Women over 50 who are determined to settle down without settling can think of Marcy Miller’s memoir, “Rebooting in Beverly Hills: A Wise and Wild Path for Navigating the Dating World” (Bancroft Press, $22.95) as a sort of boot camp.
The willowy attorney and jewelry designer, whose book came out in June, uses her personal journey as a starting point for offering strategic advice about surviving the minefields of traditional and online dating in Los Angeles.
Miller should know. After two marriages and a bout with breast cancer, she believed her third marriage was the proverbial charm — until she accidentally stumbled upon a correspondence revealing that her husband had a mistress.
So she ended up single again in midlife — she declines to give her age — and jumped back into the dating jungle. Once there, she was ambushed by gossip, online dating Web sites and a series of hilariously horrific dates.
The result? Plenty of advice about what to do — and not do — for other boomers who may follow in her footsteps.
School Is in Session
Miller, who is in a relationship now, says women re-entering the dating pool must first make sure that they are in good emotional shape, especially those who are recently widowed or divorced. Starting too soon is not a “proper way to heal,” the Beverly Hills resident says.
After a woman is ready, the best way to integrate into the dating world is to do it slowly and choose one specific method of meeting prospective dates.
“I have divided the search in my book into four parts — pickups, fix-ups, Internet dating and matchmaking,” Miller explains. “Before you start, figure out which method [of introduction] you are most comfortable with. Though you can meet people through a combination of these methods down the road, doing too much too soon can be overwhelming. If you are proficient with Internet dating, go for it, but if you prefer personal contact and introductions, the fix-up may be more your style.”
Whether you are filling out an Internet profile, trying speed dating or asking friends to fix you up, Miller issues a stern commandment: Thou shalt not lie. Being truthful will weed out a lot of weaker candidates, she says.
“Who wants to start a dating relationship based on a lie?” she asks. “In a good relationship, everything is based on trust and integrity. Also, omission is just as bad as lying. If something key is missing from the other person’s profile, you should see this [as] a red flag. If your date lies in the first encounter, the universe is telling you that you need to move on to the next person.”
Another key step is getting a precise grasp on the qualities you are looking for in a prospective partner. Are you looking for a casual companion or a long-term relationship? Somebody to go to the movies with or something deeper?
Dating can be a detail-oriented business, but it’s important to know when to get specific and when to broaden your expectations. When creating an online profile or talking about your interests, for example, it’s best to carve out a niche, says Miller, who is a member of Temple of the Arts.
“You need to establish pastimes that are not obvious or typical, such as ‘food’ and ‘travel,’ ” she says. “Establishing less-familiar interests, like visiting very specific kinds of museums, following politics and doing certain kinds of volunteer work will weed out some candidates who don’t share your interests.”
However, Miller also believes many women make age specifications too limited when chronological age does not always tell the whole story. There are youthful, active men in their 60s and geriatric 45-year-olds. She also suggests being open-minded about how far away a potential date can live — instead of five or 10 miles away, consider those who live as many as 25 or 50 miles away.
To make a good impression on a first date, steer clear of flashy jewelry and provocative clothing, Miller says. Think neutral, pretty and well-groomed, especially as most women would hope to see the same thing in the men they are meeting for the first time.
As details in dress are important, so are the subtle aspects of where you go and what you do on the first date. Creative locations — as in, not Starbucks — and the content of the conversations will provide valuable clues about your date’s tastes, intentions and interests.
Think of dating as a second job, Miller suggests.
“Dating involves business strategy,” she says. “Put yourself in a networking situation where, when you go shopping, you talk to every woman you meet and make it known you are looking to meet new guys. Pick the longest line at the post office. Do [your] deskwork at the neighborhood Starbucks. Go to the movies by yourself. Do a vision board, cutting out pictures and words that depict the positive things you want to bring into your life.”
Miller also believes you are the company you keep. If you associate with friends who encourage you to settle for any guy you meet because of your age or imperfections, real or imagined, trust your gut — not them — and take the time to cultivate new friends who will support you emotionally.
Miller hopes readers of her book embrace the single life as she did, recognizing that even as they seek a companion, there are benefits to being independent and free to make choices without inhibitions.
“Single women today seem so much healthier than [some married women],” she says. “The friendships with each other are stronger, and they can live life as they please. Furthermore, many smart single women today looking for committed relationships want to establish with their partners up front that they need alone time as well as opportunities to enjoy activities with their friends.”
All of her other advice aside, Miller says there are two main tools that will prove invaluable for anyone re-entering the dating world: humor and patience.
“You have to see dating as a marathon and not a sprint,” she insists. “There are funny episodes that are all part of the fabric of your life. You can’t take everything so seriously, or your journey will be miserable.”
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