The Modern Nightmare of Mid-Life Dating

 [LEGAL USE OF THIS PHOTO LICENSED AND SECURED VIA DREAMSTIME - August 2014 - Photo by Lsk]

[LEGAL USE OF THIS PHOTO LICENSED AND SECURED VIA DREAMSTIME - August 2014 - Photo by Lsk]

Recently, and after much reflection and observation, it’s occurred to me that dating among adults in the twenty-first century is intriguing, and yet, oddly nightmarish.
For those in their teens and twenties, dating is a natural state of social development and maturity. It’s a nearly magical time when the discovery of someone to share the prospects of career development, raising children, and building upon the hopes and dreams of youth. Dating at any age carries many of the same caveats and challenges within the dating process. Yet, with regard to dating in one’s twenties and thirties, there’s nevertheless a sense that, if one didn’t get it right the first time around, there’s still many years ahead remaining to get it right.
As with shampoo, lather…rinse…repeat.
Fast forward to mid-life, when one may already be well along in their career journey, perhaps actively raising children into their pre-adult years or preparing for the burgeoning college experience. Yes, there are still hopes and dreams for the future, but typically by this time in one’s life, they have become much more seasoned in their life experiences. This is the stage where many people may have adopted a negative mindset regarding prospective suitors, in addition to a keen eye on the relationships that color their past. Often, there’s a guarded sense of reservation that’s also coupled with someone’s proverbial lists of what a prospective suitor “must-have” and/or “must-not-have.”
Oh, don’t get me wrong; love can be found at any age, which is a nearly-magical prospect in itself, providing hope and encouragement to all. Yet, when adults plunge into the foray of twenty-first century dating, there’s not only more variables to contend with, there’s also a heightened sense of self-preservation involved. Essentially it’s oft viewed that one mustn’t make the mistakes of the past regarding their selection of partner, nor can one permit themselves to be made overly vulnerable to be taken advantage of, nor too emotionally involved to walk away unscathed. That’s not to say that I blame someone for feeling that way.
Add to that, the ephemeral first-date concerns to confront with each new date, which is familiar no matter what age you are. Will they like me? Will I feel good chemistry with them? Should I arrive relatively early to the first-date location to display my anticipation, or will that make me appear too desperate? Should I dress smartly to make a really noteworthy first impression, or should I dress tastefully, yet comfortably? Will my conversational topics be a hit or a miss? Do they love cats? (Hint: In my book, they must at least like cats. No cat-haters allowed. That’s one of the few “must-haves” for me.)
Gawd…how I feel a simultaneous sense of equal parts anticipation and dread over the prospect of a first date. Essentially, given everything, it’s a wonder that today’s mid-life adults date at all.
As a romance author, I consider each of these variables part of a rich tapestry from which to develop future storylines, emotional challenges, and character arcs with which to entertain readers. Yet, I’m left wondering if the romance novel “happy ending” is actually realistic in today’s society.
But then, was it ever really?
I’m left pondering my own personal fear about dating and modern-day romance.
What is it, you ask?
Chiefly, that I’m much better writing about romance than actually living it.
Dating in the twenty-first century….what are your thoughts?