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Q: Dear Laurie, I'm 48 years old. I got married when I was 18 years old so haven't dated in 30 years. I've been separated for 2 years and now divorced for a month. I would like to meet a lady about my age but truthfully don't know where to look. I've gone to night clubs and bars but mostly these people are in their 20s and 30s--no one around my age. I'm just looking for companionship and friendship and if it turns into something more, then that's fine. But right now where do I start looking?
A: Dear Lonely,
You sound like a fine man. I don't quite buy--never do--when a guy, or gal for that matter, says he's just looking for a friend "and if it turns into something more, then that's fine." Hey, "turning into something more" is more than "fine"--it's scrump-dilly-icious! But I know you don't want to get your hopes up so we'll couch all those still-water wants and desires in: oh, (yawn) please pass the salt. That ho-humness is loneliness itself with a side topping of hopelessness speaking loud and clear. Don't forget loneliness is the motivator of all things relational (but it's also a little painful so we try and pretend we're not really feeling it and that it doesn't matter if it doesn't entirely go away which is really our greatest fear--that it won't ever go away... L. If we didn't get lonely why in the hell would anyone subject themselves to the hell of dating. Just kidding...kind of.
So, you haven't dated in 30 years. Holy moley cajoley! Imagine that. Well, sorry to have to welcome you back because in my opinion dating sucks but I continue to do it because the alternative is, as my mother says, cultivating mushrooms--translation: not dating. Loneliness is nature's way of telling you it's time to get that oil change you've been putting off, time to discharge the fuel lines, time for a tune-up etc. etc.
Don't know where to meet the gals, eh? Well, statistically speaking you are in the catbird's seat because as the women get older the men are either married, extremely fucked up, or gay which is fine if you like gay men but does little for satisfying the libido of a straight horny woman; why some of my best friends are, yeah, yeah...As long as you're not the creature-from-the-black-lagoon (which I doubt you are) and have some sense of gallantry and chivalry about you you should have a slew of women swooning at your feet in no time. Now, just where to look. Right.
If you meet a 48+ year-old woman in a bar run for your life. My stereotype (and stereotypes exist for a reason--because they're true, on some level or another) of middle-aged women who still hang out in bars on a regular basis foraging for "food" is as follows: Saggy-skinned, desperate, chain smokin', unenlightened, suicide-blondies. While I once met a guy in a bar whom I dated for a year, I'd have to say the majority of my (and my friends') bar encounters have been, uh, shall we say, shorter lived...
How's about the personals? I know it sounds pathetic and it is AND IT ISN'T. When you run a personals ad either in a paper or on-line (and yes, I have done this so get over yourselves) interested parties check in. They say, "Hey, you sound interesting and you're cute to boot. How about some coffee," and while I only agreed to meet about .025% of all the people that responded and out of that .025% only about .01% were normal DON'T MISS MY POINTS HERE! And the points are these: When you get responses from running a personals ad you feel better about the hopelessness of there not being other people out there; you get an ego boost when you need it most--when you're slightly jaded about the whole prospect of connecting; and it's voyeuristically fun without being kinky--you give a peek to get to peek at the inside of other people's private lives which, if you haven't gathered, I live for! Oh, and occasionally you meet and fall in love and get married--go figure.
CRUX OF ARGUMENT HERE * PAY ATTENTION * DENOUEMENT APPROACHING: You place a personals ad to take the edge off, like how I imagine the nicotine patch keeps you from scratching stranger's eyes out while you try and quit smoking. An ad masks the frustration, hopelessness, and desperation we all feel (that reeks like baaad perfume and scares off potential suitors/mates) so you can appear normal in your day-to-day life and REALLY meet someone. And where is this meeting happening? At the gym, in a writing class perhaps, at a Memorial Day bbq (nice working in of the holiday theme here, huh?), volunteering, maybe on a blind date...A note about getting set up: always let your friends know when you are available to be set up. I've heard enough "we met on a blind date" stories to have faith that they are a viable option. But go in with the right attitude which is this: no one is responsible for the cow I am about to meet and I thank them graciously for thinking of me. Period. End of story. You never know who knows who so don't bitch; instead, eat your brussel sprouts like a man and shut up about it!
Also, when the "edge" is off you're apt to be more friendly, open, and inviting--without even trying! People read these subtle signs like it's nobody's business. When you're less tense and in a "hello" type of mood people respond. Trick is you've got really feel that way--hard to fake that one so get your steno pad and pencil out and start composing your award-winning personal ad (and then actually place it you weenie).
The Short Answer: Mr. Lonely, I am sorry your marriage ended--thirty years is a long time to spend with someone regardless of the circumstances. That level of commitment is quite an accomplishment. I imagine you're scared and completely flipped out about having to date again, but have courage! Take refuge in the fact that everyone, on some level, is scared about revealing themselves to and trying to connect with another person. Intimacy, either platonic or biblical, is frightening (that whole rejection thing!) but, as you know, a wonderful pursuit while on this planet. So, take a deep breath, keep up the hope, and be true to yourself--I have a good feeling that the right woman is out there for you!
Lovingly and Logically yours, Laurie