Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Category: Dating

Tips for Surviving Life as a New Single: From Self-Care to Online Dating

(contributed post)

Life as a newly single person can be rather daunting in today’s society. Every day, lots of people find themselves coming out of relationships and having to navigate the world of singledom once more. It is natural for this to be nerve-wracking, especially if you have spent a long time in a relationship in the past.

However, people make changes to their lives every day, and you can make the right kind of changes right now. When you become single again, it’s the perfect time to think about doing some things (maybe you’ve been neglecting) that make you happy and feel peaceful. There are a lot of things that can change while you’re living a single life, especially if you were married and had children with your ex-spouse. Of course, it is important to deal with these changes, and not ignore them. Here are a few tips for navigating life solo once again.

Single Parenting Will Be a Challenge

There is no denying that being a single parent is a challenge, and you will want to consider ways of easing the burden a little. Having to look after your kids alone can be very tiring and stressful, but routine and organization, along with communication and fun, can help with these daily stressors. Of course, you also realize how hard a divorce will be for your children as well, so reach out to other divorced parents you know for tips and/or even sharing in childcare. Spending time together as a family, just having fun or being silly, can also help your children feel safe and secure in your home.

Self-Care is Essential

So many newly single people don’t take the time to make sure they are looking after themselves effectively. You have to give some time to self-care, and to making sure your physical and mental well-being is a priority. If you were married and splitting up, using divorce mediation , instead of attorneys, can be helpful for your mental well-being, as it can ease the burden of a stressful process. Focus on yourself and how you can improve the way you are moving forward: eating healthy and regular meals, getting enough exercise (family walks?), and sleeping well will also help with self-care. 

Time to Tackle Your Finances

Now that you are single again, your financial priorities may have shifted, and it is time to think about how you can stay on top of your finances. There are plenty of techniques that will allow you to thrive as a single income household, and you can take some time to look at how to implement the ones that work for you and/or your family. Prioritizing your spending is also important, and look at trying to cut costs wherever you possibly can is also helpful.

Back in the Dating Game?

Getting back into the dating game might seem like something that’s on the bottom of your list of interests right now, but you will feel the urge sooner or later. There are plenty of ways you can get back on the dating saddle, and online dating is going to be one of the best ways you can do this. With a lot of different sites to choose from (see the link just above), you may find one that works for you, and you can start setting up some dates.

There is a lot to think about when you find yourself freshly single once again. Life will go in a different direction to what you might be used to, and it is important to be adaptable. You and your kids are going to be impacted by this, of course, but with planning, thinking smart, and being easy on yourself, you can make this transition work for your family. It’s not impossible! In fact, as Meryl Streep says, “Start by starting.” 

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Look at All These Bad Things That Can Happen If You Can’t Set Boundaries

I’ve been reading a book, Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I’m not sure if I agree with all of their religious viewpoints (just a warning, for those of you who are liberal-minded), but I find the book useful, nonetheless. What inspired this post was a section in the book that talked about people who have trouble setting boundaries (raises hand!). I thought I had blogged about it on here more than I have, but when I did a search for BOUNDARIES, this is the only post that came up.

As I mentioned in that post, my friends are often talking to me about setting boundaries. I don’t even think I was aware of my lack of boundary-setting until I was going through my divorce. It is so hard to see what is in front of us! I tend to be a people pleaser, which now I am working very hard on finding my voice and trying to vocalize when I don’t like something, without losing my temper or coming across unkind. None of this is easy to do, and it does not come naturally for me.

But back to the book, so when I read the following quote, I had a huge A-ha moment:

People who have trouble with boundaries may exhibit the following symptoms: blaming others, codependency, depression, difficulties with being alone, disorganization with lack of direction, extreme dependency, feelings of being let down, feelings of obligation, generalized anxiety, identity confusion, impulsiveness, inability to say no, isolation, masochism, overresponsibility and guilt, panic, passive-aggressive behavior, procrastination and inability to follow through, resentment, substance abuse and eating disorders, thought problems and obsessive-compulsive problems, underresponsibility, and victim mentality.

Wow, so that is quite a list, right? The authors do not mean that someone who has difficulty setting boundaries will have all these problems. I highlighted the ones in bold print that have known to plague me at one time or another in my life. But I wonder how many of us knew that having trouble setting boundaries could lead to so many problems. Most of us think of it as being an issue, of course, but more like: You let people walk all over you. You can never say no, and you do too much.

But it is much more serious than this! Many of the symptoms above can lead to death if they are not treated.

This quote has had me thinking for days. It’s why I feel called to blog about this.

  1. It is very important to teach our children how to set boundaries, how to respect others’ boundaries, and what to do when someone constantly pushes your boundaries or doesn’t respect them.
  2. I need to set boundaries and figure out what my consequences are for someone in my life who will not accept my boundaries.
  3. When I set a boundary, I need to be clear and firm, but loving and kind. It is possible to do both.
  4. It does not make me a bad person to set a boundary. People will still like me. They may even like me more.

If you are good at setting boundaries, congratulations! Please teach us in the comments how you learned to do it. If you have questions or want to discuss, so do I. Any tips or questions anyone has, please share.

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3 Books I Want to Tell You About Plus One More

Looking for a book to take on vacation this summer or to read on those nights when the kids are in bed and it’s still light out? How about one of these…

Breaking Up and Bouncing Back: Moving On To Create the Love Life You Deserve

What I love about this book is how comprehensive it is. It’s divided into three parts: dealing with the breakup, learning about yourself and practicing self-love (and figuring out what kind of healthy relationship you want), and getting back out into the dating world. This is not a book that you have to sit down and read through all at one time. It has exercises. It has real-world applications. It gives practical advice and things to try. I see this as a manual for your life after a breakup. And Samantha Burns has done her research. She has an extensive bibliography in the back of the book and other books you may want to check out, depending on where you are in your life. She does use some of her own experiences, but the whole book is not based on that. She has done the work to write a book like this!

I will admit that I was skeptic–how much can a book really help someone with dating? But here’s the thing–she isn’t really telling you what to do. First she is telling you about her experience (after a bad breakup) and how she found someone. Then she is explaining what YOU deserve and this is all based on your life, your choices, your goals, and your morals. She provides plenty of examples, and the message she makes loud and clear is: If you don’t feel like someone is treating you correctly, then REALLY examine why you are settling. She also asks you to look at any hand you might have had in past breakups and ask yourself why that happened. So if anything, when you finish this book, you will love and understand yourself more and know what type of partner you are looking for. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to really learn from past relationships and work on finding a new one that is healthy. BONUS: I was able to interview Samantha for WOW! Women On Writing, and so if you want a taste of her writing style and advice, then check that out hereLink to buy the book on Amazon.

Murder is a Dirty Business

This is a cozy mystery book with a fantastic new amateur sleuth, Cece Cavanaugh. Besides this book being extremely well-written, it is funny and unique. How can a mystery book be unique you ask? Well, Cece is no regular heroine. She is going through a divorce from a rich, country club husband, and she has to figure out how to support herself. So, she gets a job as a crime scene cleaner, and this is how she discovers a murder with the wrong person (someone she knows!) being accused, or at least she hopes the wrong person is being accused. That’s what she is trying to prove!

The author has stated that her husband is a retired police officer, and I didn’t notice anything in the book that seemed unbelievable. There’s also a bit of a love story developing–CeCe is in her late 40s with two daughters–one still at home with her–and so she is not really looking for love, but she can’t deny the attraction she feels for one certain man that pops into her life.  This is the first book in a planned series, titled, “GCrime Pays Mystery”.  If you are looking for a new series, you must check this out on Amazon.  The second book is Death, Diamonds, and Freezer Burn and is due in November! Here is an interview with the author.

Emergence (Voodoo Butterfly Series Book 2)

If you like New Orleans, voodoo stories, intrigue, strong female leads, romance, and a bit of magic, then you will like this book! So Emergence is actually book 2 in the Voodoo Butterfly series, so you may want to start with book one. Emergence just came out this summer and is available on Amazon. People who read book one (like me) have been anxiously waiting to find out what is going to happen to Sophie, Taj, and Poppy, and if Sophie is really going to embrace her powers and her role in the New Orleans voodoo scene after inheriting her grandma’s voodoo shop in book one and narrowly escaping death! Book two starts with things going well for her and the new man, Taj, in her life, except she hasn’t told him about her secret Voodoo life, and maybe he has a few secrets of his own!

In Emergence, there is a mystical monster lurking in New Orleans, sucking blood from children (not as gross as it sounds, LOL) and a fog that is hurting her best friend and co-worker at the shop, Poppy. Blackbirds are falling dead from the sky! What can Sophie do to solve all these problems while figuring out what it is that Taj is keeping from her? This is what you will find out in this well-written, page-turning sequel to book one. You can find book one at the link above and book two here.  To read an interview with the author, go here.

 

And finally, I’m currently reading The Lemonade Year!

Amazon description: 

Nina’s once-sweet life has unexpectedly turned sour. Her marriage is over, her job is in jeopardy, and her teenage daughter is slipping away from her. Then her father dies and issues with Nina’s mother come to a head; her estranged brother, Ray, comes home; and her sister, Lola, is tempted to blow a big family secret out of the water. They say the truth will set you free, but first it will make a huge mess of things.

All Nina’s got left is her final photography assignment shooting images for the book 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. Well, that and the attention of a younger man, but Oliver’s on-again-off-again romantic interest in her ebbs and flows so much she is seasick. And then Jack, her ex-husband, shows up, wanting to get back together.

As Nina struggles to find a way through her complicated relationships and to uncover her true path, she discovers just how valuable a second chance at life and happiness can be.

 

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Learning To Listen To My Gut

“Always trust your gut. It knows what your head hasn’t figured out yet.” ~Anonymous

Geez, if only I could easily follow this advice…but I’m in the process of learning it–maybe I’m at the very beginning of the lesson. I’m an infant at listening to my gut. My friends can tell you this. I overthink. I rationalize. I decide to give someone/something one more chance–despite what my gut says. Because…how could my gut be right? But I think 10 times out of 10, if I go back and look at a situation, I will remember a moment when I should have known that something was off. Has this happened to you? Have you had the old HINDSIGHT is 20/20 thing in your life? Listening to your gut doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to say good-bye to someone or that you have to quit doing something, but it does mean that you have to address whatever gives you that uneasy feeling in  your gut. This is the key!

This is so true with dating! Even if you’re married now, at one point, you were dating. How many times did you go out with someone way longer than you should have when your gut was telling you that something wasn’t right? This doesn’t mean that there’s something terribly wrong with the person–he or she might be lovely or fine for someone else. But this experience does mean that this person wasn’t right for you or for your current situation, and your gut was warning you.

Recently, I had a situation where someone asked me out, but I couldn’t go that evening. At first, everything seemed fine. But then, a text message came from him that was not super nice–but you know text messages, they are infamous for sending the wrong signals because you can’t tell tone. A couple more messages were exchanged, and I still didn’t feel right about him; but by the end of the night, I had convinced myself that I was overreacting. Maybe I misread what he meant. Maybe I don’t know what that particular emoji actually meant. Maybe I was overthinking.

So, I turned to my trusty girlfriends, and as you know, the people I surround myself with are extremely important to me. I explained the situation to them, sent a screenshot of the few texts, and asked: What do you think?

Immediately, they came back with–that wasn’t very nice, and trust your gut. Move on. So I did. But why did I need that confirmation from others? Why didn’t I just trust my gut to begin with?

That is the big question, and one I am currently working on exploring. I wonder how many of us are good at this. How many of us go with our gut immediately and don’t stop and overthink? And I wonder how many of the people who are able to trust their gut right away have lives that are much less stressful and anxiety-ridden?

There are all kinds of opinions about this–some people think trusting your gut too much is irresponsible, while others swear by it. Some scientists have studied what happens to the body when people are faced with a choice and “go with their gut.”

But here’s what I am starting to realize–when I’m forcing myself to “get over” something someone has done or said, and this person has not truly apologized or shown any better behavior or concern, then I need to listen to my gut. Life is too short to spend it with people who make you feel uncomfortable and/or don’t respect you. 🙂 So if you see me, ask me…how is it going with listening to your gut?

How about you? Do you listen to your gut? When has it worked for you?

 

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3 Communication Tips For Online Dating

I hear complaints about communication failures from friends, see them on Facebook and online dating profiles, read about them in articles, and have made the same kind of complaints myself. What is going on with communication? In a world where communication is currently so easy and can happen quickly and efficiently, why do we have such a hard time connecting with each other and using basic conversation skills? Has it always been this way or is it getting worse?

Well, I’m not Brene Brown, so I’m not here to tell you that I did a lot of research on communication, but I am focusing today on communication as it relates to online dating apps, and “the research” is from my own experiences, my friends’ experiences, and other online dating participants’ (both male and female) comments.  Here are three observations that could possibly help when you are looking for that love connection.

1. For the love of God, please don’t only talk about yourself: This is such a common complaint. I hear it from a lot of females that men don’t ask them any questions. But I’ve also heard men say the same thing: “She must not be interested in getting to know me because she doesn’t ask me anything.” And this doesn’t mean asking: How are you? Or How was your day? (That’s not bad! But reach a little deeper.) People, both men and women, want to be asked basic questions, like: what is your job? What do you like to do in your free time? Do you like to read? If so, what do you read? I mean, we are not talking rocket science here. But if you find that your online dating conversations are falling flat, and you find yourself ALWAYS chatting about yourself, try asking a question now and again. You can also add: And you? to the end of many of your answers, and those two words at least show that you want to know something about the other person.

2. Take 15 minutes and write something in your profile: So many profiles have hardly anything written in them, and so many have WAY too much. Yes, photos are a huge deal because whether you think it’s fair or not, attraction plays a part in online dating. But information in your profile can persuade someone to take a chance or at least start a conversation with you! And if you have some information written there, if you are communicating about your likes and dislikes, you are giving the interested person some material to ask you questions about (see number 1).

3. Don’t make all kinds of assumptions or be rude:  It is easy to be rude online because you don’t really know the person you are talking to. But I’ve seen this advice several places, and again it’s not rocket science: If you wouldn’t say the comment in person to someone, then don’t say it online. (This is true for Facebook and Twitter, too.) So, if someone isn’t interested in you or doesn’t answer you immediately, it’s not necessary to say something nasty–it doesn’t make this guy a jerk or this woman a cold-hearted bitch. It makes him or her–Not For You. That’s it. Don’t assume just because it looks like someone is online, he or she is actually online and ignoring you.  Don’t assume you know someone after exchanging a few messages with them online. Assumptions may be one of the worst things about dating, especially online dating. Recently, I had someone say to me: you are not trusting and you are broken. Ummmm, no. But I didn’t answer rudely. I said: Actually I’m not. I’m not sure what I said to give you that impression. Best of luck to you!

It is true, whoever said it, “Communication is a two-way street.” It’s also true that communication is not easy, and we are not all experts at it. And that’s okay. But I think the Golden Rule can REALLY apply here (and I need to remember this, too): Treat others how you would like to be treated. Anyone got some online communication tips–dating or otherwise? I’m sure we would all love to hear them!

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Where Should You Go On Your Honeymoon? 3 Ways to Pick a Place

This week, it worked out on my blog to have some contributed posts and to host an author’s post (her first marriage was at 62!) that all have to do with weddings. I like this article below because instead of suggesting specific places to take a honeymoon or special romantic trip, it gives you three general categories to think about when deciding where to go…

Picking your honeymoon spot is important and special. It celebrates the two of you starting your life together, and it will be one of the special memories of your marriage. Weddings are wonderful, but sometimes the alone time you spend exploring a location with your new partner, or your partner with which you have reaffirmed your vows, is very important.

Where should you go on your honeymoon? If you’re struggling for ideas, the massive realm of possibility can overwhelm you. It’s not like with marriage on the horizon you have little to plan for anyway. For this reason, thinking about your honeymoon in the following places might be the wisest areas to begin.

Somewhere Emotionally Wholesome

Your relationship with someone is often part of a wider narrative, and it all spawned from the day you met. If you met somewhere interesting, why not schedule your honeymoon there? For example, if you met on vacation in Thailand, or you were both working conservation in the Australian outback, why not find the original place of your meeting and schedule your honeymoon around there? You might be able to recreate and chart the path of your initial falling in love, which could be a lovely time if you last visited these areas years ago. It will show how much interpersonal progress you have made since then, and give you a beautiful way to cap off your story of coming together before you begin a new story with your marriage.

Somewhere With a Spectacle

Marriage is something to be celebrated. For that reason, why not go big during your honeymoon experience? Heading somewhere with a spectacle, such as staying at the Chicago Marriott Schaumburg and getting tickets to famous musicals in the city, or what about heading to the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida and geeking out with childish charm. Spectacle means different things to different people, and the draw of a place might depend on your tastes and what works for you.

If you both find a common interest, such as light gambling for example, heading to Las Vegas for a weekend full of hilarity, silliness and late night bar hopping could work for you. Plus, there are many spectacles to take in on The Vegas Strip. Every couple is different, but the idea of an adventure is often something that sounds wonderful for most people, and can push you outside of your comfort zone a little when deciding on a vacation to take.

Somewhere With Good Luck

If you’re the superstitious kind, it might be worthwhile heading somewhere bound to give you a blessing. It could be retracing your steps regarding the moment you asked him or her to marry you and basing the vacation around this, heading to your local religious area of significance, or maybe even heading on a goodwill tour through volunteering for the global good and spending your time together for a cause you both find worthwhile and absolutely engaging to be a part of.

We’re sure that with the right perspective, and with this guide to help you make that decision, your perfect vacation destination is right around the corner.

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What You Deserve in a Significant Other

I should start this post with a couple disclaimers: 1. I’m not talking about any individual specifically, except myself.  2. I realize TV and movies are not real (just in case you think: oh no, this time, she’s really lost it).

When I first began this blog, I mentioned I would post about dating. I had a funny story about a “zero” date I went on, and that’s about all I’ve posted.  I haven’t written much about dating since.  It’s so personal, isn’t it? And you never know who’s going to be reading this blog!

But I had an epiphany, and so I must share it. If it helps one person besides myself, then any flack I get for this post about Gilmore Girls will be well worth it.

I am on a Gilmore Girls binge, thanks to the world of Netflix. One night, while putting a desk together from IKEA, I watched several episodes from season 3. In this season, Rory’s best friend, Lane Kim, who is Korean, wants this guy she likes, Dave, who is NOT Korean, to take her to the prom. Her mother does not approve, only because Dave is not Korean, and Mrs. Kim is very strict and religious. So, Dave dresses up in a suit and comes to see Mrs. Kim:

 

So my epiphany: don’t settle for someone who would not “read the Bible for you in one night.” Do I want someone to read the Bible? No. But I want someone who would go to the effort of everything Dave does in that wonderfully written scene. And I will point out, everyone–male and female–deserves this effort.

Everyone deserves someone who would dress up in a suit and make a formal presentation to a strict mother.

Everyone also deserves to find someone they would do this for–because it works both ways. Do you currently have someone in your life you would go that extra mile for? I know this kind of effort isn’t for everyone. People have relationships for many different reasons–something to do, sex, fun, compatibility. But if you want someone who loves and cherishes you, and you want to love and cherish someone, then that’s what you should look for, and that’s what you deserve.

I’m not giving up until I find it.

 

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Setting Boundaries: Dating

So I’ve started dating again, and my friends have been on me about setting boundaries. You should know this about me: I am terrible about enforcing the boundaries I set, and I constantly question the boundaries I do manage to set. So if you landed on this post to see how to set and enforce boundaries, check back in a year. This post is going to introduce you to the problem, and maybe we can learn together.

Before I go on about boundaries, I have to share the funniest thing that has happened to me while dating so far. I do mostly online dating. I don’t meet a lot of single, available, tall men from working out of my basement and being the mother of a 6-year-old. SO…I’ve been on the apps you hear about. They are not as bad as you hear. But one day, I had a “zero” date–what you call the “meet and greet” when you’ve exchanged messages and maybe a phone call with someone, but you haven’t met yet.

Anyway, I had a zero date at Starbucks, and I thought it went pretty well. We had talked on the phone and exchanged a few text messages before this, so we had each other’s phone number. We talked for the hour I had at Starbucks, and he went on and on about how he hated online dating, how people needed to be upfront, and how no one could focus on one person anymore,  and then at the end, he said: “Well, we could do a dinner. I’d like to see you again.” So, I thought okay, why not? Then he didn’t text. So, a couple days later, before I decided to move on, I sent my typical text: “Hey NAME, how is your weekend going?”

And the response I got back this time. . .

“Pretty good so far.”

“Is this Gwen?”

That made me laugh out loud. So I decided, well this is over, but it didn’t stop. He kept texting as if I was Gwen. And he said:

“Sorry if I didn’t recognize the number.”

30 minutes passed

“Should I delete this number?”

Finally, I decided to let him know his mistake and told him it was Margo, and yes, he should probably delete the number, and I wished him well.

SO boundaries. . .my friends say that I try too hard to fit into other people’s lives instead of letting them know how to fit into mine. I agree. They also say that once I set a boundary that is reasonable and I am comfortable with, I have to STOP apologizing for it. Set it, have a good reason for it, and then move on with my life. If someone doesn’t respect a reasonable boundary, then they are the problem–not me.

What do you think? Are you good at setting boundaries?

 

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