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Tag Archive 'dating'

Apr 25 2009

Factoids from the Wild World of Dating

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It Really Is a Jungle Out There…

Mate Poaching
. I think this term was coined by evolutionary psychologist, David Buss. It’s quite common. Just as you suspected. And it is especially common in the de-regulated world of midlife dating. 20% of long term relationships begin when one or both partners are involved with others. This holds steady across age groups and couples who are married, living together or dating. From current Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a survey of 16,000 men and women in 53 countries. 60% men and 40% women have attempted to entice others who were already committed to others for short term flings. 47% men and 32% women succumbed.

Poachers tended to be people who were adventuresome, sexually attractive, and willing to talk about sex. Those who cheated tended to be people with high self-esteem but were selfish, distrusting and immodest. Also, the more a culture allowed for equality between men and women, the more likely it was that men and women did equal cheating and poaching.

Further, this is generally known. In a study in Britain, forty-five percent of women owned up to secretly checking the text messages on their partner’s phone, compared to 31 percent of men.

Among younger people, nine percent of Britons admitted to dumping a partner by sending an MS text message on a cell phone. Among those aged 15 to 24, the figure rises to 20 percent.

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Apr 25 2009

E-Dating / E-Therapy

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My favorite story about the strangeness of e-dating appeared in The New Yorker magazine a few years ago. The writer, a woman from Seattle, had developed a lively email exchange with a man in New York. It took her two years to finally get to New York, on business, and there she was, having lunch with him. And there he was, across the table from her, in the flesh.

However during lunch, she found herself bored, distracted and restless. She wanted to get away, to go home, to check her email. Like so many other dates she’d had in the last two year, she wanted to get away from whoever she was with so she could go home and enjoy the latest email from… him.

What’s going on? Had an e-relationship actually trumped flesh and blood? Why would that happen?

Here is another story, a common one. A woman writes with a question. She’s started up an Internet relationship with a man and now, after six months she is about to meet him. However, the picture on her profile is 10 years old and 40 pounds lighter than her current self. Now what?

What strange dynamic seems to be playing itself out with e-relationships?

E-relationships invite fantasies. In e-dating the lack of visual information feeds fantasies. If the person you are investigating as a possible companion isn’t right there in front of you, your tendency will be to fill in the blank spaces with all your fears, hopes, dreams, and fancies. Some people take advantage of that.

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Apr 25 2009

The Stages of Midlife Dating

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Dating at midlife is one of those topics where everyone who has done it has a strong, opinion. But there is a difference between having an opinions and having a point of view.

After years of academic and clinical research, after a couple hundred of interviews and thousands of pages of outlines and notes, (I started the Dating at Midlife (DML) research project in 1995, seven years ago) I have developed a point of view and the web site and this newsletter reflect it.

Here then is the model which I’ve evolved for helping Midlife Singles get what they want for themselves.

Being single at midlife is a form of midlife crisis. It doesn’t matter whether you are the leave-r or leave-ee. The crisis may not hit you at divorce and may wait until your second divorce. The crisis might hold off until the break-up of your first big post-divorce love affair, the one you thought would save you. Or the crisis may hit you when you realize you are over 40 and never married ever.

What is a crisis?

There are doors in life that only go one way. You walk through them, click!, and there is no going back. You are not in Kansas anymore. The only way out is forward into the unknown. That’s a crisis.

In the single-at-midlife crisis, you find yourself at 40 or 50-something years old with energy, sexuality and time to spare, and single. What are you going to do with the rest of your life? Another relationship? Never another relationship? What?

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Apr 20 2009

Men and Sexual Intimacy

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Do many midlife single men know what it means to have sexual intimacy, not just sex but also deep affection for and knowledge of their partner?

The title of the article is taken from a question I got in the mail. The writer, Patricia, a woman in her mid-forties, two years out of a rough marriage, and, as she put it, ” older and wiser,” is “looking for the sex that knocks your socks off because you know and care for the person first.” Was this a reasonable expectation? She wanted to know. ” Do men my age even know what I am talking about or are they just rare?”

Do they all want sex first? You can hear her frustration. She wants “the emotional satisfaction of intimacy, not just sexual physical satisfaction.”

She describes her typical dating experience. “Several times a month I meet men through the personals. But we usually just go out once. I think it went nice and I never hear from them again. And they are nice men, not jerks.”

She questions herself. “Is it me? I am conservative and very complex… I also keep my sexual side under wraps, to not give them the wrong impression. Am I wrong in doing that? Do men need to see that?”

She has, of course, described the essence of the battle of the sexes. For midlife women, her question is one of the most nagging: How do single midlife men think about sex and relationships?

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Apr 20 2009

Whadayacallit Relationships in Midlife Dating

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Please help. I’m searching for a good, funny, accurate name for this relationship, so common in midlife dating. It is a relationship with a built in limitation – geography, marriage to someone else, not-enough compatibility beyond sexuality, whatever. Sometimes the limitation is named. Sometimes it’s implied. The relationship always includes sex.

It isn’t casual and yet it’s not a full relationship. It is always limited in some important way. It is always smaller than full out commitment.

Maybe it ought to be called a relation-ette, like dinette or raisonette. I don’t especially like STR, or Short Term Relationship which sounds about as passionate as a financial instrument. And besides, sometimes these relationships aren’t always short term. They can last for years. I’ve interviewed people who’ve had discrete affairs, which have lasted as long as ten years and which included monthly trysts and even “business trips” that were really erotic vacations.

There is a French phrase for a friendship with tenderness, safety, sex and love, Amitie Passion, but I want an English term. I thought about “Limited Partnerships” as a term, but again, the phrase sounds so Wall Street, even though I like it because it captures the idea of intentionally built-in limitations.

These are definitely not casual relationships. We’re not talking about casual sex although the fact that they include sex is central to what they are. If we are bound to be single for many years between 40 and 60 or more, we are still going to want to have a sex life. One woman, recently divorced said that despite it all, she and her husband had a good sex life. “I didn’t believe how hungry I got.”

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Apr 20 2009

Sex and the Midlife Single

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Elizabeth described herself in her ad as an accomplished, mature woman with excellent communication skills and happy sensuality. She has been exchanging email with Thomas. The correspondence moved to phone calls and they arranged to meet for the weekend. Thomas would stay at her place. She had an extra bedroom but maybe they wouldn’t be needing it. The chemistry was good but Thomas said that he was waiting for “a special woman” to appear in his life and while he liked her a lot, he wasn’t sure she was the one. After the weekend, which included some very good sex, Thomas wrote her a poetic thank you note and she responded with a short note in which she told him how much she appreciated the weekend and she wished him luck in his search. She didn’t write again.

Robert had been a long-time friend of Marsha’s. They both sang in a community choir, and it turned out they both had a taste for weird movies. She invited him over one Sunday evening to see her DVD of Lost Highway, the director’s cut. After the movie they started kissing and when Thomas put his hand on her breast she said, “Where are you going with this?” He stopped and said, “Well, I don’t think there is enough of a fit for a long term relationship but I thought we could at least have some fun.” She said, “Okay but it’s late and if we’re going to do that, let’s make it a whole evening,” And she invited him back for candle light supper on Thursday.

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Apr 20 2009

The Subtle Stuff: Creating a Relationship That’s Worth Staying In

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What’s the biggest challenge in dating at midlife? I don’t think it’s finding an available single. The dating at midlife sub-culture is enormous. Census figures suggest that more than 30% of all adults are not married. It’s easy to find another single person who is looking for a relationship. The question is what kind of a relationship and the challenge is in creating a relationship that’s worth staying in.

In midlife dating relationships it’s strange how easily people get ahead of the relationship their riding in. What happens when people try to force a relationship to go somewhere is that they end up being dragged behind it. A good example of this is what happens when people become lovers before they become friends. When this happens, it makes friendship building more complicated.

Every friendship has its little storms. The challenge in dating at midlife is creating a climate that, despite the ordinary storms, is so pleasant you want to settled down and live in it. How do you do that?

The Gottman Ratio.

John Gottman, psychologist at Washington University, wrote a book with the audacious title, “Why Marriages Succeed or Fail.” He and his team could predict with 90% accuracy whether a couple would still be together five years later. They did it by observing the friendship between the partners. Couples that stay together have five times as many positive interactions as negative. The percent of positive time together would have to be 83%. That, in a college grading system, is a B. If a relationship got a C, it wouldn’t last. It is this ratio that predicts longevity.

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