SageTalk Blog: Dating Again with Grace and Ease
The gay men's group facilitator said, “If you want to hunt duck; you have to go to the duck pond!” This was in response to a group member's whining that dating was just too hard, since he didn’t like bars, dating apps, or cruising in public places.This man was in his twenties - twenty five years ago! Can you imagine what his experience will be like once he turns sixty?When it comes to dating after sixty, here’s what I would like to offer: Stop looking and start doing.
When I say doing, I am talking about going to the duck pond. However, perhaps a different pond that you were thinking. Before you even think about dipping your toe into the water, be really clear as to why you are doing it. Are you seeking companionship, (non-sexual); a casual intimate connection, (fluid, no strings attached); or are you truly seek a life partner? Stand in your authenticity! Set your intention for that which you desire. But be clear of your intention.A client recently offered: “I want to be in a relationship so badly!” My response took him by surprise: “Why?” I asked.“What do you mean - why?” responded my client.I repeated the question and after a few back and forth insignificant answers, he uttered:“Because I don’t want to be alone anymore.” Once we got to that realization, we had something to work with.
We explored, visualized and discussed what his life would look like, if he weren’t alone. He mentioned that he could see himself traveling, volunteering, or maybe even taking the class; if, he knew that he had someone at home waiting for him. I asked if he was doing any of these things now and, of course, the answer was no. He had stopped living and when he stopped living, he stopped doing. He became isolated and disengaged from the world around him. So, I suggested something radical. “Stop looking and start doing!” I encouraged him to take a cruise and while on the cruise to take a class that inspired him. He did. The cruise offered a class for beginning Bridge players. He had not been at the table five minutes, when a gentleman approached and asked: “May I join this table?” They have now been together two years.Those of us over sixty who want to get into the dating pond, need to have a strategy. Below you’ll find a few strategies that I think will assist you as you commence dating once again:
1. Confront the Elephant in the Room. Love is beautiful the second, third or maybe even forth time around. But if you have a few broken heart experiences to contend with, fear may show up big time. When it does, remember the empowering words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do one thing each day that scars you!” What may scare you is the reality of your age. Yes, you are over sixty. This is your reality. Don’t deny it or pretend otherwise. Do not post a vintage photo of you at 25 years-of-age, or from 25 years ago, as your profile photo. Get a friend to take a nice upper torso photo. Put your best self forward. Wear your favorite shirt. Get a haircut. Trim your eyebrows. And SMILE! Yes, ageism does exist. Don’t pretend it doesn’t. Worried you aren't good-looking enough anymore? Who'd want you when there's some 24-year-old hottie turning everyone's heads at the gym? Don't even go there. Focus instead on being your best self, no matter what your age. And remember the attributes of empathy, humor, intelligence and compassion — are ageless.If you think you're too old for love or you stopped believing that you can find someone to love who'll love you back, think again. If you want to change your life, you must first change your mind!
2. Embrace What Is. Yes, you are over sixty. Yes, you can no longer drive at night. Yes, you used to sneak of the house to go to a party, but now you’ll sneak out of a party to get back to the comfort of your house. Whatever is your reality; embrace it. Our age is something we’ve earned; it’s not a punishment. Focus on what you’re grateful for and the gifts that life has bestowed upon you — rich friendships, accomplishments, survivor skills and wisdom. Your next romantic partner will benefit from all of that, and from your passion for the life that's in front of you.Yes, it's important to take care of your body and your health, but no need to obsess. Don’t talk about the medicines you take, the surgeries you’ve had, or the doctor’s appointments you have next week. Instead share about the walks you’ve taken, the TedTalk that inspired you and the trip you want to take. And if things do get intimate, know that your body is worth touching. In your twenties, it’s all about how sex “looks” and in your sixties, it’s all about how sex feels. Stop looking and start doing!
3. Keep it light, casual and in public! A first date brings on all the anxieties your imagination can bring forth so, keep it simple. Keep it causal and keep it public. Never, hear me when I say NEVER invite someone you have not met, to your home on the first date or meeting. It’s not safe, wise or even appropriate, unless you both happen to live in the same building. I even recommend that you set it up so that you have an easy out. “Hey, let’s grab coffee at the Starbucks on 4th! I have an hour or so – between appointments – Tuesday afternoon. Will that work?” And here’s a good “tell” a friend once mentioned to me. Get there early, grab your coffee and a table. Then greet your friend when they arrive. Tell them you’ll wait while they grab their coffee. If they do this with ease, things look good. If they don’t, then it’s a sign that they expected you to pay. My friend says, “You can see the end in the beginning if you look. If you must buy that first cup of coffee, then you’re going to be buying nearly everything else from that point forward.”Grindr isn’t necessarily the best place to seek a long-term relationship. Check out sites such as Match.com that can help you find long-term relationships versus flings or hookups. Create a profile that reflects who are you, what you want and again, include only recent photos. Don’t bemoan or go on and on about your past in your profile. Put the focus on “I’m single and ready to mingle” not, “I’m broken hearted, he did me wrong, and I don’t want to be alone.” Tell the truth about age, weight, location and relationship status. If you want a real relationship, then be real. Lying raises a serious red flag. Your date will wonder, "If he's not honest about his age, what other lies is he telling?"
4. Be self-aware, not rigid. Here’s the truth. You will only have one (1) true long-term relationship in your life. That is the relationship that you have with yourself. Honor that relationship. Others will as Iyanla Vanzant says, “People come into your life for a reason, season or lifetime.” But, it’s important to know, people will come, and some will go. That’s life.Life teaches us, self-awareness. When you know yourself better, you can quickly size up what you want in someone else. Maybe you're more careful on that first date and immediately nix a pointless second night out. You're quick to assess if your date wants the same level of relationship as you, whether that's casual or committed. You recognize dysfunction and mismatches faster now than you did when you were younger. Yeah! Be willing to say no thank you (with graciousness) faster. Just keep moving forward.Again, stop looking, and start doing. Or, in this case keep an open mind and try to expand your horizons. Chat with someone who isn't your "type" stretch your boundaries. Now it might be comforting to find a partner who can relate to your experiences and your politics as well as your collection of ABBA records.
5. Enjoy your own Company. Are you ready for a long-term relationship? Pop quiz: Look around your house or apartment right now. If Ms. or Mr. Right were to show up today, is there room for them? Start with the bed. Are the sheets clean and the blankets welcoming? What is all that crap on the “other-side” of the bed? Is there an empty shelf in the medicine cabinet? Is there even one empty drawer in the dresser? Here’s the real test: Have you removed all the “stuff” from your past relationship? You know what I’m talking about. His chair must go. If some of her clothes are still in the closet, they must go. If your house is a museum to what was, you’d never have room for someone new. Now, your home should reflect what you love and what is meaningful to you.Don't settle for anything less than shared values/lifestyle/goals. Accept that each bad date, gets you closer to the perfect date. Trust your intuition and have faith that if it’s meant to be – it will be. But most importantly, do not settle for any relationship that doesn't bring you happiness, companionship and love. Now get out there! You, got this! - Rev. Jack