Linda Saxy

Author (A.K.A. Linda Bolton)

Tag: dating after 40

To Fall In Love

Does everyone want to be in love? What about marriage? Does everyone want to be married?

I look back to my dating days in my early twenties. Yes, love and marriage were very important to me, to all of my girlfriends. I remember how dating went (yes, it was a long time ago but I do still remember): we’d meet, go on a date or two or three, I wanted a relationship, he didn’t.  I have surveyed friends from back then and they remember it similarly.  Most of the guys were not that interested in having a monogamous relationship or ready to get married. 
Flip the calendar twenty-five to thirty years in the future. Same friends surveyed…men are more interested in a monogamous relationship and marriage than women around the same age. Why is that? Why the switch? I have a theory.
When men are twenty the world is their oyster: they are young, have all the vim and vigor (yes, I said vim and vigor) and they know they are studs. Women, on the other hand, are looking for safety and security for their future, marriage being the answer. But when women reach their mid-forties, they have careers, learned they can support themselves and live independently. Men, on the other hand, seem to begin to want the safety and security of not living alone in their later years. 
I’m not saying any of this is wrong, its just interesting and totally explains why young women marry older men and why cougar women date young men. Obviously, we have all known couples that married young and grew old together.  I don’t mean to imply this to “all” men or women, but I have noticed it quite a bit.  Look back at your younger dating years.  What do you remember? What about now? Are you single or have single friends? Are you looking for love?

Baggage

One of the greatest challenges I have found in dating over forty is the baggage everyone carries with them. How does your baggage affect your life and choices?

You might be thinking to yourself, “I don’t have any baggage” or “My baggage isn’t affecting my dating life”. Are you lying to yourself? Of course you are! We all have baggage. It directly reflects the choices we make in our relationships. Think about it…How many times do you compare someone to your past relationships? How many times does a response you make to a situation remind you of ‘old times’? Is your baggage holding you back? Is fear of repeating the past keeping you from going forward? How do we get out of this rut?

I know I have been asked many times what do I want…out of life, in a relationship, for my future. I always look back and compare it to my past. This is what I don’t want, this is what I’d like to have, etc. How particular am I? Do I honestly know what I want? Are my decisions based on my baggage?

I have a dear friend who loves telling allegories:

You’re standing on a river bank. The water is rushing past you. A bear is coming to eat you. You can’t swim, but there’s a floatie on the bank. Its not a new floatie. It has a few patches but looks sturdy. Which do you choose? The bear (fear of the future) or the raging river (life and a future) with a slightly used floatie (a friend) to assist you?

You may think the answer is obvious but if you have very heavy baggage from your past the choice may be difficult to make. Do you trust the floatie to get you through? Have you ever had a floatie you can depend on? Or do yo let the bear eat you to avoid a possibility of drowning? What if the floatie is exactly what you needed and the ride down the river ends up being fun? Which do you choose? The choice is yours.

Can A Marriage Last Over Twenty Years?

Newlyweds are always so happy and in love. They’ll do anything for each other and love being around one another. What makes them change after twenty years of marriage?

You know what I mean…we’ve all have seen it. The couple that meets in high school or college, gets married and lives happily ever after…NOT! What happens? I see it all the time. I can’t tell you how many friends I have that have been married 20+ years, divorce, or cheat on one another. What causes this shift from “You’re the only one for me” to “I don’t find you attractive anymore” or “Can you hurry up and get this over with”?

I know down the road in our marriages we become grown-ups, with grown-up stress. We all know how difficult it is to take care of the kids, work 40+ hours a week, get the car fixed, buy a new air conditioner and still love to be around each other. But is that couple still in love? Can they find romance after the kids go to bed? When you’ve gained 30, 50 or more pounds will they still find you attractive? When the wrinkles and grey hair (or lack of hair) arrive, do they still kiss you?

I’ve talked to many friends in this situation.  When your spouse says they don’t find you attractive anymore because you’ve gained too much weight or lost your hair, what do you do? When you feel like you have nothing in common and rarely do anything together anymore, how do you change it? How do you get back what you had?

I do have one friend that had empty nest. She and her spouse struggled. They came to the realization that it was going to take a lot of work to keep their marriage together.  So, how committed are you? Do you truly love your spouse? Are you looking at them and thinking how you really want to make it another 20+ years? Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to find out if your spouse is as committed as you are.  What happens if they aren’t? That’s a bridge you may have to cross, but if you’re already unhappy, you’re already at the entrance. It can’t hurt to find out if your spouse feels the same as you do. If they do, work on it, with all your heart and soul, like you did when you dated years ago. If they don’t….      

Dating After 40

I have been asked a few times recently if I thought dating later in life was any different that in our teens/twenty-somethings? I asked a few friends and this is what I came up with.

Basically, even though we are older, dating is the same.  The major difference is baggage. The baggage each person brings to a new relationship.

Baggage, you ask? What about being more upfront with our intentions? What about honestly and less fear at stating true desires? Ok, I’ll give you that. Some are experiencing that, however, its our baggage that has brought us to that point. The totes, duffle bags and trunks from past relationships.

By baggage I mean the hurt feelings, guilt and poor self-image. The trunks full of Dickens’ ghosts from Christmas’ past.  I’ve seen new relationships start and end quickly due to misunderstandings brought on by a memory from a bad past. I’ve seen relationships stall due to a fear that they will go bad. I’ve seen some sabotaged a great friendship because of wrong expectations. That trunk that is dragged from relationship to relationship, only opened to add more to it, not clean it out.

How is a relationship to blossom if baggage is in the way? Let’s go back to honesty.  Sharing your baggage with close trusted friends is a start. Having them help you work through your fears.  Deciding from the start that a repeat of the past relationship isn’t an option.  Patience on the part of both parties is the only way a relationship can flourish.  I think we all agree that life is short and we shouldn’t let great people slip though our fingers.  How we can keep them close, despite our baggage, is the challenge.  Losing our fear of opening those trunks and letting the ghosts out is the greatest challenge but provides the greatest reward.

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