Everything in my life lately is a metaphor for dating and relationships

Everything in my life lately is a metaphor for dating and relationships.

New Job

I was recruited for a new job. I went on one interview. Then another. Then another. Between the second and third interviews I had trouble getting their attention to schedule a time (the third interview was at their request).

And then I heard nothing.

I reached out to the recruiter and asked if they had any insight. They said I should definitely hear by the next week. I followed up with the CEO of the organization. She confirmed they’d be in touch the following week.

And then I heard nothing.

Friday was my personal deadline to hear back from them before I withdrew my interest. My mom said, “If they call you a week later and offer you the job you’ll take it, though….” and I said, “No. I won’t.”

See, ’cause they way they treat you when you’re​ dating is supposed to be the BEST you’ll ever get with them. Once we settle into our routine, I’ll know what they’re really like, but in the beginning, I’m supposed to feel like they’ve as much interest in keeping tabs on me as I am in keeping tabs on them.

If someone I was dating had sent such mixed signals, they never would have made it to the third date. And, now having ghosted me for the second time…

I’m out.

I know my value enough to know that an employer who doesn’t contact me after two weeks after promising the world is an employer who makes empty promises, same as I would if some guy on OK Cupid showed tons of interest at first and then disappeared without so much of a “nice to meet you.”

Discussion Groups

A few months ago, when I thought I might lose access to my alternate Facebook account because they would not accept “Phi” as a name I am known​ by, there were hundreds of comments in the polyamory discussion groups lamenting the potential loss of my participation.

In the end, I was able to modify my name and continue participating. Everything was fine until a week or so ago, when someone posted something that I felt went against one of the group rules (no derisive comments against any relationship style, including monogamy). Despite my, and several other members’ protests, the group administrators allowed the post to remain unmodified.

I questioned whether or not to stay in the group and several people suggested it would be a shame to lose my voice in the group because I’ve helped so many people.

But I felt that with that post, the group administrators had taken a stand that said “your voice in this forum is not respected.”

I left the group and started my own, because a relationship in which there are agreements that are not upheld by those who set them is not a relationship that deserves my emotional labor.

Selling My House

I listed the house at a lower price, hoping to inspire multiple offers and incite a bidding war. I did get multiple offers, but they weren’t much higher than my original asking price. Meanwhile, the job thing fell through and I no longer had the pressing motivation to move beyond wanting a shorter commute to my existing job. But, hey – I’ve been making that commute for ten years. Another few months won’t kill me.

So I say I’m going to wait before countering, and the buyer’s agent says “Well, the buyer is on a strict timeline….”

Yeah…well, I’m not, champ. So if you’re on a strict timeline, that’s good for you, but I’m not going to take a hit on the sale of my house to accommodate your timeline.

The buyer threatened to pull their offer.

It’s been a week. They increased it. I’m countering today.

I know that the value of my house and my stress-level in packing up and moving out of there is incompatible with that of a buyer who is motivated to get me out, but no so much that he’s willing to pay a reasonable price. The fact that he made an offer isn’t enough doesn’t mean I have to accept it if I’m perfectly comfortable staying where I’m at. Same with the dating world, where the fact that someone shows more than a passing interest in you does not mean you have to drop everything to be with them, lest you find yourself all alone.

I’d rather live in my house than sell it to the wrong buyer.

And I’d rather be alone than in a relationship with the wrong partner.

My Current Employer

I’d told them I was interviewing and I might be leaving them soon. They freaked out a little and begged me to stay. I was honest with them – told them I wasn’t going to turn down the other position if it was offered to me, but that if it wasn’t – we could have a conversation about what it would take to stop looking.

Now that I’ve decided that other job isn’t in my best interest, it’s time to decide what to do with this one. I briefly spoke with my CFO about my concerns. She validated them and told me she agreed with me on many of them. She felt that what our organization is going through are growing pains and lots of organizations go through this, but that if we stick it out together, we’ll stand on the other side of this troubling time having grown both personally and professionally from the experience.

I told her we were in the “couples counseling” phase of our relationship. I was going to have to air my grievances, and they were going to have to validate and address them if we’re going to move forward – but that I have every intention of feeling fulfilled, appreciated, and acknolwedged for my contributions to my workplace, and if that’s not something that can happen here, I will seek it elsewhere.

She agreed.

Ever since I told people that I had given my employer a heads up that I was interviewing for another position, I’ve been counseled that it was a bad idea. Thing is, my employer needed to know that I was unhappy to the point of being willing to leave. I know my value as an employee …I know they wouldn’t be pleased to see me go. And now that they know I’m willing to walk away, I’m in the power seat during these negotiations. I can name my price (as long as it’s reasonable) and they will likely give it to me.

Of course, that will mean having to continue to prove that I will be worth whatever it is I ask for. In this case, it’s not so much about the pay rate as it is about the authority and autonomy over my department, and a seat a the table during the executive meetings.

But I’ll take a little more money, too.



Yes, on the surface – all of these situations are easily compared to some of the broader aspects of dating and relationship building. But there’s a deeper connection they all have that is what dating and relationship building really boils down to:

Self Worth.

I finally learned to set my own value rather than allow others to set it for me.

Whatever happens with this house or this job or the next one, I know my worth. Since reaching this epiphany, I’ve noticed I spend far less time pining for the attention of those who would not give it enthusiastically, and more time cultivating relationships (be they romantic, platonic, or professional) with people who value me as highly as I value them.

The Exhibit

Is there a better museum for rare and priceless experiences than words on a page?

I could try to preserve all the details – how we began, how many strikes from which implements, how he moved me about the room, how taut the rope felt on my skin, and the way my thighs ached as I squirmed in the stress position in which he’d restrained me.

Those details may convey my surrender, but won’t capture my emotion.

I could record the hearing of footfalls and whispers, soft murmurs of interest or (possibly) admiration lingering in the hallway, and my vague awareness of some shadows in the door frame as the intensity of a final powerful orgasm ripped through my soul.

Those details may convey my vulnerability, but won’t capture our connection.

It’s just three words I’ll keep in this museum of intangible artifacts. The three words I whispered when, toward the end of our scene, he leaned down for a kiss, and warm tears escaped the outside corners of my eyes:

I missed this.

Your Kink is Not My Kink, but Your Words Fucking Matter

Imagine if I were to ask if anybody else out there has a kink of “playing poly.”  When asked to explain what I mean by “playing at poly,” I described it as “you know, like when you pretend to sleep with everyone indiscriminately and not give a shit about what your partners think.”

I’ll just wait here for those fumes to settle down.

If I were to have asked that question in earnest, then I imagine that the fumes would still not have settled down.  I imagine this because yesterday, someone asked the question regarding “playing at monogamy” and when asked to clarify what they meant by that, they said, “You know, like, when you pretend to get really jealous over a text your partner receives and then have a big fight and then great make up sex.”

Now, I get it. I get that in dominant culture, polyamory is put down, oppressed, and those who practice any form of ethical non-monogamy are frequently met with disdain and derision (unless they’re Hugh Hefner, then they get a TV deal).

So I do get that when you’re in a closed group of mostly people who, like you, practice some form of ethical non-monogamy, it’s really easy to point fingers and laugh at those unenlightened monogamists.  Those poor, pitiful, one-on-one relationship having neanderthals.

Yeah. Except some of us are in relationships with some of y’all.

And even if we weren’t, the implication that “monogamy” is interchangeable with the concepts of jealousy and toxicity in a relationship is about as insulting and offensive as the implication that anybody who identifies as polyamorous is into selfish promiscuity.

But you know what?  It’s not so much that someone asked this question in an offensive manner that really bothered me. I mean, it bothered me, but I probably could have just rolled my eyes and let it go as the myopic word-vomit of an insignificant person.  In fact, many of the other group members, including those who are actively polyamorous, stepped in and made comments supporting the premise that the choice of the word “monogamy” to describe what amounted to a “cheating” fetish was problematic.

(Nobody was questioning the validity of the fetish itself, just the language used to describe it).

What *really* bothered me is that the group admins allowed it, and continues to allow that language to stand. They agreed that the OP was flippant, dismissive, and condescending to those of us who questioned their word choice, but made no request for OP to modify their post. What *really* bothered me is that the third rule in this group’s list of rules includes language against “Comments that deride any relationship structure, including monogamy or polygamy.”

I waited 24 hours, fuming, before I made the decision to leave that group.   I kept hoping the admins would step in and address the issue, to (as I’d seen them do in many posts with problematic language) request that the OP modify their question to remove the implication that monogamy equals jealousy and fighting.

But instead, they defended it.

And so, they won’t see me there any longer.

On Compliments

I won’t have been the first person to write this, nor will I likely be the last. I, like so many others, am just one of the many who – in shedding some of the (perhaps unintentional) burdens laid upon my psyche by the patriarchal system that dominates our society – has come to regard the “compliment” with unease.

More plain English?

Some compliments by some people make me feel uncomfortable.

Now, in a world unencumbered by the patriarchal system I’ve already alluded to, I wouldn’t need to say more than that. I should be able to say “X makes me feel Y” and “Y” should be accepted, respected, and boom.

And if, for example, someone were concerned about their “X” making me feel “Y” they might be driven to ask “but, why?”

And… you know what? That’s a valid question. It’s a question that does not dismiss my feeling of “Y”, but seeks to understand it. It may also be an attempt to validate it; but it certainly does not come from the position of denying its existence.

But that’s not what we get when we say things like “Your doing of X makes me feel Y,” where “Y” is not a positive thing.

What we get is “No, you’re wrong.” Or “Jeez, take a compliment.” Or “Fuckin’ feminists….”

What we get, frequently, is an invalidation of our feelings. So you know what we do?

We say nothing. A lot. We say nothing so many times.

We say plenty to the people who are willing to listen. We say plenty to the people who say “Oh, I know,” or even those who ask “But, why?” but until we know you’re one of those people, we just say nothing.

So, I’m going to publicly answer the ‘why’ for me. Why it sometimes makes me feel uncomfortable.

This is a society that has placed a high value on the way women look and act and behave, but predominantly it’s about how we look.

I can say “I feel like shit today, I’m so tired….” and someone’s response might easily be, “But you look beautiful.”

Like that’s going to make the shit-and-tired feeling go away, or make it feel less shitty or tired. Every time Erin Andrews, the host on Dancing With the Stars talks about how beautiful one of the female contestants looks I cringe. So often it was “Well, the judges didn’t score you very well, but you look HOT.”

When I was ten years old I started begging my mom to let me wear makeup. She told me I couldn’t – not until I was thirteen. On my thirteenth birthday, I asked if I could wear makeup. She said not until I’m sixteen. I said, “But wait! You said I could wear it when I’m thirteen!” She responded, “I didn’t think thirteen would come so soon!”

For years I wore makeup every day. All of it – the foundation and the powder and the gloss and mascara and the liner. And then, it was an uncle actually who asked me “why?” And I said it was so I could look pretty, and he said “you are beautiful without it. It doesn’t make you prettier. You don’t need it every day. Save it for the days you want people to say ‘wow!'”

It took me a little while, because at this point I was pretty darned pimpley and I really felt like I needed it.

But over time, I did lay off all the heavy makeup. I started really getting used to seeing my face without it. And you know what started to happen?

My mom started telling me to go put on some makeup.

Because it made me prettier.

And that was really important. Hell, just the other day she kept harping on how I had to do my makeup “really nice, like you used to do it – i know you know how” for my job interview. She even asked me for a photo as proof that I did it right.

Over the past few years, I’ve done a lot of work overcoming my addiction to validation. So many of us have this addiction – and it’s no wonder. We’re infused with doses of it from day one of our existence, and it only gets more prominent as we start to blossom. We crave that validation.

And it’s like, in order to wean ourselves off of it, we feel like we have to go in totally the opposite direction. Like, we purposely try to dress unsexy and let our armpit hair grow and behave in the most unladylike fashion we can. Quitting validation sometimes felt like quitting femininity.

But then something else happened. I realized that trying to hide my beauty in response to the patriarchy’s unwelcome valuation of it still gives my control over it to someone other than myself.

I started to see the power and in owning my own looks. Now, here’s the thing. I value them. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that being pretty isn’t something I am aware of or something I’m not appreciative of – but what I resent is that it makes a difference in how others perceive me. I like looking like me. I like that my partner likes the way I look.

But I hate that it has any bearing on whether I am qualified for a job or my family’s love or a stranger’s respect. I don’t look at other people and “rate” their looks or treat them differently to how I treat other people….

….unless I’m flirting with them.

Which brings me back to those compliments.

When someone who is not sexually interested in me (any gender) tells me that I am beautiful, it feels like a compliment.

When someone who is sexually interested in me (any gender) tells me that I am beautiful, it feels like a down payment.

Maybe it’s not intended that way. Holy shit it probably isn’t intended that way! But that’s the system we live in. That’s how it works, and that’s how I interpret it.

I get that there are people with crushes out there on people who do not reciprocate those crushes. I get that it can feel awkward and weird to have a crush on someone who doesn’t crush back on you. I’m not saying don’t talk to them, or don’t compliment them…

…I’m saying that when it comes to me, anyway, understand that a compliment on my level of attractiveness to you can make me feel uncomfortable. I might say “thank you,” if I don’t think there’s any ulterior motive…but if I feel like a response might be leading you to think that I’ve accepted the down payment and we’re now negotiating terms?

I’ll probably just say nothing.

One final thought: If you think this is about you or something you’ve said to me in the past, don’t worry about trying to apologize or explain that your motives are not disingenuous. I’m not holding any grudges and I’m not angry with anybody. Just let this message percolate and keep it in mind the next time we have an interaction.

Can I talk to you about something serious for a sec?

Content warning: Death and death-related topics ahead

I’ve heard my boss say, on more than one occasion, that “nobody gets out of life alive.” She doesn’t say a lot that’s worth repeating, but this is one of her finest and most salient comments.

We’re all gonna die one day.

And yes, many of us hope that it will happen way down the road when we’re super old and we’ve accomplished everything and our bones hurt so much that death will look like a welcome friend.

Some of us, though we are still young, feel that pain in our bones now and might sometimes wonder if it would be so bad if it comes a little sooner.

Some of us are terrified of both aging and death, and we live out our formative years avoiding the topic. I imagine most of those people didn’t get past the content warning.

And sometimes, we hear a story and are faced with the stark reality that most of us do not have control over when it happens – not for ourselves and not for our loved ones. As it ought to be.

It doesn’t really matter what your relationship with death is – the fact is, we are all going to have one some day.

So, if you have people or causes in your life that matter to you, get your shit together.

Yes, it’s probably more important to do this if you have assets, but even if you don’t – you can leave behind instructions for your loved ones on what you’d want in the unfortunate event of a terrible accident. How do you want your remains handled? I’m telling you right now, that shit is EXPENSIVE. Can you set aside anything to help with those expenses?

Also, there are documents you might want to consider having in your files – like an Advanced Directive or a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) if that’s what you’re into, or a Power of Attorney for someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated or unconscious.

If you do have assets – talk to a professional. Homes and life insurance policies and other large financial assets…if you don’t square this stuff away, then depending on where you live and your legal marital status, everything can go haywire after you’re gone. You have absolutely no say in it unless you’ve figured it all out in advance.

Now, when my husband died – we had none of these things. I know he would not have wanted to be resuscitated. He was miserable and in pain all the time, and he’d said as much..but we did not have this document signed and notarized. I watched as the paramedics tried (to no avail) to bring him back, somewhat terrified that they’d succeed and he’d be in even MORE pain than he was before from the way they’d had to handle his body.

And, because he was my husband and we live in California, when he died – everything he owned automatically became mine. But if we hadn’t been married yet, without the documentation to back it up – his half of my house that we bought together might have ended up in probate, paying off his personal debt or in his ex-wife’s hands, as the legal guardian of his underage daughter.

And that’s a pretty straightforward relationship: husband and wife. What if we’d been polyamorous? Lots of you are. Lots of you are in long term relationships with multiple people and some of those people don’t really like each other. Do you want to leave it up to them to figure out who gets what?

One of the biggest shocks to my system after he died was that I could no longer call him to ask him the simplest questions. Like “Where is the charger cable for that really expensive camera you bought?” or “What is the password for our cable account?”

They can’t ask you what you would have wanted. They can only guess.

So make it easy for them.

And, if you don’t have people in your life or if you are so inclined, remember that there are charitable causes out there that can also be listed as beneficiaries of your estate, if you’re into that sort of thing.

This semi-morbid post brought to you by the learning of Chris Cornell’s passing this morning at the age of 52 – same age as my late husband.

Nobody gets out of life alive. Get it together while you still can.

Satisfyer Pro 2: A Review

Some time ago, there was a post about sex toys and the conversation turned to some gizmo that was making waves (of the orgasmic caliber) a few hours south of here. Now, back in the day, I used to write sex toy reviews for AVN under a different pseudonym, and I’d NEVER had any experience with any device that would get me from zero to orgasm in less than 30 seconds, as the folks down south had been suggesting.

My curiosity was piqued.

So, last week, when my partner sent me a link to the amazon listing for the Satisfyer Pro 2 with the words, “just sayin’…” I used the power of Prime to have it delivered and charged up before he walked in the door Friday night.

I deemed it the “edging machine.” Within SECONDS I was in the state of physical bliss that my longtime favorite, the Doxy, would take an average of five to six minutes to get me to. The difference is – where the doxy takes me from that edge to full blown orgasm in a matter of seconds, the Satisfyer Pro 2 might be capable of keeping me on that edge INDEFINITELY.

I didn’t have a good and proper full-blown orgasm with the device until the following evening,….

Holy Fucknuts.

It wasn’t just the orgasm that was delightful, it was the extended LIFE of the orgasm that blew my mind. Minutes after I’d removed the device from my clit, I could still feel it reverberating in my netherbits.

I did it again later that night. AMAZING.

And then….twice today. I’m looking over at my doxy like “i’m so sorry….” but….damn.

The Satisfyer Pro 2 definitely satisfies. It took me longer to cross over from edge to orgasm than it does with your standard wand device, but the ride is delightful the whole way. Also, added bonus of not having that shooting pain from my wrist up my arm from adding pressure to the heavy wand in just the right spot. (Early carpal tunnel syndrome, perhaps). With the Satisfyer Pro 2 all you do is place it over your clit, turn it on and leave it in place. No need to wiggle or move or add pressure.

The squishy head piece is easily removed for cleaning and sanitation, and the doodad comes with a USB charging device that connects via magnets on the bottom.

There are two buttons. One to turn the device on or off, and the other to manage the intensity. I’d say I liked it best at the 4-5-6 intensity levels. Any more than that and I start to lose the edge.

Nobody has paid me for this review. I paid for the danged thing out of my own pocket. So….I’m just saying: If you’ve got $45 laying around. Give this a shot.

🙂

On Leadership

Whether or not this pans out, something extraordinary has happened….

I sat in a room yesterday being interviewed for a position for which three weeks ago, I don’t think I’d have had the cojones to apply.

Three weeks ago I was questioning if I even want to stay in this sector. I was questioning if I needed to make what I’m making, and figuring out how significantly I could reduce my cost of living so that I could get out of an unhealthy work environment.

Three weeks ago, I went prepared to a conference for my profession. Having already made the decision that I need to find my next job, I had some business cards printed with my personal contact info and my LinkedIn profile address. I went knowing that I had to network. For reals, this time. Not just find the one person in the room that I was comfortable with and spend the whole time talking to them – but to jump around, meet a lot of people, and let the world know that I exist.

I also attended a two-day leadership workshop in advance of the conference. I’d mistakenly assumed it was going to be a workshop to teach leadership skills, but instead it was a horizon-broadening two day conversation about the qualities and characteristics of leadership, what the role of leadership is – not only within an organizational structure – but in the profession as a whole.

I learned something really important during that workshop: I am a leader.

Now, I’ve known some of this already. Perhaps I’d not have used the word “leader,” and opted for “influencer” or “person whose opinions are sought.” I always said I never wanted to be the boss, but I wanted to be the person that the boss would turn to for advice.

That, in and of itself, is a form of leadership. What I was shying away from or hesitant to accept was the responsibility for that leadership. I didn’t want to be the person who pushed the button. I wanted to be the person that said, “here are three potential buttons. Push one.”

I didn’t believe that I was qualified to be the button-pusher. I thought I still had way too much to learn.

But I think I’ve come to understand now that a leader isn’t someone who knows all the answers. A leader is someone who asks questions. And, a leader is someone who knows how to ask those questions (and the followup questions) of the people who can help determine the answers.

A leader is a convener – someone who can bring together the right team of people who have the capacity to achieve a goal. A good leader is someone who has the respect and support of that team.

I didn’t say loyalty. Loyalty is different. Loyalty has positive connotations, but I think loyalty can also lead someone down the wrong path. If a leader has loyalty to the mission, then their team will likely be safe in having continued loyalty to their leader. But if a team comes to realize that, as much as they respect and support or appreciate their leader, that the mission or goal is compromised – they should speak up. I think sometimes “loyalty” to a person can be detrimental to the cause (whether it be a tangible cause like “manufacturing of widget” or an intangible one like “be happy.”) Mostly because people are fallible. People are sometimes driven by altruism, but at some point greed and self-preservation can kick in and you don’t even see it coming.

Another thing I think I’ve come to realize is that that the person who pushes that button has never been solely responsible for the win or the fallout. The credit for the wins is shared by all. And the opportunity to learn from and overcome the fallout is equally shared by all.

The type of leader I am is the type that shares credit where credit is due. It was important to me when I was part of the team – and now that I’m in the leadership position at work, it’s important to me that I give my team that same due.

So, three weeks ago – I went through all of that. It’s been percolating since. But here’s what else happened.

During one of the lunchtime networking sessions, I sat at a table with one of our vendors. I explained my work sistuation and he suggested I give him my contact info. In his job, he is frequently presented with the information that his former contact at an organizaiton has either moved on or is planning to move on – and he might be able to put me in contact with the right people at the right time the next time that happens. I happily passed him one of my bright black and yellow business cards.

The following week, he copied me on an email to a recruiter friend of his that he’d met along the way. “I met this incredible person at the conference and she is discretely looking for her next move.”

I followed up with a thank you to the vendor and a message of introduction to the recruiter. The recruiter responded, asking for my resume.

I sent that over.

Two phone calls and four days later, I’m sitting is his office during a pre-interview to determine if i’m the right fit for a C-Level position in an established and well-funded organization. At the end of our interview, they seemed pretty certain that I would be a great fit for the job – and had these parting words to say:

“The only thing you lack is enough confidence to see that you have ALREADY been doing this job for the past three years. The title is throwing you off – don’t worry about the job title. It means nothing. It is about the work – and you’re more than qualified to do this work.”

Four days after that, I’m driving downtown to meet with the current CEO of the organization and some of her colleagues. That was yesterday.

By the end of that interview, they assured me I would be contacted soon for a followup – to come in and more formally meet the rest of the staff and perhaps some of the Board.

The possibility of getting this job is, right now, a VERY real possibility.

Whether or not this pans out, something extraordinary has happened.

I have embraced myself as a leader.

And, as such – I want to give the credit everywhere it’s due.

I called the recruiters and thanked them profusely for the pep-talk and the opportunity. I sent a handwritten thank you note to the woman who ran the leadership workshop in advance of the conference. I have sent an email to the vendor that put me in touch with this recruiter letting him know how grateful I am (and if I get this job, I’m sending his entire office a fruit basket).

And you.

Yeah. You.

All of this started about three years ago when I was a heartbroken, mourning mess of a woman – and I started writing.

You read what I had to say and you were supportive. You remembered me from one post to the next and some of you started to see the change in me before I did. The confidence I had to sit in front of the CEO of a $10M organization and ask her just as many questions as she asked me during the course of a 2+ hour interview….that all started here.

So thank you.

If I get this job – fantastic. The work will be hard and my time will be limited for a while as I acclimate to a very different professional climate. If I don’t? I’ll get the next one.

I have no doubt of it.