I've been a date coach for several years, written about boomer sex, dating, and relationships for 10 years, met my partner online, and worked with boomer men in groups for 25 years. I've also gleaned invaluable information about boomer dating from thousands of Huff/Post50 readers' comments. Not surprisingly most of my clients are boomer women since they comprise the majority of single boomers. But there are a myriad of ways women can negate the skewed numbers.
I can't imagine recommending anything other than online dating to my clients. Sure, there are other possibilities and venues where single boomers can meet, but none equals online dating in terms of potential. I know it can feel like swimming through molasses at times but it works. Take a break when you're feeling burnout.
Marie, not her real name, was a client who contacted me because she wasn't meeting anyone online she felt had relationship potential. I looked at her online dating profile as well as the men she'd contacted. Both shed light on her lack of dating success. Her profile needed some tweaking; specifics about her personality, the qualities she brings to a relationship, and the qualities she wants in a man.
But it was her methodology for choosing men that was most flawed. It was random and without focus. I asked Marie to list the five qualities she felt made her special. Her top three were the personal growth work she'd done, integrity, and a trusting heart. When we looked at the men she'd picked online, none mentioned or alluded to any of these qualities. Granted, lots of boomer guys don't put much energy into writing their profiles. But a quarter century of counseling men helps identify men who've done some work.
Every relationship runs off the rails occasionally, and problems can't be effectively resolved unless both partners have learned at least minimal emotional/relationship skills. And since Marie had spent the better part of a decade working through her issues she wanted to meet a man who had done similar work so that relationship problems could be resolved instead of becoming circular arguments.
I suggested Marie email the men she'd been interested in who hadn't mentioned any type of growth and ask how they've managed conflict in past relationships. Some of the responders' answers suggested their partner potential. "Life has been my teacher," was a common answer, but frankly an unsatisfactory one. It doesn't point to emotional empowerment, and suggests instead that just being alive is a sufficient lesson. But this isn't remotely helpful to a boomer guy hoping to hold up his end of a relationship. I suggested Marie pass on men that couldn't offer more than life has been my teacher.
But Marie did receive a small number of responses from impressive guys who had focused on personal growth. She had a few coffee dates before one guy stood out. Eight months later they remain optimistic about their relationship, and they're both grateful they met someone with the ability to talk through issues together. Openheartedness and vulnerability have become the building blocks for their relationship. Most couples in successful, long-term relationships have developed emotional skills from therapy, groups, books, or workshops. This is not an innate ability.
In a perfect world boomer men and women would have matching emotional development. But women's lifelong friendships with other women are heavily steeped in emotional dialogue, and those friendships serve as a growth path for emotional empowerment. It's no secret that few men have friendships with other men that equal women's in terms of emotional connection.
The Good Guys
But there are a fair number of men who have done their work and do have emotionally based friendships with other men. These friendships serve men in many arenas, including careers and relationships. The most relevant question I urge my clients ask a man on a first date is whether he has any long-term friendships with other men. A no answer begs questions that include issues like trust, and lack of socialization. And what woman wants the burden of being a guy's entire social universe? In healthy relationships both partners have a life outside the relationship and aren't joined at the hip.
I deal in the realities of online boomer dating. I urge my clients to focus on emotionally empowered men. I suggest women look deeper than money and social status, neither of which matters nearly as much as emotional strength. This selection process isn't about good men or bad. It's about a woman who wants to be in a relationship with a man who knows the difference between what he's thinking and what he's feeling, and is open to sharing what he's feeling to deepen the relationship intimacy and resolve thorny issues.
Dating intelligently isn't optional. And while there are many other factors to consider besides emotional strength, nothing substitutes for it. It's that important.
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