Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | December 14, 2009

Too Long Without a Good Kiss

I’ve got about a half-dozen posts to write (or that are already partially written) about milestones in my relationship with Penny: the break-up, what I learned during the break-up, how we got back together, how we got married, what happened after “The Letter,” and how I started to pull myself together about a year ago. I also want to take a look at all I’ve tried to do to “fix” our marriage, all I’ve benefited from our marriage, Penny’s good qualities, why I feel the need to punish myself by staying in this marriage, etc.

I started writing up one of those “milestones” posts tonight. But I don’t feel like it. Right now, I’m not just in the mood to look at the past. Instead… I’m thinking about the future. A whole bunch of discombobulated thoughts about the future. Mostly in the form of questions.

  • There’s the issue of not having any money, and yet wanting to build a new home-away-from-this-marriage as soon as possible. How do I do that? (Answer: fix the money thing as soon as possible, you big oaf. But, how?)
  • Now that I’ve started to seriously entertain the notion of leaving this marriage, I’m starting to seriously entertain the notion of who I might like to date and/or how best to go about finding people to spend time with. But after I’ve asked out the three or four people I’m interested in, and they turn me down… then what?
  • Once Penny and I have separated, one of those people I think I’d like to ask out (maybe, possibly) is a former employee of mine. But isn’t that bad form? “Hi, you used to work for me and Penny. Penny and I are now separated. Wanna go see a movie?”
  • When is too soon to start dating? One of my favorite fellow bloggers and commentors (commenters?) here started dating while separated but still living under the same roof as her ex. Hell, another favorite reader/blogger just went ahead and had an affair outright (although she doesn’t recommend it.) Yet another favorite reader/blogger is deliberately taking some “me” time off of the whole dating scene altogether, and there does seem to be a general sense that that might be the more prudent way to go. Is there something wrong with me that I want to start being social with the opposite sex again sooner rather than later?
  • I’d like to think I have a lot to offer as a date. But… well, having not had a decent love life in over (oh. my. god.) fifteen years (!!!)… do I even have anything to offer as a lover?
  • How can I do a better job of making a clear distinction between when I’m posing genuine questions (like those above) and when I’m asking rhetorical questions (like this one)?

A good friend of mine made a passing reference to the notion of dating the aforementioned former employee of mine, not knowing (I presume) that the thought had crossed my mind. I said, why not date her?

“She’s too young for you,” he said. “Because, no matter how good the sex is, you still need to have something to talk about later.”

Now, despite the age difference, this former employee and I would have things to talk about — she’s intelligent, witty, and we have a lot of common interests that could be a foundation for all sorts of conversation. But, taking my friend’s point to heart, my first reaction was… if I want good conversation, I can already get that with Penny. And I wouldn’t be violating any social conventions by seeking good conversation outside of any given dating relationship. Sex, on the other hand….

Ah, fuck. My friends, I’m thinking about dating right now, which I suppose I shouldn’t be doing, as we’re not even separated yet. I’m thinking about sex, and even more so, thinking about affection. I have lots of good friends. But, I don’t know… I want someone to like me. In that way. I want to hold hands. I want a good kiss. Fifteen years is a long time to go without a good kiss. Well, maybe it’s been more like twelve years with regard to having a good kiss (whereas the sex with Penny was never all that good.) But still.

Just airing my insecurities out. Hoping they’ll lose some of their pungency. Thanks, as always, for bearing with me. (Er… baring with me?)



  1. I know you’re beating yourself up right now, but don’t. It’s a stage, admitting that you are getting ready to move on. I spent most of my marriage imagining myself with someone else, anyone else. So when Sam showed up on the scene, well…I may have dove in too quickly. Still, we lasted a year and a half…on and off…and now we are FOREVER off.

    After that, time off is good, me time is necessary. I want to be in the right mindset when I finally date again. I want to feel like I have my life together and I have something to offer the right guy. So, no, I’m not actively pursuing dating right now, but it doesn’t mean that I would turn down an offer from someone who has potential.

    Everything will work out. It just takes time. And patience. And a sense of humor.

    Thinking of you…

  2. In my case, I asked out someone soon after my ex told me she wasn’t coming back after our “trial separation.” Like, the next week. It was still several months after that before I actually went on a date with someone, and another half year before I got into a relationship. So for me, I started seeking dates early because I knew it would be a while til I could get someone I liked to date me. I started early because I knew it would be a long process. But this is not the case for everyone.

    But after I’ve asked out the three or four people I’m interested in, and they turn me down… then what? Then ask out the fourth or fifth one!

    The thing is, you’re “ready” to date when you want to. If you’re not feeling it, then you’re not ready. After four months with my first post-divorce girlfriend, I realized it wasn’t for me. But I needed to try it to realize I wasn’t ready after all. So then I took some time off from dating.

    Now I know I’m ready again.

  3. There is such a sadness to what you’ve written. For some really strange reason, it reminds me of _The Color Purple_. There is that really weird part where Miss Shug tells Miss Celie that she’s a virgin. Here she is married and a mother, but she’s never known romance. It reminds me of you.

    You’ve been denied the very foundation of a loving relationship. I think it’s no wonder you’re now chomping at the bit to move on. Being without real love and affection for so long is hard on the soul.

    I can’t recommend when to start dating. I’ve never been divorced or contemplated it (although I’ve given some thought to murder, which is something else altogether), so I haven’t dated in a REALLY LONG TIME. That said, I think you need to trust your gut here.

    That said, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you put off saying “I love you” (not after your first orgasm in a decade), rushing into a relationship with the first woman you bang, getting married, or stalking anyone. At least for the first year… get your sea legs and all. Maybe consider dating like going out for din sum — a little bit of everything. 😛

    I see nothing wrong with your wanting love, affection and human interaction. I think it’s very normal. What I find amazing is the outrageously long time you “settled.”

    Whatever you decide, good luck.

  4. Someone can’t type…

  5. Are you trying to set yourself up for failure in future relationships? “What if…and they turn me down” has no place in your life until you get both of your feet back on the ground. You aren’t even separated yet, much less divorced! You have to do your part to get your kids’ sense of security reestablished as well!

    Don’t get ahead of yourself here. This is going to be hard enough without dragging in additional troubles that you don’t need right now.

  6. Honestly… honestly?? I can’t believe you didn’t go Tiger Woods on Penny eons ago. You are one of the rare breed of men that reassures me that some men somewhere *can* be and *are* faithful to their wives.

    However, dating is a beyotch. Just meeting new people once you finish undergrad is near impossible. I won’t go into detail, you can read my blog if you need entertainment. But just know that dating after your 20s is a minefield and an obstacle course and you are in for a real treat. Having said all that, I doubt you’ll be “single” for long. Hell, I’ll scoop you up right now! Feel like coming to Vancouver in March? 😉

  7. Jump in when you’re ready. For me, quickly jumping back into the dating world via (which I would NOT recommend- there are a lot of crazies out there!) was my method of choice after a couple relationships. It’s nice to feel attractive again. But I also wouldn’t advise jumping into a relationship just because you miss the affection. Dating is one thing. Relationships are another. I think you’ll figure it out, you’ve got a good head on your shoulders!

  8. Hmmm.

    In my humble opinion, you’ve been ready to date for quite a while now. A man can only go so long without affection, and you’re now at the end of that rope. You know what you want, you just have to figure out how to get it, at this point.

    However, to be fair to the women you will be dating, I’d say wait at least until you are living apart from Penny. Perhaps that will give you some motivation to get the ball rolling?
    (And…. um…if you can’t afford to live separately, how can you afford to date? Just had to ask…)

    Also… if you already assume that women will turn you down, (the first three or four women you ask out, no less!!) then you can be sure that they will. In fact, they ALL will, with that attirude. (Insert slap in the face here…LOL)
    Good women can smell insecurity. It repels them. And a broke, insecure guy? Wow, what a catch. NO thanks.

    Now, a confident man without a lot of money can still be very appealing. Some women are actually attracted to brains, and a healthy sense of self.
    And confidence doesn’t cost you anything. (You can pick some up today, in fact.)

    So, here would be my suggestions for you (in this order):

    1) Get your balls back from Penny. Don’t wait for her to give them back, just TAKE them. (Tell her you’ll need them back now, because you’re leaving her, period.)

    2) Aquire some confidence, while you’re figuring out the “money thing”. That may actually help you figure out the money thing.

    3) Give yourself a deadline to get out of the house (you’re going to lose the house anyway…) and keep that deadline. It will give you something to look forward to….(i.e., holding, kissing, and making love with a woman who wants to be doing those things with you.)

  9. I know this was totally not your point of this post, but after I read it (and was in the car alone with my 13 year old daughter) I brought up the subject of sex. I don’t want my kids to grow up with no understanding of how important sex is in a relationship. I’m not talking about techniques or frequency. I think it’s a cornerstone of intimacy…of the non-sexual type. And no one ever talks about it except to tell their kids “don’t” and “don’t get pregnant.” Case in point…my daughter says: I know about sex. I know it’s bad and I’m not supposed to do it.

    Well, yes, but, wait…no! It’s not bad. It’s wonderful. It’s fabulous, it’s an important component of a good relationship. Definitely not now but more because you’re not old enough to have the kind of serious relationship that could include sex. I want my kids to value it…enough to not throw it away in the backseat of some guy’s car because it’s easier to just do it then it is to actually say no, this isn’t working for me. (Been there..done that…)

  10. Excellent point, Kathy…. I was raised to believe that sex is an amazing thing that happens when two people love each other. I “knew” my parents were “doing it”… there was no question about that. Now, I also went to Catholic school, so not only did I end up a bit “wild” at 18, but I also knew what the hype was all about (I actually waited until I was 19, and it was with someone I loved…MY first time was GREAT.)

    So…. although my parents may have wanted me to wait for marriage (not an option in my world…lol), I am happy they instilled in me a sense of “lovemaking” as opposed to “humping”. To this day, I love sex (with the right man, of course) and can’t imagine life without it.

    In fact, now that I think about it, this is probably my motivation for staying fit and trim. I’m naked a LOT! lol

  11. The women in this thread make some very wise comments. I thank them!

    I think the concept of why sex is very important to a relationship has to do with affirmation. It says “You’re special to me” and “You are worth my effort to please you”. Few of us get anything like this in the real world, and we get used to being down and depressed. But the biochemical interactions which sex generates inside us tends to weaken the effects that the outside world has on us, enabling us to face yet another day.

    I don’t need to go into detail about what we are like without this affirmation. All of us here have been there far too much.

  12. I just found your blog and am glad I did. I am in a similar situation as you, but with no kids and only married a couple of years but together for over 10. Now separated for two and neither can come to terms around our house.

    Keep writing, so I can vicariously live through you, since my writing style is, well BLAH!!!

    Best of luck to you. You are on a better and more rewarding path, as am I.

  13. I’ve been thinking on this one for a while, in fact all of your posts. I guess I think you need to consider the platitude of “start as you intend to go” when you finally do get into the next situation.

    I also have to contradict my earlier self about timing. You should wait a good year after you are divorced. Hear me out please. A long time ago I had this idea that one should wait a good 6-12 months between relationships in order to sort them out, stop blaming the other person, and put all actions into perspective. I violated my own rule when a 5-year relationship ended and I jumped into the next one (with someone I didn’t care for whose only job was to keep me from thinking about what just happened), only to go immediately into an intense physical relationship when that was over. I had 3 relationships start/end/start in 5 months. Two years later when it all CRASHED AND BURNED, I finally took the time off. I was not involved with anyone for 13 months.

    Damned good thing because it was then that I was open to being with this nice guy I knew from grad school. Someone with whom I had messed up earlier by not being open and ready to decency. I finally knew that if I wanted to be loved, I had to be willing to be loved by someone who could love me despite myself. I had to be willing to love someone who was nice and loving and caring and decent. Someone who was a charming cross between Bugs Bunny and Mr. Rogers. I had to take a chance on making a relationship work.

    Before that, when given a choice between Happy Human and Dark Intense Guy I had picked Dark Dude. I paid for it greatly. I had laid myself prostrate at his feet because I “loved” him and was willing to sacrifice myself. How incredibly moronic and stupid. He was NEVER going to love me in the way I deserved to be loved. It only got worse because I had already sacrificed myself, my friends, my family and my esteem. When he wanted more, I gave it. I had started that way, I had to go that way. Whenever I read _The Giving Tree_ I’m reminded of how much I was willing to not be me just to have someone who didn’t think I was good enough. I think it’s amazing I’m sane at all, after that.

    Please take at least a year off, continue to enjoy your friends, take your classes, and figure out your job and life. Make sure everything is in working order before you consider bringing in the next person. You owe it to both of you to be in a good place before that happens. You will be ready, your life will be ready, and you’ll have the resources to know if someone is special enough to be with you.

    I know that you think you’re ready, but I wonder who you will attract if you haven’t laid the groundwork for finding you again.


  14. […] This is a topic I’ve brought up previously, with similarly varied responses (see my post, Too Long Without a Good Kiss). […]

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