09 July 2009

It's Not Always That Simple

I had an interesting conversation today with someone who just read the book. The issue the reader had was whether the book really applied to his situation. Yes, his. He's not the first gentleman to have read the book. Yes, even hetero men have been helped by the pretty pink guide. His critique was that it is near impossible to follow the Ground Rules if you have to split property or share custody. And that is absolutely true.

I wrote the book as a guide for single women (meaning not married) who were ending a dating relationship. Once you bring in legalities, like divorce, custody or property division, that's a whole other magilla. Outside of experiencing my parents divorce, I can't really speak of that situation with any authority, only empathy. Still, I stand by the Ground Rules, no matter what the breakup might bring. While you may have to talk to make arrangements for the kids, the pets or the assets, that doesn't mean you have to discuss the relationship or your feelings for each other. You can still (politely) avoid those calls, emails and conversations. All you have to say is, "I need some time and space before I can really talk to you about that." Then let him (or her) know that you'd like at least thirty days, or whatever it is that will work for your situation (aim for the thirty, though). The idea is to separate yourself from the relationship and the breakup pain so that you can get perspective. That's not easy if you have to deal with each other on a daily basis, but you can try to implement the steps as much as you can, as best as you can, so you are able to get over the relationship as quickly, happily and healthily as possible.

17 February 2009


I did my first radio interview today. It was kind of a cheat because it was with a friend. It was her chat show and we ate up forty-five minutes of gabbing about relationships and breakups and what we've learned.

We went through each of the book's ten steps. Number four is "Don't Pick the Scab". I realize that's a little on the gross side for some, but I named it that to make a point. When you pick the scab, the wound doesn't heal. It will bleed. Become infected. It will scar. If you keep poking at your broken heart or bruised ego, it will remain tender. So, leave it alone. Let it heal.

While we were talking about step four, the Nine Inch Nails song, "Only" popped into my head. "Only" is probably one of the best "Get Over Him" songs ever written. Yes, even though it was written and is sung by a man. Trent gets it. [Full disclosure: I'm a huge Reznor fan, and think NIN is ear porn.]

Now, I think we all have a go-to breakup song. Don't we? This one's mine. There's one set of lyrics in particular that fit step four:
I just couldn't leave it alone
I kept picking at that scab
It was a doorway trying to seal itself shut
But I climbed through
Your broken heart/bruised ego is that door. It wants to close. We keep prying it open, don't we?

There's another part of the song I particularly appreciate:
Because you were never really real to begin with
I just made you up to hurt myself
And it worked
Yes it did!
I love those lyrics because we tend to create a version of the guy or the relationship that is closer to perfection than reality. And we sort of do make it up to hurt ourselves/pick the scab, no? (And, yes, it does work. Maybe even a little too well.)

But then he delivers us a mantra:
There is no you
There is only me
Even stressing that point with:
There is no f%#king you
There is only me
(FYI: The best place to hear this song is at the gym, doing cardio. Hard.)

To me, this song is not so much a call to grow cold, loathe or dismiss the other person; it's just a way to keep things in perspective, which is so important when you are trying to get over him. He's not there anymore, so it is only you. And that can be a great thing. Sure, it can hurt. Being lonely blows. But the sooner you stop picking the scab and letting yourself heal, the sooner you'll be your sassy, happy self again. And, then, all things are possible.

14 February 2009

Another "Him" to Get Over

It's funny how we can be slaves to our expectations without even realizing it.  We set goals, have visions for our futures.  We are told this is a good thing.  We are told we should not compromise. Visualize what you want and it will manifest like magic!  Of course, they don't mention how long that magic might take.  We end up creating these limitations -- because that's what they can end up being -- under the guise of holding out for what we "deserve".

I'm all about going for the gold, setting high goals and working hard to achieve them.  I have high standards myself.  Compromise is still something I'm learning to appreciate...and "appreciate" is probably too strong of a word, but you know what I mean.  

While we are told this kind of uncompromising attitude is telling of a high self-regard and can lead to great success, it can totally bite us in the backside when it comes to love and relationships.  

Think about it.  

A few girlfriends and I have been talking about our relationships -- past, present and, perhaps, future.  We have gone down the list of the men we have loved and the ones we have pushed away.  And more than a few of us noted that the men who came in the most perfect packages were the ones who ended up being the most disappointing.

I looked to my own love life -- which I probably do much less than you might imagine -- and the men who came most beautifully wrapped (handsome, intelligent, great career, endless potential and good body to boot), ended up being quite controlling.  These "men", who could plan a perfect evening, call when they said they would and were endlessly chivalrous, could also turn cold and moody.  Looking back, I realized how many of the same unappealing traits they ended up sharing and found how truly not "perfect for me" they were.

Then there are the ones who were "flawed".  Not classically good-looking.  Still trying to start up the career.  Lots of potential, though not fully utilizing it.  Intelligent (because that is my biggest turn on).  Could probably stand to lose a few pounds.  I tended to stay away from anything serious with these "guys" because they weren't what I wanted, or worse, what I thought I "deserved".

I have often likened men to real estate, joking that when I was in my twenties, I thought it would be really romantic to get a "fixer-upper", turn "not much" into "really something" and make it truly "mine".  In my thirties, however, I only want something "move-in ready".  Then, a happily married friend of mine burst my bubble by sharing a little secret with me:  "There's no such thing as 'move-in ready'."

The idea I had for a perfect man was not simply superficial or material.  I mean, I wouldn't kick George Clooney out of bed for eating crackers, but I wasn't necessarily looking for a rich, handsome, chiseled-from-stone man (though, I can't say I'd kick him out of bed, either).  The ideal I had spoke more of my fears than my desires.  I wanted someone with a lot of security (a steady income and solid career), because my career is so not secure.  I like a man who eats well and works out because it shows me he takes care of himself -- and, thus, can take care of me.  I want to be taken care of, not because I want to be sitting on a sofa eating truffles and watching 'Oprah', but because I want to feel safe.  It sounds like a smart plan at first, but if this "ideal" is used to stringently, you can lose sight of a guy who could be perfect for you.

So, I suppose the one guy we really need to get over is our vision of the perfect "him".  "He" can stand in our way more than any other man.  I'm not saying lower your standards.  I'm suggesting that we should keep our eyes, our minds and our hearts open.  Love isn't perfect.  That we know.  So, looking for that perfect man may very well be futile.  Ask a friend who has found her perfect match and you may be surprised to hear her say, "I never thought I would fall in love with a man like him.  But, I'm so glad I did."

Happy Valentine's Day, my friends.  xo