No Time, No Money, But Lonely

Q: I was in a relationship for eight years, and after being with someone for so long it's hard to get back out in the dating world. I'm a lot older now and it seems going to the nightclubs alone is a dead giveaway that I'm searching. Maybe this is a good thing for some, but I'm not one with the gift of gab. Also I'm busy with my son on weekends and so weeknights are my time for meeting women. But it seems that nothing happens until 9 p.m. or so, and there's work in the morning. And I don't have a lot of money to use either -- child support, you know. So I guess my question is how to find the right one without being on the computer and making sure I meet real ladies?
-- Dallas

Dr. Susan: Dear Dallas: Reading your letter made me tired. You've listed so many obstacles and roadblocks to dating success, that it's a wonder you haven't already given up. There's a conversational pattern called "yes, but," in which every suggestion someone makes is countered by a "yes, but." Seems like you're predicted anything I might say and already figured out why it can't work for you.

Let's start at the beginning. Yes, it's hard to get going again after a lengthy relationship. Blame inertia and failing confidence. I've never thought nightclubs were a very good way to meet people for serious relationships, even if you do have a gift of gab. Gab tends to be superficial in such places, if you can hear one another at all. I laughed at your saying it would be a dead giveaway that you're searching. So what's wrong with that? You are searching! Why keep that hidden?

You're busy with your son on weekends. How about checking into Parents Without Partners events, or take your son to places where other parents hang out and you can talk casually? The park, children's museums, an art class where you wait outside for him and make lots of eye contact with women. There are plenty of single moms around who might be happy to meet a man who's genuinely involved in his son's life. That gift of gab thing you say you lack? That's something you'll need to work on. Not chit-chat. Real conversation. I mean, you're going to have to talk sometime if you want to have a relationship.

No money? There are so many places to go and things to do that aren't expensive! Be creative, and after a date or two (what's wrong with using a two-for-one coupon from the newspaper?), maybe she'll begin reciprocating. She should. A good relationship is worth spending a little on, don't you think? Women are wary of tightwads, though, so figure out something.

I'm sorry you've ruled out computer dating. It's a great option. You don't have to spend much before you talk on the phone and exchange messages, so you can screen out the obvious wastes of time and money ahead of time. Of course, I see personal introduction services advertised all the time, but I figure these are pricey. By the way, what do you mean by "real ladies"? As opposed to the fake kind? As opposed to the kind who want you only for your body? If you mean someone old-fashioned, there must be a few of those left. Figure out what you actually want and go after it. And don't be so terrified of losing a little sleep along the way, if something interesting turns up on a weeknight. You could learn to take naps after work.

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