Jewish Journal

Dear Deborah

Advice on life and relationships

Posted on May. 11, 2000 at 8:00 pm

Boomer Unbound

Dear Deborah,
I have recently begun dating after a 25-year marriage ended and I'm having big culture shock. The last time I dated, the topics of conversation revolved around Woodstock, Vietnam, feminism, etc. I have been on a few dates, and I can hardly believe my ears (or eyes). These men are approximately my age, and they are talking about Early Bird Specials and No-Load Mutual Funds.I'm a healthy and financially independent 50-year-old woman. My children are grown, and I feel young. I hike, climb and am politically involved, etc. But I'm starting to wonder if I am always going to attract these middle-aged, paunchy, balding guys who talk and think like old men! I have tried to be open-minded, but even after second or third dates I still see the same dreary old guy I am not attracted to. Any suggestions for meeting and dating more compatible Jewish men?

Dear Maggie,
Wake up, Maggie. You are now officially eligible for AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). Time to face the fact that Woodstock, Grant Park, Jimmy, Janis, Bobby, Jack, Abbie (Hoffman) and Abbey (Road) have drifted into purple-hazy memories.

Yet culture shock upon reentry into middle-aged dating is inevitable. It's not like falling off a bicycle, unless of course you were to wait 25 years to climb back on. A lot can happen to one's knees, back and confidence in that span.

If you meet men doing things you like, you'll meet like-minded men. I believe there is a Jewish chapter of Sierra Club, but if not, start one. If you don't meet Jewish men in your political pursuits within such organizations as the ACLU, create a new organization.

You are freer than you ever have been - freer, in fact, than you thought you were during your youthful "summer of free love." You are no longer dependent upon men for procreation or to fulfill cultural expectations. At 25, consciously or not, such factors weighed into relationship decisions. Think of how you have changed in these past 25 years, who you have become and what kind of men would best complement and reflect these changes.

Ultimately you must face the fact that if you date men around your age, they are going to be middle-aged - like you, girlfriend. So either aim younger, don't date men to whom you are not attracted or realize that some of those "Early Bird" diners might have danced naked in the mud at Woodstock 30 years ago (a harrowing thought). They simply have moved on from acid trips to acid reflux.

A Perfect Son

Dear Deborah,
I am a 77-year-old widow, still driving and a little frail, but in good health. Although I'm slowing down a little, I still have most of my marbles. I have a good relationship with my daughter, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren and even a few former daughters-in-law.The problem is my 52-year-old son. He has a need always to be right and perfect. He is very successful in his career, and I've always tried to stay out of his way and never meddle, through three marriages and some bad decisions with his children. My son cannot take any kind of criticism, must look like a hero and doesn't understand how to give people what they need. He gives what he thinks they should have. If I tell him I'm hurt or disappointed by him, I won't hear from him for two weeks.He says to me - in front of his wife, sister, kids or any audience - that if I need him, I should call and he'll be there; he'll fight dragons, any time, day or night. But if we're alone and I ask him if he could drop by Sunday to take a look at the broken VCR, he'll say, "See you Sunday, Ma - if it doesn't rain."Do you have any suggestion for how I might speak to him so he'll listen?
Old Dog in Need of New Tricks

Dear Old Dog in Need of New Tricks,
The only new trick you need is how to use the Yellow Pages to find VCR repair.You said that your son gives what he thinks you should have and not what you need. He is unable to handle criticism, so were you to challenge him on anything at all you would be challenging his very identity of knight in shining armor. Sad to discover that inside the armor is a little narcissism, but, of course, at many levels you probably always knew this. He, unlike you, is incapable of learning any new tricks that he doesn't think he needs to learn.So stop knocking on his armor and learn how to bypass the expectation or hope of getting needs met by Sir Can'ts-a-lot. If you do, you will be far better able to enjoy your boychick's breathtaking displays of largesse.

Single Jewish Cynic

Dear Deborah,
In your last column, you wrote this absurd "love thyself" response to the woman who whines about Jewish men being superficial and not interested in "Rubenesque" women. You must be thin, rich, married or way out of the loop of single Jewish life to believe that.I am 38, never married, always a little overweight, balding and am not rich enough for Jewish women to be blinded to my faults. People shouldn't love themselves if they're fat or losers because they'd never be motivated to change. It is a cold, superficial world, Deborah. It's a lonely time for average-looking or average-earning singles.

Dear Joseph,
Well, has hating your faults caused you to lose weight, grow hair, make more money, be less embittered or attract a woman? If so, go ahead and "hate thyself." Whatever works.If not, try something new. Give yourself and Jewish women a break. Stop judging yourself and others so harshly and begin to accept squarely what you are. Eventually you will begin to feel attractive and successful enough, regardless of your weight, hair situation or check book balance, thus exponentially increasing your odds of finding a mate. At the very least, if you dislodge that chip on your shoulder, you'll lose several pounds of ugly pessimism.

All letters to Dear Deborah require a name, address and telephone number for purposes of verification. Names will, of course, be withheld upon request. Our readers should know that when names are used in a letter, they are fictitious.Dear Deborah will appear once each month. She welcomes your letters. Responses can be given only in the newspaper. Send letters to Deborah Berger, 1800 S. Robertson Blvd., Ste. 927, Los Angeles CA 90035. You can also send E-mail:deborahb@primenet.com

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