Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Demanding payment after the love is gone

Alisha: Financial stability is hard to accomplish when one is single and it can certainly be hard to juggle when you're dating. One thing is for sure: When you break up with someone, it is not cool to ask the ex for monetary compensation for items you gave from the heart (i.e., a dozen roses and sushi on every birthday or that weekend trip to Charleston for your anniversary).
Deirdre: OMG, how tacky is that? It's like, when the love is over, you want a refund. Do you think most times it's a case of pure bitterness, or do you think the person wants his or her "investment" returned, like you're no longer worth it?
Alisha: D) All of the above, plus a whole host of other issues such as insecurity and just plain egocentrism. The request of "back payments" doesn't just happen with boyfriend and girlfriends, but also with friends, too.
Deirdre: Absolutely. I had a woman pull a version on me once we were no longer friends. She talked about all the money she'd spent on presents for me, as if I should feel guilty because she chose to give me Christmas and birthday gifts. It never occurred to me to demand my gifts back from her, or to ask for compensation. When we give presents, isn't it because we want to show affection and we want the other person to have them?
Alisha: So are folks adding dollar signs now -- right next to the marks on the bed posts? I wish there was a way you could tell in the beginning if someone equates gifts of love with money owed later, because it seems the "you owe me" declaration isn't broached until there's a nasty fight or the relationship is over.
Deirdre: I'd say alarm bells should go off if the other person makes a big deal every time they pay for something, or if they constantly remark on how much stuff costs when you're together. And for heaven's sake, don't go into debt to impress someone; if you can't afford it, pick cheaper alternatives. If the person you're with doesn't understand (or doesn't like) that you're on a budget, maybe you should be with someone else.
Alisha: Yeah, good call. It sucks some allow money to define the parameters of their love and it's misused as a tool to control emotions and commitment.
Deirdre: It also sucks that buying and giving gifts -- one of the most thoughtful and generous things we can do for each other -- could later become something we regret.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sex challenge is certainly that - a challenge

You gotta give churches some credit; they're coming up with innovative ideas to draw butts into the seats as well as garner some national attention.

The latest story is about a Florida church that has embraced a 30-day sex challenge.

There's not much to the story: The pastors want their marrieds in the congregation to have sex for 30 days and their singles to abstain. Here is the church's Web site.

The underlying concept has a lot of potential -- married people should re-focus on their emotional needs inside the bedroom (always a good idea) and single folks should evaluate if they're dating someone solely for sex (face it, some people would never be together if the sex wasn't so good).

My big question, and please don't laugh because it's an honest inquiry: I wonder if the church expects its married couples to have sex once every day or a total of 30 times? I mean, seriously, even if you have a plentiful sex drive, having sex once every day is a lot! Not only is that a hefty responsibility, but if you think about it, it's almost counterproductive to the ideals the concept is promoting. If you take this challenge, then you're adding another item to the daily "to-do" list and where's the spontaneity in that?

I can see it now:
Husband: "Hey honey, um, we haven't had sex today. So, it's 4 p.m., and I've got to take the kids to soccer practice and then my class is at 8 p.m. When do you think we can have sex?
Wife: "You think phone sex counts as part of the challenge? We do have unlimited minutes after 8 p.m.!"

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Do the eyes have it? Not too sure 'bout that

Check out this video about Eye Gazing parties, a relatively new way for singles to meet. I say "relatively" because I heard this was going on a few years ago in New York, and really, don't all the weird dating trends start in New York? But I always wondered what "Eye Gazing" would be like (how do you keep from laughing? What if you get stuck with somebody who has crazy, Anthony-Perkins-in-"Psycho" eyes?), and this quick AP video offers an idea.

At an Eye Gazing party, about 50 or 60 singles gather in a room, equal number men and women. They line up across from each other and look into each other's eyes awhile before moving to the next person. "The idea is that you actually can get to know someone more looking right into their eyes," the organizer explains in the video. The ones who feel they've made a "connection" can mingle afterwards and exchange numbers or leave together or whatever.

Hmm. While I agree you can learn a lot about someone from their eyes, that knowledge doesn't really come from simply staring at them. You notice if people's eyes light up when they see you coming, or shift away guiltily when they've done something they know you won't like. You can tell if someone meets your gaze during conversation, or if their eyes follow the pert butt of a waitress as she walks by.

But just staring at a stranger and saying nothing? Sure, it's a good way to decide if you're attracted, but it doesn't take minutes of gaping to determine that. You could spend the first few seconds thinking, "wow, this person is smokin' hot," and the rest of the time noticing how badly she applied her eyeliner. Or counting the lines around his eyes. Or if the person is like me, with chronically dry peepers, the starer has plenty of time to wonder if Mr. or Ms. Red Eye got enough sleep last night ... or had too many cocktails.

Still, singles are always on the lookout for new ways to meet each other. The video claims the trend is "taking off around the country," so if it makes it to Charlotte, happy staring!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sexy, soulful sonnets

In honor of all the lovers out there, here's some sigh-inducing sonnets -- the first a lot sexy and a little scary, the second from The Master.

Sonnet XI
by Pablo Neruda

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

Sonnet 55 by William Shakespeare

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme
but you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even if the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Valentine's Day wish list for couples

If you're in a relationship, and you need ideas about what to get your partner for Valentine's Day, ideas that do not involve a Hallmark card (easily discardable) or a teddy bear (gathers dust), why not ask your spouse to make a Top 5 wish list? Tell him or her to select one of the Top 5.

My thinking was, it would take the hassle out of guessing what he wants -- or so I thought.

Here's what my list entails, followed up with my husband's. And, um, are all men like this?

My list:
1. A shoulder and back massage for 20 minutes
2. A handwritten love note
3. A single rose
4. Call me at work just to say "I love you"
5. Take me to a restaurant (doesn't have to be fancy), that we've never been to before. And bring candles or ask the waiter to have candles.

My husband's list:
1. Peace and quiet (no running around or doing housework) for a day.
2. Valentine's Day is for women. Period. My list is done.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Online dating is a small world

An online-dating friend was checking her matches recently and did a double take when she saw one of the men. She'd been matched with a co-worker.


When she told me about it, I was immediately reminded of a chick I knew in California. I always thought of her as the "Match bunny" because she was such a prolific online dater. The bunny was mortified when eHarmony matched her with an ex-boyfriend.

"Obviously, I have to move, because I've dated every man in San Francisco!" she wailed. I pointed out that maybe there was something to that eHarmony compatibility test, since she was matched with a man she had once found relationship-worthy. She was not consoled.

The bunny illustrates a point: the online dating world, especially when you limit it to where you live, really ain't that big. Talk to friends who have similar tastes in prospective partners and if they're online dating, it's likely they've been out with some of the same people. In a small area like Charlotte, it's totally possible you'd be matched with folks you already know.

My friend -- who wound up having a laugh with her co-worker about their "match" -- asked what I thought was the right thing to do. Well, dating a co-worker is no joke. As someone who has done it, I wouldn't recommend it. Some companies have policies against it. So if you do decide to date a co-worker, I say tread lightly.

If you're not interested (or even if you are, but have decided it's not a good idea), you have an easy out: "I'm sorry, but I don't date people I work with." It's a logical and understandable response. But then I would add I'd keep an eye out for someone they might like, and ask them to do the same for me. Hey, you've already read each other's profiles! Not only are you ending things on a painless note (and you can still look each other in the eye at the office), you never know what might happen. Friends do have other friends.

Monday, February 11, 2008

No age limit on love, marriage

Some people search for months, years and even decades trying to find their one true love.

And one day, after tireless waiting, it finally happens. Into your life walks the Cinderella you’ve been dreaming about marrying. She’s beautiful and thin, she’s established and has her finances in order, she can cook like there's no tomorrow, and oh, … she’s 68 years old, and well, you’re 65.

This scenario begs the question: How old is too old to get married?

Is there an age limit to loving someone? – Of course not.
Can an ordained minister marry you no matter your age? – Definitely (sshhh, just don’t tell you got the AARP discount).
Should you have a wedding, complete with five bridesmaids, rehearsal dinner and an overflowing church decked out in $10,000 worth of flowers? – If you’ve already had one big wedding in your life, why overdo it again?

As the saying goes, age is just a number. If you feel young, then you are young. If you love someone, despite the fact he cheats at Bingo or she shops at Aldi, well, then you love them. It’s your prerogative to marry whom you want to marry, when you want to marry.

My sister, Jessica, oversees the Senior Programs (ages 55+) for the Town of Apex (N.C.), and she says she recently had two participants, both in their 80s, get married. She said the couple is as happy as they can be because for them, it’s about companionship and enjoying the rest of their life together.

Isn’t that what a marriage is supposed to be about? Spending each day with the person who makes your life complete, even when you grow old.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Everyone needs a 'friend sponsor'

Hello, my name is Alisha, and I’m a friend sponsor.

Perhaps you don’t know what the definition of a “friend sponsor” is? That’s OK. I’m sure most of you qualify, and you just aren’t plugged in – yet! It's similar to having an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor; you depend on someone to help you avoid tempting situations, or in this case, prevent you from returning to bad ex-significant others, especially just for sex (which could be another blog topic entirely).

Take five minutes to read the conversation below. It’s a quick test to see if you are a member of this elite club, and I promise it’s easier than filling out a 1040EZ form. When reading the conversation, if you can immediately see yourself in this situation, guess what, kiddo? You are a “friend sponsor.”

Begin test:

Your cell phone rings. It’s 11 on a Friday night. You hear heavy breathing on the line. You look again at your caller ID, and you know it’s your good buddy Thomas. You slowly answer with an inquisitive hello.

Thomas: I need your help.
You: What’s up? You OK? Please don’t tell me you’re in jail or you’re stuck in uptown Charlotte without a cab again?
Thomas: Nah, girl. That’s not it. She’s calling me again.
You: Oh. No. That’s not good.
Thomas: Yeah, and I’m thinking about going over to her place tonight. It’s been a long time and just maybe …
You (cutting him off): And just maybe this time she’ll use you for one thing and one thing only, then she’ll spit you out – AGAIN – and where does that leave you?
Thomas: I know … I know you’re right but the sex is so good with her. It’s just so tempting.
You: Look, there’s a reason why your relationship with her didn’t work out. You were miserable and you don’t deserve to go through that again just for one night of satisfaction, right? Riiiigghhht?
Thomas: Ahhhh! Yeah. I tend to forget about all those names she called me. It’s just so easy to remember how good she did that …
You (cutting him off, again): Ignore her text messages. Turn off your phone. Don’t think about her whatsoever.
Thomas: Thanks. That’s why I called. I knew you’d look out for me. You know what, you’re the coolest “friend sponsor” a guy could have. If you need me, I'll be out with the guys. See ya!

* Names have been changed to protect the innocent, and well, er, the sexually-charged.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Gift ideas for your Valentine

Valentine's Day is approaching fast, and I got a great catalog in the mail with stuff in it that, if you feel like splurging, might make a great gift for that special person in your life.

I've ordered and received gifts from Red Envelope. What I appreciate about the company is they know how to make recipients of its products feel special. The gifted items arrive encased in the company's signature red boxes, and usually with a card that explains where it came from, how to use it, and/or what its significance is.

The recent catalog and Web site are focused on love. The items all deal with ways to show affection, or unity, or sophisticated sexiness. My favorites include the pewter "get lucky" dice, a set of four dice inscribed with body parts, actions words and prepositions (example: "brush lips against back" -- rowr); a beautifully packaged deluxe "intimacy" kit that includes a mini-vibrator, silk restraints, massage candle, lubricant, condoms and before-and-after mints; lovely men's cuff links crafted of salvaged seats from America's much-loved ball parks; and a selection of flower arrangements that manage to be super-classy and decadent at the same time. Red Envelope also offers matching jammies and jewelry for those couples who like to dress in sync, and plenty of other well-thought-out items.

Red Envelope's products aren't cheap, but if you're looking for something to knock your lover's socks off -- literally -- it's worth a look. And you can order up til Feb. 12 and still have it arrive on Valentine's Day.