Getting traction

Midlife singles often tell me that the biggest challenge with dating is getting a date in the first place. That isn’t what I see as the greatest obstacle, as you could easily go out with lots of people if you adjust your criteria.

In my experience, the biggest issue is finding someone interesting and engaging enough to see again (and they feel similarly), then building some traction. About half of the 110 men I’ve gone out with resulted in one-time-only meetings.

By “traction,” I mean what the thesaurus gives us: adhesion — or sticking together. While I accept second and subsequent dates with men whose company I enjoy, it can be difficult getting beyond good conversation to a more romantic connection. There is a delicate balance between moving too quickly and moving so slowly that the relationship transitions to the “friend” category.

So how does one get traction toward building a romantic relationship, not just a friendship? I think mutual flirting helps, if sincere, as it telegraphs that you’re not just looking for an activity partner pal.

The traction needs to build naturally. If you feel you are always the one making contact, or suggesting getting together, or pulling the other in conversation, you are in a rut and there is no traction to get you out. You are doing all the heavy lifting in the relationship. That isn’t a win/win.

What if you find there is no momentum after a handful of dates? You can continue seeing each other if you like each other, and see if a romantic relationship evolves. I have now-married friends who started out as pals and then they became romantic.

Generally, we expect to feel some spark, some chemistry beyond liking each other. So if you aren’t feeling you’re becoming more connected, then it’s probably best to have the “let’s be friends” conversation. That might inspire him to kick it up a notch and realize he wants more, or he might just agree to be friends.

What have you done if you don’t feel the relationship is moving forward after a handful of dates? Have you stuck with it or relegated the relationship into the friend realm?

Caught not knowing if you should continue or move on? Then get your copy of Real Deal or Faux Beau: Should You Keep Seeing Him?


8 responses to “Getting traction”

  1. Yvette Francino Avatar

    Most of the time, if there isn’t that romantic spark, both people know it. Depending on the relationship, you might talk about it, or you just might naturally see less of each other, with the unspoken knowledge that this thing isn’t working out… That’s usually what happens when it’s just obvious that there is a mutual disinterest in a romantic relationship.

    For those times when one or the other wants romance, it’s up to that person to step up their game and show interest. Flirt! If the other person doesn’t flirt back, then… move on.

  2. Richard Avatar

    When I was in Grad School, I had a few dates with a lady that was 5-10 years older. For some reason (maybe because I wasn’t that experienced), it was hard to cross the line into a physical relationship. I was getting signals that she wasn’t opposed to it, but the mutual flirting wasn’t happening. As such, the relationship ended when the class we shared ended. I think the lack of a physical relationship (holding hands, kissing, etc.) was just a sign that there wasn’t enough “glue” in the various aspects of the relationship to keep us together.

  3. katie Avatar
    katie The site is the most thorough, balanced, scientific, lay-person-accessible discussion of flirting I’ve ever seen. Pour yourself a glass o’ wine and enjoy it.

    If flirting doesn’t work, aloofness may.

  4. Jenny Avatar

    I was beginning to think I was the only person who has LOTs of “coffee dates” with different men and I’m not interested in seeing them again. My friends think I’m just too picky. But I know what I want and a guy who show up looking like an ad for ” I live in the northwest and I like flannel” just isn’t a match for me. But I’m going to keep trying.

  5. Mitsy Avatar

    I’ve been labeled as picky as well. However, if I had gone with whatever guy was interested/attracted to me and I didn’t feel likewise, I would have been pretty unhappy and likely would not have made them a good girlfriend (or wife).

    I recently met a guy at a church that is the same denomination as my own and he has visited my church on occasion as he has a relative who sometimes preaches at my church. He was not physically real attractive to me, but I did talk to him some this last week that I saw him. He asked me questions about where I lived, worked, etc. He was amazed that I’m 50. That is always an ego-booster for me. I figured he was divorced and he mentioned maybe doing lunch or dinner sometime. I said that maybe we could. I offered his phone number which I did not make an attempt to write down. I do not call a guy like that even if I’m real interested in them. They can do the calling. So, he asked for my number & I gave it to him.

    When I got back into the van to come back home (I went with others from my church), I asked the one guy who is a deacon about this man and he made some comments about him having mental problems and besides, “he is divorced”. He went on to say that he had a health condition (which is far different than having mental problems in my book). But, the big issue is that he’s “divorced”. I thought my church was more liberal about some of those issues, but apparently they think you’re damaged goods if you’re divorced. Apparently, his ex has not remarried & is not currently dating anyone now. I got the vibe that if she was, that might be different.

    Thinking this was all kind of weird, I called one of the other women who rode with us & asked her about her opinions and what the deacon had said. She said that a lot of people in our denomination believe that you are not free to marry or even really date if your ex is still alive & unmarried. It sounded bizarre to me and I’ve been in a lot of churches where their views on marriage & re-marriage were more conservative than mine. I’ve never heard of a rule like this one. The guy is really kind of overweight, so not a LOT of attraction there on my part, but he seemed nice enough to talk to.

    Honestly, there are few single men who’ve never been married who attend church much (any church) and even fewer who are in their 40’s or 50’s.

    The guy has called me twice and wanted to go out this Sat. night. I’m working and won’t be able to go, but I’m also reluctant because I don’t trust my own judgment anymore about men and I also seem to really care “what others think”. Thus, the “church people” who don’t seem to think he’s good enough for me. If I only had married or never married friends to hang out with, I’d have almost zero friends. My very best friend has been married 5-6 times & I love her dearly.

    I’ve dated several men over the years and I have not been “St. Mary” either, but I’ve never lived with a guy and never married. Sometimes, it’s hard to know what to do.


  6. Richard Avatar

    Hi Misty,

    I know exactly what you are going through. I have and currently do belong to conservative denominations, and you have summarized the position accurately. The church believes in only the two New Testament reasons for divorce: Non-believing spouse wants out; and infidelity. I presume that neither applies. If the other spouse ever remarries, then the Church is willing to recognize that the marriage is over. If the church has not recognize the divorce, they may refuse to marry you and him. Google new testament divorce if you want the bible references and some discussion. Note: This is not a new position of the church. It may be new to you, but it is a well-settled doctrine of the denominations.

    FWIW: I know what the bible says, and I believe the interpretation is correct. If you do what God wants you to do, He will honor that decision, and help you through it. However, I also know that “no one is righteous, no not one”, “let he who be without sin cast the first stone”, etc. Note: That is not a justification, just a rationalization. I have chosen to do what I know is not pleasing to God. But it is not the first, nor the last, time.

    Given that you do not have as strict a belief on divorce, I would discount the judgment of those who may be biased by the divorce issue.

    Just be aware that if you do marry him (and his ex is not remarried), then you may become as much ostracized as he is. In their eyes, you have willingly helped him go against what the bible says. From a human point of view: The choices are fewer and farther between, so you may need to “compromise” in this area. From a God point of view: If you do God’s will, he will honor that decision. I just can’t tell you how or when.

    If you would like to discuss it more, ask DG for my e-mail address.

  7. Mitsy Avatar

    Goddess, could you forward me Richard’s email address?

    The one lady I talked to about this guy is also divorced and has not dated since her divorce, but she also said that she had not been asked out either. She told me she did not see anything wrong w/me going to lunch or dinner w/the guy. I think she knows that marriage is not a priority for me at this point in time.

    While I can appreciate a biblical perspective about divorce, the reality of life is much different than in biblical times. I also am one who does not believe every Bible verse should be taken literally as there are so many verses that can be taken different ways and some seem to contradict one another.

    Basically, I believe divorce should be the last resort for people, so a part of me does have some real respect for marriage vows in general. I think there are a lot of people who might divorce when they didn’t give it their best shot to work things out. But, I also don’t think that any kind of abuse is acceptable (be it verbal, physical, or emotional). When one person is abusing their spouse, it’s time to get out regardless of what any church believes. I do not honestly know the circumstances of this guy’s divorce & I suspect there is more to the story than some of the church people know.

    I wasn’t at church yesterday and the guy hasn’t called me again, so we’ll see. If he calls back, I might do lunch with him. If he doesn’t call again, then it’s an issue I won’t have to deal with. At this point, I’m lukewarm in spending any time w/him.

  8. Anna Avatar

    Mitsy – here are my thoughts:

    Organized religion should not influence what you think/feel or expect of another human being. An organization of any sorts (even religious ones) do not have the right to dictate who we should spend time with and who we should not. I feely admit I am a 50 year old cynic when it comes to churches (all organized religions). If the Catholic church had their way I would still be married to an extremely abusive man, actually probably I would be dead by now. Please make the decision to date or not date this man based on your own instincts and not what others think. And based on whether you may or may not like him, as a human being and not if he is “suitable” in other people’s eyes.