There are many ways to play the game, but really only one secret to surviving the game– you can’t take things personally.  No one wins 100% of the time, so you have to accept that you will lose some of the time.  Guys, who are much more sports-oriented, tend to be better at accepting this fact, which is why they tend to just cast out a wide net and see what fish they can reel in.  I’m not keen on being a “fish,” which is why I don’t do online dating.  Instead, I prefer to be a sharp shooter, who has to see her target in person– but even with precise aim I know at best I’ll hit my mark 9 out of 10 times.  No one I know has a perfect batting average, so whatever you do, you can’t just throw in the towel and accept defeat.  You may need to rethink your strategy if you just experienced a bad break up or keep having a bad streak, but you keep moving forward.

There is no point to fearing rejection or abandonment– you just have to accept that these things are going to happen.  Let’s just face facts– what are the odds that you will find someone that loves you unconditionally?  The answer is ZERO.  We all have our deal-breakers, and even in a committed, monogamous marriage, your spouse is going to expect you to walk the line.  If you don’t it should come as no surprise when that person tells you to hit the road.   Unconditional love is something only a parent can give you, and the sooner your realize this truth, the sooner you can begin to understand how a successful partnership will work, because above all else it is about honoring your commitment and accepting responsibility.  And this brings me to the next problem in dating…

Most people I know in their 40s have enough commitments in their lives.  We all have high stress/high intensity jobs and many of us also have children that require our attention and unconditional love.  Finances and family obligations consume a significant part of our time, leaving little room for much else.  Those of us that do make time to date are looking for very different things compared to when we were in our 20s or 30s.  Most of us have lost the desire to bear more children, and maybe even an interest marrying again.  If these things matter to you, you need to screen out those that don’t share your end-goal, cut your losses early on and move on.

Playing 20 questions is a great way to ensure that you don’t waste each other’s time.  We all have different criteria that we are looking for, and in those first few dates, you are screening for just basic compatability both physically and mentally.  Here again you have to realize that the higher your IQ and emotional awareness, the less likely you are going to hit it off with many.  It is just basic math– if you are in the top 10% and only want to date your kind, then you are by default eliminating 90% of the population.  You can try to broaden your numbers by dating down (I use that for lack of a better term without meaning to be condescending), but this can be tricky, especially the greater the disparity between you.

Many years ago, when I first re-entered the dating game I was warned that this is a numbers game, and at the time I did not get it– now I do.  While I am normally an optimist, I have come to accept that in the dating game, the odds are not in your favor– especially the more independant you are because a lot of people simply cannot tolerate that.  Way too many people seem interested in dominance, control, and they want to rank as a priority immediately.  Well, it just doesn’t work that way for some of us.  Again, it is nothing personal, and it has nothing to do with being a commitment phobe– maybe in fact it is just the honest realization that the level of commitment that other person is seeking is beyond our capacity.

It has taken me years to realize this one simple truth: at at the root of all relationship issues is the fact that one person feels they are not loved enough by the other, but what they fail to realize is that the real problem lies within themselves.   Each of us can only love another to the best of our own capacity, and our capacities do differ greatly.  I have loved several men in my life, but not always to the extent that they desired, and I have also experienced what it is like to want more from a man than he is capable of giving, and this definitely hurts.  But the pain will only cease when you can accept the love that is being offered– you have to be able to say to yourself, “I realize he loves me to the best of his capacity, and that is good enough for me.”  You also have to be honest enough to tell someone when the best that they are capable of is not enough for you.

Only time will tell whether a relationship can withstand the test of time, so don’t rush things or overthink everything.  There really is no point in trying to question “where are we going” or “how is this going to end?”  Enjoy the journey and let go of the outcome– it will be what it will be, but you have to go in knowing that odds are not in your favor.  Dating is hit or miss, and a lot depends on timing because our needs and desires do change throughout our lives.  Sometimes we want something more serious, other times something more relaxed– there is no need or point to judge people as “good” or “bad” as long as everyone is honest upfront.

So have fun, and more than anything else, do NOT take things personally.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.