Boring

boringMy Sister Jane came up to visit over the holidays and, of course, the late night topic of conversation turned to dating.  Or not dating, as the case may be.

I shared that, having been blogging now for a whole few months, I’ve had the occasion to read a plethora of blogs about dating experiences by women in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

ACK!!!  We all report pretty much identical stories.  Age doesn’t seem to matter. And, that’s a pretty dismal statement.

I had also read an interview with Kristie Allie, who was back once again in the dating scene and made a plea to the more mature man:

Don’t be so freaking boring! Don’t have the life already sucked out of you.

We must have dated some of the same men.

What I found even more interesting were some of the comments by men who had read the interview. Many lacked photos of themselves, but had posted pictures of sport cars, dead fish and guns.

Yawn.

There was the man who wrote that, in his forties, he had taken up fishing, golfing, four-wheeling and how dare she describe him as boring.  Ah, hint:  those are hobbies.  Good for any man (or woman) has hobbies, quilting, gardening and painting included, but if that’s all you can talk about it on a date, boring just about fits either gender.

And then there were the men who wanted to take another nap before leaving a comment.

There were also the men who understood Alley’s comments. 

Boring is not a function of what you do but who you are. Do you strive to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and try new things? Are you always learning? Do you reach out and try to offer things of value to the people you care about? Then you will not only not be boring but you will also be the best self you can be, and get the most out of life.

Whoo Hoo!!  I’d sure like to meet that wise man, even if he is a forty-something college professor who lives 3000 miles away.

 I do wonder if the current economic situation hasn’t added to the life sucked out of you observation, at least for some of us of retirement age. I can’t tell you how many professional men I’ve met who didn’t plan and are now faced with working for the rest of their lives because they have to, not because they want to.

If that doesn’t drain life out of someone, I’m not sure what does.

Sadly, I also think these men may be the harbinger of things to come, as increasing numbers of retirees will need to rely on 401Ks, given defined benefit programs are fast becoming the safety net of the past. If Frontline predictions hold true that 401Ks are both a gamble and train wreck waiting to happen — all while underwriting increased company profits — then we can pretty much forget about boring dates.

We’ll be far too busy surviving to be concerned about the folly of coffee dates.

 

 

 

 

Profile Police

onlineI just finished reading a blog describing an “older gentleman” who was so desperate for love following an ugly divorce that he fell, in rapid succession, head over heels for four online dating scams, buying their lines and sending them money.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I also seem to be in the target age for scam artists, especially when it comes to online dating.  It probably has something to do with being perceived as a frail, lonely old lady.  Not.

Last summer, I ventured out once again onto two well-known, well-advertised, pretty reputable sites and paid both membership fees.  Thought I might as well maximize my options. 

I searched on one site and, Whoo Hoo, there he was, Mr. Potentially Wonderful.  Then I realized, a screen later, there he was again, the same profile with a different user name and photo. And, two profiles down, there he was yet again! Three Mr. W’s, different ages, different user names, different towns, identical profiles and all within a twenty mile radius. Evidently scammers never studied geography.

On the second site, I received a good number of emails.  Probably a third were from scammers lurking on the site.  

I sometime wonder if the online dating sites actually monitor for scam artists or just rely on paying members to do the policing job for them. 

The sites warn members not to give out personal email addresses or send money, excellent advice, but not nearly enough. So, for those of you venturing out into the online dating scene, here are some pointers I’ve figured out:

I:  If s/he looks too good to be true, be wary. Great looking photos, widowed, no kids, professional, exceptionally high income…those warning flags should be waving.

I look for profession and location; sometimes, it’s almost comical…one of my favorites was a purported PhD, employed at the corporate offices of an east coast company while living in the middle of Death Valley CA in a town with a population of 27.  uh huh.

II:  If s/he can’t talk on the phone or meet you within a few emails, especially if the emails quickly become overly romantic, as opposed to flirtatious, proceed with caution. Texting doesn’t count as a phone call. This is especially true if they are, ahem, unexpectedly working out of the country in an area that can’t be accessed by voice, Skype or Facetime.  They’re working alright, probably on getting into your bank account.

III: Read the narrative:  If anything looks the least suspect, I copy a couple sentences, paste it into Google search and wait for Google to work its magic.

Nine times out of ten: BINGO! The same profile narrative pops up all over the world…same site, different sites, different user names, different ages, different ethnicities, sometimes even a different gender, but the cut ‘n paste approach apparently works well for the scam artists in Nigeria and Russia that are just waiting for you to answer their emails, winks or flirts.

Bless the Google Goddess that lists them all.

If you find a scam profile, do report it to the online dating service as a concern — with an explanation as to the other websites they’re on and the profile names being used; otherwise, the dating website has to actually investigate the concern, which doesn’t always happen.  If you do the work for them, the dating service will usually delete the scam profiles on its site.

It goes without saying that dating sites could do a much better screening for scam artists.

In the meantime, whenever I’m on a dating site, I continue reporting the scam profiles.  I also continue asking to get paid for doing their job, but my requests are ignored. Too bad.  It could be a great side income.

Women of a Certain Age

Not much has been written about Women of a Certain Age although we certainly do exist.  The few articles are usually hidden on a back page, typically next to the Obituaries, or buried deep within the links of an online format. It’s the myth vs. the reality regarding women of a certain age…women who are old, older,  um well-seasoned by life.

The definition of a woman of a certain age is apparently defined by her hormones, or lack thereof.  This county, and Great Britain for that matter, tend to lump single women of a certain age into a rather vague, grey nothingness — a spinsterhood somewhere beyond menopause, which is apparently the dividing line between maiden/mother and crone — that marks the slow, winkled descent into elder-hood and death.

Wow. Alone and asexual. Now that’s something young women can put on their calendars and look forward to.

Women who do not accept the prescribed definition are faced with a myriad of challenges. 

Single women of a certain age are labeled Cougars for doing the identical thing that men do everyday — although, I admit, men are a whole lot more successful with their marketing strategies.

Then, there is the very well-advertised, large HMO that refuses to prescribe hormones because of a woman’s age (“old” being the operative, diagnostic term) while perfectly willing to provide men of all ages with a variety of enhancement pills.

Good grief.

While we could embrace a mass exodus to France, where both men and women of a certain age enter a rather erotic phase of life, we might also consider redefining the myth with a more realistic version of entering that certain age..with a certain confidence, a certain air and a certain wisdom regarding life, aging, sexuality and partnerships.

I rather like that approach, but in the meantime, there are still those pesky assumptions that keep getting made about women of a certain age…

A while back, I had a date with an older gentleman — I’m saying older because his whole demeanor was old although he was only a couple years older than I.  We sat down with the prerequisite coffee and began the conversation.  He told me about his car, his daily routine and the stress of keeping up on a recent walking tour in Europe.

Then, he lowered his voice, confiding that he had problems “down there” and he looked downward.

I looked down at his feet, given all the walking hardships of his European trip.

No, not my feet!

oh. I wasn’t going to look there so I refocused on his face.

He leaned in toward me, as if to share something very confidential.

It was more than a bit uncomfortable, not knowing the man and not even finished with my coffee, but there was no break with which to make my escape. He was adamant about sharing, which he did with all the confidence of a man experienced with women of a certain age.

And it doesn’t matter.  Women your age aren’t interested in sex anyway.

He smiled and leaned back in his chair. He had had just solved his problem by making it my problem.

Um. I hate to burst your bubble, but not all women of my age are finished with sex.  Many of us actually enjoy sex quite a bit.

As his bubble burst, this woman of a certain age spotted her escape, thanked him for the coffee and made a quick exit.

The Cat Lady

I’ve received a number of requests to write more about dating, more specifically dating in our more mature years…mature, of course, referring to chronological age, not maturity.  Women seem to find these posts especially amusing.

Sigh.

When I left the classroom to design, build and coordinate a school program linking mental, social and physical health services into a school campus, it was a steep learning curve because I knew little or nothing about mental and social health issues and only a bit more about physical health — typically, what the kids or I had experienced. 

English majors are pretty much equipped to do little more than write, edit, teach or open an English Shoppe.  On the other hand, most of us who teach can bluff pretty well, being only a day or two ahead of our students, so when I raised my hand to take on a new adventure, I sure looked like I was qualified.

uh huh.

First week on the job and I heard the therapists talking about Mr. Man of the Moment or The Sperm Donor — the fathers of the unborn children of the young pregnant teens who had come into the center.  Their dark humor was not much different than what had been found in my old English Office.

It seems that not a whole lot has changed with reaching the senior years, except that if one is dating within one’s age group, the woman is not going to get pregnant.  At least, that was my assumption, evidently an ill-conceived one, as it appears that the only women seriously dating are in their twenties.  I learned that from a number of articles and blogs written for the dating population.

The first bit of advice I found was a list of cautionary notes for dating older men: 

  • The Mr. Set in His Ways, AKA I have my life already scheduled and have time for you two nights a week from 8 to 10 PM.  Do not think for a moment he’ll change: Run;
  • The Mr. Commitmentphobe, from whom you run run as fast as you can unless he’s George Clooney (given he’s off the market,  just run);
  • The Bitter Angry Dude, which says it all;
  • The Flake as in I’ll call you in the morning but neglects to mention which month;
  • The Kid Guy, who uses his kids for an excuse even when the kids are in their twenties.

I’ve dated a few of these men over the years and, fair enough, these are excellent insights, except the article was written for women in their twenties dating older men.  Good grief.  Go date men in your own age bracket. Men wouldn’t consider dating anyone twenty, thirty, forty or fifty years older than themselves and neither should you.

The next article I found was written by a man who warned women that time is a fleeting commodity, at least for females, and it was followed by input from many, many men, all of whom were probably just out of middle school.  The consensus:  women in their early twenties are in their prime and a thirty year old woman who is “hot” could possibly compete, but only for a short while.

After that, it’s spinsterhood.  Women in their forties were pretty much discounted.

That pretty much puts me in the petrified forest category.

Evidently the only women who actually marry are those who might snare the male through conveniently forgetting the pill and getting pregnant.  Or, we circle back to Mr. Man of the Moment, AKA The Sperm Donor, and the conniving woman is with child and on her own.

His conclusion:  If a woman holds out for Mr. Wonderful, she’s going to be disappointed as men are no doubt having fun with (the writer only used one word, not three, although it also started with an “f” and ended with an “ing”)  a younger hot number.  The hold-out woman runs the risk of becoming “yet another 40 year old cat lady.”

Well, that certainly explains everything. 

And, on that note, Where’s BlackJack?

Profiles in Code

I was considering writing a book on Internet Dating Codes except it’s already been done numerous times without a lot of success. Most of us realize that the online profile narratives are written in Code and, like most things in life, men and women use very different Codes. Therein lies a great deal of the challenge of internet dating.

Online profile writing coaches — yes, there is such a job and, yes, there are many such services — tell women to keep it light.  Delete the White Picket Fences and Happily Ever Afters and use words like fun, laughter, outdoors and adventure.

Fair enough.

Then I stumbled upon a website that interprets women’s profile Codes for men.

According to that website, if a woman writes that she likes to have fun, she really wants to have sex.

If a woman writes that she enjoys laughter, she really wants to have sex.

And, if a woman writes that she likes the outdoors and adventure, she wants to hike and set up camp in the back country where she really wants to have sex.

oh.

Numerous websites note that women have their unique set of Codes:

If a woman writes that she wants to start with a friendship and see where it goes, she really wants a long term committed relationship complete with the Happily Ever After and optional White Picket Fence.

If a woman writes that you must love animals, she probably has a minimum of ten cats that will be included in the long term committed relationship.

And, if a woman writes that you must love family, she probably has her kids, grandkids and/or parents living with her and will be included in the long term relationship.  Men don’t need a Code Translator to know exactly what that means in terms of a sex life.

Other websites list the Codes used by men:

If a man writes that he is very spiritual, he is probably without a job or retirement income and is looking for room, board and a warm bed in which to have sex.

If a man writes that he is laid back, he is probably a couch potato and his only exercise is getting up for another beer or having sex.

And, if a man writes that he is seeking a woman with a specific hair and/or eye color, he is really shopping for a car.

I once got an email from a man on an internet dating site who had written in his profile that he had a lot of interests, including Sports that began with the letter S.  I thought about that and concluded that he might have meant soccer, shuffleboard, swimming, scuba diving, sailing, snorkeling, skiing, squash, surfing, skateboarding…

ok, I’m not that naive. We were both in our mid-sixties, so he probably did not mean skateboarding.

I also figured that he enjoyed sex and was being a bit creative in stating it. 

After a number of emails back and forth, we met for the obligatory coffee. 

He was a very nice, retired professional man and, in short order, disclosed his favorite S sport.

There is evidently one additional sport that begins with the letter S: Swinging.  Not Swing as in dance.  Swing as in Swingers.

Who knew?  It had simply never crossed my mind. S is for Swinging.

Holy Mackerel.

And, if you are even thinking for a split second of asking me anything, the answer was no.

 

A Man and his Dog

I don’t pretend to know how or why it happens, but dogs (the four legged variety) want to be with me, especially the large working dogs. They love me. They look at me with adoring eyes. They follow me anywhere. I used to think that if I could attract men like I can attract dogs…but that is another story for another day.

I had a date with a man who had a Rottweiler that he was trying to train as a guard dog.  That was scary.  He had been the volunteer “bad guy” in the training of German Shepherds for a local police department, which meant he knew about as much as I did about K9s.

Maybe I knew a bit more.

When our two older German Shepherds went on to their just rewards in doggie heaven, I decided we were way past the puppy stage of life and called a friend who was a police chief.

How can I get a retired K9?

Call Randy. 

So I did, and Fero, a retired K9, came into our lives.  He was a Schutzhund III (the masters level of training: obedience, tracking, protection) German Shepherd from Germany.  He also had a teddy bear and a K9 Vocabulary List in German and English.

Date was impressed with my background, having had both a retired K9 and the Vocabulary List, and wanted me to meet his Dog, although he warned me that Rotts can be quite strong, dangerous and males are one-man animals. Date evidently missed the part of the training about K9s needing to also be family dogs.

Date warned Keep your distance and do not approach Dog. I didn’t have to as Dog had already bounded across the room, body wagging tail and looking at me with adoring eyes and a silly smile.

The three of us sat down, with me in the middle.

Date warned, Be careful; he’s a guard dog. Dog tried to sit on my lap before finally settling on leaning into me and begging for attention.

Date warned, Dog could turn on you at any moment. Dog started groaning, drooling and wiggling his entire body in ecstasy from the back and shoulder massage I was giving him.
rott

Date wondered, Have I lost control of my dog? Dog promptly flopped down, rolled over on his back and began whining for a tummy rub.

Date advised, Be careful, he could bite your face and right on cue, Dog jumped up, turned, put his huge front paws on my lap, leaned his enormous head into mine, licked my face and looked at me with a big goofy grin.

At which point, I could see Date, not Dog, was in distress and growing more agitated, so I got up to leave.

I could hear Dog crying and howling as I left. Date, not so much, but then again, Dog and I had a much stronger connection.

Truth in Advertising

You look just like your photo.

I can pretty much count on the statement within five or ten minutes of any first date.

um, yes. And whose photo were you expecting me to look like?

Apparently, it’s an issue of Truth in Advertising. My dates have shared some of the craziest stories about the photos women post, evidently with the hope that men will not notice the duplicity.  Hint:  men notice.

She:  I posted photos of my daughter instead of me because people say we look just like sisters.  He: She’s twenty years younger and looks like her father.

She: I posted photos from college days because I really haven’t changed that much.  He: …except for marriage, children, divorce, career, birthdays and all those other life events that age a person  

She: I posted a friend’s photo because she’s cuter. By the time he meets me, he’ll forget.  He: I want to date her cute friend.

She: I didn’t post a photo, but, believe me, you won’t be disappointed.  He: Believe me, I was.

I’m really not quite sure what these women are thinking. Eventually, you may actually meet the man you’ve been corresponding with and then what?  Most men are going to make the connection: the photo and the woman are not the same.

And if he doesn’t make the connection, it’s probably not a man you’d want to date.

Most everyone fibs a bit except Mr. or Ms. Senior Universe and they don’t count because they’re not on dating sites.

Women subtract pounds from their weight; men add inches to their height if under six feet tall. It’s pretty much the norm. The photos, however, tend to tell the truth, unless they’re the same ones that have been used for the past ten years.  Then, you wonder about who is actually going to show up for the date.

A few years back, a man opened an online email correspondence with me.  My profile’s waxing poetic had captured his imagination and he began adding to it with his own waxing and poetic. It was delightful and, being a former English teacher, I wanted to jump right in.

But not before reading his profile and viewing his photo. We were, after all, on a dating site not a writing site.

He was teetering on the very, very tippy-top end of my marginally acceptable age range.  He fostered rescued German Shepherds, a positive in my mind although I’m not sure why. His photo showed a retired gentleman with a jaunty straw hat.  It was enough for me to jump into the fantasy writing.

Back and forth our emails flew. A short story, if not a novel or best seller, was fast emerging.

He paused the spell by asking me out for lunch. I immediately accepted. In keeping with the Mediterranean setting of which we had been writing, he chose a small Italian restaurant in a courtyard setting overlooking a large fountain. He was seated at the table waiting, when I walked in.

He had to have been fifteen to twenty years older than his profile age or photo.

It was, needless to say, a strained luncheon.  It ended with his berating me for not being as flirtatious and engaged as I had been on email. 

He was right but, in my defense, it was really, really difficult to flirt with a man that looked like my grandfather.