If you’re single and over 50, chances are you’ve had a love or two in your life. Maybe they were there for several decades of milestones (marriage, kids, a paid-off mortgage). Maybe they were a brief fling whose spark still lights up dim memories. Either way, that kind of passion is all in your past now, a game made for younger people (ones with more energy and less grey hair). Right? We say no! Falling in crazy, stupid love after 50 can and does happen.
Yes, Cupid can come calling at any time. Even better, those who’ve experienced falling in love after 50 say that, far from being a consolation prize, it might even be the best love of all. Here’s why finding love in your fifties (or beyond) can feel like magic.
When you’re younger, falling in love comes with a big side of expectations, both internal and external. You have plans for your relationship, as does your partner – and so does your mother in law, your best friend, your sister, and so many others. You’re not married? People will ask what the delay is. No kids? They’ll want to know your plans for them too. Got kids? Well, when are you having more? The pressure to live up to predetermined relationship milestones can be intense.
Falling in love after 50 is a welcome break from all that. By the time you hit 50, the babies question has (most likely) been well and truly answered. Most 50+ singles will also be dating after divorce or similar; meaning that marriage has suddenly become much less of A Big Deal. It’s still an option perhaps, but this time only if it’s really wanted. Even the pressure from friends and family can be lighter: they’ve seen you settle down before, and this time around they just want you to be happy.
All of that means that a new love between two 50+ partners has room to breathe. Without a laundry list of society-approved milestones to hit, older couples are free to set their own pace. And that can make a relationship blossom, leading to a love like no other.
While in your teens, or twenties, or even thirties, you may have put yourself second when it came to relationships – caving and compromising and accepting all sorts of bad behavior because you didn’t know that love could be any different, or that you were worth so very much more.
Yet, something wonderful happens by the time you hit your fifties: you find you’ve tucked away a fair amount of experience in life and love. And this gives you the wisdom and the strength to stand your ground and not accept any relationship games that make you unhappy. You have learned what you want from love, what you can give, and how to talk those feelings through, and the combination means that you can go about falling in love after 50 with eyes and heart wide open.
The confidence to know yourself and to talk about what you want isn’t just emotional. Singles over 50 often experience a bloom in physical assurance as well. You realize that life is simply too short to be inhibited and that embracing your sexual confidence means embracing joy. As Life Coach, Deb Boulanger told YourTango: “I make no apologies for seeking pleasure or giving it…Sex is a divine right and can even be a spiritual practice that brings you to new dimensions if you allow it to.”
You meet someone new, and you get on famously, and there’s light and laughter and love. One day, the two of you are sitting in companionable silence, at opposite ends of the sofa, both deeply engrossed in your books. And you realize that, even though this is far from a dramatically romantic moment, you’re awash with so much contentment, it’s tipping into bliss. The movies can keep their kisses in the rain, and their airport dashes – small, magic moments like this are far richer.
In your youth, you may have felt like contentment was another word for dull, and dreamed about a more exciting partner who filled your days with a wild, fiery passion. Or maybe you took the gentle moments for granted, assuming that they happened in every relationship, all the time. By the time you’re in your fifties, however, you know that you shouldn’t take anything for granted and that these little, perfect, contented moments are rare and precious. You learn that, when you find consummate love, you need to appreciate it. Falling in love over 50 teaches you to be giddily grateful for the fact that you found each other – and that’s a truly beautiful lesson to learn.
Divorcing because you ‘grew apart’ is common almost to the point of cliché. Yet, that phrasing doesn’t really sum up the problem at the heart of the situation. Writing for Next Avenue, Larry Calat puts it much better when he writes: “it wasn’t that we had grown apart so much as it was that we had grown into the people we really are.”
He and his first wife fell in love young – in their early and mid-twenties respectively – and, while their love was real, he says that the people they were at 25 couldn’t imagine the people they’d be at 55. They ended up being different from how they started and needed a different kind of love. As stories go, this one seems all too common.
While it’s never easy to say goodbye to a first love, the truth is that sometimes you need to let go of what no longer works to discover what does. And falling in love after 50 can really, really work, as it gives you a magical chance to find someone who adores the grown, mature version of you.
It happened to Larry Calat. As a single man over 50, he ended up meeting someone and his words about his new love are nothing short of inspiring: “The best way I can describe it is that it feels at once effortless and rock-solid, unbearably light with unfathomable depth, surprising yet richly deserved, like we first met and have known each other forever, which again is the circuitous way of saying that it rocks to be this old.”