“I know why you aren’t married: you’re just too picky!” Women who are single in their 40s, 50s and beyond hear this a lot. After all, what other reason can there be for why you haven’t yet snagged a man?
As a woman who became a first-time bride at 47, I heard this a lot—especially from my father. And the word “picky” was said with such disdain, like I wasn’t deserving of being selective. Like I should just grab the next guy who would have me. (When he met my husband for the first time, my Dad said to anyone who would listen “I hope she doesn’t screw this one up!” Nice, right?)
When you hear that enough, you can start buying into thinking that your expectations of men are simply too high. Then, as often happens in the black-or-white world many of us live in, our answer is to swing the complete opposite direction. We start accepting less, sticking around too long and putting up with way too much.
As a dating and relationship coach for women over 40, I see this a lot. A perfect example is “New York,” a gal who emailed me recently:
…I like him and decided to give him a few more chances. Another chance to cancel at the last minute, stand me up, never call or seem busy if I called. I was trying to break an old habit of giving up too soon…
In her effort to be more open and give him a chance, she accepted disrespect and his utter lack of integrity. He didn’t treat her as if she was special to him in any way: far from it, in fact. Yet she was sticking around.
This is the gigantic question, isn’t it? If you’re not feeling happy with him, how do you decide if you’re expecting too much or not giving him enough time? You don’t want to miss out on a good guy, but you don’t want to waste your time on the wrong guy either.
It seems hard to find the middle ground between being picky and being a pushover. This was definitely one of my toughest challenges in my umpteen years of dating. I finally figured out a way to make good decisions around this, and now I teach that as my last step of my Find Hope and then Find Him Coaching Program. I call this step “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” This is when we review our previous work of clearly articulating:
1. What you bring to a partnership.
2. What you must have in a partner and how you must feel in the relationship.
3. Your rules and boundaries,
I strongly encourage you to be a picky dater. You can do this especially well when you are dating over 40 and clear about who you are and what you want. Learn to communicate your must-have needs. Give him a chance to meet them, and if he can…awesome! If not, next!
When you know your must-haves and your can’t-haves, even though you may not know early on if he IS your guy, you will likely know if he is NOT. You just don’t have to accept bad behavior. You should be Ms. Picky with the “big” stuff. (With the rest of the stuff, I recommend you chill and keep an open mind.)
When I asked New York if her must-haves included being honored and told the truth, she said “of course” and her decision suddenly seemed quite easy. It was time to bail.
Making these good decisions has everything to do with how well you know yourself and how you feel about yourself. Are you clear on what will make you happy in the long run? Do you trust and respect yourself? When you have simple tools like this to guide you, it can completely change the way you date and assure that you take care of yourself which, in the dating world, is really your #1 priority.