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dating after forty

I dated a sweet man who grew up in an African village. He came to the US at age 19 to go to school.

I loved hearing his stories of growing up in his village, living in mud huts, bathing in the nearby river, gathering water from a pond, making fire from sticks and moss, walking miles to sell eggs and chickens at the market, and other examples of a life I couldn’t imagine. He regaled me with his tribe’s welcome-to-manhood ceremony and other rites of passage.

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The phrase “keeping it 100” comes from “keeping it 100% real,” meaning being 100% honest. It’s shorthand for no BS, don’t tell me what you think I want to hear, tell me the unvarnished truth. Don’t hold back.

I decided to try this with a man while we were exploring going from pals to more. His life is complicated right now, uncoupling from a long-term relationship. I wanted to understand his emotional state, goals and desires. I needed to determine if it made sense to become closer during this challenging time, or whether it would be best for all if we stayed pals and revisited becoming romantic after he was fully unencumbered.

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A man may enter your life who does not hold the work title or financial status you are seeking. But he’s a good man. He is honest, has integrity, treats you respectfully, listens to you, and is accommodating to your desires.

The “what” is his profession. The “who” is his character, values and behavior.

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It’s commonly said that women try to change their man into someone more to their ideal. Men, however, are afraid women will change, as they like what they have.

Not that a man can’t wish a woman was a better cook, was more punctual, neater, or had other habits he liked. But (generally) he won’t hound her, unlike women (generally).

My experience is men won’t tell you when they are fully accepting of who you are, warts and all.

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Agal pal shared with me the concept of people having different needs for affiliation — how much “people contact” they need.

As you would guess, some have a very low need for affiliation — someone like the Unabomber who is content to live like a hermit with human contact only a few times a year, and then only because of necessity. Granted, he is mentally ill, but you get my drift.

And some people have a very high need to be around others and get depressed when they aren’t. Think Paris Hilton (we’ll skip any assessment about mental health). I find it interesting that some of these folks can just be in the presence of others — not interacting with them — and still have their itch scratched. That may be the case for people who spend all day in a popular park, Starbucks, Borders, or the library, reading and working. They talk with very few people, if any, but they just like being around others.

My theory is this: Your dating behaviors reflect your need for affiliation. So if you have a high need, you’re apt to email, call and IM the person you’re dating multiple times a day. (We began to explore this in “Do you both have the same dating rhythm?” in the In Search of King Charming: Who Do I Want to Share My Throne?book)

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This can be a common thought for powerful, successful, midlife dating women. It was expressed by Adventures in Delicious Dating After 40 reader Diamond in a question to me:

            I’ve been in business my whole life. A friend’s mother shared this advice just prior to my running off to meet what I thought was the man of my dreams in London. She gently said, in a loving mother’s voice, “Do you mind if I give you a piece of advice about your man in London? Please don’t treat him like a business!”

            I have a hard time switching from client mode to date mode. I treat my date as I do my clients”— I want to know up front, “What are your goals and objectives?” This is me, who are you? BAM! I’m sure I’m too direct for the first call. This doesn’t evolve over time — I want to know now so I don’t waste time.

            OMG — I don’t know how to date! The last guy went packing after our initial call. Run Forrest! Run!

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Have you ever had a guy friend-crush? A guy pal who you’d like to be more? But you haven’t flirted or made your interest known because he might already have a wife or girlfriend? Or maybe you’ve been too afraid of ruining the good friendship you have if a romance doesn’t work out?
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kimonoWe’d been talking for a few weeks before meeting. I’m not fond of trying to kindle a relationship with someone living 1000 miles away, but he had certain rare attributes I’ve been looking for in a partner, but unable to find locally.

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Chupah

I attended a lovely Jewish wedding last weekend. The bride was resplendent and the groom handsome as they stood under the  chupah in front of the rabbi (the bride’s father) and the cantor (her god-father). Outside at sunset, the family and friends stood encircling the couple on the grass. The cantor’s sweet singing, including a song he wrote for the bride, soared in the crisp evening air. Candle luminaria lit the lawn on which we all stood, and a lone guitarist strummed entrance and exit music.

I’d arrived early, and my friend (the bride’s mother), showed me and another couple the quaint sleeping rooms in the inn where the ceremony and celebration were held. In showing me the bridal suite, she mentioned that in traditional or Biblical Jewish tradition, when a couple has sex they are then considered married.

Wow!

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In midlife dating, we sometimes encounter situations that are just too awkward to have a ready-made answer. I remember one from early in my dating re-entry. I wish I could forget it. I’m not sure I would have an easy answer if it happened again.

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imagesI’d posted a brief, “I’m glad you’re in my life” message to my then-beau’s social networking page after we were exclusive for four months.

He said, “I feel like a fire hydrant.”

“What do you mean?” I asked curiously.
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