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Down and Out in Beverly Hills

Dear Philippa:

I am a 38 year-old, divorced woman who seems to be running into all the wrong men. The 40-plus guys I meet are nice but they all seem to have such complicated lives with so many troubles�ex-wives, kids, money problems, health problems, etc. I�m beginning to think I should date younger men. What do you think?

�Sherrie, Los Angeles


Dear Sherrie,

Yes as we get older, all of us, male and female, are impacted by what life throws us. I also hear from men who think dating younger women will resolve this problem.

But, maybe it�s not the complications in someone�s life that are the issue; rather it�s how they respond to those challenges. Imagine meeting two men: Alan and Brian. Both these guys are facing lay-offs as their companies downsize. Both are also dealing with the financial effects of somewhat recent divorces.

Alan and Brian are understandably troubled by their difficulties. When you are with Alan you are able to have a good time and laugh while having some good open discussions about how you both deal with all this challenging stuff. Alan may be down now, but he seems highly motivated to get his life back on track. He�s joined a career support group and is reading self-help books to get back to where he wants to be�both emotionally and financially. You and Alan share a similar philosophy about life and financial goals.

When you are with Brian, you listen to his problems, but he doesn�t seem to have much interest in your life. He seems panicked and pressured and is not seeking any outside support. His history reveals him as someone who sees life as always just happening to him. Brian probably shouldn�t be dating right now�his problems appear to be just too much for him to deal with at this time.

Notice the identical situations and different ways of dealing with them. Most importantly, take note of their different histories and approaches to life. Ideally we all would find people to date with no problems in their lives. But Sherrie, you know these kind of "perfect" people might not be your cup of tea either�dealing with life�s experiences provides the empathy and understanding that makes us all caring human beings.

Focus on both how you feel when you are with someone and how they approach life�s difficulties. Remember that finding someone in ideal circumstances is no guarantee that they will be a good partner when troubles do come along.


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