Exit Donna Reed and Father Knows Best

On my last television show–a cable-access show in Connecticut called The Love Goddess Show–I had two guests, a woman and a man, Louise and Tracy, opposites in every way except  that they’re both past middle age and both single. Louise is busy with her career, refuses to go online to date, and wouldn’t make”dating,” per se, a priority if her life depended upon it.  If she meets someone, great. If not, great too.

Tracy, at 60, is divorced, and like so many recently  divorced men, wants to be involved again asap. He works alone. He is, by his own admission, needy–not in the way women have been accused  (read: too needy), but just in need of a solid, sexually exclusive relationship. It’s what he wants and he says so. He goes online to meet women and hopes not to date them all but to find one to be with. Oh, and he likes women to be as assertive as he is–in fact, maybe more. This is not a man afraid of women’s assertiveness, aggressiveness, anger.

Louise and Tracy dramatically contradict gender stereotypes, and willingly admit it…no,  claim it. “So, you work and date….that’s it?” Louise asked Tracy.

“Yes, pretty much,” he said.

“See, I couldn’t do that. Ever.”

Just as making a priority of dating would be insane for Louise–she’d rather do stuff alone–so would doing stuff alone for very long be insane for Tracy. Without any defensiveness, both Louise and Tracy spoke about who they are, what they want, what they do to get it. Louise says she looks across a crowded room at a man she wants  to meet and say, “Let’s have a drink”  with the full understanding that his eyes might dilate in fear . Too bad for him, she figures. She’s used to being thought of as too much for a guy. Too outspoken, too competent, too impatient, too….whatever. It wouldn’t occur to her to mute herself or modify her impulses. If he can’ t deal with how she introduces herself,  then what hope would there be for how she is the rest of the time?

Tracy, by his own admission accused of being “passive” sometimes, is more comfortable “meeting” online. Yes, he meets women who accuse him of not being as aggressive as they expect, but hell, why should he be….if he isn’t?

My alter ego, The Love Goddess, wants nothing more than to be a matchmaker for these two amazing people. But they don’t need that, not a bit. More important than whether they find permanent love, these two know they have triumphed. They’ve ditched the tired, 19th-century image of women and men, that odious cultural  fantasy about gender roles and personalities; ignored the tired old women’s magazines’ Do’s and Don’ts;  ignored the outmoded, old-fashioned norms that hover in our collective consciousness like a virus.  Let others stifle one another; Louise and Tracy have moved on.

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