Our anonymous columnists, Andrew Singleman and Ellen Mazelman, are reading Dr. Janet Page’s “Get Married This Year” and following the steps therein on their dating journey. At the sixth-month mark, one columnist takes a serious step, while the other learns to not take it all so seriously!
Rafting the Relationship River
BY ANDREW SINGLEMAN / AJT //
There comes a point in time during a relationship when just going out on a date isn’t going to cut it.
By that time, you’ve got the basics covered – he/she is attractive, I like his/her sense of humor, and we can carry on a conversation beyond “what’s your favorite color?”
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You want to get to know your partner better, though. This is going to require spending some real time together.
By the time this column is published and and the paper is delivered, Rachel and I will have gone away for our first weekend together. Early on, we discovered we both enjoy the mountains, being outdoors and camping, so I am taking her on a weekend “adult summer camp”-like experience called “Raft and Ride” with an outdoor adventure club I belong to. The trip is now just days away, and Rachel and I were even discussing it last night.
For me, the highlight of our discussion was when I uttered the phrase “trust me.” When I informed Rachel that the section of the Ocoee River that we will be true whitewater rafting – on contained Class III and Class IV rapids – she was surprised and less than enthusiastic. So I took her hand, looked her right in the eyes and said those two magic words:
Along with communication (which I’ll be getting to shortly), trust is probably the most basic and important part of a relationship. Without it, you’ve got nothing. Having been together six months now, I’d say the degree to which Rachel and I trust each other has increased pretty steadily with each passing month.
Well, now we’re really putting a chunk of it on the line. I love extreme sports and am a firm believer in individuals pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone. My personal motto is “Go big or go home.” So by the time you’ve read this, either Rachel and I have had a great weekend and her trust in me has grown even more or…well, we may have some work to do.
But to my second point: The other cornerstone of any relationship is communication – open and honest communication. By now, I expect you’ve discovered being open and honest is not something I have a problem with, and though she’s private and not a big fan of confrontation, I must give Rachel kudos for her honesty and ability to communicate as well.
Of course, while we get along great and these past six months have gone very smoothly, we recognize there are always areas that could be improved upon. To her credit, Rachel recently conveyed her concern to me about a specific issue that she would’ve liked addressed. She could have just as easily decided that “this isn’t working,” that “he doesn’t get it,” that “he won’t change.”
Instead, she simply said to me, “I wish this were a little different.” There was no blame, no judgment and no criticism. She framed it in a way I could hear: This issue was something she strongly felt needed to be addressed, and it was.
Every individual and every relationship is going to have its challenges. That’s not the issue. Yes, life is going to throw you some curves over time – what matters is how you react to them. The important thing is not that “stuff happened,” but that you deal with that stuff in a way that allows you both to resolve it and move forward.
A New Goal: Stress Less!
BY ELLEN MAZELMAN / AJT //
As I sat down with my glass of wine this Sunday night to write my monthly article, I had a panic attack when I couldn’t find a “Sex in the City” episode for my inspiration. It took some extensive digging, but I began to feel all was well with the world when I finally found my episode.
Then, I spent an hour writing my article…and somehow lost it. Now, I am starting over; I hope I can get my thoughts back. It sucks to be technologically challenged!
So my “Big Announcement” last month did not get one response – a “blow to my ego” would be an understatement. But I am a trooper; I’ll just redirect and take a new approach.
This dating-in-your-50s thing is exhausting and overwhelming to say the least. Working a full-time job, getting “stuff” done and going out nightly to find these single men sometimes seems like just too much. Do you see a recurring pattern here?
Anyway, you heard it here first: My online dating info is now up and going (although keeping up with this as well is difficult, too). What’s more, hurting people by telling them I am not interested or coming up with the witty response to those I am interested is also both challenging and time-consuming.
And guess what? As soon as I am finished with this article, that is where I’ll focus my attention, so as to finish editing, perfecting and responding.
It’s interesting to me that my friends in New York tell me that they know where to go each night of the week to be where the singles in our age group are hanging out. Wednesday night is one place, Thursday night is the other and Friday night yet another, etc, etc…
Either I don’t know where this is happening in Atlanta, or it doesn’t exist – once again, send me a line by emailing my editor, firstname.lastname@example.org, and fill me in. And once again, John, don’t kill me.
To digress for a moment, I have spent the last month going out a lot, though not necessarily out of my comfort zone – just to singles events and various other gatherings. Of course, going out and stepping out are very much two different things. Recently, I’ve been going out because my friends drag me, but making eye contact and truly engaging others has not been my main motive.
Realizing that, I took time out of my day this weekend and spent a while at a club where there seemed to be single men. I hung out, made eye contact and really tried, and I won’t say I was necessarily successful – but made connections more than I have in the past.
At least now I can say that I really am trying.
I also met with Dr Page this week, and her best advice to me is that I am totally over-thinking and stressing too much about all of this. I should follow my gut, she tells me. In other words, if someone writes me that I am not interested in – write it off, and do it quickly. It’s like ripping the band-aid off; don’t look back!
She also say to not spend too much time on my responses. You know the old saying: “KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid!” Don’t stress!
Hearing this made me sigh with relief; Dr. Page is totally on target. Just keep moving on! It does work, and it feels better all-around. Eventually, it will all come together.
Until next month…
Signed, Your Exhausted, Overwhelmed and Trying to De-Stress Fifty-something Carrie Bradshaw
And remember, if you know me, it’s between me and you.