Relationships: Choosing a mate in the 2nd half of life
Editors note: This is the first of a two-part series.
If you are single, dating and over 50, then you’ll most likely know that dating at this station in life has very little in common with when you were dating in your teens or 20s.
For one thing, very few people look as good as they did in their 20s, so if you’re meeting with new potential romantic partners now, then you’re likely meeting far fewer people you’re physically attracted to. And even when you are attracted to someone else, he or she may not be attracted to you. It’s certainly not the way it once was. Of course, many people don’t know where to go to meet new people, or are uncomfortable with starting up a conversation, connecting, revealing their inner selves or deepening a potential relationship.
But even if you’re attracted to each other, connect and deepen a relationship, then you both still have to pass through a large set of each other’s criteria: does one or both of you have expectations regarding living near your children or grandchildren? Do either of you smoke? What religious and/or political affiliations are acceptable (or unacceptable)? What are your recreational interests? Food preferences? How close by do you live to each other? What health issues does your partner have? Do either of you still carry anger issues or unresolved emotional baggage from your past? I could go on, but you get the idea.
Of course, it doesn’t help that the older we are, the more we tend to know what we like and dislike regarding our tastes, creature comforts, routines and ways of doing things. And perhaps even more important, we know from our life experience what we are unwilling to tolerate or repeat, and we may be more resistant in accommodating to someone else’s lifestyles or idiosyncrasies.
Also, some people are not well skilled or adept at communicating what they want or need, or in being receptive to the wishes, needs, preferences or requests of others. And both people tend to have their own residences and furniture, which can make blending tricky.
How to decide
The following is as extensive a list as I can create in a two-column series about how to choose a mate in the second half of life — and how to decide whom not to choose:
What do you consider romance to be, and how important is it to you?
How trusting of other people is your partner? What would constitute a violation of trust in your eyes?
How important is affection to you? What is the right balance between the giving and receiving of affection?
What are your expectations regarding lovemaking?
What qualities and characteristics do you seek in a long-term partner? (Acting with integrity? Honesty? Being trustworthy? Being kind? Being able to resolve angry feelings without losing control? Being financially secure and responsible? Add any other criteria you choose, and then answer the question: “How well does my new romantic partner fit these characteristics?”
Do you like him/her? What do you like about him/her?
How evenly matched are your interests, values and lifestyles?
I will continue these questions in next week’s column.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. He is the author of the bestselling book “Love, Sex, and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship.” Contact him at 303-758-8777 or visit neilrosenthal.com.
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