A Minute to Myself (148)
A Minute to Myself (149)

Thinking of Midlife Men

The other day, as my daughter was in H&M trying on a dress for a school presentation, I watched as a woman looked for a corset and matching thong for, I assume, Valentine’s Day. Observing her intense scrutiny made me think of the men I have dated since the summer of 2007, when I first hit Craig’s List in search of love, and the fact that I have no need for sexy lingerie. I’ve been thinking about them, not because I fear I made a horrible mistake and nixed a man who I have come to regret nixing, but because it gives me cause for pondering the roads they took to reach their midlife journey alone, and me mine.

  • The first man I dated was pseudo-man, and so far he is the only one who got past three dates with me. His career in the military had been one full of early advances and big expectations, until something happened and instead of being on the road to being a general he left the military and became a defense contractor. That midlife shove off the path of self-esteem seemed to have pushed him onto an emotional seesaw. Too bad. But there's a point when you realize that you don't need to stand by a man you're dating if he doesn't deserve it.

  • There were two single, as in never married, men who I dated. One was a librarian who kept talking about how he was concerned about his and his mother’s health. Then there was the man who talked about things he did in the past. I don’t mean trips down the Amazon River and pottery classes, but dinner with a friend the weekend before and what they said and what they ate. Neither of them seemed to know what conversation is. Not that I didn’t try to help, I asked questions, I worked to get them out of their shells. But if when I said that I lived in Israel for 17 years there were no questions to me, then we have a deep, deep inability to be interested in someone else, which brings to mind the “no wonder they’re still single” thought.

  • There was the man who started off well, what with his raising his two sons after his wife left them because she didn’t want to be a mommy any more. But he lost his appeal when he said he is living in the basement of a friend’s house because he and his second wife can’t decide where to live and she is obsessed with her career. He seemed buffeted by the people in his life and so undefined in himself. One would think that a personality would develop on top of a life, but sometimes that just isn’t the case.

  • Two men told me that their wives were control freaks. One explained how he was required to strip down before coming into the house after working outside. From what he said, he separated from his wife because he couldn’t take it anymore. I can’t remember the specifics from the other man’s issues with his wife, but from what he said she put him down all the time, especially to their daughter. As I told man number two, I don’t date people with worse home situations than mine. And man number one, well, we connected as friends who could commiserate but men don’t want to be friends with women they want to date.

  • The ex-Brit, who was doing well in his career and seemed to have confidence, was too “into” his teenage daughter. This man has done what I have come to find many men who separate and divorce do if they have a teenage daughter: they make their daughter into a kind of surrogate wife. It’s as if they are determined to make a relationship with a woman work, so rather than finding a woman their own size, they focus on their daughter and seemingly woe her. It’s weird, it’s gross, it’s inappropriate. (And yes, exman does it with older daughter.) Yes, I know that we are supposed to put our kids before a person we met a week ago, but seriously, wouldn’t you rather go out on a date than drive your child to soccer practice?

  • Of late there have been two very nice, intelligent, short, dumpy men, but neither pressed the charm button. One’s expression of what he probably thought of as interest seemed to me a tad creepy. And when in the midst of our conversation he implied that I was being too picky in my man hunt, my annoyance button was pressed. The other man, after telling him that I have too much going on to enter into a romance (this was after finding out about where pseudo-man had been for that lost week), decided that if he can’t romance me, then he’s off. Why is it that lonely middle-aged men would rather be alone than friends with a woman who interests them? Or do they want to free up their calendars for the right woman? From this side of the table I can state that I would rather have friends to go out with and talk to than be at home bemoaning my lone status.  

And me, what could be said of me and how I have arrived at midlife alone? That I don’t take enough responsibility for where I am in my life, that I talk a lot and interrupt a lot, that I have not grown past hoping a man will rescue me? I guess. It could also be said that I have had many disappointments, personal and professional. On top of that could be added that I expect a man to be engaged in life, and not be a passerby. That I have arrived at midlife wanting more, reaching for more, that where I’ve been is not where I’m going, and I expect the same in my partner.

I also hope that on one Valentine’s Day a man would wear a man-version of a corset and thong for me, because if I’ve learned anything from this life and dating process, it’s that the adventurous person I was when I was twenty is still in here. And that I like to twist things around.   


Amy Sue Nathan

I think the dating/friend thing is a personal choice. I am not interested in befriending single men - at all. First, I have friends. Second, if you're friends with a single man who then has a girlfriend - you're out that Saturday-night-movie-friend.

Friends with benefits is sometimes another story. I have had long-distance friendships with single men who I will see once or twice a year. I'd say we're friends - but when we're together it's not platonic.

Amy Sue Nathan

As for preferring to date over driving to soccer. There's no competition or question for me. My kids come first. I wouldn't plan a date for a time my kids needed me somewhere. And if I had plans and then my kids needed a ride or whatever, I'd make other arrangements for them or have them figure it out. I don't have babies, but I am my children's only parent. Being available and accessible and reliable is key to our relationship, and they give back what I give them -- at least most of the time!

Amy Sue Nathan

I've just spent a lot of time reading around your blog - and commenting. It's a fabulous place you've got here, Laura. I'll be back. :)


Thanks for your comment on my blog - I'm glad you liked it :)


The mid life dating scene sounds like a bumpy road. Hope it gets better for you and hope your weekend is full of good things.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

Amy Sue Nathan, I don't go out a lot and sometimes, really, me time is important. I don't plan things when they "neee" to be somewhere, but would the world come to an end if they don't hang out with a friend one afternoon so that I can hang out with a friend of mine? And why shouldn't they know that--know that mommy has a full life which includes them, and work, and her other friends. Doesn't that let them understand what a balanced life is?

Thanks for visiting and commenting. I look forward to seeing you around.

Jackie, I was in Glasgow in 1982 and remember that it surprised me how lovely it was. I also remember the fight in the bar over buying my friend and me beers, and how handsome the bank teller was, what with his amazing accent.

Pseudo, I guess this is payback dating because I met exman so young and so easily--on a bus, not long before reaching Glasgow.


I'm not yet at the point where I'm interested in the dating scene but thanks for the heads up. (How depressing...)


Laura, it sounds like you don't want to "settle" for someone but instead wish to wait for the right person. After being with the wrong person for so long, I can't blame you. And maybe it's better to be on your own than to be with someone you've settled for.


It must be so difficult - I don't envy you, but you never know...I hope that there is someone out there who will earn your respect and cherish you.


Like the Brit and Xman, my Xman was also way to into his teenage daughter. However, now that she is off and running with her own fabulous life (hey Larua, she made the Dean's List at Columbia!), Xman is dating the worst kind of bleached blond gold-digger. The worst because at almost 50, despite dating every newly divorced man with a good job and a nice house in the small town where they live, she hasn't gotten one of them to the altar yet.

Validation that I was far too good for him as a wife and his daughters are far better than him as well.

As for dating, hang in there and definitely remain choosy!


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