Welcome to an elite club!
I know, it may not be the club you expected to be in at this stage of your life, but it’s a varied and diverse group of people who have the opportunity to experience love in a new and exciting way. Dating in your fifties and sixties involves just about every stage of life you can think of: never married, divorced, with or without children, grandchildren, widowed, widowers. This gives you an opportunity to meet someone who has a similar relationship history, who can really understand what you have been through. Or, you my meet someone who gives you an opportunity to learn about a life story very different from your own. The key at this age in dating is to keep an open mind and a wise heart. At this point in life, you have earned the badge of maturity, as you likely have experienced great joy, overcome struggles, failed at some dreams, triumphed in the face of despair, and learned a whole lot about yourself and life.
As emotional and spiritual beings, we feel the pull at this age to create things that will outlive us. For some, this means having children or grandchildren. For others, it can mean creating positive change that impacts the world, through serving others and changing lives we may not know personally. It can come in the form of a well-developed spiritual life, where we know the only thing that eternally outlasts our bodily experience in this world is our relationship with our Creator in the next. Focus on our spiritual life can bring a sense of purpose and meaning, along with acceptance of all the changes and challenges of aging.
When we impact the world around us, and when we gain a higher sense of existence through a connection to the Trinity, we are blessed with the sense of usefulness and accomplishment. But when our lives have not reached beyond our own successes and failures, we can be left with a sense of stagnation and shallow involvement in the world. Dating is one way to “get out there,” but it can’t be the only way because of the obvious precarious nature of dating relationships. They may be here in the future, they may not. If you find yourself struggling with a sense of meaning and purpose in your life, then start with looking outside of your life. If you are dating at this age, your chances of finding a healthy dating relationship increase with the amount of connectedness to have to others and the wider community around you.
Another challenge is entering the dating world for the first time in a very long time. The rules have changed quite a bit since you were last dating. The way you communicate with potential dates (through the internet, Facebook, texting, etc) may feel much less personal. You may find that dating has become more casual then you remember, and it can be hard to read intentions. My advice would be to talk to others, both your age and older, that have been dating for a while. Learn what is considered appropriate, in terms of how to communicate with new dates and how frequently. But above all else, live true to your values. If you want to limit physical contact, then tell your date. If you want to travel with a companion but don’t want to share a room, then still take the trip but structure it so you feel relaxed and comfortable. At this stage, it’s all about making dating work for you.
And finally, be sure to share your wisdom. Younger listeners can learn a lot about how to avoid the painful missteps of, and in telling your story you can learn how to reach out to others. Sharing parts of who you are and your journey this far should occur naturally in dating, and your community and your church can also benefit from being connected to you. Your background, in business, or education, engineering, or the arts, in being a parent or a good friend can greatly help your parish. You have earned the right to look back on your life with a sense of fulfillment, while at the same time there are new experiences, lessons of life, and renewal available to you. As your craft your life in ways that you may have been waiting a long time to do, you have so much more to share with a potential date, and with the Body of Christ around you.