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You're So Lucky to Find Me!
Nancy McAllister and Ann Mound
Table of Contents
To Our Readers:........... 7
Part I: Starting Out........... 13
Chapter 1: Where Do I Go From Here?........... 14
Chapter 2: Keys to Survival or Rules Of Thumb........... 17
Chapter 3: Five Basic Scenes........... 18
THE WORKPLACE..... 18
THE BACKLOG OR GOING FORWARD BY LOOKING BACKWARD..... 23
DATING SERVICES AND SINGLES GROUPS..... 27
MEETING ON THE INTERNET..... 29
SEX, CHEMISTRY, AND DUMB LUCK (SCDL)..... 32
YOUR WAY..... 35
YOUR WAY Jotting Page..... 39
Chapter 4: The Voice of Experience........... 40
Chapter 5: Keys To Survival or Rules Of Thumb Revisited........... 42
Part II: Distractions........... 48
Chapter 1: Being Your Own Worst Enemy-A........... 49
Chapter 2: Single-Attribute Persons........... 54
Chapter 3: The Don’ts........... 57
Chapter 4: When Opportunity Knocks........... 59
Chapter 5: Personal and Planetary Complications........... 63
BLAME AND GUILT..... 66
INSECURITY, JEALOUSY, TRUST..... 68
Chapter 6: What You See You Get........... 73
Chapter 7: A Touchy Subject........... 75
Chapter 8: Being Your Own Worst Enemy-B........... 78
Chapter 9: Breaking Up........... 84
Part III: Getting There........... 90
Chapter 1: Talking It Over........... 91
Chapter 2: On the Surface........... 95
Chapter 3: Practice Makes Sense........... 97
Chapter 4: Maintaining the Momentum........... 99
BETWEEN THE LINES..... 104
GETTING REAL..... 105
ASKING FOR HELP..... 106
Chapter 5: Back On Track: The Pyramid........... 108
Chapter 6: Money and Kids; Kids and Money........... 109
Chapter 7: Changing Your M.O............ 112
Chapter 8: More Advice........... 116
Coda (1 of 2) YOU'RE SO LUCKY TO FIND ME!........... 118
Coda (2 of 2) THE QUESTIONNAIRE........... 119
To Our Readers:
Not that we are experts, but between us we've had marriages. We've also had divorces, a number of other long-term relationships, living-together situations, a few brief liaisons, and the unexpected death of a loved one. Too many of our years over age twenty-five have been spent as single women, and we have taken a crack at all the things in this book that we had the nerve to try.
We have raised children, and have grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We have experienced ex-spouses, ex-in-laws, empty nest, hot flashes, stepchildren, hysterectomy, infidelity, and wrinkles.
We have gone to court, and we have had therapy, both one-on-one and groupand do-it-yourself.
We have lived in the West, the South, and the Midwest, in cities and small towns.
We are culturally Jewish and Protestant.
We have stayed home and raised children, and we have been single mothers working full time.
We have degrees. We have gone back to school, and we have gone back to work.
We have been teachers in elementary school, junior high, high school, college, and university.
We have worked in other capacities in universities, research institutions, investment firms, publishing, and the non-profit world.
Our lives have been full of happinesses and disappointments.
We don't know it all.
For this book, we interviewed 400 peoplepeople who shared their thoughts and experiences on meeting potential partners and being married. Naturally, we changed their names.
We've talked to therapists, read articles and books, and asked very personal questions both face-to-face and in questionnaires. People who have sat next to us on airplanes have not been able to avoid three-hour, in-depth interviews. Acquaintancesnew and oldhave been queried. Friends have been grilled. Our magnifying glass has been poked about everywhere we go.
In reality, the question of how people meet is a long-time fascination to one of the authors; so some of the data were collected years before the idea of compiling a book ever came up.
We make you no promises. This book isn't a cure, but it may improve your luck.
Every serious book needs a glossary, a list of terms defined within the book's context. Ours is short, but necessary, because certain common words in the language that have accrued to the mating ritual do not carry the dignity that is needed for the particular plans of the over-twenty-five age group which this book is designed to help.
Cohabitorthe one with whom you live, married or not
This is the person you live with, sleep with, divide the household chores with, and argue with. This is the person who puts up with your sore throat, headache, snoring, acid stomach, and taste in movies. This is the person who today wants to sleep until noon or later, have a relaxing brunch at 2 p.m., and lie around with the Sunday crossword, while you feel energetic and want to clean the garage, play racquet ball, buy and wrap a year's supply of birthday gifts, and meet friends for supper at that trendy new restaurant.
Your cohabitor is the person with whom you share a marvelous multitude of little private jokes. This is the person you work out problems with money, children, sex, and different values top the list. This is the person you love, trust, and enjoy being with. This is the one person you could marry (if you're not already)…probably. This is the person who is not perfect but who thinks (even when the chips are down) that you are wonderful. You feel the same about him or her. This is your lover and your friend.
If you’re cohabitorsnot marriedin case you don’t have time to look up some of the rules, we’re giving you a start here on a legality you might want to know more about.
Federal and State laws do not treat couples who live together without marriage with the same financial, legal, and privacy advantages and rights that married couples have. Consult with a lawyer or tax accountant to be aware of the differences.
Or consult the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) website for advice about common-law marriage.
Nine states currently recognize common law marriage. Others grandfather it in. To be defined as a common-law marriage within the states that allow it, the two people must agree that they are married, live together, and present themselves as husband and wife. Common-law marriage is generally a non-ceremonial relationship that requires "a positive mutual agreement, permanent and exclusive of all others, to enter into a marriage relationship, cohabitation sufficient to warrant a fulfillment of necessary relationship of man and wife, and an assumption of marital duties and obligations." Black's Law Dictionary 277 (6th ed. 1990).
The U.S. Constitution requires every state to accord "full faith and credit" to the laws of its sister states. Thus, a common-law marriage that is validly contracted in a state where such marriages are legal will be valid even in states where such marriages cannot be contracted and may be contrary to public policy.
Conversely, there is no such thing as common-law divorce. Once parties are married, regardless of the manner in which their marriage is contracted, they can only be divorced by appropriate means in the place where they ask for the divorce. That means, in all 50 states, only by a court order.
So there! Some wiggle room to a traditional marriage, and a very important matter when health and finance must be attended to by a partner.
Conversation wheelthe representation of topics that men and women discuss.
Imagine a wheel, like the wheel of fortune or a roulette wheel: around she goes and where she stops nobody knows. The outer edge includes “safe or surface” subjects such as the weather, sports, favorite restaurants, and (lite) politics and business. The spokes contain intermediate areas, for example, goals, money, childhood, likes, and dislikes. The center of the wheel depicts deep emotional issues: Do you love me? How do we feel about each other? Do we want to spend the rest of our lives together? Commitment. Trust.
Inappropriate significant otherthe person you've allowed yourself to become quite involved with who simply “won't do.”
The person might be married, a con artist, a nut, way too old or way too young, terribly unsuccessful, more uneducated than you care to admit, too trashy to fit in anywhere, too burdened with excess baggage, or from a part of the world so different from yours that even everyday living customs are miles apart. How did you let this happen? That's probably not as important as is getting out. You must do it. NOW. Staying has a negative influence on your life, and this inappropriate significant other keeps you too busy and involved to meet anyone else.
Your next option (see below) may ask why you stayed with this inappropriate significant other so long, and what you got out of it. Perhaps you had better ask yourself those same questions.
Insignificant othera person who used to be (but is now no longer) worthy of your time and attention.
Your insignificant other is the person you used to be with, perhaps lived with, perhaps were married to. This is the one you used to care for, love, trust, and enjoy. Something went wrong. That relationship did not work. You may have used bad judgment getting into a relationship with the insignificant other, but you're out of it now. Whether the dissolution was your idea or not, it is over. Maybe you learned something from the insignificant other, but spending further time and energy is adding insult to injury. Mourn if you must, but not enough to bore your friends.
Liberation--the ability to drop the past.
Liberation is worth pursuing more than any other goal. Not everyone can achieve liberation. Each of us knows someone who cannot, who feels compelled, like the Ancient Mariner, to tell his or her story over and over, to keep vivid the painful pastthat is, if he or she was the one forced out of the relationship.
On the other hand, widows and widowers who were happily married may become prisoners of bygone times and constantly repeat all those old wonderful moments, until their assertions that life was perfect become tedious. While the absent person could not have been all bad, neither could he or she have been all good.
Achieving liberation takes restraint and practice. Liberation is worth pursuing more than any other single goal. If you achieve liberation, a very powerful place to be, you may feel that you do not need a mate.
Optionsomeone to practice with.
What the younger crowd might call a “date” (a person), we call an “option.” As you aim yourself at meeting options, you realize that you yourself are an option.
Even if you and your option have been married before (to others), being an option may be a new role for both of you.
Since so many singles interviewed spoke of their complete lack of communication with their prior cohabitors, beware of this happening again. But how do you change, how do you adjust, how do you make it better from the beginning? Find the optimal option and keep in mind that one person, even optimally, can only do so much. When the option, or options, you have selected won't practice (see definition below), then move on. Other options are out there.
Over twenty-fivethe cut-in year for hardball survival techniques.
This is you. Face it. Grow up. You are not seventeen, innocent, and without baggage. You have a past, life experience. You may be gray, bald, and not quite as far along in your career by now as you had hoped. Your body is less firm and the laugh lines are beginning to show. You have had your ups and downs. You have responsibilities, bills to pay, maybe children to raise. You are no longer a boy or a girl. You are a man or a womanan adult.
You know by now that you are not immortal. You are more selective about what you do and with whom. You are more interesting than you were ten years ago. In some ways you are surer of yourself. You have lived through a crisis or two. You are surprised to find yourself single at this age. It was not what you had planned.
Pool or reservoir--a group of options.
Anyone who is reading this book has a pool or reservoir. Sit down right now. Make a list. Note all the people you have dated starting from the beginning. Add the names of those you were acquainted with over the years. You say they are all married? Not anymore. Some of them are divorced, widowed, or will be within the next few years. Enlarge your list with single or potentially single people in the neighborhood or at work. How about your dentist's old school chum, your friend's cousin from Spokane, the accountant who taught that investment class you took, or the chairperson of the fundraising event you worked on?
Don't wait for the pool to be full to overflowing before you jump in. Get started now. Stick your toe in and begin.
Practicing/practice sessionreplaces dating/date as an event.
You and your option have a meal together and talk. Part of talk is listening. Resolve during the meal not to do more of one than the other, either talking or listening. Plan time with your option to do little things, such as fixing dinner, working a jigsaw puzzle, washing the car, reading the Sunday paper. Gradually you learn to be comfortable with each other. You learn to give and take turns.
You discover major and minor aspects of each other: neat or messy, generous or cheap, good cook or bad, sense of humor or grumpy, intellectual or physical, indoor person or outdoor person, day-timer or night owl, stylish or an old shoe, very sexual or semi-celibate, high energy or low energy. As you go, you will practice saying yes and no, agreeing and disagreeing. You do not judge. And remember always that in the context of relationships, practice does not make perfect, but there will be great times if you keep at it.
Practicing was the advice we heard from the majority. Try complimenting, smiling, sharing, saying thank you, expressing your needs. You and your option may have experience only in playing such games as “You Never Listen to Me,” “Hard to Get,” “Guess What I'm Thinking,” or the ever-popular “Let Me Tell You What I Really Think of…(Your Cooking, Your Lovemaking, Your Shape, Your Mother, or Your Kids).” If those games have been your milieu, then practicing will be a big change for both of you.
PyramidSix activity levels that fill the lives of men and women.
Level one includes duties and obligations to oneself; level two is obligation to career or whatever one does during the working part of his or her day; the responsibilities of level three are those involved with family obligations; level four contains all the timewasters; level five holds the positive steps one must take to reach a goal; level six is the goal or serious romantic connection (see below) and all the activity involved with keeping this serious romantic connection alive and well.
Serious romantic connectionmarriage.
Most women want it; many men do, too. It is companionship, shared experiences, comfort, love, and commitment.
You will get this serious romantic connection from an option who attracts you. One who has depth, character, inner beauty, and eyes that sparkle. One who is sincere, honest, and authentic.
You will not get it from a superficial option who is wildly romantic, fascinating, charismatic, ostentatious, and bewitching. These types are running around enjoying the thrill of having many options fall in love with them right and left. These types do not get marriedat least not for long.
A serious romantic connection can be the best or the worst (naturally, everyone wants the best). A good one needs to be cared for and nourished because it is quite fragile and very importantso important that most single people think about it, worry about it, yearn for it.
And, as in other areas of life, the ones who really mean business get it.
Three C's--creativity, concentration, caring.
What does it take to keep your serious romantic connection alive and well? You must be creative, willing to try something new, willing to learn. You must concentrate, keep your eyes on your goal, and do whatever is needed to keep your marriage or love relationship fresh and vital. You must be care deeply about your partner and treat him or her with great respect and love.
ONCE MARRIED, THE IDEA IS TO STAY THAT WAY, SEEKING GROUNDS FOR COMPATIBILITY, NOT DIVORCE.
Sexa primary symbol in our society, and don't let anyone tell you different.
Oh, the chemistry, oh, the magic, oh, the excitement of sex. The romantic glow, the smile on your face, the knowledge that something quite wonderful is happening. You anticipate and take delight in sex.
Sex, you have been told, is not the whole relationship. There are those who say they live without sex just fine, those who have adjusted to illness or psychological problems that make sex seem impossible to accomplish, and those who cannot live without sex. Some couples who responded to our survey said they had gone through time periods when they liked sex and other time periods when they did not. Some men were nervous about sex, worried they would not perform up to their partner's expectations; some women were nervous about sex, worried they would not perform up to their partner's expectations.
Some individuals said they felt sex outside of marriage was immoral. Many thought too much emphasis was placed on sex. Some said that even though they loved their spouse, they would like to have a fling. They had nobody in mind to fling with; nevertheless, they felt it would be fascinating or exciting to have sex with someone differenteven just once.
A great deal of sexual creativity was expressed during our interviews. We discovered couples who managed to get away for romantic weekends; couples who abstained for brief periods on a regular basis to make sex more fun; couples who took turns at being the leader; couples who looked through manuals for new positions.
Interesting was the fact that a number of long-married couples explained that while all kinds of changes occurred in each of them during marriage, they also changed with regard to sex. In other words sex varied naturally along with other interests and preferences.
Sex, Chemistry, and Dumb Luck (SCDL)
There's still nothing like it. The rush, the realization that something special is there, that something wonderful may be happening. The electricity, the anticipation, the buzz.
The combination of SCDL is marvelous. You happen to meet, and a certain feeling comes over you. You feel eighteen again; it is difficult to keep from laughing out loud.
Shared goal or commitmentan organizing device for the serious romantic connection
Two people want a family and a home. They want intimacy. They organize their lives around reaching this goal. Secondary goals might be travel, wealth, or living in a special atmosphere such as the woods, the mountains, the desert, or the beach.
Sometimes one of the two has a very strong goal to which the other adapts or perhaps even adopts. If the strong goal is living in the African wilds to study gorillas, the one who adapts or adopts had better be darned sure about what he or she is getting into. If one person's choice is to be overriding in the relationship, candid discussions must occurbefore the fact. The commitment or goal must be truly shared to organize a satisfactory and lasting romantic connection.
Get out a jotting page, 8-1/2 by 11 or A4. Head it “Your Way Jotting Page.” This is a clean, large page to get you started listing actual names, places, and ideas for your search.
Part I: Starting Out
Starting out. This may mean the opportunity for you to begin for the first time, or it may be the chance for you to begin again.
Starting out is what you must do to get what you want. What is this thing you want? Take a minute to think. Take all day. You'll come up with the same answer: It is a serious romantic connection.
You plan, you get ready, you go forward. You may have done all this once, twice, or multiple times before, but each time is different because each time you are different.
Since you are over twenty-five, you now have some worldly experience. You may have already been married. At the very least, you've spent some time looking, dating, and romancing. You know to expect excitement and fun as well as disappointment. In some ways you are better equipped to embark upon this adventure than you were when you were younger, yet you worry and fret. What if things don't work out? What if you get rejected? What if there is a bump in the road?
Fortunately, you are not a person who is going to let the “what ifs” of life get in your way. You know what you want, and you are determined to get it.
You are ready to meet someone, to take that first step. You are ready to begin.
OBSTACLES ARE THOSE FRIGHTFUL THINGS YOU SEE WHEN YOU TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THE GOAL.
Please note that the apothegms and jokes in this book are, as far as we know, in the public domain, so we feel free to quote them.
Making a serious romantic connection is the subject of this book.
How to do it
Where to do it
How it happens
How others did it
How to take care of it
If you are “looking”as thousands are todaythis book may help you conclude your search.
If you are happily married or happily single and thus not looking, we are sad to say that your situation may be only temporary.
So keep this book for future reference, because even if you don't ever need it, one of your friends will.
A questionnaire and personal interviews provided the authors with the data for this book. Most of the people we spoke to and those whose survey responses we read were married at the time. Their marriages ranged from disastrous to superb.
The individuals we queried were from all over the United States: The South, the Midwest, the East, and the West. We tried to select bright, sensible people who had achieved or were achieving their goals in careers and in relationships. Some completed graduate degrees, others graduated only from high school. None worried about where his or her next mortgage payment was coming from. They were financially stablemostly middle to upper middle classeven those men and women who, at the time we queried them, were in the early struggles of recent divorces.
We acquired knowledge from hearing these stories, knowledge that helped us personally in meeting options and in practicing with them, knowledge that helped us avoid bad judgment. We hope you will do the same.
We strongly believe that it is possible to learn from others' successes and their mistakes.
DON'T DO AS I DO. DO AS I SAY.
In this book we are interested in individuals who are over twenty-five, for reasons we will explain. We set no upper age limit; but, as it happened, the oldest person who responded to our mailed-out questionnaire was sixty-three, and the oldest person we interviewed was eighty-five.
We decided that as far as really needing our help, the under-twenty-five age group was on its own. The under-twenty-five faction of the population inherently has the best possible opportunity for meeting and wedding. Besides their obvious advantage of having the school experience and other subcultural groupings with eligible mates in abundance, Mother Nature has made them optimally marriageable. They've got youth, whatever beauty will ever be theirs, and all the energy and hormones they need for the mating ritual. They've got innocence or at least a fresh approach to the task of connecting and mating.
Remember innocence? You do not have to. Innocence existed in the presence of a lot of room for error, in other words, when you were under twenty-five.
EXPERIENCE, OPTIMISM, PLANNING, CONSERVING, SELF-CONTROL
On your side now you have experience (which means a certain savoir faire), the ability to invoke optimism, to plan ahead, to conserve and pace your intensity, to call your shots. Self-control and the ability to summon the energy of positive endeavor are worth more to you than the primal energy of the twenty-five-year-old self.
You have lived. You have had the opportunity to learn not to take yourself so seriously. Yes, that helps. With a little age comes mellowing. You have discovered the fine art of listening, of tolerating another's harmless faults, of sharing silent moments, of having no longer to prove yourself on every front.
You are hopeful. You have found ways to think positive, to look on the bright side. You are not Pollyannish, but you appreciate the good things in life. You can smile at things that might make others angry. Oh, you have your doubts at times, but you know you have the strength and self-assurance to make things happen in your own best interests.
You have a game plan for your life. You realize that you may have to make changes, and you are willing to be flexible. You are good at keeping doors open and not burning bridges. You think before you speak and act. You look at the alternatives and strategize, but you don't just make lists and talk about what to do. You act. You carry out your plans. You simply use planning to strengthen your ability to get what you want and need out of life.
You are not one who squanders your assets. You are careful to save for a rainy day. You take care of yourselfyour health, your finances, your emotions, and your spirit. You do not let others use you. You still take risks, of course, and try new things, but you have made the most of yourself so that you have something to fall back on.
You have a certain degree of stability that you've never had before. You are able to keep from sabotaging yourself. You have the willpower and dignity to be in charge. This is not to say that you never let yourself go, but you now have the presence of mind to keep a balance in your life.
Revel in your powers as you read on.
Although we cannot guarantee that after finishing this book you will meet the man or woman you want for your first, second, third (or more) mate, you owe it to yourself to try. By following the courses and suggestions we set out here, you are bound to get in practice with and have fun at meeting. And when you do meet the option of your dreams, you will be able to say, You're so lucky to find me!
Rearrange your bag of tricks, and get out therestarting today!
OUR CHIEF DEFECT IS THAT WE ARE MORE GIVEN TO TALKING ABOUT THINGS THAN TO DOING THEM.
If you are newly single, you may just be learning that the further from twenty-five one finds oneself, the less dignified the whole dating and mating situation becomes. With the advent and emphasis on singles groups, dating services, health spas, and single want adsproliferated on the Internetthose of us twenty-five and beyond (some of us are way beyond) have a lot to learn. Teenage, college age, older children, and grandchildren are seldom comfortable with the idea that anyone more mature than themselves might be interested in or actually participate in a sexual relationship. Parents or grandparents do not become sexually aroused or “want to get laid.” And if they do, no one younger wants to hear about it.
Now that we have broached the subject, at your age how comfortable is it to talk about having a date or having a boyfriend or a girlfriend or feeling lust? Not very? So much has changed since we were younger. We have sexual freedoms that many of us did not even want. Yet here they are, although somewhat tempered with common sense and less of the bright-eyed romanticism we possessed some years earlier. AIDS and herpes have brought the once-called social diseases into our living rooms and dining rooms. All of America is tuned in to discussions about condoms, orgasms, oral sex, anal sex, and sexual problems both in and out of marriage.
Yet our ideas and observations stumble in verbal expression. Talk show guests sound foolish talking about dating, boyfriends, and girlfriends when they refer to practices for persons who are post-college, maturing, and matured. It is comical to watch matchmaking where the older set tries to meet possible options. They sound foolish. They are terribly out of practice. We almost cannot watch. It is embarrassing.
But don't judge. Be generous. Be charitable. And face facts. There are many people in this group and it is growing. Your parents may be there. You may be.
The over-twenty-five group includes those of us who have never married as well as those of us who are one-, two-, three-, or more-times married. It includes those of us who are still comparatively young to those who are well over fifty. The American Association of Retired Persons or AARP solicits memberships from the over-fifty group, thereby placing them in the category of senior citizens.
You are surprised to find yourself single at this age. Someone may even have referred to you by the courtesy title: senior citizen. You may have an AARP membership and be enjoying those benefits and also enjoying “senior” discounts at your local restaurants or on the bus lines. Still, single and senior was not what you had planned.
Mother Nature has left us on our own. Generally we are no longer required for procreation (most of us have already done that). In addition, we may find that our place in society has changed. Not only are we older, some of us are being replaced in the work force or as volunteers by younger more energetic adults.
Nevertheless, we sometimes feel silly, romantic, and sexy. We daydream. We yearn.
How can we feel silly, romantic, and sexy and maintain the dignity our age and experience require? We do not want to give up on romance, love, or marriage.
We must address ourselves to the meeting required for making a serious romantic connection, and because of our experience, we know we need only a few basic tools for survival.
EXPERIENCE, OPTIMISM, PLANNING, CONSERVING, SELF-CONTROL
END OF SAMPLE
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