As a dating coach, I get daily questions from clients surrounding the entire dating process. This week, I have chosen three recent questions, all very different, and my responses, which express honesty and a bit of tough love.
Q: Could we brainstorm some more about what I can do differently to meet Mr. Wonderful? I know we may have discussed this before, but do you think men are scared off by the fact that I’m 63 and never been married? Of course, they don’t know I was engaged twice and how I’m a committed person.
— Eileen, 63, Boston
A: To be frank, I do believe that some men are perceiving your age and not having been married as a red flag, which is unfortunate. As I told another client today (a 29-year-old male who is having difficulty because he’s 5-foot-6), we all have perceived red flags that we cannot control. For men, it’s often height. For women, it’s often age and/or weight. For the 50-plus crowd, there’s a stigma for not having been married before. For the 20-30 crowd, there’s a stigma for having been married before … and the list goes on. In other words, you’re not special … in the best way possible.
Q: Hi Erika — Hope you’re well. Now that we’ve given Match some time, and I’ve been seeing Doug regularly, I would still like to try Christian Mingle. I’ve always made the mistake of dating someone exclusively too early so I still want to keep my options open. What do you think?
— Antonia, 40, San Francisco
A: Do you want my honest answer? I think that’s crazy! You really like Doug! Just because you don’t want to be exclusive yet (nor should you be), it doesn’t mean you need to be meeting lots of other people to see if there’s someone better. Is that what you’re looking for … someone better? If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s to hold onto a good thing. Definitely move slowly, but why not be excited about him?
Q: If you run across any women who I now gather are “exceptionally beautiful,” please send them to me! Honestly, none have been close so far. But your efforts were just to test the online services … you did a phenomenal job, and I now know that is likely a dry hole.
— Gregory, 52, Charlotte, N.C.
A: I fear that what you’re looking for is something that doesn’t exist in real life, and if that’s the case, no matchmaker could ever be successful for you. I’m fairly convinced that if I sent you Charlize Theron herself on a silver platter, you’d reject her. And if you were, by some chance, interested, who’s to say that she’s looking for you, too? That’s the other side of the equation.
I’d never tell you to settle. That would be the worst advice I could give. I can tell you, however, that what you’re looking for is setting yourself up for disappointment. It’s much too narrow, and when you’re basing things solely on looks (which I would never recommend), you’re missing everything else. I know as well as you do that there has to be an initial and immediate physical attraction, but at what expense? You have a lot to offer and I think very highly of you, so I’d like to see you with someone who does as well — a match, both physically and intellectually.
I want the same thing for you as you do — success. It’s worth it to explore meeting people who look pretty darn good to you. No one is perfect — not you, not me, no one — but it would be in your best interest to at least get out there a bit … that way even if you meet this diamond in the rough, you’ll be practiced and ready.
I like you very much and want to do everything in my power to get you what you want and will still plan on reaching out if I come across her, but I do believe that you’re getting in your own way in this process.
Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating.