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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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Elaine Bias

I love the last comments. I know the feeling well. I have been widowed for 9 yrs. Have just recently felt like I’d like to date again but there is not much out there. Not in my age bracket. I’ve considered a few years younger, but I must be hard to please. I have lowered my expectations but not my values. The world has certainly changed since I dated before my marriage of 43 years. I fear it’s hopeless, but the bottle of wine sounded good!!

Rose Jaye

This was both funny and sad to read about all the “adventures” of older women dating. I could especially relate to all the stories of meeting men through online dating. My guys were usually very upfront about their sexual predilections. I’m still amazed at how many men told me they had to have sex by the second date, or they wouldn’t see me anymore. Consequently, I became known among my girlfriends as “One and Done”. The last straw was when one of my online dates told me he needed some back door action, or he would stop seeing me. And we hadn’t even had plain old vanilla sex at that point! I am happy to say that I have stopped online dating, and I finally found the love of my life, and it’s me! I have learned to put myself first, and please myself first, and that has made all the difference in how I feel about my life, and my place in this world. I still believe in love, and a few years ago I reconnected with my high school sweetheart. When I told him I had found the love of my life, and it was me, he just laughed, and said, “Of, course.” He hasn’t run away yet.


A lot of them want a nurse and/or a purse.


OMG that is sooooo nit my situation!!! I saw the words location location location in the background. That certainly seems to be the problem there.

I live in a large city boarding several states. I love on line dating. I’m fascinated by some of the people that I meet. I find (OLD) LOL On Lline Dating to have many advantages. I can pick choose and refuse.

I try to get to know as much as I can about a person while I’m on the site. I never respond to people who are too far away. Kind of leary by those type who contact me.

I have very specific questions that I ask before considering to speak to anyone. Then if the answers are to my satisfaction then we can speak on the phone.

After a couple of conversations we may or may not meet. But if we do, it’s always in a very public place with goops of folk around.

If we seem to hit it off, then maybe we’ll meet again. I compare on like dating similar to a job interview. I’m looking for a person who can be friends before we can be anything else.

I have meet many nice people who I continue to be in touch with. I live a full life surrounded by family and friends. There are soòo many places to go and things to do. We believe in having fun because life is so short and it goes fast. So I spent each day with a purpose, making a difference in somebody’s life or mine’s.

I feel badly for “to date or not to date”!!! I say hell yeah to dating!!! Honey travel, visit family and friends in other areas and states. Sounds like silm pickens in your neck of the woods.


I can truly relate the the author’s points- I feel pretty much the same. I love being single, & I love solitude.

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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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