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Tag Archive 'intimacy'

Apr 25 2009

Dating and Mating Dances at Midlife

Published by under Miscellaneous

It’s Spring and you know what happens. For the next few weeks, in the fields and forests, the birds and the beasts are doing their mating dances. We too, by instinct, perform a mating dance. The human mating dance is called dating.

A mating dance is a way for two creatures to work out whether they are going to have a certain, special relationship, which includes sex; it also includes certain understandings, expectations and obligations. A mating dance is not just matter of whether or not they are agreeing to do The Big It, it is also a matter of how they are going to get along, the Big How. This is the fundamental dynamic in dating.
Mating Dating Negotiating
In the Ken Burns 12 part documentary on jazz, Wynton Marsalis opens the series with this statement: “The real power of jazz and the innovation of jazz was that a group of people could come together and improvise art and can negotiate their agendas and that negotiation is the art.” I was struck by that last phrase, that the negotiation itself is the art. There it is again, the Big How.

In dating also, negotiation itself is the art. It’s not some specific goal or event dinner, sex, vacation plans — that really matters; the goal is to create a process, an ongoing relationship. It’s not what you get, it’s how you get there. Everything is foreplay.

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Apr 25 2009

E-Dating / E-Therapy

Published by under Advice

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 datingatmidlife.com 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 20 2009

Truth, Daring and Dating at Midlife

Published by under Advice

Jerry, who is a man I’ve worked with, told me this story. Maybe it was an off night, or maybe it was second or third in a series of off nights, he wasn’t sure, but while he was in bed making love to his sweetheart, whose name was Angel, Jerry found himself thinking about calling his old buddy, Jennifer, for a friendly evening of sex. He caught himself rehearsing what he would say to Jennifer, who was bound to ask him, “Aren’t you involved with this new woman?” He heard himself sorting through possible reasons for not “busy” next Friday, or maybe Sunday night. He watched himself working out his ethical justifications. The only thing that was different from what he had done in the past – could it have been fifty times? More? –  was that he saw himself doing it and got scared.

Jerry was 48 and divorced twice. That in itself was not remarkable. Half of all marriages end in divorce and two-thirds of all second marriages. He’d been single for seven years with two major (two year long) relationships and a handful of minor encounters. You could say he was a veteran of the midlife dating scene. Angel was 45, with similar statistics.

There’s an old Irish joke that goes, “When all else fails, tell the truth,” and next morning, after breakfast, Jerry was scared enough to try it. He said to Angel, “I didn’t very much like our love making last night.” He left out the part about Jennifer.

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