Category Archives: self-care

Getting Your Teen to Bed on Time

[This is a guest post from Tuck Sleep. This is not an endorsement or a paid placement, but  merely beneficial parenting content.]

Parents of teens know it can be tough to get them to sleep on time at night. In fact, although teens need at least eight hours of sleep per night, two out of three U.S. high school students sleep less than eight hours on school nights.

A lack of sleep can have serious consequences. Teens who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to perform poorly in school, engage in unhealthy risk behaviors, not get enough physical activity, suffer from depressive symptoms, and be overweight.

Factors Contributing to Poor Sleep in Teens

The blame for not getting to sleep on time doesn’t rest solely on teens’ behavior, however. Busy schedules and active social lives can put pressure on sleep time. School schedules, in particular, can make it difficult for teens to get enough sleep, as five out of six U.S. middle and high schools start the day before 8:30 a.m.

Another major factor influencing poor sleep in teens is a circadian rhythm shift in puberty. Before puberty, teens may feel sleepy around 8 to 9 p.m., with plenty of time to sleep before school starts. After puberty begins, teens start to feel sleepy around 10 to 11 p.m. This sleep phase delay makes it difficult to get to bed on time so they’ll have enough sleep before school starts.

Behavior may exacerbate this sleep shift change. Some teens may stay up late texting with friends, working on homework, or engaging in hobbies, which can cut into sleep time.

Many teens are worn out at the end of the school week. Often, they sleep in late on the weekends to catch up on missed sleep. However, this only makes it more difficult to fall asleep at the right time during the week.

teen parenting, sleep

How Parents Can Support Healthy Sleep

  • Support a healthy sleep schedule. Encourage your teen to consider which activities are essential or not during the school week. Too many events can put pressure on homework time and sleep, so it may be necessary to cut back. Make rest a priority and schedule activities around sleep, not the other way around.

  • Encourage good sleep hygiene. Help your teen establish a regular sleep schedule and bedtime routine. Staying consistent each night can make it easier to settle down and get to sleep, as their bodies know what to expect.

  • Discourage sleep pitfalls. Some activities can make it more difficult to sleep. Late night screen time, heavy meals, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine can all interfere with good sleep. Encourage your teen to stop screen time at least an hour before bed and avoid consuming foods that can interfere with sleep in the evening.

  • Create a healthy sleep environment. Make sure your teen has a healthy place to sleep. A memory foam mattress or mattress topper can help ease teens to sleep. Their bedroom should be cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable. Use blackout curtains, white noise, and a fan if needed.

Sarah Johnson
Community Relations
Tuck Sleep is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.

Dating Boundaries After Divorce

BFFN: best friends for now; boyfriend for now.

So when you begin “dating” a new person how quickly do you become attached? How soon do you both actively use the word “boyfriend” or “girlfriend?” As you begin to lean into a new relationship the boundaries between you can become very abstract and blurry. This lack of boundaries or inability to articulate what we need or want is the cause of many early dating failures. I recall a woman, years ago, who had given me her phone number after a stellar first date, saying, “We should just hang out sometime. Call me.”

I was so thrilled that I emailed her a few times. I connected to her phone # and sent her a few texts. I thought I was being enthusiastic. She thought I was going way to fast. “You need to slow your roll,” is how she put it. We never made it to a second date. I don’t know what boundary I crossed, or what previous dating experience had caused her to be so dramatic in her pushback.

As I am entering into some new “dating” relationships I want to get very clear about what my needs are.

  1. I don’t need a rescue.
  2. I don’t need financial support.
  3. I don’t need someone to validate me.
  4. I don’t need a support system. (see Liz Phair: Support System)
  5. I don’t need to move quickly towards defining the relationship.
  6. I’m not heading for a hookup. (When I decide to have sex, it will be because I am choosing you above all others, and I will immediately become monogamous and drop all dating profiles and apps.)
  7. My intentions are set for a long-term relationship, not a dating partner.
  8. You must be on your own path of strength and beauty.
  9. You don’t need me to support you emotionally, financially, or spiritually. (These are parts of a relationship that might evolve, but at the outset, we need to be two individual countries engaged in becoming allies and trading partners.)
  10. Your sexual energy enlivens and engages my chemistry in a way that we both enjoy.

I’m not looking for a lot. I’m looking for exactly EVERYTHING. There is no “almost” in my next relationship. And I am willing to stand in and be a good celibate man until I find her.

How you define your boundaries early in the relationship is how you will relate to each other for the duration. If you cross boundaries and violate minor issues of trust, you will break the fragile bond that is forming between the two of you, even before the first fibers of love have begun to form and enmesh.

As Brené Brown puts it in her talk on BRAVING, you develop trust and love through hundreds of tiny engagements and opportunities. You either show up or you turn away. I am showing up. My next mate must show up too. First for her own life. Is she standing in her own power, her own dream? And then as an equal, as she considers joining together and combining forces.

I want to be a better man by being with a woman who calls me to attention and accountability. Today, I am alone and doing fine. I am doing some of the hard work of healing past wounds (mine have to do with childhood trauma) and celebrating a positive self-image. As I learn about loving myself, I am readying a place in my heart to love another.

I’m not quite there yet. But I’m excited by the opportunities ahead to become someone’s BFFN. The “for now” part is critical. I can’t plan the future of my next relationship. I can only show up, be honest, and remain open. The other person has 50% of the balance in how things turn out. In the past I have tried to be bigger than my 50%, I have compensated for qualities that were lacking in the other person, I’ve sacrificed some of my must-haves. I’ve learned that being unbalanced in any way (sexually, financially, physically, spiritually) can cause problems in the future.

Let’s keep returning to the now of our relationship. Sure, let’s become girlfriend and boyfriend and then let’s see where it goes from there.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

back to Dating After Divorce

related posts:


The Unattached Male

I am a wild animal. I understand this about my brain. There are parts of it (the reptilian brain) that are still connected to instincts like “survival of the fittest” and “sex for procreation” and “sex at every opportunity.” There are parts of all of us (yes, I believe women are just as energized by sexual energy and attraction as men are) that are more like animals on the hunt for a mate than a rational human being going about their modern-day lives. We’re hooked on sex. And when our sex-is-on-fire we pay attention to what is right in front of us.

I know myself “in relationship” as a man who is satisfied and settled. I am no longer driven by the energetic part of the sex-brain that is hunting for attractive and available women. When I have a relationship to call my own, my entire body is more relaxed, more connected, and more grounded. I can see and appreciate a sexy young woman, and as a connected male, I can let it go with a “God has made another beautiful woman,” thought. I do not need to lure, to approach, or engage.

I noticed this afternoon I was fascinated by a young woman a few tables over at lunch. She was chatting with a friend and never noticed my attentions. But I noticed I was seeing things about her that might be construed as… Well, as not all that healthy.

I am not a misogynist, but I do have a hard time not making women’s bodies “objects” of affection. That’s called the objectification of women. (Not a good thing.) So I notice. Appreciate. And let go.

This is when I’m in a good place, relationship-wise, as in connected, satisfied, and satiated. Today was not one of those days. I’m alone again. I’ve been dating and meeting women, but I’m unattached, unsatiated. I’m still in my reptillian brain and desiring women in the world around me with a possesive and primal energy. I wanted this young woman, smiling, talking, and taking no notice of the dad-bod near her.

What was it about her energy, her sexuality, her youth, that fascinated me so much? And this is not strictly about youth or fitness, though those things can add or subtract from the momentum. I was attracted and pulled toward this young woman, because I do not have a primary relationship in my life. Sure, I’m exploring a few options via online dating, but I’m no longer attached to a woman.

This untethered state is something that makes me feel less than optimal as I walk the earth. I feel a bit more energetic, but in a sexual and driven way. She was a tasty mate, and that’s what I was looking for, even if the idea of “mating” for procreation is no longer part of my physical possibilities.

Today, I don’t have a greener pasture I’m looking for, I’m looking for any available, rational, Brené Brown reading, fit, and funny woman. I’m looking.  And in this seeking state, I’m more of a predator, more an old lion on a hunt.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

back to Dating After Divorce

The “Third Glass” series:

related posts:

Going Global with the 100%-Positive Single Parent Message

Today marks a new dawn for The Whole Parent.

Today, the online agent who found me a few weeks ago begins the process of putting The Whole Parent into the reach of millions more people than we’ve touched so far. Today, The Whole Parent has over 1 million reads of our posts. We’re pretty happy with that stat. But it’s not enough.

anne leedom - the whole parent

Anne Leedom’s Online PR is about to take the journey with us to creating a more positive divorce and single parenting experience for you and your kids. We need to let go of the divorce and anger. We need to become “whole” parents again. And with Anne beside me, I’m confident we will continue to touch lives.

Today is the beginning of something big. Welcome aboard Anne. We’re ready to do great things with you.

Thank you again for coming along on my journey.

John McElhenneyThe Whole Parent

Imagine a Man

Let’s talk about your (woman’s) side of the equation. I’m so focused on what I want, what about you? What does your ideal man look like? Please discuss.

Here my ten success factors for a relationship with a man.

  1. Mental fitness
  2. Physical fitness
  3. Spiritual fitness
  4. Emotionally available
  5. Financially stable
  6. Happiness scale
  7. Sexually attractive (chemistry)
  8. The way he walks in the world
  9. The way he approaches you/women/life
  10. Timing is everything

How does your vision for a man stack up? Could you put your list together for an ideal man? Have you done it? Have you done a vision board for the man you are dreaming of? Are you ready to meet him? If the man of your dreams shows up tomorrow are you really ready for him? What would it take to be swept off your feet? And it that really what you want? There are some dangerous aspects of getting too romantically, or too sexually, connected before the “relationship” part of the relationship has a chance to develop.

Sex is great. Chemistry is vital. But the rest of the relationship is more important. What happens if the sex is amazing on the 5th date? You still know very little about how this man lives his life. And you certainly don’t know how you would fit into his routine. Because you have not had a chance to figure out a routine together. You’ve just gotten hooked up on the love drug. And love/sex is a very powerful drug.

In the marriage to the mother of my children, I got physically connected, attracted, to her long before I was clear on what she was like. And this proved to be a problem later when I began to understand a bit more about her spiritual and mental makeup. I’m not going to say anything negative about her at this point, other than to say we had great chemistry and less relationship compatibility. How will you know about your new relationship if you don’t give the “relationship” time to develop. Once the sex-drive is connected, your ability to logically navigate the adventure of building a life together is compromised. Yes, it’s a great compromise. But it’s also a trap.

Sex too soon can lead to bad relationships based on sex and physical attraction. Make sure when you are thinking of having sex with someone (this is my relationship DNA – The 6-Step Relationship Strategy) that you are preparing the idea that you want to have a long-term relationship (LTR) with this person. If you are hooking up, you are reading the wrong blog. (grin)

Have fun out there. Get yourself a map of the man you want to find. Imagine the man, imagine a man, imagine your man, and then do the work to get yourself in the best shape (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) of your life, so that when he shows up he will notice you. That’s all it takes. If the magic is going to happen, it’s going to happen. Having sex too soon can derail the emotional and spiritual bonding that also needs to take place.

I’m not saying don’t have sex. I’m not saying wait 5 dates or 5 months before having sex with someone. I am saying, when you’re about to have sex with someone, ask the question, “Does this person have the potential to be the one?” If the answer is less than a resounding YES, you might be more interested in a hookup than a relationship. That’s okay, but notice your own feelings about the idea. And if you want to hookup, do it. But if you’re looking for a relationship to last the rest of your life, give your heart a chance to catch up with you and your man before you bring him into your bedroom.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

* If you are interested in meeting Daniel, or getting a coach in your life, please let me know.

More from The Whole Parent:

+++ imagine a man, by the who +++

Imagine a girl
You long for and have
And the body of chalky perfection and truth

Imagine a past
Where you wish you had lived
Full of heroes and villains and fools

And you will see the end
You will see the end
And you will see the end
You will see the end
Oh yeah

Online Dating Optimized – The Next Chapter of Dating After Divorce

Since October 27th, 2017, things have been quiet here. That is not because nothing has been happening, quite the opposite, in fact. In a seemingly random and brutal series of events my life began a transformative reorientation. I was praying as hard as I could. I was working an entry-level job (that I loved by the way) at a local specialty grocery store, and… horror of all horrors was/am living with my 85 yo mom. No pity party here, however, this dark night of the soul has caused me to delve even deeper into my childhood trauma and ask even harder questions of myself and my therapists.

Then came February 1st, 2018. Everything changed. On that day I discontinued using seemingly benign sleeping med and woke up from some kind of 3-month emotional coma. While this drug was somewhat euphoric at night, it led to the absolute lack of any joy throughout the following day. I was honestly living from sleeping pill to sleeping pill and working a thankless job in a tragi-comedy fable about the son who failed to launch, launched and failed to launch again. and a mom who kept taking him back in. Something out of Homer’s Oddessy wouldn’t be more epically difficult.

All that to say, my experience with online dating apps Match and OkCupid were getting a little lackluster so I threw caution to the wind and kerosene on the “boost” options of both Tinder and Bumble and … well, metaphorical hell broke loose. I’m here to say, on the last day of February, that the fires have not died down, they have merely scorched away all the remnants of the me I used to be before my breakdown/breakup following a three-year relationship and engagement.

Welcome to Online Dating Optimization 2.0 – the series.

I’m ready to tell the tales of the last 4 months. I’m ready to catch you up with today and what’s happening with my friendly ongoing chats with 2 – 3 women and why I deleted all of my dating profiles yesterday. It’s an exciting and somewhat manic story. I hope you learn something right along with me, as I unfold what it means to be a conscious dater in 2018.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

get even more of the dating story:

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I am alone.

I don’t like being alone. I like sleeping next to someone, loving someone each morning, finding new things to love each day. I crave this connection a little too much and I know that’s a bad thing. I think I’m too susceptible right now to my own addiction. I think I might be addicted to women. In a slightly unhealthy way, that has led me to trouble in the past. So let’s slow things down a bit and look at how “the waiting” can be the best part.

At the moment I am in a perfect relationship. I wake up , go to sleep, nap, walk, play tennis, write… all that, I do all those things without considering another soul. I am in love with myself. Okay, that’s a bit extreme, but I’m learning to like my own company again. For awhile there, after my last breakup I was not sure I would survive to see another relationship. Today, I know I will, I’m just not sure how or when. It’s that unknowing that I’m also beginning to understand. I can’t say I enjoy it yet, but I get it. I’m not ready.

While there are not a whole lot of things going tremendously right in my life right now, I am comfortable in my rebuilding. As I went on a “hello date” yesterday I was happy with the me I presented. While there was zero chemistry and thus zero follow-up, it was an opportunity to tell my story again. To hear how it sounds to talk about my divorce and my kids, and what I’m doing with my life. Of course, I leave out some of that life stuff, but I was honest in all that I chose to share.

What I learned yesterday, at some point during our 45 minute conversation, is I am confident and comfortable with who and where I am. I talked about the i-ching for a minute in reference to both of our current situations. (See, when you’re going on a first date it’s likely the other person is alone and waiting for what’s next as well.) That she had never heard of the i-ching was surprising, but hey… Here’s a paraphrase of what I said.

Back when I was into the tao and zen, I used to throw the i-ching for guidance. It’s really just a reflecting pool that you can bounce your current situation off of, a philosophy. What was interesting was out of the 64 hexagrams of the i-ching, three times I threw the exact same one.


Actively Waiting.

And what I learned was the great general does not rest during the down times of war. He is actively rebuilding, strategizing, readying his plans. In our case, we are in a down time, but rather than be lazy or discouraged, we must take advantage of this time and explore, learn, study, plan, everything we can think of, so that when the waiting is over we are well-prepared for the journey ahead.

Am I ready for a new relationship right now? Nope. How do I know? I’m too into it. I’m too ambitious. I’m too eager. There is very little peace in my approach right now. I’m learning and slowing that down over the past few weeks, but I still feel the lingering energy that would swoop in at the first opportunity for a relationship and create an unrealistic fantasy about the woman just so I could have a relationship.

In the waiting I’m working on a few things.

  • Continuing my exercise and good eating habits. (Helps me stay fit.)
  • Reading and writing. (Helps me plan and imagine the future.)
  • Exploring online dating. (Gives me glimpses of possibility. None that I have connected with, but it’s sort of like training school.)
  • Working a shift-job while I continue to seek my next big job. (Keeps me engaged. Gives my kids some child support.)
  • Honoring and visiting with my mom. (She’s 85 and has plenty of worldly-wise and unwise experience to share with me.)
  • Requesting opportunities to be with my kids and build our relationship. (Teenagers are usually too busy for mom or dad, I get it.)
  • Listening and respecting the pace of life. (Mindfulness is an ongoing practice.)

I am confident that each of the activities gives me more strength and passion for what’s next. That could be a new job. A new relationship. Or it could be more of the actively waiting. As long as I am not wasting this time, I am building a better me. I believe that.

When I think about myself at this moment I would say, I’m as happy as I’ve ever been.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

image: meditation, creative commons usage

There’s Something Missing

Moods are a swirl of chemicals in the brain set awash by events and triggers in our lives. The fall is beginning to poke up cooler mornings here in my city and earlier in the week I was energized and excited to be walking around the nearby lake. It was as if the fall signaled to my brain, happy times, burning leaves, football games, and warm blankets. But yesterday, with the same cool weather, my walk around the lake was a struggle. I don’t know exactly what happened, but my chemicals were a bit on the sad/tired side rather than the up/excited side I’ve been grooving on for several months.

I’m not depressed. I am a bit less enthusiastic. I’m wondering why.

It was as if yesterday morning I woke up with less hope. I have to say that projecting confidence and joy in the period of my life, must be tiring. I experience it as joy, but I know somewhere, underneath, in the chemical machine of my body, I am working to maintain my happy attitude in spite of all the downers in my current situation. I know this period is challenging all of my preconceived ideas of who I would be at 54, where I would be at 54, who I would be with at 54, and what I would be doing at 54. And October is the beginning of the fall and that will put me at 55, in November. I’m more than halfway through my lifespan and things haven’t gone so great for me.

I don’t look back with any regrets. (Well, that’s not true, there are several.) Let me try again. I don’t look back with much regret about how I’ve lived my life post-divorce. I have struggled with depression, yes. I have struggled with my work, yes. And I have struggled as a single dad, yes. But I have kept my attitude aimed at higher states even when I was in the lowest states. I have never given up hope of returning to my victorious self, the self I celebrate and praise. I’m not there yet, but I’m still putting up a good fight.

So, yesterday my chemistry was off. Nothing else changed. I got plenty of sleep, exercise, and good food. I’ve been getting some 2nd round interviews. My writing has been going well. So, what’s off? I’d like to think it’s the WOMAN that is missing, but that’s not it either. I do write a lot about dating and wanting a relationship, but I’m pretty clear that it’s too soon for me. I’m okay with being alone until I get a bit more of my equation figured out. What would I tell a date, “I’m living with my mom and working at a grocery store.” How’s that going to work out? Or I could lie. That’s no better. So, I’m alone. That’s not it.

I have to think it’s a combination of all of these things. Of course, it’s tiring to be unhappy with your current environment and employment status. There is no doubt that I’m struggling with my lifeway and the path is not yet clear to me. But it’s also clear to me that my current living situation is not painful. If I don’t thrash against the situation, I can see how my life is very easy right now. I get plenty of sleep. I take naps. I work part-time. I have time to play tennis, bike, and walk around the lake. I mean, my life does not suck.

Still, the moods roll in and out as if on tides. There is no controlling the bio-rhythm of our energy overall, it’s really just how we respond to the varying levels of energy. And over the past several months a low-energy day was just passing through. Yesterday, the low-energy had the feeling of maybe sticking around for a bit. That got me a bit worried.

I’m not worried today. While I’m not 100%, I’m also on the incline headed back up. Yesterday, however, even after my walk, continued to be challenging. And perhaps in response to the low-energy mode I had a hard time staying positive in the face of all that is happening or not happening in my life.

I had a job interview in the afternoon that could not have gone worse. It’s not that I did poorly. It was more that became terrified during the interview that I might actually get this job that the woman was describing and it was awful. Just the kind of work I’m hoping to not return to. And I was going along with the interview as if… “Yes, I am good at that…” But I wanted to say, “But I don’t ever want to do it again.” The interview lasted about 30 minutes. When it was done I was exhausted. I was not feeling positive. In fact, I was feeling scared. I had the sinking feeling, while interviewing, that I get when I’m headed for a fall. I was powerless in that interview, in my mind, and I was heading towards a cliff.

The rest of my day didn’t go all that great. I self-regulated by taking a nap and that helped. But I never did quite shake the feeling of fear that creeped in while I was talking to this young woman on the phone. I learned something: I will not take the kind of job that is going to eat me alive. It’s not worth it, and today, I don’t have to take it. I went to bed after reading for a bit, and woke up today in a more-normal, not-down, state.

Something is missing.

I am ready to have a good job that appreciates me and doesn’t drive me into the ground. I’m ready to afford my own place again, even if that doesn’t mean buying a house. And I’m ready to be constructing a relationship again, I think. It’s this last one that’s unclear for me. I have been super happy in my natural state over the last few months, alone. I’m okay with having nothing to do on a Friday night. I’m learning again to enjoy my own company. What complications would a new relationship bring into the picture? Tons.

What I’m coming to is this: we are where we are for a reason. I am in this place to heal. I am alone to learn to be alone again. I am unemployed because I need to learn to value my work in a way that doesn’t compromise or destroy my personal life. I’m going to do all of these things better as I move forward from this place. But this place, this quiet time, is also a blessed time. A time for reconfiguring. A time for being sensitive to my moods and learning new ways to moderate or understand them.

This month leading up to my 55th birthday is a time of great power for me. I will spend this time alone and seeking my own company and counsel. When the next job, woman, or house come by I will be able to consciously make the better decision. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with being still, right where I am, in this uncomfortable ego-less state. I am rebuilding, brighter and better. And until then, I actively wait, pray, and write.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

image: joy, creative commons usage


(Singing) Find Me Somebody to Love

Did you hear the Queen song in your mind? Here, let me help.

There. That sets the tone of my teenage mindset, from when this song came out in the early 70’s. Today, in my mid-50’s I’m still a bit like that young boy, wide-eyed, eager, and most of all lonely. It’s not that I’m not enjoying my time alone, I am. But… As an empath I really feel the aloneness in a deep way. And I know this ache still needs some time to heal before I’m really ready to quest on towards a new relationship.

I’m a bit like a hungry ghost at the moment, and that’s not where I want to start from. I can feel it, however, in my approach to daily life. I’m looking a bit too longingly into other women’s eyes. I have a bit too much “hi, how are you” swagger at work. And I am imagining lustful scenes rather than holistic, real, achievable moments. It’s like my mind wanting to recreate a porn scene while my heart is looking for a real relationship. The two lines are blurred in my mind for now, and that’s confusing.

I don’t see myself as a horndog, but I think at the moment I’ve got all the characteristics of one. I’m not acting out, of course, but I’m actively conjuring up the energy and images in my mind. I see it as revving the motor. Harmless. And yet, the phrase, hungry ghost didn’t come out of thin air. I am a bit too obsessive. I have a drive that I’m not all that proud of at the moment, that demands a partner, a companion, a place to call home with someone else to come home to. It’s fine to want all that, when the time is right. The time is not right for me, at the moment and I know it. And yet the fire burns on.

I am walking around life at the moment with a hyper sense of awareness. I’m trying to identity what features I really “fall in love” with in a woman. And I’m not really getting the formula. I fall for 5 – 6 women a day. Of course this is in a harmless and self-aware way. I see my longing, I acknowledge the beauty of the woman I’m seeing, and I move along. I am not in pursuit.

And at the same time, I can feel the lack of that connection in everything I do. I don’t want to sleep alone tonight. I don’t want to plan all my own meals, and shop alone, and entertain myself. I crave the opportunity to do all those mundane things with someone. Of course, that’s where relationships can get off course, in the mundane. So, this time, I’m thinking I will make things different.

In fact, mundane is a fundamental process in any relationship. And getting to love the simple daily tasks with your mate is part of the journey. We get all jazzed and heated up about sex and sexual chemistry, which are very important, but sex probably makes up about 1% of our lives together. It is the rest of the time you have to figure out if you can enjoy together. I’m eager to try again, but with some new realizations.

  • Partners must have equal power and voice in the decisions of the relationship.
  • Both partners must continue their creative journeys alone.
  • Keeping an outside life enriches the relationship.
  • Adaptability is critical, but some things about your partner will never change.
  • The relationship is always considered first when making outside plans, always. A simple, “Hi honey, I’m thinking about going out with friends on Friday, is that okay with you?”
  • Disconnections must be expressed, even in the face of fear.

And there, I didn’t mention sex at all. Oh, but sex should be connective and pleasurable for both partners. If your attraction and relationship is founded on sex there is going to be a lot more of living that you need to figure out together.

Summing up, what I know about myself is I’m still a bit ghostly inside with too much sexual energy wrapped up in my daily walkabout. I am actively slowing my roll and not looking for a relationship. I can still have those lusty feelings, recognize them for what they are, appreciate the woman who triggered them, and the move on with my life as I am rebuilding it. It’s a perfect time. All the relationships I have are in my head and they are amazing.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

image: lover’s kiss, creative commons usage

My Failure with Online Dating Sites

What’s the deal? Online dating is supposed to offer up so many possibilities for us to find each other. To find our mate. But it’s not that easy. Here’s my recent experience (say 30 days) of seeking a relationship on and OK Cupid.

Yes, my profile is still active, but I rarely go to either site and here’s why.

  • Women rarely respond to “hello” messages.
  • The “new” profiles are far and few. So I’ve seen everyone.
  • Once you’ve said “hello” to all the interesting women, you wait. You say “hello” again. And you wait.
  • It’s a woman’s world out there, and they have the power to engage or ignore.
  • The only women who have reached out to me first we either scammers (trying to lure me off to their other page on another, paid, site.) or women whose profile pictures were actually scary to me. As in, WTF and I doing here.

I wonder, if I’m that guy to the women I’m reaching out to? I’m trying to seek within my own age range, plus or minus 5 years. And I’ll admit I’m more drawn to the younger end of the spectrum, to a point. And in that respect, I wonder if I’m the “ug” guy that keeps pestering these cute women?

I don’t think so. I think my profile shows me in a good light. I think I’m fitter than I’ve ever been. And I think I’m being realistic with who I am contacting. So what gives?

From my conversations with some of the women I’ve gone on first dates with, I understand that the online dating world for women is very different. Attractive women get from 20 – 30 offers, or emails, per day. (Even if that number is per week, it’s an amazingly high number. I get 1 a week on a good week.) So the women are literally filtering through hundreds of offers and picking the guys they want to respond to. Turns out I’m not that guy. Or maybe I’m not that “first impression” then buried in a full and filling inbox. Either way, I rarely get even a “Hey” back from my “Hi, I’d love to start a conversation,” emails. I get nada.

So this lack of feedback is disappointing. And the lack of new profiles is disappointing. And my three four dates have had disappointing outcomes. So what’s the point? Perhaps, I am deciding, I am still pushing the river too hard. Perhaps I’m seeking a relationship in an aggressive style that really doesn’t match who I am. Perhaps I need new profile images that show my newly clean-shaven face?

Or, and I think this is the real answer, I need to give it a rest and just be with myself. Write. Explore. Do my thing. And to be honest, I am enjoying this in-between-time quite a bit. So today, I’m taking another new approach. Fk online dating. I’m not really one to make snap decisions about a woman’s attractiveness based on a few photos. And that’s not how I go about starting a relationship either. Of course, I’m not going bar hopping either.

Slow it all down. As I say in my profile, I’m not in a hurry to be in a relationship. I’m looking for friends.

Take care. If you want to talk to someone about love and single parenting, let me know.

Always Love,

John McElhenney