I'm sitting cross-legged on my therapist's couch 4 months after my husband's announcement that he wants a divorce when my therapist informs me that he thinks I should start dating again.
I had told myself and others that I was going to take time off to concentrate on myself for once. Between a husband and three boys, I didn't know who I was anymore. I just wanted to hang out with my girlfriends, drink martinis like a fish, and let the hair grow long on my legs if I wanted. I had even gone so far as to announce to my friends that I was going to take a full year off from any kind of relationship.
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Man #29, The Kept Man…The Aftermath
You may find it shocking to know that I don’t spend every Friday and Saturday night out on a date. In fact, I usually reserve those nights for time with my good friends or family. Last night was no different. My friend, Sam invited me over to hang out with her and her boyfriend, Really Really Nice Guy.
She offered up vino and time in her hot tub in exchange for a helping of my sage chips. This is a typical thing for me. I get invited to places, all expenses paid, in exchange for my cooking. Most people have to sing for their supper. For me, it’s the other way around.
Really Really Nice Guy had gathered fresh sage from Sam’s garden, and she had a craving. When I arrived, I was quickly handed a glass of wine and got to work in her kitchen. As I was standing over hot oil flipping sage leaves with tongs, we started talking about my recent adventures in dating. I started telling her about The Kept Man and how promising emails had quickly devolved into the discovery that the man was a slob and a sponge.
“You mean you broke up with him because of his landscaping,” Sam asked, incredulous.
“No, correction, I did not break up with him. We were never together. You can’t break up with someone if you were never together.”
“Ok, so you stopped seeing him because of his landscaping?”
“You can’t call what he had landscaping, and, no, it wasn’t just because of that.”
Sam happens to be one of the people who has been giving me a hard time about being too picky. She says I should define three deal breakers, and if a man passes those three things, I should consider him a solid dating prospect. I happen to think Sam is full of shit.
Besides, what does she know? She has Really Really Nice Guy. Really Really Nice Guy does really, really nice things for her. She couldn’t possibly know my pain.
“You should pick three things, like Rhonda, and stick to them,” Sam said.
Rhonda is another friend of ours. She has three deal breakers. One is that a guy has to be okay with her bush. She’s not shaving for anyone. The second is they have to be okay with her porn. What can I say? Girlfriend likes her porn. I can’t remember what the other one is, but anyway, Sam thinks this is the approach I should take.
Of course, that means I would have to define my three deal breakers. Believe it or not, one of them is not, “You must be at least this tall to ride this ride.” However, these are relationship deal breakers, not dating deal breaker. I’m not having relationships yet, and I don’t think I’m going to talk about bush or no bush on a first date.
I don’t know what my deal breakers would be. I’ll have to get back to you on that.
So, anyway…where were we?
Oh yeah, so Sam was giving me a hard time about dropping The Kept Man like a hot potato.
“Ok, for the record, I did not stop talking to him just because his house was a mess. The guy was a mooch. He’s sponging off of his ex-wife and then he can’t even get off his ass long enough to make sure that people can get to his front door.”
I couldn’t tell for sure, but I think Really Really Nice Guy agreed with me on this. From what I could tell, he’s been doing a great job keeping things together at their place. In addition to fixing things around the house, he cooks.
Sam was still looking at me in disbelief, and it was starting to piss me off so I continued.
“Besides, what do you know? You always meet guys who want to fix things,” I say, waving the tongs in Really Really Nice Guy’s direction, “I always meet men who break things, and I’m sick of it! I’ve had that argument before. When STBex and I were together one of the STUPID things we fought about all the time was the yard. It was ridiculous! Anytime I asked him to mow the grass it ended up in a big fight.”
I’m a tall woman, almost six feet, and I’ve always had a big voice, probably from all those years of using my diaphragm to project my voice in choir. Then when I get upset, I get louder. I continued on my diatribe.
“Do you know that one time when we were fighting over the yard, I asked STBex, if since he didn’t want to mow the lawn, if he would be ok hiring someone? Do you know what he said?? He told me he wasn’t going to hire anyone, but I could. He was totally fine to let our house look like we were the white trash neighbors on the street, and if I wanted it to look any differently, it was up to me to pay for it. Believe me, fighting over taking care of our home is not something I’m willing to fight about again. It’s a stupid argument to have! Stupid!”
Phew! I was spent. I took a big swig of my wine.
“I’m not doing that again,” I said, putting my glass down, ”I would rather be alone than argue about something as stupid as taking care of my home. The next man who gets to share a home with me is going to care about himself, his home, his family, and ME goddamnit.”
And just like that I had my first deal breaker.