Dating in your late 40s is like wading through a sea of feces hoping to find a pearl.
At least that’s what I hear.
I haven’t dated much since my divorce, or I should say, I haven’t done much “healthy and good for my soul” dating since my divorce.
But the one thing I have learned is that wearing your heart on your sleeve is not recommended. Almost everyone who is single and dating is busy playing games—so much for being an adult.
For someone like me, the prospect of dealing with immature, middle-aged men who play games is enough to ensure my being in an exclusive relationship with a battery-operated device for a long time.
According to some of my girlfriends who’ve been on the online dating circuit for a while, the breakdown of men on dating sites goes something like this:
Twenty-five percent are in miserable marriages, in the midst of a divorce or mid-life crisis, and looking for a “side piece.” Twenty-five percent are single gentlemen of a certain age looking to fulfill kinky fetishes or hook younger women—only to realize that they can’t keep up. Twenty-five percent are solely focused on themselves, don’t want a relationship, but are up for sex with no strings attached. These guys may fall for someone they’re hooking up with, but that’s a big maybe—and I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. Finally, the last 25 percent is made up of men who have been hurt, badly. Their walls are up and they don’t trust anyone. They just want to be “friends,” and maybe sleep with you if the chance arises. Out of the four, this group has the potential to eventually come out of their shell and get into a relationship. That’s if they meet someone they feel is worthy and whom they can trust.
As much as I love technology, I’m not really an online dating kind of gal; I still prefer to meet people the old-fashioned way. Like when you’re at a coffee shop and someone is standing behind you and they overhear your long and complicated coffee order, and it turns out they drink their coffee exactly the same way you do—much to the annoyance of the barista. Or you’re at a bookstore, and you both reach for the last copy of the same book, and he lets you have it—the book, that is.
Yes, maybe I’ve watched too many romantic comedies over the years, but I’m looking for my soul mate. I know that’s a stretch in this day and age of internet dating, when most people are just looking for casual sex, minus the emotional attachment. But I know what I want, and I’ve been through too much to settle for anything less than what I deserve.
So at the insistence of several of my friends, I reluctantly joined Bumble. I figured, it can’t hurt, and who knows? Maybe there’s someone out there who feels exactly as I do. I set up my profile and included the following description: “I’m not sure what I’m looking for just yet, but I’m inclined to see where things could go, if the chemistry feels right.” I put up a photo, and off I went with my online dating experiment.
Since online dating is primarily appearance-driven, your profile is like a giant billboard advertising your face, body, and earning potential for others to scrutinize. This is where others decide, aka judge, whether you’re “right swipe” worthy or not. As human beings, we are complex, multifaceted, and made up of endless life experiences that changed us and created growth. Yet, here we are, reduced to nothing more than our looks, jobs, and bank accounts; it’s disheartening, to say the least.
For my own self-preservation and due to past experiences, I made a point of avoiding narcissists, or, at least, what appear to be narcissists in my eyes. Such as, “I just stepped out of the shower guy, with wet and glistening skin, covered in nothing more than a strategically placed towel around my bottom half.” Humility is not your strong suit, is it? I also avoided men with pictures displaying exes, standing in front of expensive cars, or wearing any type of gear that covers their face or eyes…what are you hiding? And, of course, the men whose photos remind me of the FBI’s most-wanted list, which goes without saying.
When my friend asked how it was going, I told her that the whole process felt overwhelming. I asked her “How am I supposed to get to know someone properly, if I’m talking to so many other guys? How does this even work?” The whole thing went against every fiber of my old-school being. I mean, how do you even keep ‘em straight?
She pointed out that I hadn’t put up any filters, and if I did, it would reduce the amount of men significantly. A few days later, I got back on the site with stringent filters, and she was right, the number of men dropped to less than half of what it was originally.
After chatting with some of the men a few times, one whom I really liked, one who turned out to be rather pushy and arrogant, and another who was 53, but still a “frat boy,” I’d had enough. So I bounced. Here are men in their late 40s and mid-50s, and almost none of them are looking for something real. What’s the point? The whole thing felt hopeless.
Dating at my age is not the same as dating in your 20s, 30s, or even your early 40s. At this stage of my life, I’m looking for something real, consistent, and stable. I no longer have the time or energy for nonsense, drama, or anything half-assed. Being good-looking is nice, but in my book, intelligence; a great sense of humor; and, of course, chemistry are of primordial importance. If you can’t make me laugh, and challenge me intellectually, you’re not going to stimulate me sexually—despite your rock-hard abs.
I took a break for about a week, and then returned to the site for a third and final round. The man I liked had right-swiped on me for a third time, so I sent him a message. He responded promptly with something witty that made me laugh, and he included his phone number, in case I got off the site again (he’d picked up on my pattern).
There’s nothing like a man who actually pays attention.
The third time did in fact turn out to be a charm for us. We spent a few months together, and it was wonderful. He is kind, caring, considerate, and doesn’t play games, nor is he on social media. Added bonus: he found my G-spot on the first try, and you can’t beat that! Thanks, Bumble.
Words of wisdom from my 80-year-old mom:
While I was busy stressing over what to wear on a first date, my mom told me, “If he doesn’t like you for who you are, what you wear won’t make a difference.”
Ain’t that the truth.