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Dating After 50: Ten Signs of a Solid Relationship

One of the biggest worries new daters over 50 have is that they'll pick the wrong person to get involved with. This may not be an unwarranted concern. You may have been married to or in a committed relationship with someone who was very wrong for you, or perhaps other initial tries at dating have been disappointing or even disastrous.

You may only see the best in people, or perhaps your hormones make decisions for you more often than your brain does. If someone is selfish or dishonest, hints about his real character start to surface. The important thing, however, is that you recognize them when they do.

But you're not just looking for evidence of fatal flaws. You're also looking at whether the person you're dating treats you the way you should be treated — with affection, respect, interest, and sensitivity. In simple terms, does this person have sound character and good partnership skills?

To help you figure this out, this chapter presents ten major characteristics and cues to observe that will help you see who you're dealing with and what your relationship is really like. If your date fulfills the qualities on the following list, he's probably worthy of your time and your affection.

Your date is always or almost always on time

It seems like a small thing, but not being on time really says quite a bit about a person. Punctuality shows respect for you and your time. People who are almost always on time generally have their act together in a number of areas.

Your date’s relationships with family and friends are warm and intact

Sure, some people get a raw deal, and their family includes people to stay away from rather than embrace. Sadly, many people bear scars from a disastrous upbringing and damaged family.

Be cautious about someone who doesn't talk to her siblings, parents, or any extended family. If she's cool and distant, take that as a warning, but if she's in tumultuous conflict, take that as a sign that you may be in that same kind of situation with her someday.

Your date tells you how much you mean to him

You should feel adored. It may be too early to ask for love; indeed, be wary of someone who immediately says he loves you. People who do that tend to fall in love with being in love and fall out of love just as easily.

A relationship that's progressing well, on the other hand, should be full of compliments, affection, and maybe a “I think I could love you,” but with some caution on those words — especially if they come in the aftermath of a great day or great sex, where blissful feelings are elevated but not necessarily permanent.

Your date notices when you’re unhappy and wants to help

It's important to have a partner who's compassionate. You have the right to expect a partner whom you can count on for support and comfort when you have a run of bad luck, screw something up, or face a difficult health situation.

Perhaps you had an unsupportive partner in the past, and that's what you're used to in an intimate relationship. But you can break that cycle now and only invest in someone who has the capacity to love you in both the good and bad times.

Your date doesn’t get jealous

Healthy, reasonable people don't tend to get jealous. They're secure in their relationship, and they don't wonder about where you are every second of the day. They don't jump to conclusions about your opposite-sex friendships, and they certainly don't forbid you to have them.

If they do, you're dealing with an insecure person, and insecure people can get angry and even physically or verbally abusive when they think they may be losing the person they're with.

Your date thinks of ways to please you

People want someone who loves them enough to think about how to make them happy. You want the guy who passes a flower shop and remembers that you love fresh-cut daffodils or the woman who knows you've been stressed and sets the bedroom with candles and a massage table.

Even the little things, like squeezing your hand when you've just had a tough phone conversation with a child or boss, are important. You want the person who gets pleasure from your pleasure.

Your date has good boundaries and you respect them

Respect is the core foundation of all relationships. You can get angry with someone or disagree about something important and still stay very much in love. But love won't last if you don't respect your partner — and you won't respect a person who doesn't respect himself.

Your date has active, happy, fulfilled days

You're going to be spending a lot of time together, but you don't want it to be too much time. Even if you're the kind of person who wants to be with someone night and day, you want your date to have things to do, things she's interested in, and a happy disposition when she gets to do something she loves.

You don't want to be totally responsible for someone else's happiness. She has to have the ability to entertain herself.

Your date is generally in a good mood

As my friend and colleague Dr. Lana Staheli says, “It takes two happy people to make one happy couple.” Don't underestimate the importance of temperament and the ability to be happy. A good mood is contagious, and it creates a happy home.

Your date is affectionate and sexually interested in you

Whether you're 50 or 80, affection and touching are critical for emotional and physical health. Sexuality and sensuality don't ever have to be in the past: You're capable of a lifelong attraction and sexual connection.

Be careful if your relationship is more fraternal than sexual. You need a person who helps nurture your sexual side and who likes to touch and kiss you.

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