Guest Post: Men-o-pause Dating

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 A guest post from writer Dawn Reno Langley:

When I started dating at sixteen, I never expected that I’d be going through dating spurts throughout my life, but then again, life takes over, doesn’t it?  And here I am, at 58, with hot flashes to tend to, hormone pills to take every night, and an active (and funny) dating life.  It’s not what I necessarily imagined at sixteen, but it’s my life.

Dating during the menopausal years is decidedly different from dating at sixteen. Gone is necking in the backseat of my beau’s car.  I don’t even know if I could get into a backseat now (or whether a guy would even interest me enough to consider doing so!). And it’s been a long time since I’ve felt butterflies upon seeing a man. Instead, I’m wondering whether my Spanx is holding in my ever-softening stomach when I open the door to the “date of the evening.” But the biggest difference between dating now and dating then is that most of the introductions to new men are now done online at Plentyoffish.com or Match.com, and that leads to some complicated and “interesting” situations.

First step to dating online: constructing your profile, a narrative that one must design so that readers will get a snapshot of your personality and become intrigued enough to “wink” or “nudge” you – or perhaps send the first email to determine whether you want to get to know each other better. I suffered over my first profile, trying to make it a little funny, a little romantic, and most importantly, truthful.

And I must admit that I pay quite a bit of attention to those the guys write.  But we all lie.  The guys will tell you that women lie about their weight, and I counter that men lie about their height.  My single girlfriends and I all groan, “He’s nice, but he’s so short!”  It almost feels like the guys are shrinking while our waists are expanding.  What’s up with that?  Do we get both shorter and heavier as we age?  Where were the Tweets about that phenomenon? And how is this fair?

The second step: the photographs.  This one is, well, amusing.  The general trend among men is to photograph themselves with their cars, motorcycles, fish or deer.  None of which interests me or any other women I know. Do they not know that?  Or is it just that they want to be sure to let US know what THEY like so that WE can keep THEM happy? Instead, I find myself wondering whether they smell of fish or deer blood, or whether I would be expected to straddle that big Harley in my ever-tightening Spanx.

And, finally, the first dates themselves:  I have to admit that there’s a lot of judging going on between the sexes the first time you meet on a date that originates online. We both have expectations of the other, particularly because there is usually a “relationship” of sorts that already exists between the two people involved.

Typically, we email back and forth for at least a week before meeting face-to-face. During that time, you find out some basics (though I tend to stay away from talking about one’s exes), ask some interesting or kooky questions (designed to do some sort of amateurish psychological evaluation, that almost never works), and some flirting. We’re no good at the flirting anymore. Either the guys are downright sexual or they try too hard to be funny. Neither works. And we’re not the coquettish sixteen-year-olds we once were. Personally, I have no interest in the flirting until (or IF) the guy interests me.  But it’s a necessary evil.

The guys pretty much fall into categories after a while:  (1) The Mr. Me Guy – he talks about himself as if he’s reading his own resume aloud.  You are not required to respond other than to nod occasionally and to look appropriately flabbergasted when he talks about balancing the books at his organization and how fascinating it is that they actually came out in the black.

(2) The “I Was a Star” Guy – this is the guy who’s still living in the past, usually as far back as high school, when he was the reigning basketball/football/soccer/baseball/chess team star. He’ll tell you in graphic detail about the time he scored the winning basket/touchdown/goal/hit/move, and if you didn’t hear it, he’ll tell you again. He hasn’t done anything since, so don’t ask him about last year.

(3) The Relationship Guy – this one wants to regale you with stories about all the other women he’s dated on these websites and how they just didn’t realize how great he was or about how they all lied about their weight/relationship/financial status.  What he won’t admit is that he states on his own profile that he’s 6’ tall but you’re 5’7” and not wearing heels, yet you’re his height.  How’s that possible?

(4) The Mr. Needy Guy – you can tell the minute he sits down that he’s going to want a second date, but you’ve already decided it’s not a possibility because he looks like he hasn’t met a dry cleaner in years, might not make as much money as you, and probably will stalk you at every hour of the night and day whining about how he needs you to take care of him and won’t be able to live without you

(5) The Mr. You’re-not-the-right-age/weight/height/hair color-and-I-can’t-wait-to-find-someone-who-is – this one makes you want to run for the back door immediately, but before you do, he’ll make you feel absolutely horrible about not being the right . . .

And did I tell you about the guy who is 20 years younger (or more) and insists he likes older women? Sometimes that’s a bit of an ego boost, but when the guy is younger than your own children, watch out. One challenged me (and I can’t resist a challenge) to give him a chance. I did, and I thought he was fun/handsome/smart, but then I realized how young he was when it was obvious he thought phones were just for texting and that it was fun to put all his friends online with me just to prove to them that he’d “snagged himself a cougar.”

And then there are the plain and simple weirdos.  One looked like Einstein – wild white hair and glasses – and sent photos of himself drinking tea with cats on the kitchen table and at least ten cages with parrots in the background. (Ah, no.  Not interested.)  Then there was the one who asked if I owned high-heeled shoes with ankle straps and would I mind wearing them on our date, then slipping one off under the restaurant table and running my bare foot up his leg.  (Again, ah, no.  Not interested.)

But, as my mother always told me, all you need is one good man.  And there are plenty out there who are looking for exactly the same type of relationship I am. I see them online and meet them for dates all the time.  They are good men with good jobs who are looking for a good woman to come home to at night and to spend the rest of their lives with.  I think about those men (and about my mother and the women of her generation) when I consider this latest adventure in my menopausal life.

The difference between my mother and myself is that my mother wouldn’t have even considered dating if she and my father had divorced or if he had died before she had. She would have spent the rest of her life alone, surrounded by family, and would have been happy, the way my great aunts and grandmother were. None of them ever complained about being without a man (in fact, I think most were fairly happy about it). Maybe they realized that dating after menopause is no easier than dating at sixteen.

Be that as it may, I’m at least entertained on a daily basis – and can work my “adventures” into my writing!  And I still believe Mr. Right is out there and that he will be the one who’ll rub my feet while we’re lying on the couch watching sappy reality shows on TV and that we’ll be just as happy in our 80s as we were when we first met – probably because, by that time, I’ll be post-menopausal!

Dawn Reno Langley is considering putting her cat on a dating site and seeing whether she has any better luck than Dawn has, but in addition to doing that, she writes (29 books and counting), does yoga, loves the arts, is an avid coupon/thrift store shopper, and acts as an academic dean for a local college.  She looks forward to the day she can retire to the beaches of Ecuador.

Booming Memories:  Dawn writes a boomer blog that focuses on growing up in the Boston area during the 1950s/60s, recently posting about Saturday matinees and Disney television shows.  Read it here!

18 responses »

  1. Very entertaining and well written; however, I really do believe every single word. I’m sure it is actually all true. They are most of the reasons I have hesitated using one of those services; however, I’m not doing that great in person either; I’ve met a few ‘winners’. If someone as beautiful and successful as you is having all of those things happen, I can just imagine how entertained I might become. Maybe if I look at it that way for the humor aspect and not for ‘the one’, I’ll take the leap and sign up. Thanks for the inspiration, and keep us posted when you find a good one!

    • Thanks for the comment, Mary Frances! Yes, it’s all very true, but like I said in the post, there ARE good guys out there on the dating sites, so don’t hesitate. Jump in and check them out! But remember that you need to meet a lot of frogs before you get a prince 🙂

      I’ll check back in when I find one . . . (I’m actually dating one right now, but it’s still early!)

  2. I very much enjoyed reading that I was not alone on the dating adventure. I have dropped off the websites and hope never to have to endure that again, though I can see the benefit, and have made many friends that way. Maybe, we should conspire on a book about the lies and interesting experiences found in the online dating world? I have heard more than my share of tales from the dark side, experienced a lot of them first hand, and it would make for an fascinating read. The most interesting of which, led to a three plus year conversation with a gent that I have yet to actually stand face to face with. I keep telling myself, “maybe one day, just not now.” Life is too complicated for romance at the present and I am content with that. After menopause is done, maybe I will reconsider. For now, I am grateful for the reminder. Thank you!

    • I am already working on a book, so maybe we could share! I have plenty of friends who have gone through the same experiences. On a more positive note, I met my previous husband through a dating site, and I was very much in love with him, so there ARE success stories.

  3. Carol — Right now, I’m not on the sites. I decided to take a break, and surprise of all surprises, met someone the “traditional” way. TOTAL shock. It’s still very new, so we’re having a good time, and I have no idea how the future will play out.

    Maybe my next guest post will be about the ways to be a cougar! LOL!

  4. Love this! Although I am 45 and happily married, I think I’ll send it to my mom. She has tried the dating websites (she’s 67) and met some winners and some “interesting characters” as well. Makes me wonder what her profile photo looks like (she could very well be with her cat, but instead of tea she’s drinking and Old Fashioned)!

    • Ha! Leslie — We all need to share stories, because there are so many of them out there! Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂 And good luck to your mom!

  5. This is a fabulous post. Brutally honest and hilarious. I am also happily married but I have several people to pass this on to. I think this post needs to be published!
    I chuckled because last weekend I was in New York City having dinner with my daughter and niece. The table next to us was clearly a first date and a middle aged couple. The male definitely fell in to the category #1. He talked non stop about himself!

  6. What a fun post!!! I sometimes think (though I’m happily married) it would be fun to date because I never really did (met my husband freshman year of college). But on the other hand, maybe it’s not as glamorous as it is on TV! Loved all your categories. Maybe someday you’ll add another one for “Just normal. And perfect.”

  7. No, Kath, it’s not horribly glamorous, but if we look at it as fun while we’re searching for the one with whom we can share what you have, it makes it easier!

  8. Great post! I had fun reading it and tying it to my short dating life before my husband. I have a few that I could add, like the guys that show up unannounced like he is Gods gift to the world and I am the lucky one for the day. (Locked him out of my apartment — he should have called first.)

  9. Regarding Attraction:

    I don’t mind bending the truth somewhat, when it comes to a woman telling me her weight. First of all, I don’t ask, as any guy should know that’s just rude. Secondly, you should be able to get a good sense of her weight by looking at photos, which in my opinion is mandatory.

    Attraction is very important, at least initially, to me. If she won’t show me a full length picture, then I’ll move along. I won’t press the issue, just carry on. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes as we know. So saying ‘average’ can mean different things to various people.
    It’s only fair; after all in your everyday life we see people of all shapes and almost instantly know whether or not there is attraction. I actually get offended when women get all upset over being asked to see a full length picture. Come on….seriously, it’s not much to ask and I don’t want to waste each others time if there’s no attraction.

    I realize I was somewhat redundant above, yet tis the joys of online dating. I would never have to even approach the topic, if we’d originally met offline (the real world).
    I would agree with you that men likely lie about their profiles as well. Whether it’s height, job, children, married, etc. I will admit, I lied about my height…by 1 inch. Not a deal breaker, yet I just liked the sound of an extra inch. Thankfully I don’t lie about my length! 😉

    Dawn: Good luck with your relatively new dating partner, hope it pans out. I think online dating is making me jaded towards the opposite sex. I’d better stop and meet people the old fashioned way.
    By the way, you’re cute and appear to have a nice figure! Lol, yes had to say it. Yeah for full length, well…over 1/2 length photos.

    cheerio,
    John

  10. John,

    I agree that people need to share photos on online profiles. Both men and women are guilty of hiding their true “selves” — for whatever the reason. But, you know what? Just because you see a photo of someone doesn’t necessarily mean the attraction will carry over into the F2F date. And we’re all guilty of thinking it will. But of the men I’ve fallen in love with, I don’t think any of them will ever be mistaken for George Clooney/Brad Pitt, yet I was madly in love!

    Truthfully, what’s up with men lying about their height? I have an issue with dating someone shorter than I am. I feel gawky and BIG. You need to fix that little lie. If you want the full-length photo, you need to be honest about the height thingee 🙂

    As for the new dating partner, we met the old-fashioned way, but as with anything else, there are no guarantees.

    (And thanks for the compliment.)

    Best of luck,
    Dawn

  11. A nickel for every “59-year-old” woman that I’ve encountered, only to find out that they are, in truth, mid-to-late 60s! When I ask them why the deception, the typical response is: “because otherwise the only men we attract are the 70 year olds.” Yea, ya think? And no, worries, men put women into “categories” just like women do. Maybe I should write a book???? Nah, I write science books — I better stick to that! A LOT safer!

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