Amore: Love, Dating, and Relationships in Later Life

Love ? I love love love you.

Love ? I love love love you. (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

By Denise Scruggs & Cathie Eagle, Lynchburg College

“There is only one happiness in life—to love and to be loved,” according to French novelist, George Sand.  Numerous studies spanning over 100 years have supported the emotional benefits of marriage and love and gone further to link love, marriage, and positive relationships to good health and longevity. As we get older, however, feelings of inadequacy in sex and relationships can be difficult. To feel loved is unlike any other feeling, as it validates us a human being, man or woman.

When in love, our days seem a little brighter and we feel differently than we normally do. We experience joy, exhilaration, and attraction.  We enjoy the warmth of our partner’s presence, even when they are miles away.

The physical side of love is also positive. Holding hands, kissing, giving a hug, or having sex, are good for our emotional and physical health. Aging doesn’t change these benefits. In fact, we are wiser and have more experience in love and life, so romance and love will be more fulfilling.

We are never too old to fall in love, to marry, or to enjoy the health benefits of love. Take eighty seven year old, Frank Foskett, and seventy five year old, Virginia Hailey, for example. After meeting over bingo in a Plymouth nursing home, they were married. They are part of a growing trend of couples falling in love then marrying or living together later in life.  What used to be considered “taboo” in our society, is now welcomed as people are starting to live healthier, more active, and longer lives.

Unfortunately, as we age, our relationships can change significantly. We may find ourselves unexpectedly widowed or divorced. If we are single, we may find that our social support group has dissolved.   Our friends die, some become more frail and move into nursing homes, while others move to be closer to their children.

Whatever the cause, we may find ourselves alone, feeling lonely, depressed and unsatisfied. We may feel something’s missing in our life, and want to seek out the love and friendship of others to fill this void. To do this, we may find ourselves on the dating scene at sixty or seventy years of age. Thinking about having a new relationship can be really scary, but everyone at every age experiences these emotions. Take a chance and reach out or let someone else reach out to you.

Unfortunately, the dating scene we find ourselves in now is very different than it used to be and it’s a lot more complicated. The unofficial “rules” of dating, the expectations, and “how” we date has changed significantly. We now have to worry more about personal safety. We even have speed dating and internet dating.

Sexuality can become an issue when we start dating again. While we may no longer need to worry about pregnancy, we do need to take precautions against STD’s.  It is still our responsibility to keep our bodies healthy and safe.

Family squabbles can also add to the complexities of dating and marriage in later life. Grown children may believe we are too old to date, they may worry about our being taken advantage of, or they may find it hard for them to see their “mom” or “dad” with someone else. They may even worry about losing their inheritance. If we remarry, we may have to deal with angry step-children, who are worried about losing their parent’s affection. The key to preventing these squabbles is to talk with our older children and keep the lines of communication open.
While there may be some challenges to finding love in later life, none are insurmountable. So when you decide you are ready to date again, there are a number of “safe” ways to meet others including:

  • Volunteer, it is a great way to help others while meeting new people.
  • Join a club or organization to find others with interests similar to yours.
  • Take a class at the local college or parks and recreation department.
  • Travel. There are a number opportunities offered through travel agencies.
  • Take care of yourself and learn to like your own company. If you feel good about yourself, and maintain a positive attitude others will be drawn to you.
  • Reconnect with old friends and family members.
  • Participate in church and community activities.

Most of all remember, you are never too old to make new friends, to fall in love, to date, or to marry. While you may still need to kiss a few “toads” before finding your prince or princess, the end result makes it worthwhile. What is the worst that could happen? You have fun and you meet new friends…

Enhanced by Zemanta