We are not the same person we were all those years ago when we were in our teens and twenties, even our thirties. What mattered to us then was not the same things as what we want now.

“Here I am — older and having to get back into dating again. You don’t know how bad it is out there.”

This is probably one of the most common issues when it comes to thinking about relationships. And it’s not one limited to those over fifty.

But if we’ve been married for years, or in another type of committed relationship, the end of that by death, divorce, or breaking up, throws the normal human being out in what looks like a cold, cruel, world again. Listening to those who’ve ended up there seems to confirm it.

And if we’ve been out of the dating season for quite a long time, a lot has changed. Facebook and on-line meet-up sites have replaced the bar. Social media has replaced social clubs.

And how often do we hear: “All the good ones are taken” or “You don’t know how many losers are out there.“

So, how does someone meet the right person? How does someone find anyone with whom to share what can be the best years of ones life?

Let’s face some of the facts.

We are not the same person we were all those years ago when we were in our teens and twenties, even our thirties. What mattered to us then was not the same things as what we want now.

We want stability, self-confidence, caring, friendship, and unselfishness. We want someone who will share what we love and even share our passions in life.
We’re in this for the long-term. We don’t have forever, as we see it, though. So we can easily get desperate.

Those we meet can sense the feeling that we’re in a hurry. It doesn’t look attractive. It makes us do things we wouldn’t do if we were in touch with ourselves.

We no longer want to put on an act to lure someone to date us. Why would we ever want to partner with someone who doesn’t appreciate who we really are?

We still want to present our best selves to those we meet, but that now means we don’t want to play all the games we thought were necessary. All that is not worth the façade and effort it takes to put on that front.

So, how do we jump in?

We start by putting ourselves first, not the search for someone else.

We do the things that are fun for us because we enjoy them, not because we’re searching around for those things that will attract others.

In other words, we begin by living our single lives boldly. We do get out of the house, to join groups that express our passions.

This means we might have to sit down again and think about what we really like to do. We might have to admit that our past relationships might actually have kept us from living our passions.

If we had no other obligations, including the NEED to find someone, how would we live our lives? What would we do to thrive?

Bowling? Mystery reading groups? Traveling to Antarctica? Political involvement? Religious activity? Helping children learn to read in a local school? Going back for another degree? Raising money for a charity? What is it?

It will be in these activities that we will meet people who share our values and interests. It seldom ever was in bars and social encounters. We can easily forget how lonely most of that was.

The “worst” that can happen when we start with ourselves is that we have begun to live our own lives again fully, and as a result we find no one to partner with. We’ve only found like-minded friends and are living our passions.

But is that really the worst thing that can happen? Only if we aren’t doing what we love either way.

Contributed by

Bob Minor

University of Kansas
Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies
A national resource for information on gender issues and gay/straight relationships for organizations, businesses, educational institutions, and media outlets such as NBC and USA Today, Bob Minor, Ph.D. …

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