The Door Guy is a veteran of countless clubs around town. People say they've seen it all, but he's seen more. Write to him for everything from live advice to life advice.
Dear Door Guy:
Where are all the single 40-something, intellectual, liberal guys? Seriously, where do they hang out? I go and hear a lot of live music, but the guys tend to be in their 20s-early 30s or else in their 50s and 60s. So a lot of them are at home with kids, sure, but there's got to be some single dudes in their 40s in this town?
— Not Settling
There's a terrible piece of conventional wisdom that if you're 40 and you're still single, there's something wrong with you. I think this is absolutely ridiculous. Our priorities, our work life, hell, our entire world is changing so quickly that any “normal” or “conventional” ground we stand on is about as solid as poorly made Jell-O. We simply don't live in a world where people are defining themselves by the desire to settle down and succumbing to their biological clocks.
Part of this is economic — people seem to be working a lot more than ever for the same piece of the pie, even if the pie's flavor has changed as well. (For those of us in the Door Guy Guild who worship at the altar of Our Lady Of The Perpetually Broke, this seems weird and unrelatable.) But at the end of the day, we aren't necessarily living the sort of conventional-wisdom lives that automatically lead to minivans and ranch homes in inner-ring suburbs by age 30 anymore.
However, while we don't always live those lives, our expectations still come from the generations before us. The instinct to settle down might not be as strong, but the concern that we might be doing life wrong if we haven't still exists. After all, our parents seemed to have things figured out at this point in their lives (even if half of them were getting divorced). For those who haven't settled down, found Mr. or Ms. Right yet, there's nothing wrong. But you're still navigating somewhat uncharted waters.
So we start looking backward through rose-colored glasses. Oh man, remember way back when? Dating in your 20s is easy, right? There's plenty of time, plenty of energy, and plenty of room to accept failure. You can go to a bar, hook up with someone, and hope for the best. You can meet cute dudes at a kegger. You can slip someone your phone number at a coffee shop. You can stay up too late and half-ass your way through work the next day because you were hanging out with someone you met standing in line for a show. It's so easy because you can, A) reasonably assume that you're meeting people who are available, and B) if it doesn't work out that's no big deal, because you've got time to find someone else.
Now, in your 40s, hooking up and hoping for the best feels stale, keggers are few and far between, cute guys at coffee shops might just be taking a 10-minute break from their kids, and going to work exhausted just plain sucks.
But the idea that dating in your 20s was the simplest thing ever is total bullshit. Nobody had their shit together in their 20s. Nobody knew how to communicate. We were all desperately scared of AIDS. We listened to terrible music and thought it was really important that everyone agree how awesome it was. Our clothes? Terrible. Very bad. Even the most type-A of us, who had our five-year plans plotted out before our first kiss, really had no idea what the hell life was all about. You know those uncharted waters for people in their 40s I mentioned before? In our 20s they were a goddamned hurricane, a typhoon, a tsunami. By comparison, dating as a grown-up seems like it could be way better — if you embrace the ride.
It's clear to me that you know what you want. You want smart, you want someone with a similar world view, and you aren't willing to settle. And that's great. You shouldn't settle. You shouldn't put yourself on some arbitrary timeline. You don't need to completely abandon your standards. But you might have to open yourself up to new possibilities.
There's unfortunately no central gathering ground for smart, liberal guys in their 40s. There isn't a mating call. Some guys who fit your profile still hang out in coffee shops. Some guys who fit your profile still hang out in bars. Plenty of guys who fit your profile, who are still searching the way you're searching, are dating online, because it's the easiest way to say exactly what you want up front and find people like you who know what they want, too. And yes, some of them do still go to see live music. I can attest to this because I'm the one checking their identification.
Not Settling, if you want to meet the right dude, be bold. Be unapologetic. Be fearless. Accept that it's not always going to work and keep going. You have something that nobody in their 20s has: You're fucking 40, you know who you are, and that's fucking awesome. Dating when you're mature and know what you want can be an easier and far more fun adventure than it ever has been. You can still slip a guy your number at a coffee shop. You can date online, celebrate when you find a good one, and laugh with your friends at the bad ones.
You can give those guys in their 50s a chance because they might turn out to be charming, smart, hilarious, and awesome. You can approach some guy in his 30s and ask him out (because some of those guys might be closer to your age than you think, and even if they're not, they will be soon). You can even look around at dudes you've known for years and realize that while they weren't dating material way back when, they're worth revisiting now. Hell, you can still stay up too late with someone and half-ass your way through work the next day every once in a while. You can do all this and more with a smile on your face because being in your 40s means that you do not have to give a shit.
It means that you own your good days and your bad days, you don't care what other people think, and you (hopefully) have your life so wired that you can charge forth into the unknown without a care in the world. Do this, and you will drag other 40-year-olds in the same predicament with you. Believe me, Not Settling, you aren't the only one; there's a lot of you out there, all asking a version of the same question you're asking. They just need to find the right person to be bold with as well.
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