Column 22 Published in the March 15 issue of the Warroad Pioneer
There is a vast plethora of dating advice online for the 40+ crowd: horror stories, “rules”, self-help nonsense and even hilarious personal grooming advice. I found myself clicking and chuckling for a good hour before I got back on task when attempting to start this piece.
But as I started to analyze (read: overthink) being single at The Angle, the situation started to look quite grim.
According to eHarmony contributor and relationship coach Bobbi Palmer, there are 45 million single men over the age of 35 in the United States, and those are just the ones using online dating. Palmer also says that if I live anywhere close to a major metropolitan area, there are 2,000 single men within 20 miles.
We’re eight full hours from a major metro. We’re an hour north of the whole state of Minnesota. And in my best guess, there are about a dozen single men living full time at The Angle. Of course it’s my choice to eschew a normal city life and live where I live. I wouldn’t trade it; this is truly where I want to be right now. This is where I want my little girl to grow up, go to school and learn to be a good and strong human being.
But dating? Here?
There are hundreds, nay, thousands of men who come to The Angle each season. Loads of them (not all, mind you – I’ve met many-a perfect gentleman here) conveniently forget they have wives or girlfriends at home and act as if they’re 21 and in Vegas for the first time.
When I was mired in the pain of the demise of my last relationship, watching the behavior of these men and often being negatively impacted by it and even afraid at times, led to quite a lot of male loathing. I felt marginalized, mistreated, and objectified.
But a funny thing happened along the path to healing. The better I felt about myself and about being newly single, the better men started treating me and behaving around me. Just recently, when an intoxicated male tourist roughly grabbed my arm to get my attention, there were three trusted Angle men beside me in an instant.
When I put my car into a snowbank on a slick Angle road corner, six different Angle men stepped up in various ways to help get me to work, cover for me while I was on my way, and rescue my car.
When I’ve needed truck or trailer or muscle to help haul something for our community events, I need only ask for help and the Angle men appear.
When I’ve needed advice and friendship, they’ve been there as well. For a long while, I didn’t believe these types of stereotypical masculine men could be friends with single women. They are outdoor sportsmen, often roughnecks, with more pairs of muck boots between them than dress shoes. They’re callous-handed and wear beards, not because it’s trendy but because it’s darn cold here in the winter months and they’re outside a lot doing what it takes to live and play here. They often don’t realize a work-inflicted wound is dripping blood until someone else points it out. They don’t waste words, and when a clumsy compliment is offered I can trust it took nerve and came from a place of goodness. They’re soft-hearted, gentle-souled and are more afraid of women than bears.
They make good friends. They know how to listen, or at least pretend their listening. They’re not complainers. They’re realists. Most of them are politically and socially conservative and yet they tolerate my liberal feminism a little bit better than I tolerate their views.
Re-entering the dating scene is going to be yet another Angle adventure. Now that the ice is on its way out, we’ll be back to one, count ‘em, ONE spot to go out for coffee, dinner, drinks, pool, darts, music, etc., without risking life and limb to get there. The experts, i.e., everyone, believe ice-out will go fast considering the late and mild winter we’ve had, so hooray, that means potentially dating by boat!
Fishing dates. Shorelunch dates. Mushroom foraging dates. Hiking on a Canadian island dates, for which we’ll have to call in to Customs so there’s no hiding my birth date, not that I’d want to. I briefly tried dating someone quite a bit younger than me, and surprise…there actually is a lot we learn in our 30’s. I’ll stick closer to my age-range from now on.
Dates in mud boots. Dates on four-wheelers. Dates with an hour-long drive at the start and the finish. Dates that are awkward and funny and covered in bug spray.
Was I really thinking the situation looked grim just a short time ago? I feel quite optimistic now thinking about all of the upcoming fun.
I admit I labeled and judged our men, and they somehow keep gloriously proving me wrong. How refreshing! Maybe the best thing about being 40 and dating again is that there are surprises around every corner that I’m better equipped to deal with than ever before.
Nah! The best part is that I don’t feel the need to wait on a man anymore. So who should this Angle lady ask out first?