Meshing Two Nests: How to Handle Moving in Together When you Both have Kids

il_570xN.353427798_k1rx

It has occurred to me recently that my boyfriend and I may or may not be 110 percent “ready” to live together yet, although I do find myself wanting to take that next step. Regardless, it’s a huge step in any relationship and adding kids into that equation is another whole story. While my boys are aged seven and four and my boyfriend’s daughter is seven also, it still makes for a reasonable concern we both have when considering the idea of joining our two homes. Moving in together without kids is hard enough but with the addition of children who will be affected by this it isn’t a light-hearted decision to be making.

This is not your typical overnight bad situation; it requires several conversations with your mate on the topic. While yes, it’s going to cause butterflies and give you both some excitement, it is also going to mean some real hard facts and figures about finances and rules.

Here’s a list of suggested topics you may want to discuss together before taking the plunge.

1: If possible, pick a new place to move into so you both have your must have needs meet. It is important to each find a place that works for you both separately as well as together. Making sure you come together and compromise when and where needed, will go a long way to a healthy relationship from the start of your new adventure together.

2: Along with #1, this includes adding your own personal touches to decorating the new place, too. Having representation of your own styles is going to count for some brownie points. You do not want one personality over powering the entire space.

3: Something new and something borrowed means that you each may want to consider having a family air loom or something of each family background to represent each of your own family’s history or traditions. For me this has been the small things, like family pictures hung or religious items that are showcased.

4: As someone who has struggled with keeping my finances private, I understand how scary this can be. Sharing your money and budgeting with someone can be a little intimidating.  The thought of sharing things like utilities and bills is just one step closer to the “I do” possibilities. This is critical to talk about because otherwise you risk running into an episode of Jerry Springer. Some experts say you should keep your finances separate. I really cannot say which is right or wrong but do think at the very least a discussion is a must.

5: It’s no secret men and women alike can have some pretty unusual, quirky, or even intolerable habits.  Know these before you make the final arrangements. This could save you both time and money. Plus, better to know what you can and cannot live with. If you get into the situation however, where you learn a new habit after moving in together, I suggest you find a reasonable and fair compromise that doesn’t involve sleeping in different rooms or him being banned into the guest bathroom. This move is a huge mistake many women have made for generations that I have personally seen ruin marriages. (Unless one of you is sick of course, then ban the sick one for preventative measure.)

6: Learning to compromise isn’t a born talent I have so it has taken me thus far 30 years to even begin learning it. I’d like to think and boost that I have come a long way in leaps and bounds. Maybe some leaps have looked more like skips or the occasional stumble but hey, it’s a learning process right? Right! Experience is the best teacher and this is no exception to the rule. Learning to compromise, talk things out and even share house hold duties, chores, responsibilities or costs is going to be important and being prepare for the time will help you. Take baby steps; learn to share the remote or take turns walking the dog. These may seem like silly things but from my own experience, they can become big things if no compromises are made. I liked the idea of one person cooking and the other cleaning up after the meal. This has proven to be a successful method and a good compromise.

Now let’s delve into the issue of meshing two families when moving in together now that we have covered the very basics. This is a sensitive time when kids are involved so I’d suggest putting on your “mom hat” and maybe the baby gloves, too.

Since my boyfriend and I have only lightly batted the idea around over a few text messages this is not something I can give much personal experience on however, I will give you my personal opinions, advice and my heart felt action plan for myself for the “if and when” comes.

Obviously it goes without saying but I will say it anyway just in case those butterflies have laps judgments as mine do from time to time: It will be critical to discuss what type of blended family you each want to create. If you each want something different you need to stop before you start planning and evaluate not only the idea of living together but also the relationship’s future.

Tips bullet points for meshing nests. The basics are critical to understand first and foremost.

1: With three children under age eight between us, I have begun researching helpful tips. I also have a wonderful pediatrician to whom I would not hesitate to seek advice from as well. Children’s counselors are also great advisors. It certainly won’t hurt to try any or all of these options. You may also want to explore the Internet for helpful tools and tips on the matter. There are some great advice topics like telling your kids you’re moving, how to help your kids with transition and family changes, disciplining with a new partner, boundaries before and after, and even quizzes to help you gauge your own readiness. There was even an article I found about creating a new blended family mission statement and having it on display.

2: If and when the time does come for my boyfriend and I to move in together, I have an action plan. It begins with talking to the children and making sure their their feelings are heard. Any time I have witnessed adults making these types of decisions I have seen all too often how children do not get a voice to be heard, which is sad. I feel that these kids will be impacted and affected so it seems ludacris to me that people do not give them a voice as well. I will want to ask these children questions like how they would feel, what they think some house rules could be, chores they would want to over, and house rules the adults will be enforcing. Rules such as “no jumping on furniture” maybe a rule that one parent has but not the other so it is better to get it all out there in the open beforehand so no one is surprised later on. This will also help the adults to determine if this is a good time for the kids as well. If there is underlining issues a child has with one of the other kids or an adult this needs to be addressed quickly and seriously. Allowing the kids to feel comfortable, safe, and valued during this transition will pay off.

3: Another thing I hope to do someday would be having it clear within the new meshed home of who is head of house. What is each person’s role within the home? Some experts say that a husband and wife or a girlfriend and boyfriend should never call each other “Mom” or “Dad” in front of children. They state it confuses children, especially young children about the role of each person. I again, cannot say if this is right or wrong but will admit on an occasion my boyfriend and I both have slipped and called each other “Mom” or “Dad.” I am unsure why so many people seem to do this but I know many who do and personally I haven’t seen a child question the role of a parent or adult as a result yet. Maybe I should calendar it in 20 years to locate the child (by then adult) to see if they feel it somehow screwed them up because their parents called each other “Mom” or “Dad” in his or her presence. That would make for a good follow-up.

4: Breathing techniques are required here. Kids are going to break things and create huge messes, learn not to sweat the little things and pick and choose your battles both with the kids and your partner. A bad day at work does not mean you can take it out on the other adult or the kid(s) so figure out what you each need in order to prevent meltdowns before they occur. A side note, never argue in front of children! Kids are super smart these days and one argument can send a kid into a frenzy or worse, a divide and conquer mode.

5: Kids will be kids, so this may be a good time to double check you each can handle each other’s kid(s). Sometimes it can be scarier if you each have different parenting techniques. Maybe try to discuss these beforehand and compromise here as well. If one allows his or her child to run around during meals and the other finds it disruptive, rude or even plainly annoying you must consider this and address it as soon as possible.

6: Making your relationship a priority during the transition will be as important as tending to the children’s needs. Let’s face it, we all get so caught up in the day to day routine we forget that our relationship has needs too. This is what I like to call relationship withdrawal when one or both of you forget to prioritize. My cure for this is simply, date nights. Date nights are a great way to make some “we time” and reconnect with each other as a couple. When my marriage failed I had to come to the hard conclusion that I forgot to be a wife. It’s easy to get wrapped up into parenthood that we forget to be a partner. That doesn’t make you a horrible spouse; it means you’re human. Get a sitter, get an eager grandparent, get away no matter how much preparation it takes. Do it from the start so everyone is accustomed to this date night early on.

7: To accompany #6, it is also going to be important for you each to still make time for your own families.  Creating a new blended family or home should not mean one or both of you neglect your own families. Make time, host a barbeque or small family dinner with family to make sure they still feel the love. Depending on how the families get along, you can do this together or separately. If your family doesn’t get along with your partner it may prove to be complicated and you may want to arrange some quality alone time with your own family.  From my experience, even if your family loves the new man or women in your life it’s still OK to take some personal family time without your mate. As an Italian, family is very important to me and this may mean a dinner per week for family time with my grandparents. Luckily, my boyfriend is appreciative of my bounds we share and super supportive of these relationships and their importance to still make time for them. It’s a balancing act at times, so tread with love and be honest with your partner about what you want when it comes to family time.

8: Chances are we all have ex’s that we don’t exactly like but because of our child or children we are forced to have some sort of communications with the person.  At some point it occurred to me that my boyfriend was right about how I should deal with my ex-husband and treat it like a business transaction and clear out my emotions and any expectations I had. When it comes to my boyfriend from the first introduction he has been nothing but cordial and pleasant towards my ex. When dealing with an ex my suggestion is to be as pleasant as possible because the kids will witness these little exchanges and make it much easier on them in the long run if everyone can play nicely. Respecting boundaries will also be helpful, know your own place and when to and not to get involved in any parenting disputes your partner has. Unless your partner asks for your assistance stay silent and just be there for your mate with a hug, a shoulder or just a sympathetic ear.

9: If your blended family has similar interests and hobbies explore those together and participate as a family. These can be but are not limited to things like family game nights, outdoor activities or even special functions at schools or activities to support each other. This will keep you all connected and keep it fun for kids of all ages to feel a part of the new life.  Making new bounds with other children maybe a bit scary even if the kids already get along, this change may have you spending some extra TLC time on helping the kids to have a strong and healthy bond with each other. As another side note; I wanted to mention that though time together as a whole will be important that it will still be important for the children to not feel like their parent is too busy to be their parent first. I suggest making it a point to at some point routinely make some alone and quality time with your child or children. Parent/kid dates are a great way to do this so your kids know they are still important to you.

10: KISS:  Keep It Simple Stupid. Keeping it simple for kids is not rocket science and kids will much like the adults, get butterflies, be nervous or scared, but they will survive. They will adjust if you and your partner decide to move in together and mesh your two families and homes into one. This is beyond two adults and their decisions, it becomes one in which should be a family decision because meshing two homes could wind up creating a family unit as some point if a marriage occurs. Kids are resilient and bounce back easily too so making things overly complex or complicated may make it worse so I’d suggest keeping it simple and kid friendly.

Most of all do not get so wrapped up in the moment that you forget to breathe and enjoy this time and the possibilities ahead.  It is OK to take some personal you time in the process to help yourself in whatever ways you need to before making any major decisions.

So with all this in mind I would recommend your partner and you going to see the new Adam Sandler movie “Blended.” While the follow up afterwards should be a conversation it hopefully brings you both some laughs as well.

Dating after divorce in your 20s: Advice from America’s Next Top Model Cycle 20 Contestant Mike Scocozza

atm

Dating after divorce in your 20s is quite the adventure. Some women married their first loves and have no idea what it’s like to play the game. Others have to adjust to the evolution of the dating protocol. For example, text messaging really wasn’t a thing when I married my ex-husband, but by the time I divorced, it was the new form of communication. It drove me crazy that guys would text me once and then not reply to me for three days. Like, what is up with that?! I soon learned to weed out those players and focus on the guy who actually responded and gasp- wanted to hear my voice.

mikes

Photo: Andrew Tomasino

Whether you’ve just entered the single life or have been stomping through the trenches, you’re most likely wondering just what the hell a twenty-something guy really thinks about dating. So I got one to provide the inside scoop. He’s not just your average Joe, though. He’s Mike Scocozza, the America’s Next Top Model Cycle 20 contestant who Tyra Banks handpicked for casting while he was serving up Los Angeles-adored Coolhaus gourmet, customizable ice cream sandwiches.

Here’s what 27-year-old Scocozza has to say to women celebrating divorce in their 20s by getting back out there!

Mike

Mike Scocozza: Insightful and delightful.

I’m certainly no expert when it comes to dating. I’ve only had two serious relationships in my life. But I have picked up a few things in my time out there in the world. The big thing to remember when it comes to dating is that it’s OK to NOT like someone. It’s good to be upbeat going into a new meeting, but you’re not going to click with everyone you meet. That’s just the way it works. So don’t try forcing something that’s not there, just because you want it. Be honest with yourself and be honest with the person you’re with. Here are a few tips from the male perspective:

(This applies only if you’re actually looking to meet someone special, not to just hook up.)

1. Be honest. If things do progress, the truth eventually comes out. So just be honest from the beginning.

2. Be yourself. There’s no point in changing who you are just to please someone. If they don’t like you, then screw them. Someone else will.

3. Don’t be flaky. If you say you’re going to call back or be somewhere at a certain time, just do it. (I know this applies to men as well, but I’m just reminding you).

4. Don’t be afraid to take the lead. If the conversation is starting to die down then take it into your own hands. Most guys will follow, I promise.

5. Guy don’t really care about shoes, accessories and makeup. We know it’s important to you, but so long as you don’t look like a complete mess, you’re fine. We care more about personality, character, and things like that.

6. Don’t expect the guy to pay the bill. Any gentleman will always take care of the bill, but don’t sit there and act like it’s his job. Be appreciative.

7. Fuck protocol. The “waiting a few days to talk” to someone is stupid. If you like a guy, don’t wait for his ass to call you. Let him know. And if I a guy feels the same way, he’ll let you know as well.

Want more of Mike? 

Meet Mike: www.mikescocozza.com

Chat: Twitter.com/mikescocozza

Stare: Instagram.com/mikescocozza

Befriend: Facebook.com/mikescocozzaofficial

Watch: YouTube.com/mikescocozza

 

Trusting Love

How do you learn to trust your heart when it’s failed you so many times?

That’s a question I’ve began asking myself lately.

As a young divorcee, I think it’s all a part of the healing process. When I met my ex, I remember being blissfully captivated by ignorance. Looking back I see it all: the control issues, the abusive tendencies, the alcohol dependency…

But at the time I became an expert at convincing myself otherwise. I convinced myself that’s what love really was. I convinced myself that his control equaled love and if someone really loves me then they will want to control every aspect of my life. Over time I became an expert at adapting to the expectations of others. Once I broke free of that life, I’ve been forced to find me… but more importantly I’ve been forced to face who I was created to be. That is an incredibly hard journey when you’ve spent so many years under someone else’s stronghold.

Now that I am nearly one year out from the day I left, the amount of self-reflection I’ve done is nearly overwhelming. Many nights have been spent asking God what the reasoning for all of this was, and more importantly asking what I’m supposed to do from here. I’ve learned valuable lessons, and through it all I’m beginning to see why this journey has been mine.

But the biggest fear, the biggest question I ask myself is how do you trust a failed heart?

I’ve built up a wall around me to keep people out. Not because I don’t want to experience authentic relationships, but instead because I fear the paralyzing pain of losing something you thought was real. I want to experience real, lasting love. I desire to have the kind of relationship that my parents have, one that has only strengthened through the years. But how is it possible to depend on a heart that hasn’t been reliable before?

Honesty. Authenticity. Reality.

I must be honest with myself regarding where I’ve been and the scars that exist. Control does not equal love. Love is far deeper than that. Love is patience and acceptance, not judgment and pressure. I remember being forced to stand on the scale a year and a half ago, and being told how much weight I needed to lose. That isn’t love. Love sees beyond the exterior, love captures and binds the heart. I must be willing to unravel my mind from the lingering binds of years of control in order to accept the kind of love that builds instead of breaks.

I must also be willing to be authentic. I’ve built a very hard shell around myself. It’s a defense mechanism, and the foundations were built before I even experienced the pain of a destructive marriage. While that shell has protected me, and kept my sanity in some cases… the reality is that love may penetrate the shell, but to receive lasting love I must be willing to break down the bricks I’ve built up. I have to re-learn to be vulnerable and authentic. I must be willing to not only accept, but also feel the pain of what I’ve been through instead of forcing myself to ignore the scars.

Finally, I must be willing to see reality. I willingly looked the other way to so many concerns that were so obvious. Things that normally would make anyone run the opposite direction. In order to feel real love and trust your heart, you must look at the reality of what things are… not what you want them to be. I would walk around, head held high, pretending to have a perfect marriage… only to go home and sleep in fear of the man beside me. The sooner you face reality in any relationship, the less time you’ll waste on people who aren’t meant to experience your love and the more time you’ll have to love the person who will love you back.

So as we all move on in life, taking a journey into finding real and lasting love, let’s remember the importance of honesty, authenticity, and reality. Our hearts may have failed us once, but love conquers all… including a painful past. We just must make sure we are ready and willing to accept it.

Expert Guidance > Social Media: Modern Dating in your Post-Divorce World

Tara Richter, certified dating coach, author & radio show host provides online dating advice in this edition of our Expert Guidance series:

A boy sends a friend request to a pretty girl on Facebook. The girl adds him and they start chatting over instant message. After a week of flirtatious winky faces and LOL chatting, he asks her for her phone number. She obliges and they exchange smart phone pictures. After a few late night phone conversations, he gets the courage to ask her out. They finally meet for coffee and both recognize each other from across the espresso bar.  They gaze into each other’s eyes for the very first time, yet it feels like they’ve known the other person a lifetime.

The dating game has definitely changed. The days of a man approaching a women in a bar and her giving him her phone number, the only number he could get ahold of her at not a long list of; emails, work phone, iPhone, Skype, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, is long gone. The technology dating scene is now here. You can meet people online, playing video games or through friends of friends on Facebook. So how has this digital age changed things? What are the new rules?

I go over all the Internet dating rules more thoroughly in my book, “10 Rules to Survive the Internet Dating Jungle” yet I will briefly touch base on the more important rules here. First of all when you are meeting people from the Internet you definitely want to utilize my Rule # 6 Be Safe Research Your Date.

Unfortunately, people lie and hide behind the computer screen. Practice defensive dating. Do your research it’s free and easy. Once you have some information on a person just Google them. Typing someone’s name in Google can bring up a plethora of stuff. Just make sure it’s the right person.

Check their other accounts like LinkedIn. Do they really work where they say they work?   Go to your local county sheriff’s website. Most counties will have their inmate database online. You can search sometimes up to 20 years ago if someone has been arrested.

Go to your clerk of courts. That’s where marriage certificates and divorce decrees are recorded.

Go to the property appraiser’s website. All that information is public.

Do they really own they house they say they do? Be your own private detective.

When you’re choosing a dating site for the first time, after all my research in writing my second book, I discovered that the same people are on all the websites.  If they have a profile on one dating site, they probably have them on multiple other sites, Rule #2.

So the best thing is to test out the free sites first. Websites that are 100% free are pof.com and OKcupid.com. Other sites claim to be free like Zoosk.com but are not. You can create an account, yet can’t contact anyone until you pay.  Test out the free dating sites first and see your experience. Both of these sites also have mobile dating apps that you can utilize from your smart phone. That’s a helpful feature that many of the paid sites do not have.

Once you have started chatting with someone, you’ve done your research and think this guy/girl may have potential, make sure to meet them in the flesh within two weeks, Rule #5.

Technology dating is a great tool to meet people you normally wouldn’t run into on a daily basis, yet the whole point is to meet! Through all the text messages, Skyping and tweeting the one thing the computer cannot mimic is chemistry. That is something that can only be determined in person. Don’t drag out your Internet romance for too long before seeing them. You want to make sure they look like their photos and you two connect.

I don’t even call these dates. When meeting for the first time I call them “meet n’ greets” because that’s what it is. It’s not a date, it’s a short 20-30 minute meet n’ greet to make sure they are not 10 years older and 30 pounds heavier than their photos. If you keep it short and sweet, somewhere for say a cup of coffee, it’s easy to break away. If for someone reason it’s not totally clicking between the two of you, it’s easy to say you have errands to run and make a quick exit.   It only cost a couple of bucks and a few minutes of each other’s time. No one should be too heartbroken over it.

If it didn’t work out, be honest with the other person as to why. It stinks when you go out with someone and you think it was wonderful, yet they never return your phone call. You have no idea what happened and eventually just chalk it up to them being vanished to the island of lost men. Honesty is always the best policy. That’s the only way we learn, grow and develop. If it hasn’t worked out for you yet, just remember there’s a billion some people on the planet, eventually you’ll find your perfect mate in the dating jungle.

 

Tara Richter

Certified Dating Coach, Author & Radio Show Host

www.datingjunglebook.com

Expert Guidance: Dating Strategist Damona Hoffman

I’m excited to present a guest blog, as part of our Expert Guidance series, with Damona Hoffman, dating strategist and author of Spin Your Web: How to Brand Yourself for Successful Online Dating:

So you’re young, gorgeous and recovering from “The Big D”? The bad news is you have to do the single waltz again. The good news is, you get to date lots of new hotties who were off-limits to you when you were married. With a few simple tips from this modern dating expert you can be back to dating like it’s your job in no time.

1) Expand Your Social Circle – Meeting new people is easier than it’s ever been before. Join meet-ups, book clubs, or simply start to say ‘yes’ to invites you would have declined in your married days. New friends mean new friends of friends. Let them know you’re looking and tell them what you’re looking for.

2) Give Yourself a Makeover—Try getting a new wardrobe (or a few pieces, it can do wonders for your self-esteem.) And if you’re still thinking about your ex, then give your mental state a makeover too. Men like dating women who are positive, fun, and available so stop replaying what went wrong and focus on finding Mr. Right.

3) Give Online Dating a Whirl—It’s the fastest and easiest way to meet new people. Even if you don’t find you ideal mate’s profile listed, it’s a great way to get back on the dating horse and good as a confidence boost. One of my clients in her 30s signed up for a sugar mama dating site and has been getting her groove back with guys in their 20s who have energy that her ex lost years ago.

4) Have App Will Travel—New apps like Coffee Meets Bagel let you connect with guys through your social media circle. It keeps you from being introduced to those you already know (like your ex) but gives you the  peace of mind that you are dating someone who is only a couple of degrees of separation from you.

5) Asking For Help— Many singles assume that their friends know they’re looking to be set up, but sometimes friends don’t know you’re ready until you tell them. Let your friends know that you’re back in the game and be specific about who you’re looking for so you don’t get saddled with their hairy cousin Larry just because he’s available.

6) Hit The Gym—Not only will you look and feel amazing, but you’ll also meet like-minded singles and get your hormones pumping. Both sex and exercise release endorphins so even if you aren’t getting some, you’ll feel like you did.

7) Take Yourself On A Weekly Date—Going out by yourself can be hard but staying home by yourself is probably harder. Grab life by the cajones and hit the town solo. You’ll meet many more people than if you go out with gaggle of your married girlfriends who have to be in bed by 10 p.m. because of the baby.

8) Walk A Dog—If you don’t have one of your own, many dog shelters need a dog walker once or twice a week to take their lonely pooches around the block. The dog park is a great way to meet a mate. Dog lovers attract dog lovers and if your loaner dog sniffs the butt of a cute guy’s dog, call it an icebreaker.

9) Mack at the Mac Store—Everyone has something Mac related, be it an iPod, iPad or laptop. The Genius Bar is the dive bar of Generation Y. You might pick up some handy tips and a smart, sexy guy while you’re at it.

Once you stop worrying about meeting someone new or whether you’ll ever be dateable again, you can actually get back to dating quicker than you’re giving yourself credit for. There’s someone out there for you if that’s what you’re looking for. Just take time and ease into it so you get a clear headspace.

For more advice to get you online dating like a pro, visit DearMrsD.com and claim your free video “The Biggest Online Dating Mistakes You’re Problem Making and How to Fix Them!” Match.com, JDate, and HurryDate are just a few of the dating sites that recommend Damona “Dear Mrs D” Hoffman’s new book Spin Your Web: How to Brand Yourself for Successful Online Dating.  Pick up your copy now at Amazon.com!

 

About DAMONA HOFFMAN

Damona Hoffman (aka “Dear Mrs D”) is a professional dating strategist with nearly a decade of experience in the world of online dating. In addition to writing a bi-weekly column on JDate.com’s JMag, she is also a contributor to The Huffington PostYourTango.com and hosts the weekly radio show “Dates and Mates” on UBNRadio.com. Dear Mrs D has been seen on Fox, NBC, CBS and various radio programs. For more information, visit: http://dearmrsd.com; on Twitter https://twitter.com/DearMrsD; on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DearMrsD

About SPIN YOUR WEB

This short and savvy book touches on several key points to finding love online in the 21st century. You’ll find solutions to some of the most challenging dating situations from cross-cultural relationships to finding love post-divorce and dating via smartphones.  The author guides readers on the same path that led to her own happy marriage, all with her signature candor and humor.

 

The Soulmate you Deserve

Every woman needs to read this Cody Gohl blog post, “The Soulmate you Deserve.” Swoon.

The Ladies Who Wait

Hey everybody! How’s it going? I know, it’s been a while. But here’s something that’s been on my mind lately:

Things are about to get real personal. You ready?

I have not had sex in 14 months. Or kissed anyone in 14 months. One guy tried to hold my hand, but I put a stop to that pretty quick. And 14 months ago, I was married. So, you know what I’m saying.

Yes. I’m counting in months. My abstinence is a newborn. Well, a toddler, now. Let’s be honest, my abstinence is walking, talking, and growing teeth. Soon it’ll be doing taxes. As the great Bridget Jones would say, ” it’s been so long, I think my virginity is growing back.”

What led me to this sensual desert? I’ll tell you.

Phase One: The first few months after things went kaput, I was in denial, mourning, and overall adjusting to changing the portrait I had painted of what my life would be. I was in that stage where if any other guy touched me, I probably would’ve broken down in tears. Not sexy. And if sexy, not a guy you wanna be with.

Phase Two: Feeling open to dating, but everyone around you is still getting used to you being single and all the guys who are single, still see you as married and imagine you’re an emotional hot mess, which, let’s face it, you probably are.

Phase Three: Decided to live with my parents for three months in between moving from Florida to New York City. They live in the middle of nowhere, and why in the world would I try to date anyone when I’m leaving in three months, currently living with my parents, and don’t have a car?

Phase Four: Finally, move to New York. Open to dating. But for some reason, nothing happens. I meet people. I do the OkCupid thing. I take classes and am involved in projects. And nothing has happened.

Three months go by. And here we are. It’s not that I haven’t had fun, been enjoying myself, been growing, learning, and loving life. It’s not that I haven’t moved all over the country in the past year and had the biggest mental and emotional overhaul of my life to date.

But this is where I am. And people are shocked when I tell them. But here’s the thing. I’m not.

The time has flown by, ladies. And like they always say, when it’s meant to happen, it will. I take solace in this.

I always joke that I could be a “one night stand” kind of gal. But you know what? I don’t think that’s true. Something is wired in me to where, for some reason, it simply doesn’t happen. I am a late bloomer, I think. First kiss didn’t come ’til I was 18 and it was with the man I ended up marrying.I sometimes say it’s my moral compass, but it’s not even that, really. I believe if I stood in a crowded room with my eyes closed and my lips puckered, for some cosmic, unknown reason, I would spend the hours without anyone penetrating the invisible protective orb around me.

So, what’s the good thing about this? Can we talk about that? Let’s spin this positively, shall we? For those of you who feel like me- like the words “dry spell” don’t even begin to cover it (it’s more like “water was never invented – what’s wa-ter?”)- listen up. It’s not so bad.

#1. You have time to spend on YOU. That’s right. Watch all the Doctor Who you want. Or, be productive and take that swing dance class. Or hell, both.
#2. You don’t have to spend time worrying about how you look, why all your clothes suck, must shave every six hours, must always look perfect even when sick and going to the pharmacy.
#3. You’re not consistently dealing with an emotional hangover from every male encounter where you have to pick up the little pieces from your still fragile heart.
#4. You don’t want it. You’re not looking for it. If it comes along, great, if not, great. And here’s the thing; I don’t mean this as a game. Like, if I pretend to not care the one will show up, so I’ll pretend to not care. REALLY DON’T CARE. Then, you know what? You really won’t care. It’s a win win. He shows up, great. He doesn’t, great. See how this one puts all that “alone forever” anxiety to rest?
#5. It’s empowering to know that YOU’RE responsible for your own happiness. Just because you haven’t “gotten any” in a while, or haven’t “been on a date.” Who cares? This doesn’t define you. Maybe it’s because I’m hypothyroid and I take my hormones with a glass of water each morning, but any and all “urges” are not dehabilitating. Really. You’re gonna be okay. You won’t die. You won’t shrivel up or grow cobwebs. Or forget. Or get bad.
#6. My conscience is clear. I know that I have requirements and standards for who sees me naked. And I want the next guy in my life to get that. To like it about me. Cause chances are, it’ll make him feel pretty freakin’ special, too.

Before I peace out, I want to be clear: This is not me condemning those who love to explore, be free, be wild. I admire you. Sincerely. Some days I wish I was more like you. Fact is, I’m just not. And I’m hoping I’m not alone out there. So, this is for the chicks who are doin’ it on their own. In every sense. Because people don’t often go to bat for us. Especially people without religious messages. So this is me, stepping up to the plate for the ladies who wait.

How to Survive Valentine’s Day When You’re Divorced

I always considered Valentine’s Day a sappy Hallmark holiday for insecure women to brag about how much their poor significant other spent on flowers, jewels and chocolate. Because really, love should be celebrated every day of a relationship and showering of material items doesn’t equal love. Don’t get me wrong, I love flowers and chocolate, but I don’t like that there is a designated holiday to force people to show their love and compete with others. I actually even forbid my fiance to buy me chocolate on Valentine’s Day because I know all the candy goes on clearance the next day. Why spend $12 on a box you can get for $2 the next day? Some may call that cheap, however I consider myself savvy and secure in my relationship. But, I digress.

Leave it to the corporate giants of the world to turn February 14th into a day on which single women want to burry themselves under their comforters and hide in bed until the clock strikes midnight. Valentine’s Day might just be the hardest 24 hours to get through for twenty-something divorced women.  Some must confront memories of their ex-husbands, others must endure watching their newly engaged friends create a traffic jam on their social networking sites. So what’s a divorcée to do?

 

Here’s how members of the Trash the Dress private online support group are spending Valentine’s Day:

  • “Single ladies night out!!”
  • “I’m planning on spending Valentine’s Day with my daughter. It’s a day for celebrating love and she is my love. I want to celebrate with her and make her feel special.”
  • “It’ll have been my four year wedding anniversary, so my new amazing boyfriend and I are going out and doing it how it should be done!”
  • “At this moment, no plans. Really okay with it, though. I’m gonna treat it like any other day and not give it power over me for good or bad. Although there is that cute frenchman I’ve been seeing…”
  • “I have a ton of things going on immediately before and after, so I’m probably going to order-in and cuddle with my cats. They’re total cuddle sluts. I’ve never been big on Valentine’s Day, anyway, so this won’t be a huge departure. I might send myself flowers, though.”
  • “I got an e-mail today from my new love (who just moved in with me, actually) that read: ‘Not that you would, but don’t make plans for next Thursday night. I got it handled.'”
  • “Spending it with my new love! I may have been married for 3.5 years but this will be my first Valentine’s Day actually having a date! My new love has made the plans all on his own.”
  • “I’m working during the day and have class at night so I’ll hopefully too busy to even think about it!”
  • “I’ll most likely be working. I had lunch at work with my dad last year. My son will be with his father that night so I’ll probably order Chinese and have a glass or two of wine. I’ve never been big on Valentine’s Day.”
  • “Hopefully not sulking and fighting, as it’s my engagement anniversary then… so only life knows my mood or what I will do. I will possibly spend it at the ocean.”
  • “I’m sorry, but Valentine’s Day is such a commercial holiday. Whatever happened to showering your spouse or significant other with love the other 364 days of the year? I will most likely spend it with my girlfriends”
  • ” I like the idea of doing it Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec: ‘Gal-entine’s Day’ and celebrating your gal pals.”
  • “Uteruses before duderuses!!”
  • “The day before I am going tattoo shopping. On V-Day my friend who just left his wife and I are taking our sons to a kid dinner!”
  • “My sister always throws a party for Valentine’s Day and I help cater. Instead of people bringing items to the party she asks people to bring a donation to charity. This year is Sandy relief and the food is shore-theamed.”
  • “I really want to be able to say I don’t care about V-Day, but I can’t lie, I’m dreading it. For me, the sadness isn’t about not going on some romantic date or not getting flowers, but it’s more about the reminder that I don’t have anyone in my life to share things with. But I really like some of these suggestions and think I may do something to make the day go by a little easier… I’m now seriously considering sending myself a cookie bouquet.”
  • “I am going to spend my day with the best thing in my life, my daughter. Last night we were watching TV and a Kay Jewelers commercial came on and she said, ‘Aw, momma, I will buy you that diamond so you can have something pretty for Balentine’s day.’  Yes, ‘Balentines’ not Valentine’s. She is my perfect valentine!”
Now, turn that frown upside down and prepare to spend February 14th with people and pets you love or doing something you love!

Street smart turned Web smart: Online dating safety tips

http://scm-l3.technorati.com/11/04/18/31851/online-dating.jpg?t=20110418132651

On our quest for nirvana, women both single, divorced and in between are turning to the Internet to help us date. While in recent memory, meeting people online was stigmatized , it’s now become almost normal. We see commercials all the time for Match.com, E-Harmony, and even special sites like OurTime and Christian Mingle. However, regardless of how mainstream this has become, there are still crazy people in the world who use the Internet to prey on women.

We’ve all heard of the Craigslist killer, Philip Markoff who used the sites personal ad and erotic services to meet women whom he was convicted of killing. More recently in the news we heard about the OK Cupid Cannibal Cop Gilberto Valle— the NYPD officer accused of conspiring to kidnap and eat up to 100 women. In the interest of keeping this blog PG I won’t go into the chilling details that I have read about both these men.

This isn’t to scare anyone, and I hope it doesn’t deter any of you from getting out there and meeting new people, but it doesn’t mean that we can stop being vigilant about our safety. Just like you don’t walk home alone in a bad neighborhood at night, there are new things we need to learn to keep ourselves safe . Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned that are helpful and I hope it helps maximize your experience.

Never give out personal information too soon!
You should be in control of your online dating life at all times. It’s totally fine to remain anonymous until you feel ready to share your information. Don’t feel pressured into giving out personal information like your full name, address, phone number, or email address. Once you’ve given it out, you cannot take it back. When possible take advantage of sites that have member to member communications, like Match.com and Eharmony. These allow you to communicate without giving away too much information.

Something that I found helpful and I know that has worked for others is creating another email address separate from the main one you use for friends and family. It’s easy and free now to get multiple email addresses from Yahoo, Gmail, etc. Remember when coming up with other email addresses and Usernames, that they should never include contact information

Get ‘street smart’ about web dating.
Your own intuition is a powerful tool in the online dating community. Listening to it and being cautious can go a long way in keeping you safe in the online world. Be aware of certain red flags that might indicate you’re dealing with a scammer or bot. Here is a list of things to be aware of from Match.com. They say ‘be ware of…

• Quickly asks to talk or chat on an outside email or messaging service
• Claims to be from U.S. but currently traveling, living or working abroad
• Asks you for money
• Vanishes mysteriously from the site, then reappears under a different name
• Talks about “destiny” or “fate”
• Claims to be recently widowed
• Asks for your address under the guise of sending flowers or gifts
• Makes an inordinate amount of grammar and/or spelling errors
• Sends you emails containing strange links to third-party websites
Just remember to go with your gut. If you feel that someone is too good to be true or that details don’t add up, block them from contacting you and report them to the social provider.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s advice to avoid online romance scams is available here.

Whether a veteran or first timer in the world of online dating, safety always comes first. Take it slow and use your gut to make decisions about communicating online. Hopefully this helps you all on your way to meeting someone right for you.
Ready to meet someone? Stay tuned for taking things offline!

Hurdles, Hills and Humping

I haven’t done it for a while now so I thought it was best to get straight back on it….. Blogging that is, geesh you guys, get your heads out of the gutter!

If you haven’t read my blogs before, here’s a short background on me: I’m a 24-year-old nearly divorced, unemployed, mother of three.  This is the exact introduction/description I readily give out to sleazy and even sexy men trying to chat me up in the hope it will make them leave, but for some reason it doesn’t. This has interested me. Why do most men not care about this?

I’ve been doing the whole dating scene for a while now, if you have read my previous blog ‘Internet love v’s Internet letdown‘ you will know I’m up for trying anything to find love!

But the fact most men are not frightened away,  running and screaming to the hills when the dreaded  ‘D’ word is mentioned really did surprise me. Yes, it’s true being honest straight away does not scare people. It can shock them a little when you look so young like I do, but scare them, no. It’s a revelation girls, I was so worried I was going to be seen as ‘tainted’ and other nasty self put-downs.

If anything, I genuinely think it can be seen as an advantage and an attractive quality to have been married before. It shows good qualities. For instance:  you’re able to look after a man, you can be part of running a household, you’re mature, you’re not afraid of commitment and you’ve had a practice run and you have already seen where things might have gone wrong the first time and therefore learned from it. So don’t avoid telling someone you’re a divorcee-be proud of it and embrace it. If someone is put off by it they are clearly not the one for you and well done on weeding them out so efficiently and quickly!! The right one will not care!

Right, so you’ve met a nice guy he doesn’t care you’re a member of the divorced in your 20’s club and you both find each other attractive. The next hurdle you must face is sex AFTER marriage.

Is it adultery? Is it immoral or unethical? Does it go against everything you believed in?

The first several weeks were not a problem, but soon it did become an issue and the questions above slowly became less important.  As well as being a huge emotional barrier for me, there was also this stubborn competitive side of me that still wanted to prove I had fully committed to my wedding vows and technically win the marriage game by not breaking any rules and carrying on playing ’till I reached the winning square on the board. But after six weeks of dating I thought, “really what’s the point in playing when you’re the only one left on the board?” And if you played the marriage game where the other player was disqualified due to breaking the monogamy rule this may take away some guilt.

So you reached the final hurdle and let me tell you the first time is the hardest. Breaking down the emotional barriers of sex (that most men do not appear to have) can be  challenging to say the least and you may suffer with emotional turmoil for sometime. Once you get past this I assure you it will be fine. For me it proved my husband really didn’t care about what I wanted or needed and that we were living in a very selfish marriage. So why don’t you try and look at the positives that can be achieved? It can be hard moving on but for me it was the best thing I ever did! Just remember having sex is a normal thing and if you want to, it’s actually OK! No one will judge.

If you waited for your divorce to come through before engaging in the act of sex then gosh I don’t even know what to say apart from that’s very impressive of you! Even if you are holding that paper that says you are legally no longer married it doesn’t necessarily take away the fears and concerns about taking a new sexual partner for a spin. Being with the same partner for a long time and then being with someone new is the same feeling for all of us.

Anyway, Internet dating was a bit of fun and I was dating someone for about six weeks that I met through that momentary method.  But I ended up getting back with ‘rebound’ mentioned in ‘the search’ for his ability to achieve number 17 on my list. Oh how I missed number 17.  Oops I mean, him!