Are your early contact expectations out of whack?

by Dating Goddess on January 27, 2010

In the early getting-to-know you stage of dating, it’s not unusual for there to be some miscommunication. However, how one handles these hiccups tells you a lot about the person’s thinking. This is a good thing, as if their thinking is 180-degrees off from yours, you learn early that you aren’t a match.

Today I received a call from a nice potential suitor, with whom I’d exchanged a few emails and had a good, lengthy first call last week. He is intelligent, a good conversationalist, articulate, and clear on what he’s looking for. At the end of that first conversation, he said he liked our conversation very much and wanted to meet me in the next few weeks when he visits some clients in my area, a 2-hour drive from him.

I said that was a great idea. We agreed that if one of us had the itch to call the other in the interim, to feel free to dial the other’s digits.

Clear, right? Transparent, right? We both thought so.

His call today was prompted by another women from the same site “chewing him out.” After an initial conversation with her, he also left it that he’d call when he arranged his calendar to be in her area. In the second call, however, she chastised him for not calling sooner nor arranging to meet her immediately. He was taken aback.

He was concerned that he might not be meeting my expectations either and didn’t want to blow it with me. I explained that I was fine with how we left it. Had he pressed for an immediate meeting, he might have appeared a bit desperate. I assured him that if he was as clear with her as he was with me, she was being needy, not him being neglectful.

After the initial shock when I’ve received calls similar to the one he received, I’ve been grateful that the man showed his true colors so early on. I consider it ducking a big bullet as we know how much time and emotional energy we can invest in someone who seems like they might be a good match for us. By seeing the mismatch early on it saved us a lot of energy.

I was impressed at this man’s taking responsibility for ensuring he and I had the same understanding. I think it takes a strong person to broach what could be an awkward conversation.

When I was beginning to date five years ago, I now see how my neediness and loneliness could have prompted expectations like the woman who’d chewed out my new friend. I didn’t know how relationships evolved and thought that if a man was interested in me, he should be pursuing me, damnit! And fast! And if we didn’t quickly go to talking every day, I thought he was a player or just not that into me.

Now I realize that relationships take time to build. If a man starts calling me every day and we haven’t even met — that’s a red flag. Whenever that’s happened, it’s spelled trouble. And if I expect him to call every day and then chew him out for not doing so, something’s wrong — and generally it’s with my expectations.

Have you had someone chastise you for not meeting their expectations early in dating? If so, did you continue to see them or call it quits? Have you ever chewed out someone for not behaving like a sweetie when you’re really just getting to know each other?
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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark January 27, 2010 at 10:24 am

I don’t think I’ve dated anyone with unreasonable expectations about calls and emails (or anything else for that matter). If we click, we will have a lot of contact. If we don’t, the relationship never gets going. Until a relationship gets going, I’m not calling or emailing much. I think it’s a waste of time.

Katie January 27, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I find that expectations are ultimately a set-up for disappointment — i.e., hard to be disappointed if one chooses to have no or low expectations.

I’m pretty laid-back and non-needy; I’d be seeing red flags all over if a scenario like the one posted were to happen. I am curious, though, about whether our expectations come more from how we’ve been treated in the past, or from an internal pre-set level.

Mike Lowrey January 27, 2010 at 4:50 pm

I’m relaxed, cool and calm.
I don’t do drama nor stress.
So if I see the woman being too needy early, I’m gone.
I mean, the running away from her like I stole her purse…kind of gone.

Now a days along with needy, I’m on the lookout for crazy.
The Crazy stock has gone way up these days.

Brenda January 27, 2010 at 4:54 pm

I would love it if DG would write an article about men who want to email you forever but never meet. I have had a fair number of these men and I think unless you are traveling or your life is completely crazy, it seems to reasonable to meet within 2 weeks or so……..and see if there is a connection.

Or the men who go out with you a few times and then continue to email you while testing out the waters with others. I am a busy woman, work full time and commute 3 hours per day and I have children so I don’t have time for men who don’t want to pursue. I end up saying n*e*x*t and am now dating a great guy who seems quite interested and we’ll see where it goes from here.

Thanks DG for all of your writings – I love it!

Richard January 28, 2010 at 5:15 am

I was sad to read Katie’s post. Living with no or low expectations, alone, is resigning one’s self to a life of disappointment. Disappointment that better things didn’t happen, even if you did not expect them. I prefer to Hope for the Best, but Expect the Worst. Then, I strive for better things to come, but am not devastated if they do not.

Do our expectations come from nature or nurture? In this instance, unrealistic expectations, I think they come from how the person was treated in the past. I’m guessing they lacked loving care and attention as a child, and that loss causes inappropriate attachment to other people. In a few cases, it could be biological, as an expression of psychiatric condition.

CP January 28, 2010 at 10:12 am

I met a guy recently who offered to give me his number. He kind of tricked me by having me call his cell phone right in the bar to see if he was telling the truth, when in fact he wanted to get my number. And I was stupid enough to fall for it!

Anyway, he texted me twice and called me once after we both left the bar that night. We left it that I was going to call him. Then he texted again on Sunday morning. I finally called him on Sunday night, but the red flags were already there. We talked on the phone for almost an hour, which is way too long in my opinion. We met for a drink a couple of days later, but there was just too many warning signs to pursue anything.

Katie January 28, 2010 at 10:12 am

Don’t be sad, Richard. I have much hope. A better way of describing my outlook might be “profound contentedness with myself and my life.” Many delights surround me daily, and I watch for them and celebrate them. Each delight brings joy. It is anything but a bleak, resigned existence. Hope can still co-exist with choosing to have minimal expectations of others!

DG’s post caused me to think about the source of our expectations. The internal wiring in each of us differs, and Mike’s comment about being on the lookout for Crazies reinforces that. Crazies tend to have SERIOUS expectation problems. Whether one is born that way, or learned it along the way, is an interesting question. I guarantee that I was trained by my passive-aggressive husband to have no expectations of him, or else he would withhold whatever it was; that was how he maintained control in our long marriage. Now that I am away from that dysfunction, I have regained hope.

Yikes. Got off-topic again. DG asked what we do with expectation differences in dating…

Mark January 28, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Seems like one of the biggest expectation issues is what each person is looking for long-term. Some people are content with a dating relationship and do not want any kind of commitment beyond that, and others of course are looking for a life partner.

That can be a difficult discussion to have early on because it can put a lot of weight on a relationship.

I think no expectations can be a good thing. That just means you aren’t looking for anything specific, but are willing to see what materializes. It’s not giving up.

The only expectation I have is that I expect the other person to treat me decently and be honest. Beyond that we’re talking wishlist stuff, things I’d like to see in a partner. Wishes aren’t expectations, though.

Karen January 29, 2010 at 11:18 am

I agree with Katie—a man I’ve just met with major expectations and pressure to contact him/email/call/see him extremely frequently? Major red flag. This is typical of men who are extremely controlling in relationships.

These and many other things discussed on this site (heavy come-on’s on a first date, tricking someone into paying for something they didn’t intend, no reaction to you tripping and falling in their presence, etc) are huge red flags IMO, indicating that the person doing them either has no clue or wishes to ignore/thinks their above appropriate social behavior. Either way, it means that you’ll regret getting into a relationship with that person.

Personally, after years of dating/being married to men who I kept making excuses for but whose behavior got worse and worse and more embarrassing/abusive the longer our relationship continued, I’ve had it up to here with dating advice (not from this site of course) that urge women to “give the guy a break” and overlook a man’s social blunders. So I’m drawing the line more rigorously now about much of this stuff. Sometimes I confront the guy on the spot (“why were you so mean to that waitress?” or “I like you but your constant texts are creeping me out” ) and his reaction to my directness is very helpful to figure out whether he’s an undateable or just sweetly clueless.

Mitsy January 29, 2010 at 11:55 am

I can relate on a number of issues. For starters, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have some expectations when it comes to dating. And as Richard indicated, our expectations might be colored a bit by how we’ve been treated in the past. How we are raised also has something to do with what we expect from other people. I was raised with loving parents who I got along with “most” of the time and who taught me to do what I’d say I’d do and follow-through with things, don’t leave people hanging, and don’t be late or make someone wait on you. All of those qualities translate to what I also expected in a dating relationship. If there is no chemistry, then there is none and you move on. However, you don’t lead someone on for weeks or months knowing that it’s a no-go. I see that scenario played out many times when it comes to online dating. Or, the guy (or gal) is simply waiting for a better offer. Either way, it’s using someone just so you aren’t sitting home on the weekend which I think is wrong on so many levels. At the same time, I’ve had my expectations too high and always got hurt. Then I lowered them and still got hurt.

So….like some others, I’m not too interested in dating right now and have no prospects. Am I jaded? A bit bitter? Most certainly I am and it’s not without reason. It’s due to the game playing & dishonesty I found when dating someone but I especially found that to be true with online dating. I don’t look back at any of it with fond memories.

Richard January 29, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Although expectations are not out of whack, what are your thoughts on when they are not the same? Like Mike said, one person is looking for a life partner, and the other is looking for a fun date for the weekend. I know the stereotype is that men are afraid of commitment. What if it is the lady not interested in commitment?

If I could handle multiple ladies at a time, I suppose the issue would be moot. Why not keep her as one of the harem? But I tend to focus on one lady at a time when it gets past the introductory stage.

Is it worth trying to see if a special chemistry develops, or is it better to the person go early?

Mitsy January 29, 2010 at 3:17 pm

I can only speak from my perspective and from some of my online dating experiences. A lot of the men I met via online claimed they wanted a long-term relationship and they were interested enough to keep the communication going, sometimes for several dates and one time it was for months. However, what I found is that some guys have a lot of baggage that they need to deal with BEFORE involving someone else in their life. In one case, it wasn’t so much lack of chemistry (which I still say is known within the first or 2nd date) but in the laziness or lack of effort by the men. In other words, they “claimed” they wanted a long-term relationship but did not want to do the legwork or invest emotionally in the relationship.

If it was a lack of chemistry, it would not have gotten that far by most accounts. I think men change their minds about what they want and some don’t even know what they want. So, yes, I think it’s important to be on the same page about wanting either casual or long-term commitment dating but don’t do a bait & switch on someone mid-stream. In other words, don’t lead someone on if they know that they are not wanting the same thing as the other person. It should be simple, but oftentimes it is not.

Honesty without being hurtful is the key. If they aren’t up to a long-term relationship, then they need not invest 5-6 months into someone unless a deal-breaker happens and we’ve discussed before what deal-breakers are, but I think lack of communication is at the root of many dating heartaches and sometimes a guy is simply a player who pretends that he’s commitment minded when he’s not. That’s why I don’ recommend early sex or intimacy too soon because if the guy truly cares about you, he won’t pressure someone for that early on. Just too many emotions get trampled.

Anna January 30, 2010 at 6:41 am

I hope this is not off track from DG’s post but I will try to keep on the topic of expectations. As a widow, back in the dating scene, I have of course dated mostly divorced guys. I think when we lose a partner through death, there is more of a social understanding that we take time to grieve, take time to learn to live again on our own before jumping back into the dating pool (in general anyhow, there are always widows or widowers who jump back in too quickly). There is less pressure to find the first guy or gal who comes along, people let you take adequate time, in my case, I needed almost six years. But my experience with meeting divorced people, both men and women friends, is that they have not taken enough time to grieve their loss and to find out who they really are and what they really want, on their own before jumping online. These are the people who come across as needy, desperate or on the other side of the spectrum, afraid to commit, and just not really sure what they want. So now I first look at how long someone has been divorced and more to the point, try to find out how really ready they are to be in a relationship. My research so far has shown that most have no clue as to what they want and end up hurting the other person (me at times!). My own expectations of wanting another loving partner for life is as a result of knowing this for sure, in my subconscious.

Katie January 30, 2010 at 8:47 am

Anna, are you talking about rebound relationships? Have you noticed any patterns in those who ARE NOT ready to date, vs. those who ARE ready? Just curious.

Then there is the category of “practice dating,” which is governed by its own set of rules and expectations. When one is out of the dating scene for decades, allowances must be made for initial awkward stumbles…

Brenda January 31, 2010 at 9:29 am

Anna, you are wise in assessing those who have been divorced. I facilitate a divorce recovery workshop in my community and I can tell you that there are many men and women who immediately start dating the second their spouse moves out……..and they are so not ready.

I dated a man recently for 3 months – he has been divorced two years plus, seemed to have it all “on paper”, charming, educated, very attractive, able to talk to women and express his feelings (met him online) – and what I saw during that time was a man who had many relationships that he had not mended (a bad relationship with his former spouse, with his former girlfriend he dated during separation, etc), a very unhealthy unmeshment with his children, his extended family and his former, and of course, when he knew that I wanted a committed relationship leading to marriage, he would come closer, then back away and finally, he texted me (out of the blue) that maybe he was “not ready” for this kind of relationship.

I took him at his word, texted him back that I respected his decision and good luck to him. He immediately said “well, we don’t need to break up over it.” But I knew we did need to break up, that he was nowhere close to being “ready” – and the funny thing is that he continues to call me and ask if I just want to casually date him…………and of course, my answer is “no”.

He has still not done the emotional work on himself that would make him ready and really available for another partner.

Jenny January 31, 2010 at 10:28 am

How does one really know?, Imean we judge all the time. He said this, did that, red flags, warnings…….he wanted commitment too soon, he is too non commital. She is needy, she sleeps around with every guy and is non commital……..

What do we really want…….?? when someone shows no intention of committing or at least letting us know which way we sort of going in a “friendship”, we move on as we realise we wasting time her, if the person comes on too fast we also move away as something is wrong, he / she is moving too fast. Does that mean WE are not ready to commit to that person? or just plain paranoid and full of hang ups. Must you “sort of sleep together and half sort of date” for about 1 year before you realise you sort of want to be in a relationship….maybe??

Why are we so complicated about life and a spouse, are we trying too hard to be “cool” and act like teenagers. Is it too much to sort of know if a guy likes you and comes around often and he kinda tells you I sort of like you…….what is wrong with that???

Jenny January 31, 2010 at 10:48 am

Brenda

What I have come to see is that we are still living in a society of men who are “Players”, want to bed every woman, chase every skirt.

I thought this belonged to teenage boys in puberty, but realise that men in general are predators and want sex, food, non commital relationships, which in turn wastes our time, as we get older, we want to know where we are going in a relationship. Men can be 60 and still date a 40 year old, we at 60 can’t do this this. And woman tend to want committment, have a husband, nice house and feel secure. This unfortunately does not seem to apply to men.

Do not waste your time with a man who wants to date casually, have his milk, cake and bread buttered. Send him packing to some other poor woman who will tolerate this dis-respectful behaviour from him and wake up to realise she has wasted a year or more on a man with no decent intentions.

Anna January 31, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Katie, it seems to me that unfortunately the very act of a marriage falling apart and ending in divorce means that there are definite negatives that have to be resolved. When someone dies, in most cases the couple were happy together so although there is awful pain and grief, there is less bitterness and hang ups that get carried into the next relationship. If I were to have dated soon after my hubby died, I would have caused hurt to some poor guy as I eventually knew I was not ready. What I am saying is that there is not enough time, support groups and a period of mourning before many divorced people get back into the pool before they are ready. Wish I had a magic formula to tell straight off who is ready and who is not. But I don’t otherwise I would patent it and make a fortune !!

Brenda February 1, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Hi Jenny:
Yes, I did send him packing…………..and these “want to be casually dating” men, keep resurfacing like bad pennies. The man I spoke of in my posting – well, he called on Monday, last minute to see if I wanted to go out – I told him no, that I needed to go grocery shopping to get ready for my children coming home from my former’s house. He let out a huge sigh…………..”But your children are not coming home for a day and a half!”

I answered “yes, I know……………….” and did not waver. He ended the conversation very quickly saying “Well, let me know when you want to get together…..” and we all know that will be “never”.

Unfortunately there are just enough women who will put up with the casual dater to allow them to continue on with their dalliances. Not me!

I agree with Anna – if we developed some sort of product “test your relationship to see if they are ready for anything meaningful” – we would become overnight sensations. Let’s give it some thought……….

Mark February 1, 2010 at 4:21 pm

What is “meaningful?” Can it be meaningful if a man is willing to be exclusive but may never want to marry?

And even if a man thinks at some point he may want to be married again, it may take him several years with a particular woman to determine if she’s the one for him. I really believe you can love someone but come to learn being together with that person full time is a bad idea. So is it wrong to want to continue to see that person as long as you’re honest about the relationship not being more than that?

And I know there are women who want companionship but value living alone and don’t want that to change. It goes both ways.

In short, I think you’re being a bit hard on us men. If we’re honest and say we are not sure what we want, then take that at face value. It doesn’t mean we’re players. And sure, we like sex, but guess what? So do most women. And since I’m assuming none of us are virgins at this age and we’ve all had multiple partners in our lives, I don’t see enjoying sex with someone you like and care about as a bad thing, even if it’s likely to never result in marriage.

Brenda February 2, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Hi everyone,
Great dialogue…..I think the only problem I had with the last man I dated was that he said he wanted a monogamous, exclusive committed relationship, but as we dated over that three months, he made it very clear to me by his actions that he *did not* want that, and in fact, I also determined that he was not anywhere “ready” to be in such a relationship. He agreed with my assessment.

So I chose to move on as I am ready to be with someone who wants the same kind of relationship I do, if we choose to have this with each other.

It takes a bit of time for things to “shake out” in terms of what we have together, but I do appreciate a man who tells me from the very beginning that he is interested in just dating, no commitment, etc, because then I know that I need to move on and date men who are more like me.

Nothing wrong with casual dating……it’s just not how I choose to spend my time………..

Arlene February 2, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I also like the reference to “bait and switch.” I dated a very nice-seeming guy who probably made his millions with just that technique. When I figured it out after several months, I told him that to post a profile that states he wants a long term relationship when he doesn’t is misrepresentation. He justified it by stating that he needs friends, but the only good friends are single women because women make better friends and married women have husbands who would protest. My jaw dropped.

I feel that a discussion about relationship commitment needs is critical in the very early stages. I am a one-man woman. Anything else is outside my moral boundaries, and I am no prude. It’s just one of the things you get out of the way. Then, take baby steps to possible love.

Mark February 3, 2010 at 1:29 am

It’s really a tough choice. If after a few weeks or a month of dating it feels right, you can stop everything in its tracks and have a “relationship” discussion that talks about exclusivity and being together long-term and more, but isn’t it better to be a bit more organic about it and see where it goes?

If you’re feeling it and the idea of sex is a positive, why not do that and enjoy that intimacy and see where that leads?

I really think that at our age sex isn’t harmful. We’ve been around the block a few hundred times, so if you’re having a nice time with someone and you’re attracted, why not have sex? See where it goes. See what blossoms.

Gatti February 3, 2010 at 3:31 am

I think some people are just naive or ill informed about how internet dating functions. Back when I was dating, one fellow contacted me and we exchanged a couple of messages through the site (never even got to phone calls or real emails!). One day I changed a few bits in my profile and I got a message from him, quite alarmed sounding, that he was concerned that our relationship was off, since I was clearly still available. Oh dear, a few (and I really mean few!) friendly messages and I’m his. It was the only time it happened to me, but I see here that it’s not all that uncommon.

Richard February 3, 2010 at 4:51 pm

“but isn’t it better to be a bit more organic about it and see where it goes?

“If you’re feeling it and the idea of sex is a positive, why not do that and enjoy that intimacy and see where that leads? ”

I have to agree with the ladies. They may not want to get intimate with the guy if he has no intention of a LTR.

At our age, sex may not be AS harmful, but there are still risks, and it does interfere with the development of the relationship. Also, a lady may not feel comfortable being intimate with more than one guy at a time (unlike us cads who would be intimate with an lady with a pulse). If the relationship gets to the point of intimacy to “see where it goes”, she might have taken herself out of the dating pool. If he has no intention of going in the direction of LTR, then she has given up a lot to be with him.

Maybe this is where serial and parallel daters diverge. There are guys and ladies that can handle multiple semi-serious relationships at the same time. And there are guys and ladies that can only handle one. If you are of the multiple group, then go ahead and sleep around until you find the one for an LTR. But, if you can only handle one at a time, then I think you have the right to know early on the potential for the relationship.

Which brings up a different issue: What are your thoughts on “why not have sex? See where it goes” when you have more than one person at that stage? If you are only willing to have one person at that stage, then are you ok with missing out on Ms. Right because you are off having a casual sexual relationship with Ms. FWB?

Mark February 3, 2010 at 8:13 pm

I’ve never had more than one ongoing relationship that included sex. So no, I’ve never had to deal with that issue of multiple partners.

However, I can’t say that I knew a relationship was going to be long-term when we initiated sex. Typically, all I knew at that point was that I was attracted to and liked the woman.

Anyway, I don’t think I could even consider a woman as a long-term partner until we had experienced sex together. You have to have a lot of different experiences together before you can begin to answer that question.

Jen February 4, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Wow… had I stumbled onto this site just a few weeks earlier, I could have saved myself the fiasco of an online dating… befuddlement.

I’m 40… new to dating after 15 years of marriage, and tentative would be a good defining adjective… Met a guy recently online who seemed to have so much going for him–success, good looks, humor, charm & intelligence, an accent (you know what I’m talking about, ladies)… but wow, was he… intense. After a few weeks (weeks!) of almost daily emails, he was busily mapping out our future and all but picked out a china pattern… Now, I’m not saying all this attention and intensity wasn’t flattering, but I’m definitely a “keep the expectations in check” kind of girl, and kept thinking, “Dude, you haven’t even met me yet. We could have zero chemistry. Worse: you could be a really bad kisser.” Suffice it to say, I extracted myself as gracefully and quickly as I could…

I’m not saying lightening can’t strike, helpfully illuminating Mr. Right and our path straight to eternal bliss… but in relationship world, it really does seem that lightening rarely strikes the same place twice–that is, two people have the same expectations at the exact same moment, with matching intensity, causing the same long and short term effects, etc etc etc… Sometimes syncing two individuals’ expectations (long term vs casual dating, sex “when it feels right” vs sex after solid commitment) almost seems like a supernatural feat… like managing to bring your umbrella on the day it actually does rain. Not sure where all the weather imagery is coming from… just a few random thoughts in response to your very smart posts, All. Hope you don’t mind.

Would like to add how nice it is to see some male perspective and thoughts here… thanks Mark & Richard.

Mark February 4, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Jen, you are right that expectations are hard to match with another person, but that’s sort of a test of a relationship anyway. You want to be with someone flexible who looks out for you, just as you need to be accomodating and look out for him. So that’s a good test.

Some men are wary of women, thinking the woman is more interested in having him provide for her rather than her wanting him for his companionship.

Some men are lonely and ready to leap at any woman as a potential life partner. They can spin things in their heads that build up email and chat into, as you’ve seen, getting ready to pick out the china pattern.

Some men simply don’t want to live with a woman. They have that ‘been there, done that’ attitude and they are happy to date and take a woman out but don’t want it more serious than that. And yes, men like sex.

There are also men like me, men who are unsure what they want but who do want companionship. I would like to be with someone long-term, but things have to be right and I won’t know if they are right until we’ve dated for at least a year or two. I’m not jumping into anything. And even if she and I seem right for each other, other things in my life have to be in order too.

Dating again after a 24 year marriage has certainly been an eye-opener. I learned things about myself through this process. I begin to understand what works for me and what doesn’t.

My advice to you is to not waste a lot of time with email and chatting. You seem to click with someone you meet online? Go ahead and meet for coffee. Believe me, you can develop a crush on someone from email and phone calls and then meet in person and there will be zero chemistry. It’s very odd. So don’t waste a lot of time.

And while online dating is convenient and you can meet someone that way, try to figure out ways to meet people in person. I’ve had three relationships since my marriage broke up, and two of them were with women I met in person. It’s so much more natural that way. (And I’ve probably had about 20-30 “coffee dates” with women I met online and only one of those ever became serious and only two others even resulted in a few dates.)

My suggestions are things like open mikes at coffee houses and bars and Yahoo Meetup Groups, if there are any in your city.

And if you go to something like that and you see a man who looks interesting who doesn’t seem to be with anyone, go up and chat and act interested in him. We men love that. It’s so flattering. :)

Jen February 5, 2010 at 8:42 am

Thank you so much for your thoughts and advice, Mark… I sincerely appreciate it! Couldn’t agree more with your take on expectations… after I logged off, I realized how pessimistic I sounded about the whole lightening strike scenario… of course, compatibility across the gamut of many life expectations and experiences is the fundamental test of a relationship–and yes, I do believe that it’s possible to find someone who matches your own–not exactly maybe, but pretty darn close.

I think, more than anything, I was just surprised to find a man out there who seemed so… and I mean this not at all as an insult to an otherwise lovely man… well, desperate. And I became very paranoid… what exactly, in my carefully friendly email inquiries, had suggested to him that I was ready to plunge into lifelong commitment right now? I understand loneliness… of course I do. Who here on planet earth doesn’t? I just hope that he finds the happiness and compatibility we all are searching for… and learns how to pace himself a bit.

Dating at this age, I also agree, is certainly an eye-opener… it’s a gift, really. It’s nice to know myself so well and what I want in life… and I look forward to sharing those things with someone else someday… the *right* someone else. Yup, a year or two sounds like a perfectly reasonable time to date someone before any big commitment happens… and for me, as well, I would have to experience intimacy in all its lovely forms–mental, emotional as well as physical–before I could consider marrying that person.

I think I will definitely take your advice and scrap the whole online dating scene… it’s probably incredibly fortunate that I’ve had this experience early on. And though I am pretty shy by nature, I will try to chat up the fellas I find cute & interesting in person… *take breath, smile, talk*. Even if there are no lightening strikes in my immediate future, I do look forward to some nice, warm, sunny days ahead… OK, that’s the last of my weather metaphors, I promise.

Richard February 5, 2010 at 10:22 am

“There are also men like me, men who are unsure what they want but who do want companionship.” That explains a lot about your comment “If you’re feeling it and the idea of sex is a positive, why not do that and enjoy that intimacy and see where that leads? ”

If two people have the same expectation, and enjoy sex without any pretense of a LTR, the that is their choice. But, if the lady is looking for a LTR, and the guy isn’t, then she has a right to know that before she “enjoys that intimacy and see where it leads”.

You are unsure of what you want. You use that as an excuse to say you are open to an LTR (if the right person comes along, if the stars and the moon align just right, if, if , if). While that may be true, it may not be enough of a commitment for the lady to want to wait around to see if, if, if. That’s her choice, and you can’t begrudge her that.

If you want NSA, then find a lady who also wants NSA. Don’t try to fool a lady who wants a LTR into believing that you too are open to a LTR. When you are ready for a LTR, when all your if’s have been satisfied, then you can court a lady that is looking for a LTR.

Mark February 5, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I’ve never had an NSA relationship. Every woman I’ve been intimate with I’ve dated and dated exclusively.

The point I wanted to make was that at the time we plunged into sex, I didn’t know if I wanted to be with any of these women long term. All I knew is that I liked them, enjoyed their company, and found them attractive.

And I have never pushed a woman for sex. Believe me, it’s typically the woman letting me know she’s interested that gets things going. I think that’s normal. Presumably these women find me attractive too, or else they wouldn’t be dating me. So there’s mutual attraction and what happens next is up to them.

Mark February 5, 2010 at 3:53 pm

“I think I will definitely take your advice and scrap the whole online dating scene…”

Jen, I didn’t mean to suggest that scrap online dating, but rather that explore alternatives. I find meeting people in person is more natural and results in less frustration, but I’ve been lucky because of the wide variety of Yahoo Meetup Groups in my city. These have been great for meeting people. My current and my previous girlfriends I met through these things.

The point I really wanted to make about the online dating scene is don’t spend a lot of time emailing and phoning and online chatting. If you meet someone this way and there’s mutual interest, take the plunge and meet for coffee and talk.

I met my first serious girlfriend through a Craig’s List ad I placed. She was the only person who responded. She’s still a good friend and we had a really nice six months together. You can meet people this way.

One other point about midlife dating. There are a lot of “broken” people out there. I’m probably one in some ways. People who find themselves single in mid life are often that way because they have issues. Not everyone, of course, but many do. There are a lot of difficult people out there. Be smart about things.

Anna February 5, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Jen, don’t scrap online dating completely but do try to meet guys in a real way also, as the guys said, meet-up groups, clubs etc. Trying both approaches is probably the best. At least with clubs and groups you get out of the house, enjoy yourself and meet people, I have met some lovely girl friends through clubs and also one guy friend. Just being single again at our age is hard……….I think we should all get a gold star for even trying to get into the dating scene again. And when you have teenagers who are dating and now you are dating yourself…….gets scary. But its jump in and date or adopt a cat and start knitting :)

Brenda February 5, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Jen,
You saved yourself from a Mr. Poof experience with your email friend who was ready to pick out the china pattern. I wish I had been as intelligent as you are………

I had a super intense online relationship with a man who lives one state away – meeting on eharmony – then in person within 2 weeks of our emailing each other (past all the questions EH has)………and he pursued so fast and so furious (literally flying into LA every Friday to see me until Sunday evening – he stayed at a nearby hotel) my head was swimming………..and then all of a sudden, after 8 weeks of being exclusive, POOF………..he was gone, no explanation, no email, no text – he just didn’t call me when he said he was going to – that very morning, he texted me to set up a time to chat (we did this all the time to make sure our schedules would permit this as I have two children that have a bedtime) and then nothing………………

I never heard from him again (don’t we all have at least one of these stories?) but then he found me on match.com and now every now and then he views my profile.

After that one experience (after being married for many years, and now divorced 6 months), I am now very wary of anyone coming on to me so quickly. If anything, I move so slowly now. I find that men weed themselves out over time and that you learn so much about them during that process. And by holding myself back and not plunging into a NSA situation, I am better at evaluating who can potentially go the distance for a long term relationship leading to marriage.

I do appreciate the male point of view on these boards – thanks, guys, for sharing your thoughts because to me, that is invaluable.

Brenda

I do agree with Mark who suggested meeting someone quickly to see if there is chemistry as I have had girlfriends who have fallen in love with men they are emailing and then meet them…….and find there is no attraction whatsoever……….or vice versa.

Mark February 5, 2010 at 5:31 pm

One of the bad things about online dating is the checklist approach a lot of people take. You form your checklist and then write someone off when he or she doesn’t have one of those essential items on your checklist.

It’s very easy to do this with online prospects. They are so abstract early on.

In contrast, when you meet people in person, you have a chance to get to know them before you compare them to your checklist.

For example, you may have already raised children so someone with a small child isn’t an attractive option to you. With online dating, you write this person off immediately. If you met this person in the flesh, maybe you’d be taken with him or her and reconsider. Sometimes, someone is so good it’s worth changing your checklist. When you love someone, a lot of the obstacles disappear.

Jen February 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Anna… you totally made me giggle with the cat and knitting thing… would be funnier, actually, if it wasn’t so very, very true. Thanks, and yes, I think we all should get gold stars, too–heck, make that platinum. I do in fact have teenagers, so yeah… walking down this path again myself is disconcerting and odd and awkward in ways I wasn’t prepared for it to be… but I’m willing to give it a shot, anyway. Not ready to pack it all in just yet.

Mark and Anna… I should have said that I would be scrapping my tentative forays into online dating as an exclusive outlet to meeting new people. My experience has just galvanized my resolve to actually get out there, I guess you could say. I’m all for meeting and making new friends, face to face, in real situations wherever they may be… over coffee or cocktails, at an organized event or standing in line at the local hardware store. Thanks so much for your kind, encouraging words.

I have every intention of “being smart” about things, Mark… would love to claim not to be one of the “broken”, but was raised to be excruciatingly honest to and about myself… can only hope to meet someone someday who adores my infectious giggle and other sterling qualities, and who can somehow find a way to live with my neuroses. After all, that’s what I’ll be doing for him.

Jen February 5, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Brenda… I’m so, so sorry to hear about your horrible experience… I hate to diss on eHarmony, but that’s the site that brought Mr. China Pattern into my life, too… weird, huh? Don’t blame yourself for a bit of it, hon… Mr. Poof was just one of those broken people Mark alluded to. And we all, indeed, have those stories to tell…

I wish you very, very good luck in finding that one glorious bloom among all the weeds. And I’m with you, girl… move slooooowww. The good ones will wait for you. Brenda gets a platinum star, too, doesn’t she Anna?

Anna February 8, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Jen, you and Brenda both. And yes we all seem to have that “going poof” experience, a guy ditched me via email after a six month relationship, we had met online and I had ignored lots of red flags. Like the fact that he would never agree to meet my kids. It was my first relationship since my hubby passed away and I was very hurt. He then emailed months later to say he had made a mistake and wanted to get back together (another email!). By then I had toughened up and grew-up again. I never bothered to return his many “I am sorry” emails. I think it takes these experiences and disappointments and then we try not to get cynical. But for all that, I have gone out on lots of great dates, met some very nice men but not yet someone I think would be for me. But now that I have a better approach to dating (and lots of great advice from DG here) it has become fun and interesting.

Brenda February 14, 2010 at 10:08 am

Hi Anna,
I learned that when a man ditches you via email, he is a coward and you are so much better off without him. This would not be a good partner in a marriage – and you did a very good thing by simply not returning the emails.

I met a wonderful man through match about 6 weeks ago – he was one of my daily matches, lives 1 hour away (in LA, I figure that it could be so much worse than that!), is Asian and I never dated an Asian man before, BUT I resonated to everything he wrote in his profile. We expressed interest (clicked “yes”) and we are both really enjoying our time together and are quite serious about each other. Point being, expand your horizons, date those you might not have looked at in the past and be prepared to be very pleasantly surprised. I think Mark talked about this in his emails also – and don’t expect “instant chemistry” – look for the man’s hidden treasure.

I did not feel any physical chemistry until my beau began to meet my emotional needs…….

Mitsy February 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm

For me, I’m content now not to have a guy in my life. And while I do agree with Mark that everyone has their issues, some people have issues because they’ve simply been burned way too many times with past relationships. I guess I would count myself in that group because I don’t trust most men now. I have not been out on a date since last October and that one proved to be uncomfortable and not someone I wanted to go out with again. Sometimes we truly need a break from dating in order to re-fuel our emotional selves. I’m not sure that I’ll ever do online dating again since I got a lot of hard knocks from those experiences.

heather February 21, 2011 at 5:06 am

Men can be 60 and still date a 40 year old, we at 60 can’t do this this. this was stated in an earlier post. um, no. My mom and her friends are early 40s and look in their 30s and they do not want 60 year old men. I think it is some type of fantasy lore that is taken as a reality these days.

b October 12, 2013 at 7:44 pm

“If you’re feeling it and the idea of sex is a positive, why not do that and enjoy that intimacy and see where that leads?”

@Mark – because women risk more in a so-called “relationship” like that – socially, emotionally, and physically, than men do.

If men didn’t have double standards about men being “studs” and women being “sluts” for the same behavior — and yes, at ages where you’d think people ought to be well past that sort of simplistic, judgmental, eg0-fed thing — it might be different. But it’s not.

If men didn’t abandon women so frequently at the announcement of pregnancy and leave the women to raise those children by themselves, it might be different. But it’s not.

If women didn’t generate more oxytocin after having sex than men do, and as a result feel more bonded to men (in general, of course — all people have different hormonal profiles) who don’t understand why that’s happening, and won’t try to because their greater priority is satisfying their own needs, it might be different.

But it’s not.

If you want the way women behave to change, men have to change to accommodate their needs too, at least to some extent. But until men are willing to make that difference …

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