By the age of 50, I had been divorced for 12 years, my daughters were growing into young ladies and my career as a founding partner in a successful consulting practice in Washington, D.C. was flourishing. About the only thing missing was how to find my next life partner.
Since this was way before social media and dating websites, I was relegated to placing ads in the singles column of a Washington monthly magazine. The ad generated lots of responses from inmates who knew they were perfect for me and hoped I would wait until their prison release. No more ads for me.
So, a close friend helped me – over a period of months – to define the qualities I desired in my next Mr. Right. Here’s what I wanted, in this exact order:
1. We would determine that we had shared values
2. We would become best friends
3. We would discover if there was chemistry between us.
Next, I tackled the more difficult task of figuring out who I needed to “be” (not what I needed to “do”) in order to attract this person.
A few of my well-meaning friends cautioned that there weren’t a lot of single men looking for a 50 year old woman. I reminded them that I wasn’t looking for a lot of single men; I was looking for one. (This is my version of “I never believed there were any good men looking for someone my age…up until now!”)
I came to believe that I was now the person who would, indeed, attract her next life partner. In fact, I was so convinced that I went around telling anyone who cared to listen (and some who didn’t) that I was going to be married before my next birthday. At the time, my birthday was 9 months away. When people remarked, “That’s great – who is it?” I responded with, “I have no idea. I just know that there is nothing more I need to do except to just BE available.”
Two months later I received a phone call from a college classmate, Tom Gandy, whom I had not heard from in the 28 years since we had graduated from Baylor. Tom got my phone number from a former mutual classmate…
We talked briefly, played a bit of catch up on our lives and hung up the phone.
I had a business trip to Texas scheduled the following month and, since Tom was currently living in Texas, I called and asked if he would like to reconnect in Waco where I grew up and where my parents still lived. (Tom knew my parents well from our Baylor days.) He accepted the invitation. We met in Waco and stayed up most of the night sharing our post college life stories including the good, the bad and the ugly.
A couple of days after returning to Washington, D.C., I realized that Tom had many of the qualities I wanted in a life partner. Since I hadn’t experienced any chemistry between us in Waco, I was concerned about this seemingly large missing piece of the relationship puzzle – until I remembered that chemistry was #3 on my life partner list. So I called Tom and asked if we could continue to talk by phone on occasion; he quickly agreed. Since this was before cell phones, we ran up huge phone bills. Those phone bills were worth every penny because I learned that Tom and I had shared values (#1 check) and that we were quickly becoming good friends (#2 check).
We agreed to meet again the following month, this time in Kansas City where we spent Thanksgiving with my twin sister. (whom Tom also knew well from our Baylor days.)
The chemistry kicked in and shortly thereafter we decided to marry.
I amicably withdrew from my business partnership in D.C. and moved to Dallas at the end of January. Ironically, I decided some time back that sooner or later I wanted to move back to Texas to be closer to aging parents.
On March 30, 1991, Tom and I were married – three months prior to my next birthday!
We will celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary in March of 2014.
A native Texan with a degree in Communications from Baylor University, Dottie’s background includes highly successful careers as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, author, speaker and facilitator. She has recently accepted the position of Market Director in Dallas for the Mentoring Women’s Network. A long time supporter of women in business, she is a co-founder of the National Association of Women Business Owners.