You never thought it would happen to you.
You were supposed to meet the love of your live early and live happily ever after. But for many, life doesn’t work out that way. And that’s OK!
“Statistics New Zealand’s Population Statistics unit records the number of marriages registered each year, and tracks how many of these end in divorce. Analysis of this data shows that roughly one-third of couples who married in 1970 had divorced by their jade wedding anniversary (35 years). This suggests that two-thirds of marriages end in the death of one partner”
For others, they may have just never met that one special person.
But there are still plenty of fish in the sea, albeit with some added considerations and complications.
Eric Klinenberg, a sociology professor at NYU, is the author of a book called “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise And Surprising Appeal Of Living Alone”. The book charts the rise in the number of people living alone, and surprisingly, many young people are choosing to live alone, too:
“Klinenberg shows that most single dwellers—whether in their twenties or eighties—are deeply engaged in social and civic life. There’s even evidence that people who live alone enjoy better mental health and have more environmentally sustainable lifestyles.”
So, if you are living alone, you’re in good company! He found that in 1950, 22 percent of American adults were single, now, that number is at almost 50 percent.
The New Zealand data is also interesting. A number of social demographics are changing, meaning more people are likely to be single at various stages during their lives than was the case in the past.
Dating Can Be Tricky When You’re Older
No matter what their living arrangements, most people long for the companionship of a significant other.
Dating past 50 can be more complicated than when we were in our teens and twenties. There are families, children, ex-partners, and health and well-being issues that come with growing older.
In our younger years, it was pretty much just a case of deciding if you fancy each other, then deciding if you fancy each other enough to jump into bed, then doing a lot more of same. Then it all turns into a relationship, partnership, family, and the happy-ever-after.
Romance was simple. You only had yourself to consider. Even if it didn’t work out, there was plenty of time to write it off as a mistake and find someone else.
But as we grow older, life becomes more complicated.
Do we really have that much time left to experiment and make mistakes? What will our family and kids think? Women may worry that they will end up as full-time carers for their ailing “new” partners. Some may have decided they don’t like the thought of someone else’s kids or grandkids all that much.
Dating After Marriage
Many people feel aggrieved that they are back in the dating pool, so might be rather tentative. Many people will have gladly put all the uncertainty behind them when they married or partnered up many years ago, but life circumstances now mean they’re alone and reluctantly dipping their toes back into deep waters.
For others, it’s an exciting time. Having spent years in troubled marriages, some people may relish the freedom of meeting someone new and someone who is more compatible.
Then there are those who never really found the right person, but, out of the blue, life takes one of it’s inexplicable turns and the right person drifts enticingly into view.
Whatever the circumstance, both you and the person you’re seeing will likely have relationship baggage, and more complex and nuanced expectations than in the days of youth.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Many of the rules that apply for teens apply to those over 50. Look good, use protection, and have a positive outlook. You should be curious about a partner’s life and background, and expect them to be curious about you.
However, there are some new considerations, too:
Health: Health issues are more complex as we age. There is a higher chance someone will have a debilitating condition, or might be about to experience one soon. Is that something you can accept? Having said that, there are no guarantees in life. Young people can have serious health issues, too. Your own health may not 100%, either.
Tinder: Online avenues didn’t exist (much) up until the late 1990s. These days, people readily use apps and social media sites for dating, which can be a challenge for those not used to technology when it comes to their personal life. These environments have tended to be youth oriented, but that is now changing:
“Aitcheson recently started using the app again after a nine-month relationship – with a woman he met on Tinder – came to an end.
“I think it’s a modern way to meet people,” he says. “Traditionally, you’d roll up to a bar, have a couple of drinks and take a chance. With Tinder, you can glean a bit from their information and you meet them somewhere like a busy bar, so it’s not too awkward or spooky.”
His most recent date was with a woman he’d connected with prior to his nine-month relationship. They broke the ice by talking about their memorable Tinder dates.”
Older, Younger: There is increased chance of a significant age difference between you and the individual you date. Perhaps someone much younger than yourself. That might be fine for a fling, but it may be futureless for the long term. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
Grown Up: You might sense that dating involves a lot of adolescent nonsense. But that can also be part of the fun. Ultimately, it’s a balancing act between an adolescent sense of adventure, and the more lived-in peace that comes from pleasant familiarity. To get to the latter, we likely still have to go through the former.
Children: What will your children make of a new romance? What about their children? When is a good time to tell them? Will your partner like your children? Will you like theirs? It can be a good idea to chat with your children before you embark on dating. What you do will obviously affect them, so you need to find some comfortable ground that everyone is happy with – and will likely have a shared laugh about! Who pays: Should you pay? Should they? With older people, it’s less likely to be an issue of affordability, or gender politics, but rather the opportunity to do something nice for someone else.
Financial Stability: Someone is likely to be financially comfortable by the age of 50, so if not, it could be a warning sign. It could be a sign of poor planning and wastefulness. However, divorces are costly, so some people could be less well off than they should be through no fault of their own. If financial stability is important to you, then tread carefully.
Enjoy the fun, but keep your eyes open. Hopefully, the vigour and energy of youth has developed into a deeper and more thoughtful approach to dating after 50.