By Joan E Childs, LCSW
Staying sane and single is like the mother of all juggling acts! Having been single since 1997 and having gone through several boyfriends, two long term live-in relationships and a few pathetic romance stories–having been married and divorced four times– having raised 5 kids and having been a grandma 6 times, and last, but not least, having been a psychotherapist since 1978 and just turning 79 years old, humbly qualifies me to share my useful dating disasters with all those frustrated females (and men) who have tried everything from single gourmet clubs to assorted dating services to Club Med and alike single destination arenas, single meet ups, single cruises, and an occasional, unsuccessful blind date. (Whew!) Yeah, I’ve done it all and feel that dating in the 21st century is not for sissies!
STAYING SANE AND SINGLE will provide readers with similar stories to their own, using primarily my own personal experiences as well as a few from other women who have been so gracious and generous to share theirs in hopes of saving a lot of wear and tear not only on our minds and hearts, but on our colons as well. The state of being single and managing our jobs, our children, leisure time, beauty, rest, exercise and sleep, requires mastering a style that would make a president’s life look like a piece of cake. He at least has a staff, perhaps shaky, but always available to him. However, there is a way it can work. It takes a whole lot of looking inside ourselves, examining our goals, wants, needs, dreams, wishes and hopes as well as learning how to give up something to get something. REMEMBER: You can’t have it all!
Being single can be risky business both physically and emotionally. It’s like learning to live in a mind field and hoping you don’t step on one. As a single psychotherapist and mother of five grown children struggling with the trials and tribulations of single life like so many of my friends, colleagues and patients, I began to understand how to manage single life without losing my mind and dignity. (The two things hardest to hold onto.) Two years in the playing fields and six men later, I’m still in awe of it all. Is it just me, or does everyone run into the same bullshit? After creating and using my own strategy and model to staying sane and single, (at the same time), then teaching it to my clients, I now offer it in this blog. It may not provide the luck and success you are hoping for–that comes from a higher source. And I don’t think anyone has the key to success, because there are just some variables that you cannot control. But I can offer you a systematic clear and concise way to avoid the mine traps and guide you to better choices and healthier decisions.
You’ve read nearly every book on codependency and some more than once. You understood and related so well to Men are From Mars, Woman Are From Venus. You attended more than a dozen workshops and seminars on Relationships and Intimacy. You’ve spent a fortune on EST training, Forum, Life Spring and Insight. You’ve spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in therapy, ashrums, and lectures. You’ve listened to hundreds of hours of tapes on Bradshaw, Deepok Chopra, Harville Hendrix, John Gottman, Hedy Schleifer and Barbara Angelis. You’ve joined a 12-step coda group, studied the Course In Miracles and even done the Tony Robbins firewalk! And… years in therapy! What does it take to get right? Is it as simple as dumb luck, or is there some key to success?
Did you ever wonder why you keep picking the same kind of person, even though you swore they were not like anyone you ever knew in your past? Do you notice that each pick seems to get worse than the one before? And you ask yourself, “How the hell did this happen again? How did I let myself stay in a doomed and dysfunctional relationship, when the writing was on the wall? Am I off the wall? How many “friggen” times do I have to get kicked in the ass before I get it right?”
I will use my own experiences and sampling of every relationship I encountered as an illustration of the do’s and don’ts.
“The rules of the game” are real life experiences, with real relationships, with real life consequences and real life learning lessons. There are universal laws and experiences that everyone can relate to. So whether you’re male or female is not relevant. It’s the structure, not the content that is important. Structure is equivalent to a Cuisinart. Content is equivalent to a carrot, potato, or any other food item you may want to pulverize or blend. The Cuisinart doesn’t know the difference. It just pulverizes or blends whatever you put in it. So whether you are single, male and in your 20’s, or a divorced mother with children in your 30’s, or a widowed grandparent of 75, is not important. What is important, is that you want to learn about staying single and sane. If you do, then read this blog!
Watch the video that follows this blog on Youtube.
*In her book, The Science of Single: One Woman’s Grand Experiment in Modern Dating, Creating Chemistry, and Finding Love, Rachel Machacek discusses similar issues on dating in the 21st century.