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Monday, May 4, 2009

One More time on the Merry-Go-Round

I realized as I looked at my columns over the past few months, that I haven’t written a column for the over 50 among us. To rectify this oversight I wish to provide some help and support to our parents and grandparents who while they enjoy these roles would also like to enjoy a role some of us take for granted: that of lover. Now before everyone gets their dander up, let me be clear; while I am not excluding sex from my definition of lover, I do not exclusively mean sex.

By lover, I mean lover in several connotations including companionship, dating, emotional connection, passion, and understanding. People in the US are living longer and in better health than at any time in our past. This has lengthened the time we can enjoy the various roles we play in life such as athlete, student, producer of work, parent, spouse, passionate and sexual being and so on.

Even the advent and popularity of the Internet has played a role with senior dating sites becoming very popular. A simple search reveals a number of sites that cater specifically to single seniors, although even these sites have their share of cheating seniors. Cheating aside, another problem the internet can’t solve is the fact that women outlive men and therefore more women are looking for love and companionship than men.

If you are a senior and have recently lost a spouse through either death or divorce, after you go through the grieving process, there are some very good reasons to be interested in finding a new love. There is a growing amount of research, demonstrating that being in a healthy relationship helps stave off everything from dementia and depression to heart disease. Besides, with families often separated as they move to chase careers, parents are often left to their own devices.

For those seniors willing to take a chance on finding love again and those who just want to have companionship, there are some things to keep in mind. While the internet is a wonderful tool, your friends, family, church, etc. are still better places to find someone. I say partly because of the scams perpetrated against seniors on online dating sites. If you use the internet, make sure it is a reliable dating service.

Before getting on the merry go round of love get a complete physical from your doctor so you know how fast you can ride, and then as appropriate, be honest with any potential partners about your health; in case you needed another reason for eating right, staying active and not smoking!

Next, remember the rules of dating and polite behavior still apply; just because the pharmacy gave you the ability to tag all the bases, doesn’t mean your new date wants to play ball, yet or ever. Talking about your exes or former spouses is ok if done in a limited way, and certainly remain respectful of that life together, but at the same time keep in mind that living in the past, regardless of how wonderful and special, can stifle the development of something beautiful.

When my grandfather passed away, he found a woman to share his remaining years. She wasn’t my grandmother, but she certainly provided him some happiness in his twilight. I wish the same for all of us.

Mark Altman is a speaker and leadership consultant with the Altman Leadership Center. He has graduate work in Marriage and Family Counseling and is working on a PhD in Leadership studies at Gonzaga University. He can be reached at

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