Dating in the Middle Ages: Still Medieval But Maybe My Last Chance to Get It Right

"Are you seeing anyone?"

My absolute least favorite question and yet often the first one women ask each other whether running into each other during blizzards on Madison Avenue or sweating on bikes at spin classes. In fact, even if it's not the first question, truthfully it's the only one women from 40 on up want to ask and it's a loaded one.

If you're actually dating someone you get an "oh that's so nice" response said with a forced smile. And if you're not dating anyone, you end up in a boiler plate boring conversation about the lack of appropriate middle aged men in New York. I will absolutely step into a pothole or forge a puddle to avoid a competitive conversation about dating.

Most of the time I am absolutely thrilled not to date. There comes a time when your own company can be quite wonderful. You're happy to snuggle under the covers with the chihuahua, have whatever you want for dinner on a tray and watch Bethany and NeNe and those plumped up wonder women on Beverly Hills Housewives (BTW - please tell me what make-up Camille Grammer uses to get her dewy skin?). But really at the end of a long day, isn't that enough company for one lifetime?

I have always questioned the frenetic need women have for a man. A what? A man. And it mostly seems like any man will do. How can that be? If you can pay your own bills, been married once or twice -- and compromised enough times -- isn't there something joyful about not having one? Why are women so willing to compromise on quality or, more important, compromise themselves and their core beliefs to get a man? In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess to having done exactly this on too many occasions all ending quite disastrously because I just couldn't keep up the coquettish behavior on a 24/7 basis. God bless the women who can.

New York is a town where you're as popular as your net worth, your job description or, for a woman with neither, who the Mr. is to her Mrs. Women do flounder on their own in a certain milieu and it's not easy to go it alone if you're used to being part of a couple. I get that. But do we want just anyone? I've seen gargoyles more attractive then some of the men snatched up and don't tell me how lovely they are on the inside. Yuck.

But let's say you actually do date and have decided it's worth the cost and prep time of a blow dry plus knowing you're going to have to make an effort. What's your goal? If it's a husband then you've made your decision. Of course the problem is what happens once you get him? I have one friend who really needed bills paid and stood at the altar with fingers crossed behind her back while repeating wedding vows. She was clever enough to eventually maneuver him out of his own home after making sure she had accumulated plenty of property in her own name. So it wasn't the guy she was after, it was the goods. As my Australian pals would say, "good on her."

Using calculations from the U.S. government, it seems I still have some good years left. So what should I do if a good man presents himself? I'm working on that one. Years of Cosmo girl behavior got me the guy but lost me myself so that doesn't work. I often wondered why I wasn't really good wife material content with knowing bills were paid. Part of the issue must be DNA related because I come from a family where women continue to work even into their 90's, creating a sense of independence and a fervor to accomplish. Of course, they did stay happily married too.

What I've begun to realize is I'm exhausted from the drama of love affairs but don't know how to maneuver through a normal relationship or even what that means. I am that generation caught somewhere between Betty Crocker and Better Off Alone which means a lot of our marriages just didn't work out. The marriages I covet are the partnerships where couples continue to talk to each other. The couples who sit silently in restaurants are the ones that scare me.

So what's a girl to do? For openers, I must remember that men aren't the prize in the Cracker Jack box. In fact, the Cracker Jacks are really the best part. Think about it.