Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why it's better to be older

This morning I woke up reflecting on my coffee date, and feeling pretty darn smug about it.

I mean, sure, the date itself was a dud, and there is no potential relationship there at all; but still, it was a wild success.

It was a wild success because I didn't leave my dignity there in the coffee shop.  It was a wild success because I enjoyed myself, even while having coffee with a stranger.  It was a wild success because I walked away thinking, "Hey, I can do this!" and not "OhmyGodnobodywilleverloveme!"

When I was twenty(ish), every possible first date could be The One.  Every word was fraught with meaning, and those meanings indicated my own worth.  When I was twenty(ish), a date like yesterday's would invoke fears like, "Is this all I will ever get in life?" and "Will anybody ever really like me?" and "Is this what I need to settle for?" and "What's wrong with me that even a guy I don't like doesn't seem to be into me?"

It's a totally different story now.

At forty(ish), what someone else says is a reflection of who they are, and not who I am.  A bad date is not an indication of my entire future, only of the present moment.  I don't have to lose myself in someone else's view of me, and whether one stranger likes me or doesn't is totally irrelevant, especially when I've already identified that we don't have a lot in common at a deeper level.  I can interpret his words differently - when he talks about "being middle aged" he's feeling bad about his own life, and I don't really care what he thinks about mine....I feel young and vibrant, and I'm sorry that he doesn't feel that way about himself, but it's not about me.

At twenty(ish), everything was about me.  At forty(ish), very little is about me.  I am more aware that people are wrapped up in their own heads, their own small dramas, their own perceptions about the world, and that usually their good and bad days don't have one thing to do with me.  At forty(ish), I take a lot more responsibility for how I feel, and for how I respond.

Here's what I hope that the man across the table saw yesterday:
I love my life.  I am kind and polite.  I'm opinionated but not bossy (there is room for someone else to have an opinion, but I don't feel a need to be silent when I disagree).  I smile a lot.

Whether he thought I was hot or not, whether he thought I was successful or not, well, sure, I'd like him to think I'm all that.  But in the end, I know who I am, and my opinion of myself doesn't rest on his opinion of me.  And that's good, because he was a nice enough person, but I don't want his opinion of himself to rest on mine of him (which could be summed up in a yawn - ouch!).

Ahhh, I've come a long way.  And it feels good.  So, thank you to Mr. CoffeeDate, for reminding me of all that.


  1. I love this post. You are so right. Dating in your forties is way better than in your twenties because you know who you are. And you know that your date's opinion of you isn't going to change anything.

    I heard a great quote yesterday from Katy Perry. "Rejection is God's protection." I like the idea that when someone you date isn't interested in you, you are spared from a relationship that wouldn't have served you. I remind myself of that when I get a little unrequited crush :)

  2. Thanks! I'm hoping I can avoid the mistakes I made in my dating twenties, even if I make new mistakes. We've come a long way, baby!

    I think that Katy Perry's quote speaks to marriages, not just dates. Sometimes I am grateful that my husband went to the lengths he did to show me that he didn't love me, because if it had only been halfway, I might have stayed - unhappy, unhealthy - forever. I suppose rejection IS a sort of protection. Maybe I'll have to listen to Katy's break-up album after all. :-)