A little while ago, I offered unsolicited advice for men over 50 about dating. This came mostly from what women had told me about their dates. Though many of them had positive observations, a lot of what they had to say dealt with their male companions being self-centered, boring, arrogant, duplicitous, needy and/or unwilling to commit (sometimes, impossible as it sounds, at the same time).
Now, it's time for advice for women. Dangerous territory, I know. And while I'm confident men over 50 are generally worse at dating than women of that age, I'm equally sure that both genders can learn as they navigate new relationship terrain.
1. Your Bodies Are Perfect As They Are. -- Stop worrying about how your body looks at your age. Mature women take much better care of themselves, as a rule, than mature men. You're not 25. You're not supposed to look like you're 25. And those chunky men you're with have no room to complain. Regardless, women's bodies -- whatever the age -- are the second most miraculous creations on the planet. Your bodies should be lavished with praise. If a guy criticizes your body, point him toward a mirror and move on.
2. Your Faces Are Perfect, Too. Women's faces are THE most miraculous creations on earth. With makeup, and particularly without makeup. There's truth to the maxim that older faces reflect character and wisdom. I've never understood the myths fostered by the makeup industry, but if you want to wear it, okay. Just know that you look great to many of us older guys with it or without it.
3. You Probably Want to "Have It All" and Are Not Willing to "Settle". Those may -- or may not -- be admirable goals. I'll leave that for another time. But keep that to yourself. I had pointed out previously to men that some of things they say on dates aren't particularly wise. When women say they don't want to settle, it never comes across sounding good.
4. Listening Should Be a Two-Way Street. Just as I advised men to stop talking and LISTEN, it's beneficial when it goes in both directions. I have had dates where for two hours, I was not asked a single question or had an opportunity to talk for more than a moment or two. I left the date knowing their life stories. They left not knowing if I had children (I do) or parents! (I did.) After decades of living, we all have a lot to convey, but it makes for a better date if listening is a mutual activity.
5. Let things flow organically. This goes for both genders, but women over 50 seem to want to size guys up right away in terms of their long term relationship potential. You don't want to waste your time, I understand that. But if you've already made the determination that he's worth a date, see where it goes for a bit before passing judgment.
6. That Thorny Matter of Money. Money is probably not a great date topic even if it's really, really important to you! I got this text before a date (which I then declined to go on): "If you don't have a substantial retirement in place or big income, we will not be a match." Other dates have said they are only interested in rich men. I get that, I suppose. And one actually put forth the idea I should write her monthly checks. If money is hugely important, pre-screen your dates better.
7. That Thornier Matter of Sex. Just as men shouldn't talk about or expect sex too soon, women should appreciate that most of us -- male and female -- aren't on these dating sites solely for someone to hike with or take to the opera (some are, but not most.) When sex comes up, a frequent comment from women, is, "This isn't 1970. I'm not just going to jump into bed." And that's a good point. Waiting awhile is okay. The "friends first" mantra is common. And it isn't 1970. But it also isn't 1870, and if there is mutual attraction, at this stage of our lives, waiting a long time -- whatever that may be -- seems equally foolish. Yes, there are often wide differences between men and women in the emotional attachment created by sex. Someone brilliant once said, "Men sleep with women to see if there could be a relationship. Women sleep with men because they believe there already is a relationship." If that's true, it's sort of amazing anyone gets together, but they do.
8. Men Are Confused by Women's Definition(s) of "Controlling Behavior." On many of the dates I've had, women talk about the controlling behavior of former partners. You appear to want decisive guys who can take charge and be assertive. But when that crosses the line into controlling behavior, it is always a bad thing. And I agree. Controlling is a bad thing. The problem is, it's the Three Bears Syndrome. He has to be in control but not controlling. It's a tough bind for guys, who aren't all that bright to begin with, and we often get it wrong. Worse yet, the metric for what is controlling changes, so that something we did one day that was just right somehow is too controlling when we do the same thing two weeks later. I don't have the answer. I just know it's a problem that men cannot solve, and it might help you to be aware of our confusion.