Sunday, March 29, 2015

Are Dating Rules And Rituals Really Worth It?

Maybe it’s time we go back to the basics…

I must admit I get sentimental just thinking about the “good ole days” of dating and courtship.  I remember when I was growing up a guy would ask a woman out on a date without any other expectation other than enjoying her company for the evening.  Women, on the other hand, wouldn’t dare invite a man in her house on the first date, especially if she lived alone, not even for a cup of coffee.  Nowadays, it seems those dating rituals have changed but unfortunately haven’t made dating any better or easier for innocent young lovers.

So why has dating changed so much over the years?  Well, it’s complicated!  But let’s start with a little history lesson.  In the book by Stephanie Coontz, “Marriage, A History”, the author surmises that in ancient civilizations upper class families were much more involved in the “dating” lives (I’m using the term dating loosely here) of their children because family resources were at stake and could jeopardize the wealth and inheritance the family had accumulated.  “Commoners” or lower class families as they were known at the time “dated” and married for practical reasons.  Raising a family and running a household placed serious demands on men and women.  For instance, men were involved in farming and field work while women had to bear children who would eventually be responsible for performing certain duties taking some of the burden off of their parents.  So, as you can see, men and women needed each other to ensure their own survival.

Fast forward to a time when I believe the term “dating” actually began, Coontz states that “for a period of time, it was inconceivable that people would choose their mates on the basis of something as fragile and irrational as love…it was a serious threat to social order”.  But by the late 17th and 18th century, there was a shift that occurred introducing this new concept of looking for love or finding your soulmate as opposed to earlier generations when the practical demands and societal pressures were the basis for your search.  The author asserts that critics of this new age idea warned that society could be opening “Pandora’s box” with such “free choice and egalitarianism”. For example, how then would young people, particularly women, choose the right type of mate without help from parents or wise elders in the community?  And as time went on, the “free love” movement began to produce many “out of wedlock” births from young men and women as accurately predicted by critics of this movement.   

But if we’re to be honest with ourselves, we all want to date and eventually marry for love, right?  Besides, who wants to be with someone who makes them unhappy?  We wouldn’t want to have it any other way!  However, as you can see from our history, there are many other factors to consider besides love.  You’re also evaluating this person to determine if they would be a good fit for you long term.  For example, if you’re a woman dating someone who can’t even pay for a simple date night out, you may want to re-evaluate your options as that person may not be financially stable or fit for you at this time.  If you’re a man and you desire to have kids but the woman you’re dating isn’t even caring or nurturing to the kids in her own family, you may have a problem.

With the rise of feminism and the Women’s Liberation Movement, dating became even more complicated because although women gained more rights outside of the home, women still wanted the same preferential treatment by men as they did in the previous generations, particularly in the courting process.  Men, on the other hand, no longer saw the need to be as chivalrous since women could now pay for their own meal and essentially take care of themselves.  The 1960’s and 1970’s created a time of great social change and unrest that we are still trying to figure out in the world today.

In the book, “Manning Up”, Hymowitz writes that social groups have always been involved in providing scripts for young people to follow in dating for marriage.  She states “there was always a good deal of adult supervision in the form of chaperones, church dances, community socials and curfews”.  As opposed to the dating rituals of today which are virtually non-existent.  The question we have to ask ourselves is how this has helped us as a society have better relationships.  Maybe having a few dating rules and rituals in our personal repertoire isn’t such a bad idea after all.

But were society’s rules and rituals for dating really worth it?  Listen, I know dating is complicated and I don’t profess to have all the answers but I do think there were some dating scripts that were worth their weight in gold.  As a woman, you need to evaluate a man not based solely on your feelings for him (which can result from lust and changing hormones in the beginning) but how he respects you as a person and can ultimately can provide for a household.  That’s why rules were formed.  They knew when young lover’s hearts and emotions are involved, they’re not thinking too clearly and miss the key things about a person that ordinarily would raise “red flags” that the person they’re dating may not have their best interests at heart.

You see, in the beginning of the courtship, dating should be fun and frivolous but you’re also in the process of choosing the right person.  You’re allowed to date as many people as possible to determine the right fit.  And contrary to popular belief, there is really no such thing as “exclusivity” when you’re not married to someone, particularly in the courtship.  I believe this dating trend came about as a result of couples wanting to be sexually active with their partner and consequently wanting to control their partner’s sexual activities outside of the relationship.  Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee your partner is going to be “sexually exclusive” to you even when they’ve made that promise.  At least when you’re at the point of engagement, you and your mate have made an official commitment to each other as evidenced by a ring and probably won’t want to screw it up. 

Engagement then, was really meant for exclusivity as viewed by earlier generations and was thought to culminate in marriage.  Once a couple decided upon engagement, all previous lovers would be eliminated from their search.  The couple could now focus on each other without distraction.  Oppositely, in modern times, engagement is thought to be solely for the purposes of wedding planning.  In fact, most of the engagement process is riddled with wedding planning rather than focusing on the deeper aspects of the person to be clear if this is the person you can see yourself with for the rest of your life.  Maybe it’s time we revisit these dating rituals rather than throwing out the “baby with the bath water”.

To sum this up, dating has changed tremendously over the years.  From the practical demands of finding someone to run a household to today’s ideals of finding someone in which to cherish and love.  But with these changing times, we’ll need to change how we date as well.  The courtship process can still be a fun and exciting way to find the one you love but we’ll need to use some of those dating rules and rituals our elders taught us to ensure we meet and mate with the right person.  Sadly, there are no more wise elders in our community watching over us, but you do have a wide resource of books and literature written directly to help you in this process.  And with a few of these techniques and our own moral compass, we’ll be able to make long lasting changes to the dating process for generations to come!

Thanks for reading

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Best Dating Tips For Singles Over 40

Just Because You’ve Grown Older Doesn’t Mean You Should Lose Your Sexy!

I was just a young girl barely old enough to have a job when I met and encountered one of the most beautiful women over 40 I would ever meet in my life.  I met her during my early years of interning for the city government.  I mean when she walked in the room, men knew she was there.  She always had a smile on her face or a chuckle as she laughed.  She was the star of the show and everyone around her knew it.  But she was never arrogant, just confident and it always showed in her demeanor.  Only years later would I learn that this wasn’t always characteristic of women over 40.  And at the time, I was much too young and shy to ask her for her secrets of growing old gracefully.  But over the years as I’ve explored this terrain as a dating coach and professional matchmaker extensively, I’ve listed the key traits below I believe are essential to be successful in this journey.

Having Confidence – This trait may be key to all singles but it’s especially key for singles over 40 because by this time, you should know who you are and what you want out of life.  And this should be evident to the people you meet in your travels.  When you walk into a room, people should automatically know that you have a purpose for being there and they should want to meet you.  You’re not bossy or conceited, just sure of what you’re about and that’s what makes you attractive.

Knowing Your Worth – No matter who you meet, they should be aware of what you bring to the table.  At this point in your life, you should probably bring financial stability and independence to any individual lucky enough to get your attention.  So if they can’t bring such value to the table as well, then you need to reconsider whether this person is right for you.  And this is really not about the amount of income your potential mate may have but rather how much stability they can bring and add to your life.  This is particularly true if you have children from a past relationship who may be adversely affected by your choice of suitors.

Now other than financial stability, you should also be able to bring kindness, warmth and companionship to the table.  You’re able to provide support to them when they need help and encouragement to them in their darkest hour.  You are their rock.  That’s worth more than its weight in gold!  In turn, they should be able to provide you with the same value as well.  If they can’t, it’s time to look for other options!

Keeping Up With Your Looks – As a professional matchmaker who has observed many of my clients in their 40s looking for love, I can tell you that looks are the first thing that goes at that stage in life.  I really wish this wasn’t true but over and over I see singles over 40 give up on their looks.  Let’s face it.  We get tired from working on the job, let our kids run us down and let our past relationships get the best of us.  There’s just nothing left to give to anyone new who may enter our lives.  I get it.  But let’s also face reality.  You’re now back in the dating market with other beautiful singles.  And while I don’t believe in competition in dating, I do believe we may not be making the best impression on any potential suitors we meet.

Now without sounding too superficial, I must tell you that keeping up with your looks is almost the single most important thing you can do when you’re dating over 40.  Keeping a fresh, youthful appearance tells the world you’re happy with who you are and anyone who comes into your life will share in that happiness.  People tend to feel good around people who keep themselves together.  This is particularly true with women where the odds of meeting men in your age range may not be the best.  You aren’t trying to be 25 again nor would you want to be that age again.  You’re just expressing your own unique sense of style in a way that is still attractive to the opposite sex.

Staying In Shape – Now this is another area I’ve seen older singles regress on in their later years of life.  Interestingly enough, this is really the time you should be more actively engaged in physical activity because your metabolism slows down as you age.  Even our bones start to degenerate if we’re not lifting enough weights or getting a daily dosage of movement into our daily lives. 

And other than all the other health benefits associated with staying in shape, we still want to be in a relatively healthy shape to enjoy our partners.  Do you really want to have a series of health conditions when you’re just starting your life over with someone new?  Of course not!  Then this is why it’s essential to continue to find ways to implement physical activities into your life so you can continue to maintain a nice healthy shape and thus have lots of energy for your spouse.  You don’t have to go mountain climbing like the 20 something’s but maybe a taking a beginner’s Zumba class or a cycling class may just be the thing to get your adrenaline pumping in the right direction!

Maintaining Your Boundaries – We have to be careful that at this stage in our lives, we do not lower our standards for anyone not worthy to be with us.  It’s easy to be with someone because we haven’t been in a relationship in a long time.  As a matter of fact, your potential mate will sense this and act against your best interests accordingly.  To a con-artist aka “player”, there’s nothing better than finding someone who is vulnerable and so willing to be in a relationship that they will risk it all!  And it’s even better for them when they know you’re over 40 because they know you now have more financial assets to bring to the table and that they can con out of you.

You’re boundaries at this point should be rock solid.  You’ve been through the games.  You know the deal.  Anyone acting outside of your best interests shouldn’t even be allowed in the door.  You’ve been there…done that!  You’re looking for the type of person that’s ready for a mature commitment.  All others need not apply! 

Being The Total Package – As you have matured, you have become the “total package”.  Your potential spouse is lucky to have someone who is knowledgeable, seasoned and can bring many experiences to the relationship.  You aren’t just another pretty face like you were in your 20’s.  There’s more of an in depth connection about you.  Prioleau states in the book, Seductress:  Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love, “one of our deepest erotic wishes…is to be known and validated for our true selves”.  In other words, your wisdom and ability to understand human nature is now your greatest gift.  You laugh at the mistakes you made when you were young because they made you who you are at this stage in the game.  Any suitor that approaches you knows they need to be on par to be with you. 

In short, as I reminisce on the woman who would forever be my muse of what an older woman should be like in her 40s, I do have hope for all of my friends, clients and associates in this age range.  I want you to know that life doesn’t stop over the age of 40.  As a matter of fact, it’s just the opposite.  You know more about life and have experienced more in life making you much more indispensable to anyone you meet.  And while you may not be the type of “femmes fatale” woman I met during my early years of internship, you should be the type of person whom people just can’t stop staring because they’re so in awe of you!  If you can keep these things in mind in your journey, dating will be a cinch!

Thanks for reading!

Please visit my website at for more information on our relationship coaching services and for a free 15 minute consultation.

Please also connect with us on Facebook