This has been a giant learning curve for me over the last few years. I was married 17 years before it broke up. But, I am also 17 years older and the world is also 17 years older. More things have changed than just how we meet people, we have changed.
Attraction in your 20’s v in your 50’s
When I first decided to rejoin the dating scene again, I asked myself what was it that I was looking for in a man? I tried to compare this to my 20 year old self, pre marriage, when back then, looks attract, then we get to know someone afterwards. It is almost the other way around this time.
I have asked this question to a few men post 40, and they have all given me the same answer – personal characteristics are more important. I was new to this game so I could not understand at first how this could be so.
When I explored this on a personal level a bit more, I began to understand.
In our 20’s, we are young, not much life has passed under our bridge and we are not even sure what we want for ourselves, never mind what we want out of life or relationships.
In my 50’s, I started with what I absolutely did NOT want. This was deduced from lessons learned from failed relationships and life choices. So, then I asked myself what was it I DID want. It was only then, did I realise that actually looks do not really matter at all. My list was comprised of personal values and beliefs, not looks.
If I examine this further, that is not strictly true. I do have some physical looks related boundaries that I would always put in place, but these are related to my life values, not just physical looks.
For example: how thin or fat you are doesn’t bother me at all. But, if you are obese because you are sedentary and do not look after your own health or value fitness and exercise, the latter are important elements in my own life, which would clash with someone who does not have these values.
Physical and emotional connections: relationships in your 50’s
I struggle to look at an image of a man and say whether they are attractive or not. Equally the same would go for a man I met online but did not yet know as a person.
I think the reason for this is that right now, for me, an emotional connection with someone who’s personality characteristics attract me is more important than anything physical.
To add to this, my physical attraction to someone can change based on my emotional attraction / connection with them.
What I mean here is I can find someone more physically attractive after I have made that emotional bond with them.
This was definitely not the case when I was younger.
Getting to know them, baggage and all.
This is a totally different experience later in life. Your prospective partners have lived more of their life without you. They have families, likely connections to ex partners, and you cannot expect to be the centre of their world like you might in your younger years.
You have to fitness into theirs, they have to fit into yours, this makes for a completely different relationship experience in your later years.
You cannot expect your prospective partner to change to fit with you. Too much life has passed under the bridge for that. That alone makes fitting this jigsaw puzzle together instantly way harder.
Physical aspects of relationships later in your life.
I don’t see why we should rate this with any less importance than we might have earlier in life. BUT, this can benefit from life experience. A range of partners, a range of different experiences and outlooks. You will now now with much more clarity what you need and want from this element of your relationship. And, you might just be in a better position now to make sure this is better this time around.
BUT… it is not the be all and end all. Relationships are much richer experiences that that. Multi faceted many levelled.
Yes, I believe the person you are looking for IS out there. You just might have to look a bit harder this time, and in different places to where you might have looked last time around.
One thought on “Dating again after marriage: how everything has changed, including you.”
Thanks for writing your blog. It’s been included in our blog post on our favorite Autistic blogs.