After the passing of my wife of 31 years, I found myself alone for the first time in my life. My choices: spend the rest of my life living alone or jump into the over-50 dating pool. Having run into several issues over the years, I am still debating the pros and cons of those choices.
The main thing I've discovered about dating at my age (currently 55), is that there is a lot of competition to deal with. No, not other men. I wish it were that easy. I'm talking about a level of competition that is nearly impossible to compete against, a woman's family. While I write this from a man's point of view, this applies equally to women who find themselves back in the dating pool after widowhood or a divorce.
As someone dating past middle age and into your senior years, you will be competing for attention against children still in the home, adult children, grandchildren, aging parents, siblings, pets, friends, home maintenance, careers, and various media channels. Television and Facebook come to mind.
Competing may be too harsh of a word. It truly isn't a competition in the sense that you have to win. Your goal is not to defeat the children and steal their Mother or Father away from them. Your goal, after finding that special someone, is merging into a new family as seamlessly as possible.
I have come to believe, that it is very important to concentrate at least half of your efforts in developing good relationships with the family and friends rather than devoting all of your attention to your love interest.
In the early days of dating, it's easy to capture the attention of your date. I like to call this the "newness factor." You are like the shiny new toy they want to play with all the time. Eventually though, the newness will wear off. Your love interest will have to refocus attention back on family, friends, and everyday life. If you did nothing other than concentrate your efforts on her or him, then chances are you will fall to the wayside. They simply will not have enough time for you.
If, on the other hand, you concentrate your efforts on developing good relationships with everyone he or she loves, then your chances of survival in the relationship are greatly improved. There are at least three very good reasons for this.
- Your love interest will be able to observe you in a context other than romantically. They will see how your interact with others he or she loves. Are you a kind and caring person? Do you fit in with the family? Do you communicate well with others? Is the family glad you are there? Are you helpful to others? Basically, do you bring value to their family? Let's face it, even back in the caveman days, if you do not bring value to the clan, then you are nothing more than an extra burden.
Finding that special someone in your seniors years can be a challenge. I would venture to say that it is vastly more challenging than dating in your twenties due to increased number of people and distractions demanding your love interest's attention. Use the newness factor to your advantage. While you do have to make a concerted effort to impress your love interest, for the most part, the relationship will develop naturally.
Devote as much time as possible to forming solid relationships with the other people demanding your love interest's attention. Your competition so to speak. Honestly put yourself out there, become part of the family, and actually care about others. Get to know everybody by name. Talk to them. Learn about their jobs, their hobbies, their likes and dislike, their problems. Offer them help when you can. In doing so, you will be seen as someone of value to the family and will make them a champion for your cause.
Photo Credit: Flickr/ Don DeBold