“I’m too old” is something older people frequently say after a divorce or the death of a spouse. They feel they are too old to start over, to meet someone new, to date again.
But I also find that more and more people are deciding that simply isn’t true. We are living longer and healthier lives, and for many people, that means looking to meet someone special even very late in life. Few people in their 50s consider themselves too old to try to date, but increasingly people in their 60s, 70s or even 80s are willing to give it a try and are finding it rewarding.
As a psychologist in private practice, I often meet people who have been divorced more than once who decide I’m just not cut out to be married or part of a couple, I won’t even try. My response is, “Practice makes perfect!” If we have any smarts at all we learn from our losses and mistakes and get even better at defining what makes us happy and what we want in a relationship. Some of the happiest, most satisfied couples I see are couples who met in later years.
What Older Women Want
Research consistently shows that women (more than men) initiate divorce. This is especially true in long-term marriages. Women who divorce from their partners in their 50s and 60s are looking for compatible mates. It is true that some who divorce are done with marriage, but many of these women still want to date. And what do they look for when they date? The same thing as men: companionship, fun and sex! Older single women who date are predominantly financially secure. They aren’t looking for someone to support nor do they need someone to take care of them financially. They want someone they can talk to, who they can share interests and activities with, and who want to rekindle romance in their lives as well.
Not Dirty Old Men
Older men who want to date have been the subject of ridicule in the past. But the fact is, those who had good sex lives in the past and found it enjoyable are still interested as they age. Viagra revolutionized sex for men by helping older men to maintain sexual function. Now, few can perform the sexual athletics of younger men, but sex can still be very pleasurable and rewarding. Men are not just looking for sex, however. Men seek the same things women do in relationships: companionship, support, compatible interests and values.
Till Death Do Us Part
Senior dating is not just for the “young” old. Widows and widowers in their 70s and 80s are often surprised to find themselves capable of new romance. Many seniors who have had successful long term marriages (and there are many) often feel that they wouldn’t consider dating when they first lose a spouse. But friends may persist, senior dating advertisements on TV beckon. Many seniors who find themselves wanting or being involved in new relationships are surprised, but almost always very pleased. If the partner we lost was a loving caring person they would want us to be happy and not live out our years overwhelmed with grief.
What Will We Tell The Children?
In some cases, it is the adult children who have a harder time with a parent who is dating, feeling that it is a betrayal of mom or dad. Luckily, these attitudes are improving. We all have a right to be happy for as long as we can. We are living longer, healthier lives and love and companionship are vital needs for most of us. The support of adult children and acceptance of a new partner only enriches families.
Into The Future
With extended life spans comes extended opportunities to date and more and more seniors are taking advantage of this. It’s not exclusive to the fit and healthy. People meet in grief support groups, Alzheimer spouse programs, chemo waiting rooms. Love is a flourishing plant that can take root almost anywhere. To live life to the fullest. Take the opportunity if it calls you!
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