A Big Number
Forty-nine first dates. At first glance, 49 is a big number, but there are three relevant facts to consider. First, the 49 first dates spanned 1½ years. Second, each was a coffee date lasting 15 to 45 minutes. Third, and most important, my partner Sarah was the 50th.
I'm a boomer dating expert for The Huffington Post, About.com, AARP, and several other online magazines. I wrote a book about boomer dating based on my online dating experiences and the experiences of thousands of Huff/Post 50 readers. I wouldn't have met Sarah if I hadn't followed my own advice about typecasting, although I admit I resisted for a while. If you think it gets easier for a boomer to find a life partner, think again. The search gets harder as boomers age, and I'll share the reasons for that in another article.
I surely would have quit dating out of boredom and exhaustion early on if all 49 hadn't been coffee dates. I recommend a noisy café for a first date for many reasons, not the least of which is that you can say thank you and leave at any point if you feel you're wasting your time. I learned from painful experience that a dinner at a restaurant first date is a rookie mistake. It's the worst setting for a meet and greet because you're going to be stuck for a long while whether you like your date or not. And dinner out is generally a romantic evening, which is inappropriate with a complete stranger because it fosters fantasies instead of realities. No one wants to ruin the mood by asking the important, hard questions over cocktails and dinner that they'd feel fine asking over coffee.
My choices for dates were informed. Our interests, passions, exercise habits, political leanings, educations, and core values and beliefs matched closely. I'm height/weight proportionate and so were the women I met.
Why did it take so many dates to find my partner? Chemistry! It's an intangible that a myriad of scientists, social and otherwise, have taken great pains to explain, with little success. It's not quantifiable and the chemistry two people will or won't feel when they meet is unpredictable. I've heard countless stories about people fixing friends up with single acquaintances with the teaser, "You two are absolutely perfect for each other," only to have the fixed-ups meet and wonder what their friends were thinking. All the stars may have lined up, but no one can predict chemistry.
A Rare Occurrence
I had three second dates, and one third date, so I felt some amount of chemistry with a few women, just not that special spark. And I'm certain the number of women who felt a special spark for me was equally small since great chemistry is rare.
My chemistry with Sarah on our first date was palpable. My heart raced, I had a million questions I wanted to ask her, my stomach filled with butterflies, and I felt in my body that sex would be amazing. With the exception of the questions, the rest was chemistry. Our first kiss after our second date was electric.
The best advice I can share with boomer daters based on my success, albeit anecdotal, is to drop your typecast fantasies and open up to new possibilities. While not every one of my 49 dates was short, curvy, and blonde, a large percentage was. That was my type, even though it never worked.
Sarah is tall, thin, has dark, curly hair, and a prominent nose. I think she's beautiful. In fact I was so surprised by my attraction that I stared at her in an attempt to figure out what she had that I'd consistently missed. It was our chemistry, and the intensity surprised me.
The Tangible Intangible
I initiated contact with Sarah because her online profile caught my attention. We matched in important ways, but it was her smile that spurred my email.
Better Late Than Never
I'm a boomer guy who got lucky as soon as he stopped typecasting. But wasn't my attraction to Sarah about chemistry? Sure, but if I hadn't stopped typecasting we wouldn't have met. I urge boomer daters not to ignore chemistry when they meet someone for the first time.
Be Honest With Yourself
Relationships grow in significant ways over time. But while trust and respect develop along with a sweet familiarity, chemistry doesn't. You either feel it when you meet someone or you don't. It's not silly infatuation or love at first sight that only works in the movies. It can't be experienced out of desperation or fantasy. And it's not a brass ring that can be grabbed. If sex is important to you, then ignoring chemistry is a mistake you'll likely regret. Nothing substitutes for chemistry.