What’s behind Door #3?

“I am tired. So very tired,” says my friend. “I’ve never been enough for any man and I’m tired of trying. I’m just going to take my walks and read my books and live my life.”

Hello, Everywoman.

Not really, right? Many women play the game even though it’s exhausting.

This is the kind of blog that gets me into trouble. I’m going to share a few experiences in my life with men who are supposed to be my friends, to care about me. And they’re lovely people. But I may not be showcasing their most enlightened side. Yes, I’ll just say it: I’m using their misguided bits to make a point.

But so be it. My blog, my story. And when they call to either berate me or to apologize, I’ll figure it out. Writers write. I don’t know how to process life in another way.

Men. Women. The dynamic is changing with the new generation (thank God) but in my generation, still plenty of Neanderthals. Men who want to make more money than a woman, know more than a woman, be the final say on all major decisions. Even those who are seemingly “modern” still hold some antiquated views. I don’t think I quite understood this until I had to enter the dating game in my mid-forties. It was just a reminder of what I learned in my teen years. If boys liked me, it certainly wasn’t for my ability to ace a test. It was the way I looked in a bikini, how well I batted my eyelashes, and a host of other inane bits.

Enter middle age. I’m soooo not bikini ready. I know I’m not supposed to admit that but let’s just lay it all out there. I also find batting my eyes the least enjoyable form of exercise. Doesn’t really burn any calories and doesn’t really do anything else for me either. Just stokes the ego of the man across the table from me.

On to the stories that will have me raked over the coals. I visited a male friend, and we were having a conversation in which I really think he was trying to help me sort what my next steps in life were. He is wise and I always appreciate his input. But he prefaced our conversation with this: “Those boots you’re wearing. Not very flattering. You should wear elegant clothing. When you’re in a dress and heels, you look so feminine and graceful.”

Are you processing that? I bet you’re all processing it in different ways. I’m sure I’m going to have some male readers say, “He was trying to give you a compliment.” To which I would say: “What compliment starts with ‘not very flattering’?”

Here’s the deal, for those who care. Men feel entitled to comment on a woman’s appearance as if judging a beauty pageant. Why is the hair so short? Higher heels on the boots, please. I’m tempted to ask if he wants my measurements so he can then “encourage” me to do daily calisthenics if they’re not up to par.

Second situation, different male friend. I recently shared with a couple of male friends that I wanted to lose 25 pounds. That I’m struggling (still) with post-Covid fatigue that has come and gone for the past 18 months. It feels like chronic fatigue at times and I’m depressed about it, frankly. To go from energizer bunny to not enough energy to cook dinner some nights—it’s hard. And no doctor has any answers for me. They haven’t solved the long-haul mysteries yet.

I shared openly and vulnerably that I wanted to shed 25 pounds and because of the fatigue, was having a hard time with cardio and other exercise. These friends shared with me their love of the Peloton bike. I said I’d consider it.

And then began a string of a few forwarded ads for the Peloton bike. From one of these friends. If you knew him, you’d know he’s an athlete and prizes being in shape above most things. And that works for him and is fine. But, forwarding me the ads with a note about “subtle encouragement” didn’t feel encouraging. It felt like instead of cheering me on, he was judging.

I don’t believe what I’m about to say is where his head was at, but it’s out there in the zeitgeist and it makes me, my female friend who began this blog, and sooooo many other women effing tired many days. Women, you see, aren’t supposed to carry 25 extra pounds. It makes us unenticing to the opposite sex. I felt that of all the things both of my male friends could have focused on—my wit, humor, smarts, grit, ability to support my family financially, professional accomplishments—they chose the lowest common denominator, the one Neanderthals use all the time—my looks. And as I age, those will fade. Only a truly enlightened man—one who appreciates a woman for all she brings to the table—will be able to appreciate me.

I could do what an acquaintance is doing—working out 2-3 times per day and eating fewer and fewer calories. Does that sound like fun? I didn’t think so.

I could do what another woman I know does—nips, sculpts, tucks and then lies about doing so. Does she really believe we all think it’s just good genes?

Or, I could do my own thing. I choose what’s behind Door #3: be myself. Live my life. Show up and applaud at my son’s play. Listen to the other son’s stories about saving lives as he trains to be a firefighter and paramedic. Create a few new stories of my own with travel and books and interesting people. I will likely be doing all of the above in a pair of comfortable boots. I will likely be doing all of this anywhere but a Peloton.

If my female friend didn’t live across the Atlantic, I’d join her in her daily walks by the seaside. Maybe it’s the company of sensibly-minded, smart women that will make us all, individually, less tired.

I’m not sure. I’m still figuring it all out.

63 Comments Add yours

  1. Masha says:

    Been there. Done that. Next. I’m with you Kay, any man who wants to be with me will either like me just the way I am, with flats and sweat pants, or next. And the truth is, I’m not looking, not interested at this stage in my life, I’m super happy to be alone with just me. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Amen, Masha. And good for you! I am off the dating apps and so much happier. It’s about living life. Not about being somebody’s Barbie doll. And I’m happy 😃. Glad you are too!

  2. Canuck Carl says:

    Thank you for sharing with true honesty, Kay. 🙏

    1. candidkay says:

      And thanks for taking it in the spirit in which it was intended, Carl🙂.

  3. Miriam says:

    Don’t try and figure it all out, you’ll go crazy. Just wear those boots with pride and live your life on your terms, it’s much more fun and liberating than trying to please anyone else. Keep smiling! 😊

    1. candidkay says:

      Sound advice! And you’re right. Living life on our own terms is what we came here to do😀.

  4. Cindy Sneller says:

    This post so opened my eyes and maybe that’s because I’m not in the dating scene. But, it was definitely spot on. I think a lot of men are still in that Neanderthal mode, and maybe just need some education. This blog post can be the start of that education. Thanks for sharing it and lets hope ‘old dogs can be taught new tricks’.

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m just hopeful that some new dogs seem like they have avoided learning all the wrong tricks :-). Thanks for the virtual visit, Cindy! Nice to see you here.

  5. debscarey says:

    Oh bravo! I also entered the dating game aged 50 and found it to be an absolute nightmare. I went my own way and was judged for it more than once – by both genders sadly – but especially by men. I’m now mid-60s and loved by a man for being exactly who I am – grey (very short) haired, overweight, not one to do the pretty stuff & wear minimal if any make-up, flat boot & birkenstock wearring, opinionated and not a shrinking violet. It’s was well worth learning how to be content without him, even though he did come along.

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m so glad you found love! That’s really wonderful. I am always so happy for people when they do. And someone who accepts you exactly as you are is a godsend. Truly!

  6. I do think male / female dynamics are changing in younger generations, and I look forward to seeing whether their door options are different a couple of decades from now.

    1. candidkay says:

      Me too! Would be nice to see the change and the positive benefits for young women.

  7. cindy says:

    Loved this post! Men need to read this and learn from it. I think we’re a few generations away though. But let’s keep pushing!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Cindy! Glad this one resonated with you. And I hope it’s not a few generations. I hope it happens sooner rather than later!

  8. Don’t you dare choose a door that isn’t #3. You are perfect just as you are. The way women are expected to bend and break themselves to cater to the male gaze is gross. It’s infuriating, actually. Honestly, you made my jaw hit the floor with one of your examples. We are enduring the most bat-shit and exhausting time of our lives and are simply trying to survive and be happy while dealing with depression and a buffet of other emotions. So the idea that more thought should have been given to your outfit choice because it wasn’t elegant enough is seriously disturbing. Just a complete and utter load of shit, frankly. Ugh. It’s wrong, and I hope those ideas one day change. I could keep carrying on but won’t. You just keep being you because that is the greatest gift you can offer the world. Out there is someone who will appreciate and love you without your high heel shoes on. Unreal.

    1. candidkay says:

      And this is why I love you, girl! 😀 Thank you. Full of sense and spitfire this morning!

  9. mydangblog says:

    Unfortunately, there are still a lot of guys out there who want to solve everything for you (and usually in a ‘let’s get real, dude’ kind of way) instead of being a supportive listener!

    1. candidkay says:

      Yes. Sigh. I know these two are not bad guys and they truly have my best interest at heart. But that’s even more of an indicator of how skewed our culture is. I think we have some road to travel and I think the younger generation is in a much better place.

  10. Karen Lang says:

    The tiredness is always about our energy being spent on the opinions of society or from others. Once I aligned with and accepted my beautiful authentic self, I learned this was exactly who I wanted to be, and interestingly enough, it was only then, I found acceptance and love from others as well. However, It’s def a long process to get there ha!! 😉🌈✨

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m glad you got there:). I do think that even when you except yourself, the tiredness can be there. I know plenty of confident women who are just tired of what – at least here in the United States — the culture throws at us. It’s the airbrushed magazine covers, it’s the Stepford wives who live in the suburbs and conform to the norms at every party, etc. even when you know who you are, it can be hard when there’s so much noise and static in the zeitgeist. But the more of us to figure out who we are and just be at, the more – hopefully — things will change. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Karen! Always love to see you here.

      1. Karen Lang says:

        I totally agree Kristine and I was wrong to use the word ‘there’ in my comment, as I am always evolving and working on what needs to ‘let go in me.’ I guess what has always confronted me to learn on this journey, is there is no ‘them’ or ‘others’ but a universal oneness we must not separate from. This is the part that keeps us all tired and at times, lost . 🧡 May we all continue to find this in each other.

  11. Ally Bean says:

    I’m definitely with you behind Door #3. I am who I am, slightly plump wearing flat shoes, and happy as a clam to be me. If you don’t buy into the narrative that women must be pleasing to the male gaze, then you upend any efforts to nudge you into being super thin and wrinkle-free.

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m glad you found your happy place :-). And I hope, culturally, we come to a place where a woman does not exist first and foremost to be visually pleasing to men.

  12. Susan Hardman says:

    Kay, it’s been a while…be unapologetic you. Full Stop. When I left my first husband I made a promise to myself that I would never let a man dictate how I lived my life. To be 100% honest there are times that I waiver but not with the important stuff. You are amazing just as you are.
    FYI I also had COVID in the Spring and have suffered from long haul symptoms. Don’t underestimate the effect that this virus has on not only your physical healthy but your mental health. Always be kind to yourself.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about the long haul but for you. It really is hard. I wish they would hurry up and figure something out :-). Thank you so much for the kind words. Good advice, all of it!

  13. Roy McCarthy says:

    Neanderthals get a bad press. I’m sure they were more empathic than your average 21st century man.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I’m laughing, Roy. Bravo! You’re the exception, of course.

  14. nimslake says:

    This makes complete sense! I love the ideas of boots, IMHO they say comfort and readiness and can do anything that flip-flops just can’t handle! 😜
    I tried spinning class before, a Pelaton …yeah not for me. Pole walking in the beach yes! Walking my dog in a park yes! It’s been 2yrs since my Ex, and have to admit entering the DG @50+ has me blinking in head-lights…oh well. I tilt my glass to you again, on a wonderful ‘breath of fresh air’, on this same issue mentioned.
    Nims, have a wonderful week being ‘you’. 💜

    1. candidkay says:

      Well there you are, Nims! Welcome back😀. Good to see you here. So, in complete transparency, I’m a huge flip-flops fan too. And exercising outdoors just is so much better than sitting inside anywhere. I agree. Entering the dating game at 50+ is like The Hunger Games, isn’t it? It takes a lot of stamina. I will tilt my glass right back at you and send you good juju. Us good gals have to stick together.

      1. nimslake says:

        Thanks for the welcome back wishes. Good to see you too! Yay, for flip flops! Mentioning Hunger Games, could always learn how to shoot the bow/arrow! Would be fun. My Dad and brother did. Trying to do it from the video game System, Wii was just not the same! Although, I was very competitive in trying to beat that d@mn clock!!!
        …ha ha ha! Brings to mind, “May the odds be ever in your favor.”…
        Thank you for the chuckles!! ☺️😎

  15. markbialczak says:

    I’ll say your two men friends did you one favor, Kay, by reminding you once again of male traits that won’t show up on any man who could advance from your friend list if you should choose some time in he future. Your door number three is the right choice in my humble opinion. Yourself is the right choice, my friend.

    1. candidkay says:

      Aw, thank you, Mark! I’ve always admired the way you talk about your wife. And you seem to love her as a whole person rather than dissecting the pieces parts. Which is how it should be!

      1. markbialczak says:

        Thank you for this great comment to help start my Thursday morning, Kay.

  16. Patsy Porco says:

    Great post. What really floors me is when a man with a big belly looks at a woman and says she would look so much better if she lost weight. He has no idea that his advice would equally apply to him.

    1. candidkay says:

      Right! Entitlement.

  17. I am all in favor of women getting ahead and making more than men. It’s the 21st century and the pay gap shouldn’t be an issue. I have a strong feminine influence in my life, and I believe in treating women with respect and courtesy.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Tony, for representing the male of the species well! Pay is for merit, not for gender–I agree. And I’m glad you have a strong, wonderful woman to go through life with:).

  18. Sue McLaren says:

    Finally, at 80, I’ve reached a point of “what you see/hear is what you get”. I am one of those blessed with good genes. One fellow told me yesterday he thought I was about 45 (another came closer at 60), and I love playing the age game. Because at this point, it IS a game. While it might be nice, I no longer need a man in my life. I swim every day, have 6 rescue animals under my care, a loving family, good friends & neighbors. My life is filled with wonderful experiences and fascinating people, every day.

    1. candidkay says:

      Sounds like a very healthy way to live! Good on you:). Life should be an interesting adventure–and that doesn’t always mean a mate, kids and a house in the suburbs.

  19. Ah dear lady, you are fighting a lifetime of males being taught by their dads how to fix things, be respected by earning more and achieve, achieve, achieve. In the other corner of this fight you have the ladies who are raised to ‘look’ a certain way to be attractive to that ‘successful’ male who will look after them.
    Now, here is the problem…someone decided they didn’t want to be ‘something’ and the world has to change NOW. And it is, slowly. But you have a generation of either sex with a foot half in and half out of whatever they are trying to do. Old habits die hard.
    Now, the truthful bit…it ALL boils down to how we feel about ourselves in how we respond to any of it. Once we do find us, and as you so wisely said, it no longer matters.
    But in the meantime it is doing the one thing life does so well, it asks of us to look…at us…and eventually, finally, be set free of it all 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋

    1. candidkay says:

      That’s a mighty fine, succinct summary of the world, Mr. Lanesbury! Bravo. And yes, I’m ok with who I am. I will feel better when I beat this fatigue and when I can be more active and drop the weight. But, this is a beautiful opportunity to be seen and loved when not at what I would think of as my “best” self. And as this blog attests, the weeding out process will happen of its own accord . . .

      1. Hey, it went through…see, there is a miracle or two still available Kristine 🤣
        And I can feel a heart of gold from here dear lady, and a love trying to break through this messy world at the moment. Especially with how you are feeling now. You have my total empathy, I’ve had Ross River Fever and the fatigue is woeful. Trying to just get a glass of water takes on monumental proportions 😀
        And it was a bit blunt but me, the unbeliever, wasn’t expecting it to go through…and have it land with a splat. It must have needed to rock a boat. You haven’t got any leaks have you? 😀
        Love and light…(ah, what the heck, I’ll put my fix it all hammer down)…and a hug, because it will treat us all fairly in heart and mind whoever we are 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋 😂 🤣

      2. candidkay says:

        Miracles will never cease😀

  20. No person should comment on the appearance of another be it male or female unless asked. (maybe not even then) To confess wanting to lose 25 pounds is not a license for someone to make it a goal to see that you do. Men are classically clueless as to what to do with information if it doesn’t involve an action plan. I’ve learned to listen first and then solve problems only if they. are presented as needing solutions for which I’m capable of solving.

    1. candidkay says:

      Wise words, John. I’ll get there when I get there and in the meantime, it shouldn’t be what defines me–not my clothes or my weight or fatigue. I think we all just need to give each other grace and space:).

      1. The world is fresh out of grace I’m afraid.

  21. What is wrong with these outspoken men? Where do they get off commenting on your looks, as if they are doing you a big favour? Thankfully, I never get that sort of feedback from my guy–then again, he knows I won’t stand for it. And if I do make any changes to myself, it’s because I want to, not because anyone told me to. Unless it was my doctor and a health concern!

    1. candidkay says:

      Yes, I hear you, Jennifer! My ex-husband loved me no matter how I looked. Sometimes it drove me crazy when I made an effort to look good but then I realized–he just loved me for ME. And that–for anyone–is priceless.

      1. I hope you find that again someday soon. 💕

  22. Kudos for being real and choosing door #3 Kristine. I am less neanderthal than most men, but still want to find a partner who is attractive inside and out.

    1. candidkay says:

      That’s fair, Brad. I think we all want attractive. Someone who doesn’t keep themselves up isn’t what anyone wants, I think. But the standard goes too much toward one gender–and men feel too free to set it.

  23. Dale says:

    Oh my friend… do NOT get me started… No, bar that, DO. We were talking hairstyles at work, female co-worker and I, and I was telling her how I was pretty lucky that I can wear my hair long or short and happend to show her pics – she agreed 😉 . Enter the 67-yr-old male who says, “lemme see”… then follows with a: I know I’m not supposed to say anything but you know, if you dyed your hair, you’d look like you’re in your forties… I managed to bite my tongue – almost bled… I shouldn’t have even. I should have retaliated with something witty but yanno… sigh.

    I am so glad there are those who are not like that. Like my guy who is more than comfortable with my new silver streak (actually, was sad that he thought I had dyed it – I hadn’t, was just the lighting) and my extra padding.

    Were you closer, you could accompany me on my walks… then we could have a glass of wine to celebrate!

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh yes. Because the goal is to look like you’re in your forties for eternity–don’t you know that, Dale? Can you hear the sarcasm dripping in that sentence? 🙂 I wish we could walk together–especially since I just read about your 10K per day goal. You’re inspiring me. And oh, the chats we could have along the way!

      1. Dale says:

        Yeah. What’s wrong with looking fabulous at 57… without artifice? Why is that so wrong? Pfft. Yanno… he’d be handsome himself if he had his teeth fixed…
        And who knows? The day may come when we do take a long walk. Happy to oblige 😉 Oh the chats… no doubt about it.

  24. Ah yes. The ever not so helpful comment. Designed to motivate, yet usually unwanted and criticizes. Back when my marriage was new, I finally figured out my husband was constantly trying to “fix my problems.” I finally told him I was just venting and didn’t need him to fix anything. There are so many who are still not back to whatever normal was before Covid, and may never get there – instead finding a new normal. Sending a virtual hug – you’re not alone.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). And yes, I hear tales from many friends of husbands who want to fix rather than listen. Not realizing that if they listen, we usually figure out how to fix it ourselves!

  25. willedare says:

    Thank you for this candid blog post. I was surprised to learn from a friend recently whose husband recently died that he had felt uncomfortable when my friend had been earning more money than he was. Both of them were counter-culture hippy-type young adults at the time who ended up living somewhat counter-culture hippy-type lives. And they talked about his feelings and processed it and it wasn’t a big deal. But he had been raised in a family of three brothers in Buffalo, NY to be THE BREADWINNER when he got married. And these kinds of assumptions/norms/values/beliefs — as you describe so well — continue to be a significant challenge here on planet earth: “Men who want to make more money than a woman, know more than a woman, be the final say on all major decisions. Even those who are seemingly “modern” still hold some antiquated views…” Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). I somehow knew you’d be the opposite of the Neanderthals. It’s hard to separate the cultural lens we were imprinted with from–well, better views. It takes questioning and some work and I’m not sure a lot of people are up for that.

  26. aprilgarner says:

    Yes; I so relate. I am on a continual journey to extricate myself from the patriarchy’s expectations of my body as well as the fitness industry’s. There is much more to life than abs and glutes. I raise a virtual glass to your post, Kay.

    1. candidkay says:

      And I’m clinking glasses with you, April! Whether we’re fit as a fiddle with six-pack abs or carrying a few extra pounds, it’s for no one’s consumption.

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