January 20, 2018

Single – again!

my-name-is-single

Single – again!

The thought of facing the dating scene again — especially after a long-term relationship — is daunting to say the least. I know. It happened to me when I was 51.  With the divorce rate among 50 – 69 year-olds increasing significantly over the past generation, more of us are facing this challenge.

There are two important things to keep in mind as you venture back into the dating world – be aware of what to expect and know what you want.

The old stereotype — men and women in midlife and beyond were too old for sex, love, or marriage — has disappeared. The good news is that there are a lot of singles out there. According to the 2010 Census 36% of those ages 45 – 64 are single … and there are a lot more ways of finding them than there were 20 years ago.

In a study conducted by AARP in 2003 among single men and women ages 40 – 69, singles reported that 59% are open to dating but only 32% of them are doing anything about it. A little less than one-third of the group is in exclusive relationships and only 9% are not interested in dating at all.

Singles say that:

  • Personality and sense of humor count most for both men and women, but many men emphasize physical attractiveness and sexual satisfaction. So caring about your appearance is important for your own self-esteem and because of the impression you can make.
  • Women want dates to have someone to talk to or do things with; men want the sexual dimension built in as well. While the risk of pregnancy is no longer an issue, safe sex is still important to protect against sexually-transmitted diseases.
  • Both men and women in midlife and older want to date younger individuals. While that has always been true for men, it is becoming much more common and acceptable for women to do it as well.
  • Today there are many avenues for dating. Singles organizations, matchmaking dating services for all ages, social networking web sites, and support groups are starting to compete with going to church as sources for finding dates. But friends, relatives, and work are still the best bet – especially among the groups that are not actively dating. You just have to tell people that you are interested in finding someone.
  • Dating does not necessarily lead to marriage. Although many want a committed relationship, about a third of men and women are not sure it they will remarry if or when they are in a committed relationship again. Cohabitation is definitely an option for many. The purpose of dating does not have to be to find a permanent relationship. It can also be just to have fun.

There are understandable reasons for the third of singles that want to date but aren’t doing anything about it – shyness, problems with self-esteem, fear of rejection, perception that it is difficult to meet people are their age. But there are also many good reasons for making the effort to overcome those barriers. Attraction and enjoyment in dating is either there or it isn’t. When it is there, the process can give your self-esteem a real boost. Simple hand-holding has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety. A Scientific American study released on Valentine’s Day 2011 showed that romance and love make the brain function better. Many studies show that having a good sexual relationship is associated with better health.

Singles in midlife and later life said that an advantage to dating that they didn’t have while they were younger is the comfort they have in the wisdom that comes with age, maturity, and experience. They also say they feel more carefree and have more freedom and independence with a lack of social pressure. Romantic relationships have the potential to be richer, fuller, deeper, more painful, more turbulent, and also more pleasurable because of our experience.

Perhaps the biggest mistake singles at any age make is “Sliding vs. Deciding”.  The concept is based on research done by Dr. Scott Stanley at the University of Denver. Too often people slide through important transitions in relationships rather than consciously making a decision. It’s easy to get caught in the flow of things without stepping back to be sure the relationship is really right for you. If you slide into a relationship just for companionship, the result could be much more painful than loneliness.

 

Before you can consciously make a decision you have to have a clear idea about what you really want – not just a vague impression. This means having a vision about what you want your life to look like, being really clear about what your requirements for a relationship are, and knowing what your ideal partner would be like. Being really clear requires a little work and is best done by talking with someone to help you be specific.

 

Just remember that finding new love is possible at any age.

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