Dating Later in Life Means Different Rules

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A 37-year-old male friend of mine told me over drinks that he was casually dating a woman his age. They were having conversations about marriage and children. He asked me if this was normal. I said, “At our age, yes.”

Dating past 30 is a game changer. You’re established and working; you might own a home and be investing in retirement. Because of this you look at your dates in a completely different way. Instead of just having fun you’re thinking more along the lines of, “Can this person fit into my existing life and become a true partner in love and even finance?”

The Captain and I revealed early on how much we each had in our 401(k)s. We joked and talked about children, marriage and money. “If we have kids I hope they have your skin tone and not mine,” he’d say. We’d laugh, but whether or not we wanted children was something we needed to find out about each other. And for the first time, I wasn’t scared. I entered into the Facebook Dating Project looking for a partner, not just a hook-up. I asked the over-30s on The Panel to weigh in:

  • Topics that were scary for 20s guys are definitely not as scary for 30s guys. I was looking for someone who I thought would make a good husband and father. My husband and I met online and about three weeks into our relationship, we had this conversation:

"Do you want to get married and have kids eventually? I'm not asking if you want to do this with me, but is this something you want in general?"

"Yes."

I don't remember who started the conversation, but it was satisfactory to both of us, didn't scare anybody, and allowed us to move forward. Had either of us said "no," the relationship would have ended. – Sharon, 38, Married

  • Dating online in my 30s was a blessing because I could weed out the riff raff. If a man said he was "undecided" or didn’t want a kid, that was an automatic delete. I wasn’t interested and did not have time for a guy to decide in his 30s or 40s IF he wanted kids. I knew my husband wanted to have kids from his profile. I verified this when we bonded and fell in love after three to five months of dating. – Cheryl, 41, Married

Some people have told me that because I’m serious-minded in my approach to the Facebook Dating Project it could be a turn-off for men. But can you really tell me that there aren’t men out there looking for a serious relationship too? See above. Frivolous set-ups and dates are fun. But if you’re looking for a long-term relationship and realize you’re going down a road to nowhere, you should exit before you invest any more of your time, money or heart.

The conversations about marriage and children with The Captain were eye opening. When we spoke about children we eventually got to, “If we had children I’d have to get a job.” We are both freelancers who pay for our own benefits and expenses. To keep my costs down I don’t have maternity coverage on my health insurance plan. Would I go back to a corporate job that I hated just so I could get a benefits package and feel more secure? Maybe. Even if it wasn’t with The Captain this was a question I was going to have to eventually answer.

Now, as for The Captain, I think it’s important for you to know how it ended. After I canceled our trip to Vegas things were never the same. He invited me over for dinner the night before he was leaving town. As the day progressed the plans whittled down to just coming over at 10 p.m. to watch a movie. We didn’t make love. We didn’t kiss. Instead, we had another talk.

Actions speak louder than words and The Captain and I talked about our relationship far more than we ever participated in it. He asked to read these articles and said he enjoyed them and pushed me to talk about what I was really looking for. It was an intimate conversation on both sides. He said he would miss me while he was gone. He summed it up by saying, “I think you really like me but you’ve been hesitating because I’ve been giving you confusing signals.” I thanked him for summing it up so well.

Those were the last words he really ever spoke to me. The next morning he silently walked me to my car and said, “I’m sorry this is awkward for you. See ya,” and walked away. He called that night to apologize but it was like I was talking to a total stranger. For the last month of our pseudo-relationship we spoke every single day. Now he couldn’t find any words.

Then a break-through: Facebook was about to end the relationship it started. A friend told me about a a status update on The Captain's Facebook page that he was in a relationship. And not with me. And it was posted the very day I left his house.

In a previous article about the rules of dating on Facebook I talked about the ramifications of changing your status. When you do it – you’re committed. You’re letting everyone know you’re IN. Imagine my shock and humiliation at finding something like this out via the very project that I write about!

I let him know I knew via text and the apologies started first via text, then in a heartfelt e-mail, then more texts. “It’s not what you think. I’m really sorry for being so inconsiderate of you.” He wants to get together in person to explain things to me. I told him I hadn’t made a decision yet. Until now. If you’re still reading Captain, here it is:

Thank you, but no. I appreciate the apology and it’s all the closure I need. I think the reason you want to explain is so YOU’LL feel better; it has nothing to do with me. In some form you lied to me all along. You spent three months telling me you wanted to get your act together before diving into another relationship. But what you really meant was, “I don’t want to be in a relationship with YOU.”

I’ll bet you thought the truth would hurt me so you were doing me a favor by lying. You couldn’t have been more wrong. I don’t hate you but I’m disappointed that I had to find out about you the way I did. I deserve a lot better than that. I deserve a lot better than you. You spoke to me so often about intimate things like marriage, children and money, you should have known I wasn’t taking any of it lightly.

I’m proud of myself and thankful that I didn’t totally invest in you. I saw your red flags, your drama, your issues, your half-ass approach to us, and because of it, I didn’t give you my heart.

It’s a small world and I know we’ll cross paths again. Will there still be fire between us? Most likely, no. Will we be friends one day as you’ve offered? I don’t know.

I do know this. Not having me in your life is entirely your loss and someone truly deserving’s gain. At my age and in the place I am in life I don’t have time to waste with anyone who isn’t on the same page.

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