Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I was talking to a couple friends from high school last night... guys... divorced... thrown in the dating pool again... They were both very discouraged... meeting mostly nuts... Which is possibly understandable... a mid-40s single person who has NEVER been married may not really know how to be a partner, so even if they are fully actualized and fabulous, they may not quite know how to play well with others...

But MOST singles in their 40s are actually divorced... They've had some LOUSY love experience...

I thought maybe we'd explore that a little (and at the risk of being dismal, maybe add in some other stuff)  The KEYS to attraction... revealed here...

Young Love

Close your eyes and picture your first crush. It is SO EASY for me—we are actually... you know... Facebook friends... and he's a really nice guy with a nice family (and handsome sons I keep thinking maybe should meet my daughter—kidding... sort of). At 12 though... he was... Taller than me (rare) blond, blue-eyed... nice feathered hair... and had a bit of a swagger... oh yeah... he was comfortable in his own skin (GAWD I craved being comfortable in my own skin back then!--so FLIPPING elusive!) And by the time we finished Jr. High, I had had maybe 2 SHORT conversations with him. This crush... this deep abiding, all-consuming FEELING was about him being really cute. If he'd also thought I was really cute, he might have asked me out... (where it would have fallen apart—I didn't really have the confidence for... you know... conversations and stuff for many years)

Conclusion: all looks

Warning:  Do not judge yourself by this. Others don't know the real you.

Almost as Young Love

Cute still was pretty darned important in High School... but so was geography... and what I mean by geography is common activity... this can include classes or bus rides, shared friends... but only the most confident teen talks to somebody when there is no EXCUSE. My high school 'loves' also tended to border on obsession, except the few cases when I was pursued... then I thought I was interested briefly followed by panic and flight...

Conclusion: Looks+common activity

Caution:  Do not judge yourself here. The people who actually end up being cool adults are mostly AWKWARD in high school.

Co-ed Frolics

By college it was possible to... you know... have a conversation with boys... the physical thing still mattered A LOT. In fact in the very short term it could quite trump everything, but FINALLY I was ready to DATE which meant spending some TIME, having conversations, seeing how well lifestyles fit together

Conclusion: Looks + True Common Ground

Caution: You may think you find it here... it is probably NOT the it you think (though in the midwest and south, I think some nuts really do their coupling here)

Post College

This is the notorious partner pick for the thinking person (which I never claimed to be)... any relationship at this point risks being THE relationship... So not only does CHEMISTRY matter, but so does POTENTIAL... Job? Ambition? Genes? Lifestyle?

Conclusion: Looks but only if FUTURE POTENTIAL

Caution: Men here are looking for a woman who 'will never change'.  Women ALL change and grow from this age. WOMEN here are looking for a man 'with potential'--men at this point WILL NOT mold to fit your ideals.

Late 20s/early 30s

We all reach a time, and some of you might have reached it before me... where we finally ARE who we ARE... Up to this point we are more at a 'coming to be' stage... and I would argue in reality, up until this point YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS CHOOSING A PERMANENT PARTNER (in spite of the fact that most of us chose them in our last phase). It takes a couple years after our LAST DEGREE to really be the person we are going to be in the long run...

Here, we are FINALLY comfortable choosing a deeply and truly compatible partner... erm... except we are typically already strapped with a partner chosen at an earlier phase, but never mind... Younguns... choose your partner after age 27. That's my advice.

Conclusion:  TRUE compatibility

Caution: This can be a hard age to meet people, depending on your field.


After this point you enter the period where PREVIOUSLY partnered folks enter the mix with NEVER PARTNERED and it is a MINE FIELD. This isn't because there aren't great people, but even great people typically go through a 'hurt' or 'distrusting' time. All I can say here is there are GREAT people... but SCREEN CAREFULLY!!!

(Please no offense to anyone who falls here) And there ARE good ones, but I think there is a reason people this age tend to choose partners of very DIFFERENT ages.  Just go SLOW.

Geriatric Love

And then life gets easy again... you don't have to worry about ANYTHING but how much you enjoy each other...

Oh! Story time... My Grandma was widowed in her early 70s (very sadly) but about a year later, her neighbor behind her (also widowed, but male) began to invite her to do somethings.... at 75, my grandma got married... and she got to TRAVEL (saw 3 other continents with Ray)... when they got married, Ray was Catholic and they got married in a Catholic church...the priest said something to the effect of not having to worry as much with older couples and my grandma said to him, “Well you know, if we have any children, I promise to raise them Catholic: *snort* But she had some great years with Ray. He wasn't my grandpa, but I loved that she got to be really happy and have fun again... You know who writes great geriatric couples? Maeve Binchy...

Conclusion:  FUN!

Okay,... so if you are writing love and attraction... WATCH OUT for these means of attractions and pitfalls! And if you are looking for love and are FEMALE, I have some nice men I can point you at. (mid-late 40s)

Top two pics from Morguefile, bottom is a stockphoto.
Content from Hart Johnson at Confessions of a Watery Tart


Will Burke said...

I was really lucky to have met my wife when we were 31 & 30, and neither of us had been married or had kids. How perfect is that? I tried dating a divorcee (3 kids) before that. The kids were great, but I left when she hit her mid-life crisis (early), and dealing with the a**hole she marries to anger her parents was a pain! I've also said that people should wait untill they're 27-8 to marry, so thanks for the validation!

Su said...

I'm suddenly very grateful to be happily married and have this behind me! Although what you said about your Grandma strikes a chord... my Grandma was also widowed in her early 70s, and from time to time I wish she'd find someone, at least for companionship.

Old Kitty said...

Gosh going by this post, it looks like I'm a very late starter!! I am most who I am when I turned 40! And true love for me is now! LOL!! I'm all for geriatric lovin!!!! We're keepers!! LOL!!!!

Take care

Ted Cross said...

I skipped all that mumbo jumbo and didn't go on a first date until a month before my 25th birthday. Four years of high school and six years of college, and not a single girl showed the slightest inclination to talk with me.

Hart Johnson said...

Will--Perfect timing! And yeah... I can imagine exes are a pain... in fact I've seen it from another angel--when I was a teen my mom (widowed) married a divorced man and his ex caused trouble for... well the whole time I was still at home. Eventually she got married and she's a nice lady, but sheesh!

Su--yeah-glad it's behind me, too! Definitely wouldn't want to dive in now... And I wish the same thing for my father-in-law--he's a sweet man and has been widowed for 20 years... I wish he'd find a nice little old lady!

Jenny--YAY for true love!!! I think it's great to wait until you DO know yourself, even if that is a little later. Sounds like it's working!

Ted-You were too smart and therefore intimidating, I bet! It took a fair bit of maturity for me to become confident with smart guys.

Deb and Barbara said...

Sigh. So true. I have navigated each stage of these (except maybe the first two) with my beloved. It's tough. Can't imagine trying to go through all the stages again! But bravo for encapsulating it so well.

Jan Morrison said...

I was married a couple of times then I had a good long dry spell - a real desert - nada - I never stopped looking no matter how bad the odds were - old, tall, smart - terrible odds for a woman - then I found the sweet patootie. I was fifty. I felt no big fireworks at the start - gave myself a hard time - remembered that the fireworks in the past hadn't worked out so good - held out for honey - got it. I can't wait to see his face every morning. Nine years and we're better than ever. tell your lads not to give up - keep fishing - Rumi says 'don't stop working, keep digging - there's water there somewhere.'

Carol Kilgore said...

This is such a great post. I really enjoyed it. It patterns my life in one way...and not at all in another. I think I'm a mass of contradictions.

Cold As Heaven said...

I haven't been into the dating games since more than 25 years. I guess it would be kind of different to start again now. No plans though >:)

Cold As Heaven

Simon C. Larter said...

I got married at 25, and whoo, was I still a young 'un. Seriously, how I snagged a wife while still living in my parents' basement and going to school full time, I have no idea.

I must have a nice personality. *cough*

Hart Johnson said...

Barbara-congratulations for making it work for so long! I think those early chosen partners are a matter of luck and stubbornness (luck if you grow compatibly and stubbornness in refusing to give up)

Jan-I love that you've found such a fabulous partner you so obviously adore!

Carol-contradictions are good! They make us more interesting!

CaH--I've been out of it almost as long, so I hear you! Definitely wouldn't want to start again!

Hart Johnson said...

Simon, I was 25 too (though I hadn't lived at home since 18), but I maintain it is too young. It has been worth it, but SUCH hard work!

Terry Odell said...

Hubster and I are going to celebrate our 42nd anniversary this year. Don't ask what category we fall/fell into. We've probably moved through all of them.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Jessica Bell said...

Oh man, this is such a great post, Hart! And oh man it's all so TRUE! "Men here are looking for a woman who 'will never change'. Women ALL change and grow from this age. WOMEN here are looking for a man 'with potential'--men at this point WILL NOT mold to fit your ideals" Yep. YES!!!! I always thought I'd never change, when I was about 20-22. Then, bam, 25 came around and, yikes!, WTF happened? I wouldn't accept any shit anymore not matter how gorgeous someone was.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

oooh that is so true about coming to be who you are later in life. For most people it's definitely after college

SY said...

I'm in my early 20s.. looks like i have a long way to go!

- Sy

Hart Johnson said...

42? Sheesh, Terry, you must have married as teens! That's nuts! Congratulations!

Jessica-I know, right? You come out of college all confident and think you know what you're doing, and then you... EVOLVE!

Sarah-Oh yeah... my grad school advisor warned that very few marriages survive a graduate degree... (she told me that when Hubby and I separated)

Hart Johnson said...

HA! SY, you snuck in there! Yup, plenty of time! Take it slowly!

Talli Roland said...

Love this breakdown - rings true, for sure! I met my husband when I was 30 and he was 38. He'd been divorced and I'd never been married. Yes, potential for a minefield, but thankfully it worked out! :)

Helena said...

Great post, Hart! Granted, my two best friends met freshman year in college and have been happily married for decades. But just about everyone else I know who married in their early or even mid twenties are either divorced or settled into blah marriages from which they'll never escape because they don't have the energy to change the trajectories of their lives. Sad. And yes, people really, seriously change, especially while they're young. That's another landmine in a marriage.

Ciara said...

LOL, I was SO commitment phobic until my late 20's. My mother gave me track shoes one Christmas, because I was dating a guy for awhile and she thought the 'L' word was coming. She knew if he said that to me I'd bolt. Eventually I did marry. :)

LTM said...

LOL! Tart--you are cracking me UP with this one. I esp. like the All women change from here and men w/potential and no business choosing a mate til after 27---JRM would so "amen" you right there. You know we weren't hitched til 31. Of course, it was my second, but I'm impulsive like that~ :D <3 U

Kassy with a K said...

My one professor is forever saying "All you people think that just cause you happen to have hit so-called marrying age, that you have to marry whoever you're with right now." I think he would support your theory to wait. Though, he also says, "Don't marry someone you love, marry someone you really really LIKE." I swear I pay far too much to sit in Dr.T's "life advice" class (5x over since he preaches the same things in every class he teaches.)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a riot!
"The people who actually end up being cool adults are mostly AWKWARD in high school." That's really awesome - I could hug you Hart!

jenny milchman said...

Ha ha, so right you are about high school and awkwardness. I still really want to meet a popular high school person to see what life is like now.

Anyway, must confess my husband was my first love, my first relationship, really. I know that's not usually a recipe for the 19 years we're coming up on.

Then again, we bought the third house we looked at, and we're still here.

erica and christy said...

So is it just us awkward teenagers that think we're the coolest adults or is that general knowledge??

Whenever we fight (not often), I tell my husband something like "What? You think it's so easy? Go ahead and try to find someone better." and he pretty much gives in. hehe

Lisa said...

I might have some single friends for your single friends.

Melissa said...

I loved this and how you broke down the age groups and what love and relationships mean at those ages.

Boonie S said...

This is interesting.
I'm all for geriatric love - that's 'having three German mistresses' isn't it?

Have a nice day, Boonie

Arlee Bird said...

Love and romance are vastly overrated, but it sure is fun and exciting when the magic is there. As one who has been divorced twice, I wouldn't want to suffer thru that again and am content with my current wife--let's hear it for geriatric love! Well, I don't think we're exactly geriatric, but I hope this is my last stop.

Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

Lisa Potts said...

What a great post! But where were you when I married too early?

I can so relate to your high school friends. I've pretty much given up on the dating thing. I'm just hoping to meet someone wonderful in the grocery store at this point, or maybe I'll take up a hobby, like hoarding. You can never have too many books, right?