In the 1933 Universal Horror film, The Invisible Man, Claude Rains plays a scientist who becomes invisible when he starts experimenting with a dangerous chemical. This radical and sudden change turns him from a compassionate seeker of knowledge into a murderer, bent on chaos and destruction.
When I turned invisible, it took a lot longer, but it was just as painful.
As men over 40, there comes a time in our life when we begin to feel this invisibility overcome us. Just as Harry Potter was able to pull a cloak of invisibility over himself to hide from his enemies, we feel this cloak begin to cover us and hide us from the world and the dating opportunities that are out there.
We are longing to get out there, but for some reason, the world does not respond to our wishes.
We begin to feel lonely.
We begin to feel depressed.
We occasionally hide our feelings inside a bottle or at the end of a fork.
We don’t go out, because why should we?
All it does is lead to another night alone.
In the beginning of the Hero’s Journey, we have the wasteland. The country and land are barren. The people are miserable. The hero sees this desolation, and he knows that things must change, but he does not take action.
He continues to live in the wasteland.
He continues to be miserable.
He refuses the call to action that will lead to the journey that will change his life forever.
He remains invisible.
The Formula For Invisibility
It took our good Dr Griffin quite some time to discover the exact formula for invisibility, but you and I can recreate it any time that we want. Invisibility is ours for the taking. We can suffer as long as we desire. We can even teach other men how to become invisible.
Even though each of us can become invisible, each of us has a unique path to transparency. My path is not your path. My elixir may not work on you. I will now show you the ingredients that led to my invisibility. Take a look at your life and see if any of these elements are in your life at this time.
I was over 40. As Lennon said, life kept on going while I was making plans, hatching schemes and building dreams. The awkwardness of my teens and the partying of my twenties had led to the sowing wild oats of my thirties. I wasn’t thinking about a long term relationship, or about a relationship in general. I was living in the hedonistic moment, unafraid and unaware of the years of invisibility that lay before me.
Because of this lack of thought, I had no children. Because I didn’t have a partner to share my life with, I didn’t have any little ninja or princesses raise. I truly was alone. I was alone because I was too busy trying to write the Great American Novel. Great American Novelists rarely have children, and if they do, it’s with a young French nanny that they were having an affair with.
Because I was busy writing, I had no social life. When you have no social life you will have a very small to non-existent circle of friends. I was too busy scribbling away in my Ivory Tower to keep in touch with friends and family, much less go out to see them and have a drink or dinner or even coffee with them. They would invite me out, I would choose art over friendship, and I would turn them down.
The invitations became fewer and far between, and then they stopped.
Like the hero above, I knew that something was wrong, but I didn’t know how to fix the problem and heal myself. All I knew was, that as a man, I had to take action.
It did not turn out well.
I rushed out into the world, signed up for dating services, started going out again, and the pain only increased. I was there, but no one was noticing me. Email messages were not returned. Winks were ignored. Phone calls for a second date always got recorded on their voice mail.
My invisibility was complete.
There comes a time in the hero’s life where he must learn the tools and lessons necessary to overcome the wasteland, to overcome the invisibility that has surrounded him. He must learn the lessons, and come back and teach those lessons to others.
Your Journey To Visibility
I have returned with the elixir, and I am here to bear witness that we can all be healed. You can have a great social life, you can start dating again. You can surround yourself with those who are proud to call you their friend.
You can become visible again.
Be Patient – When I first started dating again, I had a bad case of Instant Gratification. I hit the ground running, signed up for match.com, created a profile and expected the emails and winks to start rushing in. Imagine my surprise when they did not come immediately. They barely came at all. I would log in each morning, right after my workout, and see the empty Inbox and I would die a little inside. Where were they?
What you need to realize is that this is a long term game. Finding the love of your life will take time and it will take patience. Even though you may have become single quickly, perhaps through a divorce, finding and becoming part of a new relationship will not happen so immediately.
Your journey begins with one step, and it will continue with a thousand more in front of you. Prepare yourself for this, because it’s inevitable.
This takes time.
It will be worth it.
Be Realistic – I thought that I was quite a prize when it came to the online dating scene. I look at my competition and I had a better photo. I had a better profile. I was gainfully employed, had all my teeth and (grey) hair. What I got was dead silence. What I realized is that I didn’t get any responses because I was aiming at the wrong target.
When you are over 40, the days of dating 20 year old women are gone. Those days are saved for guys who are in the midst of a mid-life crisis and trust me, it’s not going to end well. He will lose sleep, he will lose money, and he will lose self-respect trying to keep that plane in the air, but it’s going to end like the Hindenburg disaster. Plenty of screaming and explosions.
I need you to adjust your thermostat to women who are your own age. I’ll give you 5 to 10 years younger, but don’t go beyond that. Beyond that, and you’re venturing into creepy territory.
I need you to age gracefully and with all the qualities of a man, not a boy.
You know who’s going to want to date an over 40 man with children?
An over 40 woman with children.
Remember, you are a man.
Date a woman.
Be Yourself – As I put the above lessons into action, my life got better. I received more emails, I got more winks, I had more coffee dates, I had more second dates. I learned who I truly was, and I learned what I wanted and what I didn’t want in a partner. I was getting closer and closer to the elixir, to the grail, but I still had miles to go.
I remember the end of one coffee date. I always took women out for coffee for a first date, because it was casual, low key, and allowed us to face each other and talk and listen and learn about each other. This particular date had started out great. We met at a tea house near the University of South Florida. We spend the evening talking about movies, television, our past, our desired future, vegan diets and read aloud from a Post Secret book.
I walked her out to her car, and asked if she would like to get together again. She said no. She said that I was too nerdy.
At the beginning of my journey, I would have taken this as a slight. I would have been embarrassed, ashamed and would have tried to talk her into a second date by promising to be less nerdy.
I didn’t do any of this. I just laughed.
Why? Because I loved being nerdy and doing nerdy things. I had rediscovered my love of Star Trek and went to local conventions. I had discovered a love of anime and watched those crazy Japanese cartoons. I bought each Harry Potter book on opening day and read the whole thing in a weekend.
She called me a nerd, because I was a nerd.
Who are you?
Who is the man that you face in the mirror each morning?
Are you being who you truly are? When you go out, are you relaxed and comfortable in your skin, or are you nervous and desperately trying to do things and say things that will gain her approval and get you a second date?
I need you to rediscover yourself.
I need you to embrace who you are, flaws and all. Watch those shows. Go to those conventions. Collect those baseball cards. Wear that Batman outfit.
Do what brings you joy.
Do what makes you happy.
Be Social – When you are doing things that make you happy, you are going to want to hang out with people who are also doing those things.
In the hero’s journey, the hero is almost never alone. He has friends. He has fellow warriors. He has allies.
In your journey to visibility, I need you to get out of the damn house. Once I started really embracing my nerdiness, I wanted to hang out with other folks who loved the same thing that I did. On my Resources page, I talk about my love of MeetUp.com. No matter what you’re into, there are other folks who are into that too.
The way to build that strong, unshakeable social network is by being a true friend to those who have earned it. As you move through this journey, there will be enemies as well as allies. A warrior is slow to trust, but ever watchful for those who have earned it by their actions.
Don’t be afraid to go outside, it’s beautiful out there.
Get out and about, and join the rest of us.
Just BE – As Wayne Dyer once said, we are not human doings, we are human beings. We need to learn how to just be.
As my journey continued, I got pretty damn tired. I was going out, making new friends, going to conventions, discovering new things and just generally running from here to there and back again.
I soon realized that I needed a break. I needed to find balance between my social life and my need for solitude and quiet. I learned how to say “No” and tried to say it just as much as I said “Yes”. I learned to meditate. I rediscovered my love of nature and taking long walks to just decompress.
I need you to do the same.
I need you to occasionally find time for yourself. Lay on the couch. Take a nap. Read a good book. Read a good book to your kids.
Discover and learn or rediscover a way to connect to the Source. To God. To Spirit. To whatever you call that higher power that coexists with us all.
Take a deep breath, and just be.
These are the five steps toward visibility, toward a successful dating life for us men over 40.
You Are Visible Again
One of the final parts of the Hero’s Journey is called the Resurrection. For there to be a Resurrection, the Hero must die a figurative death.
In the movie, Dr Griffith is on his deathbed, a fatal shot drains his life away. As he slowly dies, he begins to become visible. The bones, the muscles, the tendons, the veins, the skin, the man.
As he dies, he is visible again.
For you to become fully visible, a part of you must die.
You must let go of your demands and your impatience. Getting angry because you didn’t get what you want, or getting sad because things are moving too slow are the ways of a child. The world does not bend to your command. The world keeps turning regardless of your petulance. You must become a man who is patient.
You must release to the wind your fantasies and daydreams, for they can lead to madness and crisis. You must become a man who does not fight reality, because reality always wins. You must become a man who is realistic.
You must kill any and all false selves that you have created to protect you. You must strip away the facade and become who you truly are. Investigate all rules and beliefs that are holding you back. You must become your true self.
You must roll away the stone of your self-imposed prison and get out here with the rest of us. The partner of your dreams will not come knock on your door and present herself to you, you must journey out to find her. Become a man who has friends and make sure that they are proud to call you their friend.
With all death there is a final breath, and you must learn to focus on yours. Learn to enjoy the stillness and quiet that solitude may bring. Calm down. Take a deep breath. Relax. Remember that you are cradled in the arms of a Universe that loves you. Just be.
Should these steps prove too difficult, that’s okay. A man’s gotta know his limitations, as Clint Eastwood would say.
I am here to help you.
We are here to help you.
Everything is as it should be.
Meet that Universe halfway and join us out here in the world.
You are visible, you are aware.
We are waiting for you.