Dating Etiquette

It’s my kid’s fault! How good it feels to say that because parents always get blamed for everything, don’t they? I’ve been a widower for a long time and my daughters finally talked me into signing up for a senior dating service. As a result, I’ve been in contact with a couple of ladies and it’s progressed to the point where we are planning to meet. Now, I’m panicked. It’s been decades since I’ve dated! I don’t know whether to thank my daughters or blame them for my predicament. How do I make a good first impression? 

By all means, thank your daughters for caring enough to encourage you to expand your social life. Obviously, they love you and think you have much to offer someone special. Their generosity in being open to their father dating is commendable!

The elements that go into making a good first impression are timeless and have not changed since your dating days. When we focus on having fun, staying relaxed and showing interest in others, we’re on the mark. Sounds familiar? But let’s break it down a bit just to set your mind at ease:

  • What do I wear?  No need to invest in a new wardrobe or overdress, but take care to present yourself in a pleasing manner. For guys, shoot for classic and neat. No baggy T-shirts emblazoned with tacky slogans! Instead, choose well-pressed khakis, nice jeans, or casual slacks.  Pair these with tailored shirts and/or sweaters for a stylish and simple look. Ladies, the same advice to stay classic and neutral is a good bet. Avoid too tight or too revealing clothing. Jazz things up with fun accessories to show your style. On a first date, think safe rather than flashy.·     How do I act? Put this in perspective. It’s only a date and not an interview for your future life companion! Relax and breathe. Your goal is to have an enjoyable evening and to get to know this person a bit better. You’ve already exchanged some information which will help the conversation flow. Focus on your date and what you may have in common. The upside is that when you become interested in the other person, your natural self-consciousness disappears. People love to talk about themselves so listen more and talk less. Ask upbeat questions centered on topics such as hobbies, interests, favorite books or movies. This is not the time to get into family dysfunction and drama.
  • What next?  Since this is a first date, keep your expectations in line with that. Avoid any rush toward physical intimacy which may be an immediate turnoff. Take your cues from your date. Is there a natural connection, a feeling of warmth and camaraderie? Trust your intuition. You will be able to pick up on those subtle cues if you pay attention. Does he or she lean toward you? Touch you casually on your arm? Laugh easily? Is there that spark between you? Again, err on the side of less is more. You can’t go wrong with a kiss on the cheek. If you’ve enjoyed the evening, say so and indicate that you’d like to see her again. If it doesn’t feel like a match, simply thank her for the evening. Above all, treat your date with kindness and respect.

The times may have changed but class and good manners never go out of style. Making a good impression is as simple as these few steps. Dating can add a zip to your life and is an adventure. Take the plunge and enjoy!


Is It Just “the Blues”?

Some of my family members have told me that I seem depressed. I say that I just have the blues. What’s the difference?

Unlike a simple case of “the blues,” which can be looked at as a limited and even normal response to a stressful life situation that passes of its own accord, depression is a serious medical illness. This disorder negatively affects the body as well as the mind and can alter one’s functioning on multiple levels. Depression colors your entire world, may endure for years if untreated, and can be life-threatening.

What concerns me about your question is not a matter of words used to define a condition. More importantly, it is the fact that a number of people close to you are giving you feedback reflecting their concern about your mood and deportment. Please pay attention to their observations. Often, we cannot be objective about ourselves, particularly when we get pulled into a negative spiral of thoughts, emotions and behavior.

A qualified professional can help you determine if you are merely experiencing a temporary case of the blues or if you are suffering from clinical depression. Seek out a physician, mental health professional or clergy member. Tell them of your family’s concerns and request a “depression screening.” It only takes a short time to complete and will provide you with the answers you need.

Depression is a real medical illness and not a sign of personal weakness or something you can will yourself to overcome. If you are diagnosed with depression, there is no need to suffer. Treatment is effective in most cases and most likely will include counseling and possibly medication. Please do not delay seeking help: Your life and your health may depend upon you taking action.



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