Strength in Solitude


A few years ago – soon after my divorce, my daughter and I took a beach vacation. As we walked along the soft white sugar sand of the Gulf Coast, I saw a woman of about 80 strolling purposefully with her dog.

“I wonder if that will be me some day – walking alone, not with a partner,” I wondered aloud, thinking how sad that would be.

My daughter, responding to my words and mood, said, “What’s wrong with that? She looks happy. It would be o.k.”

At that moment, I couldn’t believe such a scenario would be okay. But I could now.

Let’s chew on that while devouring some of Jamie Oliver’s potato cakes with smoked salmon.

The beach memory was triggered by a temporary change in my current living situation. A couple of years ago, my son, like so many adult children, returned to his parental home (or half of it given the divorce) to pursue a second college degree as an entre to a new career.

There’s more to his story just as there’s more to the story of what happens when adult children live with their parents, but that’s not on today’s blog menu. I will say that, for the most part, the arrangement works well.

But the situation prevents me from truly living alone, something I wanted and needed to do after my divorce. Other than a random week or two here or there, one or both of my children have lived with me except when they were in college. And during that period, I was married so the house was not empty. Going back in years, I went from living with my parents, to living with college roommates, to living with the man who would become my husband.

So, I skipped that whole part of life called “being single and living alone.” And I was both eager to experience it and a little nervous as well. How would I navigate living alone and would I be lonely? Fast forward to a couple of days ago when my son left for a week’s vacation to visit a friend.

Finally, I could invite some friends over for dinner while having the house truly to myself. And I could see what it would be like to live alone while in a pretty good place – healed from my divorce, stronger, and more centered than ever before.

This temporary break in shared housing got me thinking about solitude, being alone, loneliness, and all variations of that theme.

I’ve always been someone who enjoyed a certain amount of time spent alone – whether reading, writing, taking a walk, or going for a drive with music blasting. But it’s not something I want to do 24/7. At a certain point in my day, I start to feel lonely and need to be around people.

For more on the balance between solitude and company, see the wonderful Brain Pickings blog post on experiencing at least one prolonged period of solitude in life.

After I divorced, I needed to learn not only how to be without a partner but also how to be independent – to rely on myself for everything from adding oil to the car to tightening a loose toilet seat (thanks You Tube). A solo road trip no longer seemed liked a scary impossibility. Solitude helped build strength. Strength begot resilience.

All of this doesn’t mean I want to be alone.

There is nothing more important to me than finding one of the ones, a partner to love and share life with.  The crucial thing is to live well and to be happy while searching for that special person and to never stop searching – even if you’re the oldest person on Match, Bumble, and Plenty of Fish.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.






Goldilocks Searches for the Right Guy with Help from the Grammar Police


I often feel like Goldilocks (with roots showing) as I try to find just the right chair (er…. man) and bowl of porridge.

The problem is that it’s not so easy to know when the chair is perfect – or if there are more ergonomic chairs in another bear family’s house.

Let’s discuss “the right fit” of man over lunch. It’s a politically themed season so join me in some White House Kale Salad.

Whether or not you have a list of “must haves” in a man or “must not haves” you probably recall times when a man has made you cringe.

This happened to me recently with Mr. K (see my last two posts ). To answer your question, yes, I decided to take action and inquire about a 3rd date. But before the date took place, we had a long phone call that clarified how I felt about him. And it wasn’t good.

During the rather unusual phone call (precipitated by my pointing out to him that texting was an inadequate form of communication), we covered everything from a sex-themed truth or dare Q and A to the election and presidential debate.

I’ll spare you the details of the Q and A (other than saying that sometimes if you talk about something too much, it loses its allure).

Regarding the second topic, Mr. K’s political leanings skewed too far to the right. And although I try to keep politics out of this blog, I was shocked at his thoughts about a recently released tape featuring a candidate. “Who’s to say the tape wasn’t doctored in some way, bits and pieces spliced together?” he asked. My mouth dropped open as I listened to his conspiracy theorizing. “And it WAS just locker room talk,” he said.

Mr. K mansplained several other points and topics, cementing my view that “this isn’t going anywhere.” I knew at that point we’d never see each other again.

But the worst thing:  A couple of grammatical errors left his never-to-be-kissed by me-again lips. Can you say subject verb disagreement and pronoun usage error? We’re talking deal breakers.

That’s just me. Other women might not think that’s so bad. Point of clarification: I recognize that I’m not 100% grammatically perfect and, in turn, I ignore certain minor slip-ups in others. However, some errors, when verbalized, make me cringe. Example: Me and her are going to the game.

After the call, I texted Mr. K to let him know I didn’t think we as a couple would work out.

The next day, despite general annoyance and frustration with dating, I spent some time swiping on Bumble. Luck or serendipity was with me: I matched with a better prospect than Mr. K.

Take home messages:

*When you let someone who’s not right go, there’s an open space that will hopefully be filled by someone who is at least “more right” and I don’t mean politically.

*Provided there is strong evidence that a guy is interested, it’s okay to nudge him a little toward that next date. This way you can find out for sure whether YOU like HIM.

*If you’re on the fence about someone, you may only be a phone call or next date away from being certain you do or don’t want to date him.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.




To Pursue or Be Pursued


I’ve been thinking a lot about the games of pursuit that men and women play as they meet, date, and connect.

Is a man most interested in a woman when he is the pursuer? Does this hold true for all men in all situations? Is the chase paramount?

Will a woman “ruin it” if she is too proactive in the beginning of a relationship by asking a man out for the first or third date, initiating calls or texts, etc.? Is she somehow “less desirable” because she is demonstrating her desire and availability? Or is she merely reassuring a man who may wonder about her interest?

Let’s ruminate on this while we have some strozzapreti with mushrooms and ricotta.

As usual, there’s a man causing me to obsess over this topic.

It’s Mr. K from last week’s post. To date (no pun intended), we have had two (fairly long) dates, one phone call, and many texts. He has initiated all of these invitations and actions and I am an enthusiastic recipient and participant. He texts me most mornings and sometimes again in the afternoon or evening.

Mr. K took off work for our second (lunch) date. So, I feel that I’m on his mind. And yet, because I obsess, as many women do, I wonder why he hasn’t mentioned getting together again. Is it because he’s currently working on a side job after his regular job? In fact, he worked Saturday. But he said he’s free today and Monday.

I considered being direct about when we might next see each other. Instead I dropped subtle hints during our texting banter. The hints were so subtle or our banter so considered that we were able to glide right over them. In fact, we could beat around the bush indefinitely – completely sustained on innuendo and flirting.

The problem is I’m too impatient. I want to know if he’s one of the ones. I’m not sure yet. How could I be after two dates?

Perhaps it is this uncertainty about Mr. K that keeps me from being more proactive. Or it could be the advice I have gotten or read about over the years that cautions women from being the pursuer too early in a relationship or encounter. Not that I haven’t been proactive or been the pursuer a number of times. But these relationships have been short lived and now I wonder if the “right” guy is the one who is so interested in you that he pursues you.

Can you say obsessive rumination?

So I’d like to crowd source, dear readers, whether I should directly ask him out at this point and whether it is a good idea in general for women to pursue men at the beginning of a possible relationship.

What has been your experience or the experience of your friends? I’d really like to know.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.



Tinder in España


My Tinder app exploded in Spain.

Despite a half-hearted promise to myself to take a break from online dating while on vacation in Spain and Ireland. I was curious about my “match-ability” in another country. So I spent some time swiping while waiting in museum lines and hanging out in tapas restaurants and pubs.

I almost laughed when just about everyone I swiped right on in Barcelona and Madrid was a match…and many of them were a decade or more younger than me. This was a great ego boost for a woman celebrating a “ semi-big” birthday. Have a slice of birthday cake with me.

Unfortunately, hablo un poco de Español, so my travelling partner daughter and volunteer wing woman agreed with me that I shouldn’t meet anyone who didn’t speak English.

Thanks to my Google translate app, I was able to communicate to a certain extent with all of my matches, including one seeking a late-night hook-up and the guy who wanted to know where I was at that exact moment. No, gracias.

As bad luck would have it, my two most promising English-speaking prospects matched with me just as I was about to leave Barcelona. After a couple of texts, one offered to drive me to the airport. No, gracias. Still, I exchanged email addresses with both of them. Mr. J plans to travel to the US later this year and like me, Mr. F believes in serendipity. Anything can happen.

Spain: 2; Ireland: 0. For various reasons, I didn’t want to correspond with any of my Irish matches.

In the meantime, I’m back on U.S. soil, suffering from jet lag and reconnecting with my pre-trip matches.

One guy – #2 from my rule of three post, revisited his earlier “he’s just not that into you” behavior. First, Mr. B missed an opportunity to send me a happy birthday text while I was away (no excuses since we share the same birthday).

Second, before I left for Europe, he asked me to let him know when I was back in the states. Since I had given him my return date, I was on the fence about proactively sending a text to say, “I’m back.” However, I had a planned date with someone and wanted to try my best to follow the rule of dating three. So I sent a short “back in the U.S.” text on Friday afternoon. Mr. B asked about my trip but didn’t reply to the short summary I sent him: lots of walking, eating, art, and architecture.

Then, at 9:29 p.m., 5 hours after I offered my 140-character trip summary, he sent a text. He acknowledged the short notice and asked if I’d like to get together the next day.

My immediate take on his “late” request: he invited me out after returning from a bad Friday night first date. Plus he failed to comment on my beautifully crafted 140-word trip summary. So, yes, “he’s just not that into me” and “No, gracias” to the invite.

How does someone show he is “into you?” Case in point: Mr. K. We matched before my trip. I texted him to say I was headed out of the country. He said he’d wait for me. He texted me the day I returned. We texted, talked by phone, and had lunch yesterday. After our date, he texted me and I see that he has texted me good morning.

Now, men, that’s how you do it. The object of your affection should feel like she is on your mind just before you go to sleep and as soon as you wake up.

It’s a simple implementation of the psychology of love and dating. Whether you are stateside or in Europe.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.



“Loving” Your Ex

Blog post Julie friends with your ex

I’m still on vacation, dear readers, and have another guest blog post by *Julie Weinberg.

My ex-husband is one of my best friends. He’s remarried with two little boys and with our two kids we consider ourselves a family of seven: three adults raising four kids. We regularly have dinner together, go to our beloved Ravens games together, celebrate Thanksgiving together, and even occasionally vacation together. We’re that close.

It wasn’t always that way I promise. I often say that I married my best friend, lost him somewhere in a 20-year marriage, divorced an ass, and then found my best friend all over again.

How we navigated this tricky transition of divorce-to-friendship is something I’ve been asked about many, many times, including by Nadia, so here’s my story.

At the time of our divorce, I truly hated my ex and would have gladly signed the papers and walked away forever. Divorce comes packaged in feelings of disillusion, disappointment, and anger. I often and loudly opened that package with my friends–or anyone else that would listen. So becoming friends with him again someday wasn’t a goal or even a slight desire.

But we had kids, so I knew I had years ahead of me to deal with him at soccer games, school events, weekend drop offs and pick ups.

Our first step was to come to an agreement about things that were best for the kids’ sake. We made a pact to never fight in front of them, never put them in the middle or make them choose sides, and to always be polite to one another when in their presence.

The always be polite agreement turned into the most important one for our evolving relationship. Whether you have kids or not, it can be the cornerstone of a new, happier affiliation for you and your ex, too.

At first, even fake politeness was a challenge. My trick was to treat him like a work colleague that I did not respect or like but was stuck working with on some project. When a topic arose that started making me angry, I would just look at him, smile and say “not now” and he knew the discussion would have to wait.

The funny thing is, though, the expression “fake it till you make it” is true. My faking politeness became real politeness fairly quickly and once I turned that corner our relationship started to evolve.

Besides hoping the “fake it till you make it” technique would work, I also realized that I needed to let go of all the hurt, anger, and disappointment. It was eating me up inside and bringing me down. As a tightly wound, Type A personality, “just letting go” was enormously difficult for me. He did X, Y, Z to me, didn’t do A, B, C and I dwelled repeatedly on the wrongness of it all.

Visualization techniques proved extremely helpful with letting the negative feelings go. I imagined each remembered hurt as a soccer ball and one by one I’d kick them away in my mind. Or every time I started to think of something that made me angry, I’d visualize placing it on a leaf and watching the leaf float peacefully down a river and away from my mind. Try it! I swear it worked, even if just for a few moments. Then the more I did it, the better I felt and the more capable I was of letting my relationship with my ex organically grow into something really special.

The passing of time, of course, helps too. As the post-divorce weeks turned into months, then turned into a year, we both got on with our lives and all of the new, exciting experiences allowed me to be open to new friendships. I was making all kinds of new friends, my ex and his wife just turned into two of those.

Now, 7 years later, having my ex as a close friend is a topic I usually raise on a first date. I actually use it as a sort of screener: if a man feels challenged by it or is negative toward it, I know he’s not for me so I easily move on. If a man can’t respect the melded family I’ve worked to develop, he probably won’t like other aspects of my life. Given that there are so many fish in the sea, it’s good to find that out on our first coffee date rather than weeks into a relationship. I wish him well and send him on his way.

This relationship has also caused me to be far less understanding of a date who wants to rag on his ex. I understand the need to vent; but I don’t want to hear about how awful a guy’s ex is in detail, especially not on a first date. I always ask myself if he’s relating inappropriate, damaging or highly private details of his previously most valued relationship, what might he say to his friends about me down the road. Again, I prefer to wish him well and send him on his way, too.

These are some of the techniques I’ve used to get past the hurt and anger to develop a warm, close, and happy new relationship with my ex. The calmness to my spirit and added joy he and his new family have brought to my life made the effort well worth it.

*To learn more about Julie, visit her website or purchase her book, I Wish There Were Baby Factories.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.






Dating Young, Really Young

blog post Julie dating younger

I’m on vacation dear readers and have a treat for you – a guest blog post by *Julie Weinberg.

I met him on a golf course and he was 21 years younger than me, only 14 years older than my oldest child. It raised a few eyebrows. We walked into it with eyes wide open, each knowing the other’s age. At first, I thought it was just a lark, a notch in my belt I could talk about for years to come; but it turned out we really liked each other. We enjoyed each other’s company, had so much fun together and laughed like crazy all the time.

This fling turned into a yearlong relationship, and my friends grilled me with questions. The most common was, “What do you talk about?” As it turns out, lots and lots. Eighty percent of what anyone talks about with a partner — regardless of age — is the day in, day out minutiae of life: What happened at work, a TV show you watched, a funny interaction you saw at Starbucks.

Yes, awkward moments occurred when (gasp!) he hadn’t even heard of The Breakfast Club and didn’t know a single Billy Joel song. I had never used Napster or played a game of Texas Hold’em (which I now love). And then there was the time he laughed until he cried when he saw I bought Age Defying toothpaste. A bit embarrassing, I will admit.

I concede the first time we stepped out together and held hands it felt awkward. I wondered if everyone was staring and judging the inappropriate age difference. However, we didn’t care what people thought. We felt comfortable with each other. I also suffer from a strong defiant streak that’s not tempered by other’s opinions.

Over the course of the year, there were only a couple of times that someone (a waitress or store clerk) hesitated, trying to peg the relationship, “Would you and your, uh, um, friend…blah blah blah.” No one ever called me his mother, which of course, would have been the pinnacle of embarrassment.

“But you can’t learn anything from him!” those who loved me admonished. Not true. I learned about hobbies he enjoyed (e.g. Texas Hold‘em) and places he’d been that are now on my bucket list. The Rap music he listened to was new to me, but maybe a guy my own age would be into Country or Jazz and I’d be newly exposed to that. There was plenty to learn.

Plus, he had a youthful attitude and outlook that was so contagious. Let’s face it, life is hard and makes one jaded, but it takes years and years for that to happen. Dating someone much younger reminded me how great things were when I was less cynical and more open to new things.

Ok, but since we’re being honest with one another here, I’ll fess up that some things he wanted to do bored me or required more energy or interest than I had — but doesn’t that happen with anyone? His problems and worries sometimes made me want to roll my eyes because I’d gotten through similar situations many times over the years and knew now that it wasn’t worth the angst.

And yes, how I looked now became a “thing.” I never before cared much about a new wrinkle or sagging skin; now I lamented how quickly I seemed to age compared to him. This worry just made me work out more and dress more carefully, which were both overall good consequences to my general well being.

The hardest part for me, as the older one, was that he wasn’t a real partner. He could and did come to me for advice on everything, yet when I started looking into retirement investing, his wide-eyed stare let me know that he knew nothing about this, didn’t wish to learn about it at this stage in his life, and “Please could I change the subject?”

Financially, he had great earning potential but that was down the road, while I was already comfortable. Kids were the biggest stickler, as I already had two almost in middle school. He loved them but wanted some of his own and that wasn’t going to happen with me.

So the “fling” ended. I celebrated one of those Big Momentous Birthdays and he had one coming up the following year. We agreed he needed to find someone more appropriate and start that family he wanted. It ended quite amicably and we are still in touch.

Overall, I would say dating a younger guy is really not much different from any romantic involvement. All relationships have good and bad parts, ups and downs. The bottom line is if you like the person, there’s mutual attraction, and you seem to enjoy each other’s company, why not?

*To learn more about Julie, visit her website or purchase her book, I Wish There Were Baby Factories.  

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.




The Rule of Three?


There’s a psychologist and relationship expert who advises women to embark on a Dating Program of Three. This program, as described by Diana Kirschner in her book Love in 90 Days, counters what she calls the “three-date” rule, an urban legend in which women should decide by the third date if a guy is a keeper and have sex or lose him forever.

Kirschner’s alternate approach encourages women to date three men simultaneously without having sex with any of them. “By not seeing any one man too often, you find the men who are really into you and who will stay the course,” she writes.

The program protects you against what Kirschner calls the dangers of “love addiction.” Since you will see each guy less often, you won’t zero in on any one – a possible emotional risk.

Although kissing and canoodling are okay, says Kirschner, she stresses that by not having sex you avoid “premature infatuation, dependency, and a kind of pseudo-intimacy that almost always backfires.” You’ll also get to compare the guys – and their positive and negative differences will be more apparent.  Another benefit, according to Kirschner: You’ll be naturally less available so men will get to enjoy “the chase.”

The kicker: women are advised to keep dating three men for a couple of months after they have found someone who seems to be the “one.”

Although this is an intriguing program and theory, when I read this chapter of her book, I almost laughed. Such a bounty of men seemed like an impossible dream not to mention a Herculean juggling feat and libido challenge.

It’s hard finding one guy I like enough to date — and it’s not because I’m too picky. I’m not knocking this program. I think the book has a lot of valuable advice – but, since I haven’t tried this triad approach, I’m not convinced I could do it.

However, at this very moment, despite my protests, I stand on the cusp of possibly dating three guys simultaneously. As you well know, that moment could change quickly and may even have changed during the course of writing today’s post.

Stay awhile longer and share some of this farro with roasted mushrooms.

I’m convinced that my dating universe has at least temporarily expanded thanks to the new and fresh professional profile photos that I loaded onto all my dating sites and apps. I used Online Profile Pros to find a photographer near me. The site subcontracts with local photographers. Prospective clients can view sample photos, prices, and locations of the photographers near them.

Back to the contenders for my program of three (in order of contact, not preference):

#1- A Bumble match who does not match my ideal location and height but is interesting, intelligent, and shares my interest in a healthy lifestyle. We’re both travelling in the next couple of weeks but agreed to meet halfway between our cities when we return.

#2 – A Tinder match I first connected with on Bumble several months ago. After chatting on the app for a short time and setting up a date, he cancelled on me with a lame excuse two days before our planned meeting. I wrote him off and had a lot of doubts about him. I considered our second match on Tinder a curiosity, worth exploring primarily to see if my earlier reservations were unfounded. Pre-date, I was not that enthusiastic. Mid- and post-date, I was pleasantly surprised and felt some chemistry happening. There’s a good chance of a second date.

#3 – A match I first noticed on a Match event page for a happy hour I was unable to attend. When he later popped up on my Match home page, I decided to send him a wink, a tactic that has worked for me in the past. He responded and we chatted frequently for a couple of days with a tentative plan to meet this weekend. I was pretty excited about him even though he’s 10 years younger but then all of these contenders are younger than me.

However, during our first (and only) phone call I learned he has a 9-year-old daughter. This is close to being a deal breaker for me. My kids are adults and I feel I’ve been there, done that. I’m now less excited about #3 but still want to meet him. Given that I haven’t heard from him in 24 hours, however, our interlude of interest may be over.

Upon review, I see this list is pretty fragile. I’ll be happy if just one guy is a keeper. I’d love to try a full program of three but I’m not sure these contenders will remain in the game.

It’s all part of the dating single life in your 60s — or any age for that matter. Contenders come and go, fade in, and then out with a boom or a ghost-like whisper.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.