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Just as I’ve never held the same job for 25 years, I’ve never been married for that long either – at least to the same man. With three longer term relationships under my belt and the experience of several flings over my lifetime, I’m qualified to put SE (Serial Ex) behind my name on my calling card.
Because I was brought up in the “till death do you part” era of connubial bliss (there were times when I wanted to kill the man I was with sooner rather than later) (oops, did I say that right out loud?!) – anyway – when I walked away from my starter spouse, I felt I had failed. Note: my dad was so relieved that he gave me cash as a happy divorce present! Does it sound as if I didn’t pick so good the first time? What can I say – I was young and naive, with lots to learn.
You need to know that I really like men. Growing up, I was surrounded by men.I had three brothers and lots of male cousins. I confess that I yearned to be a boy – they got to do all the cool stuff with my dad. They had tons of energy, were strong and good at sports and they didn’t have to do dishes, clean their rooms, or learn how to cook. Men seemed to rule the world, while I watched wistfully from the kitchen window.
Now if you’re under 40 and female, you’re likely thinking, “that’s ridiculous. Men don’t rule the world – we women are as strong as men – maybe stronger!” Actually, I think you’re right, but that wasn’t what was going on in the 60’s and 70’s.
Roles were well-defined when I was born. Dad brought home the bacon and Mom cooked it. Mom wasn’t allowed to have a job outside the house, either – that would have given the impression that Dad was a poor provider.
By the time I was ready to graduate from high school, the world had changed, with the “Father Knows Best” lifestyle of the 50’s seriously disrupted by hippies and feminists. With my first job at 18 and a husband shortly after that, I was confused about how things were supposed to work.
Since I was perfectly capable of earning a living, I didn’t know if I had a right to ask my husband to support me. His inability to hold down a steady job soon confirmed that while I might have had the right to ask for that support, it wasn’t happening anytime soon.
As I now sit on the sidelines of the relationship game, (I’m not sure if I’ll keep following in Liz Taylor’s footsteps or not) I can see what an amazing journey it’s been for me to be partnered with a man. Like any terrifying/exhilarating roller coaster, the learning curve has been steep. (How hard could this be – oh, what was I thinking?!)
I’ve learned lots about myself and a few things about men. Here’s what I’ve learned about the men whose paths have crossed mine:
They were often confused about what was expected of them.
They were very vulnerable – they just hid it better than women do.
They didn’t understand women, but they couldn’t seem to get along without them.
A few of them were damn fine lovers. (Hallelujah!)
As for me, each time a relationship ended, I mulled over what worked and what didn’t, took some time to heal my broken heart, refined my must-haves and deal-breakers and eventually got back in the game – hopeful that the next time I’d score the winning goal and bring home the trophy. So close, I’ve been so close! But as my granddaddy used to say, “Close only counts in horseshoes.”
These days I wonder if there really is anything such as a perfect match – or maybe it’s not about winning the prize but about discovering who we are as a result of playing the relationship game. If I’m honest with myself, I realize that every man I’ve ever had a personal or intimate relationship with was absolutely perfect for me at the time – even if it didn’t always work in that moment. And I often learned as much or more with shorter term partners than with the longer ones.
Bottom line – I couldn’t have grown to be who I am today without men. They helped me discover and decide who I was and wasn’t and what I most wanted and what I didn’t want. A masculine male triggers ultimate femininity. There’s nothing more enticing to a man than a woman basking in her feminine energy.
Through it all, I’ve become very comfortable in my own skin as a powerful, sensual, and loving woman. I’m grateful for all those close encounters of the male kind. To paraphrase an old Willie Nelson song – “…I dedicate this song to all the men I’ve loved before…”
Will I toss my hat into the ring yet one more time? It’s tempting. . . but maybe I’ll think about it awhile longer!