There are a lot of people entering the dating arena. The big question is where are these suddenly single people coming from? People in their forties and fifties are divorcing in record numbers. A recent story on NPR highlighted the newest dating group, the fifty and up. The group most likely to divorce isn’t your younger couple, but people in their forties and fifties. Many marriages that last twenty years or more are dissolving.
Part of the reason is people are expecting to live into their eighties. With that in mind, many aren’t inclined to spend the next thirty years in a mediocre marriage. Most willingly admit that the children were the only thing that held them together. A few decades ago, only one in ten couples who divorced were in their forties or older. Now, it is one in four.
Part of the reason is that women are no longer tied to men financially. A woman who makes a good salary is more likely to leave than a housewife. Women seek the majority of divorces too. The children and settling down may have seemed like the woman’s initial dream, but many feel shortchanged by the time they hit forty and are considering new dreams. Unfortunately, the husband may not encourage the dreams because he’s happy with the status quo.
You have your first wave of possible dates. The droves of people seeking to restart their lives and those shocked into singleness by a spouse who left. It is best to date people at least six months after their divorce to prevent emotional fallout. It could be that you symbolize the missing spouse or the longed for dream. Either way it isn’t good.
Many who are back in the dating pool shy away from widows or widowers. The prospect of dating someone who was devoted to a deceased spouse is daunting. Often the left spouse uses dating as part of the grieving process, talking constantly about the deceased partner. This makes you little more than an unpaid therapist. It is almost like there are three people on the date. The other side of the coin is the angry widower who is eager to tell you that his marriage was teetering on the brink of divorce before his wife’s cancer diagnosis. Neither scenario is good, but worse is the man eager to replace his deceased mate. This comes from liking the benefits marriage provided. Don’t mistake this sudden rush to the altar for true love.
Then there is the single man or woman who never married. They’re the lone pair of shoes after a super markdown. Their excuse might be they were too busy building up their career to take out time for a relationship. Consider that almost all Fortune 500 members are married or divorced. The biggest giants of industry managed to fit in some time for romance. It could be that suddenly they’re desirous of a relationship unaware of what is involved. Think of the media version of a relationship, which consists of doing glamorous, sexy things all the time and looking good while doing them.
It could be they failed to commit, but enjoyed the idea of companionship. This will show up after a couple of dates if you make it to the dating stage. One comedian joked that he started, flirted, argued, made up, and ended relationships via text without ever meeting the woman in person.
While it is a funny punch line, it is too often true. The idea of having someone special or having someone at the other end of the text is enough for a surprising many. It is rather like the line of having a girlfriend in Canada. You can claim a significant other all you want if there is no chance of anyone meeting them. The prospect of meeting someone in person is frightening. Some hint they’re ready for a relationship, but never take that next step, the in the flesh. This is their issue, not yours.
In the end, you have hurting, often bitter people who were surprised by a divorce they didn’t initiate. You have hopeful people who did initiate the divorce in hopes of having that glamorous life style they see exemplified via advertising. You have your grief stricken widow or widower who will be rusty in the dating game. Then there is the confirmed bachelor who insists he or she is ready to settle down now. Any of them could be a great date, it just depends on where they are on life’s journey. Some are ready to date while others will never be ready to fully commit so keep this is mind.
Be realistic about your dates and do not give them qualities they do not have just to settle into a mediocre relationship. Another reason people are divorcing in records numbers in their middle years is that they refuse to settle for what isn’t working. They found themselves in such a relationship by marrying due to hormones, availability, and convenience. To meet someone who really clicks with you, you have to take chances and play the numbers game.
Meeting your perfect match at weddings, groceries, airports or the veterinarian is highly improbable. Dating is often like a research project. Many are willing to settle on their first reasonable date, thinking they found “the one.” Don’t make that mistake. People choose to withhold information while dating, which could be good or bad, but that’s another column.