Dear Mel… Can you still find love in your senior years?
eHarmony’s Dating and Relationship Expert, Melanie Schilling, answers a reader’s question about finding love later in life.
Dear Mel: Can you still find love and your soulmate after 50?
Dear Soulmate Seeker: Until recently, the dating game has been represented by the young, perky and overly-attractive in the media and on Hollywood screens. You would have been excused for thinking dating and finding love was off-limits for anyone over 50. But this trend has shifted, thanks to women like Diane Keaton and her slew of on-screen love affairs with men of all ages. Consider the movies Something’s Gotta Give, Because I Said So and Love the Coopers. Diane has shown the world (through Hollywood-coloured glasses) that women over 60 are sexy, vital and fabulous, and can find love with the likes of Jack Nicholson and Michael Douglas.
So can the silver screen image translate into real life? According to Hunt Ethridge, senior dating coach at New York Dating Coach, “Right now daters over 50 comprise the largest growing segment of online daters”. We are starting to follow suit here in Australia too, where nearly a quarter of all Aussie eHarmony members are over 50. Our over 50 dating pool is comprised of 48% divorced and 10% windowed members, so you’re in good company!
Whilst older daters do face certain challenges, particularly given the dating pool is smaller, the rules have changed and old habits are hard to break, according to Ethridge “seniors are now embracing new technology in order to give themselves the most advantages.” eHarmony Australia has also found that the over 50 daters are an engaged and active group on the site.
So how can you make the most of your dating experience later in life?
Positive Dating Mindset
Like dating at any age, mindset is the most important ingredient in finding love over 50. If you have experienced disappointments in your past relationships, you may be holding onto a set of beliefs that might not serve you in your quest for new love. This is not about forgetting about your past experience, but keeping it in perspective and extracting the lessons. It is important to assess your dating readiness and ensure that you re-enter the dating world at the right time. If you feel you are still bound by the emotional ties of your past relationships it might be worthwhile investing in a few sessions with a psychologist or dating coach to prepare you for the next chapter.
Personal Dating Brand
It may have been a while since you put yourself out there and shared your story with prospective romantic partners. Rather than plunging yourself into your dates unprepared, it’s a good idea to gain clarity about your own brand. Who you are and what you stand for? Ask yourself these questions:
1. What are my highest 3 values?
These are the things that are most important in your life. Things like love, family, health, honesty, respect – the things that define the way you live your life and get you out of bed in the morning. If these things didn’t exist in your life you probably wouldn’t get out of bed – they are that important!
2. What are my lifestyle preferences?
These are often based on your values and are defined as the interests, hobbies and activities that play an important role in your life. For example, if you value family, you might have weekly family dinners or if you value health, you might eat healthily and enjoy regular walks along the beach. Your lifestyle preferences make up a good portion of your life and tend to structure the way you choose to spend your time.
3. What are my deal-breakers?
With a wealth of life experience behind you, you’ve probably developed some wisdom about what you DON’T WANT in a partner. Some of these factors may be frivolous but others are likely to be fundamental to the success of your next relationship.
In my experience with senior clients, the deal-breakers that are most critical are the ones that relate to your values. For instance, one client had previous experience with an alcoholic partner and she placed a high value on health, so her deal-breaker was ‘no heavy drinkers’. Another client held very strong political views and his deal-breaker was ‘no political apathy’.
So, is it possible to find love after 50?
That’s a resounding YES.
If you are prepared to put some work into yourself to ensure your mindset is positive and your dating brand is congruent with who you really are. I recommend you put some thought into your emotional readiness for dating and the three elements of your dating brand before you take too many dating risks.
And don’t forget to enjoy the process. Remember, the top three things Aussies are looking for in a partner are shared values, similar interests and someone to make them laugh. So kick up your heels and take a few risks. What have you got to lose?
Over to you
Got a dating or relationship question for Mel? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation @eHarmony_AU or on Facebook.
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