by Pat Nowak
February is a month when many people feel the sting of being alone. Widowed at 47, with Valentine’s Day falling just fifteen days after the death of my husband, I felt overwhelmed and sad, fearing that I would never again feel the butterflies from a bouquet of flowers arriving at my office.
When I began dating a couple of years later, I was in for a culture shock. It felt like I was reliving my teenage years, only the rules had changed, and I missed that class. Through trial and error (and often a lot of laughs) I learned some valuable lessons to provide assistance in traversing the dating scene.
You will not get the perfect mate on the first try.
Over 50, most people are carrying baggage: a failed marriage, children or parents that they are caring for, or financial or emotional issues. So relax, and keep your hopes and optimism as realistic as possible.
Don’t Plan a Future on the First Date.
Many people want to believe in romance and ‘happily ever after’, and that is wonderful. However, breathing the words “The One” in the first couple of weeks is a recipe for disaster. The older you are, the longer it takes to unpack the baggage, often up to a year or two. Taking it slow allows you to focus on getting to know someone and having fun. Once you trust that you are making the right decision, then you can plan for a lifetime of bliss.
Make sure you ask the right questions.
Everyone would love to meet the man or woman of their dreams, but the reality is, it might not happen. Be bold when you ask questions so you can piece together a picture of who you are really dating. Ask about previous relationships, finances, personal preferences in lifestyle and children or grandchildren. You need to delve into who the person really is and how he/she might fit into your life.
Don’t bring in friends or family too soon.
Allow the relationship to go through an exploratory phase before adding your friends and family. Often they will have opinions — pro or con — on your new interest. You need to consider if the person is right for you, without interference. That doesn’t mean you can’t use your friends as a sounding board if you need some dating advice, just don’t bring on the firing squad too soon.
Be okay with walking away
No, relationships aren’t easy for anyone, especially those over 50, and if there is uncertainty it is time to cut your losses to avoid making a lifelong mistake. Trust that there will be other candidates that will suit you better and become your perfect fit.
Thinking of using a dating site?
This report from ConsumerAffairs will help you sift through all the options and decide which is the best site.
Pat Nowak is the author of The ABC’s of Widowhood for those undergoing a loss from a death or divorce and the editor of MLiving Magazine.