Midlife dating is like garage sale shopping

Do you like to shop at garage sales, swap meets, flea markets or eBay? I do. I’ve noticed some similarities to midlife dating.

Some friends eschew bargain shopping, as they say it reflects scarcity thinking. This could be true if you felt hand-me-downs were the only option for you — that you couldn’t afford — or didn’t deserve — brand-new merchandise.

garage saleI have a different perspective. I look at bargain hunting as a way to find treasures that others no longer have need for. I delight at rising early on Saturday mornings to capture the best goods. I see a parallel to midlife dating.

While some midlife daters are “brand new” — never married — most have been “used.” Some have been “gently used” meaning their last relationship(s) ended with a positive feeling, not having been mistreated. Many times this is true when someone’s spouse has died.

When you find gently used men, they are in good repair mentally — their perspective is positive and their outlook on women is healthy. These are the treasures we hunt for at the singles’ swap meets (singles functions, online dating sites). Just as when I uncover highly valued items at garage sales, I delight to find men who no one else has discovered are available or a prize.

Sometimes I find a gem at a garage sale that is slightly scratched or in need of minor repair. These are overlooked by others because they don’t want to take the time and care to polish the item to its former luster. Many midlife men are like this. They’ve had their heart broken or were treated badly by a woman — or women — so have some caution in their hopes for romance. But with gentle care, you can repair those minor cracks or gently sand away those scars. He just needs a little TLC to shine again.

And then there are the faded treasures that need a lot of refurbishing. Maybe they have been languishing, getting no attention, so have become rusted, faded, or fallen into disrepair. These precious items take your noticing their potential luminance and intrinsic value, as well as knowing it will take some effort and patience to make the piece/man sparkle once again. Some shoppers pass on these, knowing they don’t want to put in that kind of time and work with no guarantee that the end product will be as magnificent as they hope. Others love the challenge and jump at the opportunity to apply their skills to help make this prize glisten.

Of course, in every garage sale there are those items that no one can find a need or desire for. You need not take pity on these, taking them home, intending to give them some attention someday. They will just continue to catch dust in your garage, attic, basement or closet. Best to leave them be if you have no intention of spending time on them.

But perhaps the garage sale/swap meet/eBay metaphor isn’t the best to describe midlife daters. Perhaps we should instead consider that we’re being offered at Christie’s auction house, where only the finest previously owned merchandise is offered to discerning buyers. Just as with a dating site, there is a catalog with pictures, description and history. And we go to the highest “bidder” — the one who knows what it will take to capture our heart. But instead of an auctioneer deciding our fate, we have the power to say “sold.”

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2 Comments on “Midlife dating is like garage sale shopping”

  1. Ally Says:

    I don’t know that this is an apt metaphor, as in selling, rarely does the seller decide the suitability of the buyer. The seller at a yard sale or Christie’s, will sell to the highest bidder or at the offering price. They don’t care who’s buying.

    Dating is likely more like bartering; I decide whether what you’re offering is worth what I have to trade, and vice-versa. And what is that quote?: You know a fair deal when both sides walk away dissatisfied, feeling like they could have done better in the deal ? 🙂

  2. bookyone Says:

    Hi DG,

    “Of course, in every garage sale there are those items that no one can find a need or desire for.”

    That would be me. 😦 While I enjoyed this article immensely, that bit made me sad. Once upon a time I used to call myself an unclaimed treasure, (as at 40 I’ve never been married, let alone had anyone even take me seriously as a potential marriage partner), but now I’m finally starting to realize that there are some treasures in this world that are mothballed for a reason, the reason being that nobody ever wanted to claim them and fix them up. Sometimes I truly believe it’s wiser not to try at all than to keep getting washed up on the shores of Singles Harbor, alone yet again, and my heart that much more battered and weatherbeaten for each passing storm.

    Best wishes from bookyone 🙂


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