Past Relationships and Dating After 50 - dummies

Past Relationships and Dating After 50

By Pepper Schwartz

Copyright © 2014 AARP All rights reserved.

To date again after 50 — and do it successfully — you have to get rid of lingering attachments to your ex, the one that got away, or your past, and let yourself get on with your future.

  • Stop magical thinking. In the back of your mind, you not so secretly think that somehow the person who left you will return, suddenly realize how wonderful you are, turn your platonic friendship into something passionate, divorce the person he left you for, and come back to you.

    Have these things ever happened? Yes, and so has winning the lottery. The odds are heavily against you. Why would you bet on something that’s truly unlikely to happen and that stops you from loving someone else?

  • Stop remembering only the good parts. Yes, there was that romantic beginning and the terrific trip to Belize. But don’t stop remembering there.

    Remember also the inability to communicate, your former partner’s flash anger, or his depressive withdrawal. Remember his lack of loyalty or inability to give you compliments. Remember the tough stuff that not only broke you up but also made you unhappy many times during the relationship.

    As time goes by, people tend to gloss over the bad stuff and think only about the happy times. Doing so has its good points; it helps you get over painful memories. But it’s a fantasy that keeps you attached when you really have to move on.

  • Stop wanting something just because you can’t have it. Being dumped is sometimes a powerful aphrodisiac. You may have felt ambivalent when you were together, but when your partner pulled the plug, he became irresistible.

    Try and tease apart “losing” from love. Think about how this relationship would have played out over the long run and see why ending it may have been a good idea — no matter who did it.

  • Stop extrapolating that relationship to all relationships. If your ex wooed you well and then treated you badly, it’s sad and regrettable, but not necessarily repeatable. People aren’t clones of one another, and though there may be some reason you’ve had more than one destructive relationship, that doesn’t prove that no good relationships are out there.

    You may need to reexamine your part in why relationships end and perhaps get some counseling. But don’t think the problem lies in the idea that everyone else is defective — they’re not.