Tales and characters encountered while dating and aging

I never thought I would be part of the dating scene at this age. After all, isn’t this the age when you are supposed to be settled? It has reinforced my belief in the fact that nothing is certain and that we must embrace the uncertainty in life.

Dating at age 55 has been both fun and frustrating at the same time.I have met some amazing people and learned a lot. Some have even turned out to be great friends. On the other hand, I have also met some interesting characters. 

I always go into the date with an open heart. but more often than not I’m finding that it’s not my heart they want open if you know what I mean.

I continue to hear, “I don’t know what I want.” Is it possible to be over 40 and still not know what you want? Certainly not judging, just trying to understand.

I also hear, “ I need more time,” “I’m not quite ready,” “I’m still getting over my X,” “I’ve got too much going on right now.”

I call them tales, but I see them as excuses driven by fear or the need to continue to explore what else is out there. I’ve been guilty myself of telling the tales.

The smorgasbord is just too large with too many options. Being able to swipe right on your smart phone to order in has certainly changed the face of dating. Again, I have been guilty.

So when do you settle down? When does one stop with the tales and embrace the beautiful gift that is before them?

Listen, I get it. Perhaps not everyone wants a relationship, at least not now. But what about when you are 65 years old sitting on the sofa alone?  There is a great chance that your options will be more limited at that point.

A recent study found that 58% of LGBTQ seniors live alone, compared to just 25% of straight older adults. A full 15% of that population had seriously considered suicide within the previous 12 months. What does this say about our community?

I think the LGBTQ community is different from the straight community in that many of us do not have children, and at my age, our parents are dying or deceased. This leaves us with a smaller support network as we age.

To me, that’s reason enough to settle down and stop looking over the smorgasbord for a better entrée. I’m not suggesting that we settle just for the sake of “having someone,” but I am trying to examine behaviors as I continue to date. 

I’ve come to understand that, whether it’s me or the muscle dude in the park or the man I may look at as a troll, we are all trying to make our way as best we can. I have learned to stop chasing the rainbow of perfection. 

There is no perfect being or perfect relationship. I am open to meeting Mr. Right with no limitations. Limitations get in the way. How often do we tell ourselves, “Oh he’s too young,” “He’s too big,” “He’s too small,” “His butt is too small,”” He walks funny,” “He talks funny,” “He’s too nelly,” …?

Accepting and loving people as they are, being completely open to the possibility of a relationship even though they may not have “everything” is important. No one will ever have everything we want.

It’s about having someone to share life with. Mutual caring and great conversation are more important than skin tone, fat bootie, no bootie, masculine, feminine and other traits we deem “necessary.” And there is nothing wrong with preference.

We all have our preferences, but kindness, caring, adoration, loving, respectful, laughter, fun and motivation are higher priorities for me now. I commit to look beyond the surface and not value the wrapping over the content.  

So I will continue to date, knowing that the kind, caring, adoring, loving, respectful, fun and motivated man will show up for me. And when he does, we will both know. We will leave the stories, excuses, fears and tales behind. None of those will be an issue anymore.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy the process. 

Vince Shifflett lives and loves in Atlanta. What’s your experience? Are you kissing a lot of frogs? Let him hear from you at vinceshifflett.com.

This article originally appeared in Q magazine. Pick it up each week, and read the full issue below: