Pat’s Rules for Internet Dating

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As a forty something with kids who has reentered the dating scene I have had as many chats with people about life in general, as I have had with them about how the whole internet dating world happens.

It seems that people are often on different pages as to where they are at in a potential relationship where one party thinks that they are at exclusive dating stage and the other thinks they’re still free to date and see other people.

What I have found is that with no guidelines or structure around how internet dating works, people can get hurt as they have different expectations of their current arrangement…that is no guidelines…until now.

From my experiences so far, here are Pat’s Guidelines to Internet Dating. Feel free to use them and forever more there will be no more mixed messages, unspoken expectations…or hurt feelings (well I can’t guarantee that last one…but this might help a little)

Internet dating happens in three stages…

1. The ‘Profiles Up’ Stage

This is the first stage of internet dating. You’re meeting people and enjoying their company, you might be dating/seeing/coffee-ing several people at once and then you may come across a particular person who you think ‘crumbs they’re alright…I wonder if this could go somewhere?‘ However at this stage you leave your dating profiles up and you are free to see other people and are not committed to this new ‘potential’ partner. You are dating, but not exclusively one person. You are free to see whom you want, when you want and there is no commitment to any one individual. If you state you are in the ‘Profiles Up‘ stage with anyone person, they know that you are not exclusively committed to dating them and that gives them the information they need to decide how that means they respond.

If you have school age children or younger, they are not included in this stage. The are kept at a safe distance so as to not allow them to become collateral damage to a misfired relationship…i.e. one that starts with a hiss and a roar…but fizzles quickly.

2. The ‘Profiles Down’ Stage

The ‘Profiles Down’ Stage is in two parts…the second part is relevant if you have children who live with you and who would be a part of a new relationship.

Part One – You agree with one particular person that there could be something here so you agree to investigate if there is. At this point you are exclusively dating that one person but you haven’t committed to them as your life partner. You are saying ‘man I like you…I really think this could be something…we should really investigate it properly.” You don’t publicise this to the world…you don’t consider yourself a ‘couple’ yet, but you are definitely interested in seeing where this will go so you remove the distraction of any other potential partners by agreeing to exclusively date.

If you have children at the start of the ‘Profiles Down’ stage you do not include them, but they may be more informed about what is going on as compared to ‘Profiles Up’. The children might know that you are spending more time with your newly exclusive person, they may know them by name, they may know you like them…but in the initial stages of ‘Profiles Down’ they are not included.

Part Two –  If you have children, at some stage during ‘Profiles Down’ they are to be included, but this is done casually…maybe even to the point of being surreptitious. If you reach this part what you are saying is that you have moved beyond the investigative part of this stage…you’re actively saying ‘this is pretty cool, I like you a lot, I think there’s something good here but I need to know the kids are on board before we move forward.’ Maybe a trip to the park, or an age appropriate casual setting, for the children to meet your new interest…and maybe their children…for the first time. If it’s comfortable and works well then a more ‘formal’ setting like dinner at one person’s house after than and thoughts and conversations about how this could work with the children included.

3. The ‘We’re Official’ Stage

Congratulations you are a couple, you are out and about as an item, you are going to each other’s work functions and you change your Facebook status. People who know you now see you as a unit and you are ‘officially’ in a relationship.

This post does not define that relationship…but to the world outside you and your bae are known to be together.

What I can’t and won’t commit to in this post is timeframe. For some people going through the three stages may be quick…for others slow. For some people maybe stage one and three are quick…but stage two takes a long time to progress…maybe because of concerns around the children and making the transition as safe for them as possible.

Whatever and however you travel this journey though, if you follow these three easy stages with potential partners and you are open, and honest, and clear about where you are at…then the chance of miscommunication and negative fallout are greatly, greatly reduced.

Good luck out there

You’ve got to know when to hold’em

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So you have probably read my post from the weekend about Idoya’s coming out and the family’s response to it so far. Thank you for all the support, kind words and connection. Even if I haven’t come back to you personally I want you to know it is very much appreciated and not taken for granted.

That being said I wanted to let people know that we are good, I am good, the situation as it sits right now is as good as it can be. I have had moments in the last six months where I have gone to the darkest place possible for a person to go, but come through those and am out the other side.

I often think about life as a poker game, you get dealt cards and they are the only cards you have, the only ones you can play with. You can’t steal a few extra cards from the deck…you have what you have and nothing else, what matters in poker is how you play those cards. The cards we have are that Idoya is a lesbian, I am straight, we have children and our current outcome, the way we’re playing these cards, is pretty much as well as we possibly can at this point.

When this all first happened I search and searched the internet for help, I looked to see if our story was told elsewhere and what I could gleam from it to help me. I didn’t find our story which surprised me. I found some similar(ish) stories and I found many inspiring stories from the spouse who had come out and found themselves, or I found stories from the heterosexual spouse which many times were vicious, hateful and bitter.

“Nowadays I don’t even think of him. He lied to me, the person I trusted the most in the world. I learned that one never really knows anyone, even their partner of 10 years. How could I get this so wrong?”

“I will never forgive her for what she has done to me but mostly what she did to two wonderful kids who deserved none of this.”

“It has been hard for the kids as his behaviour has changed so dramatically. It’s like straight Jekyll and gay Hyde! Since being out, he sees very little of the children.”

Now whilst I acknowledge I have not walked a mile in these people’s shoes, and cannot know what happened in their marriages, like these comments, nothing I read resonated with me and my story so I have decided to tell my story so that when the next person goes through what I have been through…maybe they can find a resource the will help them.

There are some amazing stories out there of couples who have stayed in some form of loving relationship like Glennon Doyle Melton and her husband. Glennon, who is the author of ‘Love Warrior’, has a journey to coming out that has been something that I have grasped onto many times. Her ‘ex-husband’, who she refers to as her ‘forever life partner’ seems to be an amazingly supportive and loving man, but his story is not out there…so even the places where I found kindred spirits there were gaps in the story for me to grasp onto.

All I can say today is that I feel a responsibility to put my story, my perspective, my ideas on this whole crazy thing we call life out there, and in the future if this is helpful to someone then great. It may not be that you are going through a situation exactly like ours, but maybe you are having issues in your relationship, trouble in paradise or difficulty, of whatever kind, in your partnership…then hopefully my story may speak something to you on some level.

Remember we all get dealt cards we must play in the game of life, sometimes the cards are crap and we need to either figure out how to play them well or give up on the hand.

As Kenny Rogers tells us…

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

This is still very early in my journey, and how/where we will land is not yet known, but for the beginning stages of this crazy new life, with my ‘ITH’ and kids by my side, I think we’re sitting at the table, counting our money and now we need to figure out how to either gamble it, bank it or spend it.

We’re coming out

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Whatipu, 2014

As it is plainly obvious I have been very quiet on here for the past six or seven months. There are lots of reasons for this, but the main one is that there has been something going on in my personal life, and to be honest, writing pithy pieces about politics, religion or pop culture has been pretty low on the priority order.

Many of you know my wife Idoya, and many of you know that we have collaborated on content like elephantTV and that we have advocated for the LGBTI community for a long time. What many of you may not know is that a couple of years ago Idoya came out as bisexual and has identified as such since then. It’s not that it has been a secret, Idoya has written about it openly on her blog, but as most of you here read my writing mostly, it may not be as well known to you.

In the second half of last year, Idoya came to a realisation that she wasn’t bisexual, she was in fact gay. As I am sure you can imagine this created many questions about our relationship and what it meant for us as a couple and as a family unit. To me it was obvious that if one is bisexual then a partner can be male or female, but if one is gay…then a member of the opposite sex is outside the circle of people one can be in a sexual relationship with. 

It has been a difficult time for us and I would like to say today, to the very few people who knew the journey we were on, thank you so much for your support.

I want to let you know that Idoya and I are very much committed to one another and to the kids (obviously) but our marriage as it was…is no more. We are living together in the same house, albeit in separate bedrooms, which is exactly how we want life to be right now and it means the kids have lost neither mum nor dad. We are here as a family unit going through this stage of life together and strong. What we have now is a new commitment to a relationship that will likely be very different to any other you have seen before. We still love each other, we are still committed to each other and to the family unit, we still support one another and want what is best for one another. Who we are to one another is hard to quantify right now and we sometimes (jokingly) call each other our ‘ITH’ which stands for ‘insert title here’…what that title will be in the future, who knows.

From researching what feels like hundreds of instances where, within an apparent straight relationship, one party realises that they are gay, these are the four most common scenarios:

  1. The gay spouse has always known and has either lied to themselves and their partner, or they have suppressed their true feelings in order to maintain some kind of expected societal norm.
  2. There has been infidelity where the gay spouse has come to this realisation and then experimented in their new found understanding of their orientation.
  3. There have been clear signs that are obvious to the both people (e.g. “Oh that’ll explain why we haven’t had sex for two years”) as they look back once the revelation has occurred.
  4. The couple split immediately and it’s fairly ugly.

None of these four scenarios describe our situation, although on reflection Idoya does connect the dots and can ‘see signs’ but maybe it’s just the ‘bloke’ in me but I didn’t see them, and still don’t really. Even in a situation that is not that common, our story seems unique and not-the-norm. Idoya and I have had our difficult times over the past few months as this has been incredibly stressful, but I constantly come back to the position that Idoya has done nothing wrong. She has discovered a truth about herself and she has not wronged me or the children. So how can I do anything but support her in her journey and, in turn, go on my own journey as well to find out what this all means for me, for us and for the whole family?

As far as our daughters go, this is now their new normal. Currently all three of my precious girls are thriving and going from strength to strength. The choices we’ve made in handling this, particularly in working so hard to keep our family unit as together as it possibly can be, may seem weird to some, but I see our daughters as canaries in the coal mine who show us that so far we are doing well.  We have done our best at every step to move forward with integrity and love, and because of that, for now anyway, they are taking it in their stride.

Idoya is a writer and has written in a far more eloquent way than I and if you have an interest in what I am going through, then I think it’s important for you to read her perspective as well.

Finally I want to address the ‘religious’ elephant in the room. Many of you will know my involvement within the church and within church organisations. Many of you in those communities will be questioning how it is that we can be accepting of this new life which such apparent confidence. I can only say this: the Bible states in the Book of Psalms that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” This is the idea that as humans we were created as unique and special right from the womb. I want to state publicly that I see what Idoya has realised about herself as precious. She is as fearfully and wonderfully created today, as an out lesbian, as she was on the day I married her. This is who she is and I am proud of her and fully support her.

Moving boxes again!?!

006This is just a quick note to let you know what is happening in my life and the life of my family this year which may be a shock to some of you especially if you know us personally.

It all started in November last year when a group my business was contracting to decided to not renew my contract. This has left me without a serious percentage of our income for 2013. Now I have already explained that this is how radio works, I don’t have a problem with the decision but the downstream effects on my family are financially severe to say the least.

We went from losing perhaps 80% of our company income to spending a lot of money finishing and launching our new venture elephantTV in the space of just a few weeks. This has left us with a fantastic product (which you can download from here), but scarce reserves.

So as of last Sunday we have decided, or maybe I should say it has been decided for us, that we need to leave Auckland as we cannot service our mortgage currently. Luckily we have access to a family bach down country (with no phone or internet!!!!!) and friends who live locally who need a place for 3 or 4 months while their house gets renovated.

I had a friend say to me today that I appear to be taking this very lightly, well there is a silver lining with most clouds and with this one the upside would appear to be Idoya has come to the realisation that this will be a perfect time to finish her first novel, and given the minimum time frame we will be away, in a place with no distractions, we have decided to reverse roles somewhat where I become a bit of a house husband and her new job of ‘X’ hours per day will be writing.

So that’s us, for those of you who know me personally I have no idea what my contact details come next Monday, what and how we will be contactable…but I’ll let you know. And for those of you who don’t know me personally but have been a part of my life through Facebook, radio, this blog or ‘other’ I’ll be around from time-to-time, and am sure I’ll be able to use my phone to access twitter and facebook if nothing else.

So we are off on a bit of a forced adventure, we may look back at the upcoming few months and realise that it was the best thing for us, we may not, but as I said this morning when a certainty is thrust upon you there is no real reason to fight it, or get angry…it’s called life and you roll with the punches.

If not before I hope to see you all in June…for my 40th ;o)