November 2021

Visit Me on Youtube with Celebrating Act2

2021-11-17T20:31:48+00:00

I am so grateful and excited to be a regular contributor on Celebrating Act2, a video blog which offers advice on living the second half of your life. Every other Thursday, I’ll have a new post offering advice and dishing about the cesspool that is middle-aged dating.

Here’s my interview with Celebrating Act2 chatting about my upcoming posts:

 

And here’s my first ever post by myself discussing the biggest problem with dating at middle-age:

 

I promise I’ll improve! This is definitely a learning process. Please watch, share if it resonates with you, and let know what you think!

Thank you for choosing to spend your valuable time with me,

Debbie

 

Visit Me on Youtube with Celebrating Act22021-11-17T20:31:48+00:00

February 2018

Dating After Widowhood: You Can Withdraw Your Consent at Any Time

2018-02-05T14:53:12+00:00

 

Consent for sex

Many of us are diving back into the dating pool after a long absence. It’s been many years since we’ve been romantic with someone other than our spouses. We might not know what feels okay until we’re actually on a date and things are becoming steamy. The most important thing we need to know is that we can withdraw our consent at any time. Even in the middle of things. No matter uncomfortable it feels to speak up.

We owe it to ourselves.

Our date may have done everything right; we’re just not ready to be with a new person. We thought wanted to get close, but when that started to happen, it didn’t feel right.

And that’s okay. You can’t tell beforehand how it feels to become intimate a new person.

But here’s the hard part: we’ve been trained to follow through once we’ve agreed to have sex. In the romance movies, the couple kisses passionately, then suddenly they’re stretched out in bed all post-sex and glowing. They don’t show the awkward stuff in between.

When I was in high school, my dad raised me not to let a boy pay for a date lest he seek physical reimbursement afterwards. According to my dad, all boys were after one thing and I needed to guard against it vigorously. He followed the old-fashioned model that once a guy got excited, he became a sex friend.  (In the eighties, one guy actually tried to convince my virginal friend that “blue balls” could damage him). So I had to do everything in my power not to excite a guy.

Many of us older daters weren’t brought up with the idea of consent. Like me, we were taught to fear the uncontrollable male sex urge. In middle-age, we believe that either you do or you don’t. And if you initially agree to have sex, you’re stuck.But you’re not. You can withdraw your consent at any time.

But if we want to end whatever’s going on, we need to speak up. A lack of enthusiasm or a grimace in a darkened room may not be enough to alert our partners that we’ve changed our minds. We need to say, without shame or embarrassment, “I need this to stop. I’m not comfortable with this.”

We might tend to rationalize, “It will be over soon” or “He’ll think I’m crazy for changing my mind.” But our bodies know. Even if our brains think we can go through with it, our bodies will feel betrayed. They feel at a level our rational minds may not. And a decent man wouldn’t want us to feel ambivalent or awkward about something so private.

Asking consent for each act

I’ve been reading about how Aziz Ansari chose to ignore his date’s signals that she didn’t want to sleep with him. I read an advice column where a man asked if he’d acted wrongly when his date told him after the fact she felt violated even though he’d truly thought she had acquiesced. We are reaching a new model for sexual consent. And it involves making sure beforehand that we and our partners are comfortable with each act of intimacy before it happens.

I know people think it can get silly when everything gets verbalized, i.e. “Can I touch your left breast? Can I touch the right one?” Or they think it’s not sexy. But I think it is (within reason). It shows our partners respect us and care that we’re comfortable. And in the time it takes to ask, we can decide what we want. Affirming consent as things progress changes the model of sex as “all or nothing.” It lets us change our minds as we go along. And it sends the message that there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s probably closer to how people really feel when they’re with a new partner, testing the waters before diving in.

In order to feel safe to try dating again, we need to be able to stop whatever’s happening if it feels wrong. At whatever stage. Even if we initially said “yes.” Even if our partners did nothing wrong. For no other reason than it doesn’t feel right. That is a huge reason. And we need to say it clearly without shame, “I need you to stop.”

Dating After Widowhood: You Can Withdraw Your Consent at Any Time2018-02-05T14:53:12+00:00

October 2016

Is Adult Dating Just an Exercise in Dumpster Diving?

2016-10-10T18:46:43+00:00

 

cszyimowiaijjan

 

This quote really resonated with the women, especially the single ones, at a recent women’s only yoga retreat. Dating as dumpster diving. Do men feel the same way about dating as adults? Which might be the point. Do any of us remain adults when we enter the dating arena?

Or are we morphed back into teenagers with better cars but worse hair?

The last fellow I met online told me that so many of the women who’d contacted him had profile photos wearing camping attire and hoisting up large fish they’d caught, each bass or grouper proclaiming these ladies were low maintenance, high energy, and one of the guys. And apparently could scale their own fish. But this guy was really urban. He wondered why he was attracting pioneer women.

When we go online we are looking for reflections of ourselves; we are looking to see what we reflect back. Whoa, that hot successful orthodontist contacted me, I must look pretty good. That guy with the bad rug who looks to be 20 years older than I (and put up an unfortunate swimsuit shot) thinks I’d be interested? I said I want a relationship, is my profile so secretly needy that Mr. Zipless Fuck thinks I’d say yes? Or in my case, how come I only attract guys from Berkeley who like Bill Maher and NPR and think that makes them seem smart as opposed to cliched?

My ego is my Plenty of Fish profile. Lets see who it reels in.

But even when I’d found a promising flounder, the guy usually turned out to suck. The Alec Baldwin lookalike still wasn’t over his ex and thought I needed to bathe in his pain. (I know not why). The rich artist still wasn’t over his mother and had unresolved anger issues he thought I would’t notice were toxic. (Yup, millions of dollars and tons of resentment). Or the environmentalist’s life was so disorganized there wasn’t even room for him in it.

Or like so many men I’ve met, my prospect might be a nice fellow, but all the fruitless searching and resulting loneliness have left him with a patina of disillusionment; he has lots of crazy dating stories but a famished soul. Oh yeah, plus we have nothing in common, or his politics are problematic, or he still lives at home or he wants to date a woman who can gut her own salmon.

So, the grown up dating process is like dumpster diving but you won’t even find a free coffee table. I got no answers. That’s why I blog. I had my soulmate. I am grateful for that. I no longer have true love, but I’ve found a relationship that’s often fun and, thanks to him, I’ve discovered Aimee Mann and Wilco and beaches and….’nuff said.  I’ve dipped my foot into the polluted waters, but remain essentially alone.  And I think there are other solutions to loneliness beyond dating.

So, when we are looking at the metaphorical trash heap that is adult dating, are we not saying, what is wrong with me that I am attracting refuse? Why aren’t I hooking someone who reflects back my own potential? Am I sporting an invisible sign that says I lust after the irremediably damaged?

An old friend recently attracted the perfect guy on Plenty of Fish. He was smart, uber successful, thoughtful, and really into her. She crowed about him incessantly. And as she gushed, and quipped “I don’t stay on the market for long,” what I heard her saying is “Look who I can attract. I must be pretty special.”

After I realized that being alone can make us feel defective in the myopic eyes of society, I wanted to drop kick her.  (Instead I wrote this).  Her Prince High Tech turned out to be a professional con man. The moral: Beware of succumbing to your own reflection.

The single women I know are lovely and clever and flexible (we’re all yogis). The male dating pool can’t all be comprised of discounted, long expired cold cuts. Or do a greater percentage of damaged meat popsicles go online; whereas, us lithe, evolved yoginis have simply given up, retreating to Netflix, and, you know, retreats. Have all the sane singles left the butcher shop?

Why is grown up dating a visit to the dump complete with flesh-eating zombies when we all know cool single grown ups? Does dating bring out our inner insufferable teenagers such that we’re all reliving our insecurities through the mating process?  Or is it that the undamaged dolls have left the Island of Broken Toys?

I’m truly curious.  What are your conclusions?

 

 

Is Adult Dating Just an Exercise in Dumpster Diving?2016-10-10T18:46:43+00:00
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