Hey guys, this is for you (though it could apply to any relationship)
I am a single male in my early sixties. I have been married once (ten years), and lived with two other women (7 years and 5 years). These days my four closest friends are women who range in age from 46 to 74. They are all single professionals, fit, successful, independent, attractive, and fun. And everyone of them has had terrible luck with dating. I mean, really terrible luck:
- Men who tell them on the first date that they are looking for someone to take care of them financially
- Men who order drinks and then announce they didn’t bring money
- Men who describe themselves as liberal (for one very liberal friend of mine) and then it turns out they voted for Trump and would again
- Men who suggest meeting in a grocery store
- Men who show up for a sit down dinner party unshaved and wearing a hockey jersey
And I can’t leave out the guys who don’t look anything like their pictures, even though the idea is that they are trying to meet someone in person (this is not just a male thing). I’d like to point out that these guys are not kids- they are mostly boomers who were supposedly brought up with manners. The real kicker is this: these are not outliers, these are common occurrences. So, what is going on?
The traditional gender gap is not wide, it is impassable
The result of all these wonderful experiences is that my female friends think men have collectively lost their minds. Understandably. But I see it a different way. I honestly believe that most men have no clue when it comes to women, especially women in their age group, let’s say within ten years in either direction. How did this happen? I’ve been doing some under the radar surveying and I have detected a pattern: many men have had little or no meaningful interaction with women for years and they no longer speak the language.
A meaningful interaction, as I define it, is a series of conversations where you each explore how you feel about things, your happiness or lack thereof, things you are passionate about…
What do I mean by ‘meaningful interaction’?
Flirting, texting, reading descriptions on dating sites, and casual bar conversations are not meaningful interactions. Nor were discussions with your (ex) spouse about paying bills, dealing with school issues or household maintenance. A meaningful interaction, as I define it, is a series of conversations where you each explore how you feel about things, your happiness or lack thereof, things you are passionate about…give and take with lots of listening on both sides, listening designed to help you understand what kinds of things make the other person happy.
This kind of conversation requires dropping your interior dialog about how you want to be perceived, and simply listening and then asking questions that help you understand how the other thinks and what they feel passionate it about. You’ll note that I’m not talking about expounding opinions or talking over people- I’m talking about asking and listening. This will probably require that you drop preconceptions- they are almost always wrong and they are the roadblocks to making a connection.
People, not just women, will tell you amazing things if you let them
In all the crazy situations I described above, the guys were entirely focused on themselves, to the point of acting like immature children. If they had listened they might have learned that people want respect. They want to be treated like important humans. They want to feel attractive and be treated with consideration. And they do not want to be around a person who obviously has anger issues of any kind.
It sounds old-fashioned, but try being a real gentleman: be the guy with the flowers…
On the old Seinfeld show, Jerry had a scene where he is walking with a first date down the sidewalk when they pass a man his age carrying a bundle of flowers. His date’s gaze follows the guy with a wistful look and Jerry realizes he has been trumped by a random stranger who thought to buy flowers when he had not. What does that tell you? Be the guy with the flowers, the guy who opens the door, the guy who chooses a nice place to meet, dresses for it, and picks up the tab. And be a listener. You’ll start to learn something you may have known once about the opposite sex. These small gestures add up to a strong first impression, and as they saying goes, you only get one chance to make one.
*Yes, this is a generalization and an opinion and could be considered sexist, however I am not hearing similar stories about women from the men I know who are dating.