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To Date or Not to Date, Is That Really the Question?

By Maggie Marangione January 27, 2023 Dating

I have been divorced for 15 years and in that time period I have had three two-year relationships and many dates. Relationship #1 ended in his unexpected death. #2 ended because he bored me into a coma, #3 was with a musician 13 years younger than me and we lived together for one of those years. While it was fun, it was also not sustainable.

Interestingly, in being single, my life has grown the richest it has ever been. My adult children are mostly functional and out of the house, I have numerous hobbies, and I have healed from marrying (yes marrying) dysfunctional men.

I married a punk rock guitarist, a Hells Angel, and finally, the abusive manic-depressive artist who refused to work and who I chose to have my children with. That’s enough for anyone.

Is Anyone Out There?

As I have gotten myself emotionally healthier, I have wondered if I could find and date someone normal – like an accountant. Certainly, I was not meeting anyone in the many hobbies I engage in or outdoor and social activities.

My last encounter was with the handyman I found to do some small house repairs. He was nice looking, had a ponytail(!) and liked to hike. While I was holding a fence board, he said, “You’re a really fun-loving and nice woman. Would you like to go to dinner sometime?”

He then countered with, “I live in Florida for half the year, so I don’t see my wife that often. We got married two years ago, then she got cancer, has gotten cranky, is no fun to be with, and won’t have sex. By the way, you have a great body.” This encounter made me rethink online dating.

The Online Meat Market Bar

I have had my daughter help me with my online profile. I have created profiles with my three single girlfriends over a glass of wine. I have posted a picture on a good day, just laughing, and engaging in my hobbies. I have been funny, honest, transparent, and followed best practices.

Despite all that, online dating feels like sitting in a crowded smoke-filled bar with a crappy band playing cover songs. Everyone is making eye contact, winking and smiling but never engaging. Also, I live in a very rural area so saying, “I love the outdoors!” is countered with photos of men in camouflage with a dead animal.

I did manage to date a fellow white-water paddler who worked for Microsoft. I broke up with him when he quit his job so he could go to more music festivals. (THERAPY HAS WORKED!).

So, What’s the Problem?

Querying my single girlfriends has yielded interesting results.

Location, Location, Location

None of us know any single men in our rural area – everyone appears to be married.

Many Men Seem Limited

They don’t read, get their news off of social media and drink a lot of soda.

They Want a Warm Body

Any body. Two farmers I dated wanted to get married after dating for six weeks. I will never get married ever again. My perfect relationship would be monogamy with two separate houses.

The Problem Is Me

When I was dating one of the farmers, who appeared stable, normal and functional, my sister told me, “You better hold onto him because, you know, you’re a bit odd and this opportunity won’t happen again.” A month later, I found teen girl porn on his iPad and discovered he owed his ex-wife about half a million dollars. Good-bye!

I have done the homework to mitigate my dysfunctions, which has resulted in being engaged with my life, and I don’t look to anyone to fix me. Most importantly, I’m not attracted to dangerous men. And, after a certain age, compromising just to be in a relationship does not feel right.

I don’t want to be anyone’s teddy bear or mother, and I certainly don’t want to take care of anyone as they physically or mentally deteriorate. I raised three difficult children by myself, managed a farm while working and caretook a severely mentally ill spouse and two aging parents. I’m done.

“Don’t you at least want to be married so we can take care of each other as we age?” asked one suitor. “NO! You better have enough money for a nurse cause I’m not doing that, and I don’t expect anyone to do it for me.” I replied.

Kissing Frogs

Occasionally, very occasionally, like when I want a date for a wedding invite, I muse about finding someone, wondering if I will ever have sex again before I die, and if I really want to have sex again. Yet, if a physically and mentally healthy man showed up with a bottle of wine, the New York Times, and hiking boots, I would consider it, but right now, the only person who fits that bill is the Amazon delivery driver.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you been on and off dating, with terrible experience to show? What kind of man would feel good to date at this time in your life? If you have to make a compromise with yourself in order to date a man, would you?

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Barbara Sams

Describes perfectly my experience with dating too. Seeking companionship and open to where it leads as long as it is healthy. But at my age (73) most men seem to not be able to keep up with my active lifestyle. It is discouraging and I refuse to settle! Been there, done that, wasted time. Not again!

Sandra Pfister

OMG, same here! I am 74 and very active and love to travel. Most men near my age, online, are true couch potatoes or overly involved in being a grandfather. If you try even a few years younger, the guys want someone in their 40s. Hello!? NO woman in their 40s is interested in someone 60-70. Totally unrealistic. I’m ready to give up – because my life is just great as it is right now.


yes, this is a good reminder…. why after a 36 year marriage, been out of that for 14 years, I hear you dear women, its not easy, most men aren’t really present& truly healthy& able to be supportive as they want the support not understanding life is team work, together we are living in difficult times, Pandemic was a gift of life to see how to be a better person in. community helping friends& others that live near that need each other…MEN are just Boys bigger, wanting a nurse& a purse to rescue them from themselves…no thanks, seeking partnership in kindness…Blessings Ladies, not easy…..


This article is spot-on. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


I really loved your article. I laughed out loud several times. I have taken myself off of all dating websites….the stories I could tell. Anyway, if the universe wants me to have it, he will come, if not, me and my dog are all I really need. That and a good vibrator!


Yep! He will have to appear in front of mewith neon arrows pointing to him!

Brenda Frank

A fun read ,”Divorced After 56 Years, Why Am I Sooo Happy?”

The Author

Margaret S. Marangione is a Professor of writing at the University of Virginia and Blue Ridge Community College. Her novel, Across the Blue Ridge Mountains, has been submitted for the Pen Faulkner award. Additionally, her short stories, essays and poetry have been published in Appalachian Journal, The Upper New Review, Lumina Journal, Enchanted Living and Sagewoman magazine.

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