Love after 50 is real, whether you’re still with the person who made you starry eyed at 18 or just getting to know a new “One.” There’s no better time to be “looking for love.”
Why? Because we’re finally to the point of admitting who we are and not trying to be someone else for the sake of “love.” When you’re honest about who you are and what you need, it’s a lot simpler to find it. Speaking your truth is one of the pluses of dating at this stage of the game.
But you don’t need to be a snot about it. If you want someone special in your life, insisting that person believe exactly what you believe will limit the field considerably. Identical doesn’t equal interesting. It’s not necessary to believe the exactly the same thing. What’s necessary is an honest respect for each other’s opinions.
Love is about unconditional positive regard. You like that person and believe in him-or her. Even when he or she doesn’t do the very best in terms of what you need at a specific moment, you hold true to the idea that this person is worth having in your life.
Finding someone who can hold that kind of respect isn’t likely to be a case of hanging out at the right bar. It’s not even a slam dunk if you hang out at the right church. Finding Mr. Right (or Ms. Right) is far more likely to happen if you are not focusing on that at all. The way to find someone to love is the way to find your own best life-act on what you believe in and then take advantage of what presents itself as a result.
That may mean joining an organization that addresses an issue or cause that’s important to you. But it can also mean taking a class in something that intrigues you or joining a sports league or club to play a game you’re either already love or want to learn. There’s another teeny piece to this though. Do the things that are likely to involve both men and women. Think photography and hiking rather than quilting and handball.
Get sober about what you’re looking for, too. By this point in life, we’ve had a lot of experience at this, both good and bad. Ruling out the guy who has the same first name as your ex or the woman who’s taller than you is silly. The best relationships are surprises. Thinking you have the complete list of what you do and don’t need is silly. Try things you’re interested in and see what happens.
Patience is also essential. It’s not all sunshine and roses once you find “someone with potential.” Too often, we fall back into all the old “couple” habits that didn’t work before and then wonder when the relationship withers. Plus, the “biological clock” isn’t part of the project anymore so we’re more aware of what we are “giving up” to get involved with someone. At this stage of the game, it’s “all about you” for both of you. That is going to be harder to work through. It’s still worth the effort.
In addition to ditching the ideas about what “happily every after” looks like, we need to ditch the whole Prince Charming thing. (Cinderella has to go, too.) Stop assuming your guy has to be a Hollywood hunk. And guys, June Cleaver has left the building so get used to the idea of carrying your share of the load if you want to live with someone.
Part of the problem with love after 50 is that we give up too easily. We get turned off because he has bad breath (instead of explaining to him that he has that problem). We decide that she’s “not the right one” because she has grandkids and loves to spend time with them. We decide that because it’s not perfect it’s not “the right one.”
The truth of it is the only way to find the perfect match is to be perfect yourself. If you still think you are, you haven’t learned much in your 50+ years. So get active living your own life. That will help you find people to date who like to do the things you like to do, who want to learn the things you’re interested in learning. From there you can find the one who makes you laugh and lends a hand when you need it. At any age, the best strategy for finding the right person to spend your life with is to become best friends. That requires give as well as take-just like it did in kindergarten.
Mary Lloyd is a speaker and consultant and author of Supercharged Retirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love. For more please see her website www.mining-silver.com.