Recently one of our readers asked if we could write about finding relationships when you are older. This connected with a discussion we have had a number of times and we feel it would be fun and hopefully helpful to explore this issue with you.
We have frequently posed the question of whether, had we met when we were younger, we would still have clicked and wound up with the great relationship we have, or even be in a relationship together at all.
It’s not so easy to answer. We have both changed and grown through the experiences we have had in relationships, both good and bad. And most importantly, we have come to know ourselves much better. Of course, we have each pursued this self-knowledge consciously in a variety of ways. But even those who have not will have hopefully learned important information about their own desires, reactions, and needs.
Knowing about yourself is a life-long exploration. Over the years, your wants, passions, ambitions and capabilities change, and how you see yourself changes to match, but knowing who you are goes beyond a matter of labels. Your job, hobby, qualifications and history are not who you are, they’re only how you are. Find that point where the questions vanish and you simply exist. Mindfulness and meditation are very helpful here. They teach you to be comfortable with yourself.
From this comes a feeling of self-sufficiency. This is tricky to describe because we all have needs of food, shelter and love. But many people feel incomplete and seek a partner for that completion. Instead, when you know yourself, a partner adds to you. And at the same time, they give you many things you need. Yes, it’s a paradox. Life’s like that.
As we gain experiential knowledge of ourselves, we are more able to reach happiness and fulfillment in every aspect of our lives. When looking for a relationship this becomes a really critical factor. It will help us to assess how much we are matched to another and it will help us to communicate who we are and what we truly value as we meet prospective partners. This is so important to establishing relationships that have the potential to grow into something that brings peace and happiness.
When looking for a relationship, look at what you want & what your needs are #relationships #quote Click To TweetLook for someone who has that same depth of knowledge about themselves. It may not be obvious, because this is not a characteristic that is sought after in the consumer world, but when you meet people, look for it, and you’ll start to see glimmers here and there, until, when you are met full on, you’ll know.
There is another advantage to being a mature person and knowing yourself through your accumulated experiences. You will be able to actually assess what it is that you want, and be able to look at your desires in a practical way. People who are older and are not in a relationship, especially if they haven’t been for a longer time, have a number of things to carefully consider when embarking upon meeting someone.
First and foremost, you need to ask yourself “Do you actually want to be in a relationship?” and if so, “What kind of relationship are you looking for?” Many of the single people we know are very happy in their situation. They have created a life for themselves that is very rewarding without a partnership. They have learned what they like and how they like it. They have often become quite attached to the freedom that enters their lives when it’s not necessary to take someone else into consideration in the same way as when sharing a life intimately with another.
These are very real and important considerations. Ask yourself, is it a life partner, a companion for dating or a friend that you are seeking? Armed with that knowledge, you will be able to be more direct with people you meet and more apt to get what you want.
If you are seeking to develop an intimate sharing of your life with another, then you will have to understand and be prepared. “For what?” you ask. For change, of course. We as a species are very resistant to change, and as we get more mature this can be even more difficult.
We have a friend that decided she wanted to be in relationship after many years of a happily single life. She met someone and he moved in with her. They really felt this was going to be it. It went well for a relatively short time, but then she began to feel more and more irritated and impinged upon. The final issue wound up being over the bathroom. She found his presence too disruptive to her toilet routines, and eventually had to ask him to move out, which ended the relationship.
She thought she wanted a partner relationship, but she hadn’t really thought through what she was looking for and how she could get it without the aspects she wasn’t prepared for.
It is possible to change if you are aware of wanting that and are willing to do so. In the last years we have learned through many studies that the brain is plastic and can actually change, even drastically, and that there are many things we can do to support learning and change.
When you meet someone, it takes time to learn what they are like. You can’t rely on what they say; you have to discover that from how they behave under all sorts of circumstances.
As you know more, you come to trust them more, and you come to know what their core values are. These are very important; if their values differ from yours, it will be a constant source of friction in the relationship. Don’t try to fix it or paper over it. (Although who uses wallpaper these days?) Move on.
Things like trust and core values are assessed at a very deep level within you; your mind is the last to get the updates. Don’t ignore your intuitions (but if you have a history of attraction or avoidance, look very hard.)
Once you’ve established those big issues, make sure you aren’t derailed by the little ones, from how to wash dishes to the proverbial toothpaste tube. They need not be a source of conflict; there is always a solution that works for both of you without either person having to compromise. This is a radical message, but trust us, it’s true; we live it.
With the availability of online dating, meeting people is easier than ever. Use this opportunity to practice your selection skills. (In Hannah Fry’s book, “The Mathematics of Love,” she writes that if you’re going to meet 100 people, reject 37% of them, then choose the next person who is better than anyone you’ve already met. )
When you are looking for a relationship as an older person, then take the time to look at what you really want, and what your own needs are. Decide what you are willing to change and what you are not. A relationship will bring big changes, and if you want to be successful, you need to know what you are prepared to work on.