Finding Love Is Finding a Best Friend

There are experiences in life that require a thick skin. Over 50 dating qualifies. Our highly evolved notions of right and wrong, and appropriate and inappropriate relationship behavior can cause us to appear judgmental and opinionated. Being rejected or rejecting a lot of first dates can be depressing enough to make a Boomer to want to stay home, eat some Ben and Jerry's, and watch a movie.

But it's optimism and hope that our next date might be our life-partner that keeps us in the game. Many of us are newly single and some haven't dated for a long while, so it can feel disconcerting to suddenly feel like grist for the dating mill. The meet and greet, first date, can feel intimidating, and even if it doesn't, it's exposing ourselves to a stranger.

Are my standards too high? Am I too picky or set in my ways? Am I still sexually attractive? Do I really want to wake up next to someone? Do I have unrealistic expectations? These questions hung in the air for me. Looking for a loving partner who could also be my best friend was an adventure in unfamiliar territory.

I began to notice women I was dating in terms of whether there appeared to be potential for real friendship as well as love. I had noticed that in great relationships the partners were also best friends. Alternatively, I had never seen a bad relationship that embraced friendship.

I'd never been best friends with a woman in a relationship, so I had no idea how it would feel. Would it interfere with the sexual aspect of the relationship? Would it feel more like buddies than lovers? I admit that my somewhat diminished libido helped me be open to the answer.

Temporarily removing the sexual component made finding a woman with whom I could also be friends closely resembled how I had found my closest men friends. Common interests, trustworthiness, shared passions and values, similar outlooks on life, and the ability to be fully supportive, were the characteristics of my friendships with men. I began looking for a woman who exhibited the same qualities. It effectively narrowed the search, just as it had with finding my men friends. In fairly short order I found a woman I resonated with on all the friendship levels. I couldn't help but notice that she was little like other women I'd dated. I thought she was adorable too, but I put that aside for a while.

Friendship with a woman in a relationship was brand new, and I was a little skeptical, but decided to go for it because I found her so irresistibly likeable. A few months later, after falling in love, we married. Several years later, we're still married and still best friends. Our unconditional support for each other is no different than in my friendships with men.

I keep it simple. I don't yell at my men friends or try to ram advice down their throats, so why treat my wife, who is also my best friend, differently? I don't try to fix my men friends' problems, and I try not to fix my wife's problems either, although I stumble in this arena sometimes. When my men friends and I get into a heated argument, we respect each other enough to calm down and talk it out. When my wife and I get into one, we try not to accuse or judge each other. We try to talk it out to find a resolution.

When all else fails, we remind each other that best friends treat each other respectfully, particularly when they disagree. We haven't failed yet to find workable solutions to our problems, because we truly are friends, and friends always manage to work it out with dignity.