I know I said it. Recently. I don’t have a relationship strategy. That’s true, except, in a way, it isn’t.
But when it comes to to those early days (or hours, or minutes) in which you might actually stumble into someone interesting, I do have a strategy after all. Serendipity, and something else.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Say yes, and keep saying yes.
To any possibility. To getting out in the world. To participating in life – even in midlife – any way that you can.
Last week I reworked something I’d written months ago about dating older, dating after a marital meltdown, dating when you’re barely dragging yourself out of bed, much less contemplating social interaction. You could say it’s about dating in general (these days), when you have any aspect of the desired demographics going against you.
- You may have hit that magical midlife moniker – “middle age” by way of your 40s, your 50s, your 60s.
- You’re still raising kids (you’re harried, you’re weary, money is always an issue).
- You may carry treacherously heavy baggage from a former marriage or relationship (the Debts from Hell, the Evil Ex).
- You may have a health condition that makes you a less than perfect potential partner.
- You may perceive yourself as too short, too tall, too gray, too something to be deserving of love, much less “marketable.”
Maybe you live in an area where the ratio of men to women is 3 to 1, you may be carrying 30 extra pounds in a culture that still paints a picture of the desirable woman as rail thin or, to be frank, tits-on-a-stick.
So, that post-divorce dating article was published yesterday at Huffington Post, and one comment in particular has gone round and round in my head.
Because I get it.
This came from a smart, accomplished, and interesting woman, a 60-something woman who finds herself in a competitive arena feeling that she can’t compete.
The days of the neighborly fix-up or an introduction by friends?
They seem to have passed us by. Some of us, anyway. Then again – how much of our midlife dating dilemma derives from the fact that we worship youth and stigmatize the aging process – particularly in women? How much is the fact that we stigmatize being overweight – or our ideas of overweight? How much is our own tendency – as women – to sequester ourselves more and more if we feel we don’t measure up?
It’s miserable to be rejected, and even more so – to feel invisible. And midlife can be all about increasing invisibility – along with a host of challenges that we never anticipate.
It’s frustrating to invest the time and money in regular maintenance of the “feminine vehicle,” especially painful when you’re living on a tight post-divorce budget. Coughing up the bucks for clothes, shoes, and whatever else is the normal stuff of dating life – and wanting to look your best – isn’t easy. Wanting to be your best isn’t easy either, though you know you still have much to share, and much to give.
I’ve been there. Over and over, year after year.
And my solution – though I hesitate to term it that – is to participate in life as fully as possible – to say yes to every potential outing. With family. With friends.
I can’t say that I really know what makes a man tick, but I remain convinced that genuine compassion, the tenderness that is more (generally) accessible to women, and of course – our sexuality – remain essential to forming good relationships.
Does every man want to bed a 92-pound model?
But men will be drawn to our warmth, not our worries; to our wish to feel alive, not withdrawal from the world.
So I’m for saying yes to the guys you think you might like, yes to the guys you think you won’t like, and yes to those who possibly won’t take the time to actually see you. Say yes to the person you engage in conversation over the counter at Macy’s, yes to chatting with the receptionist at the doctor’s office, hell – say yes to the graying gentleman standing behind you in the unemployment line!
The more connections you can make, the more conversation you initiate (preferably with a smile) – you’re making yourself feel more alive, and increasing the likelihood of a good moment, an expanded universe of interesting individuals, and possibly, a nice guy.
Is there a guarantee to this, or anything else?
Definitely not. But saying yes, and yes again? I find it makes the bad days more tolerable, and the good days, better.
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