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Dear Dating Doctor:

Dear Dating Doctor: I am a 48 year old widower and returning college student. I have kept myself in good condition and have dated some since my wife's death but have found it difficult to meet and impress women my own age (whom I'd like to date). I seem to have no problem meeting younger (25 to 35) or older women (over 55 or so) and women from both groups have told me that they find me to be attractive. Why do you think this is so? Why aren't women my own age as attracted to me as those who are a bit older or younger?

Looking to Impress my Peers

Dear Looking to Impress:

I'd wager that with women who are either notably younger or older, your interactions are less forced, more spontaneous and significantly more enjoyable because they are not your social target. You are less concerned about impressing them, thus time you spend with them becomes effortless and satisfying. In most cases, you probably didn't even expect to interact with them, but it happened. Serendipity can be a powerful aphrodisiac.

When our goal is to be at our most impressive, we generally find it difficult to be as convincing as we would like. We place expectations and demands upon ourselves that are completely unrealistic. This forces us to try too hard. It's akin to a professional golfer who simply needs to par the final hole of a tournament in order to win. A simple par. Yet, more often than not, this score is unattainable even though he/she has successfully mastered the same hole several times before.

Why are you attractive to older or younger women? Because you aren't trying to be. As you mentioned above, they are not your target population. You put up no facades and are comfortable in just being yourself. Your compliments are sincere, your smile more genuine. You place little to no pressure on yourself to be attractive, witty, or humorous. In doing so, the opposite occurs. You probably don't think twice about freely sharing aspects of your personal life that most men would conceal. When we are at our most vulnerable and least inhibited, we are at our most attractive.

Younger women tend to have a more carefree attitude about men and relationships. They will enjoy your company as you won't be playing the "mind games" that youngermen do, you'll treat them with respect and will avoid casting judgment on them. It will be clear that you have a stable life beyond your relationship with them. Independence can be intoxicating.

As a parent, you'll demonstrate a nurturing and caring side and offer stability. You'll have more worldly experiences to share and draw upon. Having kept yourself in shape, you may still be quite physically attractive to all women.

To older women, you offer the exuberance of "youth" and an active lifestyle with a "mature" man. As a single parent, you can relate to many of their lives and will exhibit a trustworthy, reliable, loving and caring persona. They'll assume that you prefer togetherness to loneliness.

We're all better off when others can experience us in our truest form, yet we frequently conceal our feelings out of fear that we will be harshly judged. This diminishes our chances for meaningful relationships. The answer is for you to be the same person around those your own age as you are around those younger or older. But don't exclude the latter as you may be missing out on the relationship of a lifetime.

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