolve into something else.

But whether he is truly ‘in love’, or whether the frustration of not being able to have something he wants makes me seem more appealing than I probably am, is something he is unclear about himself.  Either way, there is an ‘unrequited’ feeling here that is never easy to move on from.

Why is this feeling so bad?   Why do we hang on for so long to the ‘idea’ of a person we’ve never had the chance to know intimately?  I’m sure it’s partly our ego being damaged – but even worse than that, we are denied the intimacy that makes the person ‘real’.  We can never get annoyed with them for leaving their dirty clothes on the floor, farting, burping or any number of other irritating habits. 

Ultimately, if the only way he can ‘move on’ is to not communicate with me any more, I have no choice but to respect his feelings.  I just hope it doesn’t come to that. 

Monday, 26 March 2012

The first lie is the hardest...

Many years ago, I remember a friend commenting about someone we both knew, who had got themselves into a lot of trouble through a series of lies.

“The first lie is the hardest.”  He said.  “If you get away with the first, the rest just flow naturally.”

Those remarks have stuck in my mind ever since.  And it is as true now as it was then.

And it came to mind recently in relation to someone I know.  The person concerned, who I will call Amanda, has gone down this path – and the further she has travelled, the more fluently things just roll off her tongue.  And I am wondering at what point it will trip her up.

Amanda has been having an affair.  As it currently stands, I know of only two other people who are aware of it.  We worked it out, following a sequence of events, because we were being told different stories.  We all thoroughly disapprove of the situation, but do not feel we know her well enough to interfere.  And what’s more, there are kids involved.

I don’t see very much of Amanda.  One of her children is friends with mine and they ‘hang out’ together.  Because of this, we have, over the years, met up on occasion to ‘catch up’ with each other’s news.  However, some time ago, at the point I had just discovered the affair, she called me a number of times, to arrange for us to go out in the evening.

Amanda is as aware as any of my friends, that I have certain days in the week when I’m free to go out, without needing a babysitter.  So you can imagine how unimpressed I was when Amanda rang me at 6pm one Wednesday to cancel, because she had a ‘headache’.  That may sound very unkind of me… but I knew she was lying.  It was confirmed when she seemed to forget what she’d called me about and finished the call by asking whether I had anything fun planned for that evening! 

We re-arranged the evening and again she called to cancel.  Only this time, she called me earlier in the day to ask whether I fancied joining some of her friends, including the person she was having an affair with.  I did not want to be party to her behaviour, so I said I’d rather stick to our original plan and have a girly ‘catch-up’ nearer home.  A few hours later (around 6pm!) she texted to tell me she felt sick and needed to stay at home. 

I am not a confrontational person and I didn’t want to upset the relationship between our two children, so I resolved that I would never again agree to see her, unless there was a group of other friends coming too.  That way it wouldn’t matter if she cancelled.  And she did cancel.  Twice more!

By this stage, I felt it was well beyond a joke.  So I decided not to arrange to see her even with other friends.  It was just too irritating – especially as I suspected that she was telling her husband she was seeing me to cover her tracks.

Finally, my son was invited to her house to play one day.  When I went to collect him, I was invited in for a cup of tea.  Her husband was not there, but a couple of her friends were.  These were people I had never met.  And for reasons best known to Amanda, she started asking me questions about my marriage.

“So, did you have affairs when you were married?”  She demanded.

“No.  I didn’t.”  I replied. Somewhat taken aback by her line of questioning.

“Oh, come off it!  You MUST have done.” She insisted. 

Again, I told her that I hadn’t.  Only, by this stage I was very upset.  She had embarrassed me in front of people I didn’t know and accused me of something she had no reason to suspect – whilst being in the middle of an affair herself.

But still, I was not prepared to spill the beans.  (To this day, I don’t think she is aware that I know of her affair.) And I drove away in tears of rage.

I cannot describe the feeling of frustration I felt because I was not prepared to be rude or ‘out’ her – but had to tolerate her effectively laughing in my face.  Thinking that she is cleverer than those around her, who she believes have been hoodwinked by her lies. 

Of course there’s a bit of me that wants to tell her, in no uncertain terms, that she is not half as smart as she thinks she is.  But I am held back because of my knowledge of the chaos caused by divorce – and possibly the hope that she and her husband will rectify their issues.  In addition, nothing I say is going to change her behaviour, it will just make her avoid me and stop our children from seeing each other. 

Obviously, I will not be arranging any social activity with Amanda in the future.  She crossed the line and there’s no going back.  And if there is one thing I hate above all others… it’s being lied to.

I hope that no one reading this post will have got themselves into this situation.  But if (god forbid) you have, consider this:  you may not be half as clever as you think you are – it may just be that people are too polite to tell you to your face.  But when things blow up (and life has a funny way of doing that) you may have no one left to stand in your corner. 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

As one door shuts another one opens…

The phone call came through on my mobile phone.  It was a local number, but not one that was saved onto my phone.

The caller didn’t leave a message and curiosity got the better of me, so I called the number back.  It turned out to be the landlord of “The Rebound Guy”. 

He had obviously kept hold of my number when RG had borrowed my phone ages ago.  And as he couldn’t get hold of RG on his own number, he had called mine.  He explained that RG was moving out and he wanted to know when he was going to be able to collect his keys.

I politely explained that I had no idea, that I had no connection with RG and asked that he delete my number.

When I hung up, I had the weirdest feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I have no desire to see RG ever again.  Not even out of curiosity.  I have even avoided driving past his house for fear of him seeing me. So why did it feel so strange that he was moving and I would have no idea where he was?

Surely I should be ecstatic!  I no longer have to worry about bumping into him in the local shops, or taking the long route to avoid his house.  I just couldn’t fathom it.  And then, suddenly, the penny dropped. 

And the killer word is:  CONTROL.

The RG was very controlling.  I wanted to end the relationship a long time before I did, but I knew he would behave badly, make life difficult, be aggressive and menacing, and I couldn’t face it.  And that is controlling behaviour.

I took back control when I ended it.  I stood up to his aggressiveness and asserted myself.  I felt that I was very harsh with him, but I knew that if I wasn’t, he would think there was a chink of hope that I might change my mind. 

I behaved more assertively than I have ever done before.  (I am not an Alpha Female!).  And it felt empowering. 

And so, his moving away, or really moving on in life, has upset the balance.  He still knows where I live, but I no longer know where he lives.  I know it’s ridiculous and irrational.  But feelings often are!

Well, this all happened a couple of days ago.  And today, all of a sudden, I feel uplifted. 

A chapter of my life has closed – which means a new one has to open.  And what’s more, if I do meet someone and want to go out with them locally, I no longer have to worry that I might bump into RG.  And that really is a good feeling.

On a completely separate note, this morning I had another ‘mystery call’. 

“Is that Lara?”  Came the unfamiliar voice.  It’s me, Clem.” 

“You play Bridge don’t you?”  He continued.

“Errrr, well it rather depends on whether I have the kids to look after.  But if I’m available, of course I will play.”

“Well, your name’s in my diary.  How do I know you?” 

Smothering my laughter, I explained where he had met me and said that of course, if I was free, I would play Bridge.

OK – if anyone thinks I’ve been mean, I take it all back, the poor man is obviously very confused!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Is it better to be sexy or pretty…?

Sad as it may seem (!) this is the level of conversation I had the other day with one of my very best friends.  Of course, I’m talking about my gay friend Julian.  And we were taking about it from the perspective of a woman in her 40’s, who’s (fairly) newly single.  Sounds a bit like me… what a strange coincidence!

Back in the ‘real’ world, I would imagine most people would ideally like a bit of both. 

But this is my blog, and I can set the rules as I see fit… So, I want to present you with the simple choice.  You have to choose one or the other. 

If you’re a man reading this blog, you also have to decide whether you are more drawn to women who are ‘pretty’ or ‘sexy’ and consider how this impacts on your view of her as someone you would want a long-term relationship with.

I have already had some feedback from a straw poll of a few friends and I was somewhat surprised at the unanimity of their responses.

It would seem that whilst being ‘pretty’ has its appeal – it is also associated with the possibility of it being purely ‘skin deep’.   However, being ‘sexy’ seems to come from a deeper place.  Sexy is associated with intelligence, wit, attitude and ‘attractiveness’.  And ‘attractiveness’, in this context, is based on personality, rather than physical appearance.

So, going back to being ‘pretty’ – would I like to be thought of as ‘pretty’?  Well, of course I would.  No one wants to think of themselves as ‘ugly’.  But ‘prettiness’ can fade.  As the tide of time washes our good looks away, what are we left with if we’re not ‘sexy’?

Over the years, I have encountered quite a number of women who, in their early 20’s, were quite considerably prettier than the rest of us.  Men were drawn to them and commented on their looks and these women were perfectly aware of the situation.  Those of us who were not so blessed with the ‘pretty’ genes had to rely on their personality, charm or wit, to be attractive.

As time passed, many of the pretty women became very aware of the impact that they had on men.  It came to define who they were and what role they had in society.  They were the ‘pretty’ girlfriend who became the ‘trophy wife’.  After marriage, kids and 20 years passing, many of these women often have become anxious that their looks have faded.  They are constantly threatened by younger women who, like them are ‘pretty’, but have youth on their side.  Worse still, some of them now have daughters who have inherited their good looks, providing the worst possible competition.

Whilst these pretty women fret about the loss of their youth, their sexy counterparts seem to have blossomed.  I mean, being 40 is not all bad.  Many women, myself included, gain a new type of self-confidence.  We may not be entirely ‘happy with our lot’ – no one wants to have wrinkles and a bit of a spare tyre - but we don’t let it define us.  We also realise that the type of men we are attractive to and attracted to, aren’t worried about it either.  In short, we’ve learnt to ‘chill out’. 

I realise that some people may consider this whole post to be hideously shallow.  But whether we like it or not, our physical appearance does matter and countless research has been done on the subject.

Going back to my original question, “Is it better to be sexy or pretty?”, I have to conclude that if I had to choose, I would choose ‘sexy’.  If nothing else, it’s a damn site more interesting!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Is it cool to be fancied…?

I posted a couple of days ago about ‘Clem’, the octogenarian who invited me out to dinner on Saturday night.

The next day, I had a comment posted on the blog, which said:

“I think it’s pretty cool to be fancied.  Doesn’t matter by whom…”  It got me thinking – and discussing it with a couple of friends of mine.  One of us is female (me), one is male and one is gay.  I think that’s got all the bases covered!

So, is it, or isn’t it, flattering? 

We all agreed that if someone stunningly attractive (who we secretly believe is way out of our league) fancies us, it’s a huge compliment.  And if someone we personally find ‘creepy’ or very unattractive fancies us, it has the adverse effect.  But in real life, most people we encounter fall somewhere in-between. 

In addition, we have all met people who we didn’t find especially attractive on first meeting, who once we got to know them, became attractive to us.  And conversely, people we thought were stunning, who turned out to be unpleasant and became unattractive to us.

Over all, we agreed that it’s better to be ‘fancied’ than ‘not fancied’.  After all, it would be a bit depressing if no one ever gave us a second glance and a smile.  However… the value of a compliment is based on our feelings for the other person.  You don’t have to fancy them back, but you do have to feel that their opinion has value ie that they have taste or good judgement.

I have no doubt that every one of us has been in a situation where we have found someone very attractive, only to discover that they do not feel the same way about us!  It can really knock our ego.  So being fancied by someone we don’t fancy, redresses the balance. 

So going back to the original statement:

“I think it’s pretty cool to be fancied.  Doesn’t matter by whom…”

Yes – of course it’s cool to be fancied.  And it doesn’t have to be by someone you fancy back, but up to a point, it does matter by whom… 

Sorry Spanner!   

Monday, 12 March 2012

The pulling power of the Octogenarian...

It would appear that despite the depressing lack of dating activity over the last six months, I have still got what it takes.  Or at least, I still have what it takes to pull an old timer…

Last week, I was hanging around the family sports club (which has an age range of babies to coffin dodgers), waiting for my little one to finish his tennis lesson. 

As I was shuffling through the pile of newspapers and finding somewhere to sit quietly to read, I couldn’t help noticing a very doddery old man who, quite frankly, kept getting in my way.

I am not proud of it, but I do admit to being a little less than patient on occasions.  I have little time to myself and I treasure those moments when I sit down to read the paper.  I could feel myself wondering what on earth this man was doing, constantly hovering around the place!

A short while later, the little one re-appeared.  He magically produced a pack of playing cards and insisted that I play with him.  Within moments of the cards being dealt, the old man reappeared out of thin air, and demanded to know:

“Do you play Bridge…?”

I have to confess (it’s soooo embarrassing!) that I do know how to play bridge. 

“Errr, yes!  Actually, I can, but I hardly ever play.”  I replied.

“Jolly good!  We’re looking for some young blood to join our bridge group.  You must join us.”

“Must I?”  I thought to myself, as I chuckled at the prospect of an evening’s bridge!  Not exactly my idea of a wild night out….  I like to think of myself as more of a Poker Girl!  (OK – I’ve only played Poker once, but it was really good fun).

“The name’s ‘Clem’, can you give me your number?” 

I could feel my mischievous streak coming out as I replied:  “Yes, of course.  Would you like my e-mail address as well?  Are you a ‘Silver Surfer’?”

“What’s that?  Silver Surfer?  Oh, yes, yes, of course!  What’s an e-mail address?”   He stuttered, as I started to write my number in his diary.

“Never mind.  Don’t worry.  I’ve given you my mobile number.”  I said as I returned his diary. 

At that moment a friend appeared and as we started talking, ‘Clem’ shuffled away.

I have to say, I didn’t think about the incident again, until Saturday afternoon.

I was sitting at the kitchen table having a chat with a friend, when my phone rang.  It was a local number, but I didn’t recognise it. 

“Hello.  Is that Lara?” came the unfamiliar voice.  “It’s ‘Clem’.  Remember me from the other day?  I just wondered whether you are free for dinner tonight?  I’ve got a spare ticket for a dinner and play.  Can you come?”

I was really taken aback.  I mean, this man may be an octogenarian, but he’s got some fast moves.  On reflection, I can’t imagine giving my number out so easily to a younger man.  In fact, if a man of my generation, to whom I had barely spoken more than a few words, asked for my number, I would suggested that I take their number instead.

As it happened, I had the little one with me and a friend joining us for dinner, so I couldn’t have gone if I’d wanted to.  I made my excuses and as I was about to ring off, he said:

“Well, that’s a shame.  Next time you’re going to the Club, make sure you let me know, so we can meet up!”

As I hung up, I couldn’t help but laugh as I regaled my friend with the whole story.

“Oh my God – he wants to take you on a ride up the Stannah Stairlift to Zimmer Frame ecstasy!” she exclaimed.  “I think that’s quite cool.”

“No, it’s not!”  I shrieked.  “Am I really reduced to this?  Is this the best I can do?  He’s older than my FATHER, for goodness sake.”

“Just because someone is older, doesn’t mean that their taste diminishes.  He’s probably just having one last shot before he falls off his perch.”

I guess I will have to consol myself with the thought that my friend is probably right.  Taste does not have to diminish with age.  And though the very thought of a ‘hot date’ with ‘Clem’ makes me deeply uncomfortable, you’ve got to hand it to him for trying.  I hope when I’m that age I still have as much life in me.

And as another good friend of mine pointed out:  “Just because there’s dust on the roof, doesn’t mean there’s no lead left!” 

Yep!  That last comment made me laugh the most!!!  

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Growing pains….

This week, my eldest has gone off for the longest trip away from home that he has ever been on.  It’s an eight day school trip, where he and 14 others will be looked after by two teachers from school. 

I know that lots of mothers would worry about their child going away for such a long time.  I know that the school will have organised the trip down to the last detail and I have complete faith in the teachers who are taking them.  So I am confident that he will be well looked after and have a fantastic time.

That’s not the bit that’s worrying me!

The awful truth is, I’m finding it hard to ‘let him go’.  He is growing up and will be going to secondary school next year.  Both this school trip and his moving to the next stage at school, are enormous steps forward in his personal and social development.  He still needs his mother, but not in the way that he used to. 

I love his sense of humour and fun.  I love the fact that being older, I can explain stories in the newspaper; share ‘slightly’ more adult jokes with him; and watch movies that aren’t just about Monsters or Superheroes!

There are lots of elements to seeing your child grow and develop that are positive.  But I know that in a few years time, he won’t want to be around me.  He will start sprouting one of those vile shadows of bum fluff on his top lip; hairs under his arms; develop an aversion to soap and water; and start getting bad skin.


I feel like this stage is the bit where you’re just coming to the top of the hill.  You can see the view, look back and admire what you’ve achieved in the ascent, but when you look forwards, all you can see is the rocky, slippery, downhill slope.

And it’s the fact that we are at this stage that makes this trip so beneficial.  The week is very structured.  The kids have to share all the jobs in the house.  From setting the table, to washing and sorting the socks, with the exception of making the meals, all jobs have to be shared by the kids.

Earlier in the week, I decided that I too, would encourage independence.  I figure it’s better to get this set in motion before the bolshie teenager emerges!  I handed over the list of what had to be taken, and oversaw him do his own packing.  He crossed things off the list as he put them into the bag and read through the notes about what he was and wasn’t allowed to take.  He did it perfectly.  I know it’s not that hard – but sometimes we do things automatically, instead of allowing our children to become self-sufficient. 

Having finished the packing, I was given strict instructions not to phone every night.  Apparently, one parent phoned her child three times each day, which caused him huge embarrassment.  And now the entire school year is in terror of their parents phoning too much!

The following morning, I took him into school with his rucksack.  He was so excited and talked non-stop in the car.  But as he got out of the door he looked back.  Looking very slightly anxious, he said:

“Bye Mum.  Love you!”  And before he finally walked into school, he came round to kiss me goodbye through the window.  Wow!  That must be the first time he’s kissed me in front of his school friends, for years! 

As he walked off, I could see that already he has become a little man.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Other women’s husbands are taboo

Just recently I have become acutely aware of the dangers of friendships with other people’s husbands. 

I have always had strong feelings about affairs.  I have, for most of my adult life, been in a relationship with the man I was married to.  I would have been devastated if I had discovered that my husband was having an affair.  I have witnessed friends uncovering their spouse’s infidelity and seen at close quarters what it has done to them.  The shock, horror, confusion and pain it has caused them is deeply ingrained in me.  And this is not limited to female friends.  Which ever way round it happens, the effect is the same. 

I have no religion.  I do not frown on it from a moral standpoint.  I just know that I don’t want the responsibility of causing someone else that much pain.  In addition, the married person who enters into an affair is demonstrating such a lack of respect for the person they have married, that I would not want to be involved with someone who treats another with such contempt.

I do fully appreciate that an affair is the sign of a bad marriage.  It may well be that the person entering into the affair could be in a miserable situation – but they always have the choice to leave, as hard as that may be.

And so I come to my current concern.  I am very friendly with a couple of the fathers of children at my kids’ school.   These fathers are the primary carers for their kids and therefore the ones who drop them off at school.  That’s how I’ve got to know them.  I see no reason why I should treat them any differently to a mother who drops off at school. 

The problem is….

As I am now a single woman, the reaction I get from other parents around me has changed.  I’m still the same person.  I don’t see why I shouldn’t be friendly with other parents, no matter what their gender, but I have noticed that other women have started to view it differently.  All of a sudden, I am seen as a threat.  And it really bothers me.

I bumped into a Dad from school the other week, and as I had the little one on his own for the weekend, I wanted to arrange for him to play with one of his friends.  The friend concerned has a mother who works overseas a great deal.  This meant that the playdate consisted of me, the two kids, and the other father.

All of a sudden, I realised that this playdate had become a social nightmare.  I feared that if I told people we were ‘getting together’ at the weekend for the kids to play, there would be suspicion.  So what was the best way of handing it?  Avoid telling other parents, only for them to find out later and be suspicious.  Or tell them and face the ‘knowing’ looks, or odd comments.

I am not prepared to sideline my children’s social activities to avoid embarrassment.  I don’t feel that there is anything I am doing that is ‘wrong’.

I just wish that people would be less judgemental.  Less quick to jump to the wrong conclusions and kinder to people who are on their own.

I am sure I am not alone in this.  I feel confident that there are plenty of other single parents who want to ensure that their kids have active social lives, without feeling threatened by other people’s cynicism.

On the up-side…. I currently have two black eyes following my accident whilst out running.  So for the time being at least, I hope that people will think I look too hideous to even be a possibility….. 

Facebook Like Button