“Are You Man Enough To Be My Man?”

This can be a common thought for powerful, successful, midlife dating women. It was expressed by Adventures in Delicious Dating After 40 reader Diamond in a question to me:

            I’ve been in business my whole life. A friend’s mother shared this advice just prior to my running off to meet what I thought was the man of my dreams in London. She gently said, in a loving mother’s voice, “Do you mind if I give you a piece of advice about your man in London? Please don’t treat him like a business!”

            I have a hard time switching from client mode to date mode. I treat my date as I do my clients”— I want to know up front, “What are your goals and objectives?” This is me, who are you? BAM! I’m sure I’m too direct for the first call. This doesn’t evolve over time — I want to know now so I don’t waste time.

            OMG — I don’t know how to date! The last guy went packing after our initial call. Run Forrest! Run!

            I even took a painting class to “get my girl on,” “open my heart,” take off my pants!

            Getting a massage, I asked my body worker for insights. She quipped, “I wish you could see your back as I am seeing it now.” Where are the ceiling mirrors when you need them? “Your right side is highly defined and your left side is lower, softer and not as defined as the right. The right side represents your male side and the left your female side. You are spending too much time in the male energy area of your life.”

            I asked, “Is there a book I can buy to be more like a girl?” So male of me.

            Later that night, I shared with the elders who had become my temporary grandmothers what transpired during my massage and they, too, laughed. One wise soul responded, “Dear, you do not need a book to be more like a girl. Simply go to your heart more and less from your head.”

            So, my questions:

            How do you find a man more man than yourself?

            Where are all the strong men that love strong women?

            What does a strong woman do to leave the business side at home on a date?

            How do you stay in a “skirt” when dating when all you do all day is wear “pants” at work?

            How do you date when you have never dated because you have a belief that you only date someone if you are going to marry them?

            How do you overcome the “I don’t want to waste my time” disease?

Diamond (and other strong women):

This is such a good inquiry. I, too, have struggled with this and am not sure I have answers, but perhaps some insights that will help you find your own answers.

Many of us midlife women have created great lives through our focus, power and assertiveness. This is effective in the male culture of work, dominated with war and sports metaphors. We’ve learned how to dress powerfully, not provocatively, speak clearly and directly, stand with poise and confidence. It is so part of who we are that we have forgotten there is another more feminine side.

The truly powerful, I believe, have learned how to adapt to each situation and behave in ways that make them successful. A general is gentle around children or the infirm, yet speaks assuredly to the troops. A CEO knows that behavior in the boardroom is different than at the company picnic. So, too, we must relearn what it’s like to allow our femininity to come out and still be powerful.

I am not saying you need to dummy down who you are. I’m saying that there are men who will love you for your power and will also love you when you allow your vulnerabilities to surface.

I started my business at 24. I felt to be taken seriously I needed to look and behave man-like. I only wore man-tailored clothing, had a short, no-nonsense hair cut, light makeup and carried an all-business briefcase. I continued to do this long after my credibility had been established and the severity began to hinder my effectiveness, as the people I wanted to connect with were intimidated. With the help of a few image consultant friends who saw my image was not eliciting the response I wanted, they helped outfit me in more feminine, yet still powerful attire. I consciously softened my behavior to be more approachable, softer, more welcoming. I can now shift more readily from business mode to date mode, with not only my dress but my demeanor.

My suggestion is to be conscious of the behaviors that aren’t working in dating, and to choose new ones. How do you know which are more welcoming? Since there’s not a book on it J(at least not one we know about), my suggestion is to find women role models from whom to learn. They can be friends, colleagues, or even those in the media. Watch what they do and adapt it for yourself. In your example of drilling a potential suitor on the first encounter, think beforehand what questions you could ask that would be gentler, yet still elicit the information you desire.

Also, it helped me to read several of the Mars/Venusbooks to understand that men want to be needed, and feel good about being useful to a woman. It helped me not feel I had to insist on splitting the check, or reciprocate every kind action a date made. I choose to give to him in ways he would appreciate, even if it was a smile, a word of sincere thanks, or a hug. My feminist bent felt I had to match everything equally, tit for tat. I’ve learned I can be feminist and feminine at the same time.

It’s the yin and the yang of relationships that make them work. If both of you are yang, why do you need the other? The secret, I believe is to be able to be yang when the other is in yin and vice versa. My ex was pretty yin. He embraced his feminine side, and while not effeminate, he was nurturing. When my yang started to diminish and I let my yin side out more, I believe that’s when our disconnect began. He didn’t know how to be more yang. I could have chosen to go back into predominately yang mode, but that was not satisfactory anymore.

Dating after 40: In Search of King CharmingThis is an excerpt from In Search of King Charming: Who Do I Want to Share My Throne?,part of the Adventures in Delicious Dating After 40 series. Order it at www.DatingGoddess.com.