Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dating After Fifty: Be Nice, Please

I recently read an article on CNN by Ronni Berke about the Do’s and Don’ts of Dating After 50. Here’s a woman who ought to know. She’s over fifty and out there, hoping to meet husband number three, or at least a companion. What did I learn from the article? Actually, a great deal, but probably not what I was supposed to learn. I read dozens of comments that were very revealing about dating among the middle age.

Miss Berke had good advice on posting current photos, dressing appropriately and working at being personable. A much braver woman than myself, she tried speed dating and was not impressed. The men were often nervous, rambled on about themselves, and one actually took her drink when he left.

The problem with speed dating is you expect people to do well in a nerve-wracking exercise. Instead of facing one woman’s disdain, a man can experience rejection multiplied by twenty-two. Then there is the issue that the man talked about himself. Wow, this is difficult because books and Internet articles do emphasize talking about yourself so your companion can judge if you’re the right type.  I’ll agree there comes a point when you talk about yourself too much, but in speed dating you only have a couple minutes to present yourself. You are selling yourself to a potential buyer—who is good at that? Salesmen or women, you've been sold plenty of things you did not want or need by a salesperson. Makes you think twice about Mr. Smooth. 

Miss Berke complained that the men appeared nervous which didn’t do anything for her. If a man wasn’t nervous, then the implications are he does this all the time. It is no big deal to him because he gets women left and right. The nervous guy is the shy fellow, the hard working engineer, or the single father who has forced himself into this travesty in hopes of meeting a like-minded female. The guy, who is scared to death he’ll say the wrong thing, is actually the man who cares.

Miss Berke took us down memory lane by taking us on her first online date. She gussied up and made herself presentable, but it was obvious by her date’s reaction that he was disappointed. She vowed to arrive early in the future to check out her date first. I am not sure what her plans were, but many men and women arrive early only to preview their dates and leave out the back way if they aren’t impressed with what they see. This is just mean and wrong.

The commenters for the most part took off the gloves.  One middle-aged man admitted he carried more weight than he liked, but the rude reaction of women he tried to date floored him. They were willing to tell him that he was unacceptable and too fat to date them. Now there is no reason they should go out with him if they didn’t want to, but there had to be a better way to say it. On the other hand, don’t judge someone on their physical appearance. As aging adults, appearances keep changing, especially if you’ve already hit fifty.

Too often, we base the whole dating game on looks, and that is such a small part. What is worse is putting your wrong foot forward before you even meet by posting old pictures. If you post a photo of when you were thirty and fitter, your date will be the type who wants a fit, thirty-year old. Sure, you won’t get as many replies with a recent photo, but they will be the type of people who want to date you. Isn’t that what you want?

Men and women on the dating scene are hoping to meet a companion. It could be short term or for life. With this in mind, a man who doesn’t spark your fancy will not want to be your friend. Ladies tend to think neutral dates could fill in until they find the right guy. Wrong. This only wastes the man’s time and money. When he is out with you, other women see him as not available. This is a major reason men do not want to be your friend.

One of the commenters, talked about how self-absorbed American women are. He advised that men should buy themselves a foreign bride. Good luck with that because it is often a scam, or a free trip to the US. One man’s potential bride took him for almost $800,000. He flew to see her several times, adding onto the bill, but she never made it to the United States because she was too busy working on her singing career and living with her young boyfriend. I do know actual men who felt too inept to romance a woman, so they bought one, flew her over, only to be rejected when she arrived. There aren’t any guarantees even with women you purchase.

So what is the deal? Is there a wonderful secret to dating in the middle years? I think being nice is it. Yes, just being nice. Treat people the way you want to be treated.  Do you want your date to look bored, while he plays with his cell phone? Probably not, so you shouldn’t either. Keep in mind, your date is trying hard and does not have James Bond charm to impress you. Ladies, men that wow you from the get-go are usually not men looking for a life companion. All they need to do is get you out of your stilettos for the night.

Which brings me to a very important factor in dating, especially first dates, or speed dating. Watch what you wear. Sure, you want to be attractive and not fade into the woodwork, but an expansive show of cleavage or age inappropriate clothes is just pathetic. Of course, your date gets a sexual miscue that you are offering. For the men, please dress up. Maybe not a suit, but a tie would be wonderful. All men look better well groomed. It also signifies you want to impress her.  I haven’t met a woman yet who wants her date not to care about his appearance.

The rules aren’t that different for the over fifty set. Please be kind. It costs you nothing, and it will change your life and someone else’s for the better.  

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