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?
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.