I started dating again in my 40's, after I’d already been through two divorces. I was recovering from a bad marriage, and I was out again in the single life after ten years. And wow! What a change in the dating world.
I didn’t even know where to start. I knew that online dating was the primary way to meet others. I had to agree; with my life — I went to work, and went home, and I occasionally hung out with my friends — there would have been no way to meet new people my age.
Online dating was a foreign concept. I hadn’t even so much as flirted with another man for a decade. It was hard out there in the dating world.
Here’s the thing about dating people:
At least 90% of the people you meet will not be a good fit for you.
Okay, that sounds kinda harsh. But it’s true.
The next person you meet will probably not be the love of your life.
Dating involves many failed first dates. After doing a lot of dating and talking with my friends (male and female), I found that almost all of them rarely have second dates.
With this in mind, I could have started hating first dates, but I didn’t. Instead, I adapted my thinking and my dating life to make sure I got the most out of every interaction I had with the next man I was interested in meeting for the first time. With this, I had a few rules I followed for myself that made my dating life work for me. When I stuck to these rules, I had a rich and fun dating experience, until I really did meet the man with whom I wanted to spend my life.
Change your purpose for dating
I’m a “relationship girl.” I would rather be coupled than single. Nevermind that I had a bad picker. I still like being coupled the best. But, when I first started dating, I knew I wasn’t ready to be in a relationship. I had to figure out what I wanted and needed for myself.
What I really needed was to get back into meeting new people. I had to learn how to interact with the opposite sex again. I made this my purpose; to get myself out there and mingle.
I actually had a lot of fun! I met a lot of people who were interesting, and it kind of gave me hope again that I’d meet someone one day who fit with me. After I got more comfortable with my life and was at a point of wanting a partner again, my purpose for dating changed. Even if what I wanted at the moment wasn’t a relationship, at least I knew that eventually I’d want a life partner.
Don’t have high expectations for a first date
At first, I’d get excited as thoughts swam around in my head that this next guy might be ‘the next one.’ After a lot of dates, I realized that the more expectation I put into the date, the more disappointed I became. I found that it was okay if I didn’t want to see them again (or visa versa). I was there only to talk with him and see if he’d be someone I was interested in knowing better. That was all. No dumping of baggage onto each other, no weird sexual stuff, no drama. That all comes later, right?
Stay true to your boundaries
I learned real fast that people online could and would take advantage of me if I let them. I decided on my moral compass and the kind of behavior that would deserve a cut off of all conversation. This helped me vet through the creeps (I know this happens to men too), and only continue forward with the ones who were kind, friendly, and didn’t weird me out. This also goes for meeting someone in person, which I explain below.
Value your time
I didn’t waste my time texting back and forth for a long time. A week was my limit. If they didn’t want to meet me after chatting back and forth after that, then I stopped communicating with them. I found that men who liked to chat but not meet were only using me for entertainment, and I wasn’t okay with that. If a man wanted to text me over and over, but never get to the point of meeting me, I stopped talking to them.
I most definitely cut off the men who wanted “another picture.” If I’d respond no, I was told I’m a prude, or other various terrible names. I’d never even respond back.
I also never made plans with them far out in advance. If a man wanted to meet me in a week or two for a cup of coffee, I’d also drop it. If they had to schedule me out that far in advance for a cup of coffee, then they weren’t serious about meeting me.
I found when a man REALLY wants to meet you, they’d set up a date within a couple days. If it’s a week out or more, they were more likely to cancel. That’s because they were on the fence with you in the first place. And it’s usually some semi-believable excuse. It’s even worse when they do it twice. Don’t put yourself through that drama before you’ve even meet them.
A person will make time if they really want to meet you.
I also ignored one word texts and responses. I felt if they couldn’t make an effort to have a real conversation with me online, they weren’t going to put in the effort towards an actual relationship.
Same went for men who didn’t want to meet me half-way. One potential date, I was attempting to set up a meeting with him. We lived about an hour apart. He wanted me to meet him at a coffee shop right next to his home. I told him that it was a long drive one way and suggested we meet somewhere in the middle. He refused to meet me half way, so I told him that I wasn’t interested.
If man wants me to drive two hours for his convenience instead of us both investing a mutual amount of time for each other, it tells me he is selfish and doesn’t want to put in even 50% effort for another person. Sorry, that was my last husband, and I didn’t need more of that.
Figure out if you have a type or not and be unashamed if you do
I definitely have a “type.” I’ve tried in the past to date outside of my type, after being told I was “narrow-minded” or “not giving some guys a chance.” Dating outside of my type never goes well.
I’m comfortable in the fact that I have a type, and not ashamed about it at all (my type is nerdy, lanky, a little weird, and intelligent. If they wear glasses, even better. I don’t like bad boys, and I don’t like ‘bros and dudes’. But hey, those guys don’t like me either, so there you go). Why waste my time going after a person who I’m not going to be into?
Make first dates short and sweet
I decided to stick with a short coffee date on first meet. This was a way to actually sit down and have a conversation with the man I’d been talking with online. I learned that not all men portray themselves online to who they really are in person (again, this goes for women too).
Once I had a date with someone whom I got along with really well when we texted each other. He was gorgeous, a musician, and I was very excited to meet him. I have to admit, I got my hopes up quite a bit before I even met him.
When I met him in person, my balloon of enthusiasm deflated. He was 45 minutes late, looked like he rolled out of bed, and after a very short and strange conversation, I knew I didn’t want to see him again. He had some behaviors that triggered my red flags, so I was done after that first meeting.
I never got my hopes up until I met the person IRL, and I would limit myself to 15 minutes for my coffee date.
I know that doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but it is more than enough time when you walk in and within a few seconds say to yourself “Oh God, no.”
If I liked the guy, I’d spend more time with him. I didn’t spend hours over dinner with someone I knew I wouldn’t see again, then have a large bill at the end of the evening.
I didn’t like it, so, I didn’t do it.
This is why I enjoyed my dates, because I knew they’d be ending in a quarter of an hour, and I wouldn’t be miserable for the entire evening. I’d have my drink and a nice chat. There were no awkward or scary moments. I gave myself permission to leave after I was done with my beverage, thank them for meeting me and wish them luck. I wouldn’t waste their time either. In fact, it was probably a relief for them too — get out of the date with little wasted time, and only $4 less in our pockets than going in.
The best part about this, is if the conversation was going well, I’d stay and talk with my date. When I met my now-husband, my 15-minute date turned into three hours! They are your rules, make them up however you like, break ’em if you are having a great time, and don’t worry about it.
Dating is a numbers game. The more people you meet, the more likely you’ll find someone who fits with you.
But don’t think you have to spend lengthy dates awkwardly rollerskating around with someone trying to put their hands around your waist.
Spend one drink with them. It can be a beer, coffee, a glass of wine, or water. It doesn’t matter. the point is to have a conversation that will take as long as consuming your entire drink. By that time, you’ll know if you want to spend more time with them.
90% of the time you will most likely not.
Break your rules if you’re enjoying yourself
This is most important rule: Break the rules! I always went with the flow on my dates, because if I really enjoyed them, I broke my rules. Let me tell you the story of how I met my husband.
I’d been on another date earlier in the evening (Don’t judge! My future husband was on a date earlier that evening too). It took me about five minutes to figure out that this man was not the guy for me. He sat there and didn’t speak unless I asked him questions. The conversation was like pulling teeth. I mostly stuck with my 15-minute rule, but it was right after work and I was hungry, so I ordered an appetizer of fish tacos. After thirty minutes, I paid for my meal and left. He was a nice guy — a really nice guy — but he was not right for me. I’m a talker when I’m one-on-one, so I need a man who will talk with me.
While I was on that date, I got a text message asking if I’d like to meet at 9pm from this man named Michael. Okay, yes! We had barely talked online, but when we corresponded, he sent a very nice message to me and sounded like a normal guy.
I met him outside a local pub. He was standing in the doorway and I came walking up, I saw him and thought ‘yes!’ He was my type; tall, thin, and had on glasses (come to mama!). I sat and talked with him over a glass of wine (not coffee, because…it was nighttime), and we found out we had a lot in common. We sat and talked for three hours, getting to know each other. I was smitten.
The rest is history.