Monthly Archives: August 2013

Dollars and Dating: social issues with differences in incomes

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Money like sex appeal isn't everything but it is part of the total package.

Money like sex appeal isn’t everything but it is part of the total package.

During a post movie watching critique session of THE NOTEBOOK (It was the first time I had seen it- I know I live in a box- whatever, it is done now.) the other night, a male friend posed this question, “Why is it in romantic movies it is the scruffy, working class male who gets involved with the high class daughter of a wealthy family?  You rarely see the revers.” We pondered this and could only name one film where the socio-economic roles of the lovers were reversed (in love stories where there is an economic disparity).

As a possible solution, I offered up the concept that when women are the party on the low end of the economic stick it is considered “gold digging” if she gets involved with a wealthy man.  That is almost like saying she is a prostitute in our culture.

Although I am a big proponent of both men and women having some source of income in order to feel independent in a relationship AND I feel that staying in a bad relationship for the sake of access to money or financial stability (an illusion) is horrific and demoralizing,it is important to remember that income is only one factor in a relationship and should be considered as such.

Money is an important subject in the dating arena but like sex, it is a taboo topic of conversation. And just like sex, money or the lack there of can be a deal breaker.

I had a few conversations with a potential date recently about money.  He is a doctor and I am a freelance writer/yoga teacher. He expressed a concern about being pursued solely for his income. Seeing as how he knew nothing about me, I forgave him for suggesting that that might be the case with me since our incomes were so utterly far apart and said something about how character is more important to me than income (leaving out the part that someone with more attractive character might be more tactful and get to know me better rather than making such a statement). But frankly I get tired of defending my choice to date men with higher incomes than mine- which would include anyone whose annual income exceeds that of an third world factory worker.

I have been accused, more than once, of being a gold digger for that very reason.  It is true, I have dated some wealthy men in my life.  But if I didn’t marry the guy with the ten million dollar trust fund, the guy who had  twenty-six million dollars in the bank from a very sweet business deal or the brain surgeon with an income of almost seven figures annually (and no kids), WHY on earth would I marry a man who was bringing in around $350,000.00 annually simply FOR HIS MONEY!?!?! Plus my track record shows that I tend to marry financially challenged men.

I get that no one wants to be pursued solely for their money just like no one wants to be pursued solely for sex. But it is a sticky situation. I am offended when men seem to focus on sex when they pursue me but conversely I want any potential long term partner to find me sexually attractive.  I want him to like that part of me as well as other attributes. How much money you have is part of the total package rather than a singular motivation for a relationship.

Marilyn Monroe had a brilliant line as  Lorelei Lee  in Gentleman Prefer Blonds regarding being accused of being a gold digger by the father of the rich man she wants to marry:

 

Lorelei Lee: If you had a daughter would you want her to marry someone poor?

Mr. Esmond Sr. (Father of Rich Man): Of course.

Lorelei Lee:  Then why is it bad when I want to marry someone rich? Don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she’s pretty, but my goodness, doesn’t it help?

Mr. Esmond Sr.: Say, they told me you were stupid! You certainly don’t seem stupid to me!

Lorelei Lee: I can be smart when it’s important, but most men don’t like it.

 

After years of struggling as the wife of an alcoholic with an income constantly in flux and teetering on the brink of financial ruin, then scraping by as a single mom, of course financial stability is a requirement in a potential mate. But it is far from a singular motivation to be with someone.

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Opening the Door to Love

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Last summer I wrote about a trip to Spain that fed my spirit (and ego- a tad) and how important I think travel is as a means for instigating a state of presence.  Click here to read the first installment of Spanish Holiday: Part of the Boys of Summer Series.

This summer I have been working on a book about Ayruveda, the yogic path for health and long life, incorporating Ayurvedic practices into my daily schedule while participating in Depak Chopra and Oprah’s 21 Day Meditation Challenge: Miraculous Relationships  AND I checked off a bucket list item by traveling to Tibet.  All of these activities have been feeding my spirit and helping me grow in the understanding of the abundance of love that surrounds me in my life.  The better I learn to love myself, the better able I am to be compassionate towards, patient with and loving of everyone else.  I am better able to love myself through the self-care techniques I am learning from Ayurveda and by calming my mind with yoga, mediation, pranayama (breathing exercises) and eating healthfully. The world is becoming an eternal summer of 1969 where I am finally emerging from the fear and anxiety that has prevented me from truly connecting with people for most of my life.  Every person I come in contact with of late seems to be an opportunity to connect- even if it is just for a fleeting moment.

It is all very exciting.

I feel like I am finally ready- REALLY ready- to look for a lifelong love partner.

I promise to write about the Tibetan adventure in the coming months.  It was an amazing journey of self discovery, surprising and stimulating on so many levels. I left Charlottesville alone and returned with seven new best friends, my new tribe.

But I wanted to share information about a dream trip to India hosted by my Guru, Valma Brenton as soon as possible.  If you have ever wanted to go to India or just want to experience what I am talking about when I say traveling is like being in a constant state of mindfulness, you may want to explore this trip further.  Valma is a remarkable woman, teacher and leader.  Oh, and before I forget this trip is for women only (sorry guys- that is the way Valma rolls.  She feels that some  women simply feel safer in a group of women).

Here is the information about her trip to India:

HERIZEN INDIA SPIRITUAL YOGA ADVENTURE

Feel free to pass this along to everyone you know.

Money blog coming soon…

Best,

Mary

Who is this guy? : A visit with the ex

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This past Sunday I picked my daughter up from summer camp then drove  us to Northern Virginia to have a family kayaking trip with my son, daughter and myself on Monday.  H2, my daughter’s father, requested that she come visit with her on Sunday afternoon as his weekend plans had changed and he had some time.  Since he offered to do her camp laundry (a first for him in five years of overnight camp history) at his new home, I agreed.  I admit I was curious to see his new digs for many reasons including having a visual of where our child would be staying with him on visits to his home as well as seeing what sort of place he could afford since he claimed six months ago that he could not afford a house because of the “huge” support payment he makes to me each month (this is laughable and of course, in only a few months time proved to be utterly untrue – but I knew that).

I make no judgement on the house or its location except that I would be uncomfortable living there but not so uncomfortable that I feel it is unsafe for our daughter to spend time there.  When we were married we lived in a nicer house in worse neighborhood.

What was wonderful about the visit (other than the laundry part) was what I learned about myself and the status of my feelings towards him.

Here are the things I learned while I was touring the house:

  1. Seeing all the art, books and other items that I spent 12 + years lovingly arranging, packing, moving, cleaning and maintaining had no emotional effect on me.  They were merely familiar items that meant nothing to me.  Things associated with a seemingly distant past life.  Seeing these things again was like seeing a former acquaintance, perhaps a college class mate – it was nice to be reminded of them but I wasn’t frantically trying to stay connected.  That was a nice surprise and a sign to me that I had grown a lot since H2 took those items out of our last communal dwelling.
  2. He has purchased several guns and keeps them in his home in a large safe. Despite the safe, this was quite disturbing.  I enjoy target shooting and understand the rush of the false sense of power holding a firearm instills, but I have emphatically refused to own a gun partly because I am a pacifist and partly because I felt that H2 was of a temperament that a gun in the home would be foolishly dangerous.  This is a man who once put his hands around my neck and started to strangle me in a rage.  This is a man who kicked a hole in a door.  This is a man who reacts to everything with anger.  What’s more, these guns are not shot guns or rifles for hunting or target shooting, these are semi-automatic weapons – guns made for the sole purpose of killing people en masse.  He lives in the city where he cannot shoot them for pleasure anywhere so I am puzzled as to why he has them.  This makes me fearful because I feel he is unpredictable and dangerous.  When I asked him about them, he just blew me off.  I am unsure what to do about the situation if anything but I know I can patiently wait for the correct answer to come to me rather than try to force a solution.
  3. There were no pictures of his girlfriend. No comment just an observation.
  4. There were lots of pictures of our daughter. I am glad he recognizes how wonderful and special she is.
  5. Spending time with him ( a few hours while the laundry was running) made me wonder how I lived with him for all those years.  Even without all the history I thought, “This person is so wrong for me. Our values are so completely different.” If I met him now I would not consider him for five seconds as a potential partner.

All in all, the main lesson I learned is that I have grown and I can be grateful that the journey started while attempting to handle the challenges of our marriage.  I may not like him but I love him because he is a breathing human being and the father of my daughter.  I may wish to avoid contact with him but I can be compassionate about the emotional pain that causes him to be so angry. I may disagree with his lifestyle choices but I can accept that he is on his own path (and grateful that I am on my own path without him) and refrain from judging as long as our daughter is safe.

And …. after all, he did do our daughter’s filthy laundry from camp- progress.

 

Alright, Janice! Nobody’s Perfect

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I spent some time with a man recently who had the gift of making me laugh more than I had laughed with someone in years.  He is a great guy; good natured, well mannered, generous and sweet with just enough quirk to pique my interest.  But alas, he dislikes almost everything about which I am passionate.  I thought that maybe a relationship might be workable if we could find some mutual ground because I genuinely enjoy spending time with him but things just weren’t adding up in a way that was mutually satisfying.

Although I believe that laughter can get you a long way in life, there are other things that should be considered.  We must be able to at least respect our potential partner’s passions and ideally be enthusiastic about one or two of them in order to live together harmoniously.  That goes for foibles as well.  We have to be able to accept our potential mate’s foibles in the long run and know ourselves well enough to know when something is a deal breaker.

For example: A female friend, with whom I enjoyed a lemonade a few afternoon’s ago at a local coffee shop, described a dating situation she had to end because the man she had been dating for a couple of months was a homebody and she loves to travel.  Once he was very explicit about his dislike of new experiences and the effort of travel she knew she had to end the relationship.  It was difficult because this guy possessed several other great qualities but the travel issue was a deal breaker for her. (It is for me as well, so I can relate.)

So having said all that, I wish to share one of the funniest and perfectly executed commercials I have ever seen.  It is commonly known as the Blind Date Fart Commercial and is a great illustration of how something about an otherwise wonderful person can cause us to take pause and reconsider. (There are many other messages as well so have fun with it.)  Click here to see it.

Blind Date Fart Commercial

Blind Date Fart Commercial

A Search Request: You just can’t make this shit up

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My friend Jen on the Edge sent me a link to this article this morning and I simply HAD to share it.  There is so much wrong with this method for searching for a mate (and apparently this man) that it is at least 10 life lessons waiting to happen.

The link I am sharing is to MarcEnsign who writes social media blogs.  According to his preamble he actually received the email in question out to a bunch of people met at a networking event.  click here to read Marc’s post. Read below for a piece of the email in question.

The email is question includes some interesting details about the surgeon who sent it, a list of what he is looking for in a mate and a manifest of rewards he is offering to anyone who can find a woman who meets his criteria and gets this guy a date with her.

I anticipate some good comments.

This is the section about compensation for anyone who finds a match for him:

please send me the parameters and picture of the potential setup, so i can say if i’m interested, before you start introducing us (otherwise it’s kind of awkward then saying that i’m not interested). if interested, i’m offering the following “thank-you gifts” for your kind help:

  • first date set up: $100 cash
  • second date (with either same person, indicating a better match, or a 2nd person): +$200 or free latisse worth $300
  • third date (again can be w same person): + $300 or free botox worth $500
  • 4th date (w same or diff person): + $400 or free Juvederm injections worth $900
  • 5th date (same conditions): + 500 cash or 1 eye free LASEK worth $2000:)

Recently I heard of a family being awarded the use of a beach house for the week as a “thank you” for the owner being set up with a friend of the wife.  Is this a common practice?  Should I step out of the search and start setting people up?  Is it that lucrative a business?

Wafflers for Breakfast: A continuation of a previous “Men to Avoid” Post

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It is a gorgeous unseasonably cool morning here in Charlottesville, Virginia and the tree covered mountain outside my bedroom window is bathed in the golden hue of summer sunshine.  As is the habit with my revelations, I awoke this morning with a thought burbling in my head that quickly turned into an “aha” as I sipped my first glass of water for the day (part of an Ayurveda routine/dinacharya).

This particular catharsis has to do with the subject of indecisiveness and the disfunction it brings to a relationship.

I wrote about this in a previous “Men to Avoid” series blog titled: Men to Avoid: The Wafflers.   I apologize for limiting this concept to men.  This problem is far from gender specific.

Here is what I realized this morning and wish to add to the Wafflers conversation:

Reasons Wafflers might waffle (def: have a habit of lacking commitment to a decision thus “waffling” on a subject) include:

  • an inability to connect with their own feelings and needs
  • a desire to please everyone
  • a desire to avoid conflict

These are all signs of low self-esteem most often associated with some sort of abuse which includes mental, emotional and/or physical.

Someone who has buried their feelings and constantly puts the needs of others before themselves is doomed to be unhappy.  This is the definition of dysfunctional behavior coupled with narcism.

In order to accomplish satisfaction in a relationship (and this counts for any relationship) it is important for all parties to be able to clearly express their preferences for action in a situation  then if those preferences differ, to be able to problem solve a compromise and then follow through with the agreed action.  If circumstances alter and a different plan is needed then all parties must be alerted and a new plan agreed upon and executed. Follow through is an act of respect for oneself, the other parties involved and for the sanctity of the agreement.

The waffler often changes the plan without notifying the other parties, failing to follow through with the agreed course of action, waiting until a critical mass is reached forcing someone else to take definitive action.  By refusing to follow through with decisions this type of person frees themselves from accountability for their actions which gives them a self-percieved carte blanche to complain and blame.

I often hear men complain about what bitches their wives are claiming that these women must always have their way (this statement usually comes just before or after the infamous, “my wife just doesn’t understand me” phrase which is usually followed by an invitation for a sexual tryst).  Inevitably these men are wafflers which is the reason they are hitting on other women when they are married.  They claim to be miserable yet they refuse to make a move either to do the work necessary to improve their marriages or to end them and move on.

So here is my morning’s revelation:

A waffler via the action of indecisiveness  forces the other person in the relationship to take action aka. putting them (the other person) in the role of “bitch” or “asshole”.

Wafflers are always and never getting what they want.  If one is going back and forth on a course of action, then the resulting action is at one moment what they wanted and what they didn’t want. This makes it impossible to satisfy them.

This is what it is like to be with a Waffler:

A couple, Pat and Chris, are walking in the park on a hot day.  Chris suggests stopping at a food truck for an ice cream.

Pat: ” Yeah, ice cream would be good today.”

They walk a few more steps then Pat mentions a diet and desire to avoid such fattening food.  After a few more steps Pat say that the diet has been going well and ice cream would be OK. The couple approaches the food truck were there is a long line of anticipatory patrons and Pat says something about not really wanting ice cream and needing to leave the park soon. Chris asks if there is time enough to wait in line.

Pat: “Yes, of course, I really do want some ice cream after all.”

They get in line.

Chris: “What flavor are you thinking about today?”

Pat: “I am not sure there is anything I want but you get something.”

They stand in line for ten minutes almost to the front of the line.

Pat: “I need to get going”

Chris reinforces a desire to have some ice cream particularly since they have waited so long and a favorite flavor is available but if it is urgent they can leave now.

Pat: “No we can wait we are almost to the front. My appointment is not that urgent.”

They get to the front of the line. And both order ice cream. And begin to walk towards the park exit. Pat begins to walk quickly.

Pat eats half the ice cream then tosses it into the trash.

Pat: “Hurry up, Chris.  I was supposed to pick up my 98 year old deaf and blind grandmother from the airport 20 minutes ago. She is flying in from Perth, Australia today and has been on a 26 hour flight! I can’t believe you made me stop and get ice-cream. Now I have ruined my diet and will have diarrhea from consuming a milk product.”

Chris: “Gee, Pat, I am sorry.  I failed to understand the importance of the situation.”

Pat: “It’s OK. It was a fun time.  That ice cream was really good and totally worth being late for Grammy and the diarrhea.”

Later Pat explains the tardiness to Grammy: “Chis was a controlling ass today and HAD to have ice cream even though I said I needed to be here for you.”

Insanity right? Pat waffles instead of expressing real preferences.  Either action on Chris’ part regarding the purchase of ice cream would have been dissatisfactory.

It is important to remember that we are solely responsible for our own comfort, welfare and happiness.  It is other people’s responsibility to take care of their own comfort, welfare and happiness.  People can work together to achieve mutual satisfaction but ultimately one is beholden to oneself. When I really need something I can express myself clearly and listen to someone else’s needs. If that makes me a bitch then so be it.  Someone else might call that behavior good communication.  In many situations there can be found a happy compromise but sometimes a mutually satisfying compromise is impossible. Whichever the case clear, respectful, consistent communication is paramount for functional relationships.