As we grow older, our ideas about the ideal partner change. But some of us don’t realize that and just keep looking for the same person we thought we wanted 20 or more years ago.
Be Realistic About What You Want in a Relationship
A lot of older men and women today are using online dating sites to find a partner. And most of those sites ask you what you want in a partner. Stop and think – first, about the kind of relationship you’re looking for. Do you want a committed relationship or marriage? Are you just interested in casual dating? Are you just looking for a sex partner? The answer might affect which traits you choose to look for.
Then think about the kind of person and make your list. My list of must-haves includes:
- Emotional depth: He’s comfortable talking about issues and he values open communication with a loved one.
- Healthy lifestyle: He’s in good shape, both physically and mentally. He’s not coming into a dating relationship with a host of physical or emotional problems.
- A kind heart and open attitude: He has close friends and enjoys connecting with others. He may enjoy charitable work or being involved with civic groups.
- Intelligence and curiosity: I find bright men to be very appealing. I want a man who’s connected to the larger world – no couch potatoes for me.
What’s on your list?
At this age we’re not looking for a partner to have children with us and we’re not necessarily looking for a good “provider.” But we may want someone who is eager to get to know our children and grandchildren. My children are grown and gone, so I would prefer a man in the same situation.
We pretend finances they don’t matter – but for me, they do. I don’t want to enter into a relationship with someone who struggles financially or makes bad choices around money. I’ve been there, and it was a challenge. Financial security means you can travel together and enjoy social activities comfortably.
What Don’t You Want?
Beyond the most basic things – “No smokers” or “I’m allergic to cats” – I always advise people against putting a list of don’ts on their dating profile; it’s a turnoff, because it makes you look negative. We all have deal breakers and traits we absolutely don’t want in a partner; you should consider these, but you don’t have to broadcast them.
On the other hand, do think about the things that make you uncomfortable in a partner. It helps to have these in mind as you talk on the phone and go on the first date. You can ask subtle questions if necessary, though often a conversation will give you the kind of evidence you need.
Make your list; but don’t follow it too rigidly. Knowing what appeals to you in a partner will help you sort through the online dating profiles, but try to be flexible. Go out with someone even if he isn’t your ideal match – you may be surprised.
If you tend to steer away from anyone with traits that evoke a residual, painful feeling from a previous relationship, be aware of this and make sure you’re not only reacting to a past hurt.
We’ve experienced a lot and have definite ideas about what works in our lives; the maturity of our years can help us to be clearer about what we want in a relationship.