Last time I hung out with my girlfriends, the talk turned to why we have a better time hanging out with each other than with the guys we’re dating. Several of the girls had recently broken up with their boyfriends. A couple others were seriously considering it. Only the ones who’d been married a long time were happy in their relationships.
And we are not alone.
If you are an older single, you are officially disillusioned.
So says the CEO of eHarmony:
“One of the things we’ve learned is that people in their 20s and 30s who have income are very happy to spend more in the search for a more enduring relationship…When you’re in the 40s and 50s that changes. You can see the impact of relationships that don’t work out. You see bitterness. They believe less in compatibility. They are interested in companionship but not marriage.”
But, if you’re reading this blog, you probably already know that.
Mr. eCEO adds that older singles are reluctant to pay the $57 monthly fee to use eHarmony. If they don’t think they’re going to find love, why pay for a losing proposition. (And there are many much larger free sites).
So, here’s five things that are disillusioning us womenfolk:
1. Time apart: My girlfriends are really independent. They want to live on their own, setting their own schedules with plenty of time to pursue their separate interests. They find some middle-aged men to be clingy, wanting to spend more than a couple nights a week together or expecting ultimately to live together. We want to be independent people who meet at intervals to share experiences. My friends don’t demand more time from each other than we have (willingly) to give.
2. Empathetic Listening: Most guys don’t listen the way that women do. It’s like they can’t empathize with what we’re talking about. My best advice for friendship or dating: Listen carefully to what your prospective friend is saying, then ask interested questions about it. If someone is passionate about something, there’s a reason. If she lives to decoupage photographs of kittens to wastebaskets, ask how she picks the photos. Don’t immediately move on to talking about your hobby of tracking down rare dung beetles. My friends and I listen to each other’s problems and we offer to help out with things. It’s mutual and empathetic.
3. No Hidden Meanings: Dating is all about the subtext. When is it ok to leave some stuff at your place? If we spend holiday time together, does it mean we’re committed? How much time together looks too clingy. It’s aggravating. With friends, you get to hang out without worrying what it looks like. Girlfriends have invited me to share their holiday meals when I told them I had no plans. They didn’t worry it meant we weren’t still seeing our other friends too. When I asked a guy I was dating to include me in his family Thanksgiving because I had no one to spend it with, he said he was afraid of how it would look. I never saw him again.
4. Respect for Differences: Dating as adults, we’re already formed. My girlfriends and I respect each other’s differences and don’t try to change each other. Our idiosyncrasies are what make us who we are. But the men I’ve dated have tried to show me their choices are superior. They wouldn’t live in the lovely suburban town I live in. Too staid for them! They’d be more adventurous. They’d move after losing a spouse. They’d change houses and get rid of his stereo system. Here’s the thing: I’m too polite to say what I think of their life choices. I just move on.
5. Money: My friends and I split everything. And we understand if one of us says something is too expensive. But we go to nice places, order good food and do fun stuff. A few of us have dated really cheap guys. I’m good with going to inexpensive places, but not bad ones. There are plenty of cool, reasonably priced restaurants. Don’t tell me I’m increasing the bill when I order a glass of house wine or dessert. I can get relatively cheap take-out, put it on attractive plates at home and serve it with nice wine. But I’ve never dated a guy who does this, he’ll just choose a bad (but cheap) restaurant. My fiends get the idea that instead of trying to have a really small tab, we can just stay home.
My Overarching Message
Let’s pretend our dates are our friends, people we really like and care about. Just as they are now. Not “if only” they were different. With compassion and empathy for their foibles. And with kindness instead of concern over what things “look” like. Then we can end all these ridiculous distinctions. And my stunning, intelligent girlfriends may yet want to date again. Comments, my friends?
Open for Advice
I’m trying diligently to post once a week. But the drugs of the eighties have staunched my creative abilities. So, if you have a problem or issue you’d like me to address here, let me know! if I think I can be of help, I’ll tackle it in my weekly post.
Respectfully, and with love,