Non-Negotiables: Our Must-Haves

While we should have many things we will compromise on, there are also many things that we do not want to, or should not compromise on.  These things are the core of who we are as individuals.  These items are non-negotiable, we must have them in our Mr. Maybe.  These items range anywhere from core value items to lifestyle items.  While everyone will have a different set of items, it is important to understand exactly what yours are, which is why I say you must start with you before you bring another into the picture.

Today, our society is very diverse and we should accept everyone for who they are.  However, that doesn’t mean everyone is a good match as a significant other.  There are some very fundamental differences that could cause serious issues in relationships, and could cause a lot of pain and heartache if not properly thought out and looked at totally honestly.  We may think some things are not a problem if we meet someone who we really connect with, only to find out later this very thing is a major source of conflict in the relationship.

To give you an example, I will briefly touch on one that has come up several times in my own life: Religion.  While I am very open-minded, accept and respect all people for what they believe, my Mr. Maybe MUST believe in God, have a relationship with God and attend church.  Since I tend to love all people and accept others as they are, it took me many years to come to this realization.  I have dealt with a lot of heartache because I didn’t honestly look into myself, and tried to fit other people’s belief systems into my life without realizing just how important this was to me.  I spent 10 years of my life trying to make 2 separate relationships work, without realizing they could never work for me.  Had I spent time with myself, as I suggest here, I would have realized just how much this means to me.  While this is only one example of what a non-negotiable could be, it does demonstrate how much time could potentially be spent on a relationship that is going nowhere.  Those are 10 years of my life I will never get back!

Many people with children will have a different set of non-negotiables because there are other people they must think about – their children!  When children are present in a relationship, it is particularly important to consider core values, how you want your children raised and what environment you want them living in.  This is tough!  You not only have you, but you have precious young impressionable lives you need to consider, also.

Another area to consider is lifestyle.  Are you active?  How active are you?  Is it important for your Mr. Maybe to be active, too?  For instance, if you like to participate in activities such as hiking or other outdoor activities and you would like your partner to enjoy them with you, you would not want to consider someone who does not enjoy these activities.  While there are times you may want to do things with friends and apart from each other, if this is a big part of your life, it is also a big part of your life your Mr. Maybe would not be enjoying with you.  Only you can decide how important these things are to you.  Your friends may tell you to compromise if you are not finding the right partner.  However, only YOU can decide if compromising a non-negotiable will make you unhappy and unsatisfied with your relationship.  If it will, then follow what only you can decide for yourself.

The goal for most is to find the right person and to be happy.  This is not something to take lightly.  Your life and future are at stake.  Take the time to make it the one you dream of having, not the one someone else thinks you should have.  Most of all, enjoy the road you travel to find Mr. Maybe.  Just because he may not be for you does not mean he is not a very special person.  Always acknowledge that in the men you meet.  There really are a lot of good ones out there, they just may not be the right one for you.  Keep looking, he is sure to arrive on your doorstep when you least expect it!

Negotiables & What We Will Compromise On

  Today, many people resort to Internet Dating as a means to find people.  Online dating sites offer one way to meet eligible (or at least that is the idea) singles in the age range and geographic area you choose.  Whether we go through the process of meeting our potential Mr. Maybe online, or by other means, a big part of the initial process is determining if he is truly a potential Mr. Maybe.  We already have our list of things we are looking for in a potential mate.  However, this list, whether in our heads or in written form, is not set in stone and we must evaluate each item separately.

Sometimes we think we need things in a partner that are really just wants, and not needs.  What is the most important thing about finding the right one?  Is it happiness?  Is it financial security?  Is it someone to do social activities with?  My point here is that we all have different priorities in our lives regarding the person we want to have in our lives.  Ultimately, we all do want to be happy, so in evaluating what you think you need in a partner, think about if it will make you unhappy if you met the ideal guy and they did not have this thing.  Is it a deal breaker?  Or could you be perfectly happy with him anyway?

An example of this could be you are looking for someone who has a specific type of job, such as white collar over blue collar (or vice versa).  Assuming he is earning at least an okay living, is this really that important if he is everything else you are looking for?  This may be something that is a negotiable item to you.  Were you looking for someone who does not have children at home?  You found the perfect guy, but he has custody of two small children.  Could you love these children and get used to having them in your life, or if this a complete change of lifestyle that you have no desire to make?  If you find someone who is everything you are looking for except for this one thing, you need to take some time with yourself and really understand your true feelings on that matter.  If you could grow to love these children and know in your heart you could handle the commitment of having them in your life and care for them for many years into the future, this item may be negotiable for you, even if it was not ideally what you wanted.

Great men are hard to find.  When we do find them, we do not want to pass over gems because of our own selfishness.  I am not saying  it is not good to want certain things in our man or relationship.  I am simply stating that we need to really evaluate what it is that will bring happiness into our lives.  We need lists as a guideline.  We need initial self evaluation to know ourselves so we know who we are and what makes us happy.  However, sometimes we can place unrealistic expectations on a potential partner, and miss out on the ones who cross our paths due to our “criteria”.  Do we really NEED these things, or is it just something we would like to have but could really live without and be perfectly happy?  Think about this so you do not miss out on your Mr. Maybe!

Negotiables vs. Non-Negotiables

While I realize that not everyone wants to find a permanent union with another, I am writing from the perspective of wanting to find Mr. Maybe, the one you could potentially marry.  In our quest to find Mr. Maybe, we go through many ups and downs, we mask our disappointment, and bravely trudge on.  We guard our hearts with an iron shield against the craziness out in the world.  We keep our faith in man mainly because we do see happy couples every day and know that there is some possibility of us having this also.  We have friends who have found their Mr. Maybe, or even “the one.”  And yet, where is our Mr. maybe?

As I addressed before, we need to do a self-evaluation before we even consider dating.  This will allow us to date more appropriately.  In part of this self-evaluation, we should look at our negotiables and our non-negotiables.  Before I get into this, first we should have these terms defined.

Negotiable

A negotiable is something that can easily be negotiated or transferred.  It is something that can be easily agreed upon.  In other words, it is something that easily passes our list of things we look for in a significant other.  It could be something we have in common, or at least have very similar views on.

Non-Negotiable

A non-negotiable is something that cannot be changed.  It is rigid in form and could be considered an obstruction.  In relationship terms, this could be something that you are looking for in someone that you absolutely MUST have.  It could also be something that is the core of who a person is and cannot be changed.  Either way, you need to really think about this one.

Going forward, we will consider both negotiables and non-negotiables when evaluating our Mr. Maybe.  Everyone will have a different set of criteria to evaluate.  This is why looking into yourself is the key to really knowing what you want in your Mr. Maybe.  If you have not done this yet, take some time with yourself.  Make a date with yourself, go to a coffee shop, or find a nice quiet spot in your home to sit down and really evaluate who you are, where you are in your life right now and where you see yourself going.  Write down the characteristics you want in the ideal partner you want to travel this road with.  While you may want to see the end result of marriage as a final destination, living life is more about the journey.  Who do you want to take that journey with?  Be realistic and true to who you are, and not who you wish to be.  It is critical that you are honest with yourself in order to get the best results when evaluating all the potential Mr. Maybes who cross your path.  Life is in the journey, and you want to enjoy that journey with the right man!

 

Women Still Want to be Courted

  Although many of the so-called rules have changed over the decades, one thing remains the same for women over 40.  They like to be courted!  There is a reason romance novels have stood the test of time and continue to sell very well.  From the time we were very little to the time we were in high school, we have been “programmed” by our families and certain societal influences from movies to basic social norms.

Women over 40, although they have grown into very strong women, still grew up in a time where chivalry and courting were seen as something to desire.  We watched Cinderella and Snow White, and were told our “Prince Charming” was out there somewhere.  While we have come to realize that there really is no such thing as a Prince Charming, we still long to be treated like someone special by the man we adore.  We are very capable of opening our own car door, pulling out our chair, or getting our coat on, but there is something so charming about a man who will extend himself to do these things.  It is almost a sweetness that has been lost on our younger generations.  It touches our hearts like that romance novel we secretly read.  Chivalry is definitely not dead to us.

As we grew up into women, we were taught to make our own money and not rely on a man.  We are definitely capable of that.  However, no matter how strong and capable a woman appears, she many times secretly harbors a longing to be treated like a princess and be courted.  Who does not like to have a man bring her flowers or send her a little note that is unexpected?  We want to feel special, and that is what courting accomplishes.

Many men (and women) are confused by the (so-called) rules.  They try to live by instruction manuals on how many dates for this and how many months for that.  Throw these rules out!  You are playing with your heart and you should be looking at each individual situation for what it is and not by a playbook.  Courtship lets a woman know you want her and only her.  It makes her feel special and appreciated for who she is.  At a time when women wear many hats – they make a decent income and have jobs outside the home, they bear children, they play chauffeur to their children, they take care of the household. etc. – being courted is one way a man can truly show just how much he appreciates the woman in his life.

Will some women not be as appreciative as others?  Surely, you may find some who insist that they do not want this treatment (or need it).  However, let me be clear here, just because a woman may (or may not) want to be courted does not mean she needs it.  Most women today are absolutely independent and can take care of themselves.  The point is that the charm of courtship is still alive and present, and will still be appreciated by the right woman.  We all like to feel special to those most important in our lives, so let’s not throw this part of dating away!

Paying for the First Date

You have had a great date, great conversation, and then that awkward moment comes when the check arrives.  Who pays?  Do you pull out your wallet, offer some money toward the bill, offer to pay the tip, or offer to pay the whole check?

As women over 40, many of us have our own incomes and are self-sufficient.  However, there still lie some facts that put many women at a financial disadvantage.  Women still only earn 76-78 cents to every dollar a man earns for this age group, depending on which study you read.  That leaves less money for basic necessities in our lives.    Not only this, but women have added medical expenses and extra expense for feminine hygiene products, which are expensive!  Women, also, usually carry the burden of the expense of birth control.  Our dry cleaning costs more, too.  Also, many women  have the financial burden of raising children.  Now, some men will argue that they pay child support, which is a fair argument to consider.  But ask any single woman raising children if the child support covers the cost of raising the children and she will more than likely tell you not even close!  This is not to say that there are not women who earn just as much as the men in their lives or more.  There are plenty of them out there, too.  However, on average, men do earn more.

That being said, should women offer to pay for dinner?  I say absolutely offer.  However, from my personal experience, few men will ever take you up on this for a variety of reasons.  First, many men have a natural tendency (per socialization) to pay, and to “take care of” women.   They are natural providers and protectors.  There are also men out there who are uncomfortable with women having as much money as they do, and paying makes them feel like a man and provider.  Whatever the case, my suggestion is to at least offer (unless this was discussed in advance).  More than likely , he will turn down your offer and pay.  If this is the case, you could offer to cover the tip.  Of course, all of this is only for the first date!

With additional dates, I will usually still offer.  You will probably want to discuss this for future dates because this will set the precedent for the relationship, if one develops.  Consider all future possibilities of your choices.  You, as a woman, do not want to set yourself up for a position of financial disadvantage.

One more point I would like to make on this subject is where you go, dinner or coffee, or something else.  Since most men will pick up the tab for a fist date, whether by habit or societal norms, you may want to consider allowing him to choose what you do on your first date.  This will benefit you in several ways.  First, he will usually choose something in a price point he is comfortable with.  Second, you will learn a lot about him by his choice of where to go.  Sometimes, men will not want the responsibility of choosing a place, and leave it up to you.  Choose something mid-priced with table options that are conducive to having a conversation.  You want to be able to talk to him!

Of course, these are only my views and yours may be different.  Choose what works for you!  Enjoy your dinner date!

Dinner Does NOT Equal Sex!

  So you have had a great dinner date and the night is winding down.  There is always that awkward time when you have to decide how to part ways and whether or not you want to see each other again.  Some men (not all, and definitely not the ones we want to keep) take this opportunity to see if they can get you into bed.  My take on this is one of two reasons:

1) They know they will not be seeing you again and they figure they will get what they can out of you (users and players)

2) They just paid for dinner and they think you owe them something.

I have a few things to say on this subject.  Ladies, by the time you reach your 40’s you should have learned this lesson well.  Never, ever give in to the man who wants sex when he first meets you.  This rarely leads to anything good!  You will probably never see him again, leaving you feeling used and upset with yourself.  While he may be a master at making you feel special, you had better believe he is using this same tactic on just about every woman he meets.  You are not special is he does this, but just one in a long list of women he has manipulated.  If you are truly special to a man, he will respect you and never put you in this situation.  He will wait until he knows you and knows he wants a future with you.

On my second point, a great dinner and a great date does not mean you need to take it further.  This is a first date!  Some men feel that if they treat women to dinner, then she owes them some kind of sexual favor in return.  This could not be further from the truth!  If a man takes you to dinner on a first date and pays for the date, it should be because he wants to have a nice evening spending time with you and getting to know you.  Dinner is a perfect opportunity to sit across from each other and have a real conversation that will help you better evaluate the person you are on the date with.  This is beneficial to both of you.

Since many men have provider instincts, they usually will pay – even if you offer to help (and if they do not, think twice about the type of man they are).  Ladies, you owe them nothing and should not ever think you do!  Men, if you think women owe you something for a date, keep reading (my blog) for what women really want when they first start dating someone.  You should both be on this date for one reason only – to find your Mr. or Ms. Maybe.  If your intentions align with your actions, then the date will be productive in meeting your reason for being there in the first place!  The whole idea is to have a fun date while getting to know each other, and nothing more.  There should not be any expectations other than this on a first date by either party.    Sit back and enjoy your time getting to know each other.  Savor the newness and the possibilities!

No, I Don’t Want to Kiss You!

It is hard enough dating without any additional pressures and stresses.  First dates are even harder.  One of my rules, is that I do NOT want to kiss a complete stranger on a first date!  No way, no how!  I do not know enough about someone I just met to be any form of intimate with them, and that includes kissing.  First off, I do not know his oral hygiene, which is super important.  Second, gum disease is a bacterial infection and can be spread person to person via saliva.  I know this is not sexy, but it is fact, and I think about these things, as should you!

Men, if you just met someone, you should have enough respect for them not to kiss them or touch them inappropriately.  It is just not okay!  Women, you need to have more respect for yourselves and set boundaries to get to know someone on a personal level before you ever think of getting anywhere near physical.  Save all of that for a time when you truly know each other.  Isn’t that the point?    A good man will want to get to know you as a person and respect you enough to do that before he gets physical with you.  Do you really want that guy who wants everything right away?  Imagine how many others he has been with this way?  No, thank you!  I feel I deserve much better than that, and so do you!  I am not saying kissing is bad, I am merely saying to save it for after you know the person a little better.  What is the rush?

  I realize there are people who will totally disagree with me on this subject, and that is okay.  I write from a “lived and learned” perspective and your lessons may have been different than mine.  As I pointed out in my last post, a first date should be all about getting to know the person better, and be very conversation-oriented.  Now, if you do hold a different view, that is fine.  This is just my recommendation to finding Mr. Maybe.  Be physical too soon, and he has nothing to look forward to, so beware if your goal is finding a guy to keep.  Of course, I realize there are always exceptions.

Mr. Maybe is out there!  I would rather wait for him to arrive in my life than go through all the heartache with Mr. Wrong and waste my time.  Take the time to know who you are choosing to be with.  If he is Mr. Maybe, he will still be there.  If he goes away, then he was not the right one anyway.  Ladies, you need to set the boundaries and stick to them!  This, sadly, is up to you.  The right man will respect those boundaries and they will respect you!  You deserve that and nothing less than that!  So save that first kiss for someone special.  Waiting will make it a special and memorable moment for both of you!

A More Active First Date

Some people prefer a more active date than dinner, brunch, or coffee.  There are plenty of things to do on a first date that are also great for getting to know someone.  The first option is to go to a park, garden, or other recreation area for a stroll.  In this environment, you have the opportunity to talk and get to know each other without having to stare at each other across a table.  If you both like horticulture, go to a garden and enjoy that while getting to know each other.  I will put out a few cautions here, though.  If you do choose something like this and you have never met the person before, make sure you are going to a place that there are other people and you feel safe.  Do not go for a walk on secluded paths, such as hiking, until you know the person you are with. While this should go without saying, sometimes when we communicate online, we feel like we know the person a little – WE DON’T.  Stop for ice cream or a frosty drink on a hot day and enjoy that while chatting.

  If you prefer something a little more active, you could opt for a short bike ride together, or even ice skating at a local rink in the winter.  Anything you both agree is fun, but always make sure you are around other people on a first date.  Shooting pool or Quizzo at the local hang out are some other options you may want to explore, if they are of interest to both of you.

While there are many things to do on a first date that provide ample time to get to know each other, there are also some things I would not recommend.  Steer clear of movies, theater, bars with loud music, sports events, concerts, or any other similar venue.  While you both may enjoy some of these activities, they do not provide ample time to talk and get to know each other – and that is the whole point of a first date.  Save these things for later.  If you do find your Mr. Maybe there will be plenty of time to enjoy these things together in the future.  Right now, on your first date, your goal should be to walk away from the date with a feel for who your date is as a person.

Again, my recommendation would be to keep your activity date short.  You do not want to overwhelm your date by appearing too needy.  Prior to your date, make a list of things you would like to know about your date, and have them in your head as conversation subjects.  Do not blast them off like you are interviewing your date, but get them to flow into the conversation naturally when the time is appropriate.  Make a point to guide to conversation to those areas if you need to, but make sure you get your questions answered.  You want to walk away from your date feeling like you have as accurate an assessment of your date as possible from one date.  Most importantly, don’t forget this is a date!!  Relax and enjoy the date.  The more you smile and laugh, the more attractive you will be!

First Date Dilemma

First dates are all about getting to know a little more about each other and seeing if there is enough there to take it further.  In our eagerness to find love, sometimes we forget the importance of keeping this initial contact light and brief.  Of course, much will depend on how much communication you have had with each other prior to meeting, also.  The whole idea about this first meeting is not to spend the day together, but to share a brief time together, learn about each other, size each other up, and see how you interact with each other.

 

Coffee, Brunch, Breakfast and Other Early Options

One of my favorite times to meet someone is early in the day.  The reason I like these options so much is that is provides for a more relaxed and stress-free meeting.  If you choose to meet for coffee, the meeting can be as brief as either of you wants it to be.  If you are really unsure, I would stick with a coffee meeting so you do not have to be there long, if you do not want to.  This is also a very inexpensive way to meet, if you are unsure of the person prior to meeting.

Brunch and breakfast are also low-cost options that provide minimal stress for both parties.  These options give you a little more time together to get to know each other.  Because brunch and breakfast are generally served very quickly or are buffet style, you still have a fairly easy out if the date is not working out for you.  I really enjoy the light early day atmosphere of these type of dates.  It provides a great environment for talking without all the potential pressures of a dinner date.  The only down side of this is that many restaurants do brunch only on Sundays, and that means if you attend Sunday religious services, you have very limited options on a Saturday.

If your date goes well, you are both available, and you want to do something else together, this early date provides ample time to spend even more time together.  I will add a caution here, though.  I would not overdo the time together on this initial meeting.  Men tend to feel overwhelmed and may want to pull away if you seem too needy on this first date.  Use good judgment on the amount of time to choose to spend together on the first date.

   Dinner or Drinks

My advice here would be to NOT do just drinks.  First off, it is very hard to have an actual conversation in many of the places where drinks are served.  The whole idea is to get to know each other, and that cannot be accomplished.  The other caution I will mention is that when you meet a complete stranger for drinks, you should always use extreme caution.  Never leave your drink unattended – EVER!  If you must use the restroom, finish your drink and tell your date you do not want another one, even if you do.  You can always order one when you get back.  I also caution on meeting for drinks because it is not wise to drink alcohol with no food on a date where you are trying to evaluate someone to potentially have a relationship with.  I am not saying you should not have a drink, but only to use caution and good judgment.

My choice here would always be a nice dinner – and by nice, I do not mean it has to be expensive.  There are plenty of great date restaurants that offer affordable food, a nice wine selection, and great atmosphere to talk.  These are not your chain restaurants, either.  Choose something cozy, so you can have a nice conversation.  This atmosphere is great for gauging chemistry and attraction to each other.  Relax, enjoy your date and get to know each other!  It is all in the journey, so enjoy the ride!