Archive for the ‘The Single Perspective’ Category

Single and Loving It: Taking Care of Me (Part 2 of 3)

September 4, 2009

Hello everyone. Many of you have been awaiting my long, anticipated follow up. A lot has occurred since the last time we spent time together in the World of WordPress. However, I am still enjoying the journey of being single. A few of you may have just noticed that this is the second part of a blog that I posted earlier this year. If you have yet to read it, please feel free to follow the previous link at your leisure.

I was recently asked, “When are you going to slow down to find love and happiness?” I began to answer with my usual reply of “whenever love and happiness speeds up to find me.” Then, I had a thought that this person may be in need of a deeper revelation. Thus, I shared with them and thought that I should adapt my response into a blog entry. So, here we are.

A relationship is comprised of two people with separate identities, thoughts, and personalities. For a relationship to be healthy, the individuals forming the relationship must be healthy. The National Extension Relationship and Marriage Educational Network, NERMEN, lists seven areas of focus for the start and maintenance of healthy relationships based on decades of research on marriage quality. These have become known as the NERMEN Core Components of a Healthy Relationship and Marriage. Care for Self is one of these concepts. It emphasizes the importance for individuals to maintain physical, mental, and sexual health and wellness to assure that they are the healthy persons they should be for themselves and their partners.  These are not practices that just magically fall into place when relationships are started. It is a lifestyle that is cultured over time.  Thus while single, it is vital that we begin to exercise this into our lives.  You will realize that it will allow you to find balance as well.

I recently read an article titled, “7 Top Secrets to Living Single Successfully” on TwoOfUs.org that offers some sound advice. The seven steps are as follows:

  1. Love Yourself – Join and Exercise Program
  2. Treat Yourself Regularly – You Deserve It
  3. Open Your Heart
  4. Fall in Love! Adopt a Pet
  5. Don’t Live in Fear
  6. Learn to Enjoy Eating Out Alone
  7. Ask for Help…and 7.5. Dance!

I know each of you are capable of reading the article. Therefore, I will not go into depth. However, I will make a few comments about a few of these. Numbers one, two, and six fall right within the Care for Self component that I mentioned earlier. Not only is the gym a great community to meet other singles, but it offers you an opportunity to relieve stress. Likewise, taking yourself on a date is not as lame or corny as you think. If you can’t love yourself, you will find it hard to love someone else.  Number three is important as well. While being single, our resources are more free and available to be used to enrich the lives of others. Volunteer some time and money to a worthy cause. It is also understood that those who volunteer in the community and are more civically engaged tend to make healthier relationship decisions.  Number four has helped me with finding balance. Until recently, my family consisted of three dogs. Now, I live a less hectic life with seven tropical fish.

It is important to always remember that the word “single” is not synonymous with “lonely.” Until next time or until you are ready to start a relationship, continue to embrace your journey. Feel free to leave your thoughts and I look forward to sharing with you again when I write part three.

Dating and the Single Dad

April 9, 2009

I recently received a friend request on Facebook from someone that I knew back in elementary school. Hearing from someone that I had not seen in over two decades made me wonder who else was out there that I had lost contact with. I began putting in random names from high school, college, previous jobs, and finally some family members. I eventually found a cousin that I hadn’t spoken to since we lived in the Northeast, over 15 years ago. We began to catch up and I asked about the two darling little girls that were in all of his photos on his profile. It seems that he is currently a single dad who is raising an 18 month old and a 5 year old without the help of their mother who walked away from the family when their youngest child was born. I have to admit that I was in total shock at hearing his story because it usually isn’t the mother who walks away from the responsibility of raising a child. (I guess I had seen one too many episodes of “Maury” where women were hauling men onto national television to find out the results of the DNA tests to convince these men to take responsibility for the children they had created.) After exchanging pleasantries, we started discussing our personal lives and he was very excited to hear about my pending nuptials. I asked him if there was a special lady (aside from the two little ones on his profile) in his life and that was when he began telling me the woes of dating as a single dad. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would hear such tales of heartbreak, sadness, and disappointment. In the movies men usually use babies and puppies as “chick magnets.” Why didn’t that work in real life? (Note to self—you watch WAY too much television!) Apparently, dating for single dads is no easy feat and may leave many wondering if they’ll ever find that special someone again. I asked my cousin if he had any words of advice for other single dads out there and he says he has come up with five easy rules to follow:

1. Avoid the “baby momma drama.” Whatever you do, DON’T TALK ABOUT THE OTHER WOMEN IN YOUR LIFE! At least not in the beginning of a relationship. Your dates and prospective girlfriends have a right to know if you are widowed or divorced; however, they will feel intimidated if you talk about them incessantly. Definitely avoid talking about how well you and your ex get along as this may cause your new girlfriend to think there is a possibility you are getting back together with them. You also don’t want to badmouth her either as this sets the stage for ill feelings towards someone your ex has never met.

2. Me, myself, and I. Take some “me time.” The better you feel, the better you’ll be able to take care of your child(ren). Get plenty of exercise, engage in hobbies, and spend time with your friends and family. These are great ways to stay physically, emotionally, and psychologically fit!

3. The truth shall set you free! First, tell the woman you are seeing that you have children. It doesn’t make sense to try and date someone who is adamant about not liking/wanting children. Second, be honest with whomever you are dating about your financial situation. Women were so used to dating men who paid for everything that it was difficult for them to understand that sole responsibility for two children was definitely taking its toll on my cousin’s finances. R.J. says that this was the hardest thing for him do since he had always prided himself on being able to “wine and dine” the ladies….

4. Variety is the spice of life. The last thing you want to do is enter a long-term relationship with the first woman you go out with. You may feel loved and needed-perhaps for the first time in a long time but chances are you may not be ready for a long term commitment immediately after becoming widowed or divorced. Try dating a few people first.

5. Hi, my name is….When you introduce your children to your girlfriend for the first time, don’t set your expectations too high. No matter how much you want it to happen, your new girlfriend and your kids probably aren’t going to be instant best friends. Relationships take time to develop. (So what if R.J’s oldest daughter Leah wouldn’t let his current girlfriend touch her, or talk to her or even look at her when they first met? They have taken the time to get to know each other and Leah now runs to give her a hug goodnight!)

Eugenia Parrett, Graduate Research Assistant

Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

Single and Loving It…or Am I: Recognizing Personal Pressures (Part 1 of 3)

November 17, 2008

I would like to begin by welcoming you to my blog. My name is Charles Jackson, and I am a 26 year-old native of Montgomery, Alabama. I am currently working at Auburn University as a public relations coordinator for the Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative, which is a public awareness and education program through the College of Human Sciences.

This entry is the first of a three part series that will focus on the importance of being single and loving it. Please do not mistake me to be a young, lustful man that is just interested in sowing my oats. I know this may seem a little odd coming from someone employed by a marriage initiative. However, the goals of the Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative are not to push marriage upon anyone, nor is it to encourage anyone to remain in unhealthy situations. We are driven to promote healthy marriages while providing the education and resources to married couples, those considering marriage, and singles. We know that by doing this, we can strengthen our children, families, and communities. I am sure you will understand the relevance of “being single and loving it” if you stay tuned. So relax and enjoy the show. I look forward to your shared comments, and I hope you will continue to be a reader of my blog. Please understand that I am indeed a man, and I am writing from a male perspective. However, I always try to look at things objectively while also standing upon healthy marriage research.

Twenty-Something…also known as the Quarter Life Crisis. This is the time that many young adults are graduating college and finding themselves pressured to find a job. However, this is not the only pressure that they are experiencing. This is also the time that we begin to become overwhelmed by the personal and societal pressures to get married.

Throughout our lives, we tend to build timelines, and as we mature and age we become stressed with the reality of the approaching deadlines that we committed ourselves to. For women, it seems as if it is the looming ticks of the “biological clock” and a desire to be a mother that drives their race to the altar. Unfortunately, in the midst of this mad dash, they frequently settle for their first encounters while ignoring the warning signs that are SCREAMING at them. With the reality of this misfortune, some women find themselves blinded by impatience and eventually unhappy, contemplating divorce, or living with regrets. Contrary to popular belief, men also experience personal pressure to get married. As we enter into our careers, we tend to realize that it is difficult being single. After a long day at work, men desire that pat on their backs and that special person to share their thoughts with. We also enjoy an occasional stroke of the ego, and although we do not want to admit it, we reach our sexual peak prior to women. Whether by internal instinct, something we’re taught, or both, men desire to be providers and protectors. It makes us feel more like men, and it is important to feel like a “manly man.”

Together we can pressure one another. Thinking that it will be great to have “the ring” prior to our high school reunions, we tend to rush into marriages as we continuously attend the wedding of our friends and classmates. While the numbers of our friends that are single begin to diminish, we become anxious without adequately preparing ourselves. Thus, we find it difficult to love someone else because we have not figured out how to love ourselves. If you are single and unhappy, you will likely be married and unhappy. Ironically, recent research shows that divorces within 10 years of marriage are lowest among couples who entered a first-time marriage after the age of 25. So the next time someone asks, “What are you waiting on?” Simply, tell them that you are waiting on your opportunity for stability while not jumping into an irrational situation.

I like to look at transitioning from being single to married as a journey. While you are on the trip, you should take time to get to know you fellow travelers, their interests, and beliefs. Once you make it to your destination, things change. You have to be focused on the business of combining two lives, adjusting budgets, and meeting deadlines while balancing work and play. What will make this trip enjoyable is how well you got to know the other travelers and the one you choose to spend your time with.

Society does not make being single very easy. Part two will address societal pressures and measures of success, so please stay tuned for the next entry. Until then, please ponder these thoughts and feel free to comment. I look forward to hearing from you.

Charles Jackson, Public Relations Coordinator

Auburn University, Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

Singlehood…Finding the “ONE”

September 26, 2008

Being raised Greek Orthodox Christian, I feel as though it’s our family’s mission to get everyone married as soon as possible. The movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” somehow relates to my life; I’m just recently back to being single and it’s my parents mission right now to find me “the one.”

Throughout my life I have always had a boyfriend or someone who I was “talking” with but they seem to never be that special someone. I am 23 years old and just got out of a pretty close relationship after realizing he was not someone I see myself spending the rest of my life with. While this was a very tough decision and difficult to overcome, I knew it was for the best since I am at the age where I need to find something serious that will last forever.

So now I’m looking for that special someone, but not just anyone. We have to know not to rush into things, not to marry someone just because we want to be married, and not just settle for just anything because we feel that’s all we are going to get. As ACHMI and research has taught me, we need to plan for the long-run of marriage rather than plan for a wedding. Today, it’s so common for people just to slide into a relationship because their friends are married or just because they need the comfort of marriage, only later to find themselves in an unhealthy relationship. We need to decide on a serious relationship that is meaningful and intended for the rest of their life. I want to find that person that I want to spend the rest of my life with, that I want to grow old with, that I know I truly feel that connection and love for, and that I will someday have kids with. I want a healthy relationship from the beginning to the end that will overcome the dominating challenge of today’s society, divorce!

Yes, sometimes people “think” they have married that special someone but soon realize later in their marriage that they truly did not know their significant other or that this is not someone they can be with for the rest of their life. Everyone wants a healthy marriage but sometimes do not act accordingly. Spend enough time together to make sure you know who this person truly is; we need to realize the qualities and attributes of that someone so that we truly know there is a lasting connection. We don’t just want to get married to someone because it “feels” right or that we think we “feel” the emotional connection. Make sure to get to know this special someone on every level (physically, emotionally, mentally, etc.) so that you know who they really are.Take your time before rushing into marriage, take a premarital class to ensure that you’re ready for the serious step, and make sure you’re marrying your special someone.

Alexa Calligas

Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative, Graduate Research Assistant