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Dating at Midlife/Why haven't I scared him off yet?


QUESTION: Hi Dr. Belove, question for you.

I'm a 33 year old woman, met a 28 year old guy on a free dating site called OkCupid. He is very polite and respectful. We both have masters degrees in engineering from the same university and I'm going for my PhD in engineering, but we did not know each other before.

On our first date, he told me "I read on your site that you are looking to get married" and I said "yes I am 33 and looking to settle down" and he said "I don't think I'm ready for marriage just yet."

On his site it said he is definitely not looking for sex and wants a serious relationship, but is still figuring out his career so he is not quite ready for marriage, but wants a serious relationship that will go somewhere and possibly moving in together in the future if it's the right person. It says he does not like porn or strip clubs and he thinks they are trashy.

I told him I was going out of town on a conference for 2 weeks, and he said "ok I won't text you for two weeks then." I assumed he would never contact me again.

But he kept on texting me during the conference saying hi and if I wanted to see him again in case I got back earlier.

And then after two weeks he kept asking me out on second and third dates for lunch, bowling, movies etc.

I've been dating online for years and no one has ever asked me out on second or third dates, so that's a first.

What's your impression about this? How much interest is there, and do you think he's reconsidering the marriage thing? Will date me for a while and just bail later on? see if i change my mind? or just getting to know me?


ANSWER: Hi Theresa.

People who date in their thirties have been sexually active for a decade or so. So sex is not all that new and is also
easily available even between nice people, and it's not trashy.  So getting married to have a lover is not a good reason to get

Neither is getting married so you aren't living in sin, etc.

Some folks marry for ego reasons. To  prove they are loveable. To show the world that someone loves them. To have a trophy spouse as a comment on their own importance and worth. Some marry for principle -- that's what good people do.

Those reasons aren't adequate.

In my own research... we've interviewed several couples who have very good enduring marriages... it looks like they get married because you and your partner see something possible in the partnership, something bigger than either one of you that
inspires you and for which you are willing to make sacrifices.

The partnership and it's possibilities brings out the best in the partners.  

Well it takes a while to see that. Some folks have an intuition of those possibilities and so they keep dating and get involved and
then fall in love with what-we-have-together.... and then marry for that. Those marriages do well.

So maybe he has an intuition.  

Also a lot of on line dating doesn't click.  Intuitive information is very complex, much more so than check lists, and we need some face time, some interaction to check out the chemistry, to get those intuitions.

I hope this is helpful for you.

Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I wanted to go on a date with him on Saturday. He immediately cleared all his appointments that he had that day to be with me. Hmmm.

I'm a virgin at 33.

He has only dated one girl his entire life, he had sex with her, but that was it.

He is a quiet, shy video-game playing guy who doesn't talk much and keeps to himself. I play video games too but not as much as him. He is tall and handsome and works at a national laboratory as a nuclear physicist (he has a triple degree in physics and math and engineering) He drives the electron generators and beams. I used to work at a laboratory similar to this 10 years ago.

I look like a Victoria's Secret model named Adriana Lima. I'm sure that's one of the main driving forces. Although he is not a shallow guy at all, his last girlfriend was just average looking. But my looks can't hurt.

However I think he's moreso connected to me because of my schooling I know this guy is a genuine person and looks for intelligence. I don't think model looks are quite what he's looking for, he definitely likes substance and intelligence.

ANSWER: So maybe it's a good fit.
It's very unusual to be a virgin at your age. Also for him to have such limited experience.
So much depends on your reasons for that.  
You have to know them so that you can open up when the time is right.
It's a lovely gift to give to each other.  

Your reference to model looks combined with a history of virginity is an odd clash of values.
You seem to be saying that you  like being an erotic object, that it's even rather important to you
as long as the person looks from a distance.
I can't tell much more, but the clash of sensibilities catches my attention.
Something is being negotiated here.

No doubt you will come face to face with whatever it is if this relationship pans out.

Thanks for the update. I do wish you both the best.

In some ways you could be very well suited to each other.

Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Oh I'm a very sexual person. I'm not sure why I haven't lost my virginity yet. Late bloomer? Not sure. My parents were also very strict and put education first. That and being an engineering student I didn't really have much of a chance to meet men due to the burden of school, I didn't really go to parties or events and didn't really chat up guys.

I am not sure about this guy I'm currently dating because him and I live 1 hour away from each other. But it seems not to bother him, almost no one else on the dating site wanted to date a woman that far away, and he does. So that's cool. But he wrote he is not looking for only sex, so that is a large part of the reason. Most men on the dating sites are actually honest with me - they tell me "I don't want to date a girl more than 20 minutes away from me because we won't be able to have regular sex." and they stop talking to me. Maybe this guy will eventually, but at least he's giving me a chance.

Another thing is that this guy believes people should live together before marrying. My family will not allow that because they are old school, they would not be thrilled if I moved in with a guy and had sex with him before marriage. I think this doesn't sound good for a long term prospect. I have had several male roommates in school and my mom didn't seem to care that much but she also knew the men personally and knew nothing romantic could possibly come from it so that's why she didn't flip out.

In any case, all I can do is take it one day at a time and not get ahead of myself. But at 33 I am looking to settle down and can't waste too much time with the wrong guy either.

I am also dating someone else, a 35 year old doctor, he lives 1 hour away from me and is very busy, so we'll see how that one pans out too. I don't think this doctor is looking to settle down either but he is also taking me into consideration after telling me he's not looking for marriage and I said I was. So he's also thinking about it. I guess model looks don't hurt.

Perhaps the first guy is seeing how far I will go without marriage. Would I be willing to move in with him and give him sex without having to put a ring on it? The first 28 year old physicist guy is a much more honest decent dude than the doctor, he seems more of a womanizer who is realizing he is getting older and needs to start a family eventually.

Regards. Theresa.

Hi Theresa,
I hope I can say a few things here which are helpful.
There is only so much I can do without actually having a conversation.

First of all, I want to say that your first sentence stopped me.
"Oh I'm a very sexual person. I'm not sure why I haven't lost my virginity yet."

I take that to mean that you really do recognize your own sexual feelings and longings. So that's good.
I also expect that you will discover as you gather experience that there is much more  to it all than just that.
People who have been sexual for 15 years or so, some of them, know something and have an openness to their experiences that
you still have waiting ahead for you. At least, you have a solid start.
At the same time, you are 33 and still a virgin and there is something distinct about that and worthy of
thoughtful consideration. I guess it depends on how much you value self-knowledge.  Self-knowledge is
very helpful in an intimate relationship, perhaps even necessary for intimacy.

I suspect much of your hesitation is related to some of the way you think about sexual intimacy
and they are things they you have never questioned or challenged, simple assumptions,
and maybe even reasonable ones for a 14 year old young woman to make.
But perhaps more deserving of review and reconsideration when you are a 33 year old virgin.

I suspect that these assumptions of your are a filter through which you view men.  

As to how carefully you size up these guys in advance, you suspect you see a lot but  you assume that you
see all that is relevant and I suspect there are significant things you do not see. I agree that some men are careful to look for
sexual possibilities in a relationship.  I think it's appropriate at 33.  I am not sure that it is a totally reliable sign of superficiality.  
I'm not sure you would agree. Again, just an impression based on very limited evidence, our simple exchange here. These letters  have

I hope you don't mind that I've questioned some of your fundamental assumptions. I'm just laying ground work
for a conversation in which I offer my best wisdom. I'm sure that there are others who will have a different point of view and
will be more in agreement with your perceptions.

feel free to respond or to respond to me directly at

Sincerely yours Philip A Belove, Ed.D.  

Dating at Midlife

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Philip Belove, Ed.D.


Hi. I`m Philip Belove (that is my name, really). I`m 71 and I`ve been a psychologist all my midlife, the past 35 years. My specialty has been counseling and coaching other midlife adults.  I think we all figure things out as we go along, but even more so at midlife. Being between 40-ish and 60-ish and single is like being a stranger in a strange land. I`ve learned which questions help people find their own way. I created this category, I publish a blog at and I write articles for various web sites. My commitment is to help people 1) understand and improve how they deal with others, 2) understand the forces that rule the relationships they are in, and 3) make the decisions which will shape, or create, or end those relationships  so they achieve the goal of midlife development  to finally live with personal satisfaction. I`ve been divorced twice myself. I`m in a satisfying relationship with a fine person. I`m very interested in learning about your challenges and in offering what I can.


Professionally: Licensed Psychologist. Marriage and Family Therapist. Coach.Author. University Lecturer. Personally: I'm 71. I've probably made all the big mistakes, er, learned the big lessons.I've forgiven myself and made many apologies and I've made it into a good, stable, sweet relationship. I now have a perspective on midlife.

Please check out my book, Rabbis in Love, at Also my blog at The Rabbi book was done as part of a research project. My collaborator, Marilyn Bronstein, and I wanted to interview couples with very successful marriage and also we wanted to talk to people who cared as much about their spirituality as love. Maybe being able to love and be spiritual were one and same, we thought. So we found a rabbi couple and the interview was so astounding that we interviewed nine more rabbi couples. One dropped. They'd revealed too much. It's a fascinating book and, Jewish or not, religious or not, these couples do a lot of things right and there is a lot to learn from them.

Masters in Counseling Psychology, Alfred Adler Institute Doctorate in Consulting Psychology, focus on family therapy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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