Are you worried about whether it’s too soon to be with someone new? Perhaps you need advice about introducing your children to your new partner, or maybe just some tips on how to be more confident with your body? Gransnetters know the value of finding love later in life and, ahead of Valentine’s Day, have shared their words of wisdom about what to do in a new relationship when you’re older.
Whether you recently got divorced or lost your spouse, it’s always difficult to know when the right time to move on is. For some, it simply never comes – and it’s alright to feel that way. However, if you do find yourself in love again, it may be time to dip a toe in the water. Whatever your past, you should only ever enter into a new relationship with hope and optimism. If it feels too soon, it likely is, so talk it through and find out if it’s worth fighting for.
“Please do not feel guilty about enjoying the company of another man as I am sure you would not have wanted your late husband to be lonely had you died first.”
“A close friend of mine lost her husband in her early 60s after a long happy marriage. About a year later she met someone in the same situation, they got on well and slowly developed their relationship.”
“Moving on to another relationship does not take away from my marriage. I was 46 when my husband died. Do whatever feels right for you and makes you happy.”
“My advice would be to do what you feel happy with, at your own pace. No-one can replace your first husband and you will never forget him, but there is nothing wrong in moving on with your life and being happy again. Enjoy this man’s friendship and company and see where things lead.”
Building a relationship takes enthusiasm and investment – but what if you don’t feel like you have anything to give, or if you feel that what you can give might not be enough? Lack of confidence can be very limiting in many areas of life, but in particular, can cause potential relationships to come to a grinding halt. Many people in their 50s and 60s admit to feeling uncomfortable about looking for a new life partner and some never try. Perhaps it is time to think about what kind of relationship you’d want in an ideal world. Do you even want a new partner? And if you do, why? Knowing what you want will help you feel more confident.
This might sound a little silly, but bear with us; talk nicely to yourself in front of mirrors as often as you can. Say things such as ‘you look nice today’ and ‘you’re a lovely person, I’d like to know more about you’. Talking to yourself nicely is a small way to force yourself to think positively about who you are and what you’re doing in your new relationship.
Use your experiences and self-knowledge
Knowing yourself and what you want will not only help you stay positive, it is also hugely attractive. It’s time to put all that you have learned from life’s experiences to good use and start feeling more confident. You know your strengths and limitations, you’ve experienced many arguments – and you’ve learned how best to solve differences before they become an issue. You’ll find the confidence you need to make the relationship a success in patience, kindness and faith that your partner wants this just as much as you – otherwise he/she wouldn’t be doing it. This time round it’ll be easier. You’re better at it now, remember, and so is your new partner.
“New relationships at this age are somehow richer and more fulfilling, probably because we are no longer young and beautiful, so you know that your partner wants you because of you and not to be some kind of pretty thing on his arm. Also, you have all that experience behind you and willingness to forget and forgive and take your time.”
Don’t waste time waiting for the right moment. If you’re happy then you probably just need to let go a little and enjoy yourself and your lucky situation.
“I met my second husband in my early 50s. We were having a kiss and a cuddle on my sofa when I said ‘I’ve had a good idea’ and took him to my bedroom. We’ve been together for over 30 years, married, and we sometimes comment about my good idea.”
“Go out for a meal, have a few drinks, take him home and let things take their course. Worked for me!”
“Book a hotel in a lovely place nearby. Have a meal, dress up to make it a special date, get your hair done, and have a glass or two of Dutch courage and see where it goes.”
“Book a night away, it doesn’t have to be far or expensive, just Saturday morning till Sunday afternoon. Nice meal, just enough drink and all the privacy you need.”
Feeling shy or embarrassed about your body?
If you’re nervous about this, take your time. The benefit of being a little older is that you both have experience and know what you want. Yes, your body looks different now – but so will your partner’s.
“I know we both want a sexual relationship, but I’m not sure how I will feel when it comes to it, not having the bodies we once had.”
“My partner was just as nervous about being intimate as I was.”
“Don’t even think about what your body looks like. He will have a fair idea anyway. When the moment is right just go for it and enjoy.”
“Remember there are no mirrors under the bed covers, just you and him and the feelings of togetherness. This is what counts. Once we’ve had a couple of kids, not many of us are model perfect, never mind in later life!”
“Our bodies may not be the same as in our 20s, but we still have the same kind of feelings.”
“We spent our first night together in a Travelodge on the M1. You’re worried about seeing each other naked. Trust me, it won’t matter.”
Discussing health problems prior to having sex
Rather than avoiding the subject and feeling self-conscious about it, why not just put it on the table? You will likely both have something you are concerned about that you wish the other person knew in advance. Of course if you feel it won’t impact your sex life there is no reason to bring it up until you feel comfortable with it. But if you are nervous or concerned about a health issue, you will likely not be able to relax and enjoy being intimate with your partner until you’ve talked about things. If you are concerned about having sex due to a health condition, ask your GP’s advice on the subject.
Health conditions you may want to discuss/bring up:
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease
- Recent surgery
- Some medications
“Once it was clear that we were both serious about each other and had a future together, I think I’d feel it odd not to have mentioned it, but that’s just me.”
“If you feel close enough to this man to begin a sexual relationship, why would you want to hide anything from him?”
“When I started my relationship with my present partner 10 years ago, we were both in our mid 50s and both had been divorced for about 5 or 6 years without any other intimate relationships. I was really concerned that losing my cervix might affect the quality of sex for him in some way, but it has not been a problem.”
The people who have the most successful relationships are good at, for want of a better phrase, ‘going with the flow’. They put their faith in their relationships, in their partners and in the belief that in times of change, the most important thing is to adapt together.
Is your relationship casual, long term or perhaps better as a friendship? Talk about what you want and don’t be afraid to set boundaries with each other.
When you’re in a new relationship in your 50s and beyond, there is often significantly less pressure to ‘progress’ in your relationship. When we are younger, assumptions about settling down can cause tension in new relationships. When we are older, these assumptions are rarer and instead, mature couples are often more open and relaxed about their options. ‘Moving forward’ no longer necessarily means marriage for example; ways of connecting have become blurred and no one will raise an eyebrow whether you choose to live apart, live together or get married.
It might sound simple, but talk to your children before introducing them to your new partner. Are you worried about how they might react? If so, how do you think they will feel about your news? How old your children are is important to how you introduce them to your new partner. You know your children, but generally the younger they are, the slower the better.
Let them catch up in their own time. Start by going to a place together where you don’t necessarily have to talk, like the cinema. It is a good idea to do something you know your children will appreciate and feel is planned with them in mind. Then meet up for lunch and make sure their preferences are put first. Going for a walk together is a good idea. Wait a little while before having a dinner at home – they may need the adjustment time even if they ‘know’ you’re in a new relationship.
Let them see how happy your partner makes you and always try to let them form their own opinions of him or her. In time they may ask you all the details and you will have the chance to tell them all about how lovely your new partner is.
If your children are older, it will be harder to hide your relationship from them – and they’ll probably demand information a lot sooner. This doesn’t mean, however, that they will be ready for it sooner. Don’t forget that your children may seem supportive and positive on the outside, but struggle to cope with the change on their own. A good partner will and should respect that yours and his/her children always come first and your relationship may be a little tricky to organise around your respective families.
But while you must take care of your children’s feelings, remember that it’s your life and if you are happy then your children will be happy for you. If they take a little time to digest the news or react in a less than positive way, remember they are probably just trying to look out for you.
What if it’s not quite the time yet?
If the relationship is very new you might want to hold off including your children. One reason why it is a good idea to keep your relationship and home life separate for a little longer, is in case it doesn’t work out and the relationship ends. It will be hard to disguise the disappointment from your children – and they may have already become invested in your partner and feel the loss themselves.
What if the children won’t accept the new relationship?
If your children are not ready, then give them time to adjust, but be prepared to acknowledge that they might never be ready. A decent partner will understand the boundaries your children set and respect your past – and you should theirs. Even if the children never truly get on board with the idea, they will slowly get used to things having changed.
“Make his children welcome if they visit and remember special dates. You can’t and don’t want to replace their mum, hopefully they will accept you as their father’s partner who makes him happy.”
“I was widowed four years ago and around six months ago began a relationship with an old family friend (also widowed). We are very happy. Two of my children are delighted that I am no longer lonely and alone, but one can’t bear to think of his father being ‘replaced’.”
So what do you do if you have younger or returned children living at home? And how do you know how much time to invest in the relationship? Whether you are still caring for your children or they’re adults returned to the ‘nest’, being in a new relationship may put your home life under a strain. Managing everyone’s expectations may be difficult, so make sure you take the time to take care of yourself also.
If you’re not yet ready to introduce your children to your new partner, take a holiday, go on a mini-break – or just for a walk. If your adult children are making it difficult, ask them for a little space and remember that they would do the same if the situation was reversed.
“We don’t get much privacy and that’s part of the problem. One of my sons has returned home, on a temporary basis (I hope) and he has a son who has moved in with him too.”
“If there are privacy issues then go away for a few days’ holiday so you can both relax.”
“We went away to London for a romantic weekend and had great fun. Perhaps try that and some champagne..!”
Whether money is a little tight or not, the decision to move in together may influence things such as certain taxes and benefits. There may be financial benefits/disadvantages associated with both marriage and cohabitation. If you would like more information, visit the Citizens Advice Bureau.
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