A Later Life Valentine

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February 12  |  finding a relationshp, finding love, Love & Relationships, Mature dating, Self-Help, self-reinvention, self-transformation, Women and love  |   Cynthia


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!


Mindfulness and relationships

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October 24  |  Love & Relationships, Mindful communication, Mindfulness, Mindfulness and relationships, Mindfulness meditation, relationship communication, relationships, Self-Help, self-reinvention, Women and love  |   Cynthia













We all love a relationship happy ending.  As time goes by, this involves mindful effort and persistence. I set out below, the most important aspects, in my opinion of mindful loving.

 Good, open, mindful communication

Mindfulness is an especially invaluable tool in the area of couple communication, where it’s so easy to hear what we think is being said, through our personal filters, and then to overreact to it – strongly. More often than not, this is down to not only poor communication – but also our deeply personal, historical “stuff”.

Achieving and maintaining good communication is ongoing work. This is where practising communication mindfulness can be so helpful. When you put it into operation, you become increasingly able to pause, “mind the gap”, and clarify what’s actually being said. Poor communication will rapidly become a mental weed, clogging up and perhaps even strangling your precious relationship.

Interdependency versus co-dependency

Kahlil Gibran advises, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness”. This doesn’t mean either of you should abandon the other, but that it’s healthy for you to spend time apart as well as together, which is vastly different from cloying togetherness. Your long term relationship is actually enhanced by separate activity and even enhances it. Co-dependency sucks the very life out of your relationship. Interdependency enhances it.

Ongoing mindful renegotiation about miscellaneous boundaries

Relationships don’t remain static, because they’re a living entity with a life force of their very own. This is why you need to keep revising and renegotiating your boundaries, as time goes on.

 Mindfully respecting differences and appreciating and expanding on the similarities

Accept the things you can’t change about your partner and keep the spotlight on yourself. And when you do change, then the whole dynamic of your relationship shifts. Keep the focus and your energy on fixing yourself.

Being first and foremost friends

Your partner should be your best friend – not your only one – but the person who’s clearly one hundred percent in your corner, come what may. Best friends do argue, of course, but ultimately the bond that binds them together overcomes all the difficulties that may threaten to separate them. Treat your partner like you’d treat any best friend: with love, patience and compassion. Before you have something tricky to say, ask yourself if it really has to be said, does it have to be said now, and what’s the kindest way of saying it – and breathe, before you say it.

Being able to say sorry

Unlike what you may have seen in the film “Love Story” –love IS having to say you’re sorry – even when strictly, you’re not. The pain of discipline versus the pain that stems from the regret of not apologising is infinitely better. I’m not saying you should be a scapegoat and take the blame for everything. It’s about achieving a happy medium, and focusing on what’s good in the relationship.

Showing continuing appreciation of and gratitude for the other.

There’s magic in the ordinary, in gestures of tenderness especially under stress. Demonstrating thoughtfulness doesn’t have to involve spending money or displays of ostentation. Write a gratitude list of each other’s positive traits.  Go through pictures and mementos of your early days and also your special ones. Never forget anniversaries, birthdays and significant days. Show each other consideration. Express you appreciation to each other for what you CAN do.

 Learning to grow through adversity

Nobody is exempt from suffering. Continue to share your wishes, hopes and dreams with one another, as this will enable you to visualise better times, which will surely come, because nothing lasts forever.

 Leaving the past behind

You’re here NOW, so don’t measure yourself against your partner’s past.  They are with you now and their past belongs exactly there, not in the present.

An intimate relationship is your greatest teacher – so learn your lessons well and don’t quit! It’s always way too early in a committed relationship to throw in the towel, unless something totally unacceptable happens, such as violence or an addiction for which your partner refuses to seek help. A great relationship can heal and nurture you in a much healthier way than your birth parent did – it’s like a mirror – reflecting the good, the bad, and the ugly in both of you.


How to shovel yourself out of the shit!

August 16  |  Adversity, Mindfulness, motivation, overcoming adversity, Self-Help, self-reinvention, self-transformation, single women  |   Cynthia









We all feel down in the mouth at times. It’s part of being human. However, we needn’t stay there for long. Here are some simple tips to help dig yourself out of the vortex.

Prioritise your physical well-being

Practise physical self-love – stop punishing your body – treat yourself to nourishing and healthy foods. A car won’t run properly and reach its destination without the right fuel. Cut down on booze and pills. Pamper yourself. Don’t get into the debating society on this. You deserve it. Find a form of manageable and above all enjoyable exercise in which you can indulge regularly.

Take charge of your emotional state

Claim courage and take responsibility. Accept that we’re not responsible for the tragedies which happen to us but we are responsible for how we react to them and the messes we make of our lives. Identify which areas you play the victim in. Break these areas into bite-size chunks which you can then tackle. Pump yourself right out of that victim mentality. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Care enough about yourself to learn to lighten up. Look for the humorous side in your situation – it really is there, even if you have to emotionally contort yourself to find it. Do so because it’ll be worth it and be measured by the enormous sense of relief you’ll feel.
Stop the name and blame game – take responsibility where you need to and discard the rest. These habits completely destroy your inner power, because they prove that you’re still expecting solutions and changes from others. You’ve no power over anyone else but yourself.

When you’re wallowing in an orgy of self-pity, stop enjoying it. Force yourself out of that tangled up, childish, emotional nappy. What do nappies contain? So why stay there drowning in it? Take positive daily action to help yourself, no matter how seemingly insignificant or minute. This can be as simple as calling an encouraging friend, when all you want to do is sit and stare into space. Small actions like this will propel you out of the navel-gazing, analysis/paralysis syndrome and you’ll soon begin to feel immeasurably better.
Don’t indulge in negative talk. What you focus on expands and what doesn’t get taught, gets caught. Don’t touch it with a bargepole. Read inspiring literature. Keep a gratitude list, not a hit list. Write down five things every night which you’re grateful for, then review your list in the morning. The blessings are always there, even in the worst situation.

Take responsibility for your feelings and reactions.

You’re in charge of your life – no one else. Don’t be immobilised by or afraid of failure. Most seemingly successful people have made it after disastrous failures. Simply pick yourself up, dust yourself down and move on with belief and determination.
Don’t be a victim to others’ expectations. Be yourself at all times. Stop being a people-pleaser and a chameleon. There’s never any need to seek anyone else’s approval but your own and in this area practice does make perfect. Keep your own counsel and have the courage of your own convictions. If you have erred, don’t beat yourself up. Use that energy to forgive yourself.

Stick with the winners and not the whiners

Stick with the winners. Stay resolutely away from people with victim mentalities. Find someone you trust to help you to make a realistic appraisal of your situation. Treat yourself to a mental clear out. Find a support network with positive peer role models. There are thousands of resources out there for every area and every stage of our lives. When you’ve found your role model, be brave enough to ask for help and copy what they do as best you can. What’s the downside?

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It’s never too late to boogie!

May 15  |  Dreams coming true, Self-Help, self-reinvention, self-transformation  |   Cynthia

Once upon a time you had dreams. Then the Big Bad Wolf, called LIFE, came along, grabbed you by the throat and shook these the hell out of you.

So – then you told yourself that it was “too late”, or that you’re “too old”, or “too busy”, or that “there’s no point” – and other such tripe. Or – even worse – you allowed somebody in authority, such as a parent, teacher or partner, to piss on your campfire and extinguish what you know your inner wisdom was begging you to do.

The bottom line is – it’s NEVER too late to embrace a dream, no matter how old you, or it, might be. Where’s it written that you can’t? You only can’t if you think you can’t! It’s possible to rewrite your life script at any time. Why do you think that you don’t deserve the good stuff, like other people? While there’s life there’s hope. Time will pass anyway, so why not make the most of the time you have left? We all know people who’ve checked out of life way too early. The saddest words in the English language have got to be, “too late”, and “if only”.

Now – today – is the time to unblock your creativity, whatever the latter means to you. You don’t need anybody’s permission. You can choose to live your life in black and white – OR – in glorious technicolour. The choice and the power to do so is yours.

Once upon a time, when I was 14, I was told by an occupational psychologist, that I wasn’t academic. My father colluded with her, and between them they stitched me up big time, telling me that I’d just get married anyway, so I might as well do a secretarial course. Given that it took me until I was 52, to grow the balls to stand up to my authoritarian parents, I found myself hurtling along that traditional path, and into my first unhappy marriage, aged 18.

It took the catastrophic death of my son in the car I was driving, in 1987, and my daughter’s severe injuries, to eject me from the quagmire of despair, propelling me into taking 2 A levels part-time, the year after Anthony died. Less than two years later, I was admitted to Cambridge University, to read law. Aged 30, with a major tragedy to contend with. boy, did I prove those academic naysayers wrong!

I’ve gone onto pass many exams since then and, last week, I was offered a place to do a Master’s degree in Mindfulness. So much for not being academic! And it was the same with all of my relationships and my two doomed marriages, before I found happiness with my third husband, Peter, in 2002. Never settle for less than you’re capable of in any arena of life. Find inspirational role models, read uplifting books, listen to rousing music. Whatever you do, never, ever give up your biggest asset – yourself!

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