Many midlife daters reenter the dating scene after a long absence. If they aren’t a long-time single, they are available again because of divorce or death of their spouse. At this age, many are sensitive to fading looks and possibly squishy bodies, even though others are buffer and more attractive than ever before. Midlifers are more aware of their shortcomings, which can overshadow their pride of accomplishments, both career and personal. And they aren’t sure exactly what is expected of them during the dating process. They are a bit fragile at first.
If you’ve been dating for a while, especially if most of your dates have come from online sites, you’ve learned some of the ropes. You are more savvy now than you were as a neophyte dater.
If you are an experienced dater, I think you have some responsibility — even if it is just for your own karma — to treat newbie daters with kid gloves. Not that you wouldn’t do that with everyone, but I think it’s especially important to help guide new daters through the process, sharing with them what you’ve learned during your dating experiences.
For example, I learned from an experienced online dating gal pal, that it is expected for you to exchange emails after the first date to express if you want to see the other again or not. I would not have known this was considered a common courtesy if she hadn’t enlightened me. I would have assumed I would hear from the man if he was interested in seeing me again. So I made it a habit to always email the guy within 24 hours of our first encounter to thank him and express whether I was interested in doing it again or not. Many times he initiated that email or even called after the date.
Because of your experience, you know that many online daters see multiple people simultaneously, so you can’t assume they are only seeing you. If you are starting to see a fledgling dater, explain that it is common to go out with multiple people, each once or twice before deciding whether to focus on only one, or keep looking. So be upfront if you are dating others. And even if you’re not seeing others, you might drop this information into the conversation so they know to ask a future date outright.
You also know that it is unfortunately prevalent for people to stop responding to calls, emails and IMs when they don’t want to continue dating someone. So even though you are careful to clearly communicate you’re not interested in a man any longer, help him understand this regrettably common practice so he won’t be scratching his head when it happens to him. So if you decide to stop seeing this dating novice, take extra care to communicate you’re done as graciously and gently — yet clearly — as you can.
I’ve found that those who haven’t dated much or in a long time can easily become attached to you if you are just your usual nice self. I think it is because they have not had much (any?) attention or affection in a long while. If they get a single, attractive woman to look them in the eye, smile and carry on a fun conversation for more than a few minutes, they think they’ve found The One.
I once had a coffee date with a man who had just filed for divorce, after a 25-year marriage. I was his first post-marriage date. He was giddy during our coffee, talking about plans for taking me here and doing that together. I knew I was not interested in seeing him again, so encouraged him to take advantage of his new-found freedom and date a number of women to really find out what he wanted and who was a match. So even if you only see him once, you can be a mini-coach to him, sharing any hard-won wisdom you’ve gleaned so he’s not blind sided with what you know are common midlife dating behaviors.
Next week I’m having a second encounter with a widower who lost his wife of 30 years just last year. I know he hasn’t dated much since then — in fact I may be his first dating experience in over 30 years. So I am conscious of making sure I treat his heart with tenderness and care.
What advice would you share with a midlife dating tenderfoot? What have you learned the hard way that is more common than you’d imagined before you started this adventure?
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