When I first separated from my ex after 18 years of marriage, I was under the impression that there would be this never-ending supply of eligible gentlemen waiting to meet me once I was ready to date.
I was still fairly cute, could be funny and was in possession of naturally thin ankles. What’s not to want?
So I took my time. I concentrated on my kids and tried to figure out who I was and what I wanted out of my life. You know, the emotional heavy lifting they tell you to do that I actually did (I should have put that much effort into high school).
Four-and-a-half years later, I have found that while there is no shortage of young guys who would like their Benjamin Braddock moment with chicks like me, I haven’t figured out how to find a grown up to have a relationship with. Like, a real man.
Let’s begin with what’s out there once you reenter the dating pool at 46.
This is not to say that I don’t come with my own set of baggage (fuck, I’ve got steamer trunks), but I’ve worked REALLY hard to figure out how I had ended up in the situation I was in. Just ask my therapist. I went from meeting with her TWICE IN ONE WEEK at the lowest point to my current status, where I check in with her maybe every six weeks just for a readjustment. That’s progress.
In the past month, I’ve learned to not only identify but walk away from a charming narcissist. How very unlike the old me.
What I’ve encountered during my brief foray into dating has made a great case in support of the controversial letter written by a Princeton alumna in the Daily Princetonian, urging young Ivy League coeds to find their mates while in college.
“You will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you,” wrote Susan Patton in a letter to the editor she titled, “Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had.”
And while her argument focuses on women finding their intellectual equals, it is fair to say that the pool of eligible bachelors is just much larger when you’re a young gal. And less fucked up.
Strike while the iron is hot.
So my advice to my daughters is to urge them to choose well the first time around. Maybe concentrate on what a potential mate does rather than what he says. I’d tell them to go for substance over style. Because, as Sartre observed, “We are our choices.”
Believe me, I could write a book about that.