By Sandy Weiner for Good Men Project
Do you ever date outside your age range? I’m talking about ten, fifteen years older. When I was 57-years-old, I wasn’t too excited about dating someone 13 years older. Before you judge me, let me explain. I’m really not an ageist. I have friends of all ages, sizes, colors, and religions. I care much more about a person’s character than anything else. But in my experience with dating after my divorce, most of the men who were over 63 were either retired or just plain TIRED.
Having worked their entire adult lives, they were ramping down, looking forward to retirement and taking it easy. I get it, but my life was just getting started. I began a new exciting career as a certified life and dating coach at 50. I had so much more that I wanted to accomplish.
My divorce and empty nest allowed me to travel much more freely, take more classes both online and in real life, go to more street fairs and museums, and so much more. I was afraid a 70-year-old man might not be able to keep up with my energy. But I wanted to keep an open mind.
So, when ‘Harvey’ (name and details have been changed) emailed me on JDate, I checked out his profile. He had an active lifestyle. He had a close relationship with his son and grandkids. He was in good physical shape. He didn’t seem to be retiring anytime soon. And I liked his photos, too. He was a nice looking man with a full head of white hair, and he seemed to have style and class. I was intrigued enough to write him back.
OUR FIRST DATE
A few days later, we met for dessert at a local diner, and he immediately launched into a conversation—about himself. He repeated a few stories about his grandchildren that he had already shared over the phone. Note to self: no matter how adorable and smart my granddaughter is, don’t share anecdotes on a first date. This is NOT engaging first date conversation. Why would your date want to know intimate details about your kids or grandkids? Who cares if he or she is a math genius, a future model? If we end up in a relationship, I’d love to meet the little munchkins. But I was on this date to get to know Harvey not his progeny.
He talked and talked and talked…
He talked nonstop about his incredible talent at work (he gets asked to speak at universities about how brilliant he is at marketing!), his spectacular grandkids (the two-year-old has perfect pitch!), and his amazing superstar son (he was on TV twice this week!!).
Finally, he took a breather and said, “I’ve been talking so much about myself. Tell me about your work.”
Ah, it’s my turn. But wait; about my work? If I told him I was a dating coach, we’d probably end up speaking about bad dates, what’s wrong with singles today, and how crazy it can be to date after divorce. I didn’t want to go there. So I told him I’m a life coach, which is the truth. “Me, too!” he replied. What? He’s a life coach? Come on, he already told me he’s in marketing. He sells light bulbs, for God’s sake!
Me:“Really? You’re a life coach?”
Him:“Oh, yes, I’ve taken many social psychology and behavioral science classes. I am sensitive, a good listener, and know all about life coaching. ”
Wow, calling yourself a life coach without any training gives life coaches a bad name. And a good listener? I hadn’t experienced that yet. Oh, and now the conversation was all about him again. I also noticed that he kept telling me what to do.
Like when I told him I was thinking of buying a bike, and he said, “You need to go to Mike’s Bike Shop in Manhattan. They will get you all setup!” That was sweet of him, but Manhattan is over an hour from my house. And I didn’t ask for his help. It felt a little more pushy than helpful.
Chocolate cake and chamomile tea for me
When the waitress came to take our order, Harvey said, “You must order the chocolate cake. It’s out of this world! And get the chamomile tea—it’s perfect for you.” I appreciated the suggestion, but again, it felt pushy. I ordered the carrot cake and peppermint tea.
As if things weren’t awkward enough, we soon discovered that he knew my ex-husband. Who would have thought that a total stranger who lives an hour away once met my ex? Small world. Good reminder to watch what you say and do on every date.
Well, this supposedly energetic 70-year-old could barely move his neck, because he had recently had a few bones fused up in there. He said he was tired and needed to head home, because he wakes up at 4:30 every morning to speak to his client in Italy. Emphasis on how exotic it is to deal with clients in Italy.
Vespas and villas and celebrity name-dropping
In an attempt to deepen the conversation, I asked him what he loved most about his work. I enjoy hearing about a man’s passions. “A few years ago, I loved selling Vespas because of the people I met. And I once sat in Christie Brinkley’s living room. I also met Gianni Versace at his villa in Florence.” He was a big name dropper, and I could care less.
“Oh, and did I tell you about the gift I’m giving my son for his birthday? My ex-wife and I are chipping in to buy him a custom shirt. I mean, he’s worth $300, my superstar son who was just on Bloomberg and CNN.”
I was so turned off by all of his bragging and name dropping. I had been married to a celebrity, and we met many famous people. I don’t talk much about that part of my life, because…who cares? I want someone to fall in love with me for who I am, not who I know.
Date outside your age range? That wasn’t the problem
When we got up to leave, he noticed my black motorcycle-style boots with the silver chains. He said, “Wow! Those are such cool boots! It was almost worth going on a date with you just to be seen with you in those boots.” Uh…thank you?
You won’t be surprised to learn that I never saw Harvey again, and it obviously had nothing to do with his age. I’m glad I gave Harvey a chance, though. I learned that age had nothing to do with it. That’s why I would recommend that you date outside your age range. Cast a wide net on things that don’t matter much, like age and height. But don’t ever compromise on the things that matter most. Character, integrity, kindness, shared values, and a deep connection.
Here’s a truth bomb from Maya Angelou that can be applied to dating someone at any age or stage of life:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”