Can Dreams Come True After Fifty-Two? I am hearing a lot lately about older folks meeting up and partnering or even marrying, happily and in many cases, unexpectedly. Unexpected in that either they had been searching for years with no results, or surprisingly lucky when they began their search to find the perfect mate. Perfect in mutuality. Both partners recognized a match, not the see saw ups and downs of younger couples where one is ready, the other not yet. Or one is pursuing, the other pursued. Older matches often eliminate the “tag you’re it” gamesmanship of youth.
Lying On The Internet And Other Ploys To Find Love: The New York Times had a piece on dating sites for “mature” adults in their fifties and up who have thrust themselves into the online search for companionship that their children had been visiting for years. The article written by Stephanie Rosenbloom, is aptly named “Second Love At First Click” and includes the latest statistics on internet dating amongst the older set with anecdotal evidence that it is working, love can be found and equally important, companionship. What makes this article worthy of mentioning is first, there is hope, and second, promoting yourself on a dating site when you are past your “prime” can be a more honest journey, frankly, from my vantage point. I have been privy, as most of us have, to folks confessing to shaving off years from their age on their profiles. Some of it, as one friend explained, is a tactic to pull in a specific age range. But the other motive seems to be in the service of keeping denial of age alive because older is seen as so unsexy. And isn’t sexy what people are looking for? Really?
Boob Jobs and Hair Dye: For the ladies, advertising that you are 49 when you are 59 probably requires some Botox, a face-lift and perhaps a boob job. For the men, at least some hair dye if not a daily work out at the local gym and regular tooth whitening services. Marketing yourself as attractive is no doubt essential at any age. But when the strain is to appear “hot”, then “hot” is what will be looking for you. Someone in heat, who sees the promise of sexual delight in the offing. Yet for many women and men, sexual delight though always nice, has become less critical over the years with the ebbing of hormones and the deepening awareness of the importance of kindness, companionship, shared interests and trust, either because they learned to value these components in a prior relationship, or realized they were lacking in their previous Coupledom, sadly or tragically lacking.
Market With Your Heart, Not Your Fears Or Fantasies: Viagra certainly has shifted dating for the post-fifty set. Perhaps not all for the good. Men who are recently freed from Coupledom ties, either by death, divorce or a break-up, can embark on a second adolescence, this time with money in their pockets, wheels, no curfews and Viagra in their pill case. Women who have enlarged or reduced their breast area, capped their teeth, or lost twenty pounds may also want to strut their stuff or prove that though someone else traded them in for a younger version, they still “have it.” When women market themselves as “hot”, the fellows who are emboldened, some for the first time, with male performance confidence, hear the lure of the sirens calling from the rocky shores. What a set up. The drive to rework old injuries or redress wrongs or reinvent a self image still bruised from an adolescence long past can produce some pretty humiliating and hurtful dating moments. Instead it would seem more useful and truthful to aim for the folks out there who are looking for what you are truly longing for. If it is sex, then advertise hot. If it is companionship, respect, trust and fun, then provide honesty, affirm interests, describe values but don’t manipulate the outcome based on presumptions of what others out there are looking for. If you want illusion, go to the cinema. If you want reality, own yours and ask for someone else’s. No rabbit in a hat here.
That “Perfect”-ly Human Person: What makes these later-in-life Coupledoms work is that truth about oneself is the cornerstone of trust. Respect for ones needs, attributes and interests means no longer needing to hide or disguise to another what is truly you. The psychological significance of becoming truly yourself, rather than a contrivance of what you imagine, or the culture sells and tells you will be attractive to others, is the greatest asset of all in finding that perfect person with whom to spend the next chapter of your life. That “Perfect”-ly human person that is.
Warning: Before you begin your search, get right with yourself. No need for shame, nor veils nor smoke screens anymore. That is the upside of maturity, so enjoy it.
©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011