5 Ways To Know If Mr. Right Has The Right Stuff

IMG_4286Many years ago, my good friend Kathie Gordon gave me this needlepoint pillow for my birthday. It was in the 90’s, and I was in my late-30s. For the single girl who had everything, it was a perfect gift.

At the time I thought finding Mr. Right was right around the corner, and to be honest, I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to meet him, but I knew he had to be somewhere in the neighborhood. But as time went by and the 90’s turned into the 00’s, and I turned into an old maid, I realized that Mr. Right wasn’t right around the corner, but in fact, he was a million miles away.

That pillow has sat on my couch through countless dates, hundreds of fix-ups, tons more blind dates, boyfriends, break-ups and bullshit, and it always asked the same question:

“Star light, star bright, where oh where is Mr. Right?”

Actually, I’ve found Mr. Right many times – in bits and pieces, that is.

One Mr. Almost Right was professionally successful, but emotionally unavailable; one was age-appropriate, but had arrested development; one was great looking, but couldn’t keep his dick in his pants; one was a Harvard grad, but was a total idiot; one was a superior athlete, but had no moves whatsoever. It was very frustrating.

I would kick and scream, stomp my feet, and yell at the top of my lungs to the universe: “Fuck you Universe! Where the hell is Mr. Right!?”

While I was busy yelling at no one in particular, something happened: I wised-up and started dating smarter. I also became hardened and jaded, which comes in handy out there in the dating world.

Here’s what I’ve learned: Mr. Right comes in many different packages. He’s not perfect, and he doesn’t have to be. All he has to do is THE RIGHT THING.

The following is my MR. RIGHT CHECKLIST, five simple observations that will ascertain early on whether your new dude has what it takes to be your Mr. Right.

  1. He communicates early and often. He isn’t afraid to express his feelings, his thoughts, his values, and his plans. He’s open, honest, and authentic about who his is and what he wants in life.
  2. He doesn’t try to get to know you through texting. A real man who’s interested in you picks up the phone and TALKS not TEXTS. A guy who carries on an all-day conversation thread is simply hiding behind his texts. Too much gets lost in translation, and too much can be misinterpreted, so don’t tolerate it.
  3. He would move heaven and earth to see you, even if it’s for a quick coffee at Starbucks. Having real face time with someone is crucial, and if he means business, he’ll do whatever it takes to see you. Effort is everything.
  4. He pursues and courts you like a proper gentleman. He makes plans, asks questions, doesn’t wait till the last minute, doesn’t push or pressure you. And if he starts sexting too soon, you’ll know all he wants is to get inside your pants, not inside your mind.
  5. He does the right thing. Whether it’s bringing you flowers for no reason, being nice to your mother, or coming to your door to pick you up instead of calling you from the car, a guy who digs you will always do the right thing.

* * * * * * * * * * *

So when you’re out there dating, keep your eyes open. Observe, maintain your standards, and always honor your highest good. Watch for red flags. Being a little cynical and skeptical isn’t necessarily a bad thing – in fact, it can weed out the riff-raff real fast.

Demand a certain level of decorum, transparency, etiquette, and protocol at all times. It may sound old-fashioned, but trust me, you’ll respect yourself much more in the morning.

Above all, don’t be in too much of a hurry. Love has a way of finding you when the time is right, and so will Mr. Right.

Same Footsteps, Different Paths

IMG_0003She was in her early 20s, just off the boat from Scotland; he was in his early 30s, newly transplanted from Brooklyn when they met and married in the 50’s.

Robby and I will be well into our 50s when we walk down the aisle for the first time.

They had a half a handful of relationships before tying the knot; Robby and I will have dated half the world before getting hitched.

They were young and inexperienced: she was an entry-level secretary at CBS; he was right out of the mailroom at William Morris; Robby and I are old pros with years of life experience under our belt.

They were just starting out, finding their way, not fully knowing themselves, or the ways of the world; Robby and I have been around the block, graduated from the school of hard knocks, and have the battle scars to show for it.

When they got married, they were building a life, planning for a family, and preparing for the future; Robby and I are already established and are looking forward to building on what we already have.

When my parents had sex, they made a baby; in about five minutes Robby and I will be sexy senior citizens.

When they moved in together, they had nothing, not even a pot to piss in; Robby and I already have our own sets of dishes, a blender, a hand mixer, a vacuum, AND a pot to piss in. We don’t really need anything, but we registered anyway because who couldn’t use a new pot?

They had goals and hopes and dreams for the future; so do we, but we’re also happy to be in the present.

They were early adopters; we’re late bloomers.

The comparisons and differences are many, but there’s one thing we all proudly did together:

WE MARRIED FOR LOVE.

Not for money, not for power, not for status, not for a green card, or because of obligation or pressure. Not for any other reason, just love.

IMG_0002Like Frank Sinatra, we did it our way – on our terms, at our own pace, in our own time. And like Paul and Sonjia Brandon, we’re doing it with integrity.

Here’s how my mother describes starting out with my father:

SONJIA:

“He was handsome, he was nice, he was a good person, and he appreciated my humor. We didn’t have much money, but we had love, and we got by. We had a small wedding at a little shul on Beverly Blvd., and had to borrow a car to go on our honeymoon since his car was in the shop. In those days, you didn’t wait to get married. It was the thing to do, and I’m glad we did because, well, we had you.”

Unfortunately, their marriage didn’t last, but knowing their story and hearing how they met has always been a source of inspiration for me. Robby’s and my path to the altar may look very different from my parents’ path, but in many ways, we’re following exactly in their footsteps.

Still Single? Throw Yourself A Wedding!

Group Karaoke

Single? Married? Divorced? Who cares? Let’s party!

When I took the stage at Boardwalk 11 Karaoke Bar at my 50th birthday party last February, I was triumphant. Victorious. I felt proud of who I was, and what I had accomplished – getting to 50 as an independent, self-reliant woman.

That wasn’t exactly the picture a few months before though. In the run-up to my birthday, I was the perfect storm of despair: I was going through a break-up, my career was stagnating, my window of fertility had officially closed, I was still not married, and I was turning 50 – a number that probably would’ve been a lot less daunting and depressing if I had a husband and kids.

From November to January, I was totally numb. Nothing felt good, nothing tasted good, music didn’t sound good, not even the cutest guy looked good. It appeared that after multiple times at bat, and many attempts at love, I had officially struck out. On top of it, I was about to leave my 40s and enter midlife, a milestone that was ceremoniously marked when I received my first AARP card in the mail.

The holidays and New Year’s were a blur. I remember going to bed just before midnight on New Year’s eve thinking to myself: “Please let me wake up and have it be six months from now so the pain will be gone and my heart will be healed.” The next day I woke up, and the next, and the next day after that. Slowly, life resumed. I hit reset, I recalibrated, and I got reacquainted with my self-worth, which I seemed to have lost along the way.

By mid-January, I made a decision that would be life-changing: I decided to let go and surrender to my singleness. I detached from the outcome, stopped fighting the power, and submitted to being single. As I mentioned in my very first blog post, it was the most liberating and empowering move I could’ve ever made.

I made another decision in mid-January: To celebrate. So what if I wasn’t married? Who cared if I was still single? Did it really matter that my life didn’t exactly go as planned? There were so many other things to be happy about, so much to be grateful for, so many other blessings to count. I thought why have a pity party when I can have a real party? So I threw myself a huge 50th birthday bash and called it the wedding I was never going to have.

When I stepped on to the stage to sing last February, with my friends and family cheering me on, I knew I had made the right choice:  to revel in the thrill of victory instead of dwelling in the agony of defeat.

IMG_4191

Look what I found and I wasn’t even looking.

The minute I stepped off the stage, I spotted Robby Scharf at the bar. I initially met Robby months earlier on Facebook when he contacted me out of concern for a mutual friend. It wasn’t a Facebook hook-up; he really was a good guy with good intentions. I thought he had a nice face, and had heard he was in a band (maybe he could sing karaoke?) So on a whim, I invited him to my party and he showed up! Except for our mutual Facebook friends, Robby and I were practically strangers. But there he was at my birthday, Mr. Right, standing right before my eyes, with a big smile and a warmth I felt the minute I hugged him hello.

I wasn’t looking, I wasn’t expecting it, and I had all but given up, but something magical happened that night at Boardwalk 11 Karaoke Bar. And now here I am, exactly one year later, engaged to be married and singing a much different tune.

Marriage And Midlife: A First For Us Both

IMG_4179

Robby and me at Rite Aid, our new favorite date place.

Getting married for the first time at this age is a little weird.

When most people our age are looking at colleges with their kids, we’re looking at wedding venues.

When most of our peers are preparing to be empty nesters, we’re preparing to co-habitat for the first time.

While most folks in their 50s are dealing with the trials and tribulations of having teenagers, we’re dealing with the hardships of aging parents and in-laws.

Friends like Sharon Hodor Greenthal, also in her 50s, writes a blog called Empty House, Full Mind www.emptyhousefullmind.com. She talks about getting older with someone she’s been married to for 26 years.  The good news is that Robby and I are getting to know each other AND get older at the same time.

Everyone’s life may look different, but we all have one thing in common: we’re all middle aged. And that’s weird too. When you’ve been single for as long as Robby and I, it’s easy to forget about age. You’re too busy working and living and dating and moving at warp speed to notice.

Then one day you stop, and it hits you.

Your hair is a little thinner, your middle is a little thicker; what was tight is a little looser; what was firm is a little softer. Your teenage hormones have lost their rage, and your college six-pack has become a keg. You hit fifty and your body morphs right before your eyes. Oh, and your eyes go too. I can’t see shit anymore. But maybe that’s a good thing – at least now I won’t be able to see all the new wrinkles forming on my face.

There are more aches and pains. You either have high cholesterol or low T. You may play as hard and run as fast, but you pay for it the next day. You learn to love Aleve, and ice packs become your new best friends.  Your memory isn’t what it used to be either.  I’d go into more detail on this, but I just forgot what I was going to say.

Getting married at this age is sometimes tough. Like, when I’m the dressing room at a bridal salon surrounded by girls half my age. They’re young, perky, and I’m as old as the hills. I look at them and think, you have your whole life ahead of you, and I’ve already lived half of mine. You’re probably going to get pregnant in a few months, and I’m five minutes away from menopause.

These young brides and I may be walking down the same aisle, but our route couldn’t be more different. They found the man of their dreams in their 20s, I found mine at 50. They partnered early, I bonded later. They have youthful exuberance, but I have confidence that can only come with age.

When it comes to finding love though, isn’t age just a number?

There’s something weird about getting married for the first time at midlife – weird, but wonderful. And Robby and I are embracing age– and each other– with the kind of open arms that can still hit the hell out of a tennis ball and lift me over a threshold. Yes, we may be a little creaky and kvetchy, but that’s okay because we’re in this together. We have a long life ahead of us, filled with romance, adventure, and visits to RiteAid to get our Lipitor prescription filled, and a scoop of ice cream too while we’re at it.

Some Accidental Advice From An Accidental Bride

2fc24b029a9d5e9df07aa15d8085f134On my long journey to the altar, I seem to have picked up some accidental wisdom along the way.

Call it unintended self-illumination or inadvertent enlightenment, the path to marriage has taught me a lot. Now, I realize that getting married isn’t the end-all, be-all pinnacle of success, but for me it’s a bit of an accidental achievement, since I tried for so long, and always seemed to come up short.

While on this marriage quest, I learned a thing or two about love and relationships, and what I did to fuck it all up.

I made mistakes and bad choices. I trusted and got burned. I didn’t know my worth, and I didn’t always honor my highest good. In other words, I got my ass kicked.

But I did get some good insights out of it!

With 50 years of single life under my belt, I feel uniquely qualified to share those insights with you. Some of them might sound familiar, some might feel old, but no matter how you spin it, they work.

1. Have Aspirations, Not Expectations

Nothing will set you up for disappointment faster than having expectations, not meeting them, or having others not meet them. You can aspire to achieving things, you can hope for the best, but make sure you keep your expectations in check.

2. Set Clear Boundaries

Setting boundaries with people is the ultimate act of self-respect and self-preservation. By designating personal limits and healthy parameters with others, you’ll not only save yourself a lot of time and energy, you’ll save your sanity and protect your soul.

3. Heal Your Wounds

Fix what’s damaged and heal what’s broken. Go deep. Do the work. Read, meditate, get therapy. Don’t be afraid to face the hard truths about yourself. It will take you places in yourself and give you incredible clarity.

4. Don’t Pick The Scab

Once your wound has formed a scab, don’t pick at it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a broken heart, a bruised ego, or a wounded psyche – let it heal. Picking the scab undermines your progress, prolongs the pain, and impedes your ability to move forward.

5. Stay On The Path Of Right Action

Staying on the path of right action means making good choices, using your good judgment and being smart. Don’t do things you know are ill-advised and potentially damaging to your self-worth. Everyone makes mistakes, just make sure you get right back on track if you fall off.

6. Have An Attitude Of Gratitude

You’ve heard this a million times, but it’s true: being grateful will take the edge off any resentment, regret, and bitterness you may be harboring. Be thankful for every little thing you have, and any little kindness you get in the world.

7. Breathe Deep And Let Go Of Things

Like I said in my very first blog post, when you let go, when you release and surrender, magical things can happen. So stop worrying, waiting, and wondering– you might actually get what you want. Breathe deep and let life happen.

I’m not sure if I chose this path, or this path chose me, but here I am, about to get married and I couldn’t be happier or more relieved (I’m not going to lie– it took a lot of work to get here). Yes, I have a magnificent fiancé and sparkly engagement ring to show for my efforts, but I also have wisdom – which is just as precious.