‘Don’t Be Afraid to Go Out Looking’ and Other Love Lessons from My Mother

by Amy on May 8, 2011 · 0 comments

My mother in one word: Fearless. When she was a kid her mom chased her with a broom for daring to utter the word “sex” in her strict Catholic household. She brought home the bacon and lived a happily independent co-existence with my equally independent father during their nearly 40 years of marriage. When my dad died she yelled at him and hit him with a pillow, always one to have the last word. Now sassy and 70, she throws regular parties, hits the bar for happy hour with the girls weekly, is an avid Match.com member, and balances a handful of beaus at any given time. Because, as a mom, she’s programmed to give advice, and because her love life is far more interesting than mine, I thought this Successful Singleton at 70 might have some sage words for single girls everywhere. So I interviewed her, and this is how it went:

Mom: You have three minutes. Nita [her sister] and I are feeling sorry for ourselves so we’re heading to Montana for dinner.

Me: Er, okay, so…Internet dating: Love it or hate it?

Mom: I’ve made it more of a game than a search for a match.  I always challenge their answers and their profiles.  Old men are looking for a 35-year-old woman with big boobies, thin at the waist, somebody who’s financially secure so they can go traveling to Europe. So I always sarcastically respond to people like that and tell them I’ve lost everything to gambling, I’ve flat, and I’m overweight.  I’ve met some nice ones — always 600 miles away.  The creeps are the ones 25 miles from my house.

Me: How did you snag Dad?

Mom: I didn’t.  He snagged me.  I was walking to school one day and he was painting on a house, and he whistled.

Me: Was it love at first sight?

Mom: @#$^!#, no.  He’d come over to watch a movie and all he ever wanted to do was kiss and hug and kiss and hug. All I ever wanted to do was watch the movie.  One night we were out drinking and I said, “We should get married.”  The next day he brought me a ring. I had no choice but to say yes then.

Me: What was the best part about being married?

Mom: Our little girls.

Me: Awwww.  You were married nearly 40 years.  What was your secret?

Mom: We grew up believing in fidelity.  We didn’t grow up in an era when it was easy to get a divorce.  We made it work.

Me: What lessons can younger folks apply to our dating life?

Mom: Get to know and understand and have respect for the person you’re going to marry before you marry him.  Don’t be so free to sleep around and test the waters.  That somewhat diminishes your respect for each other.  Sometimes I think the focus on young people is that goosey feeling you have when you have sex.  When you’re 70, love is so different.  It’s being able to visit, trust, tell each other anything, admire each other, respect each other.

Me: You’ve been married and single.  Which do you prefer?

Mom: If I hadn’t had a family, I would choose single.  Having a family, I would never reverse it.  But even if I’d stayed single I would still always have had companions.

Me: But what advice do you have for single women looking for a companion? You make it look so easy.

Mom: I have fun. I’m very outgoing.  I’m not afraid to approach strangers.  I rely on humor.  But I’m also careful to make the men the focus.  Make them feel like they’re real studs.

Me: Are all the Good Ones gone?

Mom: No. Heavens, no. Right now I have a list of seven that I could date any time. You have to go looking for them, though. You can’t sit in your princess chair and think they’re going to come to you. I go and sit at the bar by myself. I’m not afraid to go out looking.

Me [reverting to whiny childish tone]: So why am I still single?

Mom: Because of the era in which you grew up. You had opportunities to become independently employed. You had more chances to live independently and successfully independently, and you didn’t have that absolute need to have a man help you through life. You’re much like your mother.

Me: Any parting words of wisdom?

Mom: Oh, the Good Ones are definitely not gone. You just need to shop around.  You need to make yourself available. You need to be clever, sharp, on the lookout, you need to be visible, look good, not giddy and giggling and crawling in the corner with your girlfriends. Confident. Go for it, girls. They’re out there. Don’t settle for anything mediocre. Get what you’re looking for. Believe me, there are plenty out there.

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