Mary commented on one of my recent blogs and asked me a serious question. She is a cancer survivor and has noticed that when she meets someone new and shares her health situation, her dates usually don’t contact her again. She’s frustrated with this but feels she needs to be upfront and honest.
My heart goes out to Mary and of course anyone who is in this situation for several reasons. But, I’m going to confine my comments here to dating.
I realize this is a big statement but I’m going to say it anyway.
As a woman, when you are meeting a new guy, meet him first as a desirable woman. That is your job as a dater. When you are looking for love, the people you meet will want to know how you will fill this roll first.
Sometimes women go on a date as a mother first, sharing everything about her children. This isn’t a good approach because men want to know they have a chance of being important too and maybe top priority at least on ocassion. (By the way, this is also true for women meeting fathers.)
Sometimes women go on a date as a powerful executive. This can be a problem because he might feel that you want to compete with him – a surefire romance killer. Men already compete with us in the work force, they don’t want to do it on a date as well.
Sometimes women go on a date as a victim of a bad bad marriage, difficult childhood, financial strain, troubled dating life, etc. These things maybe be true about your life, but not what you want to lead with when meeting someone new. The savvy over 40 dating and dating after divorce approach is to put your best foot forward, and lead with what is good about you and your life.
Sometimes women go on a date as their health report. Your health is a crucial and major factor in your life. But don’t lead with it in the same way a person who is the picture of health doesn’t lead with that either. No one goes on a date and says, “I’m really healthy, date me!”
Dating is about getting to know another person to discover if you are compatible, enjoy each others’ company and have chemistry. Once you bring up difficult subjects and private details, you shift the focus off your personality and good qualities and place it on your troubles. There is plenty of time to share those intimate details.
Holding off about your health or other issues is not hiding the facts. However, it is much better than leading with your concerns. You don’t want to challenge your dates by saying, “Here’s a big problem – and I challenge you to get to know me and love me anyway.” In reality and fairness, not many would sign up.
You will tell your date and you will be honest. But first, wait to see:
If he calls you for a second date?
If he is consistent – does he call you regularly?
If he asks to see you and takes you on dates?
If he asks about your life?
If he treats you the way you want to be treated?
If he is fun to be with?
If he shares similar values and seems compatible?
You need to first give yourselves a chance to get to know each other to discover what is good.
The point of dating is not full disclosure upfront to see if your date will take up the challenge that you represent. The point of dating is to see if there is a potential match before you share intimate details and discuss your issues. This is totally normal and not deceptive in the least.
After 4 – 6 dates, if you start to see potential in your date, then you can bring up some of your issues, whether they be health-related, about your ex, children, financials, or whatever troubles you want to share.
This allows your dates a shot at getting to know what’s wonderful about you to lay a foundation of trust and interest. Then, when you share a personal problem, there is a better chance the person might stick around anyway. Because they have become interested in your life and started to care about you. Their heart is more open to you as a whole person, not just as the problem you shared upfront.
On the flip side, if what you share is too much for him, 4-6 dates is not that much time to have invested. It won’t be that hard to move on if that is what he chooses to do.
In mid-life dating there will always be some sort of baggage. That is part of life and dating. Some bags are heavier and more serious than others, its true. But give people a chance to know who you are as a person before you label yourself with your problems and share more information than they really deserve to know.
Let me close with this brief story. My friend’s daughter Sarah fell for a guy at 24 who was a total cad. He was HIV positive and didn’t tell her. She didn’t insist on protection and she contracted the disease.
Fast forward four years. Sarah meets Al. They start dating and really enjoying each others’ company. She was worried about telling Al of course. But not only did he stick around, he asked her to marry him. They’ve been together and happy for 15 years and she is actually healthy at this point with the HIV non-detectable in her blood.
Anything is possible. Give yourself and love a chance.
Photo credit Ambert