Dear Annie, I'm fed up with my friend's negativity about dating. She frequently tells me that men want to date younger women and that they aren't interested in dating women my age.
Many people have told me that I do not look my age. I take care of myself and try to look my best.
How can I get her to see that people of all ages date? Life doesn't need to stop because I'm 53. Alice
If you're like most women, positive, supportive friends are great allies to have as you handle dating's inevitable ups and downs. A good friend can remind you of your strengths and desirability, along with serving as a reflective sounding board as you become acquainted with various possible romantic partners.
This kind of friend can also help you to roll with the punches, see your dates for who they are—rather than who you would like them to be—and can point things out as you sort through what is important to you.
On the other hand, interacting with someone who is negative and discouraging is likely to demoralize you every time you see each other. Someone who tells you that you aren't good enough—whether it's because you're "too old," "too heavy" or anything else—isn't really your friend.
When it comes to dating and love, most women can't tell you what a particular man is seeking.
Every man is interested in a different type of woman. Most people, no matter what shape they're in, want to date someone who is youthful, takes good care of his or herself, and is in good shape. Most want to be in a relationship where they can feel loved, appreciated and treated well.
Older men--especially those who lack substantial wealth--who want to date a much younger woman, often find it's difficult to find those who are interested in dating them, as they tend to look like their older relatives.
You can tell your friend that there is no expiration date on a woman's desirability to men. I know plenty of men and women who married in their fifties, sixties and seventies.
But, you've probably tried that and it hasn't worked.
Since you know that she's likely to get negative, simply avoid the topic of dating when you're with her. If she asks how your love life is going tell her it is fine. Then change the subject by asking her a question about her life.
If she persists, tell her that you will be sure to let her know when there is something important to share about your romantic life. In the meantime, the topic is off-limits because you want to put less of a focus on it when there is no one special in the picture.
Many of my clients have found that limiting discussions about their dating lives to one or two supportive friends helps them to stay grounded and focused on what is truly important for them. The result is that they make better decisions about their dates.
If you think about it, you probably shouldn't put too much weight on most people's opinions about your dating life. Trust your perceptions. After all, you are the one who is experiencing it. And, if you watch what a man does, most things are pretty obvious.
If a man likes you, he'll ask you out. He'll contact you in-between dates. He'll plan ahead so that he has the opportunity to spend time with you. He'll ask you to be in an exclusive relationship and to be his girlfriend after he's gotten to know you. He'll talk about the kind of relationship he wants.
Keeping a positive attitude as you're dating helps you to enjoy the process. It gives you the energy you need to be patient as you wait for things to naturally unfold.
In the meantime, spend time with friends who are supportive of your dating endeavors.