It’s never too late to date

Discover the pitfalls of dating after 50 for both men and women.

It’s never too late to date

A lot of men can’t look after themselves so they jump into relationships to get looked after, while many women are not looking for another partner to look after, it’s just too much work.

These attitudes highlight international research findings that married men or those in relationships are mentally healthier than single men, but married women and those in a sexual relationship are less mentally healthy than their single sisters.

The discrepancy is just one of the many pitfalls awaiting those who, through design or accident, find themselves over 55 and unpartnered, often after long relationships which began in their 20s.

Research reveals that 40 per cent of people now in their 20s will never marry. It is a stark contrast to those now 55 plus who grew up in an era when sleeping together before marriage was taboo, despite which one in four brides was pregnant!

Courtship was formal and often chaperoned. If women worked it was largely viewed as stop-gap until the real business of marriage and children took over.

A potent combination of parental pressure and sexual frustration resulted in the majority of people marrying and at much younger ages than today, when in fact many were still far from independent or mature enough for the job.

Thirty or more years on those now in their late 50s, or older, are looking for a new partner at a very different stage of their lives, as very different people in a confusing post-sexual liberation world where all ground rules have changed.

Some men and women are perfectly happy leading rewarding single lives. Singles often turn to their single friends for a boost to their confidence and self-esteem. This seems to be particularly true of single women, who are more inclined to form very supportive networks.

However, in a sense this can be a two-edged sword. Paradoxically, the more independent a person becomes, the more difficult it is for them to partner.

That said, a degree of independence in both partners is essential for a strong, balanced and grown-up relationship. This can be likened to the letter H: two people standing together on their own feet but joined by love and shared goals.

Quite different is the weak, co-dependant relationship which resembles the letter A: symbolising two people leaning on each other, unable to stand alone.

Among many groups and courses and courses run by Relationships Australia, the one older, single people seeking new relationships seem to find particularly relevant is a mixed group for men and women who want to share and discuss particular problems. A psychologist guides the group as facilitator and each meeting has a theme decided on by the group itself.

For those whose problem is not so much adapting to a new relationship, as meeting potential partners,  dating agencies and online dating sites can help older age groups to successfully find partners: they’re not just for the young.

Despite the widespread myth that all older men want younger women as partners, some are quite open to women older than themselves. More women than men actively seek a younger partner.

Dating for many people is a rewarding adventure with a happy ending but for some it can be fraught with daunting dilemmas. The practicalities of where to begin looking for a partner, how to meet people safely, how to guard privacy and finances sensibly without being paranoid, and what, if anything, to tell family and friends, are not always easy.

Emotionally it can also be a roller-coaster ride. The newly single may feel awkward and foolish reliving adolescent feelings and going through the ups and downs of meeting, courting and dating again. Some people remain emotionally fixed in their 20s and may never change. Living with romantic illusions is not necessarily a bad thing, provided there is no conflict between how they are living and how they would like to live.

After many years in a comfortably familiar long-term relationship, some older people find they are anxious about coping with sexual relations with a new partner. Men, as well as women, are self-conscious about bodies which are no longer perfect and they are intimidated by the emphasis on being sexually knowing and adept.

Men traditionally keep their prostate and impotence problems to themselves, being reluctant to even consult a doctor in many cases. Since impotence can increasingly affect a man from his 40s on, this is an area which can be an issue.  It is important to be open in a relationship. If both parties are willing to be patient, show kindness and use a little more stimulation than usual – such issues can often be overcome and the bonus is a longer period of foreplay, making sex more enjoyable.

Getting into a new relationship also means you will need to be prepared to courageously take emotional risks when confronting vulnerabilities. This is not only true of sexual matters. After many years of unchallenged assumptions, it can be unsettling to be jolted by new world views, expectations, attitudes and lifestyles which demand compromises, adjustments and mental, and sometimes physical, agility. You could be made to feel rusty.

Many of these situations, questions and choices are too complex to address alone. This is why there is now a wealth of specifically targeted counselling services and practitioners. Also, there is a wide range of bodies marketing ethical introduction services and other meeting options, around Australia, which can help born-again singles in their search for a new partnership.

For more information, contact Relationships Australia.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    27th Mar 2014
    I found the ideal partner on RSVP.
    'If you never ever go you will never ever know.'
    27th Mar 2014
    Do not join it is a scam. Once you sign up for a trial costing $5.00 they will continue deducting money out of your bank account, because they make it impossible to cancel your membership. Be very careful...
    27th Mar 2014
    most online orgs are after your money yet there are some for free that rely on advertising. Plenty of Fish, connecting singles, 50and, dating for seniors etc
    27th Mar 2014
    Great article. Thanks. Para 1 is a laugh!
    27th Mar 2014
    Yes biddi I smiled at the first paragraph too. :-)
    27th Mar 2014
    I met the love of my life online however he had many health problems and passed away very soon after. I grieved not only for my lost love but also the long relationship we did not get to enjoy. The person who helped me through my grief was someone who I had dated previously and that man has became my best ever best friend. Neither of us want a serious relationship but we keep in touch regularly by phone, text and email. We see one another whenever we can. There is ten years age difference between these two wonderful men, one was four years older than me and the other is six years younger. I'm very happy with my life and have no interest in marriage or cohabiting with anyone. :-)
    27th Mar 2014
    Yes, Penqueen. I, too, would be happy with having BOY FRIENDS
    with NO 'benefits', as they say. A coffee, a meal, a laugh ....
    that's what I want, eventually, maybe.
    27th Mar 2014
    biddi, I don't mind the 'benefits' with my best friend. :-) I've known him for eight years and he always treats me with the utmost respect and only ever wants the best for me as I do him. :-) Our commitment to one another is to always be lifelong friends. :-)
    27th Mar 2014
    Hello Penqueen, You sound so happy! So very glad. Best to you always,
    Biddi :)
    27th Mar 2014
    Biddi, thank you so very much for your kind words and yes I'm quite happy with my life. :-)
    28th Mar 2014
    28th Mar 2014
    i meet my partner of now 3 plus years on B2,com. i thought they ere very good i had a choice of several people, in fact im stilll in touch wth coupleof them in friendy way n yes my parter is younger than me n came frm NZ. we met n line n he came ovr for a holiday n the rest they say is history
    27th May 2020
    Thanks to you can find your soul mate. Here you will be able to freely communicate with beautiful girls. This site will solve your online dating problems.

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