Maggie Strachan didn’t imagine herself walking down the aisle again, especially not in her 50s. Talking to the soon-to-be newly-wed, Helen Wallace learns that love truly knows no age.
The thought of getting older can be a daunting one for many people, especially when they are single. Fortunately the one thing it’s never too late for is finding the perfect partner. While you may have been widowed, divorced or have a string of failed relationships in your past, with maturing comes life experience and a sense of self that can help you to identify what it is you want in Mr. Right and help you to form more meaningful relationships. This wisdom, combined with living in a time of digital connectivity and fewer taboos around dating when you’re older, can help you on your quest for love and, whether you are young, middle-aged or living out your golden years, when it comes to romance, age really is just a number.
Real-life love story
Living proof that love can strike more than once and when we are getting on in years is Maggie Strachan, a copywriter from Cape Town and mother of three who, at age 55, is planning her second wedding for December this year. ‘I met my fiancé when I was 54 at my local pub and pizza place late one night’, recalls Maggie. ‘I was sitting having a good laugh over a few glasses of wine with a group of older girlfriends when this lone guy appeared, strolled across the room, and asked if he could join us.’ And it didn’t take long for sparks to fly. ‘We hit it off almost immediately. He was intelligent, articulate, witty – with a similar sense of humour – and quite attractive, which are all qualities that are important to me. After my friends left, we sat chatting and laughing until the wee hours’. Little did Maggie know then that they would, over the course of six months, become romantically involved and be planning their nuptials not long after that.
At the time of meeting her new man, Maggie explains that he still had some unresolved issues from his previous relationship that prevented intimate involvement but that is all a distant memory now as the couple enjoy a fulfilling connection. While it may have come as a surprise to both of them, it was a welcome one and they have now been cohabiting for over a year and look forward to saying ‘I do.’
Ups and downs
While Maggie may be on cloud nine today, this wasn’t always the case, and she did worry that she would struggle to make a romantic connection after her divorce. ‘Some of the main challenges facing people, especially women, my age in the dating game is that there is the danger of appearing desperate since you are older and single’, explains Maggie. ‘There can be a fear of being hit on and being considered ‘easy prey’ for lonely men. Of course there is also the issue of not being able to ‘compete’ with younger women and the feeling of being ‘invisible’ once you are over a certain age; that you are no longer perceived as desirable or sexy – especially after three children!’
‘When I entered into this new relationship I did so with more wisdom and a certain level of prudence and caution, as many women do as they get older,’ says Maggie. ‘Of course, that depends on one’s past. I have been married once, in addition to having three long-term ‘common law husbands’. Also, the 10-year relationship with the father of my youngest child had ended not too long before my fiancé and I met, so I was still hurting – not to mention cynical – and definitely not looking for another partner.’ This is a perfect example of how love has a way of finding you when you least expect it, and that we should live our lives with our hearts and minds open.
On the flip side, there are plenty of benefits that come with dating when you are older that include being more self-assured, having a better idea of what it is you are looking for and being confident enough to expect no less. Younger people can often get caught in the trap of making their partner their whole lives but with age comes perspective and the ability to see your significant other as someone to share life with rather than dedicate your existence to.
Been there, done that
The idea of getting back into the dating game as an older woman might seem scary but ‘The important thing is to be yourself’, advises Maggie. ‘Don’t try too hard, or allow yourself to show too much vulnerability – just be confident and let your personality shine. Being vivacious, warm and charming can compensate for an aging body.’ Being older also doesn’t mean resigning yourself to a life of boredom. ‘Just because you’re older and single doesn’t mean you have to hide away. Go out and have fun with friends. You’re under no obligation to hook up with anyone. But who knows? The right guy might just step into your life unexpectedly.’
Four months ago, my partner started chatting to his ex-girlfriend. He said they were just catching up, but they started talking every day. I told him I was uncomfortable with this but he said it was nothing and that I was being jealous and insecure. Then I read their messages and discovered they were telling each other that they LOVE one another. When I confronted him, he said that it was love just as friends. He has apologised and promised to not talk to her again. He says he doesn’t have feelings for her. I’ve been trying to forgive him because I love him. He’s upset that I don’t trust him. I read his messages to check that he isn’t lying. Should I let him go and find out whether she is the one for him? Or should I trust when he says that I am the one for him?
Your partner involved himself again emotionally with his ex – and lied about it. He minimised your feelings and instinct by suggesting you were being jealous and insecure. He glossed over the enormity of the emotional investment he was making by telling his ex that he loves her (how does he ‘not have feelings’ for her then?). He disrespected your emotional boundaries. And now he’s upset that you don’t trust him?
The security of your relationship was so compromised that you snuck behind his back and read his personal messages without his permission. You don’t believe that he’s really cut ties with her (why would you cut ties with someone you ‘love’). You don’t trust that he really wants to be with you. And your question is whether you are the one for him?
What about whether this man is the one for you? Do you want a relationship that is filled with doubt, insecurity and lack of trust? Do you want a relationship where you question whether you are the focus of your guy’s love and attention?
Stop overthinking what he wants. You can’t trust that. Ask yourself what you want. What kind of love do you want; what kind of relationship? Just because you love someone, doesn’t mean you deserve the little they can offer you.
You will find someone who will put you first. You will love again. But you won’t have the opportunity to do so while you stick around waiting for the day you can trust this mister again.