There is No Such Thing as an “Old Maid”

During the last Presidential election, things got pretty heated here in the USA.  On social media, things got downright ugly at times.  Not only did people hold vastly different views and argue with each other nonstop, but many took it to a personal level and verbally attacked each other based on their differing views.  This happened to me.  When a guy from my hometown had no comeback, he decided it was okay to attack me personally.  As if personal attacks and name calling are ever an adult and respectable way to resolve differences!

What did he say?  Well, he called me an “Old Maid“.  Now this got me to thinking, where did this term come from?  Who would even use such an archaic term in 2012?  My other thought was this guy needs to get out more and live in the world of today and not centuries ago! This attitude does tend to prevail among some in the small rural community where I grew up.

So where did the term “Old Maid” come from?  It is actually a term used in the 18th Century.  While the term originate in England, the card game we all played as children actually originated in Asia, where playing cards originated.  During Victorian times, people were concerned about etiquette and rules of adornment(they also played a lot of cards), so this term was used to reinforce the negative image of a spinster or unmarried woman.  The card game became popular in the United States in the 19th century and many latched onto the term to refer negatively to an unmarried woman.

Today, we rarely hear this term.  Societal norms have changed our ideas about many things.  Centuries ago,  people did not spend years in college or wait so long to get married – they married very young.  Today, many wait until their thirties or later to marry for the first time.

Since “Old Maid” is defined as a woman who remains single beyond the conventional age for marrying, does this term really apply to anything today?  Unless you live under a rock and are not immersed into our society today, there is little room for this term to be applied to anyone.  Is there a conventional age for marrying today?  While many people do marry in their 20’s and 30’s, many others choose their careers and live happy and full lives.  Some people have no desire to marry at all and choose not to.  There does not seem to be much of a norm.  Besides, is it really anyone else’s business what you choose?  Why does it even matter?

While this term mildly annoyed me, I can now sit back and reflect on just how far women have come.  Today women are a strong and influential part of our society.  We have our own lives and our own careers.  So the next time someone tries (keyword is TRIES) to put you down or make you feel bad because you are single or still looking for your Mr. Maybe, stand tall and be proud that you are a strong woman who will not settle for less than she deserves.  You are a force to be reckoned with and you should be proud of that!  Remember, people try to put others down based on their own insecurities.  They have the problem, not you.  Do not allow them to make you question yourself or the wonderful woman you are.  The only “Old Maid” that exists today is a card game with Victorian roots.   

Time to Move on

You have taken my advice and given him a chance.  You have taken the time to actually get to know him better than the surface knowledge gained on the first few dates.  He is a great guy with a lot going for him.  However, you are still not feeling it.  You enjoy hanging out and have a good time, but you are just not looking forward to those times the way you feel you should be.  It happens!  Sometimes we meet great people along the way that are just not the right ones for us, for whatever reason.  That is a good case scenario.

On the other hand, we also do meet those who riddle us with one disappointment after another, leaving us wondering whether there really are any good men out there,  Trust that there are!  You do not want to become bitter and negative in your search because that will attract the wrong men to you.  Stay positive and know that Mr. Maybe is out there – you just have not met him yet!

As we go through the process of finding our Mr. Maybe, there will more than likely be many disappointments along the way.  Do not allow that to deter you.  However, do take time after each one to reflect on what initially attracted you to him, what it was that made you question it, if you missed anything earlier on, and what you can do to improve the situation next time.   Seriously, take time for you – especially if things started out really well and turned into heartbreak and disappointment.  You need time to heal your heart and your mind in order to attract the right one.  You also need to understand what happened and know how to do things better next time.  In our quest for love, so few of us take the time to reflect when we need.  Time seems short, and it is.  But if you jump back in and make the same mistakes again and again, you are wasting more time than it would have taken to reflect on the situation – and you cause yourself more heartache and aggravation.

If you find there are some things that need to improve and you really like the person, you may want to have a discussion and work through those things.  However, if the problem is larger than that and you do not see the situation improving, or if there is something that has been recurring, then you will probably be best served by moving on.   Many women stay with men and think things will improve.  If a man leaves you disappointed again and again, and it is a recurring theme – he will surely continue acting in that manner and you will be left feeling alone and empty.  The point is to find the right man, not the one who is okay for now.  Be good to yourself, demand to be treated as you should be treated, and do not settle for less than that.  Stick to your guns.  If you compromise what you deserve, it may end up being a lifetime commitment to that compromise.  You deserve better than that!

Love is Like a Butterfly

The Metamorphosis of Love

I found this little guy earlier this morning eating all my parsley and got to thinking about the metamorphosis the caterpillar will go through to be the beautiful butterfly.  The simple little caterpillar is gorgeous by its own right.  Nature has adorned it with a beautiful pattern and beautiful colors, and also camouflage.

In many ways this reminded me of love and relationships,  When we first meet someone, there is a certain beauty there that fascinates us and we want to learn more.  Just as this little guy totally intrigued me and made me want to take multiple photos of it.    It is the initial beauty that attracts us – and not necessarily physical beauty, either.

As with the caterpillar here, there is also a lot of camouflage that exists when we meet someone new.  We can see the physical and we interpret the other things, many times in ways that benefit our own wants and desires.  If we want to get to know that person, we may gloss over the red flags, or maybe not even see them at all at first.  On the other hand, if we are not interested in them, we may blow things that they do or say out of proportion to suit our own line of thinking.

While we all want to believe we are open-minded, are we really?  Do we make snap decisions about others before we have all of the information?  Let’s face it, we have all done this at one time or another.  While there needs to be at least a certain level of attraction, the ideal partner for you may not be that “hot” man or woman you have fantasies about.  This is the real world.  People do not walk around looking like that.  The other side of this is when we see someone we think is attractive, but we base our decision on that, not knowing they are camouflaging potentially very negative things about their lives.  Are you missing really wonderful men (or women) who could be perfect for you because you have prejudged?  Are you going only for the ones who look good physically?  I think this happens more often than we would like to think it does.  We may be missing the one we could have a wonderful and happy life with.

Chrysalis, or pupa, stage of a butterfly. This is where the real change takes place!

Once the caterpillar matures to a certain level, it turns into a chrysalis of brown or green, and not usually very attractive.  This is what happens in new relationships, also.  Everything starts out pretty, then as we get to know each other better, we find there are things that are maybe not as pretty as we thought they were.  And sometimes things can turn ugly as we try to work through them.  And here is where it ends for many and what I believe is a societal problem today.  Ending relationships, even marriages, is much too easy on our society.   Many people are not willing to go through the metamorphosis, that every relationship will have at some point, to get to the real beauty that awaits on the other side.

I have a really good friend who went through so much in her marriage, but yet she also has one of the strongest, happiest marriages I know of.   She has told me many time it is because of what they went through that made them strong.  This, and her faith in God, has brought her to this point of having such a wonderfully happy life.  Life is full of ups and downs, but when it comes to relationships, most people seem to want to give up when the going gets tough.  Her family is living proof that everyone has hardships, but when the couple works together and communicates with each other, the future is much better than anything we could dream of when we are going through it.  The beauty in her marriage is something we can all hope to aspire to.

This can also be applied to relationships that are not yet marriage.  Do we give up too soon?  As soon as there are red flags, do we just give up?  Maybe some of us are really missing that diamond in the rough because he/she is still rough and we have not get polished the stone to find the gem that lies within.  So many people in their 40’s and beyond date, and date, and date, and never seem to find that right one.  Are we giving up on people too soon?  Did the relationship have the time to metamorphosize into all that it can be?  Or are we ending at the pupa stage?  Are we giving people the time to be that beautiful butterfly they were meant to be?

One of the reasons I question this is because there are so many times I would love to get to know men I date better, but never hear from them again.  I was willing to give them a chance, but they were unwilling to give me one.  I am a firm believer that unless you are absolutely repulsed by the person, and have not a thing in common, everyone deserves a few dates in order to really understand who they are.  While there are some things you can conclude on a first date, most things need to develop in relationships.  True love is not about how much you want to sleep with someone, but it has everything to do with connecting in your minds.  Real love connects people in the head and heart, not the groin.  When you are connected in the mind, the person is automatically attractive to you, because you are connected on a deep and real level, and that needs time to develop.  You will not know that on a first date.

My suggestion here is merely to think about how you date and if you really give yourself a chance to get to know the person you are on a date with.  From what I have seen, few do.  Since we are all looking for the same thing, and so few are actually finding it, don’t we owe it to ourselves to at least consider this?  I think we do.  We all want to be happy, and if we need to re-evaluate ourselves along the way, so be it.  The next time you find yourself on a date and you do find yourself not wanting to see the person again, ask yourself why.  Rethink it right there.  Are you even giving them a chance?  You may be pleasantly surprised if you do!  They may be that butterfly you have been looking for in the garden of life!

The Online Dating Dilemma

  While I am on the subject of online dating, I want to address a few things.  First, maneuvering through these online sites, can be frustrating, disappointing, and cause one to lose your faith in the opposite sex.  Sometimes people place their own expectations on others and when others do not respond in the way they think they should, they make assumptions about them that could be very far from the truth.

For instance, I was recently contacted by a man I had been communicating with awhile back.  Apparently, both of our lives got busy and we stopped communicating.  He recently sent me a message asking how I have been, which I answered honestly saying that I have been extremely busy and have not been on the site much.   The response I got actually shocked me, since all I was doing was giving an honest answer to his question.  What I got back bordered on intimidation and verbal abuse – especially since this man doesn’t know me.  I was called a “broad” (who even uses that word these days?) and told that he thinks that is a problem and he is sure that is why I am single (and then he used some other derogatory language).   Pardon me for being honest!

What I have found on these sites is that men think you should be at their beck and call.  They are busy and try to “fit” you into their busy schedules.  After all, aren’t their jobs what defines them (please excuse the slight bit of sarcasm)?  However, the minute we, as women,  are busy and have to schedule dates for when we are available, it seems to be a problem.  Since I have an extremely busy life, there are many times I have to schedule dates weeks out.  It is not that I don’t want to meet them (I DO!), but I keep my calendar full.

Ladies, we all know men will not cancel plans they have to meet you – especially if they met you online and do not know what to expect when they do meet you.  Why on earth would we do that for them?  I don’t!  If I have plans, they will have to work with me on a time that works for BOTH of us.  You should not be canceling your plans to meet someone you do not know and may never hear from again – plain and simple.  They would not do it for you.  What I find extremely annoying is that in our hearts, we know this (and so do they).  However, in practice, there are many times when women will cancel their plans to meet a man.  How many times has this left you disappointed?  What did you miss out on that you had on your calendar with friends?  Your friends have been there for you and will be going forward.  This man you have never met has no track record with you yet.

So what if you really want to meet a man you have been chatting with online but are too busy to fit him in for a few weeks?  I say schedule him when you are free.  More than likely, he will try to pressure you into changing some plans to accommodate him and meet sooner – don’t!  Here is why- this sets the precedent for the whole relationship!  If he can bully you into catering to him now, he will definitely think it is okay to do it going forward.  Your time and your life is no less important than his – ever!!!  If he is a decent man, he will get this simple concept and work with you on meeting at a time that works for both of you.  If he balks at the fact that you are busy or asks you if you are always this busy, he may not be the one for you.  You want a man who respects your time as much as he does his own.

I was also recently communicating with another man who asked me since I am so busy, why I would be on a dating site.  My reply?  I am on a dating site BECAUSE I am busy AND if I wait until a time when I am not busy, I could be dead first!  It is true, if you think about it.  Today, our lives are so busy we barely have time to come up for air.  Who is not busy?  While it is absolutely necessary to make time in our lives to develop a relationship, we want to make sure we divvy out that time to the right man – not everyone who demands our attention.  Believe me, if I meet the right one, he will have my time and attention.  Until then, no man has the right to demand my time (or yours).  I get tired of the double standard that still exists where we are expected to cater to their time – what about our time?  There are many, many decent men out there who are wonderful, understanding and respectful – these are the ones we want!  Not the ones who think we are not as valuable as they think they are.  We owe it to ourselves to make sure we ask for the same respect they demand.  We want to make sure we find the gems and not the stones.  Keep your standards high, but realistic.

Non-Negotiables: Our Must-Haves

While we should have many things we will compromise on, there are also many things that we do not want to, or should not compromise on.  These things are the core of who we are as individuals.  These items are non-negotiable, we must have them in our Mr. Maybe.  These items range anywhere from core value items to lifestyle items.  While everyone will have a different set of items, it is important to understand exactly what yours are, which is why I say you must start with you before you bring another into the picture.

Today, our society is very diverse and we should accept everyone for who they are.  However, that doesn’t mean everyone is a good match as a significant other.  There are some very fundamental differences that could cause serious issues in relationships, and could cause a lot of pain and heartache if not properly thought out and looked at totally honestly.  We may think some things are not a problem if we meet someone who we really connect with, only to find out later this very thing is a major source of conflict in the relationship.

To give you an example, I will briefly touch on one that has come up several times in my own life: Religion.  While I am very open-minded, accept and respect all people for what they believe, my Mr. Maybe MUST believe in God, have a relationship with God and attend church.  Since I tend to love all people and accept others as they are, it took me many years to come to this realization.  I have dealt with a lot of heartache because I didn’t honestly look into myself, and tried to fit other people’s belief systems into my life without realizing just how important this was to me.  I spent 10 years of my life trying to make 2 separate relationships work, without realizing they could never work for me.  Had I spent time with myself, as I suggest here, I would have realized just how much this means to me.  While this is only one example of what a non-negotiable could be, it does demonstrate how much time could potentially be spent on a relationship that is going nowhere.  Those are 10 years of my life I will never get back!

Many people with children will have a different set of non-negotiables because there are other people they must think about – their children!  When children are present in a relationship, it is particularly important to consider core values, how you want your children raised and what environment you want them living in.  This is tough!  You not only have you, but you have precious young impressionable lives you need to consider, also.

Another area to consider is lifestyle.  Are you active?  How active are you?  Is it important for your Mr. Maybe to be active, too?  For instance, if you like to participate in activities such as hiking or other outdoor activities and you would like your partner to enjoy them with you, you would not want to consider someone who does not enjoy these activities.  While there are times you may want to do things with friends and apart from each other, if this is a big part of your life, it is also a big part of your life your Mr. Maybe would not be enjoying with you.  Only you can decide how important these things are to you.  Your friends may tell you to compromise if you are not finding the right partner.  However, only YOU can decide if compromising a non-negotiable will make you unhappy and unsatisfied with your relationship.  If it will, then follow what only you can decide for yourself.

The goal for most is to find the right person and to be happy.  This is not something to take lightly.  Your life and future are at stake.  Take the time to make it the one you dream of having, not the one someone else thinks you should have.  Most of all, enjoy the road you travel to find Mr. Maybe.  Just because he may not be for you does not mean he is not a very special person.  Always acknowledge that in the men you meet.  There really are a lot of good ones out there, they just may not be the right one for you.  Keep looking, he is sure to arrive on your doorstep when you least expect it!

Negotiables & What We Will Compromise On

  Today, many people resort to Internet Dating as a means to find people.  Online dating sites offer one way to meet eligible (or at least that is the idea) singles in the age range and geographic area you choose.  Whether we go through the process of meeting our potential Mr. Maybe online, or by other means, a big part of the initial process is determining if he is truly a potential Mr. Maybe.  We already have our list of things we are looking for in a potential mate.  However, this list, whether in our heads or in written form, is not set in stone and we must evaluate each item separately.

Sometimes we think we need things in a partner that are really just wants, and not needs.  What is the most important thing about finding the right one?  Is it happiness?  Is it financial security?  Is it someone to do social activities with?  My point here is that we all have different priorities in our lives regarding the person we want to have in our lives.  Ultimately, we all do want to be happy, so in evaluating what you think you need in a partner, think about if it will make you unhappy if you met the ideal guy and they did not have this thing.  Is it a deal breaker?  Or could you be perfectly happy with him anyway?

An example of this could be you are looking for someone who has a specific type of job, such as white collar over blue collar (or vice versa).  Assuming he is earning at least an okay living, is this really that important if he is everything else you are looking for?  This may be something that is a negotiable item to you.  Were you looking for someone who does not have children at home?  You found the perfect guy, but he has custody of two small children.  Could you love these children and get used to having them in your life, or if this a complete change of lifestyle that you have no desire to make?  If you find someone who is everything you are looking for except for this one thing, you need to take some time with yourself and really understand your true feelings on that matter.  If you could grow to love these children and know in your heart you could handle the commitment of having them in your life and care for them for many years into the future, this item may be negotiable for you, even if it was not ideally what you wanted.

Great men are hard to find.  When we do find them, we do not want to pass over gems because of our own selfishness.  I am not saying  it is not good to want certain things in our man or relationship.  I am simply stating that we need to really evaluate what it is that will bring happiness into our lives.  We need lists as a guideline.  We need initial self evaluation to know ourselves so we know who we are and what makes us happy.  However, sometimes we can place unrealistic expectations on a potential partner, and miss out on the ones who cross our paths due to our “criteria”.  Do we really NEED these things, or is it just something we would like to have but could really live without and be perfectly happy?  Think about this so you do not miss out on your Mr. Maybe!