All posts filed under: Relationships

Silly Things People Have Said to Me When I Tell Them I’m Not Having Kids

There will be no children in my future. Ever. Yes, I am married. Yes, my husband knows that I do not want children. Yes, we both realize we’re extremely fortunate to be able to elect to live childfree. He doesn’t want kids either. It’s part of the reason I married him. (That, and he has excellent hair.) He married me knowing that and also because I always clean the litter box. I probably brought up the topic of kids on the second date — it would have been a deal breaker. My husband would make the world’s greatest father. But that alone isn’t reason enough for me to become the mother I’ve never wanted to be, to take on a crushing financial burden or to add more to my already too-full plate. I love my friends’ children. Because I don’t have to take care of them. Their cuteness is there to fulfill my need to see cute things. I don’t expect them to behave for me, and they don’t expect 18 years of dinner from …

My Husband’s Manic Break Left Me Running for My Life

Nine years ago a battalion of police cars and a whole lot of crazy portended the end of my 16-year marriage, and I — someone who’d gone from living in my mother’s house to living with my husband at just 19 years old — was now completely on my own with two young children in Westchester in a crumbling house I couldn’t afford. To say that I was scared would be like saying this first year with Trump was just a little bit rocky. I was panicked. Low-key panicked in that way that vibrates off of you, no matter how cool you’re trying to play it. And I was trying to play it cool, at least for my kids. At 8 and 11, their whole world had been upended and they were struggling to comprehend why and come to terms with it all. They needed me to act like it was all going to be okay, and while I faked the funk for them every day, I needed everyone else in my life to tell …

That Last Day I Ever Trusted My Father

I trusted my father to always do the right thing because he constantly barked at my sister and me about how hard he was working for us to have a good home, go to good schools, go to college, etc. My father was the first Black man ever hired at Western Electric in their managerial program. He did a lot of good, helping other Black folks get jobs, being the President of the NAACP chapter, and integrating the Kiwanis and Lions civic organizations. In hindsight, though, there were signs I shouldn’t have trusted him as much as I did. He was of the generation of men who did not cry and were not affectionate with their family. From the time I was four years old, I knew that he and my mother didn’t have a very loving relationship. When I was five, I remember being awakened by a huge fight they had one night. They were yelling at each other, and she grabbed a giant glass ashtray and tried to smash him in his head …

How Making More Than My Husband Almost Ruined Our Marriage

Growing up, my father controlled the finances in our family. And when I say he controlled the finances, I mean that he left my mother completely in the dark. Though she had a good job as a special education teacher, he had a higher-paying job as an attorney. That created a power dynamic that allowed him control over their finances until the day he died last year. It was only a few months before his death that my mother realized he had spent most of their savings, taken out a second mortgage on their house (without telling her, forging her name and spending the money without her consent) and had made no plans for her financial well-being after he was gone. She’d allowed the discrepancy in their earning power to give him control over her life, and it cost her dearly. Watching the two of them provided my first lessons in financial planning and marital survival, but not before I had the chance to make mistakes of my own. When my husband and I got …

How I Found My Tribe in an Insomniacs Facebook Group

Facebook is many things to me. Up until the election, it was mainly a fun distraction, a place to see sweet shots of my friends’ kids and adorable animal videos. More recently, I’ve been acting as town crier, sharing the latest outrageous act by the new administration and rallying the troops to battle against it. But first and foremost, it has been the place where I’ve found my tribes. First, I found groups for autism parents, people who “got” what I was experiencing – the day-to-day joys and challenges of raising a child on the spectrum. Several years later, I found another tribe: writers. These wonderful, talented women share their work and support one another. Through them, I met my third tribe: insomniacs. We found each other in the predawn hours, posting and chatting with kindred spirits in the dark, our rooms illuminated only by the light of our phones. I knew I wasn’t supposed to look at screens after I went to bed. I had been schooled in the ways of good sleep hygiene: …

In Praise of Friends That Don’t Last Forever

When I was a girl, I believed wholeheartedly that in order for best friends to be for real, they had to be forever. And I know I’m not alone. Want proof? Just look at any girl’s yearbook. The acronyms may go in and out of vogue, but the sentiment remains: B.F. F. Now that I’m resting solidly in the middle of my 40s, I wonder if there’s any such thing as a “forever” best friend. We all change so much over the course of our lives, I barely recognize the young woman I was in high school, much less the kid whose prized possession was a Donnie and Marie Barbie play set. So why do we believe that the friendships we made back then should survive the dramatic overhauls and upheavals we traverse on the way to adulthood? I’m still in touch with many of my earliest friends; we wish each other happy birthday on Facebook and exchange holiday cards decorated with photos of our children. But we no longer tell each other our deepest …

BFF Love Fest: 7 Pairs of Besties Share What Bonds Them

I met my friend Sarah eight years ago at a conference after-party, years after I thought the world had stopped handing out best friends to grown women. I shut my hand in a heavy restroom door and cut it — badly. She was walking in when the bleeding started and asked me if I needed help. I said yes, and she stayed to assess the situation. We wrapped it up, laughed about it and went back to the table. I don’t remember what happened next, but I know that she has been there, in many ways and to varying degrees, ever since. We all need these kinds of connections: strong, supportive bonds that are key to health, happiness — and also killer brunch and housewarming parties, let’s be honest. Sometimes, a particular human connection is stronger than the rest, and you end up with that person who holds the other side of your virtual heart necklace…and maybe even your internet passwords. You get a best friend. We talked with some pairs of best friends about …

Ghosted and Gone: I May Never Know Why She Left

Let’s call her Jane. Out of respect for her feelings. Even though I haven’t spoken to her in several years, even though it has been almost seven years since we stopped being best friends. Well, I thought we were best friends. Was I wrong? Maybe. We met when we were both editorial assistants at a chic, smart women’s magazine. Obviously, we were both thrilled to be there. She was Ivy League Official, though. I felt intimidated by her legit status. At first, I didn’t like her. I’m sure it was some kind of competitive pheromone exchange that made me instantly bristle and want to turn away from her. But she would pop over from her aisle to mine, plopping down in my visitor chair to chat with me and the other assistant across the aisle. I remember that I always made her laugh, which warmed me up to her. I remember that she was really smart. And wore way too much brown for my taste. I remember a few months later when I told her …

Two Old Friends on Growing Up Black and White in Lincoln, Nebraska

(Photo courtesy of Sara Gilliam) Eric and I grew up three houses apart in a fairly affluent neighborhood in Lincoln, Nebraska. We went to different elementary schools, but beginning in 7th grade our paths crossed more regularly, especially in the summertime when we’d bike together to the pool for endless, unsupervised afternoon swims or play made-up war games (I know, what?) in his backyard. Recently, mired in misery about the state of our country, I set out to hold a conversation with Eric. I wanted to know how he was grappling with America 2016, especially as a father. It turned into a more straightforward interview, frankly, because his answers were so good I just wanted to sit back and listen or, in this case, read over Facebook messenger. Sara: Growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska —  how did your parents talk to you about being black? Eric: In some ways, growing up in an overwhelmingly white town like Lincoln is unique, and in other ways, it’s just like everywhere else. When I was in maybe first …

The 8 Types of Girlfriends Every Woman Needs

Most of us have had good girlfriends of many varieties: from the secret-keeping, pinky-swearing grade-school bestie to the friend who answers the midnight call with provisions and bubbly. They’re the bricks on which the houses of our lives are built. My girlfriends mean everything to me. They are the family I have chosen for myself. I aim to give back to them, as much as they give me. There are certain roles each must play in my long-standing tribe of female power, defined by personalities and needs. Sometimes one at a time, sometimes all at once. Here are eight types of BFFs that are crucial to my wellbeing, my sanity and my life. 1. The Sweetheart I once had a friend stay up with me for two days after surgery. She took my temperature every hour on the hour and refused to leave my side until I could hold down food. She was salve for my wounded body and soul, and I’m so grateful that she’s still in my life, always there with a smile …

My Secret to Dominating the Neighborhood? Pumpkin Bowling

Suburbia, circa 1994. We’d moved out of the New York City right about the time our daughter was to start kindergarten, seeking the bucolic childhood that my husband and I had deluded ourselves that we both had: house in the country; 2+ acre lots; great public schools; supportive, tight-knit community. While we moved back to an area very close to where I’d grown up, it had been a good 10 years since I’d left for college and I no longer had a circle of close friends. Barely 30 and working long hours at a New York City law firm, with my husband traveling all over for his sales job, we wanted a shortcut to meet people (just like us) with whom we could share stories of new parenthood and go for beers and burgers. So, at our 75-year-old realtor’s urging, we joined Newcomers. The Newcomers’ Club was just that: a club (with a small yearly membership fee) for people new to the community. There were mom reading groups, mom social hours, mom’s night out and the occasional …

TueNight Dating Single Colwell

No, I Don’t Date. Here’s Why

“Dating anyone?” It’s typically the third question I’m asked by people I haven’t talked to in a while. It comes up right after “how’s work?” and “where have you travelled to lately?” Me: “No one.” Them: “Oh, you’ll find someone.” Me: “But I’m not looking.” (Blank stares.) It’s not that I’m opposed to meeting someone. I just don’t feel it’s necessary. In my 20’s I did, but now I look back and recognize that was probably due to of pressure. My parents expected me, as their oldest daughter, to be the first to get married. Since they married in their early 20’s, I sent them into a panic when I wasn’t married as I approached 29. I couldn’t even mention a man around them without having to crush their bud of hope. “John? Who is that?” “A coworker.” “Is he single?” “Yes, but he has boyfriend.” I’ve often been asked, “Aren’t you afraid of being alone when you’re old?” Given the current divorce rates, aren’t you? Most of my friends were getting married then; some …

The Things No One Tells You About Divorce

We had just had sex. One minute, we were kissing and pressed against each other and I was in the safest place in the world. The next minute, I was lying alongside him crying and asking, “What do people do in a situation like this?” And he was saying: “Get divorced.” When I met Erik, I had never been in love with anyone. I was 31, and I saw him across the room at a party. My first thought was that he looked endearing, gentle, like he would never hurt me. We talked about his art and my job as a writer, and when we had our first date on a bench in Union Square we kissed for hours and held hands. I felt like a kid, giddy with excitement that someone wanted me on their team. By the time he told me a few dates later that he didn’t want children, I was already hooked. My thinking went something like this: Some people are never lucky enough to fall in love. I found an …

How I Caught My Cheating Fiance and Changed My Life Forever

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight.com) Please don’t feel heartbroken for me when I tell you my breakup story. I assure you, I am happy. I assure you, I know with certainty that it was best that we broke up. It happened 20 years ago. My heart has long since healed. One other thing I feel like I should preface with: The bad boyfriend is an elected politician in a major U.S. city. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call him Mr. X. There was a lot at stake for me 20 years ago when we dated, when I knew that he would eventually run for office and I felt confident that he would win. I knew how persuasive he could be. And I was already feeling like the lifestyle of a politician’s wife would be too much. But his charm was overwhelming and made me doubt myself and my own instincts over and over again. But the fact remained, I was already dreading being the wife. I didn’t want to have to smile through every event …

One Engagement Ring, Three Divorces

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight.com) Two months salary. A girl’s best friend. A gift that lasts a lifetime. Our family diamond has been called many things, but it will no longer be called an engagement ring. I’m heading to the jeweler’s to pick up the shard of stone that’s been passed down in my family for three generations, sowing havoc and heartache wherever it landed. Humans have always attributed enormous power to rings. Think of popes, kings, seniors and Lords of — no one ever kissed an earring or bowed to a bracelet. And so, I’m having this ring deconsecrated. It is ready for a new incarnation as a sparkly bauble, no longer a promise of eternal love. After three failed tries, our diamond will be reincarnated as a harmless charm. The diamond was originally purchased by my father, hastily, in 1964. Not long after he thrust it at my mother, I was born in a manner that had the aunts and uncles counting on their fingers and nodding knowingly.  But despite its rocky start, the …

Dumped But Not Demolished

It goes without saying: No one wants to be the dumpee in a breakup. So it’s no secret that some of us are very proactive about dumpee-proofing our dating lives. I won’t say that I’ve been running a 24/7 patrol for dumpee prevention and preemption, but I do like to boast that I’m “dumpee-free since ’93!” Now, that’s dumpee-free with a slight technicality — I haven’t been on the receiving end of a bona fide breakup since I was 17. And by “bona fide breakup” I mean this: The ending of a romantic relationship that has been firmly established. And by “firmly established” I mean this: The guy and I have titles. It doesn’t matter what the title is — maybe he calls me his “girlfriend” and I call him “my man” — but there is some kind of designation that says, “We are officially with each other and no one else.” Another crucial component: We both adhere to our shared identity as a couple. So not only do I say that we’re a couple and he says …

Me & Jo: When a Friendship Breaks Apart

(Photo: Nancy Gonzalez/TueNight) We met when we were in our late 20s, acting in a play together. On breaks from rehearsal, Jo used to scoop me up in a fireman’s carry and walk me around the room, yelling, “WHY, GOD! WHY DID YOU TAKE HER!?” while I went limp and pretended to be dead. The first time I hung out at Jo’s apartment was around Christmas, where we bonded over our insane love for the holiday while basking in the glow of her tree. Our friendship deepened and I felt free enough to bring up a small incident that had bothered me, something reasonable Jo had said, but at the wrong place and the wrong time. There was something about Jo’s being that made me feel that it was safe to be honest with her about it, and she listened receptively to what I had to say. A new level of trust bloomed in me in that moment: trust in her and trust in myself. It was a giant gift, and I heard from a …

Four Rabbis and the Get: My Jewish Divorce

Pamphlets at the divorce proceedings. (Photo: Lauren Young/TueNight) “He shall write for her a bill of divorce and place it in her hand.” (Deuteronomy 24:1) Anyone who has been through a divorce will tell you that it’s a pretty horrific process, no matter how amicable, how mature or how quick. Separating yourself from another person — lover, best friend and confidant — is painful. By all counts, I had one of the “best” civil divorces possible. There were no fireworks. My ex and I used a mediator, and the overall cost was reasonable. The whole process took less than a year. But that was just our first divorce. Before I get to the second divorce, let me tell you about the wedding. It took place at the summer camp I attended for many seasons as a child and young adult. I walked down the aisle in a canvas gown and Jack Purcell sneakers to the tune of  the Sex and The City theme song. Our campy nuptials even included a sing-along rendition of “You’ve Got a …

Sunflowers for Merrie: Choosing an Afterlife Avatar

It was Merrie’s birthday last week, her 56th, if she had lived to celebrate it. Merrie was … oh it’s impossible to say who Merrie was to me: one of my oldest and closest friends doesn’t quite do it. Nor do any of these: the willowy blonde architecture student who wore red clogs; the mother of two beautiful boys of whom she was insanely proud; a woman who had the most strikingly singular personal style, who didn’t turn it off even for our Wednesday trips to Yale for her chemo treatments. I was a freelance writer during Merrie’s last year of life and was free to drive her to the hospital for a year’s worth of Wednesdays. She wouldn’t be ready when I arrived, so I’d sit at the edge of her bed and watch her chose an outfit, trying to stave off my anxiety about being late — she’d lose her slot if I didn’t get her there on time. Merrie, for all her wondrousness, was late for most things, including the potentially life-saving …

TueNight, Tinder, Dating

4 Lessons from My Month On Tinder

On New Year’s Day, after two years of being divorced from my ex-wife, I decided to rejoin the dating world. The last time I went on a date, Mark Zuckerberg was a pimply faced kid who hadn’t yet stolen Facebook. While online dating existed at the time, no one had yet sent a nude photo because the bandwidth was too slow. On New Year’s Day, I made the resolution to start dating again, so I did what any other red-blooded American does in 2015 — I joined Tinder. When I told my friends that I was joining Tinder, I received severe warnings of danger, as if I wasn’t just joining a harmless little dating site based on the “Hot or Not” concept, but joining Al Qaeda. Friends told me that I would get emotionally hurt (actually, it was my ex-wife!), that I didn’t have the temperament for cheap hookups, and that I would inevitably “fall for a ruthless Russian escort who will steal my money, my heart, and then have me killed.” Luckily, none of …

Who’s on a First Date? 6 Ways You Can Tell

There’s a café up the block from my apartment that my husband and I frequent. Buceo 95 is a cozy, lively place with decent wine and tasty tapas. We eat there a couple of times of month, usually parking ourselves at the bar. From that perch, we have a bird’s-eye view of our fellow patrons, most of whom range in age from about 30 to 60. On almost every visit, I lean over to my husband and whisper, “See that couple? They’re on a date.” How can I tell which twosomes are new and which are more like the left-and-right mates of a pair of old shoes? Here are six signs I rely on. 1. Daters Consume More Alcohol than Food Since alcohol is the ultimate conversation lubricant, the wine is copiously flowing from the get-go on a first date. Women typically have white or sparkling; men tend to order red or beer. Even when the duo consists of two men or two women, I rarely spot hard liquor, as neither party wants to seem …

TueNight letter Jennifer Bensko Ha

A Friendship Kept Alive Through Letters

The first time I saw Jim, I immediately noticed his height. He was so tall that his head cleared the dark, dusty cabinets in the Schermerhorn building. Bright blue eyes, and long limbs, he had been an elite fencer and he moved quickly and energetically. We were both in a beginning Finnish class at Columbia in the mid ’80s. It was a morning class, and the five of us in it would wait outside with our to-go coffees and make small talk. After class, Jim and I walked to our dorms together, becoming friends slowly, but I really got to know him when he began writing me notes. He’d leave them under my door, or send them through campus mail. “Do you want to study later? Go for a walk? Get coffee?” Back then, there really was no other way to reach someone other than by phone or by note. No Internet, no cell phones, no email, no social media. Telephones were wall mounted in hallways, so privacy was limited. Sometimes I’d miss him, sometimes not, but we’d see …

5 Timeless Gifts For The Classic Man

Ask a guy what he wants for a present and he will often deflect the question with, “surprise me.” Can you blame him? Gifts for men are often either welcome-but-overplayed (single malt scotch) or nice-but-rarely-used (fun cuff links.) This year, don’t ask, but choose from these handsome, utilitarian objects that have stood the test of time. 1. Model 9090 Espresso Maker 1978, Richard Sapper The first espresso maker released by famed Italian manufacturer Alessi, the 9090 has been in continuous production for almost 40 years and, like most of designer Richard Sapper’s work, looks like it has arrived from the near future. Made of chromed steel and cast iron, it is glossy and satisfyingly heavy. Recently updated to work with energy-efficient induction cooktops, the 9090 is available in a range of sizes. The seven-inch size is probably the best choice, perfect for making Sunday morning coffee for two.  From $193, alessi.com 2. Akari Lamp 1951, Isamu Noguchi In the late 1940s, sculptor Isamu Noguchi traveled to Japan where he first saw traditional fisherman’s mulberry paper …

What Do You Do When the Woman You Love Loves Another Man?

Hello, I’m Philip. Dixie is the woman I love, the woman I’ve lived with for almost three years, the woman I hope to spend the rest of my life with. She still loves her ex. And I’m OK with that. When I met Dixie I didn’t know she had an ex, let alone that she still loved him. When I did see them together though, it was obvious. There’s an easy affection between them that you seldom see except between long-time lovers, or family. His name, by the way, is Tom. The time came when I had to tell Dixie that I loved her. “Had to,” as in “couldn’t not do it.” That’s another story entirely, but the short version is that in the middle of a conversation about something completely non-related, I said to her, “I love you, you’re just going to have to deal with that.” Having dropped that emotional grenade, I jumped tracks back to the original conversation like nothing happened. Anyway… It took guts to say “I love you,” but not …

This is the Broken Glass: Flotsam of a Breakup

There are crazy things your mind does to you after a breakup. You associate every single item and smell and taste and feel that you saw, held, smelled, tasted, experienced together as a reminder. A killing, crushing reminder of him. I walk through my house alone now. Memories flow from every painting, candle and bottle of perfume. It all feels ruined. I itemize: He brought me this art, a picture of tribal lovers. We bought this couch together, on St. Patrick’s — a rare daytime date. He was with me when I brought the dog home. She loved him. This freezer made the ice cubes for our martinis. We sprinkled this volcanic black salt on fresh avocados in the summertime. We ate cheese and tomatoes and pork chops at this table. We laughed. We cooked out of this cookbook. Barefoot Contessa. This kettle made his tea in the morning. Here, is the tea he drank. He always liked this nail polish on me. It’s called Heartbreaker. I made space in this drawer for him. I packed up …

Was I Cyber-Snooping on My Spouse?

I’ve been married for such a long time. There were even times — before a recent turn of events — when I wished I could work up even a slight interest in my husband’s shenanigans. His flirting with women, for instance. I’ve always said: the man would flirt with a lamppost. His vast network of female friends. I’ve always said: the man loves the ladies! It’s not that I was so convinced my charms were superior to those of these women (and lampposts). It was just, after all these years of marriage, it didn’t bother me. Or, better said, I trusted him. But that was before Lauren, let’s call her, the PTA president at the high school in our suburban town. She was the wife of a wealthy finance guy, not someone I knew very well. She and my husband were on a committee together, whose meetings were held in the white clapboard parish house on the village green. One evening after work, driving home from the train station, I recalled my husband was at …

When I Traded in My Girlfriend for a Wife

Wife is such a loaded word for lesbians. When I married my girlfriend, it took at least six months before I could call her wife. I’d skate around the issue; she was my partner, my spouse, my lover. All of those words seemed more appropriate than wife. Wife comes with ownership — baggage neither of us could carry. My wife makes quite a first impression, a large personality that no one could tame, let alone own. She is at once personable, caring, totally funny and wrong — my favorite traits in a woman, self possessed and completely open to the world’s possibilities. We had been friends for 10 years, a common ex introduced us (how very lesbian). We watched each other date the wrong people, bitched about our crazy current and ex-girlfriends while shamelessly flirting with the next bad plan. We both needed each other and had no idea. In town for a freelance gig, I brazenly teased her across the bar, claiming I was free and in control. Didn’t need anyone. Ready to explore what …

A License to Self-Unite: Why We Decided to Marry Ourselves

First, I was a single person. Then, I was a mother. Next, I became a homeowner. Finally, I became a wife. As you can see, I didn’t become “wife” in the order that most people would expect. It’s a long story. The short version is that my husband and I met, dated, broke up, got pregnant, had a baby, lived apart, had other relationships, rekindled our romance, went to therapy, lived together, co-parented a child and then finally, and only when we had decided that we needed to move to another city together for work, got married. It was a functional decision, one based in the idea that we should be more committed if we were going to tough it out through an enormous change, like moving to another state. Plus, we’d already survived more ups and downs than most newlyweds. And we didn’t get married in the traditional sense. If you happen to be from Philadelphia, then you may have heard of the “self-uniting license.” It exists in Philly because of that city’s relatively …

My Quick and Quirky Vegas Wedding

Wife. Even at a relatively young age, I knew I was never going to be a wife. In the books I read, the wife stayed at home while the husband went out and did “things.” The wife took care of the children, cooked, cleaned house and all that sort of stuff, but I hated cleaning, didn’t much care for cooking and I was never going to have children. So why would I need to be a wife? I grew up in the 1970s and 80s, a card-carrying member of Generation X. I was a latchkey kid, during a time when it felt strange if your parents were still together. Divorce was the norm. In my 20s, I attended friends’ weddings, big affairs with white dresses and bridesmaids and tuxedos and catering halls. I was incredibly happy for my friends. But each wedding cemented the idea that all this frou-frou was not for me. I knew I was going to be a lone wolf. A drama teacher once told me that he saw me in my 30s …

11 + 1: How I’ve Kept the Same Group of Pals Since Preschool

  Most women I know have drifted away from their childhood friends. Not me. My childhood friends are my partners in crime, my trusted advisers and an eternal source of laughter in my life. Remember the Pink Ladies in the movie Grease? Well, my group of girls has a name, too: We call ourselves 11 + 1. (We don’t have pink satin jackets, though.) Some of these friendships formed as early as preschool, and one was cemented as late as high school (she’s the +1). But this group of a dozen women fused together and we all love each other like sisters. We live in three different time zones — and eight different cities — so getting everyone together (with 25 kids among us!) is nearly impossible. Instead, we gather at the virtual water cooler known as Facebook, where we can share life’s joys, including a baby’s first steps, family trips, college acceptances, and, most recently, the birth of twins via a surrogate. We’ve also encountered plenty of the heavy stuff, too: divorce, miscarriages, alcoholism, …