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.
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’m concerned.”
- “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.
Your instinct is a superpower. Use it.
Send your questions as an email or comment now.
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.