As a single man again, after almost two decades of being in a relationship, I’m finding that dating in my 40s is very different from dating in my 20s. One huge difference in me is self-confidence: I’m far more self-assured than I ever was back then.
Just as importantly, I know what I don’t like and am comfortable saying so. Want to go ski the black diamond slopes in Aspen? I’m not your man. Want to go sky-diving? I’ll see you on the ground and good luck to you! Going to see a movie? Going for a hike? Need a pal at a local rep theater production? Having a spontaneous weekend somewhere? Now we’re talking…
But here’s what’s baffling me: if I’m seeing someone, if we’ve been dating for long enough that we’ve reprogrammed our phones to have each other on speed dial (I know, quite trés modern, eh?), what’s the word we should be using to describe each other?
When I was in college, the gal would be my “girlfriend” and I her “boyfriend”, but as someone in the latter part of my 40s, I don’t really see myself as a “boy” and the gals that I have been hanging out with, uh, dating, definitely are more women than girls (heck, that’s the attraction!)
Last week, a gal with whom I have been dating made a comment about us potentially becoming “an item” and it really struck me at the time what an odd expression that was to describe… what?
For that matter, how many dates does it take before you’re “in a relationship” instead of just “dating”? And what is a date? I like to think of it as “hanging out” with someone, but I can’t deny that there’s a tiny charge to hearing a “yes, definitely” to the question “wanna go out on a date?”
I can recall seniors referring to their “man friend” and “lady friend” but that sounds oddly stilted too, so I’m not sure that’s the solution. At least, not for me.
So I’m totally baffled by this all. Am I “dating” or “going out with” or “hanging out with” or ‘spending time with” someone if we are both testing the proverbial waters for the possibility of a longer-term, more intimate relationship? If we do agree to being each other’s sort of “automatic date” when we’re available, are we “dating” or “in a relationship” or ?
Help me out, gang. I’m clueless and confused by it all (as you can see!)