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Straight talk no chaser, p.4
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       Straight Talk, No Chaser, p.4

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  Of course, if he’s a fortysomething divorcé, he’s likely alone because he’s wary, but more prone to the hunt because he’s back out on the dating scene and reacquainting himself with all the women he had to walk by with blinders on while he was married for the last decade. Now that he can actually sample without repercussions, he’s going to want to play for a minute. It may take him a few years before he’s even thinking about committing to anybody again, especially if he’s newly divorced and still has some very strong and complicated emotions about his ex. Still, it’s true what they say about a man who has been married before: if he committed to someone once, he’s certainly not scared of it and would be open to doing it again. He won’t necessarily romanticize it, but he will remember how wonderful it can be and won’t completely be opposed to the idea of marriage after he’s gotten the playing out of his system.

  What This Means for Your Relationship

  You’re going to have to be more thoughtful about how to find a forty-year-old single man and especially how to approach him. He’s been there, done that, and he’s not going to be fooled by nice bodies, batting eyelashes, and coy behavior. Sure, he knows how to go find some hot twentysomething who perhaps he’d be willing to spend a couple nights with, but mostly, he’s done that so many times it has very little interest for him; he knows that the chances are high that the younger women haven’t done anything, haven’t been anywhere, and haven’t yet had the adult experiences he’s had. Instead, he’s going to need and want someone who’s got something going on, and who is interesting and especially interested in the things he’s built into his life to make it comfortable.

  This means, too, that you’re going to have to be a little bit more creative in trying to find him. He’s not going to be found in the club or in the gym or the sports bars—typical places where the opposite sex meets when they’re young, hot, and fresh. You’re going to find this guy at a jazz club, actually listening to the music, or at sporting events, enjoying the game, or on the golf and tennis courts or in the football league. As a single man, he can indulge in these kinds of entertainment and sporting hobbies because there’s no wife telling him that he’s being indulgent and selfish for structuring a lifestyle that’s enjoyable to him.

  Know that hopping into a relationship with a divorced fortysomething man may be tricky if his divorce is new. There may be a lot of ways he sees his ex’s face in yours and runs in the other direction. If he’s been divorced less than two years, you should prepare yourself for some bedroom play and not much else; he’s probably going to want to keep it moving, no matter how fabulous you are. That’s because forty-year-olds don’t believe the hype. In his twenties, he believed anything a woman told him, and in his thirties, he got a little more skeptical. But in his forties, he doesn’t believe much of anything women tell him. They’re all fabulous cooks who love to keep a clean house by day and dress in lingerie every night; not a one of them dare leave the house without makeup on; they love sex, are avid basketball and football fans, and love the smell of cigar smoke—until, that is, they get into a relationship and the pretty packaging falls off. As a man who was married before, he already knows there are very striking similarities in the way women in relationships respond to pressure, stress, and challenges, and so when life comes along and creates difficulties for them, he knows there’s a good chance that he may wind up back in the same place he was with the woman he divorced. So you’re not going to lure him by telling him how wonderful being with you is; he may not believe you. You’ll have to show him, rather than tell him. If he takes you out on the golf course and you look like you’re having fun, or he takes you to the sports bar and you argue with the most avid fan about the merits of the Lakers’ triangle offense, or if you can discuss the beauty of a Coltrane versus Miles Davis classic solo, then he may start believing that you have a lot of the same interests as he does and that you’re a unique one-of-a-kind catch.

  Once he’s moved on from the hurt of the divorce and he starts getting lonely, he’ll realize that sex with a forty-year-old does, in fact, have the potential to be a lot more interesting than sex with a twenty-five-year-old; he’s well aware that physical perfection isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be and he’s going to start wanting more companionship—the woman who’s comfortable with her station in life and his, too.

  A MAN IN HIS FIFTIES AND BEYOND . . .

  Is working desperately to solidify his legacy. Simply put: he’s looking at the tape and trying to figure out how to set up his family for when he’s done working or after he’s gone from this earth. He’s thinking more in terms of security than he ever has before, even as he’s looking forward to emptying his nest—sending the kids off to college or to start their new lives on their own so that he can enjoy his significant other in ways he hasn’t since the two of them had children. He’s more content in his newfound peace with his lady and is settled into the life he’s built, but still worries about protecting his family—not with brute force, but by making sure they can survive without him.

  This mind-set is boosted by his ever-changing body. He starts to worry about it because it’s in his fifties that his body starts to betray him. His blood pressure increases, his cholesterol levels increase, his prostate gives him problems, and there are aches and pains that he’s never felt before. All of this makes him much more aware of his mortality, and he realizes he has to take better care of himself. This, of course, is much easier for him when there’s a woman around. It’s a lot harder for a man to live right, eat right, and stay out of trouble if there isn’t a female presence there to tap him on the shoulder and remind him why it’s better to leave the cheesecake and steak alone and eat more vegetables, get in more exercise, and stay out of trouble for the sake of not only himself, but the ones he loves.

  What This Means for Your Relationship

  He’s going to be a lot more open to the idea of having a woman around not only to love in the way that a man loves—by protecting, professing, and providing for her—but also because he knows that a fairly sweet, nurturing, caring woman will increase his life expectancy by at least a decade. This will put him in a better position to want to commit to someone, certainly more so than a man in his thirties and even forties. He will basically be looking for someone to grow old with as he faces the other side of the high-paced workforce and begins to imagine what it will be like to do all the things he always wanted to do—travel or spend leisurely, carefree afternoons—with a steady companion who also is happy to finally be settled down and enjoying the rest of her life.

  Please understand that these different stages of manhood are not ironclad definitions of men at these different ages; there are always exceptions to the rule. What I’ve described here is a generalization of what happens in men’s lives as they move from decade to decade—things that I’ve gone through myself, and certainly experiences that friends of mine have shared with me during the course of our friendships. My sincere hope is that you’ll use this as a loose guide to understanding just where your man’s head may be when it comes to a relationship with you—an understanding that just may help you get the kind of love you want, need, and deserve.

  3

  Are Women Intimidating?

  Myths Versus Facts

  As the success of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man mounted, so too did the fever pitch of television specials, newspaper, and magazine stories questioning why it’s so difficult for single women who are intelligent, successful, beautiful, and, by their own accounts near perfect, to so much as find a date, much less a husband. And always, always, the most vocal single women either claimed they were perfectly happy being alone or they laid the blame for their unmarried status squarely in the lap of men: “I’m alone because men are intimidated by me.”

  Sorry, but as the title of this book suggests, I’m going to have to give it to you straight, no chaser and, at my own peril, take one for the team: in the minds and hearts of most men, the notion that a guy is “intimidated by your s
uccess” is nothing more than an excuse—a convenient way for some women to rationalize why they’re alone. Harsh but true. When we’re away from the womenfolk and talking among ourselves out on the golf course or on the basketball court or while enjoying a cigar at the bar, we men give a chuckle, shake our heads, and wonder aloud who told you this madness. Because, nothing, really, could be further from the truth. Men don’t mind strong, independent, capable women by any stretch. What we do mind is feeling like we’re not needed.

  Believe it or not, there is a difference.

  Still, this “men are intimidated by me” myth persists, as do others concerning women who are independent, particularly women who are financially or emotionally self-sufficient. So I am addressing these issues with the hope that, if women truly understand the mind-set of a man when he goes mano a mano with a strong, independent, successful woman, we can move the dialogue forward.

  MYTH 1

  Men Don’t Like Women Who Talk About Their Material Success

  THE TRUTH: If you’ve got a degree or two, a fancy car, a nice place to lay your head at night, and a paycheck that’ll make a Fortune 500 CEO drop his jaw in awe, we are happy for you. Yes, you read that right. Happy. It doesn’t anger us, turn us off, or deliver a crushing blow to our self-esteem and ego if a woman has done well for herself and is living a splendid life.

  But if that’s the defining element of your life—if this is what you live and die for, and the first thing out of your mouth after you introduce yourself is the year and make of your car, the purchase price on your fancy home, your credit score, followed by the single, strong, independent female creed—“I don’t need a man to take care of me!”—then guess what we’re going to translate that into? “Your services are not needed here.” And we will take our services elsewhere while you climb that corporate ladder alone. Worship alone. Raise your child alone. Shop alone (or with your girlfriends). Take all your vacations alone (or with your girlfriends). Only to return home . . . alone. There’s nothing wrong with being alone, mind you. Plenty of women are on their own, content with lives full of good friends and great experiences that don’t necessarily involve committed relationships with the opposite sex.

  Yet for every woman who says she’s just fine by herself, there is a whole host of others who really are unsettled by the idea that they may not find the happily ever after that they thought would be waiting for them once they acquired the career, money, and status they worked so hard to get, and who really do believe with all their hearts that they’re alone because men are intimidated by or jealous of their success.

  Here is the thing, though: it is already obvious to most men that the majority of women can take care of themselves. If you were raised by parents who were even remotely concerned about your well-being, they likely taught you the importance of getting a solid education, pursuing a good career, and having the wherewithal to take care of yourself, whether a man is in your life or not. Men expect that you followed through on this promise to yourself and are doing all you can to be the best you can be, and we know it’s only natural for people, women included, to share things about themselves that they’re proud of.

  What turns us off is when your personal seams are sewed up so tight we can’t see where we can fit in and what role we can play in your life. You leave us no room to be men. As I’ve said elsewhere here and in Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, the way a man shows his love for a woman is by providing for her, protecting her, and professing for her—giving her the title of girlfriend, lady, or wife. Now if you tell a man you don’t need him to provide for you, you have all the cash you need to cover your bills and your lifestyle, and that you don’t need his protection because between your alarm system and Jake, the pit bull, your mansion is safe—then what would make him want to profess his love for you?

  Now, I understand that not all women are slinging their degrees and salaries and material gains in men’s faces to brag and suggest that they don’t need men. There is, too, this pervading idea that women need to list their accomplishments in order to not appear “needy” in men’s eyes, so that guys won’t think they’re being pursued for their money and material wealth. But here’s the rub. Everybody needs somebody. And everybody has voids they need filled: they want companionship, a family, someone to help them feel safe, someone to share their dreams with, someone who can be a male role model in their home, someone willing to listen to their problems and maybe even offer up a few suggestions on how to fix them too—even someone for less complicated things, like mowing the lawn, taking care of the car, and dealing with the bills. And you know what? We don’t mind if you need us. In fact, it’s only a turnoff to men who, for whatever selfish reasons, don’t want to fulfill your needs. The man who is genuinely interested in having a solid relationship with you wants to care for you, wants to hold your hand and provide a shoulder that’ll help you through the hard times, wants to spend his money making sure you’re provided for, wants to make sure no one ever hurts you, wants to be a good father to your children, wants to see you succeed because he knows it’s for the greater well-being of the family and makes you happy. We have no interest in creating you. We want to come in and complete you.

  If you’re constantly saying you don’t need us, well, maybe you don’t.

  You don’t have to sell yourself short or dumb it down. Of course you can still be proud of your accomplishments and share them with men, too. But how about adding a little truth to the mix. There’s nothing wrong with running down your credentials and then following them up with some truth about what you still desire but don’t yet have: “I’m really happy with my station in life—I’ve accomplished a lot. But I’m looking for a man who completes me. I’ve got myself halfway to where I want to be, but I dream about having a family and a husband who will be my partner in life.” Sharing your vision with a man and being clear about what you want in a relationship without devaluing him takes true courage—true strength. A man can sign up for that. A buddy of mine did exactly that when a woman to whom he was attracted made plain to him that she was looking for “the one” to live out the rest of her life with. He met her in a bank; he was the teller, she was the customer—and the chemistry between them was electric. She would give him flirtatious smiles, he would do his best to keep up the small talk so that she would stick around a little while longer. After a few months of flirting with the idea of taking her out, my friend finally did the deed: he asked her out for coffee at a local shop. She happily accepted his invitation and, over coffee and Danish, proceeded to blow him away. He already knew that she was financially set; he was, after all, her banker. But during their meeting, he also learned that she ran her own company, which she’d started after picking up clients and a lot of know-how working for—and becoming wealthy from—a longtime position at a Fortune 500 company. She wasn’t bragging—just sharing information about herself. And then she laid out for him exactly what she was looking for: “I’m a good woman, I have a great life and family and friends, but I know, too, that I want a man to love and who loves me back. That would be the ultimate for me.” She explained further that at forty-plus years old, she wasn’t looking to marry a millionaire; she just wanted a steady, faithful companion with whom she could build a solid life.

  This stuck in the back of my friend’s mind. He may not have been able to buy her the biggest house on the block or add zeroes to her bank account or be in the position to make decisions that would affect her career, but he could still find room in there to be a man—to provide for her and protect her and have the broad set of shoulders she needed to lean on while they built that life together. It didn’t take him long to become the man she needed—the man she was looking for. And after more than a decade together, they’re still going strong.

  MYTH 2

  Men Don’t Approach Strong Women Because They’re Intimidated by Them

  THE TRUTH: We’re not intimidated by strong women. Intimidation is just another word for fear, and although men are afraid of a
lot of things, women aren’t one of them. You can’t kick our behinds, and, short of that, little scares us. If we see you from across the room, we’re not counting the zeroes in your bank account, and we sure aren’t wondering what your job title and position is at work. We don’t care about that. Initially, we don’t even care how many kids you have, or what your dreams and goals and ambitions are. We just want to talk to you. But we will only do it if it looks like you won’t give us attitude simply for approaching you. Give us some credit; we’re way more crafty than you think—believe me when I tell you.

  Men are hunters by nature, predators who, if we’re not looking for anything serious, will look for the easy kill. The woman who’s dressed provocatively, who’s a little loud, who’s tossing back drinks and dancing suggestively and sending out the signals that she’s down for whatever won’t have a problem filling up her dance card with a bunch of guys who won’t be remotely serious about her. She’s going to be the ultimate throwback for the man who’s sport fishing, a man who is looking for a woman to use and toss back into the water. She’s easy to spot. But we can also spot, just as easily, the woman who has it all, plus attitude to spare—and who isn’t afraid to use it.

 
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