It’s hard to believe we still pose these questions, yet apparently we do: If a person has reached 45 and has never married, is that a red flag in the dating world?
This is the dilemma discussed in a brief Huff Post article on dating red flags, specifically the issue of reaching middle age and never having married.
I can think of any number of dating dramas, but this wouldn’t be one of them.
Shouldn’t we be more concerned with the man who has three marriages under his belt, and is searching for the next Missus?
What about the woman whose grown children won’t speak to her, and who has no relationship with her grandchildren?
Real Red Flags Versus Ageist Assumptions
How about the man who is evasive about his finances, his job, or the reason for moving half a dozen times in as many years? How about the woman who can’t quite explain what she’s been living on or with whom? What if we reverse those scenarios by gender – does that make a difference?
Personally, I don’t think so. And my point is this.
Some red flags may be obvious – he’s 20 years older than all his profile pictures, he’s rude at a first meeting, his manner of expressing himself bears little resemblance to the language used online (or his so-called background), suggesting an outsourced writing task that is more than polishing – or possibly, a flair for fiction…
But most dating dramas – and surprises – are best hedged if we follow rules of safety and common sense, if we take our time getting to know someone, and understand the broader context in which he or she lives their life.
Never married at 45 or 55?
20 years ago it may have been a different matter, but today? I can’t say that concerns me.
Online Dating Red Flags
One divorce these days is hardly news. Frankly, two divorces isn’t that unusual, in my experience. Do we not “penalize” these individuals, but make assumptions about the man or woman who has possibly said no to marriage when they had doubts, or preferred a long-term commitment to walking down the aisle?
My own online dating days may be behind me at this point, not only because I’m in a relationship, but because of the very ageism that underlies the premise of the originating Huff Post article. We assume, still, that if someone hasn’t married by 40-something, they’re not marriage material. And women, generally, are not “datable” online beyond a certain age. (Note, I say generally.)
But my years of online dating taught me important lessons, and what isn’t apparent on a profile may be on a first or second meeting.
- Are there holes in your date’s story?
- Exaggerations or details that don’t add up?
- Obvious value differences or character issues?
- How does he or she talk about children?
How quickly is he or she sizing you up, and for what?
Do You Know What You Want?
Clearly, if one’s goal is to marry, you have some idea of who (and what) you want. We all do. But when we operate by a narrow (or lengthy) checklist, we may discount what is important out of desire or desperation. We may miss out on terrific men and women, and the possibilities of enjoying their company.
How many women see a fat wallet and decide they can ignore three previous marriages as a result?
How many women see 6′ of well-toned body and a good job, and choose to dismiss the three kids who refuse to talk to him?
My own dating preferences have always included getting to know someone and his family, taking the necessary time to get to know him in the context of his real world, and not just the way I might like it.
And I know what I want though I recognize that it has evolved: a good man who is honest with me and shares my values – not some cleaned up version of reality that “looks good on paper.”
Dating Successfully Over 40, Over 50
How do you ascertain the “quality” of the person you’re dating? Is it harder when you’re over 40 or over 50, or he is? Do you “settle” for less of what matters to you, thinking it’s all you can get as you’re getting older? (That’s its own conversation, I realize.)
How do you determine the character of anyone you meet, regardless of their relationship to you?
If you’re smart, you take your time, don’t you? You consider the situation in which you’re dealing with him.
When it comes to dating and relationships, I consider exes, financial responsibility, and also parenting. The amount of time and quality of that parenting time aren’t the only factors, but they’re an important piece of the puzzle though I consider the possibilities of:
- a devious ex who may have found a way around custody and visitation (we all know it happens)
- the ugly legacies of parental alienation (we also know it happens)
- kids may have taken sides during divorce for reasons we can only comprehend over time.
There are no perfect post-divorce parents, many situations are muddled for the adults, and they may remain so for the children – whatever their age. But does your date or potential partner talk about his or her kids? Does he do so with pride, with regret, with affection? Does he or she speak of the problems, and even their role in them?
Lifestyle: Divorced vs. Unmarried, Parent vs. Not
Some time back I cared for a man in his mid 40s, who had never married. There was an excellent reason for it – a period of years during which he was recovering from injuries in an accident. His career had taken a hit as result, and consequently, his earnings and lifestyle.
Dating had been low priority. Moreover, his dating options were narrowed by his relatively stalled career – a sad statement in itself.
He was a good man, we took our time, and I saw that he was liked and respected by friends and family.
His income was not an issue. His marital status was not an issue. The fact of never having had children was. My kids liked him and the feelings were reciprocal. But my boys were in their early teens, they were in my care 95% of the time, and my first priority was to raising them, with all the work and compromise that still lay ahead.
Another parent would have understood all that better, and as our relationships ended (amicably), I realized that I needed to date men who were parents. That was a non-negotiable.
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