As I peruse online dating profiles some things women say puzzle me. Like one profile for a very appealing woman says “I love life.”
Granted I’ve been accused of being too much in my head which I finally figured out means I analyze too much. Maybe I should just skip this sentence “I love life.”
But I can’t. Who doesn’t love living, considering the alternative…
I guess this woman is saying she’s happy which to me is very important. Does she look happy in her photos? This one definitely does. She’s smiling and in happy situations. Very appealing.
I like her. Maybe it’ because she loves life.
Joel: In response to a Facebook Friend who posted a list of attributes of a “Gentleman,” I posted this –
Glad to see this issue raised. I once listened to a woman in a singles group as she listed the (fairy tale) attributes of her ideal man.
When she finished, I asked, OK, so what do you bring to the table for him? After a long, long silence, she said, “Respect. I will respect him.”
To which I said, “Sorry, can’t use that. What behaviors and specific acts will you engage in to DEMONSTRATE your love; i.e., the kinds of things you listed that you know you want him to actually do for you, e.g. open the car door, etc.” (Please respond and you get extra points if you can use i.e. and e.g. in the same sentence, correctly!)
This is especially important for women looking for a mate so they can define limits and understand love is a two-way street, give and take, and, at best, giving more than you take… If you have a list of things you want from a man, put beside each item what you will actually DO for him to reciprocate.
Mind you, I like lists of things a woman wants. I have been and remain not naturally or instinctively sensitive in these matters. A woman I should have loved once, after a major fail, gave me a list she called “Minimum Expectations For Valentine’s Day.”
The next year I delivered. So… lists are good, just make sure you understand reciprocity.
If you don’t get this concept, check out “The Five Love Languages.”
Now that we’ve passed through being thankful and grateful, let’s turn our attention to the new year and new love… before you set dating and mating goals for the new year, consider this: Is there a negative trait all your past relationships have in common?
Christine: In my case, all the men I dated in the past made quite a bit of money, had no money in the bank and were also in major debt. I realized because this had been my experience with my father and my ex-husband; I expected all men to be like this, this type of man felt familiar, I believed this was the type of man I deserved.
As I continued my healing the men across the table from me finally made money, had money in the bank and weren’t in debt.
If you continue to meet people with the same traits you don’t want, you might be wise to avoid meeting new people until you heal your own wounds and unpack your emotional baggage from past relationships.
Joel: LOL This is a key question people need to ask when assessing what to do next, especially if they’ve been through unsuccessful relationships. How many times have we seen people engage in serial catastrophes? Once you’ve identified the traits that just won’t work for you, the challenge is to assess a prospective partner as quickly as possible.
I used to put in my online profile things that are obvious deal breakers, like smoking. The sort of financial issues you are describing are much harder to get to. Many people consciously and unconsciously present themselves as something they are not. It’s a challenge to ask penetrating questions when you are just exploring a relationship, but you can say things like “I’m financially secure and need you to be as well.”
If that feels awkward, just think how awkward you will feel to find out your prospective mate is broke and in debt after you’ve been sleeping with him for a while. There’s nothing wrong with gentle candor.
Not a date but “The Graduate” illustrates age differences and difficulties in a relationship
Joel: When shopping on Match.com I searched for women within five years of my age. I thought we would be interested in the same things and have similar experiences. Maybe the music we love. Once I met a woman, we went out, I liked her and found out she was 10 years younger. I told her I worried about that. She said, “It’s always the older person who says that. I don’t care.”
Yeah, but… when I’m 80 she might feel differently. More importantly, will we have similar life experiences?
I’ve seen May-December couples who are happy so I’m sure it can work. But seems to me, especially since we get more and more locked in and resistant to change as we age, that closer in age is easier. I see many women post in their online profiles that they want a man their age or younger. When I asked women about that, they said it could be sex. “A lot of you old guys aren’t interested,” she said. Others said many men are couch potatoes.
The idea that resonated with me was that many women have been caretakers… children, an aging or sick husband, parents… they just don’t want to take care of anyone anymore. I get that, but it cuts both ways. You could be the one NEEDING care and that young guy would bolt when you tell him you have breast cancer.
Christine: Oh this is such a great subject Joel. Both the men and women I speak to in my practice often say they want to date someone their age or younger for the reasons you mentioned. In the past I used to hear “There are only jerky people using online dating.” And I’d say, “Gosh you don’t seem like a jerky person and you’re using online dating so there must be at least a few others like you. Don’t you think?” This often stopped them in their tracks. I’ve now found myself saying the same thing about the “age/health/activity level” that drive the comments about wanting to date someone younger.
My suggestion is if you’re active, don’t look or act your age and are using online dating it stands to reason there are more like you online. And if you’re not meeting people like you (and are instead meeting just the opposite) then consider what about you is attracting them or being attracted to them. Is it what you’ve written or not written in your profile? Is it the questions you ask or don’t ask during your initial communication with them? Try making some of these changes and see if you start meeting a different type of person online.
Also, don’t just depend on online dating. Get out and participate in activities that fit your lifestyle so you’ll be surrounded by “your kind of people doing you kinds of things.” (See Joel’s posting “Take A Hike“.)
I have dated men 10 years older and 10 years younger and I didn’t find either satisfying. There were always elements that are important to me missing because of the age difference. Even though sex was great with the men who were 10 years younger I got tired of having to explain my jokes that included themes they couldn’t relate to. When I dated men who were 10 years older we usually had very different goals for our futures. When I met and married my deceased husband one of the many things that was appealing to both of us was the two-year difference in our ages.
Christine: When I was dating in my 40’s and early 50’s I was only interested in dating. Sometimes I dated someone for months because they would continue to ask me out. Often we were both dating other people. Sometimes we were only dating each other.
Some of the reasons I consciously knew I wanted to just date were:
I was busy running a very demanding business and I didn’t feel I had time to devote to a husband.
I liked my alone time in between the time I spent with them.
I liked living in my own home.
The unconscious reason I discovered later that I wanted to just date was:
I knew I would marry someone like my first husband and I definitely didn’t want to marry someone like that again.
I didn’t know how to not marry someone like my first husband.
Joel: This may be a difference of language and definition, but I would not call this “dating,” which implies some aspect of romance. I would call this “going out with friends” which serves a purpose beyond social as you point out. You’re having fun, learning, etc. It’s interesting that you say you “didn’t have time to devote to a husband.” That suggests something less than marriage but more than friendship. I just found I couldn’t experience a woman that I really liked without developing romantic and sexual feelings.
Good luck to those who can make this work.
It’s important that you defined your goals for limited relationships. Did you ever meet men who went away after you explained your point of view?
Getting over a relationship will take longer than you think
Joel: Recovering from a relationship can take a long time and some people never get over it, lapsing into discouraged apathy or bitterness. I fell in love with a woman, knew her for two years and we parted at her request. It was four and half years before I didn’t think about her and pine for her every day. I did some research and realized I was working through – and HAD to work through – the stages of grief.
All I can say is, you have to let time do its work and it will take longer than you expect, longer than it should and waaaaay longer than your family and friends think it should. Don’t let them criticize you for your grieving process.
Christine: Don’t rush your process or let anyone else rush you. No one but YOU knows how you feel, and you will know when you feel differently. The ending of a relationship can often feel like a death (even when someone doesn’t actually die). A process I’ve personally used to help myself through this grieving process (which was created by Harville Hendrix) is to:
First write down all the good things/times/memories you had with the person that you feel grief about because you’re no longer with them. Write a thank you for each memory and finally a good-bye to let each go.
Second write down all the “future things” you feel grief about because you’d hoped and now can’t experience them. And say good-bye to them as well.
Joel: Doing things you like in places you like is a good way to find a compatible partner. I would be attracted to a woman reading a book if she looked around from time to time so that I could catch her eye… if you like books and want to attract men who do, maybe coffee in a bookstore will screen in the right kind… worst case, you finish a good book…
Christine: Such great advice Joel for a single person to go to places where they like the activities. I often suggest joining a specific meet-up walking/hiking group in the local area to many of the singles I work with. These groups usually have about the same number of men and women (unusual and very good for a singles outing). Also, there are usually a variety of “skill” levels. And one of the lovely things the women have found is no matter how fast or slow they walk there are usually one or two men who will set their pace to walk with them. Benefits – good practice talking to new men, potential to meet a new woman friend to go places with, and great exercise. There’s often a potluck meal after the walk/hike so more time for interesting conversation.
Joel: Accept what they say at face value until it matters.
For example: He says he has a job. He says he is single.
These only matter when you think you see possibilities and want to continue deepening the relationship.
You can say something like “I read a lot about men who meet women online and they aren’t what they seem. I’d like to pick you up where you live and get tour of your house before our next date.”
Anything other than yes is a warning sign. Could be lots of things including a wife or hoarding.
In that same conversation you could say, what is the name of the company you work for and where is your workplace? Who can I call to confirm you actually work there?
When you get this information, look up the company online and call the posted number and ask for your prospect. Then call back and ask for the other names. There may be some other ways, but you don’t want to date someone more than three times only to find they live under a bridge.
In response, your man may ask for you to verify your information. Tell him if all is as it seems, you will do that, but the risk for women is greater so this has to be done in order.
If he’s not willing, terminate.
Christine: Pay attention to your instincts. You know… that feeling in your stomach that says something like:
Nervous danger. “Something isn’t right.”
“I just have a feeling.”
“Stop now; do not pass go.”
The two biggest reasons we don’t pay attention to our instincts are:
Chemistry. If we feel a huge amount of chemistry in the beginning we ignore our instincts.
Past history. We didn’t pay attention to our instincts in the past and went out with people who weren’t right for us, then inaccurately blamed what happened on our instincts.
Take a moment and think back to your past dates/relationships that turned out badly. I think you’ll see your true instincts tried to warn you. They were actually accurate.
We’re veterans in the world of dating and mating in midlife. Our goal is to help you navigate a safe and sensible path through the minefields of singlehood and find a loving partner.
Christine has been a relationship coach for over 8 years. She was single for 20 years and exactly where you are now, wishing you could meet someone special. After a few failures, she created a process that helped her attract the type of men she wanted and this led her to meet and marry the man of her dreams. Now, as a widow, she finds herself continuing to grow through beautiful memories along with periods of grief. As she coaches her clients, she’s beginning to wonder about future dating and what it might look like this time.
Joel was married for 27 years and has two adult children and one grandchild. He stumbled and wandered through the minefields of dating for 12 years accumulating volumes of wisdom from trial and error. He’s writing a book about these experiences which he’s confident will be a bestseller, if ever finishes it.
We’d love to get your questions, observations and experiences in hopes of helping others avoid mistakes and succeed in their quest for love. We’ll offer our thoughts with the caveat that everyone has to find their own path and make their own decisions.