I am 49-years-old and like to crow, "I've been on 50 first dates since my divorce. And yes, you betcha . . . I've enjoyed virtually all of them."
Now before you pity me, or start thinking something worse, let me own that I consider my circumstances a privilege. I live in the United States and in a city where women are freer than they are in many other places in this world. Combine this with that newfangled thing, the Internet, and it's made possible unthinkable possibilities.
Thanks to the online gods, I have met marvelous men, not orangutans, not Martians, but actual men who never before would have crossed my path. I have had no "bad" experiences and to be honest, I have gained a few exceptional friends: people who have enriched my life so much that I've abandoned outmoded cliches like "the world is my oyster," or "life is just a bowl of cherries." Because with the right attitude about online dating, beer nuts in a can at the bar can be fun.
Why? It's not about the daily catch, or the quantity or quality I haul in over the 'net. It's about me. I have perspective. Yes, I am polite. I know how to make conversation. But as an older woman, a mother, a divorcee, and a coach who helps other women with relational setbacks, I have two things going for me and so do you. As women of a certain age we have learned to be open, and oddly, we appear confident.
Women like us who have seen and survived a lot are now in a new place. We have learned to look forward—to not resist change, because being open to the unknown has rewarded us. It's taught us flexibility. It's stoked our curiosity.
We've learned there is a whole lot more in this life to sample, taste and savor, and we can't predict what the Next Big Thing is. So, this is Tip Number One: Remember that being open to whom you might meet is key. Being open means losing your rigidity.
It means not looking at men as an ultimate answer to your needs. This translates to considering men as not just romantic partners, or Your Destiny or Ultimate Soul Mate—but as potential friends, cohorts, companions, and not dogs who need to be led on a leash.
What do men hear when you appear open to possibilities? For men, the ones who are watching, evaluating, and sometimes yawning at the endless parade of online female profiles, the poses, the "Look at Me's!"—your openness to possibility—is the greatest turn on. For it suggests bravery. It suggests chutzpah. It speaks volumes about what we older ladies have really got going for ourselves. Tip Number Two: it's confidence.
What brings you to dating may in fact be circumstances that seem entirely self-esteem robbing and unsettling (divorce anyone? widowhood) but trust me. We've got something more powerful now that we ever had before, and guess what? For many men, confidence in a woman is the one thing that trumps T&A.
If you read the research on what men are looking for and what they are turned on by, over and over again, it's this word "confidence." It's why younger men write you. They suspect you know what you want. And here's the easy given: even if you don't know what you want, you sure know more than you did when you were 22, 32, um, 42.
It can't be helped. Just by virtue of living, you have fine-tuned what you like and don't. You may not be totally decisive in will and action, but you are more decisive than a lot of females. And I am speaking from, just my point . . . experience. Because remember ourselves back then?
The people pleasers we were? The caregivers who deferred? Looking back and where you are now, how well did that place of self-erase serve you? What did you learn about yourself? Hold fast to what you know about yourself now.
What does confidence mean to men? It means your candor, your refreshingly frank opinions, your honest yet brief and sweet profile, your stories, your thoughts. It means knowing what you want on the menu, to telling your date straight what you think about another meeting, to later, or not, and your orchestrating what you want between the sheets.
Granted, you may not feel so "confident" at this moment in your life, your self-worth might be run aground. But fake it. Just by virtue of your age, Lady, you have perspective. So set your intent and open up as you embark on online dating. And that confidence thing? Work it.
Liza Caldwell is an educator and coach. Along with her co-founder, Grief Recovery Specialist® Kimberly Mishkin, Liza is director of SAS Support and Solutions for Women. A former stay-at-home-mom who divorced after a marriage of nearly 20 years, Liza's own self-discovery and lessons learned make her a careful but fervent fan of online-dating.
She will be sharing her insights and guidelines at UNTIED's "Love Online" event on February 12 in Brooklyn Heights. To learn more or register for the event, visit the Gotham Girl's Divorce Resource, UNTIED.
Dating may or may not be for you right now. For support and steps you can take to see more clearly what's facing you as you grapple with your relationship or divorce, contact Liza or Kim at SAS for your free consultation.
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