"I know why you aren't married: you're just too picky!" Women who are single in their 40s, 50s and beyond hear this a lot. After all, what other reason can there be for why you haven't yet snagged a man?
As a woman who became a first-time bride at 47, I heard this a lot—especially from my father. And the word "picky" was said with such disdain, like I wasn't deserving of being selective. Like I should just grab the next guy who would have me.
When you hear that enough, you can start buying into thinking that your expectations of men are simply too high. Then, as often happens in the black-or-white world many of us live in, our answer is to swing the complete opposite direction. We start accepting less, sticking around too long and putting up with way too much.
As a dating and relationship coach for women over 40, I see this a lot. A perfect example is "New York," a gal who emailed me recently:
"…I like him and decided to give him a few more chances. Another chance to cancel at the last minute, stand me up, never call or seem busy if I called. I was trying to break an old habit of giving up too soon."
In her effort to be more open and give him a chance, she accepted disrespect and his utter lack of integrity. He didn't treat her as if she was special to him in any way: far from it, in fact. Yet she was sticking around.
This is the gigantic question, isn't it? If you're not feeling happy with him, how do you decide if you're expecting too much or not giving him enough time? You don't want to miss out on a good guy, but you don't want to waste your time on the wrong guy either.
I admit that it's hard to get your arms around striking the balance between being picky and being a pushover. This was definitely one of my toughest challenges in my umpteen years of dating. I finally figured out a way to make good decisions around this, and now I teach that as my last step of my Find Hope and then Find Him Coaching Program. I call this step "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"
I strongly encourage you to be a picky dater. This is especially true if you’re dating over 40 and clear about who you are and what you want. If you know this, and have articulated your rules and boundaries, then you know your dating must haves.
And more importantly, you know your can't-haves. You may not know early on if he has is your guy, but you tend to know if he isn't. And you just don't have to accept bad behavior. On that you should be Ms. Picky. With the rest of the stuff, chill and give him a chance.
When I asked New York if her must-haves included being honored and told the truth, she said "of course" and her decision suddenly seemed quite easy. It was time to bail.
Making these good decisions has everything to do with how you feel about yourself. Do you trust and respect yourself? When you have simple tools like this to guide you to results you can be proud of, it can completely change the way you date.