Just for you

Just for you

Finding a man is secondary to balancing attention to your inner and outer beauty

By Patti Carmalt-Vener 01/30/2013

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Dear Patti, 
I just turned 50, and lately I seem to have become invisible to men. I’ve had plenty of success in the past, and although I’ve never been what people call gorgeous, I’ve always cared more about my inner beauty and personality. I’m not superficial, but I’m starting to worry that my attractiveness is fading and that I’m looking my age more than I used to.
I recently tried online dating, but what few men responded seemed uneducated or in their 70s. That’s not what I’m looking for. I’ve heard other women say that men in our age bracket don’t give us a second look. I’m physically/emotionally healthy, a normal weight, intelligent and interesting, but being unnoticed by men makes me sad and scared. I want to enhance my beauty without losing the real me, seeming to try too hard, or coming across as shallow or a phony just to get their attention.
 — Michelle

Dear Michelle,
It’s not shallow to want to be noticed by men, let them get to know you and possibly find a life partner. If you had a daughter and bought her new clothes that made her feel happy on her first day at school, wouldn’t that be supporting her in a positive way?  
Encouraging her self-esteem and a positive self-outlook isn’t superficial at all. It could, however, be considered negative if you taught her that external beauty is everything and focused all your energy into her being physically stunning rather than finding a balance between giving attention to both inner and outer beauty. 
It doesn’t seem you’re treating yourself in an unbalanced way. I agree: Do not lose the real you by reinventing yourself to find a husband. But it is fine to present yourself well and look put together. Self-care can be an expression of femininity and, if done in moderation, can be very attractive to a man. Update your hairstyle, have a manicure or a pedicure, buy new clothes — do whatever makes you feel pretty and happy, gives you confidence and supports your efforts to be the woman you want to be. Do this for you, though, not just to please someone else.
It’s not uncommon in the arena of online dating for “men of a certain age” to ignore the profiles and photographs of “women of a certain age.” It’s also a reality that if you’re not working (or if it’s inappropriate to date co-workers or clients), not attending classes or participating in ongoing social gatherings, it can be difficult to meet people. Effort must, therefore, be made to bring new faces into your life, including an enthusiasm for social introductions made by others. 
It’s also essential to keep an open mind. You don’t have to marry a man to enjoy his company over coffee. He may be younger or older, less educated or have less money and still end up being a meaningful friend. 
In my psychotherapy practice, I’ve had a number of men share what triggers them positively and negatively when dating women. The following characteristics have more to do with inner beauty than chronological age.
Men often talk about wanting a woman who knows the difference between being needy and loving. Loving someone is feeling secure and being aware of the other person’s needs and happiness as well as your own. Being insecurely attached is thinking about how your own needs aren’t being fulfilled. When love feels good, worry and fear are minimized. Insecure attachments are constantly anxious, often feel bad and there’s a tendency to oblige the other person because of fears of abandonment. Men like women who can stand up for themselves and their beliefs but who don’t cause a lot of drama, put excessive pressure on them, complain too much or have too many problems. Men appreciate women who have their own lives (and whose lives are in relative order), know how to enjoy life, have their own interests, activities and circle of friends and are independent and emotionally mature. Men want women who have their own purpose beyond being in a relationship. Men respond to women who smile a lot, laugh a lot and are playful, relaxed and comfortable with their own sexuality. They also appreciate women who are responsive and able to really listen to them and respond to the moment between them, rather than being distracted or zoning out. 
There a lot of great men out there looking for a stable relationship. But, with or without a man, you need to keep your sense of purpose, maintain close-knit bonds with others, live fully and vitally and find a source of inspiration that is bigger than you.  

Patti Carmalt-Vener, a faculty member with the Southern California Society for Intensive Short Term Psychotherapy, has been a psychotherapist in private practice for 23 years and has offices in Pasadena, Santa Monica and Canoga Park. Contact her at (626) 584-8582 or email pcarmalt@aol.com. Visit her Web site, patticarmalt-vener.com.

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