Tiny Dancer Affairs cont.

Lisa and Etienne continued to see each other secretly. Etienne had Lisa teaching classes at the dance school so he could conveniently pull her into the back room for “one on one” time. He loved the thrill of the knowing that someone could discover them at any minute; the affair brought exhilaration to his daily life. The rush he felt during the private encounters left him feeling free of his problems. The failing economy and the expense of his divorce were threatening his livelihood. Acting on sexual impulse with Lisa was enough to mask the turmoil of his otherwise depressing situation. The more risky the encounters the longer his good feelings would last; Lisa was like a drug. As his days became more stressful, his sexual needs became more extreeme.

One night after class, Lisa invited me for a drink. Weeks prior, she confided in me about her relationship with Etienne. She swore me to secrecy and asked me for my honest opinion as it applied to her circumstances. She explained that during the day things with Etienne were normal, almost like a married couple. They would plan the studio’s teaching schedule; go shopping for supplies and share meals before evening classes. They spoke mostly of dance, their shared passion, and the future of the studio. Etienne dreamed that one day Lisa would run her own studio, bearing his name, on the other side of town. Lisa felt that these types of conversations proved that their relationship had a public and lasting future. Then Lisa began reflecting on the darker side of things.

Most nights, after class was finished, Etienne would follow Lisa home to her apartment. There he would drink and conversation would shift from dance to sex. Etienne knew that Lisa was deeply devoted to him. Not only as a student, but as a lover and potential boyfriend. He preyed on her vulnerability by promising that sharing in his fantasies would seal their union. He wanted to bring other people into the mix and experiment on levels that made Lisa uncomfortable. She was embarrassed by the proposition, but considered participating in the hopes of keeping Etienne engaged. From my perspective, it seemed like Etienne’s thrills were rooted in his power to manipulate. If he could turn a good girl bad, he would experience unparallel ecstasy. The delight was not derived from the acts as much as the power over another person.

Lisa was not naive to Etienne’s manipulation tactics. She explained that he would use his influence to control students at the dance school. He studied great leaders and self help gurus to master the art of suggestion. For example, Etienne would compliment certain students and have them believe that they had special talent. He would pull them aside and tell them that they had the potential to teach their own classes at the school. To develop their extraordinary skills they would need to take extra class and a certification course, which, naturally cost hundreds of dollars. In few instances, the students would successfully complete the training and actually become a certified instructors. In this case, Etienne would put them to work but without pay, since they were still in an “apprentice” phase. So you see, the exceptional talent, was only part of a greater money marketing scheme, the result being free labor for Etienne and his dance school. Thus, Etienne’s manipulation tactics carried over into his personal life.

Lisa understood she was being used on some levels and she expressed anger and frustration over the state of affairs. She wanted to swear Etienne off and cut the physical ties but she still loved the man he was during the day deeply. Lisa wanted to bargain; find a way to keep him in her life. She considered an ultimatum…he dates her publicly or not at all. In fact, she had the perfect opportunity to present her terms. The next weekend was her best friend’s birthday party. She planned to invite Etienne as her date. I would be the only other dance student at the party and I already knew of the relationship, so there was no concern over the business and pleasure boundaries. It would be an opportunity to start fresh, taking the dark relationship into the light where the manipulation and erotic dares would cease. He would be the same man he was during the day at night. Makes perfect sense, don’t you think?

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Tiny Dancer Affairs – Part II

Etienne was in his early thirties once his divorce was final. He felt that because he was in a committed relationship for the majority of his young adult life, he had earned the right to let loose and experience things he felt that he missed. During his marriage he focused on the success of his dance company, now that the company was thriving he could tune into pleasing himself. His former wife left the school, which created the perfect environment for Etienne’s new adventures in singlehood.

Now that his situation had changed, Etienne began to admit to himself that he was deeply attracted to Lisa. She was beautiful in an edgy dark way, unlike his blond haired blue-eyed former wife. Lisa brought mystery to the table and Etienne could not help but fantasize that her talents on the dance floor translated to her dexterity in the bedroom. He watched as she pirouetted across the floor; believing that Lisa held the key to his own sexual reincarnation. Lisa, tuned into Etienne from day one, noticed the recent peak of interest. She admired him from a distance for so long and was breathless at the thought of her student teacher fantasy becoming a reality.

After class one day, Lisa stayed after to ask Etienne for extra help. Knowing Lisa was by far his most competent student, Etienne realized this was Lisa’s way of creating private time. Etienne capitalized on this opportunity and suggested that they retreat to her apartment and watch a movie…about dance, of course, for instructional purposes. As we know, watching a movie closely translated to other things sparking between the pair.

Etienne followed Lisa to her apartment where she opened a bottle of wine. They both quickly drank their first glass in the hopes of easing the tension between them. When the movie began, Etienne sat on the couch while Lisa squatted near him on the floor. Neither was ready to assume the other’s intentions that night…it was too soon to tell what would actually play out. About an hour into the movie and two bottles of wine consumed, Etienne reached for Lisa. His embrace alone was enough to send her over the edge. The years of coy glances and subtle touches had finally amounted to a real romantic encounter. The man of her dreams who was out of her reach for years was finally obtainable. The encounter was mutually mind-blowing.

The next morning Etienne left Lisa’s apartment with little to say. He gathered his things explaining that he needed to get to the studio and warm up for his afternoon class. Lisa was slightly disappointed that the loving vibe from the night prior had shifted back to a more platonic, almost friendly exchange. As she walked him to the door she was hopefully that he was just nervous and that the relationship would continue to progress. In her mind, she wondered if her raciest leotard was clean, for she would wear it to class that evening in order to keep Etienne’s fire burning. To Lisa, this was the beginning of something beautiful: the union of two people who shared a passion for dance and a passion for one another.

Out in his car, Etienne was experiencing a range of different emotions. He liked Lisa, respected her talent and found her physically irresistible but he was concerned that mixing business with pleasure could result in trouble. He also worried about his image. He built his school on the foundation of family and now his own family dissolved. People would not understand his involvement with Lisa so soon after his divorce. To protect his integrity, he would need to keep his involvement with her a secret. After all, image was everything to Etienne. From the car, he sent her a text, “I had a great time last night but we have to keep what happened between us, ok?”

Lisa immerged from the shower to find her phone blinking with the message. When she saw it was from Etienne her heart fluttered. She read the text and although deflated that she would have to keep her excitement quiet, she understood the sensitivity of the situation. Her strong feelings for Etienne would keep her tied to their secret affair for months to come. In this moment, foreshadowing had not yet shown Lisa that her secret involvement with Etienne would become dark and twisted. It was too soon to tell who Etienne really was behind closed doors.

What kind of couple are we?

Have you seen this new show called Perfect Couples? I believe it is part of NBC’s Thursday night line up along with the Office and 30 Rock. The show is about different couple stereotypes: the self help couple, the make up to break up couple and the couple that suspects they might have settled for one another only to rediscover how perfect they are for each other. The show goes to extreme examples for the purpose of entertainment and it got me thinking…what kind of couple are we?

If you have been reading this blog from the beginning, you know the story of Mr. Right and me. It was a romantic beginning resulting in, what I felt was, a perfect marriage. We frolicked about in the honeymoon stage until one day we woke up and realized…oh shit: this is for real. The same theme prevails in the show and the one couple has the exact same argument that Mr. Right and I have all the time. It goes a little something like this:

MB: “Honey, can you help me move the couch in the office?”

waits in silence

MB: “Honey? HoNEEEE?

Mr. Right: with distain “What do you want?”

MB: with newfound bitchiness “Can you tear yourself away from whatever critically important thing you are doing and come help me move this couch?”

Mr. Right enters room appearing grossly inconvenienced and beholds an angry MB

Mr. Right: “What’s wrong?”

MB: “Nothing.”

Mr. Right: “No, I can tell something is upsetting you.”

MB: “Nothing.” Shoots Mr. Right looks of death

Mr. Right: whilst moving couch “Honey, tell me what’s wrong.”

MB: “I didn’t appreciate the attitude when I asked for your help.”

Mr. Right: “What attitude?”

MB: impersonating Mr. Right “I asked for your help and you said ‘WHAAAAT!?”

*explosive accusatory verbal warfare ensues

Perhaps this is a lame example, but what I am trying to demonstrate and what the show is also attempting to prove is that our perception of our partner’s actions can drive us to react in a combative or exaggerated nature. In this example, I wanted help. I was probably tired from a long day at work and irritated by the idea of moving furniture. Maybe I could hear the TV in the background and became further agitated by the fact that Mr. Right was relaxing while I was stuck with housework. Mr. Right on the other hand, had also come home from a full day of work. He cracked open a beer, put his feet up and tuned into his DVR, only to be interrupted by the shrill of his wife’s voice. Why did she want to move furniture this very minute? His show was just getting started and housework was low on his list of priorities. Mr. Right and I are both entering the situation with frustration and preconceived annoyance. With duel bad attitudes, an argument is unavoidable.

Mr. Right and I are admittedly extra sensitive people; our feelings get hurt easily. In addition to that common trait, we also are both very independent fostered by years of living and supporting ourselves as single people. This combination of heightened sensitivity and fierce independence makes the teamwork efforts of a perfect couple hard to master. Constructive criticism (i.e.: my impersonation of him offending me) makes us defensive of one another and the concept of work together for a greater good is lost. Our defensive walls go up and the communication breaks down. It happens so often I gave it a name, maybe it even describes what kind of couple we are…emotionally territorial.

Am I saying Mr. Right is Mr. Wrong? Are we headed for inevitable doom and disaster? No, no, no, not at all, we are just novice communicators who have not fully abandoned our independent lifestyle behaviors. We are breaking out of our old habits and learning what sinks and what swims in terms of our marriage. We embody certain stereotypical “couple” labels and they are not all positive. However, I have faith that we can be the emotionally territorial couple and still weather the storm. The real key to survival is being honest about your joint shortcomings and acknowledging the part you play in the failure of communication. Mr. Right and I have agreed to sit down on a weekly basis and talk more about why we act and react the way we do. We can already see the progress because our preconceived notions of one another’s attitudes are changing. We can look in the mirror and wave confidently to the imperfect couple that is our reflection because we know those two people are committed to each other happiness and ultimately to becoming a better team.

More on this soon…hope you are well ~ MB

Holes in our Hearts

As you might have been able to tell, the Laura and Peter saga is from the ghosts of friendships past. After the moving out/move back in fiasco, my friendship with Laura faded. Recently, I caught up with an old acquaintance that also knows Laura. She told me that Peter and Laura are to be married in 2011. My opinion on their relationship is not valid based on how stale it is. The drama and the shadiness happened over seven years ago back in college and most likely does not play a factor in their current situation.

If anything, Laura is a more tolerant woman then I will ever be. I do not have the ability to forgive and forget as she does. Knowing that Peter cheated at least once would put a roadblock in my ability to trust him. I can only hope that their choice to get married is based on growth, maturity, and the evolution of a rebuilt relationship.

The mutual friend sighted some evidence that things between Laura and Peter haven’t changed much, that the way that things are pretty much status quo from where I last left off. For Laura sake, I hope my friend is wrong. I hope that love is driving her to marriage and not the need to find validation in material wealth.

There is a moral to the story: We all have holes in our hearts. In Laura’s case, the loss of a parent created quite an emotional vacancy. She chose to fill it with purses and shoes. If you recall, I tried to fill the void with vodka (See “Vodka is not a Band Aid for a Broken Heart”). Sometimes now, I catch myself filling it with food and vodka. Here is the thing though, filling the hole with anything isn’t going to heal it. Time, patience and honesty mend the hole…filling it with stuff just prolongs the healing. Bad metaphor? Maybe. But, hopefully you get the point.

Go head girl, Go head get down!

Eventually Laura and Peter’s relationship evolved but it was more by osmosis then healthy progression. The late night booty calls turned into sleepovers and the sleepovers became all day hangouts. Peter had premium cable and ordered unlimited take out on his parent’s credit card. They often had no reason to venture outside his well-stocked pad, not even for class. Peter had a job waiting for him in NY once he graduated, so studying was low on his list of priorities. Easily influenced, Laura’s class attendance started to suffer too. Spending luxurious days with Peter was far more gratifying to Laura then making good grades.

Peter bought Laura Prada sneakers and a Burberry scarf. Laura could even be spotted driving Peter’s BWM across campus once in awhile. At Peter’s parties, Laura played the part of hostess and to many it appeared that Peter and Laura were in a committed relationship. However, people close to Peter knew differently, he had not surrendered his philandering ways. Rumor had it that Peter still dated other women behind Laura’s back; he allegedly even fooled around with some of her acquaintances. It is sad to say, but publicly, Peter and Laura’s relationship was known to be one sided.

Now and again, Laura’s true friends would confront her about Peter’s indiscretions. Laura refused warnings about Peter and pointed to gifts in order validate Peter’s love. There was no hard evidence that he was cheating on her and she would not bother upsetting Peter with mere suspicions. Instead, Laura moved more of her own personal affects into Peter’s apartment. By being a constant presence in Peter’s life, she could ensure that she was the only woman. She cried when Peter left the apartment without her and used Peter’s friends to keep abreast of his activities while they were apart.

One weekend, Laura had to leave University to attend a function in her hometown. She invited Peter who had no interest. Begrudgingly, Laura left for the weekend only to be unpleasantly surprised when she returned to school. Instead of going to her own apartment, Laura went right to Peter’s place when she got back. She entered the apartment (with the key she had made) and noticed that things were not as she had left them. Her clothes were in a trash bag in the closet, her Prada sneakers were hidden under the bed and the picture of Peter and her together was stuffed into his bedside drawer. The pinnacle of it all was a used condom in the garbage. A tearful phone call to Peter confirmed her fears. This time it was undeniable.

Laura began to pack her things and called a friend to help her move her stuff from his apartment. Knowing Peter’s reputation, the friend was not surprised to hear of the discovery (one guess who the friend is). Laura’s friend packed her car and was ready to help Laura get situated in her old apartment. As they were leaving the parking lot Laura turned to her friend and said, “Stop the car.” Laura asked to go back to the entrance of Peter’s apartment. Thinking that she left something behind, the friend reversed back to the double doors. Laura got out of the car and began to unload her bags back onto the sidewalk. The baffled friend demanded and explanation but there was no rational behind the change of heart. Plain and simple, Laura did not want to give up the lifestyle. She loved the apartment and all of the extras that went along with living there. Letting go of Peter meant going back to coach after a year in first class…she would not do it.

A couple weeks later, Peter had a birthday party for Laura at his apartment. It was a half-assed affair thrown together at the last minute. Her friend came and watched her open her gifts. Peter gave Laura not one, but two pairs of designer sunglasses. They were gorgeous, lavish and obviously very expensive. The friend felt a pang of jealousy knowing that she would never have a real pair of Channel sunglasses. However, the envious feeling faded as her friend realized that she had something that Peter could not buy Laura…self-respect.

I know this dude’s ballin, and yeah that’s nice…

As I mentioned before, Peter was quite the playboy. The money and the designer duds helped him achieve instant popularity on campus. He was affiliated with an on campus fraternity and was a regular attendee of all the hip parties. Laura had easy access to Peter and would often approach him mid-fiesta. Eventually, they started leaving social gatherings together and spending time together became a regular occurrence.

Laura and Peter were having a fling but she could hardly call herself his girlfriend. Take Halloween for example: Laura and Peter had been hooking up since early September. Once Halloween rolled around, Laura figured she was on track to be Peter’s date to the fraternity’s annual costume party. The date approached and Laura was not invited. She confronted Peter and demanded to know the reason. Peter looked her right in the eye and told her; he had invited his ex-girlfriend from New York instead. She was driving down and would be spending the weekend in order to attend the party.

At this point, the majority or women would pull the plug on Peter. He was clearly not interested in Laura and frankly did not care about her opinion of him. As it was, a platonic male friend invited Laura to the party. She was dolled up and waiting for Peter when he walked in with his cute as a button NY ex. Peter walked right on by Laura, not even acknowledging her presence. Despite her devastation, Laura planted herself in strategic locations to see and speak with Peter throughout the night. She was desperate to bait him and prevail over his former girlfriend. Alas, the night ended with Laura heading back to the dorm alone and Peter and the ex heading back to his lush off campus apartment.

Fast forward a couple days, it is a random weeknight and some friends get together for an impromptu drink. Laura and Peter are both present. The ex had long since returned to New York and Peter’s hormones were raging he was looking for the evening’s lucky lady. Laura, missing the comfort of Peter’s Egyptian cotton sheets made herself available for a one on one after party. Later on, Laura would explain that she took the opportunity to confront Peter about Halloween. According to Laura, Peter explained that spending a final weekend with the ex helped him move on. This satisfied Laura although she had to ask if they had slept together. They had. Laura had mixed emotions but she let the need to be part of Peter’s life and lifestyle prevail. She spent the night with him, and many nights after that one.

People, take the initiative when it comes to online dating!

While holiday shopping this weekend, I ran into an old acquaintance. We have not seen or heard for one another in over a decade. She is now engaged and I am married. I asked her where she met her fiancé and she hesitated, made an awkward hand gesture and told me that she met her guy online. I smiled and shared that I used Match.com to find Mr. Right. She looked relieved that I too understood the benefits of online dating. The results are everywhere. If you are single and looking it is time…Get out there!

As I have mentioned time and time before, we need to move away from the stigma that online dating is for 24/7 World of Warcraft playing introverts! Not so! It is for your everyday busy young professional that simply does not have time to hit up the bar scene or participate in ten different extra curricular activities. If you are single and interested in dating there are now numerous free sites that can help you meet the right person.

I know what you are thinking. You have ten reasons ready to prove that online dating is not right for you. You are worried about your privacy. Ok, well then I suggest Match.com or a dating system you have to pay to view profiles. Only people seriously looking to date would pay for such a service so, the people that see you on there are also on the site for similar reasons. A coworker sees your Match.com profile…guess what – THEY ARE ON MATCH TOO! No one is going to pay $30 – $60 just to laugh at goofy dating profiles. It does not happen; not in this economy.

Ok ok, you are worried you will be matched up with a serial killer. Valid concern when considering the Craig’s List killer and all the other wackos abound. Well, here is an idea. Seriously vet these candidates before meeting them in a very public place. Email, talk on the phone and then meet in person. Google them! And obviously, for the love of all that is holy, meet in a public place. Do not go home with the person on the first night and use your best judgment when it comes to subsequent dates. Crazy people are everywhere. You have just as much of a chance meeting the next Charles Manson at the dry cleaner then you do on Plenty of Fish. Use your best judgment and you will be fine. The same advice applies to concerns around the person’s picture/statistics. You are worried they are lying about something. Ask for more information; get some facts before meeting them in public. Be educated and prepared.

Oh and how could I forget…you think that all the candidates online are looking for one thing…sex. Hey, I get it. It makes sense to me and I know I have explained this before. When I was on Match.com, I would get about ten emails a day. The majority of them would say “hey baby, you’re beautiful,” no questions about the content of my profile or how hilarious my tag line was and it was. The subtest of the messages were “I wanna get in your pants.” These fine gentleman did not put forth the effort to have a real conversation which let me know that they most likely were not interested in getting to know me. Again, pluck those suitors out of the running. Weed out the crap and communicate with people that sound like they have something to say.

In the world of online dating you can suspend shyness or your preconceived notion about how dating should work. Ladies, go ahead and “wink”/”poke” a profile that intrigues you. Hell, go on and message them about their profile. This is not 1960, you don’t have to wait for the Sadie Hawkins dance to make your move. You are in charge of your own dating destiny!

Listen, of course, there is going to be disappointment and like with anything, trial and error. Your first couple of dates might be duds, but you will learn better techniques and identifiers for creepiness as you trudge on. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but the fastest way to the light is the train…online dating is the Acela Express* of dating. Toot toot! Get onboard!

*Acela Express = way fast train