Dating in Your 50’s

I’ve been at a complete loss when it comes to ideas for posts recently, and I finally reached out to a good friend. “What should I write about?” She immediately came back with, “dating in your 50’s.” While I have a ton to say on the matter in personal emails or over a margarita, I’ve been mulling over how to throw my ideas out for general consumption and make them somewhat amusing (or at the very least amuse myself and her, which is really the goal at this point). I’m still drawing a huge blank, so I’m just going to hop in.

Dating Sucks When You’re 50

Ok, that’s a gross generalization; however, now you’re 50, you’re back on the market and well, dating can actually suck. And it makes you yearn for a more innocent time – when things were simpler or seemingly rosier. A time when you were a little girl filled with so much hope about your future. You had innocent dreams of what life would be as a grown-up. It was a world where she had a perfect family, perfect kids, perfect pets who never shed and self-walked. She had a fabulous job. She traveled the world. She lived in a Victorian mansion, a brownstone or a super sleek downtown loft. (Mine had a two to three story library with a rolling ladder and also a domed solarium.) She knew without any doubt that you would have it together – you would light the world on fire. She never imagined the grey hair (ON YOUR CHIN), boobs having succumbed to gravity, flappy mee-maw arms and those unforgiving wide hips. She couldn’t picture a world where she’d find herself casually scrolling through a dating app (ok, mostly because the internet wasn’t really a thing and had anyone mentioned “Arpanet,” she’d feel confident they were referring to a firm hold hairspray) trying to find a special someone like you pick out groceries and that her criteria (aka new low bar) would ever be “doesn’t make her throw-up in her mouth.” (Easier said than done.)

Now if you actually were the rare soul who did imagine this bleaker future you, you were a very strange and sad kid. I’m just going to call it right now. I’m full-on judging you. Oh, but props for imagining the internet. I hope you used your vision to your advantage.

You realize past you would go slack-jawed if she were brought forward to meet present you.

To make matters worse, the prospect of dating in your 50’s heralds the return of every insecurity you thought you’d outgrown before life took a gigantic dump on your lawn. You’re supposed to be settled by now. WTF? You begin doubting your appeal. Am I likable? funny? intelligent? interesting? appealing? Did I dress ok? Do I have to dress differently? Should I avoid certain topics? What if I say something ridiculous? Dribble? It crosses your mind that you’re too old to be revisiting this craziness. But that insidious self-doubt monster, who appeared mid-puberty, gently taps you on the shoulder and with a smirk says, “Hey girl! Just letting you know I’m still here keeping your ego in check. Oh yeah, in case I forget to remind you daily, you’re still an idiot. Now go on, talk to that nice man. You got this! In that outfit, how could you not succeed? <snort>”

To compound the issue and remind you how NOT in your 20’s you are: in your 50’s, everyone you know is married and all of their friends are married, so the likelihood that they’ll actually introduce you to someone suitable for dating is slim at best. Every group you join? It’s filled with married people leading married lives. Every event you attend, it’s filled with more couples. Every man that you find appealing is also married. Of course, you then reach a point where you see everyone being married as a good thing, because you understand that man is actually someone else’s problem. For example, let’s talk about my ongoing crush on the office drunk. He’s pretty as heck, love his voice, and as I mentioned, he’s also an alcoholic (not in a funny way). This is ok, because like I said, this is not a Beth problem – it’s a “his family” problem and I can admire from afar without feeling the need to rescue this person.

That brings me to the reality of actually dating someone.

Jay and I were together for about 17 years. During that time, we learned how to live together. We learned how to cohabitate peacefully. The mere idea of having someone in my house makes me twitch. I came to this realization after Jay passed away and a friend suggested I rent out one of my bedrooms. My response was, “can I put a clause in the contract that states the tenant must stay in their room whenever I’m in the house? That they can’t be in the living room? Can’t use my refrigerator? Can’t make noise?” I wasn’t kidding. As I’ve gotten older, and further away from my college and post-college years where I had many roommates, I recognize I’m kind of set in my ways. I’m persnickety.

That hints at something very important – that by 50 we have a steamer trunk filled with personal baggage. We’re no longer that carefree 20-something whose baggage looks like an adorable overnight bag filled with cuteness and maybe a smidge of some high school drama. No, by 50 you actually need a bellhop with a luggage cart because if you’re single in your 50’s there’s a story, and there’s baggage. I’m not saying it’s all bad, but life has likely had its way with you.

Then why date?

For me, I hold onto hope, because there’s so much that I miss by not being in a relationship. I miss hearing someone say I look beautiful – whether I’m going out or tying my hair up in a loose ponytail. I miss having a person who stays with me until I fall asleep, which Jay did for 17 years. I miss having someone who genuinely cares where I am each day. I miss being around someone who genuinely likes me and thinks I’m funny and interesting – a person whom I think is funny and interesting right back. I miss hugs – real hugs – the kind that draw you in close and fully envelop you. I miss shared experiences – being there for our best and worst days and pushing each other to be our best. I miss being loved.

And if I’m completely honest, I also fear dying alone – tucked away in a nursing home that wreaks of urine where no one really knows or cares that I’m there – that I exist.

So, off I go to those dating apps where I swipe left more often than not. In truth, one site tells me “you have 9 unread messages, and if you give us money again, we’ll let you read them.” I think about this – about paying – about reading these messages and believing it holds a message from “the one,” and then I find something else to do. Maybe one day I’ll go look at them. One day I’ll decide that dating isn’t a dumpster fire.

And I suppose that little girl, well she’s still there dancing, singing, spinning, and impossibly hopeful.

11 thoughts on “Dating in Your 50’s

  1. julie says:

    Lol. Love the expanding personal space requirement. It goes with the hips!

  2. azzageddi says:

    Great entry as always. Love the “mee-maw arms.” I wonder how easy that is for people outside the south the get. (Only 1 teensy edit, making a nonbold letter into bold.)

    • Beth says:

      What’s funny is that I never used to use the phrase “mee-maw” until my friend from South Texas entered my life. Her drawl and her solid drawn out, “dannnng pee paw!!! Get a move on!” make me laugh every time. It moved into my regular speech thanks to her.

    • Beth says:

      Also, WOO HOOOO!!!! I cannot believe I only goofed the one thing. That’s clearly a new record.

  3. Apparently you’ve mastered the trick of actually living with what life has thrown at you (also known as experiencing ups and downs) yet managing to hold onto the ability to move towards more (also known as only focusing on the positive that is waiting while recognizing bad things happen and it’s not just you). That’s certainly a graduate degree in Grown-upness. (Some never make it)
    So many great lines and astute observations/recognizing real things:
    “genuinely cares where you are each day”
    Admire from afar – the need to rescue”
    Clause for roommate
    Pick out someone as you pick out groceries.
    The nursing home thing – if you’ve had elderly relative, you’ve seen their faces – and recognize it in yours, too. (Networks – so many will face this. Perhaps networks will help us through. My parents felt you should move quickly when retiring I order to become part of the community – to have connections so someone will know when you are an old person shut in or in a nursing home. They did that for others all my life and well with that themselves.. We can only hope we do as well – harder these days.
    You are so very funny. Able to write so well – as well as a philosopher for these times
    Book. Yep, There’s a market.
    HUGS! (and giggles included for free)

    • Beth says:

      As always, thank you so very much. I know we don’t know each other formally, but your words carry a lot of weight with me and I genuinely appreciate you – as a writer and as a person.

      My good girlfriends – Julie, the one who suggested I write the post, and another friend have decided that we need to be there for each other as we grow older. The talk is of somehow forming a little commune. Our dream is to actually have a tiny home community, where we also have a bigger space (a hall, perhaps) for community events – big meals – movies – a stage (not only for us, but the various kids, nieces/nephews, possible grandkids) to perform. Everyone is an artist/performer of some sort. I think your parents were definitely onto something with networking and how important it is.

      I hope one day to graduate Magna Cum Laude from grown-up school. However, I suppose I have more classes and labs to take before I’m quite there. But one day, I shall walk across that stage with my mortar and gown beaming proudly that I made it. 🙂

      The book idea just feeds into my ego. My big plan was to join something called Project Lab – a friend of mine facilitates it – it’s a way to work on projects, any project, and take something that seems impossible, divide it into manageable chunks and then slowly progress towards your goal. Sadly, I also decided “I want to volunteer!” and those dates I needed to be there for the lab didn’t work for the dates I have to do my volunteer work. I talked to my friend, and she suggested I wait until the Fall lab, which seems so far away. I really wanted to use it as a way to narrow down what I wanted to write about.

      How about you? Have you ever thought about writing a book? Perhaps – Dunderhead Musings: A Guide on How to Properly Train Your Staff and Still Maintain Respect (the title is a work in progress).

      Again, many many many thanks to you!

  4. Lori says:

    I admire you so much!

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