Short of moving, what’s a guy to do? Add in that I’m retired due to a disability (even though I am quite stable financially!), and I’m like dating poison! There HAS to be a cute, attractive, single parent who’d enjoy spending her rare free moments with a nice guy who speaks in full sentences, has all of his own hair and teeth (both well cared-for), and doesn’t have a hygiene problem. But where is she and how do I find her? Online dating was bust – I think the women on those apps are looking for a very specific type of guy physically, and it’s apparently not me. (I am always honest 100% about my age, appearance, and disability – I use a cane to get around.) There used to be meetings for single parents, but I think the Internet has made those a thing of the past. Add in that I’m not at all religious, so church/temple is out. Short of seeing a good looking woman on the street and running her over with my car, I don’t know how to get a girl interested in me! Advice appreciated, thanks so much! — 6’2″, eyes of blue, boo hoo hoo
So, you’re twice divorced, on disability/unemployed, a single dad with a teenage son to care for, opposed to online dating, in your mid-50s (but don’t want to date a woman your age because, ew, old), and you refer to women you find attractive as “girls.” And you want to know what you can do, short of moving, to find someone you might connect with? I’d say it’s time to adjust your attitude. It’s wonderful that you’ve spent the last six years figuring yourself out and adjusting your expectations, but it sounds like your expectations need to be adjusted further. If you aren’t attracting women (women, not girls) fifteen to twenty years younger than you, maybe it’s time to start accepting that the women your age who have had hard lives and look it are actually your match, and, as much as it may take effort on your part to see and appreciate the attractive qualities they possess, it may take some effort on their part to totally appreciate the attractive qualities you possess.
I hear a lot of excuses from you: Women your age won’t like you because you have a son at home who is your top priority, women on dating sites are looking for a physical type and you aren’t it (because, apparently, all women are looking for the same exact physical type), there aren’t meetings for single people anymore because of the internet, and you can’t join a church or temple because you aren’t religious. It sounds to me like you’re afraid to actually explore potential options because you aren’t willing to settle for anything other than exactly what you’re looking for and you have a feeling that what you’re looking for is out of your league and you don’t want to face rejection. And, yet, you have no trouble rejecting even the idea of a woman who doesn’t look at least fifteen years younger than you and is pretty. What about a so-so looking 49-year-old who is kind and compassionate and understanding of your single-dad lifestyle and your disability? Is she an automatic “no” simply because she’s not really pretty? But you said that what you miss about dating is sharing the company of someone who is engaging and charming. A 49-year-old woman — a grandmother even — who’s had a hard life and isn’t winning beauty contests can still be engaging and charming. And she might be a wonderful match for you — someone who will make you laugh and feel loved and appreciated, but you’d rather miss out on that and be lonely because you’re holding out for someone young and pretty.
Revamp your online dating profile so that it highlights your best features and not the ones you think might be turning off potential dates. Rather than be “100% honest” about “your age, appearance and disability,” leave some stuff up to mystery until the first date. You don’t have to be 100% upfront about everything before you meet. (I’m not suggesting you lie, but I am suggesting you withhold some of the more surface things about you — like that you’re 53 and unemployed and walk with a cane — until someone has a chance to get to know a little about who you actually are). And I’m suggesting that you give others a chance to show you who they actually are — what’s in their hearts and what makes them tick — before dismissing them for superficial reasons.
Can’t find a single parent group to join (because the internet ruined them- ha)? Then create one! And, get this — you can use the internet to publicize it. Start a Facebook group in your area for single parents, share a post on Craigslist about it, reach out to area newsletters and online groups who can publish a little blurb about it. Pick a place and a time to have a first meet-up and see who shows up. You can do all that and even Google “single parent groups” in your town to make sure you haven’t missed one that already exists! Spread the word through your son’s school and through friends and acquaintances. And while you’re at it — let people know you’re open to being set up.
Finally, you don’t have to be religious to join a church. Have you heard of Unitarian Universalism? It’s a “liberal religion characterized by a ‘free and responsible search for truth and meaning.'” People in this group “are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth. As such, UU congregations include many agnostics, theists, and atheists among their membership.” If you identify with being liberal, agnostic, a theist, or an atheist, and the pursuit of spiritual growth and search for meaning appeals to you, you may enjoy gathering regularly with like-minded people who might also be open to the possibility of a romantic connection. You can use the internet to find a unitarian universalism.
Is the internet bad sometimes? Sure. Has it had some negative effects on society and exposed some ugliness that used to be better covered? Absolutely! I mean, a quick perusal of the comment section on CNN.com should prove that. But that doesn’t mean it’s been all bad, or that we can’t use the internet for positive gains. (You wrote to an internet advice columnist, after all, so you must believe on some level there is some good to be found online.) I would suggest cultivating and extending a positive attitude not just to the internet, but to dating and socializing in general. There is goodness and positivity to be found, both online and off (and the internet can simply be a tool to connect you to the good offline). But sometimes you have to look a little further than a pretty profile picture to find it.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.