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.


by Martin Novell LMFT and Daina Hulet

On your first date you were introducing yourselves to each other.  Now a year, or years later in your marriage or relationship, date night is the perfect time to reintroduce each other to your individual worlds.  

Update your Mate

Busy working couples don’t often have the time to give updates on how things are going in their personal lives – whether it’s talk about work, family or friends, likes and dislikes, or inner thoughts. Date nights are the perfect time to catch up with each other to stay up to date with your mate.

Date nights now come with more knowledge and more assumptions about your partner. But some of the knowledge may be old and some of the assumptions wrong. It may be news about a change in a project at work, revised hopes and dreams, or the latest about the status of a friend or relative.

But just like on a first date, when discussing news, or worries or stresses, don’t try to problem-solve or criticize -- just listen, learn and understand. (And remember, understanding is not agreement.)

Kisses and Compliments

Talk positively about the things that make your spouse attractive to you. Compliment them on their accomplishments—the way your wife handles your in-laws, the way your husband looks, and most importantly, compliment your relationship. Talk about what you believe makes you such good partners, parents, how well your last dinner party went, or how happy you make each other in bed.

If you’re the type to show PDA and it just feels right, go for a kiss or a hug at the restaurant table, or hold hands as you walk to your car. Thanking your partner for a wonderful evening before you get out of the car, or at the front door as you would have on your first date, can lead to some humorous exchanges like, “I’d like to see you again”, or “Would you like to come up?

A Few Planning Tips

To avoid arguments in the car about running late, or worrying about the kids or work so you anxiously look at your cell phones all night… I tell my clients to do several things before they leave the house:

1. Make sure everything is running smoothly at home before you leave, to ease any possible stress on the evening.

2. If either one of you is running late try not to make up the time by driving faster, or even bring the issue  in the car, which often leads to arguments. Be a little more yielding towards one another, just so you’ll have a better time.

3. And, of course, no cellphones or electronic communication devices of any kind on date night. My clients who have fought me on this issue, but finally left their cellphones at home for an evening, all report that it can be done -- and it enriches their evening together!