Rising Trend: Older Adults Basking in the Joy of Companionship and Long Term Love WITHOUT the Wedding Ring, May Water
-The number of unmarried adults over 50 living together jumped from 1.2 million in 2000 to 2.75 million in 2010 (Health and Retirement Study)
Those statistics are music to this single gal's ears. After a twenty year marriage, I really enjoy my new lifestyle. So much so, that I am in no rush to tie the knot again. I do want a loving (possibly live in) exclusive relationship, but feel no burning need to make it legal. I’m not totally opposed to marriage, I think it can be quite beautiful and fulfilling with the right person, and if I were with the right person for an extended period and he proposed, I can’t picture myself saying no. But I do know that you can be in a long term exclusive relationship without rushing into marriage. I know many older couples that are in these relationships. They are all happy.
When two people find each other at the right time and find themselves on the same page, the results are quite remarkable. Like many older women, my children are out of the house, and we no longer require a man to provide for our children. Many of us earn enough to live the solo life. While not a home owner, I make enough to take care of my basic needs. It’s just me so my expenses are small. Other older women do own homes, or have assets they do not want to legally share. Many men have been through costly divorces and are leery of combining assets. Some have lost a spouse to death and may need years to fully recover. That doesn’t mean they should be denied companionship, or made to feel strange if they do not jump into a proposal when society thinks they should.. Every situation is different, every couple is different, and therefore (in my opinion) call for creative arrangements that meet both party’s needs.
Confusion can happen, but step aside if you become overwhelmed. To me what I was seeking was not a complicated concept. Yet when I dipped my toe in the dating pool, after almost three years of single hood, I was a bit overwhelmed with all of the game playing, by both men and women. I believe a lot of these games were bred from confusion. Many people did not know what they really wanted which is understandable after divorce or a spousal death. It can take years to get our bearings. The confused people did not trouble me. We are all confused sometimes. I suggest taking regular breaks from the dating scene in order to process each situation as a learning opportunity.
Playing, or otherwise manipulating anyone, even if you think it’s somehow for their own good, is destructive behavior. What did trouble me were the individuals that played unsuspecting single adults. I know, games in courtship have been going on for centuries, but what I saw truly saddened me. I came across a lot of women that really did want to get married, yet hid that agenda until well into the relationship. The initial discussions consisted of taking it slow, and not rushing into anything. Yet as soon as these guys had fallen for these women, they were given ultimatums: marriage or bye-bye. Shame on these ladies for telling a man he is non-committal (especially if he was previously in a LTR), making him feel that there is something wrong with him, or applying a myriad of other labels to him. It could be that he’s just not that into you (one of my new favorite books!), or he truly doesn’t want to get married at that point in time, if ever. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with someone that doesn’t have the same ideas as you. We’re all different. . Also, f you read the stats above, 2.75 million men and women agree with him!
Please keep strictly sexual urges away from people that truly want long term relationships. A lot of men, and women, were just in it for the sex (quite acceptable if one is honest about that up front), but lying to someone and stating they wanted an exclusive relationship just to get laid is not the right approach. For a person to spend months in a relationship (that they believe is with a person in it for the long haul) and then being told that they’re not ready for a commitment.is devastating. Maybe I’m naïve but can’t people be honest about wanting just sex? When I was younger I experimented with no strings attached sex. I know there are sites that cater to that crowd (for all ages). I’m totally not judging anyone. Some older singles never let it all hang out when they were younger, were in a sexless marriage, or finally came into their sexuality once they became single.. You can pretty much find whatever you desire with willing participants on sites specifically designed for sexual exploration (I’ll give links at the end of this). So to recap, please do not lead anyone on if sex is all you’re looking for. Many of us have been through enough heartache.
If you cannot convey what you desire, you will have a hard time receiving said desire. Another thing I discovered when I entered the dating world were communication issues. I personally discovered that men misinterpreted my free spirited approach to life. I don’t think I articulated what I was looking for well enough. A lot of men translated my non-need for marriage into something entirely different. A lot of them thought I was looking just for sex, was indecisive, or that I had commitment issues. Communication skills are something many people need to work on. Just because someone is at an advanced age, do not assume they have acquired these skills. We need to not only be aware of how we are expressing ourselves, but how our behaviors or words are being received. People cannot read our minds. This new person is not your ex who knew your moods. Sometimes I think it becomes even harder as we get older to communicate clearly if we’ve been struggling with it our entire lives. Just do the best you can alright?
The dating scene was so frustrating for me that I retreated. I had some wins. I had some losses. I remember thinking that maybe I should just be alone for the rest of my life. I know other older daters that felt the same way. That thought was very depressing to me because I absolutely adore being in a healthy relationship and have so much love to give. After a bout of disappointment, I am now digesting what I have learned in order to apply myself in a more focused manner in the future.
Okay, so after my brief dating whirlwind, I decided to do some research on dating/relationships after forty. I was glad I did because it instilled a hope that what I was looking for did indeed exist. I learned that we need to be VERY clear about what I want, not settle for anyone less than we deserve, and keep an open mind. Love can come to us from unexpected places, at unexpected times, and often become arrangements that we maybe wouldn’t have considered in our younger years. And I will say this, once I do find the right partner, and I do mean partner, not a man that seeks to control me or expect me to mother him, he will be rewarded with a highly sensual, honest, organized, enthusiastic woman that knows not only the value of a good relationship, but the value of herself. Oh, and a woman that loves to give a DAMN good back rub. But of course my new partner will want to rub me too right? :--)
Remember it’s Never, Ever, Ever Too Late. “Our body may be aging but your capacity for romantic love remains intact. An AARP study of men and women over 50 found that 70% of 50-64 year olds and 63% of people 65+ report being currently in love. And of those over 65, 46% reported being passionately in love. Don’t underestimate the intensity with which we can both give and receive love later in life. The need to love and be loved remains strong, if you’re willing to nurture it.” (Bobbi Palmer, Dating and Relationship Coach for Women over 40) Often it is simply a matter of finding the right person to nurture love with. If you feel rushed, manipulated, or in any way ‘bad’ about your decision not to marry right away, you may want to take a step back from the relationship. Our gut usually has the answer we seek, if we are open to listen.
Okay so let’s take a peek at some short articles regarding dating/relationships for older adults. Links for some of the most popular dating and sexual exploration sites are listed as well. Enjoy life, keep your lightness, and have fun! Love, May
Shacking up over 50: http://www.yourtango.com/experts/susie-and-otto-collins/dos-and-donts-when-youre-shacking-and-over-50
Are women over 40 so desperate to get married?
More American's over 50 live together: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57492242/more-americans-over-50-live-together-but-dont-marry/
Nine reasons women over forty choose not to marry: http://www.more.com/relationships/marry-again-nine-reasons-divorced-women-choose-not
Why some guys do not want to marry: http://talkaboutmarriage.com/mens-clubhouse/1996-why-dont-some-guys-want-remarry.html
Sex /hook up sites:
Where you can find May: