Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What Can “Women of a Certain Age” Do to Improve Their Dating ‘Game’

I've had a number of questions from women who find themselves single post 35 about what they can do to improve their success in re-entering 'the dating game'. In my post about online dating tips I covered off a lot of what mature men are looking for in a dating profile (click here), but allow me to give you my two cents worth on what we males are looking for on a first date, outside of the simple criteria that Lori Gottlieb identified in her book "Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough". (Have to say I agree with Lori's research which indicated that men only really have three!

Men's 3 Criteria for a Second Date:
What I've learned of late is that, without the benefit of coaching or advice, we all tend to revert to the dating behaviour we were familiar with the last time we were single, which for many divorced parents was when they were in their late teens or early 20's! So here's my take:

#1.  Tone Up, Slim Down: 

  • Do what you can to be as slim as you comfortably can and tone up with walking, running, even yoga.
  • THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT ATTRACTING MEN (well, in part...), it is for your confidence, the way you carry yourself, how you feel. Do it. (Note:  You WILL have to sweat! ;-)
  • If you just START on this, it will lead you to the following...
2.  A New You: 

  • You are NOT the 20-something you were, nor are you old news. Get a makeover from someone who’s really good AND KEEP DOING WHAT THEY TAUGHT YOU!  (Some tips on Makeup Mistakes that can age you here.)
  • Don’t slowly slip back into the old hair/dress style because “It’s easier,” “I didn’t look like me,” “I felt weird.” That’s the entire idea! You are newly single, being a new you will inevitably improve your game!  (Excellent advice here.)
Here's an example of a guy who's done this (yes, it really is  before-after of the same guy!), the author of "The Game: Penetrating the Society of Pickup Artists", Neil Strauss:

3.  Act Your Age:
  • 95% of women who are suddenly ‘singled’ past 35 revert (at least at first) to what they remember, being coy, cutesy, wearing revealing clothing, or their teen daughters clothes. NOT! You look sad. Really.
  • No tattoos, piercings (yes, you've toyed with the idea, but actually DOING IT doesn't make you look bold and youthful, but a bit silly), no mini-skirts past 35 (don’t listen to the French!), no cleavage (unless 'the girls' really DO look like they are still 18 years old).
  • The reason for this has NOTHING to do with no longer being sexy or attractive, it has to do with being ‘age-appropriate’ and not looking like you're desperate and trying too hard.
  • You’ve earned ‘classy,’ be classy and cover the naughty bits up until later...
4.  The Key: Confidence
  • Just as it is with men of any age, at a certain age men EXPECT women to have achieved a level of confidence. You’ve been around the block, you’ve spoken with literally THOUSANDS of different people in your life. You’ve learned a lot about who you are. Be proud. Be self-assured. (Get a life coach if you aren’t!)
  • All that fake ‘coyness’ and giggles went out at age 25. Look him in the eye and be direct, be honest, be ‘demure,’ while being funny and interesting.
  • NOTHING is sexier in a woman than being at ease, comfortable and chatty — forget about where this particular date is going and just chat! There are lots more men out there who will come out of the woodwork once you consistently act confident. Be cool.
NOTE:  If you are busy fretting on Date #1 about 'where things might go,' it's already over.  Why?  Because you're 'game playing,' thinking a few steps ahead instead of living in the moment, and when we play games there has to be a winner and a loser.  That is not a good 'place' from which to launch a potential relationship!
5.  Be Yourself, Be Honest:
  • Further to the point above, be yourself, and be honest with the guy about what you really like: in which ways you are adventurous and which ways you are definitely not. There’s no point in saying you love sports because he does, only to later prove to be athletic-phobic! (Yes, you may want to transform at this point in your life and truly ‘be a new you’, but be realistic, a tigress cannot really change her stripes, fundamentally.)
  • Don’t shoot him down in the first minutes (maybe he’s ideal for your single friend!), but by the end of the first 20 minutes if you just KNOW this isn’t going to turn into a passionate affair, say so. Really. It will make the rest of the date much more relaxed and he really does need to know.
  • Don’t crush him, but if he’s not your type, TELL him so, so that you can both be clear about the ‘chemistry’ and move on. Do it even if you are on date THREE and something comes up that is a deal-breaker. His ego is going to far more damaged if you just start making excuses rather than stating that, because of issue “X”, things really aren’t going to work out (see my post titled “I’m a Confident Woman…”).
6.  Don’t be Pathetic!
  • Yes, you’re angry or heartbroken about your last relationship, but stay away from the sad details as much as you can. It’s a slippery slope and can derail dates with great potential if you reveal too much.
  • It is a subject that is WAY to easy for both people to fall into talking about, and it’s normal for you both to be curious about what worked and what didn’t in this person’s past relationships, but the intimate details are best left for date number 3 or 4 (and might keep you from getting there!).
  • Develop a quick and straightforward story about why it didn’t work and leave it at that, saying “maybe we can talk more about that if we go out again, but right now I want to hear more about....”
7.  Remember What Mom Taught You: 

  • Being confident and direct doesn’t mean ‘giving it up easily’. That being said, you're both adults and if you both feel a very strong draw, there’s no point in being coy about it. The stage of high-school style kissing and touching is AS important a factor in how you are going to get along as personality is. Face it, if he’s a really bad dancer or a boring kisser on date one….
  • It’s a risk, however, to go all the way on the first date. You may have enjoyed it, let off some pent-up steam and found out one more important way you match each other (or don’t), but you may have also given up a key tool in learning more about him, too, in getting him to come back, spin your web.
  • Net-net, you have to trust your instincts on this issue. If the guy is genuine, mature and sincere AND you feel fireworks going off, having sex just might seal the deal and have him canceling dates with other girls, but it may be that he just stopped worrying much about your dreams and desires and figures he can now have it anytime with you (although, to be fair, there’s also the risk he might have encountered his own deal-breaker -- one that a deeper connection might have convinced him to overlook -- or maybe not!).  For myself having sex on Date One has NEVER been the deal breaker in getting to Date Two, it has been other, less tangible, but meaningful things.
Good luck, and I reserve the right to change my mind on any and all of the above points at any time…

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