Love and anguish in our 40s

cosmoOnce upon a time I wrote a blog entry for a now-expired feature we did at The Gazette called “On the Street.” I went to the opening of the movie, “Sex and the City,” asked some question and then wrote a blog about my own dating experiences, now that I’m 40-something and divorced and “back out there.”

The blog stirred something in me — I wanted to do more writing along the same lines. There wasn’t much interest at work, so I’m doing it on my own, starting with the one that got me started. So welcome to Pour Me Some Whine — read, reflect and feel free to add your own stories.

This is the blog I wrote May 30, 2008, for The Gazette:

 

I first started watching “Sex and the City” when it premiered in 1998 and it was a fantasy to me. I was married, had two small children and lived in west central Iowa. What did I know about Manolo Blahniks, living the high life in New York City or drinking Cosmopolitans until dawn?

Then in 2002 I found myself 36, divorced and living in Eastern Iowa. Hello, Dating World.

Ugh.

I turned to my virtual friends – Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte – for tips and advice. After all, look at all the fun relationships they had: Carrie and Big, Carrie and Aiden, Miranda and Steve, Charlotte and Harry, Samantha and … everyone. I quickly learned, though, that dating as a never-married 30-something in New York wasn’t anything like being a divorced 30-something (and now 40-ish) woman in Iowa. And dating as a 30-something-turned-40-ish woman in Iowa is absolutely nothing like dating as a college co-ed, no matter where you are.

Much like anything else in life, dating in your 30s and 40s is a learn-as-you-go process. What attracted me at age 18 doesn’t hold much appeal to me now: “having a stable job” has replaced “earns enough money to buy gas;” “enjoys a quiet night at home” has earned top spot over “likes to go out and party;” and “must get along with my kids” has taken the place of … well, nothing, because it just wasn’t an issue when I was 18.

You also learn what you are and aren’t willing to put up with. I never would have thought that having someone sing “I love you” karaoke to me on our second date – and tell me he meant every word – would be as disconcerting as it was, or that having someone brutally mispronounce a word several times in one conversation would be unbelievably annoying.

At one point in my new dating realm I actually created a list of “rules” – ones that I wouldn’t share, but would tuck away in the back of my head for future reference: thou shalt not ask me to a movie and then pretend to have forgotten your credit card when we get to the theater; thou shalt not say “I’d like to do this again” when in fact you wouldn’t; thou shalt not whine at me on the telephone before we actually “go out;” thou shalt not keep me waiting for you to get off work when you forgot to ask if you could leave early; and the ever-popular “thou shalt not lie to me about wanting to date other women when in fact you already have.”

Many of the challenges we face dating in our 40s are just the “grown-up” versions of the same challenges we had when we were younger. Some people still cheat, many still want to be with Barbie or Ken and no matter how hard we try to hide it, there is still a part of all of us that feels that bit of insecurity when it comes to meeting someone new.

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