Introvert Dating in Her 40s: It's Good. It's Bad. It's Different This Time Around.

dj club sceneBack in my 20s when I was dating the first time, men weren’t exactly beating down my door. I’d had two boyfriends in college and a sprinkling of making out and phone calls beyond that. As a teen and twenty-something I was not confident. I didn’t feel interesting. I never led conversations at parties. I wasn’t the most beautiful girl there. I was the side-kick gathering information from the edges of the room. I was usually invited to parties. I was attractive enough for that, but I wasn’t the one boys/men hoped would show up. As I type, it dawns on me that the primary way to meet boys back then was at parties or large gatherings (classrooms, bars, clubs). I didn’t stand a chance. I don’t shine in those settings. If I were to wrangle a boy away from the herd, his main interest was to get naked, not share ideas or get to know the real me. Perhaps I was hanging out in the wrong places back then… Nevertheless, I am very grateful for online dating with its use of writing (profiles) and photos to express yourself. I love meeting someone for the first time in a quiet coffee shop or on one of the stone arch bridges in the city. There is time and space for meaningful conversation and true connecting. They may still want to get naked but at least we’ve had a peek into each other’s head and heart.coffee-date-800x400 My girlfriends and family are saints. They’ve listened to so many stories that start with, So there’s this guy… They tell me I should write a book — perhaps so they don’t have to hear any more details or remember any more of my dates’ names?? This week, I thought I’d give my friends and family a break and tell YOU all about what I experience while putting myself out into the bizarre and beautiful love zone. There are a plethora of lessons and stories I could share. This is only a snapshot.

Let me guess, your name is Dave…

My friends actually don’t have that many names to remember because a statistically improbable number of men I have dated are named David or Dave. When my iPhone updated to iOS7 and stopped showing last names of text senders, I had more than a few moments of head scratching and careful content analysis whenever the name ‘Dave’ displayed on my screen. Last month, as my plane touched down back in Minneapolis after a week’s vacation in DC, I thought and giggled to myself, Back  in Minnesota where all the men are named Dave. Just last week, more than half of my ‘matches’ on an online dating service were named Dave/David. I should have taken a screen shot because really, WTH? A message from a Rob or a Mike feels rare and exotic.;)

Emails and phone calls and texts, oh my!

As an introvert, I appreciate the quiet and convenience of emails and texts. I am drawn to a certain turn of phrase, creativity and uniqueness in the way a man expresses himself. A tiny twist in wording, a clever bit of depth revealed and the courage to use emoticons attracts me. I have my turnoffs as well. I’m slightly anal and notice misspellings and grammatical errors. Griping leaves me cold.

Below are some funny, not so funny, delightful and troublesome communications I’ve encountered on the dating path.

Worst emails:

1. Your hot

2. Call/text 612-555-5555.

I received the 2nd email after a few messages back and forth with one seemingly intelligent man. It felt like he threw his number at me and left the room. I never responded.

Worst texts:

1. Ones with several pictures of the guys themselves. Men are such visual puppies. They think we are too. I enjoy a nice picture but one is plenty unless I request more. I’d rather surreptitiously copy a photo from their profile than have them force several on me.

2. Texts with unsolicited pictures of their kids. One man sent me multiple pictures of just his children even though I’d never met them and or him in person. I think he thought my uterus would ache and I’d want to be a big happy family. My uterus never aches like that and I make decisions with my heart and head, not my uterus. I will ask to see photos of children eventually because I am genuinely interested but until then I prefer to get to know the men themselves.

Best text:

1. One man asked if I wanted to see a picture of his junk. I replied, Noooooo! fearing the worst. He sent me a photo of all the detritus on top of his desk — travel mug, car keys, Twins tickets, highlighter pen, spare change, wallet, etc. I thought it was clever and quite revealing actually. Bonus points for the highlighter pen.

Phone calls:

girl on phoneI get nervous before first phone calls. There is always the potential that we could fail at this. My brain could refuse to fire and I could start sentences and then flounder searching for the right word or I could tell stories with weak finishes. There could be no rhythmic banter, only stilted fragments of language mixed with weather talk. Despite my apprehension, I like to use phone conversations as weeding out tools. I would rather flop over the phone than in person. Over the phone I can be at home in my safe place with slippers on and something compelling teed up on Netflix as a consolation prize. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by phone conversations that effortlessly flowed for hours —my phone companion playing dance partner as he leads me from one rich topic to the next or graciously responds to my thoughts and ideas. On the flip side, I’ve been unexpectedly subjected to hyena cackles and pedantic diatribes. The latter all the more reason to test the waters over the phone rather than waste each other’s time meeting in person.

Reading the signs

 After two years of dating experience, I have accumulated a list of good and bad signs. It’s not a steadfast, written-in-stone list, but it guides me. I’m always open to being surprised.

Good signs:

They are readers

They highlight as they read

They know what Myers Briggs type they are

They read my blog and learn something about themselves

They praise my thinking as much as they praise my appearance  (Best compliment: I love your mind!)

 We can talk on the phone

They have a credit card

They watch intelligent TV ala Dexter, True Detective, House of Cards, Downton Abbey

They are music lovers and pay attention to lyrics

They have sisters and/or daughters

Bad signs:

They talk over me and don’t notice

They don’t enjoy food — say things like, I’m not much of an eater

 They have online dating names like Bigdawg3 or Dewayniac

They use the words fun and good a lot because they don’t know any exquisite adjectives

They ask me to plan the date

When with them, I think about being home alone watching The Voice

They don’t get that I need to be pulled out of my shell a little by asking me questions or my opinion

They only compliment me on my looks

They ask me to problem solve on the spot

Talking on the phone with them is a lot of work

We talk about our kids more than anything else

They pay for everything in cash

They loved Seinfeld

Loving and learning

I’ve learned some incredible lessons on this dating journey. From simple things like all men are smaller physically in person than they appear in photos to the more complex like, even the most guarded men will show their sensitivity if given enough time.

I’ve learned to keep my expectations low for the first date. Don’t let my imagination fill in and make the gentlemen perfect and God-like. Don’t start planning vacations with them in my mind.man with sunbeams

I’ve learned if you find someone really good, stop looking. Turn off the Match.com machine and focus thoughtfully on your man.

I’ve learned I can feel uninteresting and shy again when out on a date. I can be transported back to the days when I didn’t lead or contribute dazzlingly to conversations. The difference is now instead of allowing that feeling to linger or affect my self-esteem, I realize I’m in the wrong conversations. There’s a Dave or Rob or Julio out there who wants to draw me out, read books, develop ideas, reveal his fears, share his dreams, watch smart TV and yeah, get naked with me (some things never change;).

Tell me about your dating experiences. What have you learned about relationships? What have you learned about yourself?

If you loved Introvert Dating in Her 40s… then you may also enjoy:

Introvert Relationships: Love Me or Leave Me But Please Don’t Need Me (Too Much)

Introverts Explained: Why We Love You But Need to Get Away From You

Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On?

Introvert Relationships: Are Our Expectations for Love Unobtainable?

My Introverted Love Creed: If We Can’t Be Magnificent and Independent Together I’m OK Alone

Leave a Reply

15 Comments

  1. susipet
    May 5, 2014

    This was great
    I found myself in the same spot in my early fifties – and agree as an introvert being able to do all the checking out by email etc first made online dating a good introvert option!
    One of the most challenging bits being writing your profile

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      May 6, 2014

      Oh I know! Writing the profile is an ever evolving process. As I get a clearer picture of what I am looking for and who I am my profile changes.

      Reply
  2. ilona fried
    May 5, 2014

    Resonated again! I’m curious, though, why it’s a turn off if a man pays in cash. Is it less elegant, or something else? Still pondering this one for myself…

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      May 6, 2014

      Hi Ilona! Paying in cash has been a tipoff more than once that a gentleman is in financial straits, i.e. such bad credit that they can’t have a credit card or their cards are so maxed they can’t use them. It’s possible a man doesn’t believe in credit and only pays with cash but that would be fairly rare I would think. Plus the financially savvy guys and gals I know have credit cards so that they can accumulate points for flights or dollars back. Now you know!:)

      Reply
      • ilona fried
        May 6, 2014

        Thanks for spelling it out…I haven’t been actively dating in a while and have forgotten some of these clues.

        Reply
  3. Michaela Chung
    May 5, 2014

    I loved this. I can completely relate to your insights. Some of them were hilarious! I agree that when men expect you to plan the date, or expect you make the first move, it’s usually a bad sign. I also find that with some men, the conversation flows beautifully and with others it is stilted and uncomfortable.

    One of my biggest pet peeves as an introverted woman is when men try to bully me into talking: “you’re so quiet, say something”. or they talk endlessly about themselves and then ask a really broad question like, “tell me about yourself” or “what do you think?” and expect me to launch into an equally long monologue about myself.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      May 6, 2014

      I dislike the really broad questions too! I’d much rather be engaged in a back and forth banter (2 way electricity) than have one person give a long monologue and then turn to the other to do the same. Too much pressure. Where to start??

      Thanks for sharing Michaela!! Love to hear other people’s dating input.:)

      Reply
  4. Ellie Rezk
    May 3, 2014

    Brenda, I love how you are giving love a chance, sorting through all of this and tying in your past and present dating experiences. What I truly believe is that when we get really clear on what we want (in pretty much anything), that’s when we begin to draw it into our lives. I am married but I’ve had a couple of funny dating realizations lately that I thought I’d share. First, I LOVED the movie Valley Girl in high school. My girlfriends and I would watch it over and over and Randy (character played by Nick Cage) was definitely my 80’s movie guy crush. Recently, I watched the movie and what I realized is that I married a man very much like the character Randy, which I found very interesting. At the time I met my husband, I never consciously made the connection but as I go back and watch the movie, it’s very clear. Another funny thing that recently happened is I took one of the those 80s boyfriend quizzes that was going around on Facebook. I tried to answer the quiz as if I were 18 and the 80s movie boyfriend they gave me was Bender (Judd Nelson) from The Breakfast Club. Now, Bender was a lot like my high school boyfriend, So, what I realized is that because I dated someone who didn’t treat me too well in high school, I learned my lesson and tended to gravitate to guys who treated me well after that .. and ultimately ended up marrying a sweet guy. Therefore, I think there is a huge benefit to initially dating the wrong people, kissing a lot of frogs because it helps you see the contrast for what you like and don’t like. The key is to pay close attention and you’re absolutely doing that!

    Reply
  5. November
    May 2, 2014

    “As an introvert, I appreciate the quiet and convenience of emails and texts.”
    Me too. I definitely enjoy talking with people (NOT anti-social!), but I choose email/text over phone calls ANY day (partly phobia, partly choice). I don’t want to just have *A* conversation with an end….I like ongoing chatter. I am proud of how random I can be (people seem to be amused by it/me), it’s not always something important, so I don’t feel the need to disturb people by calling them; just answer my text/email when it’s convenient. Talking (physically and/or emotionally) exhausts me sometimes, but texting never annoys me. A text/email lets me know the person is thinking about me, something very important to me right now, especially with how much alone time I feel the need to take.

    Unfortunately, I’ve almost lost a friendship because of a missed text, and I’ve hurt some feelings because voice inflection/body language were not available to convey the full message. So, one should be careful. (It’s too bad that this happens…..texting is so easy.)

    I like the things you listed…both the positives and negatives. Even though I’m not ready to date, I’m already putting together my criteria, my likes/dislikes, my turn-on’s/-off’s. With what I’ve discovered about my (separated) husband and about myself in our 4 years of marriage, I need to make smarter, more informed choices in the future. Your points are food for thought. And I REALLY like the “picture of his junk” story because that is REALLY clever and right up my alley. 🙂

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      May 3, 2014

      I love the delayed response factor that comes into play with emails and texts. You don’t have to respond immediately, although texts feel a little more demanding than emails. It’s just so convenient to send off a quick text. I wish my parents texted because sometimes I just want to tell them something quickly and not have a long conversation.

      If I’m writing I’ll admit I can feel a twinge of annoyance if my phone keeps chiming with texts. The interruptions cause me to lose my focus.I know I could put my phone in another room but then I’m afraid I’ll miss an urgent text like one from my children.

      As another reader said, it’s very beneficial to know what you want. I think I learned what I DON’T want quicker than what I do but it still helped narrow down the field. I do try to be careful to not to be too reliant on my mental checklist. I have missed out or been too judgmental too quickly only to realize later that that person had a lot to offer beyond the small foible.

      You can’t help but be smarter and wiser this time around. You’ve learned so much from your marriage. More than one person told me not to choose a new partner who is the exact opposite of my ex-husband. Try to let the pendulum swing more to the middle. I went for the opposites anyway and my friends were right. They didn’t work out. There were good reasons I was drawn to my ex in the first place. A big important factor I’ve discovered in partner selection is how you feel about yourself when you are with someone. My best mates have made me feel absolutely at home and at ease. I can be myself. In fact, they make me feel like an A+ version of myself.
      Best of luck!!

      Reply
  6. Ruth Rainwater
    May 2, 2014

    Wish I had known all this the first time around! But then I wouldn’t have gotten divorced and I wouldn’t be with the fantastic guy I’m with now.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      May 3, 2014

      Nice! Glad to hear you found a wonderful man.:) There’s hope!

      Reply
  7. kimberlyharding
    May 2, 2014

    Great posting. I especially liked the part about “I am not much of an eater” I caught a bit of TV program once in which the person said “If you don’t like to eat I can’t trust you will be good in bed.” I am not sure how this person made the connection but it stayed with me. By the way, I married an eater 🙂

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      May 3, 2014

      I love the quote about eating and being good in bed! I’m going to remember that.:) I think there is a passion/food/sensuality connection. If you are happy to take the time to notice and enjoy food then you will take the time to be present and aware sexually as well.;) I am an eater and prefer mates who are as well.

      Reply
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