Anyone who has online dated is familiar with the ubiquitous drop-down menu. In this Build a Bear Workshop process for adults seeking a potential partner, desired age range, body type, preferred level of education and/or income and a whole lot of other wants and wishes are available. Selection is a simple scroll down and click. When the dating site locates a possible Prince, based upon your expressed criterion—(Maybe. My preference was tall, 5’9” at least, and 45-60. Do you want to know how many 5’5” Social Security collectors I got?)–one of the first particulars to pop up is Charming’s marital status:  Separated, Divorced, Widowed or Never Married. Ladies, there is no best, better or good choice! There is only your own personal perception of the lesser evil.

The biggest problem for middle-aged plus singles is available inventory. Sadly, ours is what sociologists and other self-proclaimed dating experts call a “thin dating market.” In other words, we are fishing in a pretty depleted pond. Many of the opposite sex are already paired off. Hell, the divorce rate has actually been declining since the early 1990s! And people of both sexes are living longer. Disease just doesn’t kill like it used to. All causes for celebration, to be sure—until you as a single at 60 (or 50 or even 40) year-old dater behold the big picture through a self-centered prism: Crap! Divorce and death both down? Don’t tell me . . .  Yep, less divorced and widowed folks looking for another partner.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s look at those 4 available marital status choices, shall we?

Bar none, my greatest turnoff as an online dater was Separated. You may feel very differently and that’s certainly fine. (Again, this site is not about issuing judgement, but rather offering observation.) As for me . . .  Nope. Not interested. Dude can’t have his cake and eat it too. Get the decree finalized, then go looking.

I’m not actually crazy about Never Married either. It begs the question:  Why the hell not? Only in romance novels (I know. I wrote ‘em.) is a fantastic, gorgeous, perfectly perfect in every way man still single at 50. I gotta think something’s wrong with him. (And there usually is.)

Of course Widowed carries its own baggage. If his was a bad marriage, he is now free. Like a kid loose in a candy store, he’s gonna want it all. Settling down into monogamy after years of the ball and chain scenario are not likely items on his immediate to-do list.  And if his marriage was good, that’s worse. He’s looking for a substitute. He can say “fresh start,” but it’s probably not the reason he’s on an online dating site. He’s lonely and looking for safe fun. (Did you know 2/3 of the people online dating never actually go out on a date?) Emails, texts and phone calls–I figure he figures it’s a safe way to get his rocks off without actually cheating on his dead missus.

Which takes us now to Divorced. Ladies, I saw it more times than I can count! Beware the “no drama” line in his profile! He wants a clean slate from you, but chances are good he’s requesting such because his own chalkboard is covered with crazy ex-wife bullshit.  And if she cheated on him, he’s going to view you through the same myopic lens. It’s hard to trust anyone when someone has broken your trust. Just my opinion. But an opinion I can back it up with a hundred profiles that mentioned the words honest, loyal, and no games as traits the men on my site were looking for in their next relationship.

BTW, a particular and unique problem for Baby Boomer men online (or off) looking for a committed relationship, be it marriage or not, is that many Boomer women are not looking to be tied down again. Been there, done that, is their mantra.  They are loving their independence—perhaps the first in their lives. Moreover, they are financially secure, with a lifetime of earned assets they very much intend to keep un-co-mingled. They want to just date. As many men as possible—and on the schmucks’ dime, according to a guy I met Speed Dating.

Women in the Boomer bracket, on the other hand, have their own distinctive challenge:  widowers in the Boomer bracket. My experience is/was that most claim to have had wonderful marriages. Now lonely and domestically challenged (remember, we’re talking about men of my generation), they are looking for a repeat/replacement. And here’s the true rub . . .  not only are they are often helpless (what they really are looking for is a maid, cook, nurse, laundress, accountant, etc.), they are usually hopeless—hopelessly still in love with their dearly departed. Good luck, ladies, going out to dinner with your new beau and the ghost of his dead wife! A colleague was in such a ménage a trois for nearly a year. Everything she did, wore and said was compared to Susie-the-Dead-Spouse. (Do I have to tell you who was always found wanting in that comparison?)

As with everything I write on this site, the choice of the lesser marital status evil is a definite “do as I say, not as I do” situation. A perfect case in point, the last guy I was involved with I met on a bar patio the night of my 60th birthday. (See “It’s in His Kiss”) When he lit my cigarette, I let my touch on his hand purposely linger—then I looked for a ring. “Got a wife?” I asked. “Nope. Got two ex-ones though,” he answered, as he tossed his lighter back onto the table. “Where are they?” He shrugged. “Don’t know. Don’t give a f**k. Where’s yours?” “Dead.” And so was the whole issue of availability resolved. And I gotta tell ya, it was a whole lot hotter than looking for the marital status box checked on a dating site profile! However, like I said, he is the guy I was involved with. (See “Starting Over Means Getting Over”)

Just food for thought . . . And a word of caution from someone who “was there” and “did that.” (I even got the T-shirt, metaphorically speaking.) Regardless of your preference or method of choosing, watch where you step, Alice. ‘Cause whether you’re looking offline or in Dot Com Rabbit-hole Wonderland, all the above come with pitfalls—and no guarantees of success.

One thought on “Dating the Lesser Evil

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