It is Never Too Late : The Power of Love
Coche Herald Series 2014
originally posted sept 24, 2014 on capemaycountyherald.com
For the first four years after Morton died, Lorraine could not imagine being partnered to anyone except her husband of 52 years. But she did long for a man in her life , so, this year she gathered her courage and asked me about online dating. With encouragement from her women’s therapy group, she joined AARP Dating, an online site for educated adults seeking to meet single candidates for relationship staging. She also learned of HowAboutWe, an offline website supported by AARP which has attracted almost 60,000 users in the last year. Like many of her peers, Lorraine was not technology savvy. Instead of long online contact, candidates post messages for places to meet and chat. This seemed like real life to Lorraine.
Image by RF12
As is true for many seniors, online dating felt daunting. Unlike her younger counterparts, she felt clueless about what to do and how to think, So we coached to help her make sense of the whole situation. I had been single after widowhood before remarrying, and Lorraine appreciated my wisdom. She was comforted to learn that , according to AARP, 45 percent of adults 65 and older are divorced, separated or widowed. The 60-plus crowd represents the fastest-growing segment in online daters, as reported by Drs. Watson and Stelle, professors of gerontology at Bowling Green State University.
We reviewed basic etiquette for online. Lorraine quickly learned that many female candidates list themselves as younger to attract men their own age, Lorraine decided to reduce her age by 4 years and pondered the drive inside her that made her “stoop to dishonesty” to meet men. I reminded her that Dr. Fisher, the anthropologist who consults for Match.com and Chemsitry.com, tells us that love is THE basic human need, in our DNA, and necessary for survival. Finding a right partner seemed so important that she would go to the edge of her comfort. .
Lorraine asked how to “outsmart” the online dating traps that seemed to plague her single female friends. She reported that potential partners do not return calls after meeting, lie about other relationships they are having, and pride themselves on being smooth operators. How could she win over these odds? I told her about Peggy Wolman, a matchmaker and dating coach, who says, “ “It may not sound very romantic, but finding love is a numbers game. It’s all about increasing odds and being open to new possibilities.” I also informed her that the odds are slimmer because there are fewer senior men is the data bases. But Lorraine is attractive and charming and she is only interested in one partner. Her prospects are good if she learns the skills and perseveres.
Lorraine felt as awkward as she had 60 years earlier, when she began dating at 13. She wondered aloud about kissing a man goodnight, about calling for a date, about what to wear and what not to say. She asked about disease danger and how to prevent it. We reviewed topics to avoid in a first meeting, including extensive description of her beloved husband and her daily medications for chronic physical concerns. Greater self-disclosure could follow if wise. .
Lorraine became active in both Zumba and ballroom dancing at a local community center. Like so many men and women over age 60 she was interested in companionship and love rather than marriage. Her bouncy spirit attracted others, and she currently enjoys a full life with no exclusive partner. For her, this is fine for now, but she hopes for greater intimacy in her future
To keep her spirits high, I told her of Harold Spielman, 86, co-author of “Suddenly Solo: A Lifestyle Road Map for the Mature Widowed and Divorced Man,” which he wrote after becoming a widower. Trained in market research, he asked 1,600 men and women over 55 about their goals for love. More than 80 percent of both men and women listed sharing life experiences, past and future, as their reason for coupling. Coupling is as ageless as love.
Thrown inadvertently into widowhood, Lorraine is glad she has learned the life enhancing skill of meeting men and sizing up their relationship potential for her life. Love is crucial at all stages of life, is possible in old age: passion remains. Lorraine’s new found skills and companionship portend a bright future.
To consider: Whom do you know who is lonely and discouraged about meeting others? Might they benefit from awareness of these resources?
To read: Abby Ellin. Matchmakers Help Those Over 60 Handle Dating’s Risks and Rewards. March 28, 2014 , The New York Times.
Dr Judith Coche helps older single adults as well as families and couples, at The Coche Center, LLC in Stone Harbor and Rittenhouse Square. Join her at TEDx as she speaks about The Power of Love.