The stealth date

I went out with a delightful man three times while King Charming and I were broken up for a few weeks some months ago. When KC and I decided to get back together, I told this man the news. Since we are in the same field and I liked his personality, I asked if we could stay in touch as pals. He said he’d like that.

Over the past 4 months we’ve talked for an hour every few weeks, taken several long walks together, and attended a professional meeting. I shared with him the final demise of my relationship with KC, and we talked for an hour about what we’ve learned from past relationships. We laugh a lot, flirt some, and share our successes and setbacks.

Sounds like a great relationship, huh?


He is tall, sensitive, strong, funny, good looking, well dressed, intelligent, articulate, and well read. We are attracted to each other on several levels. So why am I not jumping back into a dating relationship with him?

Several reasons.

  1. I’m not sure I’m emotionally ready to invest in a new romantic relationship right now. This man has long-term potential, and my emotions are still a bit raw from the breakup. I’d hate to be needy or submit him to anger or disappointment that is really about KC, not him. While he is savvy enough to know when something is really about him or not, I’d hate to put him through that, or worse, destroy what we have while I’m healing.
  2. In the past I’ve jumped into romantic relationships too quickly. I’ve gone from just meeting someone to holding hands or smooching on the second date if I was drawn to the guy. I need to do a better job of learning if a guy has the same values and how he treats me before progressing to a romantic relationship.
  3. He’s in between jobs. He quit his last job in March and hasn’t found a new one. I’ve psychologically supported him in his mood management and job search, but it is a full-time job to find a job. Any relationship, especially a budding one, takes time and energy. I think he’d be best served to stay focused on getting a job.

So by hanging out and talking with this guy, it is stealth dating. We do things that cost little or no money, or go Dutch. I can see how he treats me as a person to get a sense of how he might treat me as a sweetie. I watch him interact with others. I can see how often he initiates contact and what he invites me to do. All of this without the messiness of being disappointed if he doesn’t call every day, or set up a date at least once a week. We are experiencing how we get along and when one of us wants to connect with the other, we call.

Isn’t this how dating really should be? You get to know and like the other person before progressing? Sometimes I think the dating world starts a few steps down the road, when it really needs to start with “Do I like you? Do we have similar values and interests? Do I like how we interact? Do I think about you when we aren’t together?”

We both know we’re attracted to each other, but it feels right to step back a bit and hang out together to see if we want to progress.

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


10 responses to “The stealth date”

  1. hooligan Avatar

    Yeah you in a bit of a tough situation. I don’t know what I would do if I was you.

  2. cheryl Avatar

    Good for you to have the self-discipline to take it slowly. You are wise and most likely, the exception. A woman like me would dive right back in, even knowing it wasn’t for the best.

  3. PreviouslyQofE Avatar

    I think it’s called being/becoming good friends, DG, and that’s the best basis for a relationship. And you are so right, giving yourself time to rest/recover/heal, you’re smart enough to learn your lessons from other relationships, and considerate enough to put off pursuing a romantic interest while he’s job hunting. Enjoy the time spent with him just on that basis, without overanalyzing. Goodness knows we do way too much of that!

  4. Loving Annie Avatar

    Stealth dating is a brilliant idea. If I could just keep my lower extremities from stopping the blood flow to my brain, I’d make much better relationship choices. And yes, I’m a woman saying that !!!!

  5. Catherine Avatar

    YES!!! I keep telling one of my friends that this is exactly how one finds the “right” guy. We all seem to rush much to quickly into calling something a relationship. when in fact if we were friends first (for more than a week or a month) then we would have much more information to base our decision as to are we right for a longterm romantic relationship.

    I firmly believe this is the answer, now it has a name… stealth dating. I think the teens call it hanging out. Either way it gives time an opportunity to weigh in on the chances of things working out.

  6. Ellen Avatar

    Very cool. I call it nondating, like hanging out without a label or any expectations. It allows us to know each other without creating fantasies about what “could” happen and to see each other as we really are. It keeps the physicalness out of the relationship until we are close friends and decide to progress. I’ve been known to say to a man who has asked me out “I’ll go out if you don’t call it a date!” It’s very low pressure and keeps us from having to guard our bodies against unwanted romantic overtures until it’s the right time. It allows us to be real about who we each are without trying to put on an act or impress the other. How smart is this!!!

    xo Ellen

  7. Devon Avatar

    It took me a while to learn this lesson. Things have not turned out well when things have progressed too quickly. It took a long distance connection for me to learn that a slower pace can bring great rewards. We learned a lot about each other over time through phone and e-mail in between visits. I would recommend stealth dating to newly divorced women, and those of us that have a tendency to jump in too quickly.

  8. GypsyJ Avatar

    I’m a guy–yeah and maybe I don’t belong here, but I’ve got to tell you, that you are doing it RIGHT. In fact I’d like to add just one thing to all the comments that have been made. Become BEST FRIENDS first and foremost. I’m not talking Best OF Friends–but Best Friends–a huge difference. If both of you don’t (or can’t) do that–the relationship will be rocky at best.

    I admire you Dating Goddess and the very very best to you in your endeavor. Oh BTW, I’m probably old enough to be your daddy, but I just wanted to wish you well in your endeavor.

  9. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Thank you Gypsy, and you DO belong here because we welcome guys’ perspective, even if I write for women.

    And I appreciate the compliment.

    How old are you? 🙂


  10. ktr899 Avatar

    It’s funny because I was just reading on a website about how a little red flag pops up for women when men don’t have a job or aspirations. It made me think of that, though I think in this case it is more about him having time and concentration to find a job and not be sidetracked by a relationship. One thing about not being ready for a relationship, I think if you take it slow, and maybe become friends and talk for awhile, it may work out. My good friend is getting married to her rebound guy from a three year relationship. Sometimes it’s meant to be so you can always take it slow, and not necessarily let the great guy out of your life just yet!