I have a question you might be able to shed some light on. After almost reaching the ancient age of 50, and having spent most of my adult life in two marriages, I have been dating now for the past two years (for perhaps the first time in my life). I've met a bevy of interesting women, some of whom I have fallen for and some who have fallen for me. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the same person yet, but hope springs eternal.
I would like your advice on one phenomenon that I have noticed across the board. This experience has held true regardless of whether or not the relationship was going anywhere. All of the women I have met and gone out with a few times have wanted to physically rearrange me somehow. The most popular advice is about clothes, but this extends to body shape, facial/body hair, the way my home is arranged and decorated, what kind of car I drive, you name it.
Now, when I was 23 years old and owned one pair of jeans and two pairs of underwear, advice like this was appreciated and needed. Just ask my first wife. But I'm frickin' 50 years old now! I know how to dress. I like the pictures on my walls, thank you. I have decent taste. I would certainly never criticize the way my date is dressed, but no such inhibition is evidenced across the dining-out table. How can I gently say, "Thank you for your interest in my appearance, but I yam what I yam"? My women friends—the ones who are not invested in being seen walking arm and arm with me—seem to think my taste in clothes works and is pleasant if not especially creative.
I am interested in your thoughts. It's starting to become a sticking point with me.
I Like My Shirts
Sigh. I don't know why women do this. And you're right—if a guy I had just started dating suggested I dye my hair a different color or rearrange my living room, I'd be pissed. Yet for some reason, we ladies have absolutely no compunction about offering advice when none is asked for or needed.
Um, I may have done this myself once or twice (or a thousand times). I recall the smelly boy whom I encouraged to bathe on a more than biannual basis; the drunks/addicts I tried to sober up; the crazy dude I tried to make sane. All these relationships ended badly, and being a bit of a narcissist, I blamed them for not living up to my expectations, when I should've been castigating myself for dating the patently unsuitable.
These days, I try to take a page from my pal Julie's book. Her boyfriend regularly wears possibly the ugliest shoes I have ever seen. They're Top-Siders, which you might think would be bad enough—but that's not where the horror ends. No, siree. These blue, cream, and tabakky-brown sorry excuses for footwear are castoffs from his 80-year-old stepfather, and Gary often wears them with a pair of ladies sweats he picked up at the dollar store. That the love of her life leaves the house looking like a deranged (and possibly cross-dressing) homeless person doesn't bother Julie a bit. She just chuckles and says she loves him just the way he is.
Which brings us back to you. I don't think you have to worry about making your point gently. As much as it annoys you, I think attempting a sense of humor will go a long way in shutting these broads down. The next time a date attempts to talk you out of wearing your beloved—and oh-so-convenient!—fanny pack (which I attempted on one sartorially challenged ex), start listing all the other things different ladies have asked you to change.
Take it from me—there is nothing that chaps a gal's ass like knowing she's behaving true to stereotype. Realizing that some other broad has gone there before might not make her appreciate the beauty that is you (and your extensive collection of NBA commemorative beer steins), but it will probably convince her to zip it.
At least for a while.
Really want advice? Write Dategirl at email@example.com or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.