Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Advice: Heart Out of Luck

I am recently divorced and after 11 years, admittedly out of touch with the dating scene. Once I get started, I don't seem to have a problem keeping things going with compatible women. My problem is in meeting new women.

When I am in public and find a woman attractive, I glance, if intrigued, I look. If the look is returned, I'll give the smile and nod, waiting for some similar acknowledgment. All else being equal, I'll make an approach, introduce myself, and ask for something simple, a meeting for a coffee, a bagel, once even popcorn at the refreshment stand. When I first started working, moving into dating after college, all of this was rather acceptable, and usually worked. Now, I either get polite refusals (which I understand, and graciously accept) or - more frequently - looks like I am a possible stalker and some awkward acknowledgement of my presence.

Have times changed so radically that we can't trust others on a basic level? I'm not a bad looking guy, usually moderately well dressed. Is there a vibe I'm sending out, or are people just so used to online dating that it is now wrong to find attraction to someone in public and ask to get to know them? How is an older single guy supposed to find new dating partners when most of life consists of single contact meetings?

I got single in middle age and went right for the personals. This was just before the internet boom, so it was through a weekly paper. Nonetheless, I got a few dates and scored a relationship that lasted a couple of years. My next and current one was the result of meeting someone in a professional context, and the personal relationship grew naturally.

I'm not sure what has changed. I think people, and perhaps women moreso, are protective and skeptical to a greater degree than in the past. It also has to do with context. I used to play in a band at a bar frequented by attractive divorced women. I think they expected to be approached in that situation and I saw many welcome it. That said, I'd hate to be dependent on the bar scene.

I'd recommend putting yourself in situations where interaction with women is natural and not date-seeking-centric such as a volunteer activity -- church, cultural organization, other do-gooder stuff. For starters you have some common interest that brought you there, and you might befriend someone who isn't a potential match but knows someone who is.

It's not easy out there, but assuming you're looking for someone around your age, the older you get the better the odds are for men.

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