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author: Yvonne Sinclair M.A., LMFT
In this age, there are a higher percentage of the population who call themselves (or someone else calls them) seniors. In this age group, dating can open a new and frightening endeavor.
Dating in the 50’s and 60’s was much different than dating today. In those days, you found a person at a party, church, class, or group who looked appealing. You said to yourself, “Self, that is a person I may want to get to know.” So, you found a way to mosey over and introduce yourself, had your best friend help with the introduction process, or made eye contact across the room and did your best flirting move.
We had all kinds of ideas about how to open the door to love and relationships. Magazines published a plethora of information on how to meet the perfect someone, get him/her to notice you, and live happily ever after. After you met the person (literally in person), you then began the activity of getting to know what this person was all about. Dating meant the guy showed up for the gal and took her out. This meant he paid for the outing, and she looked as good as possible on his arm. Getting to know someone involved learning the following: what songs you like, what foods you eat, what interests you in a way of life work, which church you attend, how do you smell, how do you talk, how you look me in the eye or not, how you dress, your treatment of others, and most of all, if you like me.
Today we get to know the person on paper. By “paper,” I mean the internet: Match.com, Yahoo.com, Friendfinder.com, EHarmony.com, and on and on and on. Those of us who dated in the 50’s and 60’s can be a little overwhelmed with this new way of getting to know someone. First, you will need to know enough, or know someone who does, about a computer so you can put up a profile. You will need to decide just what you want (or do not want) to reveal about yourself. You must remember: of course the people you will be meeting will also decide what not to include. You find a nice picture, describe your loved activities, and list your attributes as a date. Then, the fun begins.
So, this Gramma decided to do just that. This is her story.
It was exciting to see all the men in my age group. Whoopee! This was much better than searching through months of parties, meetings, classes, etc. I could just click and date. I began to get responses and messages. They loved my picture, shared similar interests, or they shared something fabulous about themselves. I had men from all the way on the other side of the country telling me I was wonderful. Even one man from the other side of the world admired my physical self. Wow, what a heady experience this was beginning to be. As a Gramma, I liked this admiration.
After the first couple of emails, the sexual innuendos or overt remarks began. Sometimes it happened on the second or even first email. Hmmmm, do I take this as a compliment? At my age, a sexually interested male is a good thing. I was a little confused. If I responded to these statements, at all, they became more overtly sexual. The man on the other side of the world wanted “other” pictures, and he was interested in women with large breasts. I had to block him to stop his “interests.” When I questioned the ones on the other side of the USA, the same theme began to show up. Okay, I can weed these out, right?
Gramma chose one to meet for lunch. He seemed like a nice man. He sounded responsible, family oriented, educated, caring, sensitive, and interesting. So, I drove to the restaurant. I did not want to be picked up. As I parked and walked in, I noticed a man walking in also. Oops, I could have turned around and left. If this had been the 50’s, I would not have chosen to flirt with him. No, I was not afraid or nervous. I was seeing this man in person for the first time. If I had seen him in person upon our first meeting like we would have in the 50’s, he would not have been someone I told myself to get to know. I was polite and still attended lunch with him. Then I had to decide how to tell him “NOT INTERESTED!” Gramma did not like this part of the contemporary dating scene.
I was forced back to the “drawing board” called internet dating. On my email, I found a new contact with a young man. Yes, I said “young” man. He was about the age of my children. I politely responded and chatted. He wanted to meet. I asked the big question: “Why does a much younger man want to meet a Gramma?” Are you ready? He said he had an affair with his best friend’s mother when he was in high school, and she was a red head. He has been interested in older red-haired women ever since. Oh yea, movin’ on.
-Over coffee, one man told me about throwing out all of his ex-wife’s canning jars without her knowing. Now I like to can things and could not imagine anyone being this cold. This was one thing he had decided to leave out of his profile information. It was a deal breaker for me.
-The next man wrote wonderful poetry to me, and I really wanted to meet him. We agreed to have lunch together. Over lunch, he told me about the stepchildren he still had in his life. They either lived with him, or he supported them. One was a drug addict, one was a felon, and the other just liked to ask for things. I didn’t need any people like that in my life, so I moved on.
-There were some men who communicated from work and did not seem to want to meet evenings or weekends, just during the workday. “MARRIED” was the big red sign that came up on those guys.
-I met one man for lunch on a workday, and we sat by the river for a while in the afternoon. My email was on his computer, and his “girlfriend” (of several years) contacted me with questions. He had not mentioned he was in a relationship and lived with her. Yep, movin’ on…
-Oh, I almost forgot about the man I met in a small town near me for dinner. It was cold, and when he walked me to my car and tried to convince me to meet again, his nose ran and dripped off his beard. I swear, this is the truth.
-Finally, there is one I am not too proud of. There was a nice looking picture of him in his profile. He was standing behind a kitchen bar, and he was resting his hands on top (the bar hid most of his body). I arranged to meet him for lunch in the same small town. I arrived early and walked around town until the lunch date time arrived. I noticed a very large man walking around, too. I don’t mean he was large like tall. When I realized he was my lunch date, I quietly stole away in my little red chariot. Yep, “click of the mouse.” I am not proud of that one.
I joined a new dating service. This service included going to an interview, providing a list with “have to haves” and “don’t wants,” and being sent on lunch dates. I asked for someone with style, among other things. My first lunch date appeared to be in his 80’s. This would not have been a bad thing, except this was way out of the age range I had requested. The deal breaker was that his “style” was from the 70’s, and we were in the 2000’s. I am sure he had not shopped for new duds since the 70’s. So much for someone weeding out the pack for me…
Gramma eventually found a special relationship match. He was a little different because he only wore short pants and shaved his head except for a que (you know, the little tail thing at the back that is supposed to be used to yank you into heaven). I could overlook these minor flaws. They weren’t deal breakers. He cooked, had his own home, was involved and respected in the community, had an admirable employment history, and remained involved in his family. Long story short: he did not like my questions about his sudden lack of communication after nine months into our relationship. He broke up with me over the internet. The action seemed to be a little appropriate since we met over the internet, but the mouse-clicking felt quite rude.
Not to be daunted, this Gramma jumped right back into the choosing and loosing. Yep, the next one was not quite as different, had a history not quite as favorable, but he still remained involved with family. After many months of spending weekends together and talking about “moving in,” I came home to find most of his “things” (the things that meant something to him) gone. I call him “Disappearing Don.” Disappearing Don did reappear a year later at Christmas time, and he asked for a visit. He explained he felt he had made a mistake when he left. When I did not accept his offer, I was greeted the next morning with an email picture showing a part of his anatomy not fit for the internet.
Don’t get me wrong, the man was not always the “breaker upper.” This Gramma did some amount of rejecting the guys. It is just too easy in this internet dating era to click the mouse and be done, to not respond to email and be saved the job of saying “no,” or to block an email address instead of sucking it up and facing him/her. After becoming an “experienced” internet dater, I adopted a modus operands. In the beginning of the “relationship,” I would ask for an agreement that if either one of us wanted out, we would talk in person. Some agreed to the arrangement and some ran. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it did not. It was my way of putting a little 50’s back into the internet dating process.
In the old days, we had to face the person. We had to, at least, have a tone of voice as to why this was not working. He/she had the opportunity to ask why. Of course the old, “It’s not you, it’s me” was our way of clicking the mouse, but there was not blocking email addresses or just not responding. Usually there were enough mutual acquaintances to report to each of you about the other. Closure was possible. Clicking the mouse leaves whole lot of empty air space with a whole lot of unanswered questions. Questions may include: what was it that was not acceptable about me? Was it timing? Was it something I said, something I wore, or something I did or did not do?
The whole reason for this Gramma’s story is to let the older generation know that dating has definitely changed. If you are thinking of leaving your spouse for the great dating scene, think again. I also want to inform the younger generation and those who rely on internet to meet, communicate, and/or woo (now there is an old dating word) the love of his/her life, that things can be different. I want to tell all, don’t click the mouse, please. Don’t just disappear. Have the moxy to face the person and talk about the reason it does not work for you. Give the other person the respect of caring enough to communicate. You will respect yourself for taking the time and effort to allow the other person closure.
And this Gramma lives happily ever after… I know, this is not a definitive end of story. What is more important than my end of the story is your end of story. Be careful. It can be wicked out there!
©Copyright 2011 by Yvonne Sinclair M.A., LMFT. All Rights Reserved. All material is owned and protected. Reproduction without the express written consent of the author is forbidden.