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Posts Tagged ‘romance’

He’s dead — and I’m relieved

In behavior, Crime, domestic life, life, love, men, urban life, US, women on March 6, 2014 at 12:58 am

By Caitlin Kelly

Time to let go, at last

Time to let go, at last

The world is divided into two groups: people who have become unwitting victims of crime, and those who have not.

It is further subdivided into those who have sought redress and action, from the police and their judicial system, and those who chose not to.

And, yet again, into those whom the judicial system offered recompense, in the form of an arrest, successful prosecution and conviction.

One description we all hope to avoid in this world is plaintiff.

In late December 1997, I met a man through a personal ad in a local weekly newspaper. “Integrity and honesty paramount,” it read. He said he was an athlete and a lawyer. He was slim, slight, dark-haired and dark-eyed, handsome and intelligent. He dressed well and wore crisp white button-down cotton shirts.

He had small teeth, like a child’s, and small hands, someone physically unimposing, someone you’d be silly to fear.

But someone you should.

He was, it became clear much later, a convicted con man who had wrought havoc in Chicago, defrauding local business — and several area women — before being arrested, convicted and serving time.

Then he picked up and moved to suburban New York, where he began again.

And found me.

I won’t bore you with the many arcane details of the four months this man was in my life, morphing , (or not, really), from attentive, generous boyfriend to threatening and emotionally abusive criminal.

When we met, I was planning to fly to Australia, alone, hoping to report a story for my first book, but I missed my connecting flight — costing me an additional $1,800 for a last-minute one-way ticket on Christmas Eve — then, as now, a huge sum for a self-employed writer. Purporting to be a wealthy and successful lawyer, he offered to pay my ticket — just as well, since his deliberate tardiness had made me late for that first flight from New York to Los Angeles.

Instead, it was the first of many traps he laid, his “kindness” a powerful form of entrapment-through-gratitude. He wove a web of obligation and connection, skilled from years of practice.

For years after I rid myself of him, and his ancient, wizened mother, Alma, who helped him in his schemes, I wondered who else he was targeting, cheating and lying to. I wondered if anyone would ever get him arrested and charged and convicted — my local police and district attorney literally laughed me out of their offices when I brought them evidence of the six felonies he had committed against me, including credit card theft and forgery of my signature.

I even wondered if another victim — as one friend also suggested — had killed him, as enraged as I had been once I realized how he’d manipulated and duped me.

So last week, I Googled him. And found a record of his New York City death, in 2007, at the age of 48.

I shook and slept very badly that night. Could it be that he truly was gone? How? When?

When I realized what he’d been doing to me — and to other women simultaneously, as it turned out — I confronted him. The man who had been proposing marriage and telling me “I love you” changed his tune with one phone call.

The next three words were somewhat different, after I asked him if he had stolen and used my credit card — as my issuer had alerted me.

“It’s not provable,” he said icily.

And it was not.

Since then, I refuse to visit the town he lived in, a fact I only discovered by hiring a private detective, a calm, gentle man in whose debt I will remain for life as only he  — a former New York City detective — truly understood the psychic devastation such vicious deception leaves in its wake.

My job as a journalist is discerning the truth in people, making intelligent judgments about their veracity.

For many months, I doubted this ability, terrified to trust any new man in my life. I lost any faith I once had in the police and judicial system to protect me from harm. I changed my locks and bank account numbers and got an additional unlisted phone number. My family and friends were furious with me for not figuring out who he was, quickly and easily.

It taught me, too, about my own vulnerability, how my isolation and sense of insecurity — like carrion in the road — had attracted his determined attention. I wised up.

It is hard to accept that he is no longer a threat to me or to anyone else.

But I am relieved.

Another way to make your first date a living hell

In behavior, domestic life, life, love, Money, news on December 30, 2012 at 12:12 am
Credit Score Compare

Credit Score Compare (Photo credit: Casey Serin)

Yes, really.

Now it’s considered normal to ask if your dinner partner has a decent credit score:

It’s so widely used that it has also become a bigger factor in dating decisions, sometimes eclipsing more traditional priorities like a good job, shared interests and physical chemistry. That’s according to interviews with more than 50 daters across the country, all under the age of 40.

Credit scores are like the dating equivalent of a sexually transmitted disease test,” said Manisha Thakor, the founder and chief executive of MoneyZen Wealth Management, a financial advisory firm. “It’s a shorthand way to get a sense of someone’s financial past the same way an S.T.D. test gives some information about a person’s sexual past.”

It’s difficult to quantify how many daters factor credit scores into their romantic calculations, but financial planners, marriage counselors and dating site executives all said that they were hearing far more concerns about credit than in the past. “I’m getting twice as many questions about credit scores as I did prerecession,” Ms. Thakor said.

I like Manisha a lot, having interviewed her for my own work. But this is…weird.

No?

I loathe debt. Hate it. Hate it! I grew up in a freelance family, where debt is just dumb if you don’t have a steady, known income. I also grew up in Canada, where there is no tax deduction for mortgage interest, as there is in the U.S., where even interest on credit card debt (!) was, for a while, tax deductible as well.

So I get why you don’t want to marry a deadbeat and sacrifice your own excellent credit score – often called a FICO score in the U.S. — to someone else’s crummy fiscal habits. I have heard far too many horror stories of people — too often women — who had no idea what insanity their husband or boyfriend was perpetrating financially until it bit them on the ass.

What do you think of this new trend?

Would you bail on someone new if they refused to share their score, or had a lousy one?

Looking up old boyfriends

In aging, behavior, blogging, domestic life, family, life, love on December 24, 2012 at 12:09 am

The holidays are a time of reflection and connection. But it’s also a time, for some of us, of poignant romantic regrets — the email or text ignored, the phone call or letter you never returned, the first date disaster or months of loneliness.

It’s the time many people look into the new year, only a week hence, and think...hmmmm. Some will wonder, still, about the one who got away.

Thanks to social media, it’s far too easy now to find former beaux (and belles.)

But should you?

Choosing: painting by first husband, George Fr...

I recently thought I’d try again to reach out to Big Name Architect — and found him on LinkedIn — a guy I first met when I was 22 and he was 44. Unbenownst to us that day, (both of us then living with others), we both came away smitten. I wrote a story about him and wandered off into the rest of my life. But he had set up an office near my New York home and, once or twice a year when visiting from Canada, would take me out for dinner.

After my husband walked out in 1994, BNA and I, then both single, flung ourselves into a heady affair, the age difference a little daunting, but perhaps worth a shot.

It got messy very quickly as he proposed marriage within only a few months and I was in that particular form of madness of the about-to-be-divorced,

His proposal was flattering, of course, although I was actually still married, barely separated from my husband after seven years. Rebound city.

It got so intense and overwhelming that I turned to my Dad — the same age as BNA — for advice. He agreed that this was not, despite all the surface glamour, a good fit for me. I do poorly with bossy men. He was, (albeit talented and charismatic), quite bossy.

So BNA promptly found and married someone else. When he replied to my recent email, after years of silence when I wrote emails he wouldn’t reply to, he told me triumphantly (?) he’s still married. Our messy ending still rankles him.

Another sweetie re-found me, or vice versa, on Facebook. Then a gorgeous, muscle-bound would-be Olympic rower at UNC Chapel Hill, we met on a student exchange. He wooed me in ways no one ever had — a huge bouquet of red roses delivered to my door, even giving me a lovely antique gold ring with three tiny diamonds. Losing it felt like losing a piece of my heart. He is remarried, as am I. I always wished the best for him and am so glad he is well and happy.

The man I lived with in my 20s reached out to me about a decade ago, apologizing — AA-style — for his transgressions against me. There actually hadn’t been any. They had been mine. But there he was. We broke up when he wanted, more than anything, to get married, to buy a cashmere overcoat and Make Money. All of which, when I was only 25 and desperate for adventure, seemed really boring.

His later life, and divorce, proved far bumpier and challenging than I’d ever imagined. He’s now working as a PI, which is pretty cool. We caught up last year for a long lunch and it was comforting to touch base with someone I liked very much, and loved, but felt fortunate not to have married.

Then, finally, I re-found my first true love on Facebook, whom I met at University of Toronto, when he was editor of the weekly school newspaper and I the eager young journo five years his junior. I’d sought him in vain for years using social media which he wasn’t using.

We, too, had reconnected right after my divorce, as he was coming out of his own first marriage. Neither of us had kids, but both of us were then still too bitter and angry about our spouses’ betrayals to be much use for one another than a fellow bruised survivor to commiserate with. Not terribly sexy, that.

Nor were we any better suited as long term partners than we had been in our college years.

But he’s still a sweetheart, a talented, interesting and creative person, and I look forward to seeing him again soon in Canada, and introducing him to my second husband. His second wife is an academic superstar and he’s now a late-life Dad. Cool!

Here’s a Canadian blogger’s memories of two ex-boyfriends:

I think of him every once in a blue moon, usually when I’m looking at a calendar. JASON. July, August, September, October, November.

Have you re-connected, successfully or otherwise, with a former love?

How did that work out?

Woo Or Pounce?

In behavior, domestic life, family, life, love, men, women on April 11, 2011 at 11:51 am
Cover of "Gone with the Wind"

Cover of Gone with the Wind

We watched “Gone With The Wind” recently — all four glorious hours of it.

I had forgotten Clark Gable, as Rhett Butler, snapping at spoiled little Scarlett O’Hara — “You need to be kissed, and often, by someone who knows how.” How deliciously assertive!

And then he did.

Swoon.

Which raises the larger question — when it comes to kissing, and whatever comes after that, do you prefer to be wooed or pounced upon?

Does it matter if, like me, you’ve been with your partner or spouse for many years? Does first or fourth date behavior need to change to something more subtle — or perhaps more assertive — with the passage of time and the growth of familiarity?

I admit to preferring the pounce, personally. I’m one of these laser-focused people who’s always doing something and hates being interrupted, whether cooking or reading or writing. Sex, romance, smooching — it all takes uninterrupted, undistracted time. And undivided attention.

Which, in college, I and my beaux had a lot of. I remember many long, lovely afternoons devoted to….not attending class!

But as I get older — sigh — I find my libido mugged by any number of determined assailants, from fatigue to a painful arthritic hip to worry about my mom with dementia in a nursing home far away to insecurity about my body to….you name it!

Pouncing, which sort of forces my poor sweetie to be a little leopard-leaping-from-a-tree-esque (decidedly not his nature), relieves me, I confess, of the need to initiate and squelches any ambivalence I might be feeling. On with it, then!

Which do you like best — to be wooed or pounced upon?


How To Win My Heart

In behavior, men, women, life, domestic life, blogging, family, love on February 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm
Early 20th century Valentine's Day card, showi...

Image via Wikipedia

And, so to Valentine’s Day…

Having loved and lost and loved again — now in the 11th year with my sweetie — here’s how he won my heart, and continues to.

I suspect many of these are on your wish list as well:

Be loyal. If someone disses me, especially in front of others, remind them, however gently, that their concerns are best addressed directly to me.

Be fair. If you know I’ve been doing all the housework and you’ve been doing none, man up and grab that toilet bowl brush!

Listen carefully. Do not blow me off with “I hear you.” Focus your undivided attention on me for at least 30 minutes every day and you will learn who I am and where I’m going and whether I still want you with me on that journey.

Make me laugh. I can handle a  ton o’ stress as long as I can laugh long and hard in the middle of it. A man who makes me laugh wins me every time.

Action, not words. As someone who uses words for a living, as a journalist and author, I am totally unimpressed by fair phrases and fancy promises. Heard ‘em all! I’m watching and waiting for you to put those words into action. Until you do, I tend to tune out.

Take good care of yourself. Dress with care and style, smell good, trim your hair and nails. Go to the gym or court or field and sweat off your stress and frustrations. Or meditate, or pray or go fishing to savor life and slow down into pleasure and come home again happy. Watch what you eat and remember that a trim, healthy man who respects himself enough to keep strong and flexible is attractive at any age.

Be fun. What do you do for pure fun? That does not involve some tech-toy or screen or sitting still? Think of fun, spontaneous things to do or places to go or a new meal to try. Delight me, please.

Have a spiritual life. You must be very clear that we all are much more than the sum of our possessions, good looks and/or fancy job title. What are you giving back to this world of value to others?

Astonish me. My sweetie scrubbed my mother’s soiled mattress after she had been trapped in bed for days before she was rescued with a brain tumor (She is fine.) Who does that? He did. Sold!

Don’t confuse charm or personality with character. It’s a very old-fashioned word, character, but it’s what lasts long after superficial charm or a cute smile or a cool job. After the age of 40, life starts getting much tougher for most of us, as our parents sicken and die, as friends die too young and we face our our work and health challenges. A man, or woman, with character will be steadfast through it all.

Be kind. To me, yourself, to others. Pat dogs and cats in passing (unless you’re allergic or phobic.) Hug babies and kids  — everyone! Kiss people when you see them. Hold their hands, literally or figuratively, when they are scared or lonely. Compassion is one of the sexiest qualities a man can have!

And, yes, of course — we need to bring these qualities as well!

What qualities in your sweetie won your heart?

What would?

Mistress/Demimondaine/Gold-Digger — Nice Role Model!

In men, women on April 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm
Gigi (1958 film)

Image via Wikipedia

I recently watched a classic film, the 1958 “Gigi”, directed by Vincente Minelli (father of Liza), starring Leslie Caron in the title role. You may have heard its best-known song, “Thank Heaven For Little Girls.”

I had no idea it carried all the emotional richness of a rancher looking across a feedlot — the singer is an aging roue looking for the latest crop of fresh, desperate ingenues to seduce and abandon. Nice.

The story is the careful, deliberate grooming of Gigi, an impoverished Parisian turn-of-the-2oth-century teenager, teaching her the skills she’ll need to snag and keep a rich man’s attention: pouring tea, flattery, lighting his cigar, laughing prettily at his jokes.

It’s assumed she’ll never marry, but can, and must, ride the coat-tails of his wealth and generosity.

It’s based on a novel by Colette and portrays the world of the demimondaines, literally those living in the “half world”, women living by their wits, charm and beauty on the margins of polite, bourgeois society — the one in which men marry the right women and dally with the rest.

A new memoir, Sugarbabe, by Australian writer Holly Hill, describes her own life in this world.

From Random House’s website:

“Attractive, professional, well-spoken, well-dressed 35-year-old woman seeks sugar daddy. I live in Darlinghurst on a 17th floor unit with fantastic skyline views to the harbour. The unit also features very discreet and secure undercover guest parking. I am looking for exclusivity so will (theoretically) be available to you 24 x 7. I am single and don’t have any children. I am also a fabulous cook and can provide gourmet meals should you require them. I am a qualified psychologist so I make an excellent listener, and I have a great love of conversation. I have also worked for many years in public relations so am a clever, charming companion in just about any situation. I love sex. I will require a generous weekly allowance in return for all of the above”.
Holly Hill (pseudonym) gave up her job at the behest of her wealthy boyfriend – and then found herself dumped and penniless. After spending six weeks in bed pining for her lost love, she was encouraged by a friend to be ‘open-minded’ about her career choices – and ended up placing an online ad for a sugar daddy. She received an almost overwhelming response from all sorts of men, but most of them were married men whose wives had lost interest in sex.
As Holly interviewed the men and settled on a candidate, she decided to record what happened next. Those almost-daily observations became a journal documenting Holly’s extraordinary experiences – not just the men she meets, but the things she finds out about marriages, in particular, and what men need from them.
SUGARBABE is her real-life account of the emails, meetings, employment of and interactions with the applicants for the role, and the five men she eventually chooses (not all at the same time!).

Should women take guys for whatever they can get?

Gentlemen, how do you feel about women who survive largely on the generosity of wealthy men?

The Glamorous Older Man's Lessons: 'An Education' In More Ways Than One

In women on November 11, 2009 at 1:27 pm
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20:  (L-R) Actors Do...

Carey Mulligan, star of The Education, second from left...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Call him the GOM.

Every woman needs to encounter at least one, as the terrific new film, ‘An Education’, based on an extraordinary memoir by British journalist Lynn Barber about dating an older man with a distinctly shady side, and adapted by Nick Hornby, makes clear. Barber, a writer for The Observer, is called “the rottweiler of journalism” by The Telegraph; being so totally deceived as a young girl, turns out, was great prep for a career in journalism — cynical, suspicious, challenging and questioning are all excellent reportorial skills, no matter how hard-won.

In this film, set in 1961, Jenny/Lynn is 16, serious, studious, attending private school in a sea of Virgil and grey wool, studying really hard to win a place at Oxford and an escape she desperately craves from her dull home and long-settled, unquestioning parents.

A handsome older guy, David, in a gorgeous maroon sports car, picks her up one day in a rainstorm, ostensibly to her protect her cello from the downpour. What happens next — as Jenny is drawn, awestruck, into a swirl of nightclubs, hotels and unimagined adventure — is a powerful little picture that sent me home from the cinema flooded with memories of my GOMs and how they, too changed my life. (A con man also came along later to up-end my world, as David did with Lynn, but that’s a whole other story.)

The GOM, whether 10, 20 or 30 years your senior, already knows the world in a way you can then barely imagine. You dream of one day, maybe, visiting Paris — he, as in the movie, knows it well, and takes you there. You long to be elegant, seductive, knowing and, in his eyes, you are, blossoming in his company. His older friends accept you, celebrating and validating your attractiveness to him. You’re probably in school, whether high school, college or grad school, or newly out of it, tethered like Gulliver by a zillion strings of debt, responsibility, expectation and hope, when you meet him. Guys your age are still flailing about, obsessed with video games or the corner office or their ex. Lacking savoir faire (or even knowing its meaning), they’re lousy in bed, don’t know how to dress, gormless. Enter the GOM.

He, in contrast, glitters with promise. He’s long since entered, and likely conquered, some of the scary, unknown land of adulthood, of paid work, serial romance, finding and furnishing a home. He knows what to order in a really good restaurant. Of course, he pays.

I met my first GOM, an antiques dealer, when I was 25 and he 35. He was, to my booooooooored Toronto brain, deeply exotic — an American who ran his own business, a man simultaneously very successful and seriously offbeat. I was desperate, then, to flee a dead relationship, a city I knew too well and a life that looked like a repeating tape loop. It was, as the French say, a coup de foudre,  knee-weakening attraction. Our six-month affair, half of it conducted across an ocean,  had all the hallmarks of the GOM: a fab weekend trip to Vienna, long, romantic dinners, a sort of hot pursuit I thought only happened in movies.

When you’re young and not entirely sure of your allure, maybe wondering if you even have any at all, discovering you wield that sort of sexual power is heady and hypnotic, a new toy to play with. Eventually, you both realize there are hearts involved and several might get broken.

Twelve years later, barely a month after my husband walked out, my other GOM re-appeared, another American. (Why did Canadian men never make the cut?) We’d met 15 years earlier when I profiled him for a magazine. Turns out, we’d fantasized about one another ever since we met. Within weeks, he proposed. He was all that I had remembered: funny, fun, loving, a whirlwind of activity. In July, he’d already planned our Christmas in Stockholm. How could I possibly refuse?

Of all people, it was my Dad — then barely a few years older than this man — who helped me decide this wasn’t a great fit for me. The age difference of 30 years was daunting enough. But the GOM’s bossiness was the dealbreaker. GOMs know so much more than you, o’ innocent one, in which lies so much of their appeal. But it means they’re, sometimes literally, in the driver’s seat. They’re a perfect fit when you’re as yet undefined, searching for identity and a glimpse of life’s possibilities beyond the predictable treadmill of school/work/marriage/kids. Barber’s GOM was a bad boy and so was one of mine. That’s part of the frisson. They’re not, thank God, usually husband material.

Unless you marry them, GOMs usually pose a clear, life-altering choice: you can have them, and their lovely, if fully-formed life into which you must neatly fit, or you can have your independence. Rarely both — as Jenny/Lynn learns for herself. She, as I did, chose the latter.

Go see this amazing movie!

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