“I found The One after 40”
They say good things come to those who wait…but when it comes to love, this axiom has tried the patience of many, many singles. Recently, I spoke with six men and women who know a thing or two about love and patience. They fall into one of two camps:
1. Those who were just getting started. They bypassed the traditional timeline — i.e., never got married, had kids, bought a house with a white-picket fence, or even had a long-term romance earlier in life.
2. Those who were starting over again. When it comes to love, they’d been there, done that — and had all the relationship scars to prove it.
All of these daters were a little bit scared and apprehensive about meeting someone new, especially at their ages. But the good news for both groups above was this: Cupid wasn’t done with them yet. There were more arrows to shoot, more matches to be made — and each of them met their mates after turning the big 4-0.
How did they do it? What challenges did they overcome to meet and find lasting happiness with a new love later in life? Read on to find out — and to discover their tips for other older singles hoping that Cupid will shoot an arrow in their direction, too.
Tip #1: No matter what curveballs life has thrown at you, you’ve also got to stay open to whatever romantic possibilities the world has to offer, too.
“I thought I wouldn’t love again after my husband of 21 years died,” said Marylander MaryAnn, 54. “This was it for me. We’d planned our future, thought about retirement — and then, suddenly, I was single again. The last thing I wanted to do was date, but after a year, a friend convinced me to join her at a cocktail party. There, I met a divorced man who also loved tennis. So we started playing and “love” on the courts led to love off, too. I’m glad we had a few things in common; that made getting together less awkward. I had an initial comfort level with doing the things I already like, such as tennis and hiking and going to the movies.”
Tip #2: One-of-a-kind connections aren’t easy to find, but when you know you’ve felt one, do whatever you can to keep it going.
“I never married, which a lot of people in my community found strange,” said North Carolinian John, 61. “But that wasn’t what I thought was strange; rather, it was more that I just hadn’t felt like any romance was going to last forever — despite two broken engagements, which at first had seemed like the ‘real deal.’ I was looking for a one-of-a-kind connection, and I guess the single life wasn’t ever bad enough for me that I was willing to settle. I met Marie when my dad was dying; she was his caregiver. Maybe it was the intense circumstances under which we met, but when we fell in love, I knew this was The One. I felt none of the commitment-phobia that I had experienced before. This was right, and I went for it!”
Tip #3: Know what you want at this stage of life and don’t be afraid to ask for it — even if it’s entirely different from what you thought love and romance were supposed to be like when you were younger.
“You go through different periods in your life,” says Californian Jeanne, 65. “You don’t really want the same things you had before, but your mind hasn’t quite caught up to that reality. So, you’re still stuck with the old thought patterns telling you that you should want what you had when you were younger. That’s what aging and romance have been like for me, anyway. The truth I’ve had to come to terms with is this: I don’t want to be married again. I was married once, and it was great — but that was 25 years ago. I am not starting a family, I don’t need to do it for show, and I love my independence. But I do want to have a man in my life… someone who feels the same way I do. That’s exactly what I said when I was out on my second date with my neighbor, Ed. It was liberating to just put it out there, and he said he felt the same. We are absolutely mad for each other, but we still keep our own homes and see each other two to three nights a week. To me, this is bliss.”
Tip #4: Be willing to listen to a potential partner who might call you on common relationship obstacles we all face as we age, such as being set in our ways.
“I’m a single guy who’s got a lot of friends, but who also loves his freedom,” says Bostonian Frank, 57. “I couldn’t ever stick with anything long-term; I was too antsy from exploring life and didn’t want to be tied down to anyone. I never wanted kids, but I found that once I turned 50, I suddenly wanted a partner. I don’t know why this urge came over me later in life, but it did. It sure was a challenge then for me to meet one! I went on several dates with people I met online and from within my sailing social circle, but we either didn’t have much in common or I wasn’t comfortable feeling hemmed in and unable to do things my own way. Fortunately, I met a patient woman about three years ago. Diana called me out on my stubbornness and being so set in my ways. Unlike a lot of other women, she wasn’t critical towards me in an overly harsh way. She told me she just saw that there were some obstacles I’d need to clear first if I wanted to be in a relationship with someone. I am so glad I paid attention! She’s the best thing that ever happened to me, and we’re getting hitched later this year.”
Tip #5: You can teach an old dog some new tricks — but you have to learn new ways to meet other singles first. Technology can be your friend, and if you don’t know how to manage the ins and outs of online dating, find a smart, tech-savvy friend to teach you.
“I was a single mom raising a son, so I completely missed the online dating boom,” says Virginian Dana, 45. “I’d never been married or even lived with anyone before. But when my kid turned 18, I decided it was time to shake up my personal life. Boy, was I ever in for a shock — I had no clue about setting up a profile or what to expect from these blind dates you’re supposed to go on with strangers contacting me from the Internet. I talked to a couple of girlfriends about it, and we decided that we all wanted to give it a try. It was a lot like going back to school, but it’s been a good experience for me personally. I’ve met plenty of perfectly fine men with whom I couldn’t see being more than friends, but a few months ago, I met Stuart — and we’ve been dating for six months. We just had a discussion about becoming exclusive, and then he asked me to take my dating profile down. That’s progress, right? I laughed and told him it took me years to get the nerve to learn how to post one, but…OK. I guess I’m off the market for now.”
Tip #6: Fears — of aging, of not being good enough, of someone not loving the older version of us, of having our hearts broken one too many times — drive our actions way too often, and it’s time to change that.
“I’d stopped even thinking about love,” says New Yorker Lynne, 56. “I came up with a million reasons why — I’m always busy at work, I have too many social commitments, I have my friends — but basically, I was just scared. One night, it hit me: I was terrified that meeting someone new would be awful. So, I decided to confront this fear just like I’d confronted all the other fears in my life. I explored why I thought I wasn’t this enough or that enough with a counselor, including why I felt I was too old (and too hurt by past relationships) to try dating again. She helped me get past all of those issues and into a place where I was able to risk meeting someone, knowing that I would still be fine if things didn’t work out — I wouldn’t collapse or anything like that. It’d just be the cherry on the sundae, not the whole meal. After that, I went to a few events and parties and ultimately met my partner, Sharon, over the summer. That was two years ago, and we’re still going strong.”
Whether it’s through introspection or counseling or talking through your fears with your friends, try to let go of those age-related fears so you can visualize and embrace being in a relationship with someone new. After all, you’re never too old for love!