A date with a shepherd

by Dating Goddess on October 24, 2010

I am a bit of a profession snob, tending to eschew men who I don’t feel have a similar job status. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. I’ve tried dating blue collar men, and I’ve never found it worked well.

So you’ll be surprised to learn that I had a first date with someone on the other end of the career spectrum — a shepherd.

Where does one even find such a rarity? Online. No, there is not a ShepherdDatingCentral.com — although there is a site for dairy farmers in England.

He was a high-level manager in a high-profile company for 30 years before retirement. Which is when he took up shepherding. He’s educated, intelligent, articulate, cultured — he just happens to enjoy doing sheep herding and shearing demonstrations since it’s a bit of a dying art in the US.

He and I had been in contact for many months, emailing and talking on the phone, since we enjoyed each other’s conversation.

But as you can guess, he doesn’t live in a large city, as there is little call for shepherds there. So he lives in a remote part of the country, near which I was working recently. I told him of my upcoming visit and he said he’d drive the 2.5 hours to come meet me. I then shared that my dilemma was how to get from my client’s city to another remote town several hours from his, as a friend had invited me to visit her there. He offered to come fetch me (herd me?) and drive me — in a car, not running while being nipped at by his dogs — to her town, even though it would be a 5 hour drive from where I was working, and another 2 hours home for him.

He — and his two Border collies — arrived at the appointed time and we embarked on our adventure. He regaled me with stories of the gentleman shepherd’s life (he lives in a comfortable house on acreage where his sheep graze and he and the collies sleep inside, of course). I learned all I could hold about lambing, shearing, herding, tagging and selling sheep. Luckily, he had a broad range of conversation topics so we ebbed and flowed easily. The five hours passed quickly.

When I shared with a friend of his offering to drive me the five hours, she seemed incredulous that someone would do this for a stranger. I responded, “I have some allure.” Afterward she asked how it was. I told her it was fun and that he said it was the highlight of his month, she responded, “Must be a slow month.” Aren’t friends grand?

Will I see the shepherd again? We live too far apart to try to strike up a romance. If we are in each other’s neighborhood, we could have dinner. But he is much more of a mountain man than I am a mountain woman. While I enjoy the outdoors, I don’t relish camping and long hikes, nor am I fond of cold. So we will remain pals.

Have you dated someone in a profession that you thought you’d never consider? How did it work out?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Patti Pokorchak October 25, 2010 at 7:24 am

I went from being a high tech exec city slicker to a farmer, having my own hobby farm and garden center, so never say never! It’s amazing what we’ll do for love (my sister lived in Africa and had her two kids there).

Being rural and in retail was never in my wildest dreams but it was also some of the happiest times of my life as I loved starting a new business from scratch –literally, I threw some seeds in the ground and up popped a business!

Alas, we were not meant to be together for the rest of our lives, I learned what I needed to from that relationship……. I’m back in the big city, my old home town which I left 30 years ago for a year of travel. It took me a year to figure out where I belonged again after 8 years in the country.

I really enjoy reading your posts and hope you meet your Mr. Wonderful eventually. In the meanwhile, men like Mr. Shepherd reaffirm that there are good guys out there. Thanks!

Member of CAPS – Canadian Association of Professional Speakers
To find the world’s leading futurists ……… http://stfuturevoices.com

Katie October 25, 2010 at 10:26 am

I chuckled at your “profession snob” statement, because it is so true. I’ll close an online match if “propane technician” is their line of work, as there is quite a gulf between that and my master’s degree. I purposely resist being an Education Snob, but this chasm manifests itself in different ways. I wonder if it boils down to differences in values and viewpoints and priorities — we’re just not cut from the same cloth, and are not compatible for a LTR. Perhaps others have further ideas about why educationally-mismatched pairs struggle so.

Karen October 25, 2010 at 11:10 am

This is a tough one, but I agree with Katie and you–I’m also a “profession snob”.

I’ve tried it multiple times (including 1 marriage–long story!) but I think it’s true that most professional men can’t handle with being involved with an accomplished woman, let along a guy who makes less and is less educated than me. I don’t even try dating below the “professional” level any more–it’s just doomed to failure and I don’t like having to watch my vocabulary or pretend that I make less money than I do.

I don’t think older men can change their habits and cultural expectations. They all need to make more money/be smarter than their woman or they feel like something’s wrong.

Jordan October 25, 2010 at 6:09 pm

I’m a professional woman who has dated a lot of blue collar types, as well as tons of artists. In the long run, it never worked out. In these relationships, I often felt like the glue, or the mommy, the one holding it together. I also got tired of explaining very basic things to the guy. Prefer to date my professional equal.

Anna October 26, 2010 at 10:46 am

I think its a shame to rule out any relationship possibility just because of different jobs (which is what we are talking about here when we say “profession”). Its hard enough to find a good mate as you get older and I think you will lessen your chances if you automatically rule someone out based on what they do for a living. I was happily married to a great guy who called himself a “grease monkey” and although he was blue collar and myself in a management/professional area, he was confident enough in himself and had enough self esteem to not mind that I earned more than he did. We pooled our salaries for a combined effort. People can be in blue collar jobs and also be intelligent, cultured and educated (perhaps in the school of life). I introduced my late hubby to all sorts of things (museums, opera etc) and he introduced me to all sorts of other things (darts, playing pool, soccer matches). I am realistic to know that that type of comfortable relationship is rare……..but hey, it does happen and can happen. I do feel however that the man in question must have great self esteem and be comfortable in his shoes. If he cannot get beyond the pre-conditioning that he has to earn more than his mate or be higher on the educational totem pole…..then the relationship is doomed.

Mark October 26, 2010 at 8:22 pm

I agree with you, Anna. Why shut the door before you even know someone? Even if you see a pattern, why not hope for the exception?

Ellen October 27, 2010 at 7:05 am

I’ve been seeing a man for about two months and, at least according to the dating site on which we met, we should be totally incompatible. Maybe because we’re older (we’re in our early 60’s), I think this might be one of those exceptions. I have a masters degree and I’m still working in my profession; he worked construction and is now semi-retired. I’m a bookworm, he’s a total jock. We have very different taste in music. And I’m constantly amazed at how different our life experiences have been.
Yet that amazing thing called “chemistry” — which I never really believed in ’til now — is so strong and growing every day! From the moment we met, we can’t seem to run out of things to talk about. We just spent a long weekend together and it was heaven.
Yes, finding a movie we both want to see is a challenge, to put it mildly. We tend to end up seeing movies neither of us really wants to see, but have lots of laughs about it during and after! And he might not be all that keen on reading books, but reads the paper every day and is way more up to date on what’s going on in the world than I am. And then there’s the physical attraction – didn’t know it could be like this at my age!
I think it’s that we’re compatible in the important ways. We’re both devoted parents and have similar values, priorities and needs. We both love nature and hiking, so we share that, and cherish and spend lots of time with our separate friends. So I feel fortunate and very glad I gave this “mismatch” a chance.

Ronnie Ann Ryan - The Dating Coach October 27, 2010 at 11:19 am

When I started dating seriously to find my husband, I dated men from a wide range of professions. Having an MBA and my own marketing consulting company, I dated a stock broker, train engineer, steam shovel operator, accountant, electrician, professor, insurance salesmen, etc.

What I found was that many white collar guys were hard to deal with. They were less generous and far less forthcoming. Several had issues about who should pay and other dating concerns which I attribute to having to compete with us in the workforce over the last 30 years.

On the other hand, the blue collar men for the most part, don’t compete with us. So they don’t have these gender issues in the same way. Not one blue collar guy told me what my half of the meal was. And I found that many were well read, very bright, and entertaining.

I sing the praises of a blue collar man because I’m happily married to one – he’s a mechanic and never brings his work home with him. But he sure can fix things!

As a dating coach for women over 40, I highly recomend not judging a book by its cover. Many tradesmen may surprise you with their level of sophistication, as many white collar guys will shock you with their lack of the same. Keep your eyes, mind and heart open to see the real man before you say no or you just might miss a rare gem with whom you could be really happy.

Catherine October 27, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Oh, this sounds like so fun! And I think it’s so awesome that he drove that far for you. I think it’s the kindness of strangers, and the desire to find love. I think it’s sweet!

Yvette Francino October 28, 2010 at 5:26 am

I think most of us tend to want someone who is similar to us in background, age, education level, salary, values, even attractiveness… I don’t know if it’s “snobbery” or just finding someone we can relate to.

I suppose we make certain assumptions about a personality type based on the profession they’re in; however, I don’t think I’ve ever ruled someone out simply based on their profession. I know that changes happen in life that are sometimes out of our control. I got laid off from a high-paying management position last summer and was out of work for 6 months. I didn’t do much dating during that time, partly because I was embarrassed by my unemployment. It was a good lesson in knowing that our jobs do not define who we are.

For me, it’s more about whether I feel a rapport… If I can find that, it really doesn’t matter to me where they work… (Though I do think I’d stay away from people in jail. ;-) )

Lonnie October 28, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Just today had a “meet & greet” with someone from an online ad who turned out to be a judge. I’m educated and an ex-professional, but have gone the blue-collar, simple life route. So I’m thinking through my own stereotypes about professionals — it just seems a very different life than I’ve chosen. I’m making all sort of assumptions about his lifestyle and personal values that I don’t really know are true, but the different kind of career levels does make a significant relationship seem a long shot to me. But its more likely he’ll be uninterested in me, though he did know my work choice before we met.

Julie October 29, 2010 at 5:04 am

I think Anna has an understanding of how things can work! And I agree with Mark.

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