Dear Dr. Hedda
It’s hard to know where to start. I’m not sure if I am still carrying around old issues or if this is a new one. I’ve been divorced for 3 years now. The divorce was a very unhappy and scary experience. I never expected to be alone at 63. I found out that my husband had been cheating for years. The most difficult part for me was that I never noticed he stopped caring,. The feelings of betrayal and loss were overwhelming. I went through a long period of time doubting myself and blaming myself for his infidelity. I worried that I was unlovable, I would probably always be alone and I should come to terms and accept that.
My friends encouraged me to start dating so I joined some online dating sites. In the past few years I have dated a lot of men. All of them were nice, pleasant to be with yet I found a reason to push them all away. Reasons like: too tall, too short, not smart enough, too smart – the reasons are endless.
Recently I met a man who met all my criteria. He’s tall, funny, smart, well read, has traveled a lot and has had a full and interesting life. We’ve been dating for a few months now and I really like him.
But I am a bit confused about how the rules of dating have changed over the last 30 years.And I don’t know if the rules have changed for everyone or just this guy.
For example: who pays for dinner? Whose car do we use? What about weekend holidays? Do I pay half or does he pay for everything ? And are people my age supposed to be monogamous when dating ?
I wonder if my confusion about dating rules is just a way of my looking for a way out because I am afraid of being hurt again. I would really like to give this relationship a try but I am still afraid of trusting another man.
I can understand your issues about trust. This is a very important part of a successful relationship. Trust is a complex thing and cannot be decided in a few dates. Trust develops over time, over sharing experiences and learning how the other person reacts to different life situations. You also need to learn what trust means to you. It’s more than being faithful to your mate.
Give this guy a chance. Get to know him better. Take your time. You’ve been saying “goodbye” for too long now.
Over the last 30 years some dating rules have changed. Woman are more independent and self-assured. Men do not make all the decisions or have all the responsibility. Give him a chance to tell you how he feels about the “new” dating rules. Let him know how you feel about them as well.
I suggest that you pull back on all these indecisions and questions. Give this relationship some time to grow. He may or may not be the right man for you but if he’s not this can be a great experience to learn more about yourself and what you really want for your future.
The hurts and bruises form your divorce will fade away with time. It’s big new world for you out there. Go out and live it. Yes, you may get hurt again or not but you should take a chance at loving again.