Paying for the sins of predecessors

Men have told me it isn’t fair when a women judges them based on behaviors of previous suitors. Ideally we all want to be assessed as individuals, not lumped into “men do this” or “women do that” stereotypes.

Yet it is difficult to not take into account past lessons from collective experiences with the opposite gender. After enough data points, you see patterns emerge. Of course there are always exceptions, but you begin to feel you can predict actions or at least be aware of common behaviors that are yellow or red flags.

A potential suitor and I were bantering recently and after he uttered a bawdy comment he added, “What can I say? I’m a guy and I’m horny.” To which I responded, “That’s redundant.”

Did I mean that all guys are horny? Of course not. But if a guy is in the dating world, my collective experience is that they are horny or lonely or a combination of both. Which is why they are dating!

With a new guy I am somewhat cautious as I don’t know much about his values, beliefs and behaviors. He could be a gem or a monster. So I’m a tad guarded. Is this fair to a man who has only honest intentions and is upfront about them? Is it right to be a bit suspicious even when there is no apparent need to be?

As women, we know it is better to be safe than sorry. We have learned that some men have only one agenda and it is not in alignment with getting to know you and having a meaningful relationship. There are charmers and sweet talkers that make you believe they care deeply about you and then take advantage of your open heart and vulnerability. “Burned once, shame on you. Burned twice, shame on me.” After being bamboozled once, our guard goes up to all successors.

So how do you balance being informed by common male dating behavior but still being open to a man not fitting the stereotype? How do you date with savvy and some caution yet still be open and receptive?

Got a topic on dating after 40 you want Dating Goddess to address? Send your issue to






6 responses to “Paying for the sins of predecessors”

  1. Tim Avatar

    I can’t speak for women, but the same is true for men. As a man who was treated very badly, and deeply hurt by his now ex-wife, it was really hard not to see anyone I date as though they were the same as my ex. Eventually, I came to the point where I am able to date with an open mind yet be causious. I think the key word you used was patterns! If the person I am seeing displays a behavior that tosses up a big red flag, I stop look and listen, if I begin to see that behavior regularly, and am able to link it to other red flags from other areas in our relationship then I figure it is a pretty good sign this women is not right for me.

    In other words we would be foolish not to use our past experinces in order to protect ourselves from future pain, so long as we step causiosly to make sure our choices aren’t a knee jurk reaction because of them.

  2. Allison Avatar

    I agree with everything Tim said. I don’t think it’s possible to eliminate our past experience from the equation altogether, and I don’t think we should. One thing I might add to the conversation is it’s worth the time to become aware of your own patterns as well.

    We all have attitudes and values about everything including relationships, based on our experience, how relationships were modeled in our families, etc. Taking the time to understand ourselves with respect to relationships can help us understand why we might have ignored the red flag (s) that was flapping in our face.

    For example, say I know that I tend very attracted to powerful men because I can live vicariously through their power. So, maybe I realize about myself that I tend to stay with these guys even after I may have discovered they are emotionally unavailalbe or don’t make me a high enough priority in their lives, whatever.

    If I’m aware of that need in myself, I am more likely to realize and be able to act on that knowledge than if I were oblivious…in which case I would likely be blaming them for not being what I wanted them to be, etc etc. It would be all THEIR fault rather than me realizing the choices I had available to me.

    My experience is that developing my own self-awareness helps me make more healthy choices for myself. Just my two cents’ worth…

  3. nysharon Avatar

    In response to “What can I say? I’m a guy and I’m horny,” I would simply reply “but the question is, are you worthy?”
    What makes us so special at age 40 plus is that we do have a self awareness and smarts about these things from experience. Sometimes its about an ego boost and sometimes its about really looking for someone to connect with. The way to stay receptive and open is to not jump into things with your eyes closed. If it is not about an ego boost, most men and women will wait to see with their eyes open. Now if you are looking for an ego boost yourself, go ahead and jump.

  4. Autumnmoon Avatar

    I have been re-singled (like that word?) long enough that I don’t hold men accountable for those who have come into my life before them and had to be voted out of my life.

    I swear I’m a dork magnet……. the good news here is that I’ve learned how to untangle quickly

  5. Claudia Avatar

    Hhhm I agree one is a bit cautious because of having been burned before. But truth is that it is easy to recognise behaviour. (Luckily)

    The interesting thing for me is that the more I develop my interests and go for what I want the less I’m bumping into the men I used to attract.

  6. Selena Avatar

    For me it’s not so much about making someone pay for the sins of predecessors, but it is about really trying to pay attention to those red flags that in previous relationships I was somewhat dismissive about. Things I would look for is does he drink excessively on our early dates? Does he talk bitterly about his ex, and/or women in a general way and then tries to pass it off as a joke. Someone who talked about sex excessively on a first date would indicate he really just “wants some” rather than getting to know me.

    Anyone who would give me a long list of qualities they want in a partner would be a turn-off. Hey, why don’t you get to know me first and see how I fit into that list! That’s what I’m open to doing with you.