THE DATING PROJECT #6. EXPECTATIONS
The Dating Project follows the adventures of three women Lou Lou ( 30s), Astrid (40s) and Iris (50s) as they navigate the tricky online dating scene. Along the way they have the support and advice of renowned sex therapist Bettina Arndt and relationship counsellor Rob Tiller.
It’s all happening.
All three women now have their profiles up on line and are in the thick of it, getting a good taste of those early thrills of internet dating. It is incredibly exciting when you first start getting those kisses.
I had a girlfriend staying with me over Easter five years ago when I first posted my internet profile and we spent the entire weekend rushing to the computer every time we hear that welcome ping announcing I had mail. We spent days totally obsessed by the whole business.
But it is also a process which forces you to accept some hard truths about where you are in your life and the type of man you are likely to attract.
I have had many conversations this week with Astrid and Iris about how they are deciding which men deserve their kisses. Naturally they are attracted to the best-looking men, the hunky guys who seem to have most to offer… tall, good jobs, well-educated, lively, funny types.
But I’ve been trying to protect them by teaching them about the dangers of aiming too high.
These dazzling men tick most women’s boxes and they have all the choice in the world. Men like this are usually swamped with hundreds of kisses and emails every day – I know one man who had 85 responses in the first hour after he posted his profile.
While it’s tempting to aim high, it just increases the risk of rejection – and no one needs too much of that.
The message I am trying to get through to our team is to be realistic about the type of man they are likely to attract – so they maximise the chances of getting a response. For anyone who is struggling with that process, I’d recommend a wonderful book – Lori Gottlieb’s Marry Him – The case for Settling for Mr Good Enough.
Yes, I know it is a dreadful title and most women would rankle at the thought of ‘settling’. But Lori Gottlieb does a great job describing how, as a 40-year-old single mother, she had real difficulty coming to terms with not being able to attract the highly eligible men who interested her most. She enlisted a team of advisers who helped her see that every year she spent in the search for the perfect man – Prince Charming or nobody – her buying power decreased.
Her book includes a humiliating tale of emailing “a scubadiving 40-year-old lawyer”, only to have him remind her they’d met through the internet five years earlier. Back then, she’d knocked him back.
She’d dismissed him as a “five”, now he was an “eight” and she was the one who no longer made the cut.
“Our generation of women is constantly told to have high self-esteem, but it seems that the women themselves are at risk of ego-tripping themselves out of romantic connection,” she writes.
It’s a really important point. For older women, particularly those who have had gorgeous men in their past lives, it’s really tough to understand that you probably won’t attract that type of man anymore – they are too much in demand. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find enjoyable male company.
Astrid and Iris are facing that very competitive older women’s market, so I’m trying to encourage them stop looking for Mr Right but rather, to start the search process by looking for the good in men.
They need to read profiles looking for positive qualities that might mean a man could add something to their lives rather than being put off by every small negative.
Ok, he can’t spell. Yes, I too wonder why more men don’t use spell check before posting their profiles. Yet one of the smartest men I ever knew was the most dreadful speller – so I don’t think this makes sense as a deal breaker.
It helps to start by looking for male friends who might be just be good company – someone who might enjoy sharing some of the things you enjoy – whether it is bike riding, listening to jazz or going to a movie. Just think – if Iris would like having a man’s hands holding hers in the movie theatre, maybe all she needs, at this point, is a kind man with warm hands.
And that’s not so hard to find.
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