Love Language

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Last week, my friend and I had an interesting conversation about engagements, proposals and marriage. She and her husband are very different. She is fairly serious and can come off as very intense, but she has a silly side about her if you get under the tough exterior. He is incredibly outgoing and goofy, and he will do anything to make sure his audience is entertained. We discussed their premarital counseling and my lack thereof. She told me that they were required to take a quiz of 30 questions that would tell them how they each expressed their love and expected their partner to reciprocate. She said that she needs Gifts and Acts of Service to feel loved, where he needs Words of Affirmation. I was curious about myself, did some internet searching and found this: http://www.5lovelanguages.com

Most people will have one area where they scored the highest with a close second. My scores made perfect sense: I was tied 9 and 9 for Physical Touch and Quality Time. A close third was Words of Affirmation with 7. Gifts and Acts of Service were very low with scores of 3 and 2 respectively. I always knew I was a touchy-feely person and didn’t need tangible things to feel loved. It makes sense that I need quality time because I’m hurt easily when I’m looking forward to seeing someone and they break our plans.

I spent more time thinking about this affects my current relationship and didn’t give much thought to my past relationships until this afternoon. If my ex-husband and I had taken this test as part of premarital counseling, would we have married? Would we have worked harder to stay married? The two things I rarely received from him were physical touch and quality time. I would reach for his hand or try to sit next to him at functions, but he would often brush my hand aside or get up and move elsewhere. He would avoid my kisses and shrugged away from my constant hugs. Not that he didn’t want to be around me, but he didn’t grow up in a household of huggers and touchers and didn’t understand my need. He also wanted to spend time with his friends on the weekends, when I wanted to spend time one on one with him. He felt that as long as we were together we were having quality time, but I wanted his undivided attention. I wish I had known about this test years ago. I don’t think it would have saved my marriage but it would have helped us/me to understand why I felt constant rejection. However, it’s so easy to say “I wish I would have known,” but it doesn’t keep the past from happening. The only thing I can do is continue to learn, understand, love myself and communicate my needs to my current partner. Now that I’ve found someone who enjoys me as much as I enjoy him, these things seem so easy.

The Waiter

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I’m pretty happy in my current situation, but I still have a few dating disaster stories to tell. This one isn’t terribly exciting, but it served as a precursor to handing my number to a complete stranger in a grocery store.

Sometime in May 2013, I went shopping with a friend. We stopped at a nearby restaurant to have a late lunch and a couple of drinks. Our waiter was really cute and incredibly chatty. He checked on us way more than your standard waiter, and he was flirting with me pretty heavily. When it was time for my friend and I to leave, I gave him a pretty decent tip and wrote my name and number on the back of the receipt. I had always thought about doing that, but never had the balls to follow through. That afternoon, I got a text from the waiter saying he’d like to take me out.

We text messaged back and forth for a week or so before we made a date. We were to meet at a coffee shop on a Sunday night, but the place we chose to meet closed at 8. It was 7:45 when we met, so we walked down the strip to a bar. I drank iced tea and he had a lot of soda. He was a nice fellow, but he showed up in a t-shirt with multiple holes and his shorts were dirty and torn. My dating history told me that I should probably leave as soon as possible, but my ability to see the best in people made me stay through what felt like an audio book of his life: how he fell off the back of a moving truck when he was younger and was in ICU, his job hopping because of boredom, his death metal band in which he played bass… It was interesting, but I realized he didn’t ask me anything about myself. It was storming while we chatted, so I waited until the rain let up a bit before calling it a night. He walked me out to my car and gave me a super nervous kiss goodnight. We stood in the drizzle for a few minutes longer and made nondescript small talk. I then hopped in my car, as it was a little chilly out, and headed home. We sent a few texts over the next couple of weeks, but no second date.

This taught me a few things:

1) He should ask about me.

2) He should be thoughtful about his appearance.

3) He should open my doors.

Bottom line, I should have been more picky. Although I wouldn’t have so many memories if I hadn’t kissed a few frogs…

Lessons

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I’ve learned some valuable lessons these past two years:

1) How to take care of myself. Before my divorce, I had never lived alone. There was always someone to lean on if I couldn’t pay the rent or I didn’t have enough money for groceries. Living alone taught me how to manage my finances. My name is the only one on the lease, and I’m 100% responsible if I can’t pay. I can now cook for one and I discovered I don’t need a ton of space. I also don’t NEED those $200 boots.

2) How to be alone. Not just sans romantic relationship. I mean hanging out by myself and not worrying about why no one is calling me, inviting me to do something. I discovered there are a number of things I enjoy doing by myself. I took a ten day road trip across the country by myself. I picked the music, how often to stop, where to stop, etc. and there was no one to argue with me. I plan trips to see my friends in other places of the country, and flying alone is great. I chat with my seat-mates or I read a good book, depending on my mood. If I want to see a movie that no one else wants to see, I’m no longer afraid to go alone. Shopping by myself is fantastic. Going to the gym has to be the best: I can go at 4:00 pm on a Saturday and the place is empty. Crap, I just gave away my secret…

3) How to have friends and keep the right ones. Friendships are relationships that must be maintained by all parties involved. I used to think that I needed to be everyone’s friend but now I realize that I don’t need one hundred friends, or even twenty. A handful of solid friends who will be there for me through thick and thin are all I need. I now have that group, and I make sure they all know I’m as solid for them as they are for me. Toxic friendships aren’t worth the heartache. I don’t regret those relationships, as they taught me some of the greatest lessons. I understand now that friendships, like romantic relationships, are two-way. Either party can initiate at any time. No more of this “well, I asked last time. It’s their turn.” That’s bullshit. Call them.

4) It’s okay to ask for help. There are days when I’m not okay. It’s perfectly fine to tell my friends and family that I need their love and support. No one is going to look down on me or consider me weak. It takes true strength to admit you need help and it’s something with which I’ll always struggle, but I grow stronger every time I reach out.

5) Love from another isn’t the be all, end all: I need to love myself. When my marriage collapsed, I was empty. I needed men whether they needed me or not. This was the hardest lesson. I didn’t ask the questions I had floating in my head, so I did not get answers. I was happy to live in the ambiguity of “are we dating, are you my boyfriend, are we just friends with benefits?” Men would drift in and out of my life. I always had a replacement shortly after each departure. Weekends were failures if I ended up in my own bed, alone. I worked so hard for relationships that would never be. The more a man rejected me, the harder I fought to understand why. I needed to know what was wrong with me so that I could correct myself for the next fellow that came along. Then one day, I realized that it’s not me: I’m perfectly fine. The right person will love me, imperfections and all. Love is great, but only if you love yourself first. Self-love was a long journey that started while I was married. I will always struggle to stay on that path and I know at times I will stray and end up in the brush. As long as I find my way back, everything will be alright.

It’s amazing how my life seems to be falling into place now that I have accepted myself. Things I thought would ruin the magic have actually made it stronger. Positive energy breeds positive energy, and I’m letting mine shine into the Universe. I’ll love me, you love you and we’ll all be okay.

Explosion

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Things have been going well in my love life. Surprisingly well. WFB is heading to my brother’s house with me to watch football and meet my family tomorrow. Afterward, he’s going to meet one of  my closest friends when we go on a walk at a local park. I’m a little nervous about it, just because I know my parents will embarrass me. I’m a 31 year old woman, yet my parents always find a way to tell some stupid, old story that makes my cheeks burn and flush.

My pheromones have turned radioactive again. There must have been something in the water this past month that made several of my exes re-establish contact with me.

I hadn’t spoken to B in over a year. He messaged me a couple of weeks ago to ask if I would come to his upcoming art gallery opening. I told him that of course, I would definitely be there. He then messaged me on Halloween just to chat. We live 35 miles apart, but I was going to a show the following Wednesday night near where he lives with WFB and we made plans to get a drink prior to the start of the main act. I was shocked at how much he has matured since we last saw each other. B took out his lip ring and grew some attractive facial hair. He has been living in the same apartment for the past year and a half. He also has a job and is working toward purchasing a motorcycle as means of transportation. He even has a smart phone, not a disposable flip phone like the last time we spoke! At one point in the conversation I said, “Who are you?” B laughed and said he knew he’d changed a lot since our last conversation. He brought a small piece of art for me because he knows what a fan I am. He was going to bring a larger piece to me, but he knew I was going to the show and feared it would have met its demise in a crowd. He does beautiful watercolor on cardboard, so it probably would not have survived.

Adam texted me two weeks ago. He wanted to get together for lunch. I told him I was very busy but maybe the following week. So I guess the ball is in my court to contact him. I’m going to have to make it very clear that he is completely friend-zoned because I have a boyfriend and he missed his chance.

I don’t think I’ve talked about D. D first knew me as a married lady. We met in boxing class three years ago and became fast friends. At the time, he was trying to lose weight and was in the process of removing a visible tattoo in hopes of becoming a Marine. When I started going through the process of divorce, he wanted to hang out with me more and more. I began seeing B shortly after splitting from Jeff, so I was as clear as possible to D that I was not interested. He still pursued me mercilessly, even calling me and messaging me while I was on my solo cross-country, soul-searching trip. All I wanted was to be alone and think for 10 days and he was blowing up my phone. I ignored a lot of his calls and didn’t respond to most of his text messages. When I was back in town he propositioned me and I began completely ignoring him. I had told him I was still seeing B, but my mistake was telling him we weren’t exclusive. After a few months, I cooled off and we tried to be friends but I couldn’t get past the lewd comments and I told him I couldn’t be friends. We remained Facebook friends but no actual contact was made between us. We hadn’t spoken or texted in at least 18 months. I heard from him yesterday. He’s going through a hard time and reached out. I was busy, but I responded. Maybe we can be friends now. I’ve been much better at forgiving these days.

It’s 10:00 pm and WFB is off in half an hour. He’ll be here at 11:00 to fall asleep with me so that we can spend the day together tomorrow. This hour is going to be so long…