I have a couple of friends right now who are going through the mid-life dating ritual, and they've asked me for advice. The problem for me is that I've never been a big dater. My technique was to meet someone and move in with him as soon as possible. Sometimes, this isn't the best plan, but it always worked for me.
So when I found myself having to go out on dates, I was rusty. Maybe I wasn't rusty as much as completely shiny and never tried out at all in the dating arena. In fact, I think the last "real" date I went on besides to one my former spouse took me on before we moved in together was a date in 1979 with a man named John Gonzalez. He was going off to be a doctor, and I had hopes for a big house, but it just didn't work out.
You may find what I have to say below ruthless and mean. I've lumped whole swathes of men into groups, but please forgive me. I am sure there is a list somewhere with my name on it. But for the sake of this lesson, I've merged many into few slots, as a primer for those out there and my friends starting out in midlife dating. Below, I share some of my hard won notes of female, heterosexual dating so that when you go through them yourself, you will say, "Why does this feel familiar?" My point would be, you can't escape any of this.
The first date I will detail is the Mr. Perfect date. I had one of these, and from the moment I met Steve, it all seemed magical, a word I should have recognized as suspect. He walked into the restaurant, and my heart did a nice little flip of happiness. He was tall, good-looking, and dressed impeccably in a jacket and pants and slightly purple but not too purple dress shirt. His photos hadn't lied in any way, and as he took my hand to help me stand up from the couch in the waiting area, the soundtrack of our date swelled.
When seated, he began by appreciating me. My outfit, my looks. He complimented my dating site, saying, "It was the best I'd ever read." Of course you can imagine the double impact of that statement on a writer.
And when talking about his past loves, he was considerate, giving me his feelings not railing against them. He talked glowingly of his children, one his, the other two stepchildren that he never, ever considered "step" in any way.
At one point, he smiled at me, shook his head slightly, and said, "This is absolutely delightful."
As the wine began to flow, as the food came in its delicious small plates, I realized this was the perfect man. When the meal finally ended, he walked me to my car and gave me the perfect small yet sexy kiss.
I never heard from him again.
Okay, I'd like to tell you that I didn't email or call him, either. But I did email once, trying to figure out what happened. Had I said something wrong? Had I made a mistake? Mr. Perfect didn't answer.
Now, I think that he was probably a guy who did the perfect date routine as a matter of course. Maybe he has a first date fetish. I am not sure, but don't be surprised to have one of these. In fact, he's probably still around waiting for you.
The next date is The Dumper. I had a couple of these, but the one who stands out most clearly is the man who spent about 4 and 1/2 hours telling me the story of his last breakup. From the time we sat down at the restaurant to the end of the walk we took afterward, I learned the entire history of their meeting, their life together, and their breakup. I learned his past only in order to understand his relationship with Tammy. Tammy this, Tammy that. Tammy, Tammy, Tammy. I knew what she liked to eat and what she hated in the bedroom. I knew her children's' names and her parents' occupations.
As a dating technique, guys, this isn't a great one.
Because Mr. Dump was local, I ended up spotting Tammy eventually, and I felt like going up to her an asking about her plantar wart. But I refrained. I also refrained from further dates with Mr. Dump.
The next date is Mr. Victim. Oh, how he has suffered, and he's happy to tell you about it. Everyone is against him. His family, for one. His brother has taken over the family inheritance and ancestral home. For two, his boss is against him and has an evil plot out to get him fired. And three, his ex-wife wants to rob him blind. Finally, his friends don't pay attention to him, and dating has been a disaster, everyone hurting him. One date I had with Mr. Victim involved a car ride wherein he told me the painful and relentless pattern of abuse he faced from everyone forever.
Mr. Head is so smart. He's read everything and likes to argue about politics, literature, science. But Mr. Head doesn't seem to have a body. He folds in on himself like a snail, and it's clear that he doesn't ever really want to get close physically.
Mr. Body is the opposite. He doesn't say anything much beyond, "Wow, did you see that shot?" and then he wants to dive under your dress.
Mr. Caller won't even go out on a date with you, at least, not for a very long time. He just wants to talk, maybe to pretend that he has a girlfriend. I once talked with a man for three weeks on the phone before getting him to agree to go out on a date. We decided to go to a play (not a great way to get to know each other in terms of talking), and I recognized him by his orange shoes. Later I found out he had three roommates, no full time job, and no prospects of one. I might have been able to deal with some of that, but then he ate sardines at our meal after the play, and fish bones in teeth plus orange shoes plus no job led me to say, "Next!"
I'm depressing myself and maybe you, too. So here's the good news. You have to date Misters Perfect, Dumper, Victim, Head, Body, and Caller just as a warm up for Mr. Right. If Mr. Right comes too soon, you might not be able to recognize him. Contrary to popular belief, the sound track of falling in love does not swell upon first meeting the man of your dreams, and you have to be paying attention or you might miss him. But all this hard and hearty dating (make sure you treat each date like an interview and you will be fine) helps you see the true Mr. Perfect from the false ones.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org