As you age the dating scene changes dramatically. In your twenties casually dating and hookups may be your only goal. However, the older you get the more your expectations change. You may be looking for a more serious relationship or a long term partner.
Expectations for your significant other will change and evolve over time as well. Just like every other aspect in life, there can be difficulties in senior dating.
Everyone knows that, but how can these be solved? In this article we will go through all of the problems that these relationships can face and how to work through them both on an individual basis and as partners.
Expectations as a Senior
Dating when you’re younger is far more casual and has far fewer expectations than when you’re a senior. Older adults face more challenges than younger adults. For instance older adults can expect prospective partners to have their life more put together than, say, a 21 year old. Between previous long term relationships, children, and widow(er)s, dating becomes far more complex as a senior. After all, older generations see dating far differently than millennials or generation X’ers. For the younger generation hookup culture permeates into every aspect of dating.
For seniors, dates, relationships, and partners are taken far more seriously and the goal tends to be traditional marriages or homes. Some seniors may be hesitant to even start online dating, especially since many popular dating sites seem to cater to a younger crowd and have sexual connotations. This simply isn’t the case for all dating sites, in fact many cater to older people or those looking for long term relationships. For example Match.com is a simple, easy to use, dating site that has 48% of it’s members between 30-49 years old and 26% of it’s members older than 50 years old. This is just one example, but there is a plethora of sites out there that are just senior friendly and easy to use.
So, before you write off online dating as a younger persons game, remember that makers of different dating sites across the internet have not forgotten the older generations and many cater specifically to them.
Common Problems Seniors Have When Dating
As stated earlier seniors face more and different issues than those their junior. Some common issues that affect senior relationships may be money, sex, parenting, and children. These can affect people of any age, however they’re more likely to affect seniors as they have lived longer and have had more opportunities to have raised a family, save money, and go through dramatic life changes.
Money can affect any relationship, but as you age expectations about income, savings, debt, etc. may also change. Older adults tend to have the expectation that potential partners have their finances well managed and sufficient for their lifestyle. When seniors enter a long term relationship with someone who’s financial life or expectations are significantly different than their own, problems tend to arise. If your partner has a large amount of debt, much lower savings, or a tiny retirement fund, this can complicate the relationship. If you marry someone you potentially marry their debt too. Of course there are options to deal with this which will be covered later in the article.
Sex is also a common issue with older adults. As your mind and body grow and change, your libido fluctuates with it. There is no “normal” way for libido to ebb and flow, so even seniors of the same age may be at different places with it. If one partner has a bigger desire for physical intimacy and the other doesn’t, one partner may start to feel neglected and hurt. While physical intimacy is not everything, and means different things to different people. Some people may place a large significance on physical touch and intimacy, while others may be more or less indifferent about it. It is a common problem in many relationships, and is nothing to be ashamed about.
The last common problem worth mentioning is children and parenting. Seniors have lived a lot of life and are more likely to have children. Some of the problems that may arise could be adult children who dislike their mother/father dating other people and try to interfere or become distant with their parent, a partner who has minor children and has a different parenting style than you, or even a partner who is worried about you having children or your parenting style. Many adult children whose parents are no longer together feel worried or hurt when a parent starts dating again, especially if you’re the first person their parent dates after a separation. Many work through those feelings in a healthy way, but a few take it out on their parent or their parents new partner.
Having adult children or a partner with adult children can make dating as a senior that much more complicated. Some older adults still have minor children, if their parenting style is far more strict or far more relaxed than your own, conflict can arise. Finally, if you have children, and your partner doesn’t, they may be worried about how their life or dating dynamic may change when a child is suddenly in the picture.
9 Ways To Heal & Repair Your Relationship As A Senior
With all these problems presented you may be worried about how these can possibly be solved. These tips are general and fairly nonspecific, but they can be applied to basically every relationship.
These are good for both healing your broken or rocky relationship, and for keeping up the foundation is a healthy relationship. While some of these problems need to be addressed in a personal way, these tips can get those conversations started and maybe even heal the wounds of a broken relationship.
If you have a problem, say something! Bottling up your emotions, expressing them in veiled comments, or using passive aggression will get you nowhere. When you are experiencing something hurtful, angering, or sad in your relationship, the first step to healing is letting your partner know exactly what is going on and how you feel about it. If your partner doesn’t know what’s wrong they can not be expected to fix it.
Once you’ve explained how you’re feeling and why, the next step is to listen to your partner. Maybe they have a valid explanation or solution to the problem. After all, two heads are better than one. They may see a situation in a way you never thought of and the only way to find that out is to really listen to them. The key to really listening is not listening to respond to rebutte what they say, but to really hear and understand what they say and to help them process what they’re feeling.
3. Be willing to compromise
Everyone knows that life will not always be peaches and cream. Sometimes you have to be willing to win some and lose some. If your partner is asking that you try to spend more time with him while he works on being really present when you’re actually around, that’s a healthy compromise and you both get a little bit of what you want. Now, that’s not to say you have to give up your core beliefs or values. This is only to say that you must be willing to understand and accept that your partner may not be able to give you every single thing you ask for.
4. Talk about money
Talking about money or finances may be seen as a taboo, but in a serious long term relationship, it is a necessity. No one wants to be seriously invested in a relationship for years only to find out your partner is drowning in debt with no plan to get out. So, talk about what your financial expectations are, be clear about how you plan to live in the future and what your lifestyle entails. This doesn’t mean you need to go around flaunting your cash or share your bank account information with your partner, just being clear and concise about how you currently live and your future expectations is enough.
5. Integrate their children into your life slowly
Whether the children are adults or minors, no child wants to meet a parade of their parents dates. Wait to meet their children, or them to meet yours, until you know the relationship is serious and long term. It is not recommended to be introduced to their kids on the first date.
6. Try to connect with their kids
Once you meet their children they may be hesitant about a new man or woman in their life. Try to connect with them on their level, wherever they may be. Especially if they’re teenagers or adults, understand that you are not their mom/dad (though you may one day be a step parent). It isn’t recommended to involve yourself in family conflict and try to initially keep interactions with them cordial and light.
7. Talk about physical intimacy expectations
You can’t expect your partner to be a psychic. If your love language is physical touch, they need to know! Express your feelings about what kind of physical intimacy you enjoy, and what you don’t. Communication, especially in this area, is key.
8. Be willing to try new things
Does your partner enjoy camping and you’re more of a city person? Or maybe they love amusement parks and thrilling rides and you would rather just sit at home with a good book. This harkens back to compromise. You can always do what you want to do, but be willing to try and engage in the things that they are interested in.
No one wants a partner that they have to drag to things they want to do and have them complain the whole time, or worse yet, not come at all. Broaden your horizons, maybe they’ll introduce you to something that you really enjoy. Even if you try their hobbies and don’t necessarily enjoy it, you can always support them in what they do and be willing to do the things they like with them.
9. Stay true to YOU
No matter what you do both within and outside of your relationship(s), always stay true to yourself and never compromise what makes you, you. You’re relationships may come and go, but you’ll always have yourself. Be willing to be flexible, but your core beliefs and personality should always be genuine to your true self.
Senior dating can be totally different from when you were young. Between kids, finances, and intimacy changes things get more complex. But, it’s not a bad thing! Life is all about change and personal evolution. Dating as an older adult can be just as fun and exciting as it was when you were young, if not more so! Be willing to try new things, maybe make an online dating profile, or go out with your new date to a nice restaurant. Whatever you decide to do stay true to you and make the most of your dating adventure. Enjoy the trip, it can be just as fun as the destination.