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Is it love or a fear of being alone?
I love the song by the 60’s group, “The Rascals” with the incredibly underrated lead singer Felix Cavalleri, “Lonely Too Long.” When I met a woman after a long hiatus from a relationship, I used to sing the lyrics to myself as I embarked on a first or second date. (Usually, I muttered home after the date, “Not Long Enough, I guess.”)
Relationships are challenging. Extended periods of loneliness perhaps even more so. This leaves most humankind in the Relationship Catch 22, often with no resolution in sight. Even as we gain insight, wisdom and maturity as we age, the Happy Love Relationship remains elusive.
How can you be sure?
Who is the next mate up and how long will it take to find someone else? The decision would be a lot easier if we knew the answer. Young people rightfully feel there are always more chances. Older adults are generally more reluctant and pessimistic about spinning the Dating Wheel, and getting out of something no longer satisfying.
Those age 50+ are also more vulnerable to feelings of isolation and depression, particularly those without a strong network of friends or family. These factors increase the likelihood that older partners in a committed relationship accept staying together in a loveless, often antagonist and unfulfilling arrangement. In addition to the physical and mental hardship of being alone, a “stigma” remains that singlehood also connotes “less desirable.”
The decision to forego involvement with a date that isn’t quite right or to break-up after too much adversity is bold at any age. If you are truly comfortable in your shell, the contention here is that you will make a better decision.
No one else completes you. If that’s your perspective, you are less likely to find someone who ultimately can make your life more fulfilling.
The happier alone, the happier In love
Realizing your limitations is part of the necessary self-awareness, along with the positive attributes you bring to a relationship. It’s just part of the work one needs to do when coming to terms with the reality of life alone. This work makes you more tolerant of everyone else’s shortcomings, including a potential partner.
No one else completes you. If that’s your perspective, you are less likely to find someone who ultimately can make your life more fulfilling. Go for the “loving partnership” thing, not the “Hail Mary” pass to make up for a life of disappointment.
What is your LTQ (Loneliness Tolerance Quotient)?
If you cannot stand being alone, and are already doing the work in therapy, congratulations and work harder. If you are still depressed, especially on weekends and holidays, when you fly solo because “the kids, retirement, golf, doctor’s appointments, or nights out with “the girls/the boys” is not doing it for you, you are vulnerable prey to your own trap.
Don’t interpret this feeling as a dire need for a companion, like a dog, but not necessarily a deeply loving human relationship. As the brave and bold see solitude as an opportunity to gain invaluable self-insight, many go no further than, “I’m too old to change. I’m bored. I need to be with someone.” This is a prescription for failure and may lead to settling for the wrong partner.
Maybe staying the course IS the right decision. But, the rationale for that should be finding the positives and coming to terms with the shortfalls. NOT fear of loneliness. Relationship fulfilment is important.
Stuck in the muck
The flip side of the aforementioned is the unfulfilling relationship. The inevitable refrain from its participants is, “I’m too old to start dating again.” You need to work on your LTQ while you are in the relationship, which is a much tougher thing to do, in order to save it. Maybe staying the course IS the right decision. But, the rationale for that should be finding the positives and coming to terms with the shortfalls. NOT fear of loneliness.
The positive side of later-in-life relationships
Think of the advantages. No ‘Build a Family’ or ‘Meet the Parents’ pressure. You are less likely to have marriage pressure, or to follow the same religion. Young adult relationships are replete with the perils of economic strain of starting a family along with high-hormone physical and ego gratification. By definition, a 50+ adult is forced to “live in the moment” because there are fewer moments left (melancholy, perhaps, but true). In reality, it’s EASIER to stay together not having to face these pressures all the while benefitting from past experience.
Is dating on the side- either with or without permission – okay?
What do you think? Once you are in a relationship you know won’t work and you don’t want to really try, plan your exit. Prepare for some “alone time”. On the other hand, to show you I’m not a boy scout, you would be foolish not to at least know there are other options, as long as you don’t openly solicit and date.
Procrastinators are Just Hurting Themselves
Once you make the decision in your own mind that you want out of the relationship, don’t look for a perfect day or time in the possibly distant future to do something about it. You may think of yourself as considerate of your partner, but if he/she is truly worthy of your consideration, stop living a lie. Don’t waste your time, which is “precious,” when you can not only date but also regroup and re-connect with yourself. Extend that same privilege to your partner.
Aging and Health
Obviously, health increases in importance as we age. I would not expect someone in their 80’s with significant physical limitations to make the same decision as someone in their early 50’s. It’s all the more reason to be selective and fulfilled in a relationship. We need more help and less hassle as we move through this journey.
The end goal? Relationship fulfilment.
Michael “The Onion Peeler” Lubell
Following an NYU MBA, Northwestern BA, a modest business career with practically record-setting job changes, Michael left the world of sales and marketing for the freelance creative side to write in 2018. No longer beholden to the whims and politics of the corporate world, he found solace and satisfaction writing for Next Avenue , Forbes, CyberParent, and other publications on subjects as diverse as Zoom Reunions, Bi-polarized Friendships, “Gigging”, and Hiring Prejudice and Obstacles.
He also works on B2B and B2C ad copy while working on his book chronicling his experiences pursuing his Dream Job as a Writer.