Bag Lady or Baby Maker?

homeless-barbieA few months ago, I stopped telling people my age. To be honest, I’m perfectly fine with the number and actually feel happier than ever with where I am in life. I just accomplished a major goal of mine–I’m about to become a published author. And my dream has always been to travel—well, in the past year alone I’ve been to Paris three times and paid a trip to London as well. And I currently have the most amazing man in my life. So, the reason I stopped telling people my age? It’s other people’s reactions to the number that make me feel bad.

Back in June, when I was single, I was standing in front of my apartment building waiting for an Uber. A woman who looked maybe in her mid-fifties was walking by with a man about her same age. She stopped to give me a compliment, telling me that I looked “gorgeous” and asked if I was going on a date. I told her that I was meeting a girlfriend for a drink. Looking at me disapprovingly, she demanded to know how old I was. When I told her, she said she had thought I was much younger and that, at my age, I had no business going on a girls’ night (Umm…Isn’t that how you meet men?). She insisted I had to get on Match.com or EHarmony right away.

Then she proceeded to give me a fertility lecture, telling me how I immediately needed to find a man and start a family. I confessed that I didn’t know if I wanted children. She then asked, “Don’t you want a nice, big house and an SUV?” Just for the record, I’m cool with my cozy one-bedroom apartment and the last time I drove a man’s SUV, I dented the entire passenger side. Anyway, she insisted that I needed to have kids if I wanted to “bond” with a man. She then went on to tell me that I could date older but no one over fifty-five because his sperm would be too old. She said another option would be to go younger, adding that “younger men have strong sperm, but sometimes they aren’t ready.”

She was kind of amusing at first, but she began to make me a little uncomfortable. I tried to deflect the situation by asking if the man she was with was her husband. She sharply said, “No!” I never learned who was the man was standing behind her nodding in agreement with everything she was saying, but he did finally speak. He said the reason he was nodding was because this woman was right. He then gestured his hands up and down my body, saying, “You must reproduce this!”

 I felt like I was in the “Twilight Zone.” Who were these people? And why did they care so much about my fertility? Didn’t Halle Berry have a baby at 47? And isn’t Janet Jackson pregnant at 50? I got time!

Anyway, the woman continued her rant saying how I needed to be smart and find a man who made enough money to take care of me. For anyone who knows me, I’ve never been a girl looking for a rich husband or a man to take care of me—I’ve always followed the butterflies, not the pocketbook. This lady went on to say that women aren’t really capable of making the kind of money that men are able to. Then she said something that struck a nerve.

She said, “You don’t want to end up a bag lady.”

A bag lady?! Was this 2016? Aren’t there other options for women this day and age besides finding a husband or becoming a bag lady?

At that point, I decided to speak up for myself, telling her I was about to become a published author. She finally dropped the subject and began to ask me about my book. Luckily, the Uber drive showed up and rescued me. She had me take her number so we could continue this conversation later.

Obviously, I never called.

What I didn’t tell her was that there was no shortage of men who wanted to take me to dinner or how I would be meeting a handsome man in London the following weekend. I didn’t tell her about the time I had recently spent in Paris or about the men in my life who have wanted to marry me or that time I actually did get married. This woman just automatically pegged me as a girl who couldn’t find a man rather than a girl who set out to live a life of adventure and wasn’t going to settle for anything short of magical.

In a universe where there are no chance encounters, I began to wonder what could be the reason this woman was put in my path. The only thing that I could come up with was maybe she was simply put there to get me thinking, because on my own, as a single girl, I would never be thinking about marriage and children. The thing I do think about, however is finding true love. I’ve always felt that if I found the man I was meant to be with, the rest will fall into place. And I don’t worry so much about time. I believe in divine timing and feel if I’m meant to be a mother, God will make me one.

For this reason, when people ask me if I want children, I never know exactly how to answer. The answer is conditional. As a romantic, I believe that having a child would be a natural expression of love with the man I intend to spend the rest of my life with. The thing is that in recent years, while my love life has been quite exciting, it has been anything but stable. I know there are no guarantees in life, but I would want to feel secure that my family would stay together forever. That might sound a little naïve, but I do know it’s possible to have this type of security because I have felt this way in a relationship years ago, at a time I was not nearly ready to be anyone’s wife or mother.

Part of my hesitation is that I have so many guy friends and male clients–I’ve seen just about everything by now. I also have married men trying to pick me up in nightclubs or hitting me up on social media nearly every day. When a married man messages me asking to get together or telling me that I’m his secret crush or even to simply tell me he thinks I’m beautiful, I don’t find it flattering, I find it disheartening. I’m sure most of it is harmless flirting, but I surely wouldn’t want a husband who behaved like that. I’m a romantic who wants to believe that true love lasts forever. And I’m also an optimist, so while I do still believe that kind of love is out there, I see now how rare it is.

For a girl who prides herself on being unconventional, I have some pretty traditional views. You see, I’m not from Los Angeles. I’m from Chicago. People stay together in the Midwest. And I didn’t have the kind of father who was popping bottles in nightclubs (that’s actually a funny visual if you know my dad). I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the kind of marriage where I’m home breastfeeding while my husband is out partying. I ain’t about that life. You see, there’s a lot of talk about men giving up their single lives. But, women, especially women in major cities like Los Angeles, have exciting single lives too, sometimes even more so. I believe that when a woman has a baby, her maternal instincts naturally kick in and her family becomes everything. She will never be a free-spirit again. If I found myself in a situation where I was married to man who was still trolling for girls on the Internet, I know I would regret giving my heart, my body, my soul, and potentially a child to a man whose sense of loyalty doesn’t match my own when I could have easily been sipping champagne on a yacht in Monaco or doing the tango in Buenos Aires.

To be honest, though, even though this is genuinely how I feel—it is mostly fear talking. I do know that there are devoted husbands and fathers in this world, and yes, even in Los Angeles. Before I started working at a country club in Cheviot Hills, I didn’t realize that normal families existed in L.A. That just wasn’t my world. But, at the country club, I’ve met some really happy families (and even a wonderful husband for my best friend), which gives me hope the man for me is out there somewhere.

And if he’s not, then there’s a chance that woman on the street was right. Maybe I will end up a bag lady, but at least I’ll have great stories to tell♥

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Men with Accents Have Better Stories

Photo Credit: Instagram @mariustroy

Men from other countries have always had a certain appeal for me. There’s something mysterious and sexy about a man who comes from a different culture. It’s as though a foreign man opens up a whole new undiscovered world.

A couple weeks ago, I volunteered to work a charity event at a hotel in Santa Monica. As I stepped out of my Uber, I was approached by a tall, intriguing Israeli man on the street. The attraction was instantaneous. Even though I was supposed to be working, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to have a quick vodka-soda with my new friend before heading to the party.

My Israeli friend texted me that very night, thanking me for taking the time to have a drink with him. A couple days later, he called (yes, a good old-fashioned phone call). We talked for a while–I listened as he made me laugh and told me all kinds of fascinating stories. After I expressed how interesting I thought he was, he joked, “Men with accents have better stories.” I can vouch for this theory myself.

When we went to dinner, my Israeli friend discussed how different dating in the Middle East is from dating in the United States. He confessed that he doesn’t really like to date and usually has a girlfriend. He explained that in Israel, if you go on three dates with someone, you are considered boyfriend and girlfriend. (We’ve already been on two.) He told me how in his experience, Americans will try to casualize a relationship by saying, “we’re just talking” or “we’re hanging out,” even if they’ve been sleeping together or seeing each other for months. In his opinion, he feels that Americans are afraid of commitment, and although I realize this is an overgeneralization, there definitely is some truth to the statement.

While I’ve never dated an Israeli man, I have had a couple European boyfriends: one from Germany and another from Denmark. I appreciated how there was never any uncertainty or any vague terms to describe the relationship; both men let me know almost immediately that they wanted to be with me. From my understanding, the European way is to focus on person at a time and see where the relationship goes versus the American way, which is to keep our “options open” and date multiple people at a time until someone stands out.

As a romantic, I tend I prefer the European approach to dating. I feel when you’re seeing too many people at once, it’s hard to really go deep with someone; and I want to go deep. Besides, I’ve never read a fairy tale where Prince Charming needed to keep his options open, and as far as I know, neither did any Disney princesses either.

However, not always, but I do think that in some cases more than three dates are necessary in order to determine whether or not you want to be exclusive with someone; but then again, I am an American girl, which is maybe why I got heart palpitations when a Turkish guy I had been on three dates with this summer asked me if I was his girlfriend. It seems as though men with accents have their own form of the “three-date rule.”

One year ago, I met a handsome Frenchman on my birthday. We went on a couple dates last year before I started seeing someone, and he moved to Miami. As fate would have it, my French friend recently moved back to L.A., and we’ve seen each other several times in the last month.

We had a similar conversation over dinner about how dating in France is different from dating in America. Like my Israeli friend, the Frenchman explained that people don’t really “date” in France. He went on to say that dating an American girl is like dating a computer in that you must strategize every move, including when to call. Although he texted me the day after I met him and was attentive from the start, his American friends had told him it is customary to wait three days to call. To him, it didn’t make sense to wait.

Apparently, it is not easy to get a French woman’s phone number; but if she does give a man her number, she expects him to call the very next day. If a man doesn’t call by the next day, she will be upset. When the food arrives to our table, the Frenchman explains that food is like religion to him. He adds that in France, sex comes before dinner, unlike in America where you go out to dinner, and then go home to make love. I guess it makes sense to get down before your tummy is full…isn’t it true that the French eat the entree before the salad as well?

Maybe I’m European at heart because I always preferred to eat my salad last. I must say that although I do consider myself a feminist, I think that having a Latin father has given me a bit of an old world perspective when it comes to courtship. I’ve always been one to prefer a masculine type of man who takes the lead. Plus, I wouldn’t want to be with a man who chooses to “keep his options open” and date other women when he could have been with me.

So, yes, my Israeli friend is right–men with accents do have better stories. But what is even sexier to me is that men with accents, at least the ones I’ve met, tend to know what they want and aren’t afraid to claim a woman as their own♥

More Dates than Taylor Swift

Taylor & Her Dates

On a recent trip home to Chicago, while we were all sitting around the dinner table, my very sassy six-year-old niece rolled her eyes, telling the family, “Amy has more dates than Taylor Swift!” We all thought it was very funny, although I’m not sure where she is getting her information from since I’ve only introduced her to one guy in all of her six years on this planet. However, I have a confession to make: It’s true–I really did go on more dates than Taylor Swift this summer.

Let me begin by saying, I’ve always been, and still remain, a one-man kind of woman. However, my therapist, Dr. Pat Allen, invented a concept she calls “duty dating.” Before entering a committed relationship, Dr. Allen encourages women to date multiple men (of course, no sex before commitment) to practice their dating skills, and more importantly, to keep from obsessing over one person. She explains, “Duty dating is when you hope the guy dies in the restaurant bathroom.” She also says that because it could take up to three dates for the chemistry to grow, surprisingly, many of these “duty dates” ultimately turn into long-term relationships.

Personally, I don’t need any more practice dating, and I’m too easily annoyed to go out with guys I’m not interested in. However, I do feel as though maybe I wasted time being so loyal to men who weren’t worthy; so this time around, I took Dr. Pat’s advice to heart and decided I wasn’t going to commit myself so easily.

As I’m writing this, I realize I’m sounding a bit boy crazy. For anyone who knows me, for two whole years, I stayed in almost every night, writing a book and didn’t have much of a social life. After I took a little hiatus from writing, I began to see someone exclusively for six months. During this time, I was working on my personal training credential and took a life-coaching course, so there still wasn’t much time for going out. When that relationship ended at the beginning of this summer, I felt like I had to make up for lost time.

So, in the true spirit of Taylor Swift, I decided to “Shake It Off” and have a really fun and WILD summer. The universe clearly didn’t want me pining away over anyone either because as soon as I stepped on the scene, I was like a magnet. I had men following me out of restaurants. My guy friends were professing their love for me. Two guys even got in a fight over who was going to buy me a drink at a bar. I felt bad for the guy who broke his hand, but I didn’t go out with either one of those two.

I want to be clear that I don’t think I was in such high demand because I’m so amazing—I think the lesson is that when you’re strong enough to let go, new opportunities will always present themselves. I believe the universe was showing me it was in support of my decision to move forward and was keeping my calendar full so I didn’t look back.

I must admit, it did take me a few weeks to get a hang of this “duty dating” concept. First, I accidentally sent a very personal text to the wrong guy. I was completely mortified, but it did make us closer and give us something to laugh about. The next evening I had dinner with someone else and called him by the wrong name. I even mistakenly double booked a couple times. Although it was against my nature, I did finally get the hang of dating more than one guy at a time. Out of all the dates I had this summer, there was only one guy I actually hoped died in the bathroom.

As summer is winding down, I find myself returning to my authentic self—the girl who would rather be home with her nose in a book than out at a nightclub. Although I understand Dr. Allen’s theory, as an introvert, I was starting to find all that dating to be a bit exhausting and found myself craving some more quiet nights at home. However, I do think “duty dating” has its place, for instance, after a breakup, or if there’s no one that is really standing out from the crowd, then keep dating until you find a guy who does. Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe that if you meet someone that you have a special connection with, you should focus on him and only him–unless he’s not giving you enough attention. In that case, “duty date” your heart out!♥

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Is a Kiss Really Just a Kiss?

Chrissy Licking John

Several years ago my girlfriend and I met a group of guys from New York at a hotel bar here in L.A. The guys were about to have dinner and invited us to join them. Just minutes after we sat down, one of the men said something extremely rude to my girlfriend, causing her to run out of the restaurant in tears, and I immediately followed her. One of the more well-mannered guys chased after us, apologizing for his belligerent friend and told me he really wanted to see me again.

I had plans the rest of the weekend, so I didn’t end up meeting up with him that trip. Shortly after he went back to the East coast, he texted me that he would be coming to L.A. to visit some friends and asked if he could take me to dinner. At this point, I wasn’t sure how I felt about him–I had only met him for five minutes, but he was tall, nice-looking, and seemed really into me, so I told him, yes, I would have dinner with him.

After his trip was booked, he sent me a message, “You’re mine all weekend,” and that’s when the anxiety set in. I had only committed to dinner, not an entire weekend!

As fate would have it, a longtime Pilates client asked me to housesit that weekend…AND gave me a 10pm curfew. It was also allergy season, and I had a serious case of the sneezes.

Let me start by saying that this guy did everything right. He came with a gift, a necklace with stones in my favorite color, pink. He took me to the best restaurants in town. He booked a room at a swanky hotel. I wanted to like him–I really did–but I just wasn’t feeling the butterflies and fireworks I need to feel in order to get physical. So after dinner, when my date dropped me off at the house and tried to kiss me, I turned my face and gave him my cheek. He actually called me out on it, asking me why I wouldn’t kiss him. Not wanting to hurt the guy’s feelings, I told him I had a cold–I had been sneezing all night.

I could feel his disappointment, and I felt horrible too. I’m just not the kind of girl who does anything she doesn’t want to, including kissing guys I don’t want to kiss. I think it’s important to mention that if he lived in L.A., I wouldn’t have the guilt about not kissing him at the end of the night. However, since this guy had bought a plane ticket and flown across the country to take me to dinner, I was feeling his pain.

I have a girlfriend who loves fine dining and will sometimes go out with guys she has absolutely no interest in. As much as I love food, I find it exhausting to be fighting someone off me all night. From my experience, most guys will usually try to kiss and squeeze a girl after they’ve bought her dinner. So I do my best to avoid awkward situations. My friend, however, thinks it’s not a big deal to close your eyes and give the guy a quick peck at the end of the night. I, on the other hand, don’t even like sharing lipgloss with my girlfriends, so I’m a little more particular about whose lips I let put on mine.

My fine dining friend was not alone in thinking I should give the poor guy a peck. Nearly every girl I spoke to felt I at least owed him a kiss. So I started to ask myself, what would be the harm in letting him give me a little peck? Well, he might try to take things further; and even worse than my own discomfort, I would be misleading him.

Not feeling like a peck was the solution, I decided to ask my best platonic guy friend for his opinion. He simply said, “Amy, you don’t have to kiss anybody you don’t want to kiss,” and in that instant, I felt free of all the guilt and all the anxiety I had been feeling.

It’s interesting to me that the one guy I asked let me off the hook, while all the women felt I owed the guy a kiss. This makes me think that it’s not uncommon for a woman to feel indebted to a man who has taken her on a date or spent money on her. I think it’s important to realize that no matter how nice or generous someone is to us, we don’t owe anyone anything more than our gratitude and appreciation. That doesn’t mean I think we should use men for free dinner, shopping sprees, or vacations if we’re not into them, but if you go on a date with a pure heart and intentions, you don’t have to feel guilty if it doesn’t work out; and you certainly aren’t obligated to get physical with someone if you’re not feeling it.

If you’re feeling sorry for my friend from the East coast, this story does have a happy ending. He did end up finding a girl who wanted to kiss him, not just for the night, but for the rest of her life ♥