Here’s a Valentine’s blog, written by Tricia Cusden, founder of Look Fabulous Forever cosmetics for mature women, to which I contributed advice:
It’s that time of year again when the shops are full to the brim with red or pink hearts, dark carmine coloured roses, champagne and chocolates. All the symbols that we use to signify deep and lasting love given and (hopefully) received from our significant other. But not for me! Because it’s a very long time since I had anything resembling a ‘significant other’.
I have been divorced since I was 42 years old, so that’s very nearly 30 years of (theoretically anyway) being open to the possibility of another relationship. I did have a couple of longer term liaisons up to the age of around 50, but neither of these became everlasting. However I was busy, happy and my life was interesting and satisfying on so many levels that I honestly didn’t mind being on my own. In very many ways I preferred it, but I was always open to the possibility of finding love again. That was until, at the age of 57, I met someone I will call Harry.
I met Harry through a friend. She knew him in a business context and suggested that she set us up on a sort of blind date. First impressions were ok, if not amazing, and we spent a pleasant evening having an early supper and then going on to the theatre. I can’t remember the second date but I began to think that a relationship might be possible. Harry proved to be an interesting and agreeable companion and was what I can only describe as ‘urbane.’ He’d lived in London all his life and knew it in a way that I didn’t. So we started to enjoy going to some really fascinating places, small and amazing restaurants and to exhibitions, plays and other gigs that expanded my horizons. He was amusing, good company and was always immaculately dressed. After a few short months we started talking about moving in to live together. Then I went to Cape Town for a two week holiday with my daughter and half way through my break, the texts we had been exchanging several times a day suddenly stopped. I tried calling him but he was evasive and I got a horrible feeling that he was lying to me.
To cut a long and painful story short, when I returned to the UK our relationship quickly unravelled. I discovered that I had been dealing with a Walter Mitty character, a recovering alcoholic who had spun me a whole load of truths, half truths and very many untruths. In short, I felt conned. He was not the person I thought he was, and all the time he had been two-timing me with (what he had claimed) was an ex-partner.
I was devastated and very angry with myself for being so trusting, gullible and blind. I immediately extricated myself from the relationship and despite several attempts on his part, I refused to see him again. Since this bruising episode which really knocked my confidence, I have closed myself off from the possibility of finding a man.
However I am fascinated to watch friends who have been able to find delightful, genuine and trustworthy men who have brought joy and companionship into their (later) lives. So this week I thought it might be interesting to explore successful ways to find love in later life with Cynthia Spillman who runs the International Dating Academy which she calls a ‘one-stop dating shop’ for people who wish to improve their dating skills. Cynthia has published a book called ‘From Dinner Date to Soulmate – A Guide to Mature Dating‘, targeted at women who have been single for years, or who are divorcees or widows.
Here are Cynthia’s Top Tips For Finding Your Valentine:
- It’s never too late to find love. It’s disheartening when you suffer from a bad experience like Tricia’s. There are many variants of the con man out there and it’s difficult not to become “relationship-jaded” and decide that it’s safer to remain on your own. Emotional distress can be accentuated at this time of year. Finding love has no sell-by date – even if you’ve been out of the dating “jungle” for a long time. I’ve witnessed countless family, friends and date coaching clients, find joy in later life. I married my third husband Peter when I was 48 and, 11 years later, we’re still in love. My mother-in-law remarried at 81. It’s possible – but you have to approach your mature love search with wisdom and tenacity. Do make sure that you’re in the right place in your life to find love – but also remember that finding love has no sell-by date on it.
- First love yourself. You have to learn to love yourself before you can love another. Self-care doesn’t equate to selfishness. When you feel truly good about yourself, you’re far likelier to attract the right person. Remember the oxygen mask principle on a plane – you’re advised to put on your mask first, before helping others.
- Be proactive. Proactive doesn’t mean desperate! It involves embracing all methods of meeting a potential partner. I advise my clients that finding love is a numbers’ game and that online dating is like eating your vegetables – nobody wants to do it, but it’s good for you. Yes – it can be irritating, but if you view it as a tool in a larger bag of re-emerging dating skills, it does truly have advantages. You can keep your dates short and sweet – which is a good starting point from which to reignite your dating mojo. You must always follow strict safety rules and if you smell a dating rat – get out immediately. You must also embrace every opportunity to meet somebody new. This means using your networks in a sensible way, telling friends you’re on the lookout for a great man and join man-friendly organisations. I used to own ‘Dinner Dates’ – we ran multiple events on a weekly basis, which afforded our clients the opportunity to meet in a safe environment, at hosted events. Mature dating needn’t be doom and gloom. You have so much more to offer a partner in terms of richness of life experience.
- Expand on The Sisterhood. Seek out women who raise your spirits, and never dump your close girlfriends when you’ve found a partner. In this circle, include some ladies who have what you’d like – a fulfilling relationship. You can learn from them and their example will propel you on when, inevitably, you get knocks along the way on your mature dating journey. Hanging out with the girls will also enable you to not to feel overwhelmed.
- Bury your baggage before entering a committed relationship.Don’t drag all your relationship yesterdays into today. Many women blow their chances during embryonic dating, by suffering from emotional and verbal incontinence and telling all to their date, way too soon. This gives totally the wrong impression about you, may scare the pants off your date and is also an indication that you probably aren’t yet ready for a new relationship. No man wants to hear how hideous your ex was – at least not in the early stages! Inevitably, we all drag our relationship “previous” into our next relationship, but too much too soon can spell sabotage. In my book, I suggest various methods for dealing with troublesome emotional baggage.
- Good communication is crucial. Practising mindful communication is the life blood of your relationship. Mindful dating and communication open up a whole new world of relating to others and yourself. They also enable you to manage your expectations of yourself and of your potential partner, so that you don’t end up reeling from disappointment. You learn to “mind the gap”, take it one step at a time, and not buy into either catastrophizing or reading too much into your relationship situation, way too soon. Your love life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Seize your courage – and go for it!