Advice From the Trenches

Last week, i was asked by a friend who is recently divorced if i had any advice for the middle-aged and newly single. Once i realized they were serious  – I mean, helloooo, my social calendar looks like death valley in the middle of winter – I got to thinking about what i could offer in the way of advice. I have learned a few things in my lifetime. They may not keep my social calendar full, but at least they keep me from making a lot of dating mistakes. And on the whole, i am able to enjoy my life. So here goes… A few things i have learned about being single and silver:

 

~ It sounds trite, but learn to enjoy your own company. Find a place you like – A restaurant, a wine bar, a park, a bookstore… Whatever.. And frequent it by yourself. Bring a book or magazine and take some time there on occasion. Other regulars will eventually notice you and will likely have something in common with you since they frequent the same place. And if not, well, at least you got to spend some time out of the house in a place you like.

~ Don’t feel obligated to say yes to every offer you get. Sometimes we need time to ourselves. Sometimes we just think they are icky. You don’t have to accept. And you don’t have to make up an excuse. You just say, “No, thank you,” or “Some other time,” and move on. Don’t concoct a story. It is false and unnecessary.

~ While it is true that not all toads will turn into Prince Charming, it is also true that sometimes a bad book jacket can hide a really good story. Physical attraction is a good thing, but most of your options aren’t going to have wrinkle free faces and 6-pack abs. And guess what? You probably don’t either. And it’s ok. Don’t be afraid of it. He may be shorter than you expected. She may have dirt under her fingernails. Those are silly reasons to turn away good company.

~ Conversely, if they aren’t good company, cut bait and move on. I don’t care how handsome or beautiful they are… If they aren’t enjoyable over a cup of coffee, they won’t be enjoyable anyplace else, either.

~ Extrapolating on the above: Don’t sleep with anyone that you can’t enjoy coffee with. No matter how good the sex is, sooner or later they are going to open their mouth and say something that makes you want to smack them. It’s just not worth it.

~ And speaking of sex… I know you miss it (Don’t we all???), but settling for someone who is annoying as hell the moment they open their mouth, or whose hygiene habits make you wince, does serious damage to your self-worth. There’s a reason your hands reach to your pink parts, and that reason is to keep you out of trouble and from undercutting your own value. Take advantage of it.

~ One last note about sex – Just because we are silver-aged doesn’t mean we are disease immune. If you are venturing out into the dating world, in the name of all that is holy, get yourself screened and make sure your partners do too. There is no shame in it – Hell, the young staff at the doctor’s office will likely find hope in the fact that us older folk still have reason to! Don’t forgo testing out of embarrassment. You are only hurting yourself… And everyone you sleep with.

~ Don’t take a first date to a movie. It is useless in getting to know someone. You can’t talk to each other. You can’t get to know them. Find something else to do – An exhibit, a walk, a meal… Anything but a place where you have to be silent for 2 hours.

~ My personal favorite first date is Sunday brunch. The atmosphere alone makes it laid back and easier to handle. Menus are usually varied enough so that everyone can find something to eat. If the date doesn’t float your goat, you still have time to improve your day. And if they do strike your fancy, you can suggest another activity without having to cross the late-night-line.

~ I know traditionally we are told not to discuss politics or religion, but i disagree. Maybe not on the first date, but soon after. It’s important to see if they share similar values. They don’t have to be exactly the same, but you don’t want to be wrapped around someone, all sweet and warm, and have them say something that forces the words, “Are you that stupid?” out of your mouth before you are able to catch them. Better to find out they’re that stupid before you get naked.

~ And lastly, be honest. If you don’t really know what you are looking for, say so. If you know what you want, don’t be afraid to share. If something or someone isn’t working out for you, let them know. If you feel uncomfortable with someone or about something, speak up. Don’t lie about who you are, nor accept lies in return. We are adults and should be able to handle honesty presented in a polite manner. (If the polite manner doesn’t work, that’s a different matter entirely. Do what you have to do to keep yourself safe.)

 

You aren’t going to like everyone. Everyone isn’t going to like you. You will meet nice people who don’t strike your fancy. You will find people who you think are amazing, but don’t feel the same in return. And you will meet schmucks and people who still behave like children. But chances are, even if you don’t meet the partner of your dreams, you will make some friends and have some fun.

Fun is underrated. And at our age, we have earned it. Let’s not leave it all to the young ones.

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