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Dating Post-50: You Just Might Get What You Need

So what does a single man in midlife looking for love really want? A lot less than you’d think.

A few weeks ago I read an article about a widow in her 50s named Kerry McAvoy, who had just entered the online dating world after 30 years of marriage. What she found shocked her, but it didn’t shock me. Prior to getting married, I was single for a long time, so I already knew about online dating’s pitfalls, perils, and pervs.

What shocked me was a comment I read in the comment section, written by a single guy in his 50s. It was refreshingly sincere, incredibly honest, surprisingly simple, and I loved every word of it.

It made me wonder: Can finding love in midlife be this easy?

Or rather: Are we making the search for love too hard?

I feel so strongly about his comments and the sentiments he expressed, I want all of my single friends to read it–both men and women–because it’s really a commentary on the state of dating, not to mention a tutorial on how to date at this age.

“A really enjoyable read, Kerry. Thank you for enlightening me, as someone who is on the other side of those things that are on the female mind. There’s a lot of crossover in those mini-anxieties, and while you ladies have to put up with middle-aged Tom Cats on the prowl, I’ve also had my run ins with the female equivalent. I’ve been sent the equivalent of dick pics…I’m not sure my English slang carries over to the USA (I’d call it a fanny pic but I know you guys place the fanny at the rear, whereas we’re somewhat more to the front). As for sex, I’ve been surprised how many want first date sex. This would feel weird admitting this as my 20-year-old self…Much as I love sex and flattered by the offers, it’s not something I find appealing…it can muddle things up too much too early.

For me I need to see and feel the honesty in a profile. Recent pictures rather than obvious older ones. Maybe a smile rather than a grimace. A few pics that show personality and pastimes. I personally switch off from over idealistic wishes…swept of feet, soulmates, wishes of ‘tall, dark, & handsome’ or gym toned. I’m imperfect. I accept imperfection. In fact, no, I embrace it. Anything that denies our natural imperfections is a red flag. I’m wary of wishes of chemistry & compatibility. To me, that’s where we’re trying to end up. It’s not a given and it’s only sustainable (in my learned life experience) if it’s built & maintained. I’m 18 months into this middle-aged dating and learned so much about myself, and others. I haven’t given up hope. It takes patience and resilience. As an old mentor of mine safely advised ‘don’t rush, don’t panic, don’t give in.’ That, plus a dose of honesty, keeps me broadly happy with life.”

Like I said, I love this guy. And I’d love for more men to be like him: evolved and forgiving.

Men, learn from him. Women, listen to him. 

What should you be looking for in a partner? What are your expectations? Are you asking too much? Wanting it too soon? Are you putting up obstacles? Making people jump through hoops? Are you asking someone to give you what you ultimately need to give yourself?

I want my single friends to meet an evolved, forgiving person like this. Someone who’s romantic, but realistic. Someone who wears his midlife imperfections with pride. Someone who appreciates courtship and the value of waiting. Someone who accepts himself and embraces his flaws, and in turn, will embrace and accept your flaws too.

Chances are at this age, you won’t be swept off your feet–you’re too smart for that anyway. You know that love takes time, and it’s more of a slow build than a love bomb. You also know that soulmates aren’t made in a day or even a date.

The Rolling Stones were right. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.

If you can get past the pitfalls, perils, and pervs, you’ll see pretty much everyone’s looking for the same thing in midlife: a nice, normal, decent person, with integrity, experience and wisdom, who might have some wrinkles, possibly a little baggage, maybe a few extra pounds, but has a good heart and soul. Just like you, just like all of us.

Shockingly, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for.

Single In A Pandemic? You’ve Got Options

How’s your dating life going since the pandemic? Non-existent or “what pandemic?”

Has it ground to a halt or going gangbusters? Have you gone into hibernation or gone wild? Or, have you realized you just don’t give a shit and deleted all your dating apps? There’s no bad answer here.

It’s a weird time to be single, but it might not be the worst time. Life and love will go on. We are social animals and need interaction. We need connection. Human contact is an essential business! There’s only so much social distancing/isolating/quarantining a person can take before losing their mind.

The good news is, as lockdowns lift, dating IRL might pick up again.

Or not.

From what health experts are saying, we’re not even done with the first wave of COVID. Things are spiking again, and with that comes the possibility of more sheltering-in-place. Regular dating might be put on hold. But there are workarounds. Single people are very resourceful in finding ways to adapt. When faced with challenges and adversity, singles think outside the mask (but the smart ones keep it on).

If you’re single right now, you need to be prepared for any eventuality. I wrote an article about this at the beginning of the pandemic, and things actually haven’t changed much. You’ve got options.

Option A: Stay active, keep your dating apps open.

Why let a pandemic cramp your dating style? There’s no reason not to keep swiping, scrolling, and staying out there. Everyone’s at home on their devices, so why not take advantage of your captive audience?

If you’re not sure which app/dating site is right for you, check out ConsumerAdvocate’s online dating guide here. And if you need a little dating coaching, you can always contact me here.

Before coronavirus, when you met on a dating app, you’d have a few text exchanges, maybe a call or two, then meet in person as soon as possible. You can still do that, but video dating is now the safer alternative for those too freaked out to meet face-to-face.

I love the idea of video dating. It’s like old-fashioned courtship. Very Victorian, very Jane Austen, very hot. Courting via video slows everything down, which I find very romantic. Delayed gratification is sexy as hell.

If you haven’t done video dating, or gotten good at it, there’s still time. There’s still time to meet the love of your life in the middle of a deadly virus, and look great doing it.

Watch this video dating tutorial for pointers. When it comes to lighting, camera angles, techniques, tips, and best practices, Hot & Flashy really nails it.

A video date is a real date, so treat it like one. Don’t be lazy. Clean up, put some makeup on, be as charming as you would IRL. This is your chance to get to know someone, and possibly get laid sometime next year, so make an effort.

Or, you can throw caution to the wind and throw your mask off, along with the rest of your clothes like this woman did. Read her pandemic dating story here.

Because physical intimacy might be too risky for the less adventurous or horny, chances are, anyone dating right now is searching for something more substantial, perhaps longer lasting than a just a hook-up or booty call. Maybe they’re searching for a shelter-in-place partner for the next pandemic (or the rest of this one).

Option B: Take a break, temporarily deactivate your dating apps.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a dating break, especially if you’re burned out or going through a hard time. If you’re not actively dating, hide your profile, or turn off auto-renewal until you’re ready to venture back out.

Use the downtime to catch your breath, work on yourself, get in better shape, and get clarity on what you want. When there’s no obligation or pressure to date, it frees you up to make smarter, more thought-out choices. Pandemic or no pandemic, pressing pause on your dating life presents a great opportunity to weed out the riff-raff and regain your sanity.

Option C: You’ve actually come to enjoy your alone time, and realize that social distancing/isolation isn’t that bad.

The quiet and stillness of lockdown at first might’ve been uncomfortable–possibly unbearable—but now you’re getting used to it, and even LIKE it. It’s given you time to think, reflect, read, and relax. Becoming friends with silence and solitude is a skill, and mastering it will get you through single life (and pandemics) like a pro.

“Man conquers the world by conquering himself,” said Greek philosopher Zeno. Now’s the time to prove it.

Some people avoid being alone at all costs, but according to research, the ability to be alone with yourself is actually essential for a healthy social life. Researchers Jeffrey A. Hall and Andy J. Merolla spell it out:

“We’d seen lots of research suggesting more social interactions are better,” Hall says, but “the one that had the strongest empirical support was that when you’re alone and content that way, that’s a great indicator that you’re socially healthy.”

Being single in a pandemic is a great test of your self-reliance. Enjoying your own company is everything.

“That’s why there are some people in the world who are almost never alone but feel lonely, and some people who are always alone and never feel lonely,” she says. “Solitude works when you feel satisfied on the whole with your connection to other people. Once you have that basic need met, it’s much easier to spend time alone.”

The bottom line with pandemics (and other shitty things that happen in life) is there’s always an upside: it can be worst thing ever, or the thing you needed to make changes, practice new skills, and find strength you thought you never had. Your choice.

Single or not, you always have options.

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For more wit, wisdom, and tough love dating advice, subscribe to my blog and follow me @trevabme

Romance Is Dying, Here’s How To Save It

Sorry, technology, I love you, but you’re ruining romance. You’re killing it. Sucking the life out of it. You’re the death knell of courtship—a soon-to-be lost art if someone doesn’t do something about it.

On one hand, technology has been a shot in the arm to dating, helping people find love when they previously couldn’t or wouldn’t. Some people wouldn’t even have a love life if not for online dating and dating apps.

Online dating helped me when I was single, but that was in the early days, before people forgot how to be romantic.

How is technology killing romance? Let me count the ways:

No one has patience anymore

No one’s willing to look closer or go deeper, because it takes too damn long. It’s all about instant gratification, the next swipe, the bigger, better deal. If the chemistry isn’t immediate, forget it. There’s little desire to court someone, and let a romance build slowly. “A digital system based on instant gratification has dissolved the virtue of patience—a critical element of seduction and successful courtship,” says matchmaker Alyssa Bunn

No one is willing to invest either, because A) It takes too much time, and B) There’s too much choice out there. Does anyone really get to know anyone anymore? Not when there’s the problem of “choice overload,” “option paralysis,” or “FOBO,” fear of a better option.

There’s zero interest in going past someone’s looks

Digital dating has made people shallow. Trying to fix up my friends has become a frustrating exercise, since most can’t or won’t go past one’s looks. “Send me a picture first,” they say. What happened before technology, before profile pictures and social media, when people got fixed up based on personal recommendation? What happened to the element of surprise?

It’s dead, I tell you. No one wants to take a chance. If they’re not a 10, sorry I’ll pass. I call these people “Lookists,” because they discriminate based on looks.

Writer American Jebus, offers a most depressing view of it:

“Dating apps have become an endless buffet of dick-pic-obsessed Lotharios and airbrushed Aphrodites hand delivered to your phone, leading to a gluttony of saccharine fulfillment, romantic empty calories that pack on dead weight to your ego’s waistline. It’s an inflated sense of self-worth that could lead singles to feel entitled to a dating life that they don’t have to work for, especially when they can acquire and discard people like baseball cards.”

If technology is making people shallow, it’s also making them insecure and self-conscious. How can you not be when you see all you see are filtered, flawless people online? I don’t care if it’s Instagram, Tinder, or Porn Hub, it’s enough to make even the most confident of daters feel like shit.

Business psychology professor T.Chamorrow-Premuzi believes that Tinder is capable of damaging one’s self-esteem and confidence, while aggravating or even causing anxiety and depression. The problem with Tinder-like dating apps, according to him, is that they can be more arousing than the actual hookup.

No one talks on the phone anymore

And that’s a shame, because there’s nothing sexier or more intimate than hearing a real human voice on the other end of a phone.

Today’s default courting protocol is texting—a cowardly way to communicate, and a dangerous one, too. Things get lost in translation, verbal cues/clues get missed, and feelings get misconstrued. What you may gain in the efficiency of texting, you definitely lose in intimacy and true emotional connection.

Sorry, but emojis aren’t a replacement for emotional connection either.

People are lazy and fearful

They’re forgetting how to meet IRL. They’re forgetting how to flirt and make eye contact. They’re afraid of rejection, being vulnerable, and now, in the age of #MeToo, they’re scared to make a move, approach someone, or even strike up a conversation. People just don’t want to do the work, and yes, dating is work. Romance is work, but that’s what makes it romantic! It’s the effort, stupid!

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I fear we’re losing the human element in dating, and millennial writer Erica Berger agrees:

“Off of the apps, it’s not the same numbers game anymore. If anything, it’s gotten harder. People are more dependent on their dating apps, and qualitatively speaking, I’m noticing less people approach each other in the real world. Why take a risk on the ‘you never know’ when you can simply retreat to your phone later? Why accidentally talk to someone who isn’t available or isn’t interested, only to be rejected, when you have a location-based dating service persistently available in your pocket? There is a chance that if they are available, you’ll be able to find them on one of the services later, right?”

Romance, dating, courting are like muscles that need to be flexed. Use it or lose it, otherwise they’ll atrophy and wither away altogether. Romance, with all the hope, wonder, excitement, mystery, and heartbreak that comes with it, must be kept alive at all costs!

So how do we save romance from the death spiral of technology?

Put the humanity back in it for starters.

If you’re on dating apps, be nice. Be courteous and considerate. Don’t breadcrumb, ghost, bench, or any other egregious thing. Be direct and honest. Post recent pix and current information. Don’t play games, or play with people’s hearts. In other words, don’t be an a-hole. You’re all in this together, so treat each other with kindness and respect.

Slow down, and be patient. Stop being in such a hurry to discard people, and get back on your phone after a date. Love is not on speed dial.

Take a risk. Go against type. Get out of your comfort zone and give someone a chance. Your potential date might not be America’s Next Top Model, but who cares? Someone with depth, character, intelligence, and humor, is way hotter anyway (P.S. Hot chicks are nuts anyway, and super good looking guys are overrated).

The person who’s a little older, heavier, or not made of money, could be the man/woman of your dreams, not to mention the greatest sex you’ve ever had, so keep an open mind.

After you accomplish all this, do yourself AND romance a favor, and get off your phone.

Look around. Smile. Say hello. Strike up a conversation. Flirt. Flex your charm muscles. It’s not pervy, it’s proper. Do it now before you forget how.

Need instant gratification and immediate chemistry? Well here it is, right in front of your face, people!

If you say you want to save romance, if you say you want to make a real connection, or have a long-term relationship, do as the Angry Therapist says and:

“Act like it. Plan something. Set an intention. Put your best foot forward, because they are too, and it’s your job to set the tone. You don’t have to hand wash your car or put a playlist together. But Jesus, open a door. Engage. Ask questions. Be interested and interesting. Order dessert together. Pick up the check. Effort. Effort. Effort. Put some into it. You get back what you put in. Now if there’s no connection, that’s okay. That’s all just a part of dating. But don’t act like your time was wasted or that you were ripped off. Magic is hard to find. Your parents had to kiss a lot of frogs before they met so why shouldn’t you? The internet doesn’t hack that for you. And if you think it should, you’re entitled and don’t have the tools to build a relationship so stop dating until you grow the fuck up.”

To all the hopeless romantics out there, don’t ever change. The dating world needs you more than ever.

Is Donald Trump F-ing With Your Love Life?

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It’s been over a year since the 2016 presidential campaign, nine months since the election, and six months since the inauguration, and I’ve just gotta know: Is Trump cramping your dating style?

Are you a Republican finding it harder to hook up? Are you a Democrat getting laid left and right? Are you red-hot in a Blue state, or do you have blue balls in a Red state?

Is your dating pool getting deeper with prospects, or is your swamp getting drained?

Politics, especially in dating, has become a lighting rod, a third rail of attraction or revulsion. Everything is supercharged, and everyone is hot and bothered.

POLITICS IS SEXY!

Whether politics has made dating easier or harder is debatable, but one thing’s for sure: Donald Trump has become the new measure of compatibility. It’s not enough anymore to know someone’s age, religion, interests, marital goals, or career, you’ve got to know if they’re a Nasty Woman, a Bad Hombre, or a fellow Deplorable.

In other words, you need to know where someone stands. Or, do you? Does it really matter if that cute girl on Tinder voted for Trump, or that hunk on Bumble voted for Hillary? Do you care if the man/woman of your dreams wants to make America great again?

In today’s dating world, party affiliation is either the greatest aphrodisiac, or the world’s worst allergy. It’s the difference between a match made in heaven, a relationship destined for hell, an instant turn-on, or a complete turn-off.

Swiping on a dating app is not unlike pulling a lever in a voting booth. Case in point from a real Tinder profile:

“Trump voters please swipe left, and go to your room and think about what you’ve done.”

OPPOSITES ATTRACT (except when it comes to Trump)

According to data from dating site Match.com, 60% of singles say they are less open to dating across party lines than two years ago. It’s even harsher among liberals, who tend to really dig in when it comes to Trump. In fact, Match found that a whopping 91% of liberals judge potential dates negatively if they voted for Trump. Conservatives, on the other hand, are slightly less judgmental. 57% said they are more likely to date across party lines.

Data from another dating app, CoffeeMeetsBagel, seems to back this up. A poll of 1,320 of its users found that 70% of Democrats feel “politics are impacting their dating lives ‘slightly to profoundly,’” while only 43% Republican singles feel the same way. 66% say being aligned politically is more important than good sex.

Conclusion: What’s in your heart is more important than what’s in your pants.

Sometimes opposites do attract though. Take conservative commentator Mary Matalin and Democratic strategist James Carville. They’ve managed to stay married for 24 years by keeping politics out of the bedroom (or maybe by keeping them in, who knows).

Like I said, politics can be sexy!

For the rest of us though, the political division– and resulting lack of desire from liberals and conservatives to date each other– is why David Goss launched TrumpSingles.com, “a regular dating site where people who are fans of Donald Trump can go and meet each other,” as it’s described.

Goss, a Trump supporter himself, saw the dating divide, and instead of bridging it, he enabled it with Trump lovers. Even though he hopes everyone will make love and not war one day, he knows full well that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

“Yeah, it goes both ways. You know, like a liberal doesn’t want to date a Nazi, and a Republican doesn’t want to date, well, a whiny snowflake, and that’s what they’re viewing each other as.”

YOU KNOW IT’S TOUGH OUT HERE FOR A DATER

My friends on both sides of the political spectrum recently shared some thoughts on love in the time of Trump:

My friend Bob, 58, describes himself as not so much a Trump lover as he was a Hillary hater, but went for Trump anyway.

Last November, he was fixed-up on a blind date, but the meeting place was an election night party (advertised as a Hillary victory party). Knowing he was going into hostile territory, he passed on the opportunity. It ended up being no big loss since a few months later, he met a fellow Trump voter, with whom he’s hot and heavy.

My friend Jill, 48, a diehard Dem, had a promising start with a guy on Match. After taking it off-line and on to the phone, they found an easy rapport. He was interesting, funny, and she was liking him more by the minute.

They had great chemistry, and talked for hours. But when the conversation turned to politics, it all went to hell. Turns out, he was a Trump supporter, and she couldn’t get past that.

“I was in shock. We lined up on so much, I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I kind of lost respect for him, and came up with excuses not to see him again. For me, it’s not about politics, it’s about values.”

*Caveat: If you’re a liberal, there’s no reason why you can’t date a Trump supporter just as long as they’re willing to call Trump out on his BS. And by BS, I mean his compulsive lying (an automatic dating disqualifier for me). Liberals also have to look at themselves when their team fucks up too. It goes both ways.

THE POLITICS OF DATING

Like David Goss of TrumpSingles.com, I too hold out hope that one day we can put aside our differences, find common ground, and sing Kumbaya. I hope one day a Repugnant can love a Libtard, and the GOP can party with the DNCC.

But I’m not getting my hopes up too soon, because as I have realized (for better or for worse) you are your politics, and politics is principle. You can’t separate them.

Daters, ask yourselves: Are we on the same page? Do my values align with his? Do my politics jibe with hers? If so, you’ve met your match. If not, well, there’s always the next Trump rally or women’s march to find what you’re looking for.

Politics might have no place in dating, but let’s be honest: it’s the fastest way to weed out the riffraff, and for that, you can thank Donald Trump.

He could be the best f-ing thing that’s ever happened to your love life.

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Make Dating Great Again!

 

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The 3 Dirtiest Words In Dating

Benching. Breadcrumbing. Ghosting.

You may not have heard these words before, but if you’re single and dating in 2017, chances are, you know what I’m talking about.

If you’ve been a victim of one of these dirty dating practices, you have my sympathies. If you’ve ever knowingly committed one of these offenses, you’re on my shit list. And if you’re still in the dark about what I’m talking about, you’re either happily married or  living amongst the Amish.

BENCHING

If you want to keep someone in the game, but don’t exactly want them to suit up and play, then “Benching” is for you.

This is a great dating strategy for selfish wimps who want to keep their options open and their players in rotation. Benchers love to keep people guessing. They’re neither straightforward nor direct, and they never tell you where you stand because they never move forward with the relationship.

Instead, they string you along by sending mixed signals, throwing you a bone every once in a while, and texting you just enough to keep your hopes up.

When I was single, I was benched by a guy I met online. He said he was divorced, but by his excessive texting, excuse making, and chronic unavailability, he made me realize he was more likely still married, had other chicks on the roster, or just wanted to fuck around.

This guy hardly called, always cancelled, but he kept texting to say hi!

I have a girlfriend who just went through something similar with a guy who kept her on the bench for almost six months before she finally had enough.

He was a sweet-talker, but talking wasn’t his strong suit. Conversations rarely happened because his phone would suddenly “die,” and plans would fall through because something would always “come up.”

But it didn’t stop him from constantly texting to say he was thinking of her!

Typical bencher. Buys time and plays the field while decimating your self-esteem and dignity. Nice.

With benchers, you’re always wondering: “Will I make the cut? Will I ever be a starter or only a sub? Or, will I stay on the bench and be relegated to watching from the sidelines?”

My advice? Get off the bench and go play for a team that truly wants you.

BREADCRUMBING

Another dirty dating trend I despise is “Breadcrumbing.” It’s as manipulative as benching, but even more so because unlike benching, you never actually meet the person.

Breadcrumbing is what it sounds like: a person who sends ambiguously flirtatious digital crumbs meant to lure you in and lead you on.

Breadcrumbers have no real intention of connecting on any substantive level. They just want to play with your head, fuck with your heart, and toy with your emotions by keeping you tormented, oops, I mean interested. It’s the perfect M.O. for narcissists needy for attention and ego stroking.

A common practice for breadcrumbers is to come on strong, string you along with non-committal messages, then go radio silent. Then, out of the blue, they’ll pop up on social media with a comment on Facebook or a compliment on Instagram just to mess with your mind and give you false hope.

Breadcrumbers love to hide behind their texts and dating apps, and throw just enough bait into the water to keep you swimming. Personally, I’d like to slap these people across the face with a dead fish.

A guy friend of mine has been trying to pursue a woman he met on Tinder for weeks now, but for all the fun, flirty messaging going on between them, he’s no closer to meeting her than he was the day he swiped right. I keep telling him to give it up already, but he’s certain it’s going to happen any minute.

It’s not going to happen. All he’s doing is feeding her ego, while she’s feeding him breadcrumbs for his unrequited efforts.

Man and woman cannot live on breadcrumbs alone!

GHOSTING

Ever have a love interest vanish into thin air, right in the middle of your courtship without a trace, an explanation, or even a heads up? You can feel it coming: the texts get fewer, calls cease, plans don’t pan out, and you’re left asking yourself: “WTF?”

Welcome to “Ghosting,” the world’s all-time worst dating behavior, and preferred exit strategy for spineless cowards.

We all know ending things with someone isn’t easy; we all know breaking up is hard to do. But there is a right way to do it, and it doesn’t involve triggering someone’s deepest insecurities by giving them the silent treatment or disappearing off the radar.

Ghosting doesn’t get you off the hook. In fact, all ghosting does is confirm you’re a total pussy.

There are tons of psychological reasons why people ghost, but from what I’ve read and experienced, it has everything to do with fear of conflict, avoiding confrontation and difficult conversations, and not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings.

There are also tons of better ways to end a relationship than falling off the face of the earth or being a dick. My personal favorite is just biting the bullet and being honest. It might be painful for a few minutes, but it’s infinitely less painful than running into your ghosted ex at Rite-Aid as they pick up their Popov vodka and Xanax.

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Benchers, Breadcrumbers, and Ghosters of the world, if you’re reading this, do us a favor and man up. Victims, you too need to grow a pair and stop accepting this bad behavior from your dates. If you’re accepting it, you’re encouraging it.

I dated a lot prior to getting married. Some dates were great, some weren’t. When it wasn’t a match, I said thank you and wished them well. No benching, breadcrumbing, or ghosting. Just straight up truth.

Treat people the way you want to be treated, is the golden rule of dating– especially in the age of technology. Don’t let internet dating turn you into an asshole.

If you want to find love and make a genuine connection, then say it. If you just want to hook-up, say that too. And if you just want to be friends, let that be known. Whatever you do, be clear, be courteous, and keep your ego in check.

Dating doesn’t have to be dirty (unless you want it to be of course).