Whither the women?

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I didn't think that women were the only ones feeling vaguely unhappy with the dating scene in Marin. So I wasn't surprised that a lot of men e-mailed me after my last column, Where are the men? wondering one thing — are we living in the same county?

Because guys say they are having just as hard a time finding attractive, nice, grounded and available women.

One wrote a long e-mail about his experiences in Marin, and since he brought up many of the same issues others mentioned, I asked if I could reprint it and respond here. He said OK (heads up, gals; nice guy alert!), just no name. So we'll call him "Peter."

Here's what he wrote:

I am a 47 year old male, I have lived in Marin county for 16 years, divorced for 6 years, no children. I was amazed that you make Marin out to be a single guys heaven and difficult for single women to meet these guys, due mainly I think you say due to the lack of men in relationship to the large amount of women. I could not disagree with you more.

I regard Marin as a single mans (sic) hell. The first question is where does one meet these single women?

I work in Marin also and I do know that there are some very attractive women here of all ages but to see them they are walking past me on the main street or as they step onto the stairmaster at the Bay Club. The problem is meeting and talking. I am not fat, bald, hairy and my female friends say that I am handsome, I even have an English accent. I have property here, I am very worldly as I was a Marine Engineer for 14 years in the British Navy and no woman has ever called me dull, quite the opposite. My point is that its (sic) the travesty of trying to meet women in Marin.

I was surprised about how easily your male friends seem to find these women, I do not hide at home so where prey (sic) tell do they go? As far as men my age looking for women in there (sic) twenties or looking for hotties, I am sure that some do, especially if they have a large wallet but for any man with a brain and I do consider myself and my friends do have a brain, it would be obvious the woman is materialistic and after the money and what on earth would I have in common with a twenty something girl? Nothing is the answer and I do not want to be with a woman like that and neither would my friends.

Sorry to say that Marin has many women like that of all ages. Part of the trick is avoiding them but as you get older the princess syndrome gets easier to see.

In your defence (sic) it is true a younger woman would be great but mid-thirties would be the limit. Early forties more realistic. Also on reading your article and your circle of friends in your early forties? Where do you all go on an evening out?? I do say that lightly as obviously I would not expect you to tell me, its (sic) just that reading that there is a 'group' of you would get any single Marin guy thinking."

"Peter," I'm no relationship expert. but I have been observing people for a long time and I probably read way too many psychology books, blogs and articles. And I love to talk to people about love and relationships and marriage, and I listen carefully to what they say (so I can learn).

So, I'll break down some of your comments.

"Where does one meet these single women?"

There's the $64,000 question. It's not like you can go to the supermarket and get one off the shelf ... but, you know, you can meet them in supermarkets, and bookstores, and dance classes, and just living your life (just, please, not at the gym; I would hope that's not why people go there). And, yes, online, because the cyber-community is one that shouldn't be ignored (although you have to be prepared to be rejected a lot and to reject a lot — and not take it personally) Any activity that you enjoy will attract others, too.

But the real issue isn't where you meet people, but how you go about it. Honestly, there isn't a woman (or man, I bet), who isn't attracted to someone who looks you in the eye, is witty, moves confidently, is engaging and interesting and who seems genuine. And reasonably attractive — and how you define that is an individual thing, but I would bet that most people would like someone who is fit and well-groomed and takes a certain pride in his/her appearance (and I know I risk sounding like some 1950s "How To Be Popular" book).

Now, some people aren't great on their social skills. Some are shy. Some get the cold shoulder from someone early on while out socializing, and then they have a chip on their shoulder the rest of the night. Some don't know how to engage others in conversations — they just blab on and on about themselves. Some try too hard. Some are relatively clueless about what's going on in the world — you know, there's no "there" there. Others don't know how to flirt. And some head out for a night on the town with too many expectations because they're "looking."

If a guy can't be himself because it doesn't come naturally to him — learn! Whether you read books or take a class or practice on friends or whatever, get comfortable in your skin and get comfortable connecting with others without needing, wanting or expecting anything in return. You will probably still be rejected from time to time, but at least you know you're at your best.

"My female friends say that I am handsome."
If they are good friends, ask them to tell you honestly what, as a woman, they perceive as your strengths and your weaknesses. Then, play up the strengths and work on the weaknesses. But, you know, it isn't all about looks, although that may be the initial attraction. A handsome man gets ugly pretty darn quickly if he's arrogant, bigoted and obnoxious.

"I even have an English accent."
Bonus points!

"For any man with a brain and I do consider myself and my friends do have a brain, it would be obvious the woman is materialistic and after the money and what on earth would I have in common with a twenty something girl"
Gee, I don't want to come down hard but, you already have some major preconceived notions of what a woman — or at least a twentysomething hottie — is about. If you're going to go out into the world expecting people to be a certain way because of what they look like — or their age — you are not experiencing them as they are; only as how you perceive they might be. Not to say that you should go for hotties or twentysomethings, but those preconceived notions have gotta go! We all deserve to be seen as who and what we are; I mean, don't you want that, too? Couldn't women have preconceived notions about you when you say, "I have property here"? Why do you even say that? Is that who you are and what you stand for, or is that you talking about what you have — or what you can offer?

"(A)s you get older the princess syndrome gets easier to see."
Ah yes, the princesses. Every man brought this up, even if they didn't call it such. The bottom line: Men see women in Marin as being after the cushy lifestyle funded by him.

OK, there probably are many women here who want that — as many women as men who want to be Sugar Daddies. Why can't they just find each other and go off somewhere and leave the rest of us in peace? I could probably make some educated guesses on what they look like and how old they are, but then I, too, would be falling under the preconceived notions I brought to your attention. Look, there are gold-diggers and there are players. You learn to sniff them out and discard them quickly. I wouldn't want to be with someone like that, and I would never fault a man for not wanting to, either. Even if 80 percent of Marin singles are like that (and that's just a made-up percentage), that leaves 20 percent who aren't.

You just can't lump all of us in that category and get all bitter about it. And many people might look at my girlfriends and me and think that of us, but they'd be so, so wrong. We own our own homes, have our own careers, have wonderful social networks — we're not looking for a man to support us. But you'd never know that if you couldn't get past "princess" mode.

But, then, well, you (oh so sadly) affirm my original theory:

"It is true a younger woman would be great but mid-thirties would be the limit. Early forties more realistic."
You are 47. Mid-thirties — like 10 or 12 years younger? — is the limit? Early forties more realistic? You're 47! Wouldn't 44 to 53 be more your reality ... or am I missing something?

And that noise you're hearing? It's a collective groan from all the mid- to late-40s women in Marin, feeling left out of your "realistic" loop ... and, since you asked, that is exactly what my "group" looks like. We are past "early forties," and so where does that leave us?

It leaves us as "past early forties" women who don't want a free ride from the men in Marin, but who seek passion, connection, partnership and honesty and can offer the same — but, still, are "past early forties." So no matter where we "all go on an evening out," we are still past your, and so many other men's, "realistic" ideal. Which was the point of my column in the first place.

And now, I have a headache.

Anyone else care to weigh in?

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