Dating After Sixty – 3


How can you tell if a man wants out? It was a mystery to me for a long, long time, until I hit the age of wisdom. In my experience, men do not break off a relationship: they want you to break it off and get you in that position so there’s no other way left. I have never heard from any of my dates or boyfriends: that he calls it quits, wants to end it, found somebody else that he wants to date, doesn’t think we are suitable match, does not want to see me anymore, or that we should end the relationship.

The closest I came to hearing something similar was when the man (aged 60-plus, let’s call him William) whom I had dated for about five months, told me he wanted to “take a break”. As if we were in high school and he needed to devote his time elsewhere! I was flabbergasted by this immature proposal that immediately brought Rachel and Ross of Friends to mind. I realized that this was a break-up proposal, so I happily “gave him his freedom back”. After a few weeks of that, he changed his mind and we resumed dating. It should have been my cue that this relationship was going nowhere fast, but I never had met this level of immaturity yet, so didn’t recognize the signs.

When we first met, William was still “friendly” with a woman he had dated. At that time, he had grown tired of her claims on him and on his freedom, but had been unable then to tell her he wanted to end their relationship. I was patient, initially.

I grew unhappy with his lingering “friendship” as he called that bond with her: she had come between us when his consideration of her started to interfere with our dating. He cancelled a date with me with the excuse she needed comforting when he told her they could be only “friends”. My response was to tell him I wanted to be in an exclusive relationship only and would not see him, until he had sorted out what is what and whom he wanted to date. He told me 2 weeks later that he had ended that relationship. However, when I travelled on a family related trip out of the country around Christmas some months later, William went to visit this old friend again in my absence; he was lonely.

After 4 years of dating, we had too many conflicts and we broke it off–for the second time. Enlightenment came over me when William tried to reconnect with me half a year after the end of our relationship. At that moment, when he called me out of the blue, I recognized the change of roles that had taken place: I had become that woman he dated just before we had met; that he couldn’t let go of me either. William was the most manipulative, passive-aggressive man I have met in my life and it had taken some time for me to figure him out.

In my experience, men will give hints that they want out, but are seldom direct and straight with their mate. William could not make up his mind, wanted to date more than one woman, or could not stand being without another woman waiting in the wings for him, or would not leave one woman before he had secured another mate in her place. Whatever his motivation was—your guess is as good as mine.

In hindsight, I can pinpoint in my previous relationships (or dating) when the guy wanted out. Since I tend to take what people say at face value, I am still surprised how little meaning there is in what men will say to avoid a confrontation of some sort.

Men do not like emotions and most seem to equate emotion with weakness. It must be a socialization thing that they learned from their buddies, the people that raised them and from the media portrayals of real men.

I guess that most men probably are afraid the woman will cry when he would tell the truth and then what? He might feel manipulated by tears into changing his mind—the knight in shining armour on his white horse trots up to save the day. Or she might get angry—even worse: a woman scorned… etc. There’s no telling what she might do, being smarter than him in plotting revenge, gifted with female wiles. He might be sorry later when the consequences hit him.

He’s not that into you—the book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tucillo—dealt with this difference in meaning and honesty between men and women very well. It shows that women just don’t understand this deceitful communication by men and so want to be in a relationship, while men want to be free. Not quite  the reality of relationships either, in my view.

I would like men to be less afraid and say what they think, be up straight up and to treat woman as equals (dare I say, as men), not as delicate creatures, or witches from hell that could destroy him in anger. Those are myths: we are neither.


About BABYBOOMER johanna van zanten

My name is Johanna van Zanten. I am a baby boomer, interested in writing and connecting with other writers and readers to engage in discussions and information sharing, to share a point of view about current global issues, writing, and publishing, diversity, immigration, travel, music, life, specific baby boomer issues, and dating/relationship issues. I have written a novella, ON THIN ICE about baby-boomer Adrienne and will link this blog with the information website for this novella. Right now, I am trying out the blog.
This entry was posted in Babyboomer, Dating, Dealing with aging and dating, sexual politics, Uncategorized, Writing life. Bookmark the permalink.

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