by Martin Novell MFT and Daina Hulet

There are discussions with friends, relatives, as well as clients in therapy about the frustrations and probabilities of dating after you’ve reached a certain age. Sure, you may feel you’re not as young and sexy as you once were, yet you’re not easily attracted to members of your own generation, or you can’t imagine being comfortable enough to get naked with someone new… but, none of that should be a stopper for finding love and companionship as you grow older.
What you will need to be successful in your quest, is an updated set of standards for dating later in life.

The Age Thing

Because the Petreaus/Broadwell affair is all over the media, it reminds many that the dating pool loses it’s balance when older men prefer younger women – (and vice versa.) It’s important to note that it’s a rare 60-year old male who can manage to run around the Pentagon, do hundreds of pushups and keep up with a woman in her early 40's, sexually. Few men really do have the power and money, or “brute strength” to attract much younger women. The problem is that men are often more visual than women, and tend to de-sexualize mature women in their own age range. Yes, we see these men’s wrinkles, balding crowns and are aware that they do not look young, but men can be blind to their own physical image as a deterrent to dating younger. So, they try… and when they don’t succeed with younger women, they may end up alone and lonely.

On the other hand, women say, “I met a nice enough man on a blind date, but he looked so old I couldn’t imagine myself with him. He said he was my age, but he looked like a grandfather!” The truth is that men over 55 usually don’t look so young – and they probably are grandfathers.


The Beauty of Shared Interests
So, what are mature daters to do? Both men and women need to shift the balance of their ideals of attractiveness from outer beauty to a more balanced beauty, and take a more realistic assessment of what is sexy and desirable in a potential mate as we age. For instance: Is your date well-groomed, in reasonably healthy shape, pulled together in a stylish manner? The specific aspects of what you find attractive or deal breakers in prospective dates are preferences you have every right to uphold – but don’t be too rigid.  

Instead look at your date as an interview. Did your date give an appealing first impression – or do you need to give them a chance to get over their jitters? Be curious about your date. Ask questions. Raise the importance of conversation, humor, similar values, interests and dreams, over fantasies of finding a trophy wife or husband.

Listen actively to what they say and how they handle themselves and others, because over time you’ve grown to know that even if they look the part of your updated ideal older mate in person, or on paper, you can’t change anyone. This is not the time to look for potential in a date.  At this stage in life, what you see is what you get. If what they say or do creates anxiety for you, they probably aren’t the one.

Let your date in on who you are, too. The more you have in common in all areas, the easier it will be to find someone who is good company and shares your joys, that you can be proud and passionate about  –  and maybe even, fall in love.




 


Comments

Faith
11/21/2012 7:33am

Great insights, Martin and Daina. Maybe some day you'll address how a woman can work with mens' visiual orientation without driving herself insane!

Cheers, Faith

12/11/2012 7:15pm

Great post. Your advice about treating the date as an interview is right on. Listen actively, watch body language and ask yourself, "How was the first impression?"

I also suggest trying not to put giant expectations on the date. If you go into it with the intention of just enjoying yourself and an evening out, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Love the blog! I'll be back!


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