Relationship column: Choosing a mate in the second half of life
Editor’s note: Neil Rosenthal is out of town. This is a reprint of one of his previously published columns. This is the first of a two-part series.
If you are single, dating and over 50, you’ll most likely know that dating in the second half of life has very little in common with when you were dating in your teens and 20s.
So much has changed in the mate-selection process. 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, you’re likely meeting far fewer people to whom you’re physically attracted. And even when you are attracted someone else, she or he may not be attracted to you.
Also, many people don’t know where to go to meet new people or are uncomfortable with starting up a conversation, attempting to connect or in knowing how to deepen a potential relationship.
CRITERIA HAS CHANGED
Even if you’re attracted to each other, you both still have to pass through a large set of each other’s criteria: expectations regarding your children or grandchildren; smoking or non-smoking; 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? Do either of you have mounting health issues? Do either of you carry anger issues or unresolved emotional baggage from your past?
STUCK IN OUR WAYS
Of course, 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. We may, as a result, be more resistant (or less tolerant) in being able to accommodate to someone else’s taste or lifestyle.
Also, some people are not well skilled or adept at communicating what they want or in being accommodating to the wishes, needs, preferences or requests of others. And both people tend to have their own residences, furniture, artwork and so on, which can make blending together quite tricky.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A MATE
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? Is your new partner romantic?
How trusting of other people is your partner? What behaviors would you consider to be a violation of trust?
How important is daily non-sexual affection to you? What is the right balance between the giving and receiving of affection?
What are your expectations regarding love-making? How well does this mesh with his or her expectations?
What qualities and characteristics do you seek in a long term partner? (Some examples are: acting with integrity, honesty and honor; being trustworthy; being kind; being able to resolve angry feelings without losing control; being financially secure and responsible; being emotionally mature; being genuine and real; being in charge of yourself and your behaviors; being willing and able to confront problems head on.) 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 or her? What do you like about him or her?
How evenly matched are your interests, values and lifestyles?
I will continue this list in next week’s column.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. His column is in its 21st year of publication and is syndicated around the world. You can reach him at 303-758-8777, or email him through his website: http://www.heartrelationships.com. He is not able to respond individually to queries.
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