A treatise on Big Girl Panties
I got the email early that morning in January 2019. My treasured Thai masseuse Denise had just ended her relationship with her partner. Being 61 to my 66, she and I had been sharing our relationship stories while she’s been tending to my injuries over the past many years.
It hit her much harder than she’d expected. Denise is gay, and the rivers from which we both prefer to draw our connections have experienced something of a drought lately. My long term and rather messy BF connection ended on my birthday in mid-January, after a supremely difficult and painful seven months of his living in my house. A temporary engagement to be sure, but he turned out to be, let’s be kind here, not what I had thought, given that we’d never had much time together to begin with. BAM, now it’s living under the same roof. That will definitely bring out the monsters on both sides, if any exist.
We’re both party to that mess. You wanna blame someone? Go look in the bathroom mirror.
For Denise, who, like me, has terrible difficulty with superficial anything, is world-traveled and cares deeply about both personal growth and personal responsibility, finding good company- especially intimate company, is the proverbial needle in a haystack search.
As we age, and our lifestyles have settled into a way of being which involves a fair amount of alone time- by choice, thank you- we also find it challenging to find people who are both equally committed to developing themselves as well as physically attractive. We’re no different from someone in their twenties or forties. We live in a world where people are terrified to turn twenty, as one college professor shared with me. So of course, as we age, we’re finding folks who would prefer the younger versions of ourselves, even as they themselves age.
Denial is one powerful drink. I sup from it myself at times. Perhaps the sole saving grace is that I am fully aware of the fact that I suffer from it, can laugh at it, and move on.
Denise said that she is doing what she and I always do when faced with an open field ahead: Put On Our Big Girl Panties and Get Over It.
That sign lives on the wall right at eye level in my office.
The next morning, being one to love self-flagellation, I paid my way onto Fitness Singles again. My membership had lapsed four years previously, but I’d had a few folks take a look in the interim.
There was one guy in particular who fit the precise type I am after. I joined. All the pics were still accurate. Wrote him a funny email. He took a look, passed. Moved on. And there you go. About $145 investment to get passed over, and there’s no question it’s because of a number. I'm too old.
It troubles me that so many of us take this personally. As though someone who doesn’t find us attractive is attacking us. Well, look, some do, but if a guy or gal passes you over because you’re too old or too young or too out of shape or too fit or whatever the problem is, that’s not a statement about you. It is in fact a statement about their preferences.
Nobody should be raked screaming over the coals for a preference.
There was one guy who lives in Boise who caught my attention. I had no idea who he was (his profile assumed you did, and that’s a Big Red Flag right there. OF COURSE YOU KNOW WHO I AM). I thought, look, I am heading to Boise to take a look at properties. Wrote another funny no harm no foul, I’d love your input email. Nothing. Then I checked out his age bracket. This is a 58-yo guy looking for a 30-yo girl. Well, look. That’s his perfect right. He might have been drawn to a photo but there is no way this man is going to want to meet me on the basis of my age alone.
This is what we do. The guy in question had been a tight end for the 1985 Bears. He was extremely self-absorbed, self-referential. Once I saw the resume, I blocked the profile. I don’t even want to talk to the man, his arrogance is so obvious. He is still selling himself on the basis of something he did 36 years ago. While that may appeal to a certain segment of the population (men in their sixties, for example), I have difficulty imagining that it would appeal to a girl who wasn’t even born in 1985. But look, it just might. As I sat there in Bali surrounded by the beauty of a brand new day, I was also surrounded by thousands of lovely young women who would absolutely kill for a shot at this guy. Again, this is what we do. Who l am I to judge? Precisely. None of my beeswax, any more than it is any of some ancient, angry off old man’s beeswax that I prefer younger, athletic men.
Robin Williams would have a hey day with the dumb stuff we do when we date.
I like younger men but I’m not interested in arm candy. The guy I was looking at was the director of a sports gear company, funny, well-read and intense. And athletic. That he’s not the slightest bit interested in me isn’t his problem or mine. We like what we like. Next.
And if there’s nobody, then frankly, nothing wrong with that. Love the one you’re with, said the song.
Put Your Big Girl Panties On and Get Over It.
Back when the ex and I first connected on line, he couldn’t have cared less about the 17-year age difference. The quality ones don’t. We did our level best over the next 10 years, it simply Did. Not. Work. Not a function of the age difference. Too much baggage there on both sides, and we ended up finding out that in person, full time, we were toxic for each other. I’m sad it took us ten long years to discover that, but it happens. It. Just. Happens.
It is our habit as humans to pore endlessly over what went wrong, to descend into denial and anger and justification and stupid plans to get someone back. There’s actually a young man online who specializes in helping you get your ex back. Look. There’s a reason an ex is an ex. Sometimes we need to let them stay an ex. As with all things, it depends.
Put Your Big Girl Panties On and Get Over It.
It was this man’s habit to dump me, go shopping, find someone new, it gets screwed up (and now I know why) and return, hat in hand.
He’s done this twelve times in ten years and is supremely predictable.
I’ve been supremely predictable in that I take him back every time.
I’m an outright fool if I can’t find the humor in our utterly predictable patterns. We all have them. While I don’t know this, it’s likely just part and parcel of being human. It’d be extremely nice if certain aspects of our nature resolved themselves with a combination of experience and time, but sometimes they just don’t.
Panties, as it were.
Especially as we lurch our way right now towards the Hallmark Cards Most Romantic Day of the Year, those of us who are newly dumped, widowed, deserted, or otherwise finding ourselves alone- especially if not by choice mind you- then we get to once again question our journey. At least these days we're forced to spend more time talking to one another, if not demanding a battery of tests, including one for mental stability.
Boy, that will narrow the choices.
It is indeed at its heart a solo one. Like it or not we’re largely born alone (unless of course you’re a twin or quint, but we tend not to marry those folks) and we largely die alone (unless you’re an Indonesian motorcyclist with his wife and two kids crammed on the back and drive like they do there).
How we fill our time in the middle is up to us. If I wholeheartedly choose to believe that I am worthless as a human being unless I am adored by some man, then poop, I might as well pull the plug right now, given my dating history.
Denise will be fine. I will be fine. You will be fine. There is a time to be with ourselves, in the deep quiet of our being. When we question our value based on societal norms, I might suggest that we’re asking the wrong questions.
The better question is, perhaps, what shall I do for me today, which speaks to my soul, lightens my heart, puts a smile on my face, and gives myself and others joy?
Big. Girl. Panties.