05/21/2012 11:11 am ET Updated Jul 21, 2012

No List, No Chance!

Boomer dating is definitely a contact sport. The bruises are just on the inside. I wrote a wish list of 20 qualities I want in my next Boomer lover in response to Ann Brenoff's wish list for hers. I described my boomer lover honestly and candidly, and with qualities I feel I have in equal amounts. While I didn't fit Ann's profile particularly well, that didn't elicit anger or cynicism, but rather the acknowledgment that I'm not her cup of tea. So the level of anger and cynicism from hundreds of women frankly puzzled me.

The women's negative comments (among the more than 1,000 the article received) were actually more of an insult to boomer women than to me, since nearly all suggested that no such Boomer woman exists. Nonsense, of course they do, and in very large numbers. If a woman didn't see herself on my list, that doesn't make my list an insult to women, but simply that she didn't fit my particular profile. Finding a partner who matches you in critical ways has never been simple or easy. It requires well-thought-out, considered criteria. It also requires good self-esteem.

Since my wish list didn't contain a single quality I wasn't capable and prepared to offer in return, what bubbled up for me was that women were simply expressing their frustration with Boomer dating, and I can understand that. Meeting an angry or emotionally unbalanced man who hasn't bothered to do the work to resolve his issues can feel like something is wrong with all men in short order.

Of course that's stretching the truth, but it doesn't take many bad experiences to paint a scary picture. Anger and cynicism repel potential partners and continue a disappointing cycle. I urge women to sublimate their cynicism, at least to the extent that the man sitting in front of you can be seen for who he actually is, rather than as the next man in a long line of dysfunctional men, hell-bent on using and abusing women.

Some comments suggested that meeting someone and just letting the relationship develop seems more natural. Boomer men and women don't have time to waste in another bad relationship that could have been avoided with a minimal amount of simple vetting. Not to have any list suggests that you have no clear idea who you are in terms of your own qualities, don't know what you're looking for, and can't articulate what's important to you. Absent a list as a starting point, there's lots of wasted time and little hope for success.

My wish list celebrates evolving, healthy, post 50 women who are working to reach their maximum potential -- and to view it otherwise, demeans them and misses the point entirely. My desire to meet a woman who is in good shape seems fair since I'm in good shape, even though many women insisted I must be a fat, old, bald guy who really wants a 20-year-old if I want a Boomer woman who is in shape. That's an insult to midlife women, because it isn't remotely true, since many Boomer women are in great shape, have a positive self-image, and eat healthy and exercise. Since I follow a healthy eating and exercising regimen, and am in shape, I can't fathom why wanting to meet an in-shape Boomer woman triggered so much vitriol.

But mostly what I heard was that I had a nerve to have any wish list at all, and that I must have a really high opinion of myself to aim so high. I do have a high opinion of myself, and it comes from working hard on resolving my issues in a men's group, as well as some individual therapy, for many years to become the best man possible. I'm in great physical and emotional shape, and am enthusiastic and joyful about each day in my life, so it seems fair and reasonable that I should want to meet a woman who is in the same physical and emotional space in her life.

We all want to be met in a relationship, which means finding a partner who can return our qualities in kind. It's unrealistic to think being equally matched isn't important, or that major inequalities can be successfully ignored.

I urge post 50s to seek their equal partner. Making a list of what you consider your non-negotiable qualities is simply smart dating. We're not all the same, and we don't all want the same things in life. Finding a partner who embodies most of these qualities is a rational dating plan. Fantasizing and projecting whom we want the person sitting in front of us to be, instead of asking the relevant questions is foolish, and not a smart dating strategy. Finding your next lover involves intention, candor, critical thinking, and chemistry, not luck.