Are you set in your ways?

A complaint I hear from midlife daters is that others they date seem set in their ways. This can become evident on the first date or it may take a while. But for those who this describes, it eventually comes out.

It might be an unwillingness to try a new cuisine, refusal to travel abroad, or opposition to watching a different movie genre. It could be habits that won’t budge: not allowing anyone else to sit in his TV-room chair, rejecting invitations to go out on favorite TV nights, or not wanting to try any new activities.

Some midlife daters seem to want to date only on their own terms: with a specific type of person, on only certain nights per week, for only so many hours, doing activities with which he is already comfortable. The concept of dating really means having a companion when he wants her to accompany him on what he wants to do and when he wants to do it. (Although I am using the male pronoun, we all know women who fit this description.)

It’s easy to point a finger at others and spotlight their failings. It’s harder to turn around that finger and ask yourself the pointed question: Are you set in your ways?

  • How open are you to new activities? Do you like to try new things, or do you do them begrudgingly?
  • Do you expect a man to join you in your activities, but decline his invitations to join him in his favorite pastimes that may not (yet) be at the top of your list?
  • Are you comfortable mixing things up sometimes just to get a new perspective? Moving the furniture, trying new restaurants, visiting new places?
  • If someone upsets your way of doing things, are you tolerant and at peace? If he sits in your place at the table, wants you to join him in a dance class on your TV night, or takes you to an unusual restaurant, do you jump in feet first — or with feet dragging?

If you find yourself stuck in routines, try forcing yourself to mix it up. Instead of staying in on TV night, set up Tivo or DVR and accept your neighbor’s long-standing invitation to join her at her karaokeline-dancing lessons. If you always go to the movies with your gal pals on Friday nights, see if they’ll agree to karaoke instead. Move the living room furniture. Sleep on the other side of the bed. Change “your” spot at the kitchen table. Drive a new way to work. Go to that new ethnic restaurant you’ve been meaning to try.

Experiment with new things. You won’t like them all. But by expanding your choices you open yourself up to new possibilities and will find some new favorites. And you’ll be more appealing to a broader range of men.

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