Biggest surprise with midlife dating

I’ve been interviewed a lot lately to promote the Adventures in Delicious Dating After 40 book series. A question I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to keeps coming up.

It is, “What’s the biggest negative surprise you’ve had with dating midlife men?”

Since I keep getting asked this, my response has evolved as I’ve thought about it more.

My answer?

Lack of conscientiousness.

This takes in several behaviors, all, coincidentally, starting with “c”!

Lack of consideration. I was emailed today, on the day of a dinner date, by a man canceling telling me he’d decided to be exclusive with another woman. It wasn’t his exclusivity that bothered me, but that he didn’t have the consideration to communicate the cancellation via a mode that guaranteed I’d get it. What if I was in appointments all day and didn’t get the email? Calling would have been the preferred method, but I imagine he envisioned a difficult conversation, so took the easiest way out for him. The coward’s way out.

Perhaps since he hasn’t met me, he didn’t feel he needed to treat me with much regard. However, if a man is interested enough in a woman to invite her to a nice dinner, wouldn’t he have enough respect for her to treat her considerately, even if to cancel? My guess is that this is how he treats others, even though he has a senior-level position with a high-ranking politician. So he must know how to earn someone’s respect. But perhaps he’s so talented others overlook his lack of personal consideration. I’ll never know.

Lack of consideration plays out over and over. Are midlife men really so self-absorbed that they have no clue how their lateness, last-minute cancellations, and texting difficult conversations, affect the other person? How disrespectful it feels? Are they missing the thoughtfulness gene? Or were they never taught (or have forgotten) manners? (To be fair, I’d guess there are many midlife women who behave similarly.) Shouldn’t we be able to act like mature adults at this point?

Lack of consciousness of how to make a good impression. Men show up for first dates late without calling, or in wrinkled garb, or take phone calls. Their online profiles are rife with sun glasses- and baseball hat-wearing pictures, often taken from many yards away. How can they possibly think this is appealing and representing them in the best possible way?

Do men really think that on a phone call or coffee date spending 90% of the time talking about themselves is attractive? I understand that they are in “impress her” mode, but are they so clueless that they don’t understand that she’ll be way more impressed if he seems to be interested in her life?

•  Lack of courage (see #1). This can be as simple as picking up the phone after a few dates and telling you that you’re not a good fit for each other. Or telling you he’s found someone he thinks is a better match. Or he’s decided to go back to his wife/gf. Whatever the news, have the courage to confront it head on, not hiding behind an IM, text or email. In person is best, but even a phone call is better than electronic communication. I believe men convince themselves it will sting less to receive the missive via text, etc., but it’s really because they don’t want to have to face the perceived difficult conversation. We are adults. We have to have difficult conversations. It’s called “maturity.”

So maybe my real answer is, I’m surprised at some chronologically mature men’s lack of maturity!

I did not intend this to come across as man bashing, as I’m sure we could change the pronoun in every sentence and men would agree that they’ve experienced some midlife women behaving the same way.

So the question to you is, what has negatively surprised you about dating midlife? I don’t want to encourage a rant-fest, but more of a “this surprised me” dialog.

Embracing Midlife MenIf you’re interested in understanding middle-aged men better, download Embracing Midlife Men: Insights Into Curious Behaviors now!


19 responses to “Biggest surprise with midlife dating”

  1. Carol Avatar

    I met a nice man (I thought) online. We had three dates in one week. It would have been 4 but I was not available one night. We got along very well, enjoyed ourselves. After our 3rd date I emailed him suggesting an activity we might enjoy together. I got an email back saying that he had met an awsome woman and they had decided to pursue an exclusive relationship. Then he suggested that I call a friend of his (who had a girlfriend and was not interested in meeting me). And I could not tell this friend that he has suggested I call. HUH? When did he meet this awesome woman and how was I supposed to explain calling this guy out of the blue?

  2. rkintn Avatar

    I’ve run into all of those and the one that really surprises me the most is the lack of courage! It has been so surprising and discouraging that I have taken my self out of the dating game for the time being.

  3. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Ah, Carol, this is the challenge of multi-dating. People meet someone they like but aren’t sure it’s going to play out. So they keep meeting others (I’ve done this myself, so I’m not throwing stones). The first person heats up, often one of them insists on exclusivity before having sex. The new awesome person is out.

    So while you are awesome, not the alpha awesome in this scenario. There was, no doubt, a time when a man started seeing you continuing to have coffee with others and he decided you were the one that most interested him. You never knew about the others, but at some point he had to drop them to choose you. (Let’s hope he dropped them!) And you will come out the front runner for the right guy.

    Try not to take it personally. It’s just a clear sign you’re not a match. Be grateful he told you after only a week — it could have been a month — or more!


  4. Callie Avatar

    I met a guy for lunch who had emailed me multiple times changing the location right up until the very hour we were to meet. He then told me that he had already eaten lunch and brunch with other women and was glad he could squeeze me in since I was the “hottest of the lot”. (Be still my heart!) He also revealed that he had changed the location to this particular restraunt because he had intended to take me to the warehouse club store next door and “lose me” if I had gained weight since taking my online photo. I invited him to go with me over to the warehouse club since I needed to stop in there anyway…I wonder how long it took him to realize he had been ditched there since he had taken his online photo back in the days when his head sported hair?!

  5. Mitsy Avatar

    I love that story, Callie. What pompous idiot that guy was. :0

    My biggest surprise and disappointment was the lack of maturity and seemingly lack of knowing HOW to date by these 40 something aged men. Their lack of knowing what they wanted was apparent in more than a couple I went out with. Even when we seemed to get along really well, they had doubts that later turned into them ending things with me. I always came away feeling kind of used (even though we hadn’t gotten real physical). I felt used emotionally I guess. Like they knew all along it would not be a long-term thing, but they strung me along. Happened enough times I got fed up with the first-time dates that never turned into anything more. Or we had a few dates and then things ended. I’m not seeing anyone now and while I am lonely, I’m not ready to take a chance again with online dating.

  6. Samantha Avatar

    Misty – I think a lot of people online are sort of dabbling and attracted to online dating because you can sort of skim the crowd and not get serious with anyone.. online might be a good fit for some who have become ambiguous about relationships. My biggest surprise was a combination of everything I’m hearing exactly. I would sum it up by saying my surprise has been the fact that I’ve met so many and nothing has stuck. Surprised at how hard it is at mid life to find a quality guy online who really wants to be with someone. I’m sure men can say the same but speaking for myself. What happened for me was I met someone at work after my company merged with another. He’s a guy who’s never met anyone through the internet, and I found myself relieved to discover that fact.

  7. Samantha Avatar

    I’ve learned and heard from other guys that they are chicken and avoid confrontation when it comes to breaking up/breaking off with a woman. I wish some could think like we do and be more considerate, but sometimes women are a little better at with the being considerate issue. I have learned not to try to think too hard about some stuff when it comes to guys.

  8. Becky Avatar

    Some don’t get any better with age. I have another “c” word for you; and that is CONSISTENCY. I get increasingly frustrated with them saying one thing one minute, doing yet another, over and over. Prime example, and girls, (and guys) give me your take on this little scenario that just happened to me. My *Mr. Big* tells me a couple of weeks back that he just adores me and makes me melt with all kinds of inner revelations; and then asks what did I want to do, live together, get married or what? I didn’t answer directly at the time, (big mistake I guess), just said I thought we needed to spend more time together differently that we had been. As in regularly. So, on his visit last week, I bring it up and he says I misunderstood. That he didn’t mean it the way that I took it. So, how would YOU have taken that? Now, I honestly don’t know which end is up.

  9. D-Maria Avatar

    Call it lack of consideration – call is lack of courage – I call it lack of honesty which is a value I hold high and am so disappointed when this is what becomes lost. Not just the – he says he will call – and doesn’t – not just the – I really enjoy being with you but… not just the – internet dating site with the 10 year old pictures, 40 lbs ago – not just the – I can accept your children – but then gets upset that I cannot go for coffee on Tues because my daughter has a piano lesson. It becomes an accumulation of all this and unfortunately more. So you can see that there have been a few – but in all fairness there was one who said that my lifestyle made it difficult for a realtionship that he wanted, which I appreciated hearing. But then this was one out of many….

  10. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Becky: This can be so frustrating — that they think they said something different than we heard. My last beau asked on our third date (an afternoon picnic and stroll by a lake), as he’s walking me to my car, “What do you want?” I thought he meant with our relationship so I answered thusly. A month later, he said, “I asked you what you wanted to do for the rest of the evening and you didn’t answer so I thought you wanted to go home.” If he’d asked THAT question clearly and directly, I would have answered clearly and directly. he didn’t correct me when I answered a question different than the one he asked. Go figure.

    That said, I do know I (we?) have a tendency to hear what we want to hear. So maybe some of your guy’s words were nebulous, or maybe in the elapsed days you each remembered the question differently. So, if this is the only sign of inconsistency, let it go. However, if this is a pattern, see the flag waiving in your face.

  11. Mitsy Avatar

    A guy who mentions getting married or moving in together early on would be a dealbreaker for me. I would not even mention that subject until you’ve been together for a period of time. I’m surprised a guy would say something so bold so soon. Maybe I misunderstood the time frame, but I got that this was much too soon.

    Saying one thing & doing another was also a problem I encountered with online dating. Lack of consistency went along with the immaturity and lack of dating know-how. I expected men over 40 to be more stable and mature than they were. Sadly, many seemed more like 20-something year olds who didn’t know what they wanted but also thought there would also be someone better around the corner (as in another online profile).

    I’m now not seeing anyone, and while I do get lonely, the thought of going back online is not enticing to me in the least.

  12. Samantha Avatar

    Becky – what I’m hearing is that he may have been asking you what you want in general, to get an idea what you’re looking for, and not necessarily with him… just in general. I may have clarified right then by asking ‘are you asking me what I want in general, or are you asking me what I’m wanting with YOU?

  13. Jack Avatar

    I think y’all may be mistaking a lack of courage for consideration. Men have huge egos and assume you will be crushed when they’re no longer interested in you so they avoid discussions that would hurt you. Y’all also seem to really be fishing in some foul waters. A lot of decent divorced guys (middle aged and never marrieds are a lost cause. Run quickly) aren’t out playing games on the internet. You may have to endure a few baseball or hockey games but most decent men aren’t home filling out internet dating questionnaires (“I like kittens and walks in the rain!!”). Stop swimming in a puddle, the oceans more fun.

  14. Mitsy Avatar

    That’s well & good, but the reason most women ever ventured into the world of online dating was because they weren’t finding eligible, decent men via the “normal” way through other people, set-ups, etc. It’s a crapshoot either way though. My thinking in the beginning was that I would have a lot less heartache & disappointments if I started meeting men who were like minded and wanted to have a long term relationship. It was far from what many wanted but they put themselves out there anyway. Game playing seemed to be their thing. I disagree about consideration being the same as lack of courage. There is no excuse or reasonable explanation for rudeness. Guys who lack the guts to be honest are going to break someone’s heart no matter what, so why not tell someone there isn’t a connection instead of stringing them along only to disappear later? And if you know of decent, divorced guys who actually want to meet and have a long-term relationship, maybe you should send them our way. :0

  15. nysharon Avatar

    As DG knows, I was very anti-on line dating since I began reading her blog. So in an effort of good intentions I put my profile up last Sept. after spending an excrutiating time at a wedding by myself. My experiences over the past 4 months could fill a book. In a fit of discust, I deleted my profile 2 weeks ago. One story sticks out of a man who pursued me on line and we finally agreed to meet at a 30 min. half way point. I sat at the bar waiting for him for a studpid total of and hour and half. The reason for this is because every half hour he would text that he was on his way and that he was in traffic court. He claims he had to meet me that night because he was going out of state and didn’t want to wait. When he did arrive we hit it off (although by that time the bartender and other patrons were pittying me). We kissed goodnight, he said he would call and couldn’t wait to see me when he got back. Two days later I texted him to see how his trip was going, he replyed he was going fishing, and I never heard from him again.
    In response to consideration…its the stringing you along thing to see if something else comes up that’s better is what happens. They don’t want to end it but they don’t like you enough to go a step further. Its called Emotional Unavailability/Ambivalence. There are hords of people on line who really arent’ ready to date but are trying to get over someone, are lonely but who standards are so high they will not bother to get to know you, and all of the above including just wanting an ego boost.

  16. Samantha Avatar

    It seems like there is something unnatural about the online dating process. May be that’s why a lot of people have similar negative experiences.

  17. nysharon Avatar

    Yes it’s backwards. You get to know someone and then meet them to figure out if there is chemistry instead of the other way around. It’s also easier to market yourself (sell) when you can hide behind your profile.

  18. Stacie Avatar

    Getting back into the dating scene is more difficult than it was in my 20’s! I wholeheartedly agree with all other’s takes on the subject. Just hearing about all my girlfriend’s experiences was enough for me to decide not to on-line date. I have been going about the process the old-fashioned way. I am simply meeting men just by living my every day life. It isn’t so contrived, and reading the previous individuals’ experiences convinces me that my decision is correct.

    Regarding lack of consideration, it’s very true. But if you think about it for a minute, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s not just occurring in the dating arena. Lack of consideration, lack of regard for others, and overall dishonesty is just the way our whole society has become, unfortunately! This is why our country is in such a terrible state, after all! Our dating experiences are just a sign of the times.

  19. MindMetrics Avatar

    I think the lack of authenticity in online dating is immense! Whether it is the baseball cap from 5 yards back or a picture from 10 years ago! My take-a-way from your post above is that we end up unhappy with the people entering our selection set (the pool from which we find people to date). My thought is that maybe the approach needs to change.

    If you are using online dating, most seem to be – the idea of using computing power to weed out those who are probably incompatible is sound. The problem is that the same online services give people a chance to manipulate their personas rather than be themselves. If the online service you’re considering is based on questionnaires – expect some bias (probably a lot).

    There are online dating services that have matching methods that reduce or eliminate the opportunity for people to oversell themselves. The goal is to get you to the right pool – then let nature take its course!

    Good Luck and don’t give up!