Dating in Your 50’s

I’ve been at a complete loss when it comes to ideas for posts recently, and I finally reached out to a good friend. “What should I write about?” She immediately came back with, “dating in your 50’s.” While I have a ton to say on the matter in personal emails or over a margarita, I’ve been mulling over how to throw my ideas out for general consumption and make them somewhat amusing (or at the very least amuse myself and her, which is really the goal at this point). I’m still drawing a huge blank, so I’m just going to hop in.

Dating Sucks When You’re 50

Ok, that’s a gross generalization; however, now you’re 50, you’re back on the market and well, dating can actually suck. And it makes you yearn for a more innocent time – when things were simpler or seemingly rosier. A time when you were a little girl filled with so much hope about your future. You had innocent dreams of what life would be as a grown-up. It was a world where she had a perfect family, perfect kids, perfect pets who never shed and self-walked. She had a fabulous job. She traveled the world. She lived in a Victorian mansion, a brownstone or a super sleek downtown loft. (Mine had a two to three story library with a rolling ladder and also a domed solarium.) She knew without any doubt that you would have it together – you would light the world on fire. She never imagined the grey hair (ON YOUR CHIN), boobs having succumbed to gravity, flappy mee-maw arms and those unforgiving wide hips. She couldn’t picture a world where she’d find herself casually scrolling through a dating app (ok, mostly because the internet wasn’t really a thing and had anyone mentioned “Arpanet,” she’d feel confident they were referring to a firm hold hairspray) trying to find a special someone like you pick out groceries and that her criteria (aka new low bar) would ever be “doesn’t make her throw-up in her mouth.” (Easier said than done.)

Now if you actually were the rare soul who did imagine this bleaker future you, you were a very strange and sad kid. I’m just going to call it right now. I’m full-on judging you. Oh, but props for imagining the internet. I hope you used your vision to your advantage.

You realize past you would go slack-jawed if she were brought forward to meet present you.

To make matters worse, the prospect of dating in your 50’s heralds the return of every insecurity you thought you’d outgrown before life took a gigantic dump on your lawn. You’re supposed to be settled by now. WTF? You begin doubting your appeal. Am I likable? funny? intelligent? interesting? appealing? Did I dress ok? Do I have to dress differently? Should I avoid certain topics? What if I say something ridiculous? Dribble? It crosses your mind that you’re too old to be revisiting this craziness. But that insidious self-doubt monster, who appeared mid-puberty, gently taps you on the shoulder and with a smirk says, “Hey girl! Just letting you know I’m still here keeping your ego in check. Oh yeah, in case I forget to remind you daily, you’re still an idiot. Now go on, talk to that nice man. You got this! In that outfit, how could you not succeed? <snort>”

To compound the issue and remind you how NOT in your 20’s you are: in your 50’s, everyone you know is married and all of their friends are married, so the likelihood that they’ll actually introduce you to someone suitable for dating is slim at best. Every group you join? It’s filled with married people leading married lives. Every event you attend, it’s filled with more couples. Every man that you find appealing is also married. Of course, you then reach a point where you see everyone being married as a good thing, because you understand that man is actually someone else’s problem. For example, let’s talk about my ongoing crush on the office drunk. He’s pretty as heck, love his voice, and as I mentioned, he’s also an alcoholic (not in a funny way). This is ok, because like I said, this is not a Beth problem – it’s a “his family” problem and I can admire from afar without feeling the need to rescue this person.

That brings me to the reality of actually dating someone.

Jay and I were together for about 17 years. During that time, we learned how to live together. We learned how to cohabitate peacefully. The mere idea of having someone in my house makes me twitch. I came to this realization after Jay passed away and a friend suggested I rent out one of my bedrooms. My response was, “can I put a clause in the contract that states the tenant must stay in their room whenever I’m in the house? That they can’t be in the living room? Can’t use my refrigerator? Can’t make noise?” I wasn’t kidding. As I’ve gotten older, and further away from my college and post-college years where I had many roommates, I recognize I’m kind of set in my ways. I’m persnickety.

That hints at something very important – that by 50 we have a steamer trunk filled with personal baggage. We’re no longer that carefree 20-something whose baggage looks like an adorable overnight bag filled with cuteness and maybe a smidge of some high school drama. No, by 50 you actually need a bellhop with a luggage cart because if you’re single in your 50’s there’s a story, and there’s baggage. I’m not saying it’s all bad, but life has likely had its way with you.

Then why date?

For me, I hold onto hope, because there’s so much that I miss by not being in a relationship. I miss hearing someone say I look beautiful – whether I’m going out or tying my hair up in a loose ponytail. I miss having a person who stays with me until I fall asleep, which Jay did for 17 years. I miss having someone who genuinely cares where I am each day. I miss being around someone who genuinely likes me and thinks I’m funny and interesting – a person whom I think is funny and interesting right back. I miss hugs – real hugs – the kind that draw you in close and fully envelop you. I miss shared experiences – being there for our best and worst days and pushing each other to be our best. I miss being loved.

And if I’m completely honest, I also fear dying alone – tucked away in a nursing home that wreaks of urine where no one really knows or cares that I’m there – that I exist.

So, off I go to those dating apps where I swipe left more often than not. In truth, one site tells me “you have 9 unread messages, and if you give us money again, we’ll let you read them.” I think about this – about paying – about reading these messages and believing it holds a message from “the one,” and then I find something else to do. Maybe one day I’ll go look at them. One day I’ll decide that dating isn’t a dumpster fire.

And I suppose that little girl, well she’s still there dancing, singing, spinning, and impossibly hopeful.

Coffee or Tea? A Ridiculous Dating Update

I’m going to take a moment to horrify my friends.  Guys, I don’t love coffee. I’m sorry. I know. I’ve been pretending for you for years in order to be accepted, but there it is – a simple truth.  Don’t get me wrong, not loving it doesn’t mean I hate coffee, it’s just… well, we’re frien-emy’s. Coffee is ok with our relationship. Coffee understands that for us to get along, it has to be dressed up before we go out together. Mind you, not quite Gingerbread Latte dressed up, because I’m not that fancy, but definitely a little cream or milk will be joining us.

Unfortunately, “would you like to grab coffee?” seems to be the current online go-to choice for those who want to meet for the first time. Where is Mr. Microphone to break the ice? And while my response is usually, “yes,” the between the lines is, “no, not really – I’d much rather sit around in my fleecey pants, my favorite t-shirt and Homer Simpson slippers while catching up on Star Trek Discovery and sipping iced tea,” but no one ever asks if that’s what I’d like to do. Weird. I’d also be game for almost anything else – like a walk around Town Lake would be great – something that doesn’t seem like the world’s worst interview where we’re across a table grilling each other about hobbies and political tastes. I’m not sure what I’ve written in my bio, but it draws people who get incredibly nervous when speaking to me, and I’m just thinking coffee is not going to help calm the nerves. Perhaps a nice chamomile? Warm milk?

I did get to hit the Steeping Room this last go around by claiming I couldn’t think of a single coffee place nearby.  This put me more at ease thanks to a lovely Moroccan gun powder mint tea. Thank you, Jers for introducing us decades ago. And once again I found I made another human being a bit twitchy. He should have found his own zen calm by placing an order for his favorite hot drink, too. The only downside to this meeting was I’d honestly managed to forget his name multiple times during the day. “What’s the guy’s name you’re meeting?” “Ummm… yeah… I should check that before going.” I’m kind of going through a phase where I think all online dates are named, “Todd.” It’s embarrassing but true. I did double-check before exiting my car. I felt a little terrible about that.  Anyway, he was smart, a server developer/designer, and another runner. The only real notable thing that stood out from our conversation was me trying to convince him that people on the opposite political side could actually be intelligent. We parted with the mutual understanding that it was ok that the other existed in the world. My aunt will not have to send him a note suggesting we be friends.

Speaking of, I did send the other runner a note in an attempt to convince him we should at least be friends. I figured I’d take the burden off my very willing aunt. The last time I tried to convince a stranger to be my friend was in 3rd grade at my day care center where I had a habit of walking up to new kids and declaring, “I’m Beth!” then following with a subtle, “Want to be friends?” This almost always worked, since I was somewhat obnoxious, and they quickly realized they’d be stuck with me every day after school for a year. Might as well give in! It turns out I’ve lost that skill set along with the advantage of having another person locked in the same space. In my sad attempt to convince him I tried a cocktail of, “I think you’re great” added with an, “I think you should allow yourself to be swept into a new group,” and finally, after he’d said no one had ever described him in a particular way,  “I’m neither family nor friend. I’m not obligated to flatter you or build you up – this is how I see you – this is why you should believe me. Plus, I’m not actually this nice to strangers.” Ok fine, I realize I did not miss my calling in sales or debate, but personally I wanted to be MY friend after hitting send. 🙂 Apparently, I was very much alone in this. A good friend tried to convince me it’s ok that the runner will not be added into my menagerie. I suppose.

What’s next? Well, I’ve discovered that on this dating journey, I’ve gotten more blunt – as in the “be my friend” example above. So, while I had the potential to meet up with a musician/librarian (librarian???) this week, and tell even more ridiculous stories, I may have insulted him. He’d sent a note about how his band is auditioning a singer. I asked some questions and wished his band luck, to which his response was, “Yeah. This will work. Are you free next week?” And yours truly may have responded, “Did you just type out your thought bubble?” I haven’t heard back from him. Weird.

Finally, I am supposed to meet up with another new person later this week.

I’m sure I’ll have more stories. You’re welcome Tori.

Please let it not actually be over coffee.