Why am I still open to a new relationship--still in this often difficult and sometimes even painful game?
In the comments section of my blog, a question one reader posed just stopped me in my tracks. Her comment: "When are we (and by 'we' I assume she mainly meant me) going to finally stop looking for a new man for this latter part of our lives when so many of us have already created such full, busy, fulfilling, wonderful lives? Do we really need to put up with the potential needs, demands and idiosyncrasies that any man we find online would put on us, for potentially minimal return on our investment?"
I appreciate comments, because many are thought-provoking. This one, though, made me sad, because of what I see as her resignation. If I understand exactly what she's saying, she wants "us" older women to give up the hunt and accept that we've already had our time as part of a loving, passionate relationship, be it a marriage or other form of companionship. So ladies, that game is over for us, let's just give up the Quixotic quest, settle down to old age and find fulfillment with family and friends, clients and associates if we're still working, grandkids if we have any, dogs, cats, books, and favorite TV shows? Anyone for golf, bridge, canasta?
Perhaps this strategy has worked for this commenter. Perhaps it has even brought her happiness or at least contentment. But I personally am not resigned. I was a happily married woman and knew what it was to have a solid, beautiful relationship. I have also never resigned from anything in my life and don't intend to now. Yes, this "online dating" thing is not easy. You need to become adept at reading between the lines. You need to have a sharp ear for what's not said. You need to sift through some "little white lies" and some big ones too...like the 'midweek dater' who took me out to one of the best restaurants in the city (which by the way does not impress me; I am happy in a diner with the right guy). Over champagne in icy chilled glasses (well okay that was quite nice!) he asked me out again--for another Tuesday night---then offered every excuse possible about why he could not be available to date on weekends. Well, every excuse except that four letter word the starts with W and ends with E. Just put IF in the middle and you have his real reason! Who falls for these things?
The selection process is harder now than it was at an earlier age, because of the illusions and delusions you have to push through. If there is a next life, maybe I'll come back as a male. If I do come back as a guy and wind up on match.com at this same age I am now, 72, or even older, and write in my profile as so many men do, that I want to meet women "35 to 45" or some equally inappropriate age ranges, please just kill me. You have my written permission.
Give up looking for love, again? Never! I know what intimacy is, and I want it again, in this life, not the next.
When I read her comment, I also wondered if this woman would give this advice to men about not bothering to look for love one last time. One of the men I dated a couple of times was a Harvard-trained doctor, a brilliant conversationist and a world traveler with energy and much love and affection to share. He is a young 88. Turned out he wanted someone in a similar situation: retired and able to travel regularly with him. Tempting as that was I am so far away from retirement I can't even see that distant shore. Plus, yes, his age was a consideration. My point is that this sweet man, even at age 88, was sure not ready to give up his one more chance at the brass ring. He wants a loving woman on his arm, in his bed and next to him in the first class or river cruise cabin. And why not, when he richly deserves it! Do we want to play it safe, and eventually die in a nursing home, drooling and in diapers, or play big, make love on the high seas, and maybe never have to go down that slippery slope...?
Yes, Virginia, there are many delusional people in this world! But as long as there is hope and goodness and online dating I will keep believing in this particular Santa Claus: the one that will one day deliver another great man to my door, and have him stay with me right through to the end, in my daily life, in my bed, and always, making me laugh.
It would help if he can cook, since I am hopeless in the kitchen. I nuked a potato in the microwave recently. I didn't know you should only leave it in for about six minutes so I put it in for an hour. I was still clueless, even as the smoke alarm went off and the entire apartment filled with smoke. When I opened the microwave door, all I saw sitting here was a tiny black marble. I nuked a potato! Okay, that is not my area of genius. A man who can laugh at my human failings and foibles will earn my trust and love, and I will do the same for him.
People have asked how "that date" went, the one I wrote about last week in my first Huffington Post blog. Are you ready for this? I did tell him that I "might" write about dating for the HP (because, frankly, I didn't want him to ask to see anything and know I already wrote about him). He said, "Great. I'll help you with the research, because you will need a man's POV. So can you set me up with Martha Stewart? Not that I'm interested in her. I would do it for you. I'll report back on our date, and you can write it up."
He was serious! As kindly as I could, I told him people were already setting Martha up with men like Liam Neeson and Tim Robbins. Did he (living on modest income, admitted he could not "perform") really think he had a chance with her? I did ask him that, but did NOT mention his shortcomings. I figured he would know what I meant. "Oh sure," he said without hesitation, completely confident he had what it takes. "Martha would really like me. I would be a refreshing change. A real person, not some entertainer."
'Some entertainer' eh? Ok, going back to delusional, as I said, it isn't always easy to deal with. But, since we all have a touch of it, let's be kind to each other. Of course I will never see this man again. Interestingly, I was debating how to break our next date, and decided to send him an email, and then call. He actually took it real well, saying he understood. "You live in Manhattan and I live in New Jersey. The commute is just too difficult." Let him live with that belief, that it's the commute, and let him find his own way to Martha Stewart. I have 24 more interesting matches in my inbox right now, and I am going to answer a few.
But I do have another amazing story to tell you next week...about a much younger man who wrote to me, and a story that a woman told me that will make any disappointment you might have most likely pale in comparison.
In the week and months ahead, unless someone shuts me down, there will be happy stories, funny stories, poignant stories and more, all true, and all meant to help light the way and make your journey down this road perhaps a little bit brighter, so stay tuned. And please do share your own thoughts and stories with me.