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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Room mates and deal breakers

My room mates are jerks....

One overeats to the point of vomiting on a regular basis, (usually in my clothes or somewhere equally disgusting that I find at inopportune moments,) and is a ridiculous prima dona.
The other chews up my underwear if given half a chance (clean or dirty, doesnt matter),  begs for food constantly and frequently smells bad as he takes up half the bed.

I adore both of them.

My cat Tippy and my dog Mose are my room mates.
They are non-judgmental, always happy to see me and don't care where I move the furniture.
I am, unreservedly, in love with them both....
but especially the dog.
ESPECIALLY the dog..
He is guy.

So, when looking for someone to date, the dog is a factor for me.
Is that wrong?
I don't care.

I need to be able to see a potential boyfriend 2 ways for it to work for me:
1. Would he fit in with my friends AKA Team Swannygirl?
2. Would he be good with the Mose?
    By "good" I mean he GETS it...that I love the dog.
That the dog is a huge part of my life.
That I cant make plans without considering the dog.

When I get a note from a prospect online, one of the first things I check is his answer to this compatibility question on the dating website:
"Would you ever let a pet sleep on the bed?"
If his answer is a firm "NO", I dont really see any reason to continue, do you?

That, dear reader, is what's known as a "deal breaker" in the dating world.
I have other deal breakers that you have may have  read about here:
guns, wanting me to ride on your motorcycle, and smoking.
Being politically conservative isn't even a deal breaker,
it's a "why are you talking to me?"

Some may say I am too rigid.
But this is not my first time at this rodeo. I have been more "flex" in the past and after a certain point you just know the things you can compromise on and the things you cant. I'm at the point where value of a relationship has to be strong enough to cancel out the convenience and enjoyment of being alone.

That's right, I said it...ENJOYMENT of being alone. It's just,,easier sometimes.
Ok, a lot of times.

I've had this conversation with other women, and for the most part they all agree, especially the single ones that are 50 -ish. Of course women that are in long term relationships also recognize that compromise is the name of winning that game.
BIG compromise sometimes.
I know a couple who are polar opposites politically. They just never, NEVER talk about politics.
It seems to work for them.
 I know I could not do it.I have tried to figure out WHY you would even want to, but I came up with nothing...
One of them "evolved" during the course of the relationship? Maybe they were on the same page in the beginning?

We notice that some things are tolerable if you have been with the person for a longer period of time, and certain things "evolve". Maybe your guy didn't have that annoying habit 15 years ago but one morning you wake up and realize that the way he flosses his teeth while watching tv at the breakfast table is beyond annoying.
It would not necessarily be a deal breaker.
It snuck up on you.
You have put in some time with this person, you've both made an investment. You have both changed while "aging in place" together. You have BOTH acquired new habits and personal quirks. After spending years with a person you tend not to notice or just plain overlook. ( or so I'm told..sigh).
If you meet someone new with out of control ear hair ( do people not have mirrors??),  or terrible teeth, or the need to have Fox news on the telly 24/7, you may not feel like exploring that relationship further.
It's at this point that hanging out with the dog looks mighty fine.

Here's is one thing I hear ALL THE TIME from women my age-ish who are in long term relationships:
"If he died tomorrow, god forbid ( they always say "god forbid"...always) I would never live with a man again.
What's that all about?
To me it says these women are happy/content with their relationships but are recognizing that it's, well, perhaps not all it's cracked up to be. That life may possibly be simpler without a "room mate". Really successful couples I know seem to have in common the ability to live together but separate. They tend to each have their own lives and certainly don't expect the other person to meet all needs for them.
But it's more than that.
It's about SPACE.
We get to a certain age, especially if you have lived alone at ALL leading up to a relationship, and we don't want to compromise as much anymore. Once you've had a taste of that freedom, yes FREEDOM, to come and go as you please, to leave your shoes wherever you want, to eat cereal for dinner 3 nights in a row without comment from someone, or to have the dog on the bed,,.it's hard to go back.  We like having our things "just so".
Having another person in our hard won space feels overwhelming.

I had a conversation about this recently with a friend, who is beautiful and also single. She said that, although she's open to meeting someone, she feels she has her "force shield" up against men...not really sure if she wants anyone too near.
I know what she's talking about.
I am lonely ..a lot.
But I also kind of like being alone.... a lot.
When I consider letting someone in, I clench up.
I don't think this is unique to 50-something women either. I know at least one of my male friends who struggles with this. He loves his girlfriend but doesn't necessarily want to share space with her full time.
It may be an introvert/extrovert issue...I tend to refuel with time alone. I love my "team" but find it exhausting to spend too much time in the company of others.
Or it really may just be that as we age, and have the opportunity to nurture our personal space, it becomes harder to give it up for another.

Here's what I've come up with recently, by way of a partial explanation (and  thank the holy cheezits for therapy and friends).
I don't want to be with people that I cant be myself with.
Seems obvious, right?
But it's so hard!! And if you have been in one ( or more) relationships where you COULDNT be yourself, you tend to be a bit gun-shy.

Another idea that recently came to light for me:
Relationships don't necessarily have to look like other people's relationships,
 or even what other people's IDEA of what relationships should look like.
Why do I have to WANT to live with someone in order to want a relationship?
Why do 2 people who are in a relationship need to live together?

My amazing friend, lets call her Anne,  is living this out real time. She has a lovely man in her life, they love and appreciate each other and are committed to the relationship. Through a series of life events they found themselves at THE crossroads, you know, the one where you have to make a DECISION. He needed to move out of his place. Was it "time" to cohabitate? Didn't that make sense?
But...they found themselves asking if that is what they really wanted. They had a perfectly lovely relationship and spent just the right amount of time together. There was not a burning desire to spend ALL their time together.  So they didn't. Instead, they built a picture that worked for them, a new model that takes who they are into consideration.
Anne stayed in her lovely apartment where she is happy and her partner, who was ready to buy, did just that. They are both happy and relieved with the arrangement.
This gives me hope.

So....I think a lot about community.
And "place"...where do I fit in and how do I get there? And who do I want there with me (other than the dog)?
Where can I most be myself?

While I work on these and other burning issues, you'll see me around town walking the Mose, who can not WAIT to get home and lie on my bed with his wet self.

S'all good.