I’m getting back into the dating game after a long period of frustration and loss.
I’m open to either fun, romantic friendships, or a potential serious relationship - but only with people who are single.
I’m a busy person and want to maximize my time with friends and potential partners.
How soon should I be open about my personal circumstances? I don't want to scare anyone off, but want to avoid misunderstandings.
I am also conscious of maintaining personal safety.
You’ve already learned some hard lessons in what you call the dating game.
Here’s a reminder about other dating realities: There’s no strategy that you can devise that will assure you of all the factors you mention.
Basically, you don’t want your renewed dating life to actually be a “game.”
So, openness on your part is important. Be aware that the other person needs to open up too, or you can fool yourself into thinking everything is fine just because he/she nods at the right time or says, “I agree.”
Also, there has to be some mutual exchange about “personal circumstances” early on.
These include whether truly “single,” or separated and still connected to an ex, level of involvement with children, number of past serious relationships, living alone or with family, roommates, etc.
Such details are the ones that can come back and bite you if either you or someone you’re dating is withholding them.
On safety issues: Be alert to any red flags, don’t go alone to a new date’s place, trust your instinct if something doesn’t feel right.
Finally, your current approach sounds like the beginning of a dating site profile. Remember, until you meet in person, the responses can be what it’s thought you want to hear, or direct lies.
If you have doubts, don’t answer. Your past experience shouldn’t haunt you, but use it to protect yourself.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the widower, 66, whose close female friend is 20 (March 14):
“Relationships can be hard. I'm 40 years older than my friend who is 31. We're in a committed long-term relationship but figuring out what that means is challenging.
“We fell in love on the first date, but it was a few months before we admitted it to each other.
“She was 29 but told me she was older. I found out at her 30th birthday. Next day she texted me "Do you still love me now that I'm older?"
“She has her own friends and activities with them. We've talked about her maybe wanting babies but don't have a clear answer.
“The age difference isn't an issue but we have to talk more about me dying.
“When people see us in public they can tell we're “together.” Mostly, men don't react but older women are disapproving.
“#MeToo, of course, has reinforced the taboo about older men with younger women.
“But with people living longer and active we might see more of it. Demographics favour this.
“The fewer older women in the dating market often have a restrictive checklist of requirements.
“Yet I never sought to be with a younger woman.
“My friend is awesome: A musician, jazz dancer, painter, crafts-person. I'm not artistic, yet she “gets” me. I'm grateful that we met.”
Ellie – You’re correct about attitude out there about what used to be called May-December romantic unions.
I’ve received such responses from older women. Example: “It's beyond disgusting, friendship’s fine but no more. I'm an 81-year-old great grandmother… yuck!!”
FEEDBACK Regarding the man, 49, suddenly triggered to recall when, alone train-watching at 13, an older teenager sexually assaulted him (March 12):
Reader – “I too experienced sexual abuse as a child, from a much-younger age.
“The major difference is that, while I resented and suffered from the abuse, I very much liked the abuser who was a close relative. We shared something “naughty” and adult.
“It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized that I was being exploited and used. It seemed that reporting this to my parents would be a betrayal of our “little secret.”
“I believe that people should realize that young people often suffer feelings of guilt and shame resulting from these acts which are mentally, emotionally, and physically traumatic.
“When the abuser can make the abused feel like he (or she) is the one who commits betrayal, the trauma is extremely psychologically damaging.”
Tip of the day:
Strategy dating can pit you against a tougher player. Instead, be open, honest, and careful.