New relationships later in life can be daunting. Whether you’re recently divorced or have lost your spouse, moving onto a new relationship can be stressful. If you decide the single life is for you – that’s alright. For those of us who desire a second lap (or third or fourth…- no judgement) here are four things to consider as we dip our toes back into the relationship pool.
First, you gotta get clear on YOU. Real love, in a successful relationship, requires honesty. The most important person to be honest with is yourself. Know who you are, what you want, and what you are not willing to compromise. Compromise you will; of course. Any relationship; significant other, friend, professional, etc. requires some level of compromise to be successful. The key is to find the right balance so you don’t feel you’ve lost yourself to someone else.
Not sure how you would know if you lost yourself to someone else? Be aware of some of the signs….
- You’ve stopped pursuing your own goals, given up on your passions.
- You find yourself giving in to your partner’s wants and desires and stop asking for what you want.
- You feel like you’re going through the motions of life with little joy.
- Binging Netflix? Drinking a bottle of wine? Emotional eating? You find yourself self-medicating to fill the void.
By no means is this list exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of what to pay attention to.
Stay positive. Show confidence. It’s sexy. Taking time to know yourself can help you stay positive. We’ve been in the pool a few times before and by this time have buckets of life experiences to draw upon. We’re able to rise above conflict. We know that the adage ‘This too shall pass’ is incredibly accurate. All of this can really boost our ability to stay positive and be confident.
If you need a little help in the confidence/positive department, start with some sweet self-talk. Compliment yourself. No, seriously… do it. Look in the mirror and throw your beautiful self some affirmation. It may sound silly but the act of saying positive words out loud forces your brain to think positively. It’s a start.
Play to your strengths. Lean into your weaknesses. By this stage in life, you know what they are (usually the yin and yang of each other – like ‘super organized’ and maybe a ‘little controlling’ or ‘assertive and powerful’ or sometimes ‘overly aggressive’). Now you can afford to skinny dip and bare it all. I’m not necessarily talking about stripping in the literal sense – (although that’s fun in relationships too) but in the emotional sense. It’s ok to show our vulnerabilities and share when someone has hurt us. We know we aren’t going to break – at least not permanently. Embrace the flaws and imperfections. Just like with the Japanese practice of Kintsugi, we too can flaunt our cracks and chinks.
Create and demand emotional safety. Let’s face it, aging can bring a bunch of anxiety provoking changes; health issues, weight gain, wrinkles. The list is long. We need to cope with our feelings towards these changes – whatever those feelings may be. The important thing here is that a healthy relationship gives both parties space to feel safe and trust that our partner will still be there. This safe space grows ever more important as we age – we just need one another more and have less time to course correct the further from shore we get. At 30 or 40something it is much easier to go it alone or walk away than it can be at 50 or 60something. Feeling safe and accepted in a relationship is critical at any age.
There’s a cost to any decision we make. Whether it’s to stay single and enjoy independence or look for someone with which to intimately share life, there are compromises. No one ‘gets it all’ – there’s no such thing. Swim in your own lane and enjoy the peaceful solitude or share your lane and get a life-time companion. But please remember, if you do decide to share your lane, be polite. When you swim pass, ease up on your kick. No one likes to choke down mouthfuls of someone else’s splash.