February 4, 2013

Valentine’s Day is on the horizon and the view from my solo perch is just fine. Of course, as an incurable romantic, I will always hold out hope of someday being with someone special who is worthy of my exceptional  charms.

Until then, the occasional lonely moments are just part of life’s natural rhythms. Thankfully, I no longer see them as reasons for high drama, self-flagellating freak-outs.

At most, they are passing lulls to just….breathe. After all, the alternative is unthinkable; trust me, there’s nothing more miserable and lonely than being in a relationship that doesn’t work.

Sandwiched in between these two extremes is the reality of dating, which has never been easy. But based on what I’ve read lately, the landscape is rockier than ever. So cupids, bring on Valentine’s Day. I can go with the flow without fear or regrets.

Apparently, today’s lads are lacking

I use to have times when I felt, “Oh, to be young and beautiful.” The thought would usually hit me after some idiot waiter called me “ma’am.” But then, reading The New York Times article “The End of Courtship?” made me glad to be an oldie-but-goodie. At least my generation knows how to plan a decent date…

Unfortunately, it seems today’s young men think with their mobile phones, which have come an unfortunate appendage. Clueless on romance, they view hanging out as the new dating. The piece opens with the scene of a young woman who said “yes” to a Friday night invite, which leaves her sitting home alone that evening in her skinny jeans, waiting to hear from The Boy. He finally texts at 10:30 p.m.: “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever? I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.”

If you don’t have time for this story, all you need is the two-paragraph nut graf/summary from the piece. (Read here about nut grafs):

Dinner at a romanic new bistro? Forget it. Women in their 20s these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along. Raised in the age of the so-called “hookup culture,” millenials — who are reaching an age where they are starting to think about settling down — are subverting the rules of courtship.

Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other “non-dates” that are leaving a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Sad. And the scenery got even sadder with my next read….

 The dumbed-down formula for Internet romance

When I was in my 40s, I was a single, full-time mom with a little kid. Meeting men online got me outta the house. But everything changed after the big 5-0 birthday: “Dating online at can be frustrating for a 50-something woman.”

In the two years that I’ve been off-line, it seems there are more options for older folks. And I know of happy matches of all ages that were made online. But right now, the prospect of cyber-socializing leaves me cold — especially after perusing an excerpt from a new book, “Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating To Meet My Match.”

The author, Amy Webb, found her husband after a systematic analysis of her failure to meet nice guys on websites. For a month, she posed as an attractive, single man on for Jewish singles. Her mission: To figure out what 96 popular girls were doing so that she could revamp her profile.

Her tips for success: Use only three to five photos. Write only about your “non-threatening” hobbies (tennis is good, martial arts is not). Keep the profile short, under 500 words. Write cheerful generalities about goals and things you like to do. Don’t mention work because “during my experiment I found that women were attracted to men with high-profile careers, while the majority of men were turned off by powerful women.”

She also found that women lied about their height rather than their weight; almost all of them said they were 5’1″ or 5’3″. By the way, hair really matters:

Women with curly hair are at a distinct disadvantage online. I have no idea whether men prefer blondes, but I can say definitely that most men prefer women with healthy, long, straight hair. if you have curls and feel comfortable (and look good) straightening your hair, give that a try.

Big sigh from me. Must I say more? Yes, yes, yes, I will — because there is hope…

True love is still possible

You might enjoy “The Race Grows Sweeter Near Its Final Lap.” It’s a  Sunday New York Times “Modern Love” column, a weekly feature for personal essays on relationships. In this one, writer Eve Pell met the man of her dreams when was 68 and he was 78. They belonged to the same running club. Since I am 56 and can barely jog down the block, this fact impressed me right away.

I won’t spoil this one for you by sharing the details. But in this beautiful reflection, Eve Pell notes that with their children grown and their finances stable, they “had nothing to do but love each other and be happy.”

Okay, okay, I’ll add a few of her words, without revealing specifics:

Old love is different. In our 70s and 80s, we had been through enough of life’s ups and downs to know who we were, and we had learned to compromise. We knew something about  death because we had seen loved ones die. The finish line was drawing close. Why not have one last blossoming of the heart?

I was no longer so pretty, but I was not so neurotic either. I had survived loss and mistakes and ill-considered decisions; if this relationship failed, I’d survive that too. And unlike other men I’d been with, Sam was a grown-up, unafraid of intimacy, who joyfully explored what life had to offer. We followed our hearts and gambled, and for a few years we had a bit of heaven on earth.

This essay made me cry. It also inspired me to believe in my revised timeline. It is a blessing to be free of my 30s and 40s, when my ticking biological time bomb left me desperately hoping to have more children. The 50s have been a great decade to find myself. With continued good health and prosperity, the 60s and beyond might bring some very pleasant surprises.

Wow, did I really just write that? How different this is from my 20s, when I thought that my 30s would be the death of me! And at 40, I thought my life was almost over. Haha.

I guess this is a long ramble to say that if you’re single during Valentine’s Day, you are in very good company. If you’re in a good relationship, I am incredibly happy for you. Let’s just enjoy it all — we have the power to seize the moment and we should do it. xo