Is having greatly differing lifestyles a big issue in a new relationship?

Published Mar 1, 2013 at 04:00AM

Dear Dating Coach: I met this really nice man who is so different from me. He dresses terribly and at times I’m embarrassed to be seen in public with him. We also have different lifestyles, which may become a future problem. We both love to travel but he travels “Super 8 Motel”-style and I’m more of a Ritz kind of girl. I know you must be thinking, “What is the deal here?”

What pulls me in is the way he worships me and just loves and adores me. He’d do anything for me. I’ve never had this happen before and it feels so good. I find I’m developing feelings for him yet my friends think I’m nuts, telling me he’s beneath me. He’s super smart, kind and funny and I enjoy being with him. What should I do?

— Colleen

Colleen: This man sounds like he has “external issues” working against him, with his not-so-great clothes and lifestyle choices.

Yet, what he’s got going for him are these wonderful “internal qualities and values,” like kindness, intelligence and his ability to make you laugh.

External qualities are always changeable and many men are open to having a woman change their style when it’s not up to date.

As for the traveling situation, it sounds like spending a lot of money on a hotel is not a priority for this man. It’s also possible he may not have the money needed for the lifestyle you desire, and that is why his lifestyle is at a different level.

Are you OK with this? If you really liked him, would you be willing to foot the whole bill for the hotel you desire, or let him pay toward this hotel, the same amount he’d have paid for a Super 8?

These are workable qualities that can be figured out with good communication skills.

What’s not fixable or changeable in a man are the “internal qualities” of a man’s personality and his values.

Fortunately, it sounds like he’s a good man and you enjoy being with him, so he is probably worth getting to know.

Try not to let your friends influence your decision about this man based on his clothes or his car. Your friends hopefully will see you are happy and will become more supportive of your decision to explore this relationship.

They say people come into our lives for a season, a time or a reason, and that we learn about ourselves from every relationship we are a part of, so just enjoy this man while you are with him.

And remember, you don’t have to marry him. As a woman older than 50, you can just appreciate his companionship and have fun while you’re together!

Dear Lisa: My 31-year marriage ended about 3 months ago. I’m not divorced yet but I’m thinking about dating. I figure it will be so much easier to get over my ex if someone else is in the picture. I’d love the support, too, from a guy. I already miss having a man around, so I want to get a head start finding my next guy. How do I go about doing this?

— Kathy

Kathy: I urge you to consider not dating, since you’re only separated from the man you’ve been with for 31 years. It takes time to get over a relationship and sometimes the anger and grief doesn’t begin to appear until after the divorce itself.

Instead of dating right now, consider taking some time getting to know yourself again. Then you’ll know what you’re bringing that is all your own to the next relationship.

Often in a long marriage, what we love doing becomes so entwined with our ex, we don’t know who we really are when we’re without him.

I remember after my first divorce being in a restaurant and hearing that a famous baseball player was dining in the next room.

I got so excited. Then I realized something: I hated baseball!

That excitement was about something my ex had always liked that he would share with me.

I realized in that moment it was time to discover what really excited me that had nothing to do with him.

Think about using this time to discover what excites you. Figure out a way to nourish YOU right now. Find fun classes to take. Go to dinner with friends. Take walks in a sunny park.

And give yourself permission to take the time to heal from this long relationship that has ended.

Chances are, if you don’t, you’ll end up attracting the same type of man, with the same type of issues, that you didn’t finish working out with your ex.