Love In The Right Place, Wrong Time


Dr. John was a relatively obscure musician (outside of New Orleans) until he performed the song, “Right Place, Wrong Time” which became a Top-Ten hit and won him one of his six Grammy Awards. The song had lyrical contributions from several artists including Bette Midler and Bob Dylan and related a tale of ironic bad luck and failures.

Love often finds us in the right place and the wrong time. More precisely the right person and wrong time where one or both of you are unable to recognize that which is right before you. Sometimes you become friends, more likely is that you each go on to other relationships, maybe even happiness, but still not what might have been.

Perhaps you were too young and had no true understanding of what love is? You relied on advice from friends and were open to advances from strangers. Monogamy, sacrifice, dedication, transparency, and vulnerability were words you could spell, technically believed their definition, but had yet to incorporate them into your lifestyle. Maybe you were too shy or immature or too damn busy with your career to take notice?

Maybe you were enthralled with another, in a relationship or just coming out? The mind so occupied that you were unable to begin something new. Perhaps you never met at all, possibly in the same event at the same time but the universe conspired to keep you apart.

But the universe doesn’t always conspire against you. Sometimes if gives you second chances to discover what might have been? You meet at a college reunion, get a Friend request on Facebook, see their picture on an Internet dating site. Life gives you second chance, very rarely does it give you three. So when that second chance comes… what are you going to do?

  • I wrote this well over a year ago. I ran across it in my unpublished stories and decided to send it out into the universe.

Has Lust For A Body Ever Translated To Love Of A Mind?

Photo: twitter.com

I’m a visual person and I am as guilty as anyone of seeing and wanting someone for no other reason than her exterior appearance. I personally don’t really care about the way her makeup is applied, if she had on stiletto’s or if she wore a designer dress. When I listen to women compliment other women on how they look, it’s generally about things (hair, shoes, outfit) that I care little about. I could tell you however, what it is they’re working with and have often been attracted for those reasons alone. But how does that work out?

Men eventually discover, as many beautiful women can attest to. That physical beauty does not a long-lasting romance make. It seems every outside influence like tv, movies, magazines, friends, and maybe family, push men to pursue the physical and not the mind, and that’s a shame. A body can give great pleasure and for a time one can get caught up in it, but eventually, hopefully, you want more.

I’m still at least a little shallow. When I was twenty, I wanted the woman I wanted when I was twenty. When I was forty, I was still attracted to the same type woman (if you need a visual reference, check out the Bell, Biv, DeVoe, “Poison” video). But I eventually matured to the point where I want, A Woman of a Certain Age with at least one physical feature I can adore. It could be her eyes, smile, face, or perhaps the curve of her breasts. I’m much more concerned with the ease in which we get along and the quality of our conversation.

I’ve fallen in like with a body on more than one occasion. There’s always the chance that one could discover there is a compatible mind as well and everything will work out fine? I submit the route with the better chance of long-term success is to seek out the qualities of the mind that will endure through a lifetime. And if you find a physical feature you adore, that will be just gravy on top!

The Reality Of She


Being an optimist has its downside. When attracted to someone I often fill in the blanks of all that I don’t know, with what I would like them to be. I endow them with character traits I imagine. I’m not blind to what I see, instead giving credit for qualities not demonstrated. Not necessarily perfect, just perfect for me. As time goes by, I come face to face with the realization that the reality of she isn’t the same as my projections.

On an early date, I took a woman to a public event and an elderly man squeezing past spilled some popcorn on her. She immediately cursed him out for being so stupid. I was horrified. I confess to having little understanding of fabrics and stains and the possibility that butter might ruin an expensive blouse or pair of pants. It’s also possible that I judged her unfairly for falling off my self-created pedestal. It’s certain that I was wrong to demand someone comport themselves in the manner I desire rather than seeing the person for who they are and making decisions based on reality, not fiction.

Pursuing someone because of who you think they are instead of who they are leads to disastrous results. Bob Marley said, “The biggest coward is a man who awakens a woman’s love with no intention of loving her.” Hoping to care for someone isn’t the same thing as actually doing so. I didn’t like the answer when I asked myself if I’ve ever cared more about the chase than in having someone once caught? If I want better I have to do better.

Getting to actually know someone takes time and requires one to put in the hard work of communication. That work isn’t all painful but honest communication will require risk and trust. Not having those conversations will leave room for doubts to grow and fester. It will involve a negotiation with yourself as to what you can honestly accept and what you can’t. You must also give the other person the opportunity to make informed decisions, not choosing for them what they’re entitled to know. Yes there’s a risk that having serious discussions may reveal you aren’t a match after all but isn’t that the point. A minor disappointment is far preferable to major heartbreak.

Accepting someone for who they are means not hoping to change them. Or criticizing down the road how they dress, walk, and talk. If you acknowledge and accept who they are when you are getting to known them. It will eliminate issues later.

This isn’t a perfect world, nor are there perfect people. There are those out there that given the chance can accept you for who you are. You also need to be willing to see them for who they are, without judgment and without projection. There’s no one else to blame for seeing someone in an imaginary light of your own creation.

Honest Conversations…


I was having a conversation with a close friend who was describing a relationship she was not in and sharing the reason why. She started telling me about what he thinks, but after a number of pointed questions. It became clear that there was that which he actually said, and those areas where she’d filled in the blanks. Because we’re good friends, I was able to suggest to her that she wasn’t engaging in honest conversation with the man but had superimposed many of her suppositions and created an outcome that perhaps neither wanted. Feeling smug, which I am wont to do after scoring a rare victory where she conceded the point. It didn’t take long before she turned the tables and asks me to consider my own history and wondered if perhaps honest conversations might have created different outcomes for me. She didn’t quite throw my two divorces in my face, I think she was saving them in case she needed more ammunition.

I looked back at my own failed relationships and decided that perhaps I could have done better in the honesty department. I conceded some of those relationships shouldn’t have gone past the first date. Let me be clear that honest conversation is not the opposite of lying. You can tell only the truth without ever sharing the important things that could end a relationship if you fail to discuss them or strengthen your bond should you dare.

An honest conversation starts with how you represent yourself initially. People will naturally try to put their best foot forward and try to make a good impression. I am great at that part of a relationship. Without bragging I’m smart, have a few good stories to tell about myself and am considerate and thoughtful. I’m tall (which by the way isn’t a character trait) and have some remnants of the athletic build I had in college. But an honest conversation would include weaknesses I’m reluctant to share. Pride has humbled me on more than one occasion and I don’t readily trust others to accept things about me which I would immediately accept in them. I’m slow to acknowledge (or discuss) that a relationship isn’t working and do what it takes to get it back on track.

I recently had dinner with someone with whom a relationship had ended badly. At her request, we met and talked and shared some of the things we didn’t say to each other when it might have mattered. She apologized for her role and me for mine. We might not have survived anyway but an honest conversation could have made a difference. I was able to remember the things I originally liked about her.

Another woman once asked me, “You seem too good to be true, what’s wrong with you?” I gave her an accurate list in that everything I mentioned was true. It was an opportunity to say the things I feared to say and I missed it. Second chances don’t always come around. There are some people I would say, I’m sorry” to. There are some apologies perhaps to me owed. The point is, we can all do better; me, my friend, perhaps you? When given the chance, try providing more than just a truthful answer. How about an honest one?

How Much Do I Owe My Readers?

 

I will ultimately get to the point of answering the question, “How much do I owe my readers when I blog about topics like relationships and dating?” Let me first say that I’ve written a romance novel that I’m trying to get published that is quite different than what I normally write which is politics, history, family and more politics. I have a writing coach that has seen me through the arduous task of editing the book so she has come to know what I think and feel about a variety of subjects related to love and she has encouraged me to write more in that vein. When I say encourage I would like to say assign but that would be a little harsh, she invites me to consider that which she wants me to do. If I hesitate she temporarily lets the subject drop, knowing she’ll come back to it in a different way. She’s relentless.

She means it all for my good. She wants me to “build a fan base” and “have a platform” which will translate to people wanting to read everything I write and buy my book when it comes out so I see the logic. She “suggested,” I write a piece for the “Good Men Project” that she thought might serve me well. Having run out of excuses I agreed to look at the site and have something ready the next day so I came back with this:

 

“When You Don’t Know What You Want

Sometimes you know far more about what you don’t want in a relationship than what you do. I have a theory (you’ll find I have many theories) that people are somewhat defined by their greatest pain and that they will do much not to repeat that hurt. While not always perceived to be true, men can come out of failed relationships just as hurt and damaged as women, although pride may well keep them from saying so. These are some of the things men do after it’s over:

  1. Time Out – Some men will simply avoid relationships for a period of time while they prepare themselves to get back into something serious. This could entail total avoidance and abstaining or could allow for meaningless sex, requiring flight at the first sign that things are getting crucial. It may be impossible to correlate their actions and words with their ultimate deeds because these men may be extremely romantic. They are quite capable of being tender, holding and caressing which they do not because they are in love; but because they love the feeling associated with being able to make their partner feel good. They might be affectionate lovers, but not want to spend the night or be there for breakfast conversation.
  2. Trying to Get Her Back – This man isn’t content with the resolution of the relationship and won’t be satisfied until he’s done all he can to get her back. Phone calls, flowers, apologies… promise of change. I have another theory that you never truly know someone until you live with them, or until you break up. For the person on the receiving end of this possibly unwanted attention. Being nice can easily be construed as giving hope, so firm and clear is the way to go if you don’t want him back. He may dwell in a dystopian reality imagining how wonderful your relationship was and how perfect it will be again, if she would only take him back. This is a period not unlike madness and while it often eventually fades as reality sets in. Be wary!
  3. Serial Monogamy – This man want’s to be in love whether to prove he can move on or to duplicate feelings that translate somewhere to self-esteem. He moves quickly, fast to express his “love”, assuming without discussing, wanting the shell of a relationship without establishing a core. While it’s possible he will accidentally find his soul mate and come to have true love, the likelihood is small.
  4. Man-Whore – I heard this expression just yesterday and am taking some unexplainable pride in now using man-whore in a sentence. He’ll literally do anybody because he is at least temporarily equating conquest with success. I suppose one good thing you can say about this fellow is that he is not limited by shape, size, race or any surface considerations. Getting you in his bed or yours is sufficient. He walks the thin line between not wanting a relationship and having the ability to go back for seconds and thirds.
  5. Looking for Love – This man wants to get married and considers marriage his natural state. He has a list of criteria and begins checking off items on your first date as to whether you will be a good spouse or perhaps a good mother to existing or future children. He has high standards, perhaps impossible, but because he’s at least willing to be serious about love and marriage, women might contort themselves in an attempt to live up to his expectations. Others may perceive him as a “good catch”, placing shade on the woman who he didn’t appreciate. When you meet this man he is from day one drawing up a marriage contract that he will expect you never to deviate from without it being considered bait and switch.

All of these men are capable of change although recognition of the need to do so may come slowly. If you are relying on your ability to change them or see them much differently than they actually are. There may be some self-examination required on your part. I submit that there is hope from a seemingly unlikely source; the man who doesn’t know what he wants.

The man who doesn’t know what he wants has achieved some level of enlightenment and is willing to consider the fact that none of us (including himself) is perfect and is willing not only to accept but perhaps find endearing some of the flaws you both possess. He is more likely to be honest than the man following a more proscribed agenda. He is more likely to value communication than he that is more goal oriented whether it be sleeping with a woman, marrying her, or putting another notch in his belt. To the man who has realized he doesn’t know what he wants I have a few suggestions:

  1. Don’t Settle – This man often knows very much what he doesn’t want and often having is not so great a thing as wanting. Time spent with someone you know you don’t want, is time you’ll never get back. You can also be blocking future blessings by not having space for that potential soulmate because you elected to chose a cellmate simply for companionship.
  2. Be Honest – You don’t need to have it all together in terms of knowing what you want. Men work so hard at trying to be what they think women want that they create a character much different than the real you. Honesty is sexy! Your fear that women will reject you by saying you don’t know what you want is misplaced. Those that do are perhaps so rigid in their specific needs that you can consider it part of your screening process. They simply self-deported (thanks Mitt Romney for that contribution to the lexicon).
  3. Self-Assess – Lingering in a perpetual state of unawareness is not acceptable. Women will work with you if you are working with them. If you aren’t challenging yourself to narrow the parameters of your choice, then not knowing what you want becomes an excuse. It’s simply not caring enough to work it out. Assess your experiences, what have you learned? I’ve been married twice for extended periods of time. It is not possible that I have learned nothing thru that experience whether it be about my partner’s behavior of my own. What are you unwilling to endure? Will each new possible romance accept you for who you are or do they require you maintain a facade? You can never know how they will react to the real you without sharing the real you.
  4. What is Your Greatest Pain? – I began by saying that people will go to great lengths to avoid repeating their greatest pain. I extend the challenge to not only discover your greatest pain but to relate it to someone with whom you believe might just be what you want. It will require an openness and honesty most uncommon, but the potential reward is far greater than the possible loss. If you and your prospective love can share with each other what you have learned about relationships, how you’ve been hurt and how that has informed your decisions. You’ll be on a road that could take you not just where you desire but to a greater love than ever imagined.

So much about finding a partner is based on chance. We meet people and accept and reject sometimes in moments, based on the skimpiest of evidence. Should you meet someone that doesn’t know what they want, I submit they present a world of possibilities.” So don’t reject out of hand the man who doesn’t know what he wants. Instead, if interested, consider it the starting point of a conversation.”

 

Having given her the piece, I thought I was pretty much through and when she initially read it she liked it which theoretically meant I was off the hook. The first sign I wasn’t through was when she sent me a message requesting we “read thru the article”. Reading thru the work which is basically me reading aloud what I’ve written is a valuable editing tool because it’s easy to spot some of the grammatical errors and tricky sentences once you say them out loud. I am the “King of the run-on sentence” and I know the end result will be a better product. I also knew she wanted to suggest some changes which she will help me discover while I read.

 

Let me say that my writing coach is sometimes the worst writing coach in the world. If she calls and asks me what I’m doing and I reply, “I’m writing”. Most people would look at that as a sign that I’m busy and request a better time or make the conversation brief. I think the words, “I’m writing” is taken as a personal challenge to extend the conversation as long as possible and keep me from engaging in the activity she’s supposed to be supporting.  Other times however, her ability to deconstruct a piece and see what’s missing is amazing and I know that my novel is ten times the work it was when I initially sent her what I initially wrote. The bottom line was that she said for me to write a piece like that in this particular forum, I needed to basically pour out my soul. She wanted to speak of my personal experiences and relationships and what I’ve learned, what mistakes I’ve made and what I would do differently. I tried to explain that, “this is why I write fiction”. I choose to draw on all my experiences to make complex characters that are realistic. If one wants to surmise that those are my specific experiences they are welcome to infer but I still have maintained some semblance of privacy.

She told me that I was welcome to make any choice I wanted but if I wrote for that forum I owed the readers more of myself. As you can see I chose to publish this piece in my own Blog and save the Good Men Project or other similar publications for another time. Perhaps someday I’ll write about me instead of stuff, but for now, I dole it out a bit at a time. I am after all named Enigma!

babs one

 

 

For anyone who wants to contact the worst writing coach in the world (except when she’s the best). She’s Babz Rawls Ivy at mediababz@gmail.com