A married woman who seeks a relationship outside her marriage is less driven by predatory instincts as by emotional or sexual insufficiency in her marriage. Thus, by definition, she’ll be needy and potentially high-maintenance with no hope for the man to become her husband. If she’d wanted to leave her husband, she could have. Many women do. Many others weigh the pluses and minuses of their marriages and decide, on balance, they love their husbands, enjoy many of the same activities, share friendships with other couples, and are parents of children they love.
The one aspect of their marital life that may be missing is emotional excitement and sexual fulfillment. Do you want to be her sexual filling station? Your first instinct might be to reply, “Sure! I’d be happy to be anyone’s sexual filling station.” But think about it: what you want is a woman who’ll be there for you, now and in the long-term. A married woman, unless her husband dies, won’t be, and even then, she may not turn to you. She might prefer to begin her widowhood without you.
An available man’s involvement with a married woman poses risks: her increasing emotional dependency on him with a concomitant lessening of his ability to depend on her, and, worst of all, the loss of his single most precious and ever-diminishing asset: his time. Tempus fugit, as the Romans said: time flies. While you’re with the married woman, you’ll be wasting your time, no matter how wonderful she may be. She’s not available.
Economists refer to this problem as one of “opportunity costs.” When assets (your time and emotions) are devoted to one investment (the married woman) the investor (you) loses the opportunity to invest that same asset elsewhere (in a relationship with an available woman). The other potential downside of the married woman is that you could fall deeply in love with her but she refuses to leave her husband — in part because she never intended to do so. Men sometimes like to think that if they try hard enough, they can pry a married woman away from her husband. They should think again.
START SPREADING THE WORD
As with women, your first duty to yourself is to inform everyone you can think of that you’re ready to re-enter the world of dating and (if true) that you’re serious and are only interested in women who are also serious – and, if possible, attractive (if that matters to you). Tell your friends, your colleagues at work, your neighbors, doctors, your dentist, old friends, new friends, basically every human being you know or have ever known. Excellent sources of information are your high school and college web sites, if you attended college. Have any girls or women from those days remained in your heart and to this day continue to strike what Lincoln referred to in his magnificent First Inaugural, “the mystic chords of memory”? If so, look them up. Many are on Facebook. Your high school itself could be on Facebook. See if that memorable girl ever married and if so, whether she’s still married. I know several couples in their 50s, 60s, and 70s who reconnected after as many as 50 years apart, during which they were married to others, and are now together as husband and wife, and very happily so.
“But I was a doofus in high school,” you may say. Women know that males mature later than females, and at this point in their lives they’ll be happy to hear from you no matter what you were like then. Women aren’t so shallow as to hold your high school doofusness against you now. Anyway, the guys who peaked in high school aren’t usually the ones we’re delighted to hear from decades later.
THE HAPPIEST HUNTING GROUNDS
The biggest question for men looking for a potential wife or significant other is: where can they find a serious, attractive woman in a place that’s within her comfort zone? We women have eyes in the backs of our heads for guys following us. We were born that way. So don’t think you can just see a woman on the street or the hiking path and follow her home or to her office and all will go smoothly. Unless you’re an undercover cop or PI, she’ll know she’s being followed and this will not be to your benefit.
There were four places I recommended last week where a woman could find a man that would be just as fertile territory for a man seeking a woman: a political campaign headquarters (ideal for the next 14 months), a place of worship, a bookstore, and a soup kitchen or other charitable enterprise. Many hospitals have volunteer organizations that are predominantly composed of women, and predominantly widows, but also divorcées. If you volunteer at a hospital, you’d be doing good for others and might also do well for yourself. I also recommend public lectures on subjects that interest you.
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a town or city with a college or university, avail yourself not only of the free public lectures by faculty members, but also of the lectures available free to the public when noted authors come to town on book tours. These are ideal circumstances to meet a woman. Most places in this country have all kinds of associations for people with all kinds of interests, and opportunities to volunteer your time and expertise. For starters, there’s the all-important USO, the United Service Organization, for which you can volunteer here: usovolunteer.org. Its mission is to “lift the spirits of America’s troops and their families.” Every religion offers opportunities to help others, as do your local police and fire departments.
Many other organizations offer lectures, such as the nation-wide network of World Affairs Councils, and for the musically-gifted there are choirs and musical groups, while for the theatrically-inclined there are local theater groups. Pretend you’re back in high school or college and think of what extracurricular activities interested you then. I’d suggest that if you were a quarterback then, you look into coaching now, rather than taking to the gridiron at 65, but there are lots of sports that can last a lifetime, from brisk walking to swimming to tennis to golf. Women engage in everything mentioned in this paragraph. If they’re not football coaches, they will be mothers of players, as Sandra Bullock so memorably portrayed in The Blind Side, although I’d recommend looking for one who isn’t married.
Readers who commented on last week’s column on ways women could meet men offered ideas that are equally applicable to men eager to meet women. A sampling of their superb suggestions:
…throw a dinner party, or just a party, every six months or so… Make it fun for everyone. Everyone will meet, you’ll have a big party, everyone will think you are wonderful. They will have new friends. At some point, sigh, and ask everyone to find a guy for you…
August 23, 2011 – 6:27 am
…As a 91-year-old woman, the only points I would add and would emphasize are:
- Lots of men are shy.
- Politics and all the various campaigns/causes should be #1 on your list of venues to explore — but only if your interest is sincere. That way you can “do good,” pursue an interest, and meet like-minded men (and make new women friends as well.)
- Learn to play bridge — this is a cause of mine. (http://bridgetable.net) Good for your head, meeting people, and a hobby that can last almost literally until you die — plus, it’s low cost.
August 23, 2011 – 9:05 am
Go to a reunion — high-school reunion, college reunion, whatever.
Old friendships, even those that never quite blossomed into romance, can be renewed, and they’re different when you’re no longer in your teens.
Because I went to my high-school 50th, it happened to me.
August 24, 2011 – 7:55 am
28. John Davies
Go swing dancing. Women look their absolute best when they are smiling and no one can swing dance without smiling.
Make sure when you take a class where they rotate partners. Some classes are set up so that you dance with the same person through the entire class. Avoid them.
- If you have someone to dance with you wouldn’t have to be the one initiating a conversation.
- Rotating partners allows you to meet more guys
- You also become a better dancer
August 24, 2011 – 8:30 pm
34. Teri Pittman
I have experience in this. I lost my husband of 37 years in 2008. I never, ever expected to get involved with anyone else. I met my current boyfriend in the ICU waiting room. His wife was in the hospital the same time as my husband. We became friends because we were both dealing with the same thing….You want someone that you can be friends with.
August 25, 2011 – 10:40 am
I am over 50 and my experience is that pursuing your interests is the way to meet like-minded people, some of whom will be men. It also helps to be happy with your own company because no one likes desperation. Kindness, warmth and not being a control-freak will also help. You will not be everyone’s cup of tea, so don’t take it personally when a man isn’t interested. You will also not be interested in every single man.
August 25, 2011 – 10:20 am
For a man looking for a woman, I’d begin with a museum, even if you have no interest in museums. Why? Women feel safe in museums. Don’t go to the part with the paintings and sculpture, though. The following section describes a technique — an art, really — that I recommend that you make every effort to master: being in the right place at the right time so as to allow the woman to make the first move. Yes, I realize you may be aggressive and a veritable Niagara of testosterone, but for these purposes, things are more likely to work out to your advantage if the woman feels she’s more in control of the situation than you are. Here’s my advice of how to accomplish what I call:
If I were a 55-to-95-year-old man, I’d go to the nearest museum and take a book (or a Kindle or an iPad) and proceed to the restaurant or cafeteria in the museum. If there’s no museum nearby, my second choice would be a hospital cafeteria or, failing that, as a distant third, a small, neighborhood cafe or restaurant. I’d get myself a cup of coffee or tea as soon as the place opens. Then I’d sit at a table for two — not for four, but for two. I’d just sit there and read.
If you do this, don’t spread out your stuff all over the table top. You want the table to be inviting in case a woman wants to sit down. She won’t want to if you’ve got piles of newspapers, file folders, your hat, your coat sprawling on the table and onto the other chair. Make it easy for her to place her tray on the other half of the table. I don’t suggest reading a newspaper if it means holding it up with outstretched arms in such a way as to hide your face and torso. If you’re going to do that, you might as well stay home. Look up from time to time. If a woman catches your eye, look her right in the eye and give her a quick, warm smile and then go back to your reading. There’s a chance she’ll come over to your table, especially as the cafeteria fills up, and ask if you mind if she joins you.
Your goal is to be attractive enough and unthreatening enough in a sufficiently safe environment for the woman to come to you and pick you up. You don’t have to look like Cary Grant, Denzel Washington, or George Clooney to excel at this task. You just have to look approachable and nice.
You might also have some luck with a variation on part of my advice to women last week (the tie department suggestion): go to the women’s scarf department in a department store and look at the scarves. Pick one with a lot of blue in it. Why? It’s a color that looks good on many women, as distinct from yellow, which doesn’t. Wait till you see a woman you’d like to get to know, and ask her if she would take a moment to try on the scarf because your sister’s birthday is coming up and your wife used to buy your sister’s birthday presents but now you’re divorced and you need a woman’s eye. Don’t do this if the woman is wearing a wedding ring, unless you just want to practice your lines.
Be prepared to answer questions about this “sister,” though. Where does she live? Is she younger or older? By how many years? How often do you see her? Women can be really curious and if the woman you ask about the scarf is interested in you, she may ask a lot of questions about your sister before she’s willing to give you a chance. If you don’t have a sister, say it’s for another female relative who actually exists. Otherwise, in your first conversation, you’ll be giving out “liar, liar pants on fire” vibes. So, as the Coast Guard says, always ready.
THE POWER OF NICE
Last week, a major theme in the Comments section was the importance of being nice. “Nice” is a little four-letter word that often escapes notice because it isn’t multi-syllabic — like “multi-syllabic.” Plus, it reminds us of grade school: “he’s a nice boy; she’s a nice girl,” as if this were an anodyne quality rather than a Major League Baseball home-run producer combined with an NFL touchdown. In life, nice is huge. Immense. See a few of these comments from readers, if you doubt me (of course, if you doubted me, you probably wouldn’t still be reading this column).
..And, finally, compliment guys and women. Say nice things. Only say nice things…– say what you really like. Tall, handsome, beautiful blue eyes, lovely hands, intelligent hands, strong…take your pick. .. My dad’s final girlfriend before he got married- she said “I don’t understand how such a tall, handsome intelligent man could still be single. I am so fortunate to get to meet you.” I told other men this line, and they were taking pictures of themselves and handing them to me, to give to her, to see if she had a sister, or friends like her, for them. Sight unseen — four states over — they were willing to travel to meet this woman. She is, absolutely, my hero.
August 23, 2011 – 6:27 am
Any demonstration of courage, humor and sincerity, no matter how seemingly small or clumsy, is deeply attractive and always appreciated by people of character. That is what the author is calling for and she is right on the money.
August 25, 2011 – 11:00 am
21. John A. Fleming
Just smile. A genuine “I’m pleased to make your acquaintance” kind of smile. For most men, a woman who actually notices them as a human being, graces them with a honest smile and looks directly into their eyes while talking to them, it’s a memorable highlight of their day. You’ll get their attention, as such an event is all too rare.
August 24, 2011 – 4:45 pm
Some may react to the idea of being nice by thinking, “I’m handsome, I don’t need to be nice.” Or “I’m an orthopedic surgeon or a successful businessman — why do I have to be ‘nice’?” The reason is that you’re a human being and that you have to share this planet, this country, your state, parking lots, highways, your office, and your neighborhood with other human beings. If you get lucky, you’ll share a relationship and your marriage with another human being. You’ll have a far better experience here on Planet Earth, and in any relationship, if you learn to be nice. Being nice isn’t being a wuss or a loser, or a person lacking in serious adult life skills. Being nice is a serious adult life skill.
If you prefer to indulge in being grandiose, self-important, arrogant, obnoxious, full of yourself, and condescending — be my guest. It’s your life. All I’m saying is: give nice a chance. You’ll be amazed by how it trumps gorgeous good looks, heart-stopping sex appeal, piles of money, high social status, celebrity, and any other quality you may think is all-important to a serious woman. You’ll attract lots of shallow, gold-digging, status-seeking women and the two of you will be as happy as two rutting pigs in deep, moist mud. You could even end up being the inspiration for a song, and not one oozing love and tenderness.
HOW IT WILL PROBABLY HAPPEN
In reality, the best-laid plans of mice and men can come to naught. What that means is that sometimes a chance meeting – you turn a corner and literally bump into a wonderful woman – can be all it takes. You’re in a supermarket and your carts collide. The most important thing is to look as sharp as you can every time you leave your home and be ready for that life-changing moment of scrumptious serendipity.
I was in an elevator last week with a guy who was probably at least 85, possibly 90. Did he ever look sharp. Not like a dandy but like an intelligent, warm-hearted man who has a way with style. He reminded me of a phrase uttered by the noted photographer, Bill Cunningham, in the documentary film, Bill Cunningham New York, describing Iris Apfel as “a poet with clothes.” That’s exactly what this man was. In another moment, I would learn that he was much more than that.
As we reached the lobby, and as he gallantly held the elevator door open, motioning for me to precede him, I turned to him and said, “I have to tell you, sir, I wish you could give lessons to every man in this building – no, in this country – on how to look your best. You do, and I want to thank you. You make the world a more gorgeous place.” I wasn’t trying to pick him up. But I did want to express my appreciation for the effort he had obviously made. “How and why do you do it?” I asked.
“Oh, I do it on purpose,” he replied with a smile. “Every night, I put out the tie, the shirt, the silk handkerchief I’m going to place in my breast pocket, everything I’m going to wear the next day. I think of each day as a new chance to cheer someone up. I’ve been doing this my whole life.”
“Well,” I said, “I only pray that you’ll be doing this for the next 30 years.”
“I do, too,” he said. “I get a real kick out of it.”
We went our separate ways. He was wearing a wedding ring and I thought what a lucky lady his wife was. There he was, doing his best to make everyone he met, every day, a little cheerier. I was happy before I saw him, but I felt even better for having had this exchange with him. What a prince.
If you’re shy, ask yourself what’s the worst thing that could happen if you smile a real smile at a woman, look into her eyes, and say something nice? The worst thing that could happen is that she’ll give you a wan smile that, translated from woman-speak to man-speak, means, “Thanks for trying but I’m not interested.” Is that so bad? And that’s the worst that could happen.
Please understand that women are not going to sneer at you, punch you in the nose, knee you, start shouting for the police, or behave in an irrational way just because you say, “That was a really interesting lecture” or “Has every man who’s ever met you told you your eyes are beautiful?” or “Could you show me how you packed your Care Package so neatly?” or “What a beautiful voice you have. Have you always been in choirs?” Yes, we can get pissed off, testy and angry, but not at a man saying anything that nice with a warm (non-lascivious) smile.
So, my last piece of advice is: begin every day ready to turn that corner, get into that elevator, and bump into Ms. Right by chance. It could happen any day, so be ready every day. Serendipity is a mighty force.
– Belladonna Rogers
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