Sunday, May 1, 2016

Haunted

Some words recently came back to haunt me. 

Kind of.

I was sharing my recent heartbreak over the ending of my relationship with my young friend, when a friend offered this unsolicited piece of insight: "I think he's only saying what he wants you to hear."

And yet behind those words, I heard, "Don't you realize he's only playing you?"

Seriously? 

And that was my initial reaction. After a few weeks, okay months, of reflection, I have come to believe that is what we all do in the majority of our conversations. We say only what we want/believe the others to hear.  I teach my students what they need to know for that lesson, only what I want them to hear. I share details with friends about my life, but only what I want them to hear; certain friends get certain details depending on our type of relationship and where it is at the moment.

Which takes me back to my friend; she, too, only told me what she wanted me to hear, as well. Or, perhaps I am projecting. But, what else could she be thinking? 

As I have begun to anticipate the possibility, no, the probability of re-entering the gay dating pool at some future point, these very words from my friend came back to reverberate throughout my mind. They became a giant caution sign. Almost a nuclear warning sign. Any guy is only going to tell me what he wants me to hear; all the good stuff. That makes sense, who would lead with his faults? Bad habits? Tell me what he doesn't like about me?

It's the other kinds of comments that make me freeze up and wonder: "You're very sexy", "I always play safe", "I think we'd be good together."  It could be he is being sincere. It could be otherwise, only to get what he wants. 

It will only take time.

And my gut instinct.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Latest Foray...

My latest little chatting adventure has left me a little, no, a lot disappointed.

After the African Gold Mine marriage scam, (see my prior post, Snake Oil? ) I decided to just see what happened, and kept chatting, though more guarded.

One Saturday morning, I awoke about my regular time, ~5:30 AM and for kicks decided to see who had visited my profile overnight. A few guys, but no one who really grabbed my interest. I returned a few innocuous messages, "Hi, handsome!", deleted a few others, "you horny?", when a new one came through. It merely said "Handsome" but there was no profile picture to accompany it. Oh, lord, I thought. I checked the profile page: he lived in Chicago, 5'9", 180 lbs. with brown hair and eyes, and a goatee. Sounded dreamy, but with no profile pic, I was skeptical, and the distance was undesirable. Then I got the notification he was sending me a pic. I prayed it wasn't a dick pic. I waited for the picture to load, anticipation building. Which head would I see, big or little? Finally it materialized in front of me. 

OMG. If I thought Scam Guy was hot, or at least the guy used in the fake profile pic was hot, this guy was even hotter. OMG. Where Scam Guy was very attractive in a clean, masculine preppy way, this new guy was hot in a rugged, masculine way. He was not naked in this typical bathroom mirror selfie, but in a tight yellow t-shirt, hugging a nicely toned chest and biceps, and blue jeans. The baseball cap on his head gave him maybe a bit of a country redneck look to him. But, still, OMG!

Not him, but close
A second pic notification soon followed and again I found myself hoping it was not the seemingly required pic of the little head. It was full frontal, but of his face. His neatly trimmed beard-not a goatee, soulful eyes, and a different baseball cap only stirred my attraction and a few other feelings as well. I mean, damn! He was hot!

And I told him so. 

We ended up chatting a total of over 6 hours that first day.

Three hours into this first chat that Saturday morning, he told me he had never chatted this long with any guy on the site before and he was enjoying himself. He did get a little flirty, commenting we were both sort of in bed together, how sexy that was and that he was in his briefs. But he needed to sign off the site and get his day going.




Me: Okay, I enjoyed our chat, let's have coffee in bed together sometime soon. 
Him: I'd love to.
Me: I'd love to keep chatting to get to know more about you.

Two hours later, he replied: I'd like that too. And besides, thinking of you makes me all warm and fuzzy.

I actually think I blushed.

And we chatted again for a couple more hours, until he said he had to go and take a nap. One hour later he was messaging me again. It seems his dog woke him up! (Good dog!) And I still made him feel all warm and fuzzy. We chatted two more hours until I had to get ready for my evening date with Adam Lambert.

And we ended up chatting for almost nine hours the next day. We set up his iPad so we could chat there instead of on his work phone (he's not out at work) and not through the original site gets bogged down with all the guys looking for hookups, virtual or otherwise. And maybe eventually, FaceTime. I asked him what he did for fun and he replied "reading, building stuff, and painting."

Me: Do you paint buildings or pictures?
Him: Art.
Me. Damn, you just got sexier.
Him: Can you receive a text? (this was pre-iPad)
Me: Yes

A few seconds later I received a text bubble saying "My Rooster." I sincerely hoped he wasn't being coy and meaning something else. Soon the picture came through and it turned out to be a painting of a rooster. A real painting of a real rooster, not his own personal "rooster." A barnyard rooster.

He told me how much he enjoyed our chats, both when we got a little flirty and when we didn't:
Him: Damn, you are so hot!
Me: Thank you, so are you.
Him: I bet you're fun to cuddle with.
Me: Too bad we can't find out in real life.
Him: I know. Big spoon or little spoon?
Me: Either, depends on my mood.
Him: love that
Me: I'd also love to sit and just talk over coffee.
Him: Oh, I'd love that too. I just love chatting with you.
Me: I'm enjoying getting to know you.
Him: I'm yours in so many ways. (A phrase he'd repeat at least twice more) Are you seeing anyone?
Me: No one. Are you?
Him: No. No steady. Could I see a picture of your house? 

I thought it was an odd, yet very different than what many men ask to see. And I obliged, as did he. 

He later shared he was packing for a business trip and leaving the following day, Monday, followed by a pleasure trip. He made it clear he would be alone while on business but with a friend on the pleasure portion that weekend.

Me: Safe travels.
Him: Thanks. We'll chat next week after work.
Me: Sounds good. (I interpreted 'next week' to mean after this week when he was back in Chicago.

I was wrong. He messaged me Monday evening when he was in his hotel room.
Him: Hi, sexy.
Me: Hi, stud.
Him: Sweet talker. I wish you were here with me.
Me: I do, too.

And then Tuesday morning: Hi, sexy.
Me: Good morning, handsome.
Him: How long before you leave for work?
Me: A couple of hours, but I still have to jump in the shower and get dressed.
Him: Hot visual
Me: Oh?
Him: You all wet and soapy...(I have to admit, I'm not used to hearing this kind of talk from a man I think is extremely handsome and very sexy. But, I was indeed enjoying it...)
Me: And I'm picturing you that way too...
Him: Mmmmm

And he messaged me later in the afternoon, but sadly I had an engagement so we chatted again Wednesday morning. And later that evening...

I knew he was going on a pleasure trip with a friend following this business trip, so I didn't expect to hear from him. And only five days into whatever this was going to be, he didn't owe me any explanation.

I gave him what seemed like a reasonable time, two days, to get back home and into his routine when I messaged him:
Me: How was your trip?
Him: Hi, sexy. Great. Back home. How was your week?
Me: A bit exhausting, all my students wore me out.
Him: Oh, you could use a back rub!
Me: Mmm, yes. Or just a cuddle...
Him: Yes
Me: Feels good to be in your arms...
Him: The best
Me: Mmmmm

And there it ended...he never replied. 

And I'll never know why, or what happened...
Though I have my suspicions...

Oh, well, moving along...

But, damn, he was hot!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Snake Oil?

Why is it we are such skeptics? Is it that we, as a people, have become so used to being taken, swindled, deceived, tricked, and lied to, that we believe when something too good to be true comes along, we believe that it is? Too good to possibly be true?

I recently did something I SWORE I'd NEVER do again.

I put up a profile on an on-line gay chat site. Not one specifically meant to be a hookup site, but more of a chat site. With the abrupt end of my prior relationship, I felt the deep loss of chatting with the other man who I'd been conversing with for four years, and wanted the social interaction, even if it was only virtual. And just maybe, I'd meet a nice local guy to hang out with. I knew the possibility, okay-probability, of being hit on was a foregone conclusion. After all, I was recently hit on on Goodreads, a Facebook-like site for book lovers and authors. I'd simply use the 'block' function as necessary on the chat site.

To check out Goodreads, click here.

In a matter of a couple hours, I had some hits. Several in fact. Yet, not one over 30. Not one from Southern California; but South America, Asia, the Eastern US. Some were cute, some were less so. Some were nice and wanted to chat, some wanted to jump right to it; "Hi, you horny?"

And my personal favorite: "Hey, you a dom? I'd beg to service you behind my boyfriend's back."

A few men my age also visited my profile, some said hi, some floated by-I felt like I was in a bar, but without leaving home.

The next day, one particular message caught my eye. A strikingly handsome man (I mean actor/model good looking) messaged me asking me how I was doing and how was the weather by me. I replied and we continued chatting, and he shortly suggested we move to Skype. We have been chatting nightly since then.

During our very first chatting session, he put all his cards on the table stating what he was looking for and what he brought to a relationship. His words sounded so familiar, it was as if I could have written them myself; he wanted honesty, truthfulness, open communication, monogamy, acceptance of both what he is and what he is not, a partner willing to work on the relationship when it gets a little stale, someone who would nurture him to be himself and a partner willing to be nurtured to be his best both within and without the relationship, a partner willing to support him to achieve his goals and dreams as he supported his partner to to do the same.

All this, and a willingness to take it slow and not rush anything.

I mean, what more could I want? I began lowering my defenses.

Yes, I did find his abruptness a bit intimidating, while refreshing at the same time. I looked at it a couple of ways: He wasn't into game playing-if I wasn't looking for a relationship, let's cut the losses now and not waste time, energy or our emotions, and he had been hurt and wanted to avoid it again.

Did I say he was handsome? And from what I could see in the pictures, (all very G rated) he had a nice, hunky muscular body.

Because of my skepticism and recent heartbreak, I started looking for cracks, finding flaws and faults. One little one stood out; his profile picture showed a neatly trimmed beard, while the profile description said "No Facial Hair." Okay, maybe he shaved and hasn't changed the picture or vice versa-he grew his beard and hasn't changed the description. No big deal. I'm hoping for the latter.

In chat session two, he began expressing some vulnerability, exhibiting some pain. Vulnerability can be very sexy. He described his issues around body shaming, how people had made fun of and make jokes about his body. I had a difficult time comprehending how people would make fun of his body if he was a muscular as the pic showed. (I should say only his head and shoulders were visible.) At times, I did feel he was expressing too much too soon, and felt a bit scared, but found his openness refreshing. And I was responding with similar answers. He was asking mostly deep questions-what past mistake(s) would I change and why, and a few superficial ones-my favorite color, my favorite flower; we talked life, we talked our approaches to relationships. We talked how we'd been hurt, and how we'd let ourselves be hurt. And, maybe he just wanted to avoid any game playing up front. Defenses falling a bit more. Heart opening up, but just a tad.

I'd noticed some other small things. When we were chatting, there were some grammatical errors, mostly minor, and as a teacher/writer they glare out at me. People don't text/chat as we speak, so I was willing to overlook them. After all, texting on a phone with it's small keyboard can be a challenge at times.

My self-esteem started to rise along with my general mood. Here was an extremely attractive, kind, decent, hardworking man (he owned his own business) who shared very similar, if not nearly identical philosophies of life, love, and relationships with me, and we were chatting, now nightly. He was looking to love someone and be loved, ready for a relationship, to give his all. It was nervously exciting, yet eerie to be in this position barely a few days after posting my profile! My heart is now more than just a tad open.

It all felt too good to be true. Something seemingly so perfect, right after such a devastating heartbreak. Was the Universe bringing me some happiness at last? Someone who was ready to love me as I deserve to be loved? My defenses were falling with each and every chat, while my attachment was growing.

Yet, I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. There has to be something amiss, here. But maybe not? There must be someone else out there like me. Surely?

We chatted a few more days, developing a bond, a desire to meet, to visit each other. I began wondering which of us would end up having to relocate; he had a successful business in the Midwest, and I have a house in Southern California. Yes, I knew it was early to be thinking this, but I'd prefer to cut my losses early rather than late. Especially, if I felt a very deep possibility of something good here. A very attractive sexy man, espousing the same values I have, wanting to move slowly as he gets over his pain and acknowledging mine really paints a good picture of the possibility of something good. I couldn't help but start falling for these beautiful words, from such a gorgeous man.

In one chat session on a Wednesday night, about two weeks later, he dropped the bomb; he could wait no longer to meet me, he was flying out. That weekend. Panic set in. Fear followed right behind, with a dab of excitement entering as well. My mind was in a twirl. I'd heard of people connecting very quickly and wanting to pursue it and could I be honest with myself regarding him-or was I merely a sucker for a handsome face attached to a gorgeous body who saw life, love and relationships as I did, especially when the last man I loved was too insecure to FaceTime with me?

What more could I ask for? Defenses down even more, while remaining guarded, yet becoming quite hopeful.

He wanted to ask one question before he'd make the plans to come see me. It concerned his late father.

Uh oh. Not sure what this has to do with anything...defenses steady, yellow alert.

He wanted to know if the barrister covering his late father's estate could contact me.

Bells are going off. Red flags beginning to rise.

He needed someone to say he was married to him in order to receive title to the gold his father had lest in West Africa.

I was crushed. It had all been a lie. A fake profile.

With marriage equality, it seems the infamous Nigerian email scam has now emerged on the gay dating/chatting scene.

Defense shields back on full alert.

And yet, there is a lesson here. Somewhere.

I could simply retreat fully from chatting online. Again.

Or, I could go on. Ever more cautious this time, especially if it sounds too good to be true.

Which it probably will be.

Mmmaybe...


Sunday, March 6, 2016

I See the Signs

Dear Universe,

I know what You are doing; You are preparing me for something. But, what? I don't know.

You brought him to me, only for us to separate, not once but twice. The differences between us were as grand as the Canyon itself and yet, the friendship blossomed into a relationship filled with compassion, creativity, communication, growth and support, with the occasional thorn of frustration and misunderstanding poking into the mix. We seemed to connect so intensely deep and deeply intense that the connection itself was frightening. In spite of the fear, it still felt good to be in that space with him then.

Yet, we are not in a good space right now as he admitted, and I had begun to suspect, he wasn't ready for a relationship at his stage in life. So, I am trying to move on, put him out of my mind-yet You are making it impossible.

As You know, I pay attention to the signs You send me. And You have been sending me a few. Quite a number to be exact. So many, that I'd have to be comatose not to see them. The first few came a bit sporadically, and then the avalanche-nearly day after day-something jarring my heart, bringing him back to to the forefront of my mind. Some of the first few were subtle enough to pique my interest, then they became a bit less subtle, like a bull in a china shop, with the last few being blatantly obvious. I began to question if I was either losing my mind, or reading Your signs correctly. And You answered. I must admit Your sense of humor is quite intriguing. You answered me with a message not unlike a brick to the head, directly confirming that I was reading them correctly-the random card I pulled from my deck of daily affirmations that read, "Pay Attention to the Signs." Okay, I get it. I'll work on the self-doubt.

I know what You are doing, but the pain is becoming a bit too much. Yes, I have heard that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I should change my name to Hercules. Yet, I can't feel my strength in this matter. I'm still only too human. And while what You are doing isn't killing me, it is also hurting me. I accept that I must, and will, get through this difficult pain and learn to trust You. That is my lesson. There I've said it.

Yet, I have one more question, but am not sure I'm ready for Your answer. You are sending me signs, are You sending him some as well? And is he reading them?

Help me to learn to let go and trust...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Power of Knowing

What's in a word?

A lot, apparently.

About eight or nine years ago, I was feeling very down and I couldn't put my finger quite on why. After all, I had a successful teaching career, just over 25 years-all at the same school. I was well-liked and respected by my students, parents, colleagues, and administrators. In 2003, my then-partner of thirteen years and I bought a house after moving three times in the two years before buying it, and twice more in the ten years before that. With this purchase, my commute just dropped from about an hour to about thirty-five minutes. We eventually married, the first time it was legal in California. One would think I was excited about the prospects of where my life was headed. Yet, I wasn't. 

And I didn't know why I wasn't happy. But, I figured I'd figure it out. Or my life would eventually straighten itself out, so to speak.

I began to attribute my mood to my career; having been at the same school all those years, teaching in the same community. I tried to justify it by believing each year is a different experience as it is a different group of students, and maybe a grade change or two along the way to teach different material, but it boils down to the same thing, but a different package. I tried to blame the commute, because at one point early in my career, I lived close enough I could walk to/from school if I had to, and I often walked home for the exercise, and years later the farthest commute I had was just over an hour each way. Maybe I was just burning out after all this time.

But, something else felt off...

I finally came to the conclusion I needed to seek professional help to figure out what I was feeling. And maybe confirm what I was subconsciously suspecting; I was depressed. But, over what? So, I made an appointment.

Then my ex wanted out. Ironically, he told me the week before my intake with the therapist. When the therapist noted I was married based on the form I'd filled out only a week before, I had to reply, "Not any more." I then explained that just that week, my husband emailed me(!) stating he no longer loved me as a husband but only as a friend after nearly sixteen years together, the last 22 months legally married.

I was devastated, until I talked to a close mutual friend about him. And suddenly, the cloud lifted. The more I talked about him and the problems we had faced, the more the veil was lifted. He was the problem, or rather, the relationship was. I wasn't happy in the relationship yet wasn't able, or willing, to face the truth. The more I faced the truth about him, the happier I was that he was out of my life.

I moved on, contemplating the changes in my life, the possibility of a new relationship. I became a blogger and a published author. I met a few men, explored new sides of me, and of my life.

I now find myself in a similar state of mind as before. I am not happy. Perhaps it is the few men I've met who've left me disappointed in relationships. Perhaps, it's the ongoing struggle teachers are having in being taken seriously about the state of public education in the US. Perhaps it's the fact I've been in the same profession and location for all this time. Perhaps it's the fact I'm getting older in a community that suffers from serious ageism. Perhaps it's the continued battle of internalized homophobia I feel when I see negative news articles about my people. Probably it is a combination of all of the above.   

I asked my current therapist (the original one went out on a medical leave) about a diagnosis for an insurance form. I was thinking she'd say depression. She said she struggled with just the right one but did not feel comfortable with an official diagnosis of clinical depression according to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, I didn't fit the very specific criteria. I forget what she settled on. General Anxiety Disorder, I think.

The morning after, it came to me. 

I'm not depressed, I am disillusioned.

Once I realized I am disillusioned, I felt a bit better. It made more sense to me. Maybe I'm too much of a hopeless romantic for the gay male community. Maybe I am expecting people to respect teachers like they used to. Maybe I'm expecting to fit into a community I don't necessarily belong in.

I'm not sure how to treat disillusionment. I know disillusions come from having expectations and then being disappointed that they don't work out time after time. It's natural to become disillusioned over dating and relationships when they continuously don't work out. Maybe I had higher hopes than I thought. Maybe I wanted a relationship more than I gave lip-service to not wanting one. So, I should lower my expectations.

But, to what?

The field of education is changing; the students of today are far different than their parents or grandparents were. No one blames the firefighters when the drug lab blows up the house; no one blames law enforcement when their house or store is burgled. Yet, everyone blames teachers when education programs fail. [I could write a whole separate series of posts on this, but there are so many other good blogs on this very topic. If you are interested in the topic, please search for the name Diane Ravitch.] I'm not sure how to treat this disillusionment.

The gay male community is very ageist. I can't stop getting older. I can't stop other men from wanting younger men. I can only be myself. And let that be enough. I'm not sure how to approach this. Is this even a disillusionment? Or simply a reality I am learning to face, yet not take personally?

Maybe I just need to let go of any and all expectations. Or else I might end up a bitter old bachelor. But, if I give up my expectations, have I given up hope? Hope of a different world? Hope of a better world? Hope of a happier me?

I once learned that expectations are planned disappointments. Yet, don't we come with a kind of expectation, however small, into every situation? Isn't it difficult not to? 

I realize this is all my attitude and I make my world my own.

And, maybe the Universe is trying to tell me something...but what?

Maybe to just let go and trust in the moment...



Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Ultimate Battle

 
As I reflect on recent events; more specifically on the relationship with the young man which has affected me so greatly, I ask myself the age old question, "What is more important to follow, the head or the heart?" 

When we first started chatting, I was not interested in a relationship at all, let alone with someone thirty-plus years my junior and with quite a different background than mine. So, we settled on being just friends though he wanted more. Yet, as the friendship evolved over time, and I saw so many positive qualities developing in him as he grew, I began to want to explore a more serious relationship with him, and now the differences didn't seem to outweigh the benefits I saw. I followed my heart. Earlier, my head was pointing out those differences I mentioned above, yet now they were taking a back seat to the benefits I now saw. Among them:
  • We shared a willingness and an openness to talk about the relationship itself.
  • We shared a commitment to not let things go unsettled any longer than possible.
  • We both were are very creative and supported each other in our endeavors.
  • We both were exploring a spiritual path to find inner peace and supported each other's journey.
I came to realize these were very important to me in a friend, boyfriend or life partner, as well as someone who could fit all three categories. I also came to realize how crucial it is for me to have my partner start out as my friend, more specifically, as my best friend.

So, all this begs the question-at what point do the challenges and differences by themselves justify ending a potential relationship with so much going for it and where both people feel a very deep connection and a genuine affection for each other? Or could using them to end said relationship be masking an underlying fear, especially when the relationship is already flowing relatively smoothly in spite of them?

I think it depends on the individuals and one basic element: they together must decide their approach to the challenges, provided said challenges do not appear on the deal-breaker list. We all have certain behaviors or characteristics we consider a deal breaker, no matter what. I remember meeting a very attractive man many years ago. He was a walking cliché: tall, dark, very handsome, shirt open revealing a nice patch of chest fur, dark mustache, brown eyes, great smile, broad shoulders...and he was eyeing me. I was already melting, fantasizing what the night would be like. I'd already decided on my answer should he ultimately ask me back to his place. That is, until he pulled out a box of cigarettes from his jacket pocket and lit one up. Growing up in a house of smokers, cigarette smoking is one of my deal breakers.

So, if the challenges and differences appear too insurmountable to only one of the two, then the other must suffer the death of the relationship.

I guess it all boils down to both partners choosing together to follow their heads or their hearts. And if they don't agree?

What then?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Unsolicited Advice

Sometimes, I just can't let things go. I'm like a dog with a bone that way.

I recently received a great deal of unsolicited advice, opinions and comments from a number of people, all of whom had great intentions. Yet, I ended up feeling frustrated, miserable, stressed, and quite angry at them. While I knew they had my best interests at heart, it was hard for me to be at peace with their actions. 

I will also go on to say that the number of people offering their advice and opinions did indeed play into the sinking feeling I had because, at the same time, a relationship I was in was disintegrating and their advice and opinions had to do with the relationship and the other man involved.

While I had shared some of my frustrations around the relationship, which admittedly was new for me, and quite different from what I envisioned for myself, (and what they saw for me) I also tried to share with my friends what positives I was getting from the relationship, which seemed to fall on deaf ears.

I eventually talked out my frustrations with many of those who had offered their unsolicited advice, comments and opinions, yet I am still rankled by it. I had also talked it out with my therapist and came to accept that the advice was offered with my best interests at heart. Yet, I couldn't drop it. And I couldn't understand why.

Maybe this post will help.

I did a little research on why people might offer advice/opinions without being asked. And these are the following reasons most therapists offer:

  1. Altruism-the adviser might offer advice simply because they truly believe it will help out, it is within their nature.
  2. Friendliness-perhaps a stranger might offer advice/opinion to start a conversation or a friend might want to forge a stronger connection.
  3. Excitement-a friend was in a similar situation and found a solution that helped him/her and therefore it should also work for you.
  4. Needing to be Needed-the adviser might simply feel the need to be needed, maybe due to their expertise.
  5. Feeling Helpless-the adviser sees their friend as unable to solve their own problem and wants to help solve their friend's unhappiness.
  6. Sick of Hearing of It-the adviser sees their friend as not taking any constructive steps to correct the situation, which is what the adviser would do, so they "encourage" a solution to stop their friend from continuously emoting.
  7. Narcissism-the adviser just likes to pontificate, or feels the need to be the "leader".
  8. Dominance-the adviser likes to be in charge in any relationship dynamic.
  9. Judgment-the adviser sees something about their friend they don't like or approve of and feels the need to change it.
  10. Drama-the adviser loves drama, conflict or debate, and always seems to have a need to express their advice/opinion. This may be a conscious or unconscious desire.
The first three do indeed come from a good place-meaning those individuals truly wanted to help out of kindness; the last three are from a much darker place-the motives are less kind-and the perpetrators might not even be consciously aware of their motives; while the middle four are from a gray area with somewhat nebulous motives.

Yet, one piece of research I did not find was how the recipient felt about the unsolicited advice/opinions. This would indeed be hard to document, as it would be left up to each individual recipient to determine their own feelings at the time the advice was offered.

I have also come to believe it depends on the source and type of advice. I recently received some advice from perfect strangers regarding purchases I made; I recently bought a bunch of tulips and was told to put some pennies in the water to help keep them from drooping. I also recently purchased a Fitbit tracker, and the cashier commented on it saying she and her boyfriend loved theirs-coincidentally the same model as mine-and she thought I would truly come to enjoy mine as well. I simply thanked both of these people and went about my business. I think I'm having such a hard time with the advice from my friends, because it also happened during an emotionally difficult time for me and in a very sensitive area of my life-a very challenging relationship that showed a lot of potential. Yet, I sensed there was even more to my discomfort.

I was once advised by my therapist to pay more attention to what people do than to what they say. While these people may truly want me to be happy, their comments, advice and opinions were actually contradicting it. Their wanting me to be happy didn't seem to coincide with what they were actually saying, which only added to my confusion and overall emotional state. "Yes, I want you to be happy, but you can't be happy with him. He can't meet your needs." The fact that they actually voiced their opinions weighed more heavily than the words themselves.

A few of my friends stated they didn't trust or believe the young man I was trying to develop a relationship with. They don't have to. I never asked them to. Yet, offering this unsolicited opinion suggests that I, too, shouldn't trust or believe him and therefore I have no idea what I am doing. 

When I shared with a friend I was angry at the end of the relationship, I was asked if I was angry with myself for not seeing what everyone else saw-the young man's faults. Again, this implies I was too naive, innocent or stupid to see what was so painfully obvious. To them. Yet, they formed their advice, opinions and comments on only a tiny fraction of the much larger picture.

Perhaps, it's best to call it for what it is. An opinion is a type of judgment. While my friends believed, out of their love for me, that they were expressing an honest opinion on something they saw that was frustrating me, they were also forming a judgment against this young man, and ultimately against me for choosing to be with him.

There, I've said it. I felt judged. By my friends, and that's what hurt the most.

We each walk our own path, which crisscrosses, intersects, and sometimes parallels others' paths. While many people will question their friend's choices, it is no one's right or duty to express their advice or opinion on such a personal matter, unless specifically asked. We do not know why the Universe/God/Spirit has brought a particular individual into our life, or much less into our friend's life. To avoid any bad karma, or at the least to avoid bad feelings among friends, perhaps it's best not to say anything. At all.

Unless specifically asked.