THE EKLUND ǀ GOMES TEAM

Lifetalk with Roberta Russell: An Algorism for Mutual Love

By Roberta Russell

I have never been this happy. For weeks now, life has been getting better each day. I will tell you how this came about.

As time goes by, there are many more unattached women engaged in social media’s love sweepstakes than there are men. Faced with unfavorable demographic odds, I decided that an algorism for finding mutual love was called for. In my youth, when I was a computer programmer and systems analyst, I practiced formally, with flow charts, depicting the flow of logic and the consequences of choice—if this, then that. (It doesn’t hurt to know what is happening.)

So, in my quest for mutual love: first, I cleared the decks to make space for this arduous endeavor. I stopped spending time with people whose presence, on balance, deflated me—keeping records, because this was a serious mission for which I would be accountable. This created something of a vacuum. 

Being ourselves together. Credit: Roberta Russell and Manuel Lopez.

Second, I eliminated otherwise accomplished, attractive men, encountered online, who seemed to only be chasing heartless sexual fantasies. Deception, dominance, subjugation, and separation from their familial lives appeared to be their modus operandi. 

Third, in self-defense I stalked my own behavior with the attentiveness of a wild tiger tracking its prey. I really wanted a man that I could be with: to share life, read a book together, be a friend, a lover, and a companion. But I was getting in my own way—sometimes I am too judgmental, too opinionated. Often therapy may be required to get better adjusted, but, somehow, I finally got myself ready by the sheer force of my intention. 

Intimacy was sadly lacking in my life as a widow. Loneliness drains one’s life force. Resilience, as opposed to whining self-pity, is necessary to successfully find the holy grail of intimacy. 

Last month I set forth to meet a man, in Central Park near the ice-skating ring. His online profile depicted him as an interesting and attractive character, with warm eyes, long white hair, and a cowboy hat. He projected fun and warmth. My feelings swung between hope and anxiety as I ventured forth to meet Manuel.

He claimed not to be a cowboy when I asked him about the hat. He didn’t mind if I brought my dog, a white standard poodle called Lexie. She’s a therapy dog and I appreciated her support. However, just before we reached our destination in the park she let loose with an outburst of incessant barking. Embarrassed, I could not stop her.

I looked up and there he was, smiling at me. All three of us, Manuel, Lexie, and I, had white hair. He took the leash and calmed Lexie by rubbing her. We walked to a fenced-in area where we released Lexi who ran ecstatically with the other dogs running free there. Soon she returned with a purloined squeaky ball and presented it expectantly to Manuel.

With a pitcher’s arm he threw the ball underhanded, explaining that he had played baseball. Lexie joyously ran for it and returned. You can’t imagine how long Lexie and I have been waiting for this. I’m not much of a pitcher and young athletic dogs are born to run. After a few throws, I started feeling very happy just standing next to Manuel in the park. 

Then, a small terrier approached him. Lexie growled and, without precedent, viciously attacked the dog for getting near her new friend who belonged to her now. I was mortified and pulled Lexie off. Amazingly, the terrier was not injured. His owner seemed unfazed by this startling episode and even allowed the little dog to come back for more. 

The first date went on for nine hours. We didn’t plan for that, it just happened. We were ready for each other. Since then we have hardly been apart. Manuel can fix anything, even me.

Roberta Russell is the author of R.D. Laing & Me: Lessons in Love with R.D. Laing, Report on Effective Psychotherapy: Legislative Testimony, and Report on Permanent Weight Loss. She has also been a contributor to various international magazines and journals including: Psychologie Heute, Japan Times, The Psychologist, Human Potential Magazine, Changes, Clinical Psychology Forum, Psychoanalytic Studies, and Bottom Line. Occasionally, Russell hosts a New York City cable television show called Lifetalk, which has featured interviews with movers and shakers in controversial area of psychology, weight loss, nutrition, medicine, the environment, and population growth.

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