A few of my parents’ friends are now divorced or widowed, with kids out of the house, and they’re looking to meet someone new. Some want to fall in love and hope to have a romance in the second part of their lives, others are just looking for companionship and someone to enjoy life with. One of the women I know commented on how “old” the men her age are and how tough it is to meet someone. Reminded me of every other single I know in their 20s and 30s. Except different. You see, when you’re 60 and dating you have baggage, as in a house, kids, grandkids, a former spouse — but the good thing is that both of you are probably coming to the table with the same baggage, so that’s not something you should get hung up on. Your preferences have changed when you’re not looking to start a family with someone, but you will be grandparent-ing together so you still want someone with the same values as you. The woman also said that the physical aspect wasn’t as important anymore, and I admit that was good to hear. Sure you want to be attracted to your mate, but it’s more important to find someone you want to spend time with at this point.
People often don’t think about the fact that the woman or man they are talking to belong to a large group of people. This extensive network of people can include family, friends, and professional acquaintances. This excess baggage can have a profound effect on your future relationship with any person.
It is easy to dismiss this fact on a first date. All that you see at the restaurant is a lovely woman. This does not seem so bad at all. What she is not telling you is that her ex-boyfriend is a psychopath and her parents are overprotective. She also has a brother in prison and a baby sister. She routinely goes to the prison several times a week to see her brother. When not at prison, she is busy taking care of her baby sister, who is quite literally a baby. Her parents are notorious hoarders, and cannot take care of the baby by themselves
Also, you are not thinking about this woman’s extensive network of friends. Her best friend lives in Canada and they put aside an hour every night to talk on Skype®. Your date’s roommate is a man with an on again off again relationship with her. You will meet him whenever she invites you over to her place. That is going to be an inevitable nightmare.
Since she is a dog person, she owns five Rottweilers who live in her apartment. She has a restraining order against two other ex-boyfriends that are both in love with her. You do not know this yet, but once you are in a deeper relationship with this woman, you will be forced to deal with these two men as they constantly try to reconnect with your girlfriend.
If no man is an island, then no woman is an islet.
Can you please help me to find a way to start a conversation with a woman? Can you please tell me what subjects I should, or should not, talk about at the first meeting? Thanks in advance!
Dear Conversation Starter,
Great question! There are some cute ‘n catchy lines you can use to start a conversation. These include, “I didn’t know they made Jews like you!” or you can just go the straight forward route with, “Hi, my name is Tamar it’s nice to meet you.” To be perfectly honest, if a girl is interested it doesn’t matter what you say!
As for conversation topics to avoid, don’t discuss any baggage. Baggage includes past relationships, dramas, illnesses and other types of negativity-inducing subjects. Instead, concentrate on discussing positive topics like the things you have in common — your hobbies, favorite foods, pets, etc. And if you find the conversation could keep going all night, then parlay that into a second date!
In your August 23rd column entitled “What’s TMI?” you advocate withholding information – such as being divorced – from one’s profile or introductory email, as it is “too much information” (TMI) and you seem to suggest waiting until you’re already making plans to meet to mention it for the first time.
While I think I understand your rationale and agree that it is unnecessary to ‘tell all’ at the outset, it nonetheless smacks distinctly of being dishonest, or at least less than candid – which is hardly the right way to kick off a potential relationship. I’m specifically speaking to divorce. Can you clarify?
Dear TMI Clarify,
I appreciate your response. I’m not telling anyone to lie. In fact, people who lie in their JDate profiles abhor me because they’re going to be found out eventually. In the specific letter you are referring to, the woman was recovering from a major surgery and in that specific case I didn’t feel it was necessary for her to use her “About Me” paragraph to talk about it, though I did advise her to tell her dates on the phone prior to meeting.
As for divorcees: If you’re divorced, separated or widowed, you most definitely need to be honest and check the appropriate box. My advice is simply not to get into all the gory details about your previous marriage — or even about previous relationships if you’ve never been married — in your “About Me” paragraph until after having been on a few dates. And as I said in “What’s TMI?” this rule goes for anything pertaining to drama in your life. For those previously married you should absolutely not lie as it is a part of your life and forever will be. But spending two hours talking about your divorce and how the children are handling it is simply not romantic nor does it allow your date to get to know YOU. I hope I’ve cleared things up!
I have been on JDate for a few months. More than 100 men have viewed my profile. I am communicative and don’t hesitate to reach out. I don’t usually have self confidence issues, am optimistic and funny but no one responds to me. Many of those men seemed like serious, interesting people who I’d love to meet just for coffee. I do not mind being on my own, but I desire companionship and connections with other people. My father suggested it’s because I am healing from a spinal problem. I have so much to offer the right person, but I won’t be dishonest. Could people possibly be rejecting me because I can’t do cartwheels right now? The lack of response is disheartening, but also baffling. I tell myself I am only looking for one, but it doesn’t change the fact that no one responds to me. Any advice?
Dear What’s TMI?
I give you credit for making such an effort while recovering from a spinal injury. That said, I don’t think mentioning that injury is necessary in an introductory email and especially not in your profile — this includes not having photos showing your injury. You’re not lying; this information is simply none of their business at this point. To put it blunt — these guys are basically strangers right now. A disability, a divorce, or depression, or anything that could be seen as negative or as “baggage,” is TMI — too much information. My advice would be to not mention your injury and recovery until you are making plans to meet. The first date will probably take place at the typical bar, restaurant or coffee shop, so simply mention you’ll be arriving in a brace or using a walker or what-have-you and briefly explain why and offer to tell the whole story on the date. Do not mention your injury before then. Any emails you send to men on JDate should be casual, upbeat, and short and sweet. Mentioning this and explaining your recovery from a spinal injury is anything but those three things and it unfortunately doesn’t surprise me that you haven’t received a response. I bet with your new approach, you will! Good luck on your recovery and on finding love!
We all know the term and my guess is we all have seen profiles that advertise as baggage free or looking for someone with no baggage. What in the world does this term really mean? Are we supposed to believe that there are “baggage free” people out there? Unless you have been living under a rock, baggage is inevitable. I prefer to use the term experience. Without experience, human beings have nothing to weigh moments in life against. Do you really want to date someone who hasn’t spent time dating and learning what he/she likes or dislikes in potential significant others? Do you want to date someone who has no clue how to communicate with a romantic partner? Do you want to date someone who has to be molded in every sense of the word? Unless these are qualities you are looking for in another person, remove the word “baggage from your list of dislikes. Baggage; AKA experience, makes us who we are and helps us to not repeat our mistakes.
I’m constantly reminded by the flight attendants that the Airline only allows one carry-on baggage that can either fit in the overhead compartment or beneath the seat in front of me. Aaaah, wouldn’t life be that grand if relationships were the same? You start dating someone, things are great…you are in the honeymoon phase…you can’t get enough of each other..it is an intoxicating high… AND thump….clarity ensues as you learn of the proverbial baggage that we all have… So, now what? The airline usually takes the excessive baggage and makes you check it- but in reality, the temporary fix of the reshuffle is not that easy. We all have histories and we all have baggage, so I guess the bottom line is whether we can deal with the pieces that have been revealed or do we opt for someone with less pieces? Divorce..widow…kids…jailbird..axe murder…insane mother…depression… are all pieces that don’t always neatly fold into the ideal ‘Leave it To Beaver’ Land. Of course, being able to deal with the proverbial baggage depends on your own individual history, exposure and strength. And if you decide you can’t deal, who knows if the next lover won’t have the same baggage or more? I guess I’m wishful in hoping the baggage of my future mate fits neatly in the overhead compartment. But, that’s highly unlikely because life is not a fairytale. However, the truth is that I would rather opt for the “right person” with excessive baggage than the wrong person whose baggage fits neatly into the overhead compartment. But I guess that also depends on the weight restriction…