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A Woman’s Guide to Starting Over



by Marion A. Eggleton

As beautiful as relationships are and can be, no relationship is perfect. Relationships take work. Perhaps you invested a lot of your energies, plans, and dreams in a relationship that did not work and you question whether you want to go down that road again. If it is so easy to pack your bags and move on every time a problem emerges, and they will, you are never going to develop the long-term situation that you want in your life.

You have several options for your life. You can decide to find a new lifelong partner. You can decide, because of past experiences, that commitment is not possible, but you would like to have the financial, companionship, and sexual advantages, which short-term relationships may offer. Or you can decide that the psychological costs of finding someone new in your life are just too great and it is easier just to enjoy your life as it is. Lets briefly examine these options because they may help you initiate action that will affect the rest of your life.

A life alone can have its advantages. You don’t have to worry about the needs of someone else. You can determine what you want to do on a daily basis, when you do it, and where you do it. You can dress to please yourself and you don’t have to worry about what someone else might think. You can eat your favorite foods without worry about your weight. And, you can reduce all of those trips to the hairdresser, eliminate many of the beauty aids, and stop trying to impress others.

On the other hand life alone is just that… life alone. You may say that you can spend more time with your children, grandchildren, and girl/men friends. Unfortunately children have a tendency to move away or feel, that while you are important in their lives, they have other priorities and you take on a diminished role. Even grandchildren, while they are cute and loving when they are young, also grow up and start spreading their wings and are no longer available as they once were. Friends change. They find someone new in their lives. They move on to be close to other friends or family, or unfortunately as we age they suffer the same fate, as we will all face at some point. More and more women are left alone without anyone, or at least with only the occasional contact with the past.

Married couples are reluctant to include singles in their married life. You are the odd chair at the table or you might even be viewed as a threat to the marriage. Travel is oriented to couples. Trips to dinner, movies, the theater, and even just to the mall seem less fulfilling when you are alone. If you are at a dance and you dance those line dances or fast dances with your friends, that’s fine, but when the music turns slow you envy the couples as they snuggle close. As you go out in the world you see all kinds of couples together, holding hands, laughing at each other’s jokes, just sharing the moment. These moments bring back memories of when you had a good relationship. Further they force you to look at the reality of the fact that, even though single life may have it’s advantages, you are alone and the chances are that you are going to be alone for the rest of your life. Not a very good prospect for most of us. Even if you do have a lot of friends in similar circumstances your occasional gatherings end up bemusing about past relationships or their inability to have someone in their lives.

Many women seem to want the amenities of a relationship without the commitment that a long-term relationship requires. They like the attention, the sex, the gifts, and the appearance that a relationship may bring. But, they also like the ability to move on at the drop of the hat if they don’t like what the partner is doing or fails to do for whatever reason. Rather than attempt to work out any problems it is easier to just move on and find someone new. As each year progresses, it becomes increasingly hard to find anyone else to fit into his or her life. They see other men wanting younger women - which they once were. They see men wanting commitment, which they are unable to give. They find increasing competition to find someone in a world where eligible women outnumber available men, at least available men that they would have an interest in. A truth starts to enter the dating game where women tend to age in appearance, while men tend to gain character. While the latter may be illusive at least it enters the psychology of finding a new partner.

Soon the realization enters where it becomes increasingly difficult to attract a new partner, and they find themselves falling into the same lifestyles that have beset their single sisters. They find themselves going to activities alone hoping to meet someone, only to go home alone regretting that they had not attempted to work out the differences they had with their past partner. Also as the single person increasingly turns to single female friends for companionship, their sessions typically turn to men bashing and rehashing all of the things that went wrong in past relationships. While there may be some comfort in commiserating with others over one’s past life, the process tends to drag you further into the acceptance of the single lifestyle.

Finding a new partner, at any age, is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work and there may be many disappointments. There will be times when you question whether it is worth it, especially if you are relatively comfortable in your single lifestyle. However, if you want somebody of the opposite sex in your life then you are going to have to take the steps to meet him or her where they are. Chances are that a prospective mate is not going to come knocking on your door. He might, but the prospects are not good.

Having a partner in your life can re-ignite the same feelings that you had with your first love. Your chronological age may have changed, but mentally you are still that young girl. You will relive the thrill of talking to him on the phone; the thrill of waiting for him to take you out on a date or the thrill of holding hands and talking about your past and future dreams. The kiss at any age can be as magical as the first kiss. Your eventual sexual experience, assuming you are in good health can be as positive and fulfilling as any you have ever experienced. Just having someone to share your dreams, your daily life, your good days and your bad will be a positive influence. Also having someone that will be there when you are not well and will be concerned about your well being will be a consolation to being alone.

Think about it! If you are in your fifties, sixties, even seventies you have from 20 to 40 years left in this wonderful life. Even at the lower end that is a long time to be left with what might have been. It is a long time to develop a loving, caring relationship with a new partner that will enhance and enrich your life. It is a long time to share new experiences whether it is exploring new vacation spots, developing new activities, sharing the beauties of life. Even an occasional argument will enable you to draw on your inner strength to express yourself.

At this point in life you may have financial or other interests that you want to protect in entering into a new relationship, and the same is probably true for your partner as well. These assets and difficulties that emerged in a past divorce are factors that you want to avoid in a new union. As unromantic as it may seem at this point in life there are considerations, which should be made as part of any new long-term relationship. As you move towards this goal discuss with your partner the consideration of a prenuptial agreement. Have an experienced lawyer write up an agreement, which outlines what you will do to try to protect a relationship. Yet if dissolution is the only answer then it will spell out precisely how that will be accomplished with minimal hassle for either party.

You may ask why I am spending time on the above discussion. There is a reason for discussing these issues before you embark on the search for a new love in your life. Part of the decision process to get active in searching for someone new, should include a reflection of what went wrong in your past relationship and those things that were major irritants in the past. Things that you can deal with mentally; things that need to be worked on in a new relationship.

You are about to invest considerable time and emotion in trying to meet and become involved with someone new. It may just happen. The chances are however, that you are going to have to get proactive and make it happen. Being proactive will help assure that you meet and attract the kind a person you are interested in meeting, Assuring that you are developing a relationship that will last for the rest of your life. Hopefully this will be the lasting relationship of your life. You want to make sure that your new partner is one that you will be comfortable with not only tomorrow, but also for the rest of your life. You will want to find the partner that will have all of the attributes that you admired in the past, but without the negatives that led to the breakup of that past relationship or those that kept you from getting involved in the first place.

Excerpted from Love After 50: A Woman’s Guide to Starting Over by Marion A. Eggleton. Copyright © 2005 by Helm Publishing and Marion A. Eggleton. All rights reserved. Excerpted by arrangement with Marion A. Eggleton. $9.95. Available in local bookstores or click here.

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