Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dating at 40...Mis-Matched Expectations?

Recently after talking to a girlfriend of mine, I began to ponder the challenges in today's dating scene. Is it harder for 40 somethings to re-enter singlehood and date again?

As we talked I was amazed by the challenges she faced as a single woman. In particular, I began to wonder, "Are 40 something men looking for the same things in a relationship as 40 something women? Or... are budding relationships being strangled by mis-matched expectations?"

My girlfriend, who I'll call Chloe is a professional, divorced mother of two teenage boys. She has a very eclectic and artsy personality. She is well read, a dedicated runner, and cute. She never has difficulties meeting men, however, meeting the "right" man seems to be the problem.

Recently she was dating David, who seemed to have great potential. He was a great conversationalist, well read, extremely handsome and had a great job. One night, he invited her over to his apartment where Chloe discovered he had no furniture - nothing but a bed and television. "What 40 something man has no furniture, she asked?" After giving him the benefit of the doubt she was pleasantly surprised to be invited on a weekend getaway with a group of David's friends. That is until he explained that due to his lack of funds they would be carpooling with another couple AND rooming with a group of his friends that she had never met. Unless, of course, she wanted to pay for the hotel stay. "His funds were low."

Finally after several more conversations with David, Chloe decided that it was time to terminate the relationship and move on. While David had a successful career, he was an irresponsible spendthrift with bad credit looking for someone to help him get established. At 40 something? Typical or bizarre?

Before David, there was Keith. Keith was another professional 40 something that Chloe had agreed to go out with on a blind date. Prior to going to dinner, the two enjoyed numerous engaging phone conversations. Chloe eagerly anticipated their first date.

They met at and Italian restaurant. Chloe immediately extended her hand in greeting. Keith reached for a hug. Chloe explained that she was not comfortable hugging immediately and Keith seemed a little offended. Throughout dinner, Keith attempted several times to either hug or kiss Chloe who was becoming increasingly uncomfortable - after all it was their first date. Keith on the other hand was becoming increasingly agitated. The date goes downhill from here.

Keith began making rude comments and Chloe became defensive. By the end of the night, in Chloe's mind, Keith was a controlling maniac and escape was imperative. After paying her portion of the check AND giving Keith a piece of her mind Chloe fled the restaurant and Keith began chasing her! How did a potentially great date go so incredibly wrong?

Are men and woman really looking for something so distinctly different at 40? I always believed that most men and woman after exiting their 20's are looking for stability. You know...loving relationships, starting families, settling down. Is this an erroneous assumption?

While Chloe is not looking to get married tomorrow, there is the hope that eventually she will marry again. Now in her 40's the thought of entering into a relationship with a man who is financially unable to care for himself is undesirable. In addition, being in a relationship with someone who becomes critical when unable to have his way or assert his authority is a bit frightening.

Is this typical of 40 something dating?

1 comment:

Mister-M said...

Though many will argue this POV... the reality is that later in life... (and becoming more and more throughout life)... the backlash from men over the out-of-control situations that have developed over 30+ years of misandric, feminist agenda have put men in a position to just forget it.

An extreme case of what is (scarily) a realistic view of how men perceive relationships with women these days can be seen at:

http://www.nomarriage.com

Though the examples you cite are very specific, the general view is that men aren't willing to put at risk what they have built (or not) to this point in their lives.

The problem with marriage today is it isn't the "contract" it once was. I think right now in this country and abroad, marriage & having children is a scary proposition whether you live together or not.

Today, the divorce rate is so high due to no-fault divorce. If you have kids, for women - that means they hold all the cards. A man today has to realize that, love and "the dream" aside, the risks to men/fathers far outweigh the rewards.

Family court is tilted heavily in favor of women/mothers. Moms have all the rights, get all the benefits, and dad is too often relegated to a visitor in his children's lives while being an ATM machine for mom. He can lose half (or more) of the cash, cars, house, investments, etc... and worse - the children.

Men today are becoming very well educated in how the divorce machine sucks in fathers, grinds them up, and spits them out so unceremoniously. They don't want to get married. They don't want to have kids.

With no-fault divorce (the biggest killer of marriage and families) you don't need an excuse anymore to get a divorce. You just don't have to feel like being married anymore - and with that reality comes the truth - a marriage is no longer a contract, so what's the point except to put yourself and your future at risk when someone "doesn't feel like it anymore?" With women (who have children) initiating almost 3/4 of divorces today (most men don't even see it coming), it's the smart man who chooses not to get married and certainly not have children... and that's a shame.

This affects men, women, and children alike. It affects everyone and people need to wake up to that reality. I know that there are lousy men and lousy fathers in this world - but make no mistake - the are plenty of lousy women and lousy mothers in this world and we should all be treated the same way (good or bad) and that simply isn't happening today.

(Ironically enough... I'm in a committed relationship with a woman, but understand the reality on the broader level for many of today's men.)