The Perfect Analogy

Before my ex-husband and I had even gone to court to end things once and for all, I found out he had created a Match.com account. He didn’t exactly do much to cover his tracks — our bank accounts were still linked and I saw the charge for the membership fees plain as day. It didn’t upset me. We were a month or two from our court date, so the wheels were already in motion and there was nothing that would change my mind. But I thought it showed a real lack of class on his part not to even wait til he was actually single before looking for my replacement. When we split up, my first priority was my daughter, and helping her through the whole transition of our family breaking up. His first priority was finding someone new.

A month after our divorce, he met ‘Shirley’ online. Their first date consisted of dinner at Red Lobster and a visit to the Super 8 down the street. How do I know? The bank accounts had not yet been separated and I saw the charges. I shook my head but didn’t think much about it. After all, I was busy sowing my own oats. Their relationship quickly progressed to the point where she was introduced to my daughter and spending the night with him while my daughter was there. I was less than thrilled when I heard about that, since they had only been dating for a month or so at that point. I knew that if it had been the other way around, he would have had a fit if I had a guy spending the night with my daughter right across the hall.

Shirley was very much like my ex monster-in-law: controlling, bossy, overbearing, opinionated, and generally a pain in the ass. When I first met her she was nice, but it didn’t take long for her to start stepping on my toes. She had an opinion about everything, including how my daughter’s hair and clothes should look. Ironic, considering that her own hair and wardrobe looked borrowed from a frumpy middle-age mom from the 80s. I tried to be nice and get along for a while but she disrespected me one time too many and I finally told my ex-husband I didn’t want her around me anymore.

After they had been dating for several months, I admitted to Stacy that it surprised me a little that he found someone before I did. After all, being married to him had been like having a teenage son. I couldn’t imagine any woman getting excited about taking on that kind of guy. Yet there he was, in a seemingly happy relationship, while I was still dating and looking for Mr. Right. I’m not gonna lie — it stung a bit how quickly he was able to move on {not to mention how eager his family was to forget that I ever existed}. Don’t get me wrong… I wasn’t regretting our split. On the contrary, I was happier than I had been in years. But it hurts to feel replacable. We had been together for nearly two decades. I needed time to get used to just being me without being part of ‘we.’

Anyway, when I told Stacy how I felt, that I had kind of assumed that I would meet someone and be in some kind of relationship before my ex, she said, “Think of it this way. You’re both looking for a new car. YOU are taking your time, researching online, test driving different cars, and figuring out exactly what you want. HE bought the first car he found for $100 on Craigslist.”

Well said. This is why I heart Stacy. She also said that even on my worst day, I’m cuter than Shirley. I’m not generally one to toot my own horn, but I have to agree with her on this one. It wouldn’t matter at all if she had a great personality but alas, she does not.

Yeah, it's catty, but I couldn't help myself.

Yeah, it’s catty, but I couldn’t help myself.

I no longer feel hurt about him moving on so quickly. He’s now married to Shirley, who is essentially a younger version of his mother. He has to sneak junk food and check with her before making plans to do anything, sometimes including spending time with his own daughter. She is absolutely in charge of that house. He has made comments to me, all but admitting that she is a bossy control freak, which tells me that perhaps he is second guessing his rush to find a new wife.

I might still be single, but at least I’m calling my own shots and answering to no one but myself. That feels pretty damn good.

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A Matter of Trust

“I’ve seen love come, I’ve seen it shot down, I’ve seen it die in vain.”
~Jon Bon Jovi

I’ve heard many times before that you shouldn’t punish one person for the mistakes of another. But when you’ve been jerked around so many times, when you’ve fallen victim to sweet-talking players so many times, when you realize how few people you can genuinely count on, it’s hard not to be a little jaded. I try not to assume the worst with people, but it’s so hard not to when I see certain patterns emerge.

How do you put the past behind you and open your heart? How do you tell the difference between trusting your gut and just being cynical or paranoid? I don’t want to go through life with my guard up but it’s so hard to let myself be vulnerable.

For the past few months, I’ve been talking to a guy who has many qualities I’m looking for, but I have a few misgivings. In the beginning, Michael called me at least four times a day. We texted and talked a lot and sent short video messages to each other. But lately, our conversations have dwindled down to once or twice a day. I get that days at work can get busy, but still. He also has his friends list in Facebook hidden. When I noticed it and asked him about it, he claimed that he had dated a girl who started sending angry messages to various people on his friends list after they split up, so he hid it from everyone. That just seems shady to me, like he has something to hide. For all I know, he’s adding new girls on there daily. I’d never know. Also, he had his phone locked when he was with me. I’ve done that before myself with different people, so it’s not an automatic dealbreaker, but it still raised another red flag. I also happen to know that on at least two occasions, he claimed to be exhausted and said he was going to bed, when he was still up chatting with at least one female on Facebook. Oh, and he lives in another state, which doesn’t help my insecurities.

When we first started talking, I made some comment about how he could have all kinds of women after him and I’d never know. He said that with as much as we were talking on the phone etc, how could he have real time to devote to anyone else? At the time, I bought it. But now that we’re talking significantly less, I can’t help but wonder. Now I’m the one getting scraps of his attention. Someone else could easily be getting those four phone calls a day and I’d never know. When I’ve brought up various insecurities or concerns, it’s almost like he’s shaming me. He’ll say things like, “Here I was thinking how much I love your laugh and how happy you make me, and there you are assuming the worst about me.” I don’t like that.

One night he texted me right after work claiming that he forgot he had church that night and would call me later. Close to midnight, he texted saying he was just getting home. I don’t know of any church that has functions til nearly midnight on a weeknight. I didn’t say anything, but I wasn’t buying it. I really like{d} this guy and was starting to think there could actually be a future with him. Now I feel myself kind of withdrawing. I don’t want to get hurt or be made a fool of. He talks about long-term plans with me, things he wants etc. He talks about meeting my family and wanting to get married. But instead of being excited about that, I’m sitting here with my guard up. I’m left wondering how many nights he claimed that he couldn’t keep his eyes open and got off the phone with me just so he could talk to someone else.

My ex-husband was {and is} one of the most dishonest people I’ve ever known. If I wouldn’t put up with his BS, why would I put up with it from someone I’m not even married to, let alone dating? I’m not about to introduce anyone to my family if I think he’s just using me or playing games.

How do you trust someone? How do you open yourself up? Is there anyone out there I can really trust? I don’t want to give up hope that I’ll find a guy who thinks I’m enough. A guy who just sees ME, rather than looking over my shoulder to see if there’s anyone else out there who might be more interesting.

I haven’t quite written Michael off yet, but he’s definitely on thin ice for now. I guess time will tell how genuine he really is. I just keep thinking, please please please don’t let me regret the time I’ve spent getting to know him {and turning down other offers because I thought this was really going somewhere}.

SpongeBob Part Deux: The Repeat Offender

When I mentioned some of the deadbeats I’ve encountered, I neglected to mention one of the worst. I met Donny online and we immediately hit it off. We stayed up all night on the phone one night and when we met face to face, there was instant chemistry. We met at a coffee shop and talked for a couple of hours. He was holding my hands, gazing into my eyes… It felt good to really connect with someone.

Not long after we met, I went over his house one evening. At first we were just watching TV but then started making out. One thing led to another and we ended up in bed. I didn’t want him to think this was something I did all the time, so I told him {after the fact} that sleeping with him hadn’t been my intention when I came over that night. He was put off by that, assuming that I regretted it. I guess I kind of did because I really liked him and wanted to get to know him better before hopping in the sack.

Anyway, a few days after that, he told me something got screwed up with his bank account and his internet was about to be turned off. He worked from home as a call center operator, so without internet, he couldn’t work. He didn’t directly ask for money, but strongly implied it. I didn’t offer. I didn’t know if I was being played or not but was not about to establish a pattern of paying his bills. We didn’t talk much over the next few days, and when we did, he said he needed a woman who would be there through good times and bad and accused me of jumping ship at the first sign of a problem. I told him that wasn’t the case but he stopped answering my texts. So I wished him well and stopped talking to him.

A year or so later, I was on a dating site and his profile popped up as one of my daily matches. I immediately recognized him and clicked “no.” He sent me a flirt, which I ignored, and when he sent me another flirt a couple of weeks later, I decided to respond. I asked if he remembered me, and at first I didn’t think he did, but something must have clicked, and he said he did. He said he felt bad about how things had ended between us since we had hit it off so well, and asked if he could call me. I said ok.

We started talking and it was the same instant chemistry. He didn’t mention anything about the money issue but said he had stopped talking to me after I made the comment about sex. He said he had been disappointed that I had given up on him so fast. I said that if I’m texting someone and getting no response, I’ll assume they don’t want to be bothered and I stop trying. I refuse to chase any man around for his attention. He wanted to give things another try, and I decided to give him another chance. We were getting along great, but I admit I had some reservations. For one thing, he no longer had his big flat screen TV. He claimed someone had broken into his house and taken it, but I wondered {considering his past money problems} if he had pawned it. I let it go. We never went on dates, just hung out at his place, which bothered me a little but I was kind of ok with just hanging out and watching movies etc.

There were a few red flags that caught my attention, like when we had plans one night and he suddenly said his daughter was coming over for a few days and his cousin just happened to show up needing a place to crash. I immediately wondered if he was covering his tracks so I wouldn’t show up or question seeing a strange car in his driveway. I also noticed that he was still active on the dating site. I hadn’t been on at all once we started talking, but I looked out of curiosity and saw that he had been active every day that week. When I asked him about it, he claimed he wasn’t active but was just checking messages. Ummm…and the difference would be what? My guard was up.

After a few weeks of seeing each other, I went over one day for lunch and he said the cable company had mistakenly taken out his payment twice, so he was broke until the following week. Without thinking, I said I might be able to help him out. The words were out of my mouth before I had a chance to remind myself of what happened last time, and I immediately regretted saying it. I quickly said I didn’t know what day my paycheck would go in but that I might be able to help if it went in within the next few days. He claimed he just needed it til the next Friday but I knew I would never see that money again if I did give it to him. I said that at the very least, maybe I could take him up to the grocery store to get a few things to tide him over. He said he had plenty of groceries but needed spending money to get by. Interesting… His car had broken down earlier that week so I knew he didn’t need gas money. I wasn’t about to give him cash to buy smokes. I said I’d let him know, but I wasn’t about to give him a single penny.

The whole weekend went by and I barely heard from him. On Saturday he said his daughter and some nieces and nephews were staying over and that they were having pizza and making sundaes. It sure didn’t sound like he needed cash so I didn’t bring it up. When I still didn’t hear from him by Tuesday, I texted asking why he had stopped talking to me. He said that my phone works both ways and I hadn’t called or texted much either {fair enough} and that he needed a woman who would be there through good times and bad and accused me of jumping ship at the first sign of a problem. Hmmm… That sounds familiar. Definitely seeing a pattern here. I stopped texting or calling and deleted his number from my phone. It made me wonder if our “chemistry” had just been him being a smooth talker and me being a sucker.

Lesson learned.