I’m spending my first Valentine’s Day with a new man. “How did you do it?” I’m asked often with a whispered, “…and in your 50’s” added to the end. It’s as if being in love in later life is an embarrassment. Then I remember the Newsweek story which predicted my odds of being killed by a terrorist were greater then finding love over 40. At 50? There was a higher probability of space debris hitting my head than a kiss landing on my mouth.
Of course this is nonsense. But it can sure feel true.
How do we find a true intimacy with someone when we live in a time of filtered lives? Where perfection is granted simply by being young and attractive. Age is marginalized.
I am not immune. There is presentation power when relationships, careers or anything we hold dear begins to unravel. Fake it till you make it. Social media allows us to create illusions. It feels like winning. But winning at what? According to Newsweek my reward for a successful persona wasn’t true love but a lightening bolt strike.
And you know what? I wanted lightening.
Yes my guard was up. But according to relationship experts, the key to dating success, especially on-line dating is being vulnerable. My biggest fear is losing control. Great. So with one eye toward the sky watching for falling satellites, I decided to work on being real.
Luckily I meet Bill who is very confident in sharing his emotions. In fact, he rolled out what he calls potential “red flags” from the first date. This was a relief. He could tell when I was bluffing. I started to relax. Getting our stories in the open lead to genuine conversations and ultimately a deeper connection.
The 36 Questions that may lead to love.
So what happens if you’re not open to vulnerability? Maybe you’re not sure how to share your story. By chance I listened to this Ted Talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8Yo-PXN7UA. Mandy Len Catron wrote a piece in 2015 for the New York Times’ Modern Love column. In it, she test a 1997 study by psychologist Author Aron where a series of personal questions are used to help potential partners create closeness. The questions are grouped into 3 sets, with a gradual increase in self-disclosure. Catron did marry the man who participated in this exercise but the promise is not so much love as vulnerability. But it sure can save a lot of wasted small talk. So grab a bottle a of wine and a friend – this also works for long term romantic relationships-and devote 90 minutes to the quiz. http://36questionsinlove.com/
We did the exercise and selected one question to share our answer.
Question 21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
Bill: “I knew exactly what I was looking for from a relationship before we met, I just hadn’t been particularly successful in finding the right someone. The need to both give and receive love and affection are at the core of who I am. I do not feel complete without them. I remember admitting this to you on our first date. You asked what I was looking for. I was quick to answer, “I want to fall in love and to find someone to share my adventures. Affection is a big deal for me. I express my emotions through touch, and I need that in return. How do you feel about that?”
Your answer was terrible. “I’ve never been super affectionate. I’m not a hugger – it’s kind of a joke with my friends. I tend to show my love through acts of service.” Immediate yellow flag. But you lean towards me and smile. And I sensed you missed being kissed.
Question 26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”
Bex: “The burdens. My ability to handle illness, death, finances, and work makes me feel like a warrior. But I am battle weary. Wounded. I want to wave a white flag inviting you in, while knowing it’s not a surrender to who I am. How do I let Wonder Woman go and still feel powerful?” I want to say I can’t do this alone anymore. Does this make me weak?”
Your answer was delayed over night as you thought about what I really needed but left unsaid. And the next day, with 3 promises, my load was shared.
We hope you enjoy listening to the Ted Talk and taking the 36 Questions Quiz. But mostly we wish you happiness with whomever you choose to spend Valentine’s Day. And lots of love the rest of the year.