A few years ago as a newly-divorced mother faced with working full-time, my thoughts on dating were more like “shoulds,” as in, “I guess I should get back out there again.”
At times I longed for a man from the bottom of my round-the-clock duty, sleep-deprived heart. The catch was that what I wanted was the intimacy and ease of being together that exists in marriage. It was the everydayness and comfort I really wanted, not the awkward tangle of sexts from men who, had I encountered them in a bar, would have made me want to pour a drink on them.
Plus, I was so on-guard about protecting my children that when I first moved with them to our new neighborhood, I Google-searched crossbow instructors. Before you judge, let it be noted that one of my favorite pastimes as a girl was collecting twigs and branches, dragging them home and then whittling them into bows and arrows which I would then carry into the woods for target practice on soda cans.
There is a wee chance this protective streak put a cramp in my ability to open up to any new prospects. And, sorry, I don’t have advice for women who have this same mama-bear thing. If the kids were with me, I’d still be struggling with this.
However, life has brought me the circumstance of switching from 24/7 mom to Disney Mom, the one who takes the kids to movies while their dad tends to their day-to-day care. And, while the emotional fallout from this change is not insignificant (even though I agreed to it), the new set-up does have certain unexpected perks.
Currently, I am immersed in the world of online dating, in two states no less. My main challenge at the moment is trying to make it clear in my profile(s) that while it may be fashionable for women my age to, uh, what’s the word, date 20-year-olds, this is not my goal.
Despite the various trends (see end of article for list of trends) running rampant in the 50+ plus set and the bizarre proposals, I am enjoying myself. What I decided from the get-go was that I was in this for me and no one else. If I’d heard anyone else say that—before now, that is—I would have considered them completely self-serving and shallow.
But I do not think this way now. In fact, I am quite clear about my parameters for dating and they only revolve around my own wellbeing. Looking back on my 20-something self, my goals were very different.
Back then, I focused on strong attraction, fun, a nebulous viability for an ongoing relationship and, later, whether or not he would make a good father. If I take strong attraction, viability and marriage-potential out of the picture, what’s left over is a new situation entirely. The only parameter I’d keep would be fun. But not even fun is absolute. The only absolute is my sense of wellbeing and this is empowering.
The funny thing is, ever since I adopted this new attitude, it has been as though I sprayed pheromones all over myself and my profile. I wonder if this focus on my wellbeing comes across as confidence. When I think about it, the two states of mind probably complement one another and go hand in hand.
Maybe I do have a renewed confidence because, while still fond of archery, I have sidelined my search for the best crossbow instructor east of The Rockies.
Meanwhile, back at the man-ranch—the 50-something, 60-something man-ranch—here are some clear trends across the board, at least in my recent experience:
1. 50 Shades of Grey seems to be construed as the new How-to Guide on Women. Almost every man I have gone out with has brought up The Book, complete with pregnant pause or direct questions about my thoughts re: this.
2. Direct references to how well he is doing in his career (one man repeated the fact he was a millionaire a total of—I counted—12 times during one dinner, so much so that I am sure he would not mind my repeating it here).
- Direct references to how careful he needs to be with what little he has.
- The man’s financial situation, or at least the message he wants to promote, is laid out on the table immediately, usually in one of two ways:
My takeaway on #2 is that some men either want me to be a gold digger or are scared that I am. Or maybe they think this is good conversation, but I tend to think they bring it up for a reason.
3. The topic of sex is always broached in some manner during the first emails, calls or at the first meeting. My main observation is that men are much more direct about this lately. What is funny is that in my 20s, men never brought this up at all. Middle-aged dating is very different in this regard. Certainly the subject is not taken for granted.
4. The topic of ED comes up at the first meeting. I think this is a difficult subject for a man and perhaps he is worried that I, a younger woman, will object somehow or that I myself might be preoccupied about his potential performance as I sip my latte across the table from him. My main thought on this is, and no pun intended, it must be hard to be an aging man.
5. Men lie about their age. I mean, not every single man does. But, a shocking number of them do it and they do it badly. One guy had his age, in his online profile, at 57 and then changed it to 52 within a four-week period of time. Another put himself at 62 (already a stretch for me, to be quite honest) and then, when I met him, it was painfully obvious he was in his late 60s to early 70s. Actually, now that I think back on it, another man I went out with put himself at 62 and when I met him I thought, “He looks great for a 68 year old.”
My takeaway on the age thing is: why lie? Yes, age is relative and you, the man, are NOT your age. I get that. None of us are. Yet, I know men are offended (because guys tell me stories about this) when women misrepresent themselves and post pictures of themselves from the go-go 90s, so why do the equivalent?
Anyway, that about covers it for trend-spotting. And the research is fun, even when it’s funny!