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.   

Comments

She

Yes. Definitely depressing.

Keep looking. You'll find the right guy!

morethananelectrician

As men, we always joke about how complicated that women are, but in the end, we aren't much different are we?

D'Arcy

wow. i HEAR all of this. I've been dating quite a number of men lately. it's hard. and maybe you WON'T find the right one. Sorry to say that, but that's what I buy into. Maybe I am better off alone. Maybe people have too much baggage. Maybe people are meant to come and go and not stay together forever. Maybe. Maybe.

I had two dates yesterday. One with a man who didn't have the conversation thing down at 35. It's so sad when they don't have that down yet. And one with the man I used to be in love with, but am not any longer, and thus I am more myself around him?

I'll have to tell you about the others, but it would take too long.


Let it be known. I commiserate.

Ricardo

Wow Laura you have dating some interesting characters. One guy sounded like he was in love with his mother and the father daughter thing you describe is rather disturbing. I had not heard of this phenomenon before. It is VERY creepy and incestuous. I don't get it.

I say go right ahead and slowly get back into the adventurous side and have some fun. Safely but still fun if that makes sense. I think looking for anything too serious is not the best thing at the moment. It is discouraging how few people there are out there who just don't understand the art of hanging out and being social but not empty and lame brained.

Antonella

Hallo Laura, my comments have disappeared again! I do not know what I'm doing wrong!!! Ciao. A.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

Beth, I can sum up the midlife dating scene for my friends and me by stating that we have decided that we will re-enact the Golden Girls when we get to that stage in life.

JC, I'd rather date frogs than marry another one.

Splodge, being without the love of a man is better than contorting myself to keep the love of a man.

JC, some men really have a hard time discerning interest from "interest." I have a good job, children, friends, family, and a great blogging life, there is no reason to settle for someone instead of TheOne.

(Congratulations on your daughter's making the Dean's List!)

She, if meet someone, great, if I don't, oh well, it's not as if I didn't try.

morethananelectrician, who says we're complicated? Guys who can't verbalize? I try to screen them out of my dating process. If you don't use capital letters (especially when saying "I") or a semblance of punctuation, there will be no contact. And yes, that is important to me (I teach English and write, after all).

I don't know if it's about people--men and women--being complicated or not, it's about how the experiences of a life create the person you are. Call it baggage, call it complicated, call it experience. Just have something in you that proves you've been alive for the past 45 years. And then it's about finding another person who is in sync with that formation of self.

D'Arcy, thanks for being a commiseration buddy. Two unsuccessful dates on Valentine's Day, I think that sets you up for some romantic drama on the Seine. Perhaps because I have been married I am less anxious about finding someone. Those rose-colored glasses have lost much of their tint.

Ricardo, I left out a few. It gets too demoralizing sometimes to relive sitting opposite someone you had such grand hopes for only to realize that there is no chemistry and the coffee is bland. Hanging out, I thought the last guy would go for becoming friends and then see if it would develop into something more, but no, he wimped out. The one thing about pseudo-man is that he made me realize that I can still get and cause a tingle, and after being in a bad marriage for so many years that's an important realization. One that makes me not ready to settle.

Antonella, I contacted TypePad, hopefully your comments have not been lost. They are appreciated, whatever it was that you said.

Midlife Slices

All these stories are exactly why I'm glad I'm not having to deal with dating at my age. If something were to happen to HBL, I'd be content to a life with only friends and family around.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

Midlife Slices, maybe coming out of a bad marriage and knowing how much I need to give love and feel loved makes me want a do-over. Perhaps, too, hoping for another 40 years of life makes me want to share my bed and breakfasts with more than just Poops.

Brigit

Hmm, I too have a missing comment. Anyway, reading your post, reminded me why I don't want to date!!! I have a few of my own dating stories I could tell. Yuk.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

Brigit, these are the good stories! I don't have family (except my daughters) in the area, or many friends, so the lack of a male companion stands out even more, and perhaps is why I don't give up even in the face of so many ridiculous stories and sad men.

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