Good For Me

Good For Me

This post went viral with 6 million, mostly nice views. It was a wild ride and if you didn’t read it, I thought you might like to.

I am 62 years old, single, and recently, after watching “Love Actually” for the 17th time — toxic though it may be — I downloaded a dating app and started the arduous process of vetting men so that I, too, might actually find love. Again.

After several online conversations, I agreed to meet someone. A light, romantic snow was falling, my hair was neither too short nor too long and I’d met a big writing deadline. I wasn’t exactly killing it like the gowned and bedazzled women in “The Golden Bachelor,” but I thought I could hold up my end of a glass-of-wine date.

I was able to hang on to that can-do attitude until I sat across from the man. It took a minute to locate him; his online photos were out of date five years ago, but I wrote it off. I get it, I dye my hair. We all get to be a little insecure.

After we exchanged hellos and the wine was served, I asked the question, “How has online dating been for you?”

“Oh,” he said, interested and willing to talk about his experience. He looked me square in the eye with a lovely open smile and said, “You know, I’m fit and healthy with a lucrative job. I thought I’d be dating much younger women.”

I hope you cringed when you read his response. I mean, he’d just broken the first rule of talking out loud: Know your audience. Public speaking guides aside, maybe you gasped at the hubris, the rudeness, the ageism or his cluelessness that his devaluation hit both of us.

I’ll tell you how I responded in a minute.

In the half-second of dead air before I replied, I thought, You should be so lucky to date me or any of my friends of the same age. Not because of our age, stage in life or accumulated wisdom — but because we, in some ways, like the man, have no idea how old we are.

We move through the world making decisions as we always have, based on time, money and values. I don’t think I’ve ever thought, Ann, you’re 62, no more “carpe diems” for you. Nor have I ever considered the age of a potential friend, collaborator or new acquaintance and wished them younger.

What is weird is that I wasn’t ready for his appraisal. I was surprised by the swat at my value. How had I not been ready for it, had my defenses up or charged my stun gun (just kidding)?

This cavalier assessment of a person’s value based on age is everywhere. When I go to the dentist and pick up a magazine featuring a top gun list of the latest 30-under-30 or 40-under-40, I’m reminded, Oh yeah. “Age and accomplishment” is a thing. The subtext urges readers to hurry and achieve because a finish line looms, and they are not talking about death as the ultimate “game over.” No, the endpoint they are referring to is whatever arbitrary age society deems us no longer interesting or notable. (Or, apparently, dateable.)

Sure, there are times when age is celebrated in the media. When a debut author or new entrepreneur is over 50, their success and age are highlighted. Check out this old person, they achieved something! The tone is a little too astonished, a little too congratulatory for my liking.

When aging comes up in our conversations, it’s all woe is me or good for you. Neither response is anything but reductive.

We should take a lesson from my neighbor, who shoveled her entire sidewalk while I wrote this. I bet she doesn’t have time for magazines at the dentist’s office. Her husband has advanced Parkinson’s and a leg bag that needs changing.

You might be thinking by now, no wonder you’re single. You’re prickly. What exactly would you like, Ann? I’ll tell you what I’d like. I’d like to be me, whoever I am, without my age being part of the conversation.

But subtle and not-so-subtle negative messaging is everywhere, and it isn’t just coming for me — it’s coming for all of us. It came for my date when he uploaded his vintage profile photos and called them current. It’s with my 27-year-old daughter, whose anti-aging skin care regimen for her blemish-free face would rival an aesthetician’s. She knows she’s aging and she’ll have to be ready with a comeback if she ever finds herself sitting across from a person who wishes she hadn’t lived so long.

This brings me back to my date and how I responded. To recap, he said, “You know, I’m fit and healthy with a lucrative job. I thought I’d be dating much younger women.”

I paused, looked at him and said, “And here you sit with someone your own age.”

His eyes went wide when he realized the error of his statement. “No, no,” he said, putting his full stop sign hand out. “Not you,” he said. “I don’t mean you!”

Then I pushed my chair back and said, “I don’t think you want to waste any more of your time here. You’re not getting any younger.”

Ha! I wish I’d said that. But I hadn’t been ready for a battle against all odds, ageist remarks and a replay of history. And that’s on me.

Instead, I pushed my chair back, stood, gave him a thin smile and walked away, congratulating myself for not getting the message; I had walked into a date sure I had value, even though I’d lived long enough to tell a few tales like this one.

Good for me.

Madison Magazine asked me to write it for them 

I’ve written about dating before here. 

If you want to see the comments good and bad you can find them here: https://bit.ly/3Ju2jHL

I’m so glad you’re here 🙂

xx A

21 Comments

  1. Linda Jessen on May 21, 2024 at 8:27 am

    Good for you! I so wish you had been able to deliver that very appropriate retort, but I get it–I’ve been so stunned by remarks like that that I can’t reply in the moment either.

    • Ann Garvin on May 21, 2024 at 2:13 pm

      It was stunning but also food for thought. Bitter food though. 🙂

  2. Anne Keller on May 21, 2024 at 10:40 am

    Thank you. A beautifully written assessment of life as we age. I’m nearing my 74th birthday, doing the things that need to be done, fully enjoying my life, activities, learning, as vigorous as my body and mind allow. But I’m aware of my increasing invisibility (I don’t dye my hair). People—okay, women—with so much to do, so much to give, and so much value to offer get dismissed. Keep on being valuable just as you are. And thanks for making the rest of us visible.

    • Rebecca Dakota on May 21, 2024 at 12:21 pm

      Amen, sister!

      • Ann Garvin on May 21, 2024 at 2:14 pm

        Right back at you.

    • Ann Garvin on May 21, 2024 at 2:14 pm

      Thank you so much Anne. We are all fighting the same fight, whether we notice it or not. Ageing is the only thing we all do at the very same timeline. Unless we don’t.

  3. Cheryl Landes on May 21, 2024 at 10:44 am

    I’ve heard too many horror stories from my single lady friends who have tried dating apps that I’d never use one. One friend went to lunch with a guy who admitted at the end of the meal that he was unemployed and couldn’t pay, so she did; several were ghosted; and another was asked for full-body photos before the guy would even continue chatting with her online. All canceled their app subscriptions.

    • Ann Garvin on May 21, 2024 at 2:16 pm

      Yeah, it’s not great for man nor beast. Oh wait, that’s redundant.

  4. Greg Renz on May 21, 2024 at 10:59 am

    Incredible, but not surprising. Stories like this are why I feel blessed to be part of the writing community. When meeting other authors at conferences, we invariably ask each other what we’re writing which many times will pull us into an engaging conversation. and sometimes those connections will result in lifelong friendships. Our love of writing and sharing our stories, not the shallowness of people like this man are what bring us together.

    • Ann Garvin on May 21, 2024 at 2:17 pm

      Greg, you are one of the lovely ones.

  5. denise on May 21, 2024 at 11:03 am

    I love that you walked away.

    Most women would have suffered through, but you knew your worth, and that of your time, and you did it.

    You are an inspiration! Truly. In so many ways.

    And I’m so glad it went viral.

    • Ann Garvin on May 21, 2024 at 2:19 pm

      And you are always here as support 🙂 xx A

  6. Yvette Marie Johnson on May 21, 2024 at 5:23 pm

    Like the time I was at a party and a man came up to me and asked if I could stand up for a moment. I thought he was trying to get to something behind me. Nope. After I stood up the looked at me and said, “That’s what I thought, you are too tall for me.”
    I wish I would have said “listen here little man…”
    But instead, I stood there shocked. The couple I came with. tried to reassure me, and friend’s boyfriend did say to the guy “Dude! Not cool.” But it fell on deaf ears.
    That was 20 years ago!
    Yep, words have meaning.
    Some people are just stupid.
    Thanks for sharing this!

    • Ann Garvin on May 21, 2024 at 6:19 pm

      Yvette,
      Thank you for sharing. I am now sharing your outrage. UGH.
      Thank you for being here to read this and support women. xx ann

  7. Kara Zajac on May 22, 2024 at 7:17 am

    I’m so glad you stood up for yourself and also glad he showed who he was with the first opening of his lips! Who has time for connections that are superficial? I’m currently on the hunt for a new literary agent and often compare the search similar to online dating. You just never know. I’m very sorry he hurt you. If I was sitting next to you guys I would have intentionally spilled my drink on him 🙂

  8. Kitty Hoffman on May 22, 2024 at 8:05 pm

    I like when you said we have no idea how old we are. And, I appreciate the comment from Anne about what my body and mind will allow. When I was 34, did I ever think about being over 70? Not likely, but the fact that I got to a time that really let me expand my interests and creativity means the world to me. Your writing, Ann, adds to that.

    • Ann Garvin on May 25, 2024 at 12:44 pm

      KItty thank you so much for this.
      I rarely have thought about age, but I feel like the culture is always reminding you to check yourself. Which I don’t like! Thanks for reading. 🙂 xx Ann

  9. Mary J Wilson on May 25, 2024 at 9:15 am

    My husband and I have a friend who’s about 10 years younger and was on several dating apps. One day he mentioned how frustrated he was. He wasn’t sure he’d ever fall in love again. I flippantly said that maybe he should try dating someone his own age. Six months later he thanked me for my advice. He hadn’t realized his age! He started looking for women his age and fell in love. They’ve been together for 2 years now.

    • Ann Garvin on May 25, 2024 at 12:42 pm

      He just didn’t knowwwww!!! Oh my. I get it.
      So happy he is happy now.

  10. Kathleen Bylsma on May 27, 2024 at 10:46 pm

    Yes, it’s the oddest thing, this mind/body disconnect… I’m ageless in my mind but my body certainly knows the difference.
    I’ve never even considered a dating ap even though I’m not averse to a relationship….just live my life, day to day, as it is.
    I was fortunate enough to have been married to a considerate man, 43 years married and five years dating him, prior to our wedding.
    We’d still be married had not Agent Orange carried him off.
    I’m glad you walked away from the ill mannered and somewhat delusional man.
    You did it with far more grace than I would have managed!!

    • Ann Garvin on May 28, 2024 at 2:48 pm

      I’m sorry you lost your love.
      Dating is so hard and can be miserable.
      Peeple can be equal parts terrible and wonderful as it seems you husband was.
      Thank you for writing today.
      Ann

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