With the possible exception of today's 20 somethings, most of us would like to be in a loving relationship. Certainly those of us in our 50's, desire the emotional intimacy and the simple joy of sharing life's journey with someone special.
After my marriage breakdown and subsequent divorce, whilst I certainly did not rush in to anything, I was well aware that eventually, that was what I was ultimately after. So, after a period of time, I felt myself ready to date again and delved into the scary world of online and speed dating.
But was I really ready for a relationship? The answer in hindsight was, No! This as it turns out, is quite the norm. Based on my own experiences and observations from the dating scene, I believe that there are in fact 4 distinct stages we go through on our road to a new relationship.
The first step, especially after a long term relationship is to rediscover just who you are and to lose the baggage left behind from your previous relationship. In a previous post, I discuss this further. However it is important that you accept that this is indeed a part of the process.
The second stage is to actually get out into the world and begin meeting new people.This can be very daunting and whilst it takes a conscious decision on your part, it is usually sparked by some prodding from friends, your feeling of loneliness or a mixture of both.
I tried several ways of meeting new people including bars, blind dates, online dating and speed dating. All of which for me took courage and a conscious decision to get out and about. From my experience, by far the most effective and fun way, was speed dating. I found speed dating a lot of fun, once I got my head around the concept. My post on speed dating contains a number of tips and hints based on my own experiences.
Unfortunately, simply getting out and meeting people does not necessarily mean you are actually ready to date and the same applies to those you meet. Being ready to meet people is different to being ready to date.
During my time at speed dating events, I met a number of wonderful people, who unbeknown to themselves, were not emotionally ready to actually date. So being ready to date is the third stage.
As a result of speed dating, I went on a number of actual dates with wonderful people that never eventuated into a second date. The reason was not always incompatibility, much of the time it was because one or both of us were not really ready to date and so without knowing it, we built emotional walls around ourselves. Again this is normal and something that will change when you are indeed ready to seriously date again.
The fourth stage is being genuinely ready and open to a relationship. This means that you brush aside commitment issues, the fear of getting hurt and the pain of previous relationships.
There is no shortcut to get here, nor is there a light bulb going off informing you when you arrive. What I found, was that dating was becoming more relaxed and comfortable, and that I was going on more second and third dates.
For me the end result has been, I am now 6 months into a relationship that sees me very happy and thinking, if only the two of us had met earlier. The reality is that had we met earlier, unless both of us were ready for a relationship it is highly unlikely that we would have progressed beyond a second or third date.
This is not because of a lack of compatibility, but because one or both of us were unconsciously not ready to risk the commitment a relationship entails. Time, as well as meeting and dating people is really the only way for your subconscious to break down the walls holding you back.
So, if like me you find yourself going on a few dates but not going any further. Don't beat yourself up, get despondent, depressed or give up. Simply accept that you or your dates are not quite ready, the timing is wrong and keep looking.
Regardless of the pain and hurt from your previous relationships, I for one believe that a relationship is well worth the struggle, the anguish, the self doubt and most of all, the risk. Just ask those around me who are saying that they have never seen me so happy.
Speed dating, I'm sure you have heard of it, and have scoffed at the very idea of trying it yourself. If you are anything like I was, then you no doubt think of it as too gimmicky and perhaps kitsch.
The truth however could not be further from the truth. The reality is, that speed dating is probably the most effective way, of finding that special someone in today's mostly impersonal tech focused world.
On this I am talking from personal experience, having tried a myriad of online dating sites and phone apps over quite a number of years, I finally decided to give speed dating a try. I immediately wished I had done so sooner and now, after a number of events I am in the early stages of dating a wonderful women I met through speed dating.
Speed dating itself, began in the late Nineties before becoming all the rage in the early Noughties. Then the buzz around it died, due mostly to the abundance of phone based dating apps.
However, that is all changing and people the world over are realizing that the impersonal nature of phone apps are ineffective as opposed to meeting face to face with real people.
So why such a turn around in the popularity of speed dating? In many ways it is due to societies current attitudes. People today lead very busy lives and traditional methods of meeting prospective dates are seen as inefficient, we want things to be more time effective.
Plus there is another side to societies attitude of the moment and that is the acceptance of casual sex. I mention this as it plays a big part in why other ways of meeting people have become ineffectual, at least at this moment in time. All too often nowadays, there is an assumption by those using online dating and smart phone apps that the majority of users are seeking a casual partners and those that aren't, are, as a result extremely guarded.
A similar thing applies to meeting people in bars and clubs, with societies acceptance of casual sex, people in bars and clubs with the help of alcohol, have a tendency to be wanting to find a casual partner rather than something more permanent. The overwhelming difference with speed dating as opposed to most other ways of meeting people is that it is purely focused on and attended by those who are looking for a genuine long term relationship.
So how does speed dating actually work and what goes on?
For starters every event I have ever attended has been a well organized and relaxed affair, taking place in a private area in a bar. The premise is quite simple, an equal number of men and women all wanting to meet eligible singles, who get the opportunity to briefly engage in conversation as a way of screening potential dates.
Don't think of speed dating as going on 12 to 15 dates over the course of an evening, as you really are not dating anyone. Moreover, it is an opportunity to meet other singles and find out if there is any mutual interest which may lead to a genuine date.
The evening will usually begin with everybody casually mingling usually with a drink in hand. During this period waiting for everybody to arrive, I have met some wonderful people and have had fascinating conversations with men and women alike.
Bear in mind that should you feel a bit apprehensive, a bit nervous, that everybody else is feeling that exact same way, you are all there for the very same reason.
Once every body has arrived and been given a numbered name tag ( You are certainly not expected to remember everyone's names), then the ladies will sit at their allocated table/seat where they will be joined by the guy whose number matches that table. A bell will ring and you begin chatting for 5 minutes before another bell lets the men know that it is time to move to the next table.
The events I have been to have at the halfway point, had a break, enabling you to refresh your drink and again casually mingle, this time over some trays of finger food. After the event has seen you spend time with every prospective date, people again will mingle.
After meeting each date you then mark on a sheet of paper a simple yes/no against their name, this is used by the organizers to work out mutual matches. The key word here though is mutual, both parties need to say yes for there to be a match. The following day, you will receive an email or text message with the contact details of any matches. From there it is up to you.
For those of you in my home town of Perth in Western Australia, it would be remiss of me not to recommend Dare2Date. I have have always found that Dare2Date events something that I looked forward to, fun and well organized evenings spent meeting a range of wonderful people. Debbie who runs Dare2Date is also a relationship coach who offers services such as online profile writing and personal coaching.
The overwhelming feeling with Dare2Date is that the staff are passionate about helping people finding their special someone and that the financial side is never the focus. ( Unlike online dating whereby it is all just a money making machine)
Advice on getting the best out of your speed dating time.
Over the course of the past two years I have attended quite a few speed dating events and it is fair to say I have learnt a few do's and dont's. So I think it time now to share some tidbits of advice from my own experiences with speed dating.
The first thing I will say is to relax and don't put too much pressure on yourself. You certainly do not want to be seen as a sweaty bundle of nerves. So relax, be yourself and feel confident about who you are.
Treat the event as a great night out. If the right person is there you will get a match, if not well that's okay too because you would have had a fun evening, meeting a variety of people you wouldn't normally get to meet
Whilst it is important to be yourself, if being yourself means wearing football shorts and a T-shirt, then you may need a rethink. Dress to impress while still staying true to who you are. If the only time you have ever worn a suit was to your Grandmothers funeral, now is not the time to wear it again. You must feel comfortable. Your clothes can have a dramatic effect on how you come across at a speed dating event.
It is widely accepted that confidence is a trait women find appealing, overdress and you will feel uncomfortable and awkward. However, dressing better than you normally would, will leave you feeling great, your posture will improve as will your confidence and sense of self worth.
An item of clothing that men tend to forget that women will generally notice is your footwear. A good pair of leather dress shoes always look smart, just make sure you polish them. Think about your grooming, have a haircut a day or two before, have a shower, brush your teeth and use a breath freshener, clean and file your fingernails and wear some nice cologne.
Make certain that you have allowed plenty of time to get to the event and you know where it is and where you will park if driving. The early bird catches the worm as they say, so if you arrive late, then every other guy in the room has already had plenty of time to mingle and make a great first impression with the ladies.
Do not become a cliche. It is natural for everybody at a speed dating event to ask the same things. What do you do for work, What do you do for fun, What are your hobbies?etc. Remember, this is not a first date.
Speed Dating is simply a way to discover if you and your fellow single have enough interest in each other to want to know more. So leave the interrogation for later, you only have 5 minutes and that goes very quickly. I suggest all you want is some light hearted banter, just as you would in a bar situation.
Plan ahead. This I cannot emphasis enough. Think about what you will talk about. Yes the conversation needs to be natural and not seem rehearsed, but it is vital that you come armed with a choice of conversation starters. Light hearted and simple questions, questions that do not require deep thought to answer. Just remember, they are nervous too and like you they want to leave a great impression.
I once made the mistake of asking What would your Biography be called?, sure it is a question that could reflect a lot about a person, but it is not one easily answered in a hurry. Asking this question, meant long pauses of up to a minute long as they thought carefully on how to answer.
I have also asked, What superpower would you not want to have? again not an easy one to answer quickly. So think about questions that if asked of you, you could answer easily, without having to stop and think too long.
What type of questions are easy to answer? Multiple choice. Just remember to keep them light hearted, everybody likes to smile, especially when in a nerve wracking situation like speed dating . So perhaps instead of asking about which superpower etc ask something like, Superman has X-ray vision and can fly, which one would you choose? The response will then be one or the other.
It is not the answer that counts, it is the fun conversation that ensues that really matters. I mentioned to my wonderful Ladyfriend (that I met at a speed dating event) that I was writing this post. Her response was for me to share the conversation starter I used that night.
That evening I went armed with a few questions with a choice of two answers but the one that really generated great conversation was " If you have to give up one of these two things for the rest of your life, which one do you choose to keep? Coffee or Chocolate?" The answers then led onto discussions about needing coffee to start the day or how a piece of chocolate cake is their go to pick me up when feeling down etc. The answer itself was irrelevant, but the resulting conversation was always lively, easy and fun.
As mentioned earlier, you have a piece of paper on which you respond with a yes or no to each single you meet. I suggest that against each name you make a notation as a way to remember who they were. You are meeting a lot of new people in a short space of time, so don't expect to remember all their names the next day.
It need not be an essay,a note about something that makes them unique and memorable, "wore a red dress", "liked listening to Tom Waits", "has an amazing smile and dimples". Then at the end of the night, take out your phone and take a photo of the sheet as you will be handing this sheet back to the organizers. This way, when you recieve your matches contact details, you know exactly who they are.
My final piece of advice, relates your yes and no responses. My advice is to have Yes as your default response. So instead of trying find a reason to say Yes and ending up saying No to everyone, say yes to everyone unless you really feel you have no interest at all. Saying Yes is not a marriage proposal, all it is that you are saying is, yes I am interested in finding out a bit more about this person over more than a rushed 5 minute timeframe
So I urge all singles to give speed dating a try. Go in with a positive mindset, free of any expectations aside from having a great evening. Ensure you are dressed and groomed well and smell nice. Smile , engage with everybody, whether it is whilst mingling or in a one on one situation and most of all, have fun.
I have over the past 2 years, started to get back into the dating scene again and whilst I am still at the time of writing, single, I have met some wonderful people. The dating scene has changed a great deal over the past 10 years and it is only natural that a 50 year old, enters this scary new world with trepidation.
Online dating is something that I have tried, along with speed dating and more traditional ways of meeting people. One thing my experience has taught me is that not everyone is ready to date again, regardless of having an online dating profile or their presence at a speed dating event.
Looking back, I for one, was not really ready when I first put my self out there. It would seem that for many, myself included, dabbling in online dating can at first be a way to "test the waters", a right of passage without having to dive head first into dating and risk being hurt.
We all know that it takes time to move on from previous relationships, especially when the decision for it to end was not our own, and nobody wants to be hurt again. It simply doesn't matter if we are 20 or 50 , our instinct is to be cautious and wary about opening ourselves up too soon.
However, just as our natural instinct is to remain guarded, most of us also fear being alone and crave the companionship of a special someone. The end result of these conflicting instincts, is for many of us to re-enter the dating scene before we are totally ready.
The first thing I wish to say is that, understanding that this in itself is both normal and a part of your journey, is the first crucial step in your search for love again. Over the past two years, I have met many lovely women who unbeknownst to themselves, had a protective wall built around them.
It is of course almost impossible to gain much of a rapport or connection with someone who is not willing to open themselves up, the end result being that we would both not feel the desire for a second date. I should add that, 3 months, 6 months even a year later, things may well have been different.
Knowing and accepting whether or not you are fully ready to date again is crucial , for if you are still in that initial stage of dating where you are building a protective wall, then your dating attempts are likely to be unfruitful. This of course then leads to a negative headspace, "Whats wrong with me", "Am I unlovable" etc.
So instead of filling your head with self doubt, ask yourself, " Am I genuinely ready to start dating and open myself up to possibly being hurt again, or am I still being overly cautious and guarded?" If you feel that you are indeed not allowing yourself to be fully open, understand that this is OK, the very fact that you are trying the dating scene again says that you are half way there.
Do not take it a a sign to drop out of the dating scene all together, rather, keep going, get out there met new people, practice your dating skills and know that your very next date may find you both ready to date and in the company of "the one". Accept that all this is part of the journey and your road to finding your special someone.
Divorced and nearly 50 I rediscovered who I was.