Fully Vetted Mates

We all think we are good judges of character. But as the reporters of Dateline would prove, it’s just not necessarily so.

The person in which you invest your time, affection, loyalty and devotion should be a person you fully trust. Their family – you would fully trust. The people with whom they keep company – you would fully trust.

I learned of a young man who is about to get married to a woman who, from all observations, should have given him enough red flags to never propose. Walking into an already established family when never having one is hard. but then top that off with a mountain of debt, and a family history of murder/suicide…

Walk away, brother, walk away. You do not want to be the highlight of next season’s Keith Morrison narrated, edge-of-your seat episode.

You’ve spoken that you have not found “the one” and there is a hint of bitterness laced in that statement. That you may never, because of your height. Though I am here to say that you will find the one at some point in your life, and now is far too soon.

You are too young to get married. You have yet to live. I mean really live. So I want you to really take an inventory of what you would be able to live with and what is definitely a hard pass. What would motivate you to walk away and never look back.

I’ll give some topics for consideration

Will you want to live the rest of your life with someone who

  • Is disliked by everyone you know? (They cannot get along with anyone you care about)
  • Is a hoarder
  • Is involved in or has/had committed a crime for which they served jail time.
  • Has killed a person or believes killing a person is a justifiable way to solve a conflict.
  • Talks down to you as if you are incompetent, childish or unable to think for yourself?
  • Berates your way of doing things
  • Controls with whom you speak/associate to due to insecurity and jealousy
  • Cannot take care of themselves due to a psychological or addictive reason.
  • Is constantly in debt or behind in their bills.
  • Has little to no respect for your belongings
  • Is unkind to animals or children.
  • Is racist.
  • Is fanatical about a belief you cannot accept.
  • Maintains the idea of marriage equates to a 1940’s role of man == provider and partner == dependent.
  • Uses physical aggression in an argument.
  • Cannot or refuses to share in the household duties
  • Has a history of cheating on their partner

Of course, there are more picayune reasons to walk away from a relationship; but really, the above should always be deal breakers. Do not let someone manipulate you with some challenge to your resolve/ethics or self esteem.

If someone plays into a weakness of yours to manipulate you to a proposal – like a fear of being alone and delivers an ultimatum such as,

“I expect a proposal by <insert timeframe here> or we are through!”

Your response had better be, “Thank you for the notice, we are indeed through.”

Additionally, just because your friends are marrying all around you and starting their families, this is not a competition or a race. Your life’s path is yours and there is no falling behind or getting ahead. Do not let others’ expectations dictate when you should find a life partner. You may end up settling with someone who is simply not the person you are best suited experience the rest of your life.

Be choosy. You deserve the best.

Power Trips

I know that you haven’t had a ton of experience dating but alas, I worry. I worry for the hurt you might experience at the hands of a master manipulator, a predatory user, or simply a narcissistic psychopath. A wolf in sheep’s clothing as it were.

Some folks are kind and sweet upon first meeting, or just mysterious enough that their true nature is withheld. You may not see it until much much later, or maybe after a significant challenge to your relationship that reveals it. I can describe all the ways a person could turn out to be the worst possible excuse for a human being but this post is about the aftermath, the recovery in the event you sever the bond.

For your health and heart, when you discover you are in such a relationship and the hurt is beyond what any reasonable person should bear. You must break it off. Don’t look ahead and try to preserve it just because you fear being alone or you think it is mendable.

Once a person hurts you, it is what you do in that moment that defines the relationship. If you stay with them after being hurt repeatedly; you are effectively giving them the power to do it over and over again. The strength of knowing when to leave is the challenge.

You’re going to second guess your choice, because the hurt may cut so deep it feels never-ending. Reconciling with that person may seem like the panacea for this pain, but then you are saying to them “What you did to me that caused our breakup is allowable from this point forward.”

I recommend you walk away and do not look back. It is tempting to look back – to see if they are hurting as much as you are. That’s a torture you should never inflict upon yourself. It will spark outrage, more pain and hurt, immense sadness for your own situation and incite an obsession over them and why they are faring well and you are not.

No matter how they play it, if they reach out you do not respond. If you open a door a crack they’re going to push on through to deliver more of a hurt than before. They may have others reach out to you to taunt and bait you – picking at an open wound that is not theirs to pick. Seriously there are some sick people out there.

Sadists.

If you show weakness or sadness and it gets back to them, they use it. You keep your healing private. I know you’re not a social media user but you may have mutual friends and it will matter with whom you confide. Yes, confide in close friends of your feelings but only the ones you truly trust and will not allow your status to get back to your ex.

Some things I need you to do on a breakup, which helps the healing process:

  1. Block them from contacting you – block their number, their ability to email you.
  2. Remove all reminders of them (pictures, notes, gifts) for the time being. This may mean a donation to a charity shop or just putting things in storage but get it out and away from reminding you.
  3. Do not listen to the music that reminds you of a moment with them (either positive or negative)
  4. Do not watch programmes or films which may immediately remind you of moments with them. (this is not forever, just until the association is distant enough)
  5. If there are still belongings of theirs in your possession place them in a box and drop it with a mutual friend or if the break is exceptionally bad, leave it out on the street and tell the mutual friend to inform the ex to get it before others do.
  6. Do not – I repeat – Do Not ever expect closure. Do not try to maneuver for an apology. Just be okay with never getting closure or an acknowledgement of their transgression and any sort of remorse on their part. It will not happen.
  7. Get involved in new activities & change your routines to get you away from common haunts which could allow you to run into them.
  8. Find ways toward understanding what you need and what makes you happy. Invest in yourself. Go on a trip, take a class to learn a new skill, pamper yourself. Be with supportive and loving people.
  9. Give your time to a charitable cause to make life better for others. See my prior post to you on healing your heart.

And lastly, build your confidence up to find your inner peace before embarking on a new relationship. Rebound relationships do not really help. Give yourself at least a year to really recover from a bad break before getting back out there.

Rehab Time Rebuttal

Trent Shelton is promoting a video where the tag line is “It’s rehab time!” Much of the message is quite true – it seems to miss the mark by a margin. I will leave the link here for you to view:

I understand what he’s trying to convey. However, he still leads the viewer down the path of expectation in which others are there to support you throughout your life and if they are not they should be cut from your life. This is categorically not a realistic expectation.

It would be lovely to think that everyone was here to help you achieve or self actualize, but to tell you the hard truth. It is all on you to get there. People cheering, assisting or promoting you along the way is just extra.

My grandmother told me from early on, “There is no one truly looking out for you but you. Never forget that. Not your siblings, your teachers, your doctors, your government, your parents, your partner or your friends. Only you.”

I realized once I accepted that level of expectation – that I am the captain of my own ship, I guide the sails, I maintain it, I decide the course I am on and when to correct it; no perceived let down from others mattered.

If you go into life knowing that everyone is ultimately out for themselves and you are not their primary concern, then you can not be phased should they turn away or leave your life.

Read “The Giving Tree” again. It is an important message. You give but you do not expect a return. This is parenting. However, eventually, I will let you down – when I die. I cannot be there to give until you die. That’s just not how life works. Does it mean you should cut me out of your life? No.

You shouldn’t cut anyone out of your life just for not “serving you”. That’s a horribly self-centered point of view. I have a ton of friends I enjoy in my life but I would never expect them to constantly lift me up in times of crisis or need. That is on me – not them. They have priorities outside mine. I need to respect that. There could be things going on in their lives which need their full attention and I am not a part of that.

Making a Mean Sauce

We’ve made this together before and I shared how I learned it as well. But for the sake of your occasional lost memories, I’ll go though it again.

My grandfather (my mother’s father) cooked. He taught me how to grill, bake pies, make a decent roast. And he taught me this basic barbecue sauce recipe.

Remember this is a recipe of unmeasured amounts, though I always mix mine up in a 2 cup Pyrex measure. And like the dressing, make only what you need.

This recipe is flexible too. The base consists of a tomato sauce (catsup, tomato purée, unseasoned tomato sauce, or during desperate times – a can on condensed tomato soup), a sweetener (honey, OR brown sugar OR molasses), a mustard (yellow, Dijon, brown), liquid smoke, seasonings (Worcestershire sauce, OR BBQ rub seasoning) AND liquid smoke

The one we made together was pretty basic but my go-to for ribs or chicken on the grill.

You need:

1 c tomato base (catsup in this case)

1 generous handful of brown sugar

2 TBSP of BBQ rub seasoning

1 tsp of yellow mustard

And a few drops of liquid smoke (to taste)

Mix until all is incorporated and smooth. Taste it and be sure it is how you remember it.

If it’s too sweet add more tomato base and a little more mustard.

Not smokey enough? A few more drops of liquid smoke.

Not sweet enough? A little more sweetener.

Too Smokey? Make more of the base without the smoke and add to your too smokey concoction.

This is another where you use whatever is on hand that fits the basic recipe premise.

This should cover both sides of a rack of ribs or all areas of a whole chicken.

Never reuse the sauce days later if you have leftovers. Cross contamination of meat juices from partially cooked meats is a recipe for an all night date with the toilet.

Seriously only make what you need. If you had to double it due to a “too smokey” situation, split what you have into two containers so that you don’t have to pitch any leftovers.

You should be able to keep the overage for about a week tightly covered in the fridge.

**A note about molasses: a little goes a long way and it has a powerful dimension of flavor. If you use it start conservatively until you have the taste where you like it.

Dressing for Success

I will not leave you without you knowing how to make the dressings and sauces I made for you. My grandfather’s cousin made a killer dressing for salads which I never had the recipe. She made it from scratch every time and would pour it over iceberg lettuce and it was hella good!

Another was made by my mother’s mother and it was simply a hot dressing made from what I believed to be hot bacon grease and scratchings with vinegar and she would dress bitter greens with it. I never knew how to make them, lord knows I tried some experiments; but they never quite met my memory of them.

If anything I can leave you in terms of knowledge about cooking, is that you do not have to buy bottled dressings or sauces. You’re better off making it on the fly. Use only what you need in the moment.

If you need a salad dressing you need to know I make one dressing but then doctor it to be whatever I need it to be.

The base consists of an oil, a sweetener, a seasoning, and some acidic agent. I start with 1/4 c of olive oil. Then the sweetener (to taste) is either a balsamic vinegar reduction (light or dark), OR honey. Any acidic agent could be a citrus juice, pomegranate, cranberry (unsweetened), dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar. Seasonings, could be any herbs, spices or onion or garlic – just to give it punch.

It is a flexible dressing.
Honey mustard dressing you say?
1/4 c Olive oil
2 TBSP Dijon Mustard (either creamy or the seedy kind)
A generous squeeze of honey (but be careful- start small and add to taste)

Use a fork to whisk it together until smooth.

That citrus salad dressing?
1/4 c Olive Oil
The juice of one lemon (lime) (orange)
A generous squeeze of light balsamic vinegar reduction glaze (you can make this from scratch too)
2-3 crushed garlic cloves
Fresh ground pepper

Use a fork to whisk it together until all is incorporated. It is best if you let it rest for a while to let the garlic infuse with the dressing.

An Italian dressing?
1/4 c Olive Oil
a splash of the apple cider vinegar
2 crushed garlic cloves
Fresh minced oregano and basil

Whisk until smooth.

Get creative with it. I did a lime and crushed mint vinaigrette for a fruit salad using this method.

All Apologies

My dear, your apologies are well written and seem quite thoughtful with the right amount of remorse.

I often wonder when you will ask why I never acknowledge them.

My reasons are two fold

  1. Apologies are acts of contrition in the loosest sense. They serve more to the apologist than the one receiving the apology.
  2. Words are meaningless after, say, the second apology given for the same transgression. I’ll accept an apology when I know that you mean it. Showing me you mean it is never doing the thing that prompted the apology in the first place. One is not truly sorry if they keep doing that thing that hurts or offends.

Words are powerful, yes. They can inspire, demean, inhibit, motivate, thrill, or even kill a person’s spirit.

Actions…now there’s the proof to the pudding! Actions show intent. As that adage goes “Actions speak louder than words.”

Resolving to do the thing your words promise in an apology and really following through; is in fact, the apology.

The Importance of Dating

“Dating” means you’re going on dates. You are actively getting out there and meeting people and spending time with them. “Dating someone” means you’re seeing somebody specific, with purpose and on a regular basis. … You’re spending time with a person (or persons) in hopes of finding a committed relationship.” – Source Zoosk
 
 
So yeah, when you seemed perplexed as to why a married couple would carry on the ritual of dating based your belief that only the latter part of this definition was applicable, I must respond.
 
 
Actively getting out with your spouse is a concerted effort in keeping the relationship fresh and alive. It is an effort to appreciate the company of your partner in a mutually enjoyable activity/outing.
 
 
One could argue “Why bother? You are already committed to one another for life and you live together. You are with each other all the time.”
 
 
I can counter argue, “Do you ever take someone for granted because you are around them all the time? Do they become furniture to you or just a fixture/constant that you forget what fun you have with them when doing things together?”
 
 
A lot of marriages fail due to the couple not taking time out to refresh or revisit the reasons why they committed in the first place.  The relationship gets lost in the daily challenges of life, family, and job commitments. One partner may feel invisible to the other or unappreciated and then a distance forms between them.
 
 
To close that gap, we have to consciously choose to identify that a gap is forming and want to reconnect. What better way to reconnect than to resume dating? Focus on each other in the moment over some romantic lighting, good food, maybe a great show or a walk in the park after a coffee date?
 
 
Yes, initially dating is the act of meeting new people and exploring whether or not they are someone with whom you would like to enter into a committed relationship. That is where the latter part of the above cited definition holds true.  However, one should not become complacent once that commitment is established.
 
 
From my own experience, becoming complacent does cause a distancing, resentment, uncertainty, and ultimately an ambivalence within the relationship. If someone could have tapped me on the shoulder to tell me how important it is to really enjoy the company of my partner and celebrate it every day, when life got in the way; I believe we would have had a jollier time.
 
 
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing more satisfying than a quiet evening in the presence of your partner just quietly being with them where no words, affirmations or physicality are really required to feel total and utter contentment. Those moments are important as well.
 
 
I just want to express the importance of the fact that relationships require attention – just as a garden would require tending to be fruitful.