I'm Not the Red Cross

There were a couple of responses to last week's "Stop mothering men" column that I want to share with you.

Carol said: "I agree with everything in the newsletter today-the opinions and comments-except one item. I don't believe it is 'mothering or smothering' for a man to send flowers, a card or some other gesture to indicate he is interested. I love to be 'wined and dined.' I am old fashioned and still like to have doors opened for me and have a gentleman help me with my wrap and pull a chair out for me to sit. I just think that is being polite and shows interest-not smothering. I think a lot of women feel that way."

Tom's response: Not many men will take issue with Carol's comments. Most older dudes still pride themselves on being gentlemen and treating women with respect. Opening doors and pulling out chairs should be second nature. But Carol missed the fine print. I was speaking of people who try too hard after the first date.

I wrote: "Sometimes two people seem perfectly matched on a first date. Then, he or she sends flowers, a card, a box of chocolates, or some other gesture indicating how flipped out he or she is over the new person. She dumps him; he tried too hard."

When people try too hard-when they fawn over another thinking they will impress them by showing them know much they'd like to be with them-it rarely works. The other person thinks, "I need more of a challenge than this."

The other comment of Carol's that could raise a gent's eyebrow: "I love to be wined and dined." We men don't mind digging into the old wallet to wine and dine a woman on occasion, but it's the high-maintenance woman who wants and expects to be wined and dined regularly that men detest.

Men can be high-maintenance also. Gale said, "I once had a live-in boyfriend who was younger by 13 years. Not only did he not want to work, but he decided he'd live on his disability checks with me being his on call sex partner 2-3 times a day, as well as doing everything else for him, i.e., laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping for groceries and dropping whatever I was doing when he wanted attention. He didn't contribute financially to the bills, nor did he do any work inside or outside of the house.

"It didn't take me long to tell him, 'I'm not The Red Cross.' If this is how you're planning to live with me, it will never work. You can pack up and leave and go find someone else who will. He thought his charm and sex appeal would hold me. He left and I breathed a sigh of relief. He was 'high maintenance'--too much so. He later met and married not once but twice, and got divorced from each. Guess he couldn't find another 'Red Cross' woman to suit him."

Tom's response: The thought of being a sex partner 2-3 times a day exhausts me just thinking about it. However, Gale's comments are important because they serve as a reminder that too often we hear of lonely and desperate adult women who willingly accept the role of a "Red Cross" woman, compromising their principles and risking losing their assets to a guy who attaches himself to her so he can get a free ride through his later life. Maybe it's the sex or maybe it's the companionship he provides that makes tolerating such behavior worthwhile. But still, it's a sad state of affairs when women allow it to happen.

And when a friend steps forward and suggests to the Red Cross woman that she should be careful, the well-meaning advice is often resented.

© 2010, Tom Blake

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Tom Blake is an expert on dating after 50. He has appeared twice on the "Today Show" and has written more than 500 columns on dating and relationships. His "Single Again" column appears in The Orange County Register in southern California, is read worldwide and is often featured on msn.com. He is a professional speaker. He spoke at the national AARP convention in San Diego in 2002, and in Chicago. His book, Middle Aged and Dating Again, is a humorous account of his first year of dating after his third divorce. His second book is Finding Love After 50: How to begin, where to go, what to do. His latest book is titled How 50 Couples Found Love after 50. To ask a question or receive Tom's free weekly column on middle-age dating and relationships by e-mail, click on www.findingloveafter50.com or E-Mail.

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