How should older singles face the dating scene in a world that has changed rapidly from the “old ways” to online dating relationships? What they should do to navigate this “strange new world”.
Are there any differences that should be considered when dating as an older adult?
There are now many adults who are 35+ that have never been married, or who are returning to single life after a divorce or death. While some things remain the same, there are many conditions that have changed in the world today. This is a topic that requires a book to properly answer all the ramifications, but allow me to address a few of them below:
1. Personal Standards change
a. Life when you were 16 to 20 years old was likely filled with great expectations. Things came relatively easily and you did not worry about tomorrow, and most certainly not today. During that stage of your life, your choices usually involved what you were going to do for the day – or even the next hour. You gave little thought about making decisions that would impact you for a lifetime. Taking risks was fun and if one thing (or relationship) did not work out, you hurt a little but moved on. There were many more options!
b. After rolling into your thirties, you suddenly see life as slipping past you. Seemingly, you do not have as many choices, and the ones that you have made have now turned out to not be such great ones.
c. These thoughts and realities cause you to change your standards. You are more particular in where you spend your time and in what you ‘put up with’. This certainly applies to your evaluation of others. Your more mature age allows you to foresee the consequences of certain patterns in others. By this age, you have spent several years building up a stockpile of considerations from your previous disappointments as well as the disappointments of others in your life that you have observed. The converse is true too. Perhaps some friends or family enjoyed great success in their relationships and you ‘grabbed’ their standards, etc. and have set them up to be goals for you – realistic or not.
2. Speed of communication has changed
a. Today, we can turn on a radio or TV and find out more than we need to know about the personal lives of so many others. Situations in our world are communicated to us at our desktops or on the hourly news. This communication is sometimes good, but what makes news is the unusual and being bad.
b. Personal communications have changed too. Many reading this article are doing so at their computers while on an Internet dating site (Long Distance Relationship). With a few strokes on a keyboard, a person can quickly communicate with another person, whom they have never met, and invite a connection in one form or another.
3. Gender roles have changed
Here I will quickly give away my age if I am not careful. (No big deal – I am 60). Women (fortunately in most cases) play a much more visible role in our society, in most countries. Women have rightly demanded a bigger role in our society and workplace. However, these changes have also generated confusion within the dating community. There is a mixture of those who have old fashion idea of what a man’s/woman’s role should be, while others are more demanding in their ‘rights’. Does a man open a door for a woman, or is that showing her that he thinks she is weak? Does a man pay for a meal, or is it shared? You guess wrong and the date can quickly turn sour.
4. Women in the church roles have changed
a. Women can now be found as Pastors and leaders in many congregations. I am hopeful that most women have found this a blessing and release, but I have some of these women writing to me saying that being in such leadership roles appears to intimidate men and they are not considered for dates.
b. Ministries like Joyce Meyer’s have visibly changed how many consider their roles in dating and marriage.
I know that I could go on, but the point that I would like to make is that our world has and is changing. As we become older, we cannot help but incorporate what has and is happening to us into our lives. When we were younger, it was easier to make a quick decision (even marriage) and go with it. The reality of what some have realized in bad marriages makes us more cautious.
What are you to do if you find yourself in this place?
- Do not rush into relationships just to find companionship, etc.
- Set out to build a healthy balance in your life – emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, financially, and physically. If I may, at 60 years of age, I am in better shape today (except financially) than I have ever been in my life – well since I was in my early 20’s. God has wonderfully made us and we CAN improve our condition.
- Build deep and meaningful friendships. I believe that these should first be with 1 or 2 other Christians of our own gender. The intimacy that comes from real buddies is vital and necessary to a healthy life.
- See a Christian counsellor. Speaking from personal experience, there may be ‘blockages’ within you that you are not aware of their negative impact. As you would not hesitate to see a medical doctor for a checkup, do so with a Christian counsellor.
- Watch where you place your focus and expectations. There is no one who can fully meet anyone of our FULL expectations. God IS the only one who can.
- Share your deepest desires and dreams with God. Hold Him to His promises.
- Set out to do the things you enjoy – doing them with the people you enjoy.
- I have saved one of the most important ones for last. Become an awesome person whom others want to be with! As we become older, we too often become hardened and bitter. Our mouth shouts out our misery and reveals that we are very unhappy people. Who wants to be with someone like this? Become who you want to be, and one that others want to be with. A wonderful way to find this is by doing volunteer work in your church or a local non-profit organization. Pools become stagnant if they do not have anyplace where their water to flow out to. Serve others and it invigorates you.
Be of good courage dear friend. Life is NOT over yet, and even with the challenges that EACH of us has, life is still filled with promise and hope. Wonder what God would desire for you?