Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mile Marker 17: The Makeover Continues

Sometimes I wonder why anybody needs to read about a woman messing around in the guts of her life. Is that my insecurity showing?  I know I like to read what's under the hood of women's lives.  Especially stories of widows making it up as they go along, where there isn't ever going to be another partner that slips into the 'beloved' spot.  Some make the transition look easy.  THAT's a fantasy.  No two stories are alike.

So here I am at Mile Marker 17, 17 weeks into an intensive overhaul that began the first of the year.  And what we have this month, is the emergence of the Socially Sensitive Heart.  Good Lord, the Self-Help industry is humming in my town, with my three office visits per week.  And the books.  Amazon is humming.  So two weeks ago I added two to three bicycling excursions a week.  Help!  Whether I master the social challenges of these depends.  It's about time I started writing about my excursions, because your feedback would really help.  I've a girlfriend I call almost every day; we give each other the play by play.  My counselors are thrilled with me, that my solitary little life raft is splintering.  But hey, I may crawl back under my rock unless I learn some social skills quick.

Honestly I'm only into this socializing 3 weeks.  And already I'm up to Lesson #2.

Social Lesson #1:   Look for emotional reciprocity in potential friends.
Friendship requires  putting yourself out there.  Harriet Fraad uses the term emotional labor, which resonates with me.  "Emotional labor is the expenditure of time, effort, and energy utilizing brain and muscle [heart] to understand and fulfill emotional needs.  By emotional needs, I mean the human needs for feeling wanted, appreciated, loved and cared for."  And, obviously, it has to be reciprocal emotional labor.  She continues:  "Emotional labor differs from physical labor, by aiming to produce the specific feelings of being wanted, appreciated, loved, and/or cared for [in the other]."   Article, 2008, "Toiling in the Field of Emotion". 

THAT opened my eyes.  I've always been an emotional toiler by nature, a good thing.  But I used to do the work of two.  Heck. That's what I was trained to do.  Neither parent was capable of emotionally toiling for each other, let alone their kids.  So we kids toiled emotionally for our parents, so THEY'd feel better.  Some children grow up to play this energizer bunny role in their marriages.  All of it springs from a child's healing fantasy:  Enough sensitivity and support on my part will surely awaken sensitivity and support on his/her part.  Hah!

Social Lesson #1:  Look for emotional reciprocity in potential friends.  Got this one  - 100% 

Social Lesson #2: Boundary Setting.  Um...Is this the lesson where you pick someone YOU like to be with, who likes you also?  Is it where you UN pick someone when necessary?  Or where you pick the terms you will abide by, letting the other know?

Two weeks ago I captured someone's interest.  It felt comfortable, fun.  Lesson #1 in action.  We went cycling on our own.  Nice man.  Practiced the 'required' conversational reciprocity.   Married, so that ensures we'll be pals only.  He leads rides regularly, so he knows the routes with fewer hills.  Great for me, who isn't in top shape yet.  After our ride, he invites me on a day trip this Thursday, to a town on the Hudson River full of antique shops and splendid views.  O.K....Fine; he's married and his wife works.  So he has time and she doesn't.  He'll make a great pal.  He's clearly a family guy; showed me photos of his kids.  Then, after another group ride and lunch - he texts and offers a casual dinner invitation.  Whenever I have time, of course.  Of course....???   I ignore the invitation.  What is a married man doing asking a single woman out for dinner?

What do I do? Have that awkward conversation?   Back out of this Thursday's day trip? 

Social Lesson #2:  Learning....

There are so many moving parts in making new friends!!!


  1. Okay, do I have this straight? The married man is the one you talk to almost every day and bike with 2 or 3 times a week and your counselors don't see a train wrench coming? Just because someone is married doesn't insure you that he isn't looking for a physical or emotional affair on the side. The dinner invitation is a red flag that you're picking up on. I say trust your instincts and act accordingly. If it were me and dinner comes up again I'd say, "Only if your wife is coming too. I don't want to give anyone a reason to misunderstand."

    As for the Thursday day trip if it were me---and clearly we're from a different generation so my thoughts might be out of date---I'd ask him who else is going along (even if you know that no one is) then I'd act disappointed when he says it's just the two of you. "Darn it, would be more fun with a group." That's let's him know you don't think of it (or him) as 'date'. One thing is for sure, if you do go and keep all your senses wide open you'll know by the time you get back if he's looking for something besides a biking buddy. You might be rusty looking for the signs. I can't imagine a wife being happy to have her husband spend a whole day with an attractive, single woman like you are!

  2. Argh! You enabled to clarify that it's a Girlfriend I call most days. Thank you! Yes, one counselor and girlfriend see a potential train wreck. And my instincts are: though my motives are pure, watch and learn what his are... darn it all! The other counselor didn't see a red flag, but then again she has a devoted husband who bicycles.

    HOWEVER... Your advice is great, and my generation is a lot closer to yours, or my husband's was (1941). That is what informs my etiquette. LOL

  3. I really HAVE to quit speed-reading on the internet. Sorry, I got that part wrong on who you call/talk to every day. My only excuse is that I was hungry and wanted to start dinner. LOL Yes, 1941 is my generation.

  4. You read it correctly the first time; I used the power of post-publication editing to add 'girl'... Enjoy your dinner!

  5. That's makes me feel better. I thought I was getting flaky in my old age. LOL

  6. RED FLAG. Biking, sure, fine. Coffee? Yeh, okay. Day trip? NOT. Dinner? Only if the wife attends. Your senses are definitely still working!! Good for you.

    I have only ONE male close friend. When we were couples, we did everything. They divorced and the three of us continued. I kept trying to make it more of a "guy" friendship so when my guy departed, Eli continued our friendship. I have never had any red flag go up ... listen to your soul!

  7. Thanks, AW, for reading the cues. This came out of left field, so I missed the cues. I will have the awkward conversation with him soon, BEFORE the day trip this Thursday, if there is to be a day trip. I'll direct my new 'relaxed and friendly vibes' toward women more deliberately now.

  8. Being a married man and showing off photos of his kids, doesn't mean a dang thing. ALTHOUGH, he might be Mr. Sincerity, I'd stay away from the whole thing. I have always enjoyed male friends over women friends, BUT it seems almost impossible to find a male that can remain JUST A FRIEND. You have to be so careful and not be too friendly and that can be exhausting. I had a male friend for a year and it was lovely, but one day, he got stupid and forgot it was supposed to be a kind of "brother & sister" relationship. I "think" I have trained my friend John to be like my little brother/friend, but one never knows. Anyway--stay away from married men at all cost!!!!!

  9. Judy, you are so right. Too exhausting. My Counselor also said the signs are unmistakable. Everyone sees this more objectively than I do. Thank you, girlfriends!

    I texted him this morning, limiting our bicycling to group riding ONLY, and pulling out of this Thursday's day trip. Included in the text "No mistaken intentions that way".

    ARGH! I don't (I mean - didn't) think of myself as that appealing!!! Nor was I aware a married man could be so disloyal to his wife...

  10. Not only can married men be disloyal their wives, there are a few men who will tell you they're married when they are not. Women with low self-esteem buy that as the reason why they have limited access to the guy once an affair starts and they have a good reason to pull away if they don't like the woman all that well in bed.

    Did you get a text back from the guy? I'm curious how he reacted. I'm guessing he'll either be hurt or amused if an affair never even crossed his mind. Or accepting the line you drew if he was more interested than he should have been, given his martial status.

  11. No, I haven't gotten a text back. Who knows how this man thinks. In my opinion his failure to answer with an apology confirms what you all spotted in a nanosecond. I hope his type is easier for ME to spot next time. >>sigh<< Here I thought I had made a 'safe' friend. My friend picker is rusty...

  12. Just wait until it plays out before jumping to conclusions. You set some ground rules and he might need time to process that. After all, you've been talking it over with friends and this is new to him. I honestly would not be surprised if he doesn't apology. He really didn't do anything---yet---except MAYBE put bait in the water.

    1. This setting ground rules and seeing how it plays out is more nuanced than I'm used to.