There’s a line from a movie that goes something like, “It’s easier to get struck by lightning after age 40 than it is to find true love.”
In my case, I’m over 50 — so maybe that’s why I can’t remember the movie.
And since my 2005 divorce after 16 years of marriage, I haven’t been struck by lightning either, literally or figuratively. Oh sure, I’ve met and dated a few women I knew as friends, and I was even able to meet new friends through the 21st-century version of the singles bar: online dating. But this isn’t the pool it used to be. The dating waters for single men, particularly those in my age group, have become difficult to navigate. I don’t want to say this was easier in the old days, but this was easier in the old days.
In the 1970s and even the ’80s, I was a part-time nightclub DJ. I could put on a record (boy, that really dates me!), and the dance floor would fill up before 9 p.m. Women would flock to my DJ booth to make requests to hear “Turn the Beat Around,” “Disco Inferno” and “Boogie, Oogie, Oogie!” I wonder now where all those ladies went. Well, I’m sure most of them married. None of them, however, married me.
Getting phone numbers and dates back then was easy. People weren’t nearly as guarded as they are now. I was also younger and could wear things that … well … I couldn’t wear today. My closet was stocked with tight-fitted shirts and bellbottoms. My shirt was unbuttoned four buttons down, and I wore a cross that was easily displayed. I donned platform shoes and a huge leather belt and had hair like Tony Orlando. As luck would have it, I was also an above-average fast dancer (still am!), so I was armed with Friday night skills not possessed by many of my single brethren.
I looked good, had a deep voice, came from a loving family and just like Tony Manero in “Saturday Night Fever,” I’m an Italian to boot! Look out, honey! Here I come. Would you like to dance? Money in the bank.
It’s a little different now. And it’s not just that all my buttons are buttoned, or that my shoes are flat. The playing field has changed dramatically. I’m 56 now, so it’s a little awkward approaching the same age women I did in 1977. Those women, if they aren’t married or involved with someone, are now in their 50s as well. But five years after divorce, I’m discovering something I didn’t expect. While I seemed to have plenty in common with these women three decades ago, I don’t anymore.
What happened? Why are we so far apart today?
This puzzled me as I re-entered the dating arena after age 50. But as I began interacting and dating those in my age group, the answer became clear. I found that most of these women married very early in life. Few in this age group finished or even attended college. By 20, they were married to their high-school sweethearts. A year later, they were starting their families. For the next 30 years, they were raising children, fighting recessions, and struggling with finances and employment status. As the pressures increased, the marriages became strained and eventually ended in divorce. That’s, of course, not even accounting for all those failed marriages beset by infidelity, or those who came home one day, looked at their spouse and said: “I think we should break up because I’m 40 and I need to ‘find myself.’ ”
(I can personally attest to that last one.)
Remember the scene in the “Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy meets up with the Scarecrow? If you recall, they had a choice of two roads; they followed the one to Oz. I guess I was the guy who chose the other path. I spent my early 20s studying Intro to Broadcasting at Kent State University and on weekends, I was out dancing under a disco ball. I didn’t marry at 20, or 30. I was 35 before I said, “I do,” and we didn’t have children.
My point is this: I’m sitting across the table from my date, who’s also divorced and close to my age, and we’ve got zilch in common. I later discovered that I have more in common with divorced women in their 30s and 40s. OK, great! I’ll pursue those women, I figured. But here’s the problem with that reasoning: They may not be interested in me!
Like me, these women also attended college and delayed marriage. Like me, they’re in their respective careers, and we can certainly communicate effectively. There may be a 10-15 year age difference, but so what? We see each other as equals in the business world. We’re colleagues.
Ah, but can we be romantic with one another? Perhaps. But from the woman’s perspective, she knows she can spend time with a professional man much closer to her age. I don’t think I look 56. All I need to do now is convince my driver’s license and birth certificate to buy in.
It’s not just that a woman wouldn’t want a guy in his mid-50s when she’s 45 or younger. It’s quite possible she doesn’t even know anyone in this age group. And when I do find her, in many cases, she’s still not available; she’s already attached to someone she knew before she even meets me. This has happened on several occasions. I dated several women in their early- to mid-40s. We had a wonderful time together. But once another man became available or came back into her life, I was dealt my walking papers. I believe women will gravitate toward a man they already know and understand, rather than rolling the dice on a possible new and older partner. You know, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.
So … where do I go from here?
Coming next month: Ben decides to let someone else play matchmaker.
/ Writer Ben DiCola is an account representative at Baker Media Group and a freelance writer.
E-mail them to editor Georgina K. Carson at firstname.lastname@example.org.