Reader Question – Is it too late for me to find a soulmate? Is it really possible to find love and your soulmate when you are over 50 or is finding love after 50 just a dream?
The short answer is you are not too old and it’s never too late, and finding love after 50 is not just a dream. The cutest couple in my parents’ assisted living community met when she was 88 and he was 92. My own husband and I met in our mid-fifties.
According to the US Census Bureau, 18% (roughly 19 million people) of all single people in the US are over 65. Daters over 50 comprise one of the fastest growing segments of online daters. Major online dating sites like Match.com report that a quarter of their membership or more is in the over-50 category, and dating sites for seniors such as Our Time and Senior People Meet are a rapidly-growing segment for the online dating industry.
There are plenty of fish in this pond.
But you asked about finding love after 50 and a soulmate, not just any old someone to date. The biggest epiphany for me was the subtle, yet profound, difference between between looking for my soulmate and being found by my soulmate. (You can download the FREE 4 Steps to Find Love guide from the box below.)
Here’s how you can have a quality dating experience later in life:
Embrace a Positive Dating Mindset
By the time we reach 50, we all have baggage. Lots of baggage. No matter how good a life we’ve had. And that very naturally affects our mindset.
Mindset is always the most important ingredient in finding love, but perhaps especially beyond 50. Your accrued dating and marriage experience may have translated into some unhelpful beliefs and habits that will not serve you very well if soulmate-caliber love is your desire.
A positive dating mindset is made up of equal parts self-healing, gratitude, acceptance, and forgiveness. It isn’t about forgetting your past. It’s about letting it be over and keeping it in perspective so it doesn’t infect your present. If you’ve had disappointments or regrets (and who hasn’t), treat them like 7th grade – It happened, it sucked, it’s over.
Your goal is to learn from your past and use it as a catapult to a better now. Become grateful for all you learned and all those relationships that helped you learn it (I picture them as training wheels), and forgive yourself and your former partners, even when you feel like you can’t.
Any grudges or anger that you still harbor against an old love is destroying your mindset and eating up your capacity to give and receive love. How do you feel when you meet someone who still talks about how an old love did them wrong? You feel like they are spending too much time ruminating about what went wrong instead of enjoying your company. You feel like they aren’t available for a quality relationship.
It isn’t possible to hang on to old wounds and also have a positive mindset. You don’t want to date someone who is mired in the past, so you must make certain you are not that person either. Embody the kind of positive mindset you want to date. If you still feel emotionally entangled with an old relationship(s) and don’t feel quite ready to heal, be grateful, accept, and forgive, invest in counseling or coaching. Prepare your own mindset before jumping in. It’s a key component for making yourself available for love.
Know What’s Really Important to You
Take a pause to first to gain clarity about who you are (warts and all), what you stand for, and what’s important to you, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve been “out there.” Before taking the plunge into the dating pool, ask yourself these questions and write down your answers. I often skimmed past writing down my answers certain that thinking deeply about them was enough. Ironically, writing is how I explore topics. I highly recommend that you write your answers, put them aside for a few days, then come back to them. Edit as needed.
- What are your core values?
What do you value most in life? What is most important to you?
On the TV show Desperate Housewives, the character Gabrielle Solis says, "I have everything I wanted, but I wanted all the wrong things." This character was a beautiful woman, a former model, with a good-looking rich husband, a big house, and an endless bank account. She was unhappy and lonely.
According to relationship experts, a major reason we have trouble finding love is because we are clueless about what we really want and need. We think we know what’s important, but get distracted or sidetracked. Or focus on things that look good on paper, but won’t lead to the satisfying love we seek. These same experts say the key to getting off the dating hamster wheel is taking time to get to know yourself and what’s really important to you first before trying to get to know someone else.
It’s common to have a vague list, but few invest the time in candid self-discovery before leaping into the dating pool. Instead, we think we’ll know The One when we meet him or her. We rely on chemistry. It’s a feckless barometer.
Understanding your core values is at the heart of truly knowing your needs. Your core values are central to who you are and how you see the world. Unlike preferences for looks or interests, these principles are unlikely to change.
Core values include things like love, family, health, spirituality, stewardship, honesty, fidelity, respect, even alcohol use.
It’s helpful to go deeper. What does family mean to you? Is it holidays together? Dinner every week? Joint vacations? Regular phone chats? Instead of just listing the values, take that second step into defining what they look like for you and how they would live out in your life and relationship.
- What are your interests and preferences?
Unlike core values, interests and other preferences change and evolve, both for you and for any partner. Some of your interests, hobbies, and activities may be extensions of your core values. Others will be related to hobbies and pastimes.
You and your partner will both want to know whether you prefer to do most things together, have a lot of independence, or land somewhere in between. Decide whether you want to share all or some interests or whether it’s enough for your partner to respect and encourage them.
Interests, preferences, and hobbies play a significant role in how we select activities and live our lives. For example, if family is important, that may translate as having a weekly family dinner.
One of my favorite love stories of all time is about a couple who had radically different interests, yet had been happily married for decades. Their secret? They each respected the preferences of the other and built their marriage on their common ground.
Another favorite blending story is about a husband who loved to fish and a wife who loved to read. Each felt the other’s hobby took a lot of time away from the relationship. Then they both realized she could read in the boat while he fished. They report that just spending time together, even though they weren’t talking, was a relationship strengthener.
- What Are Your Deal-Breakers?
Odds are good that life has given you some insight about what you don’t want in a relationship. Most deal-breakers relate to core values, though some may be utterly goofy.
Having similar core values is the glue that holds relationship together, so you’ll want to drill down into both every day and bigger picture details. Children, grandchildren money, religion, decision-making, and politics are a few areas that can make or break a relationship.
Consider less obvious possibilities as well. Are you a sports fan? Is it important that your partner also be a sports fan? Or maybe you are not a sports fan and can’t bear the thought of being constantly dragged to games or required to watch them on TV. What about hygiene? Would it bother you for your partner to have allergies? Get detailed and very clear.
Know Your Emotional Needs
Emotional needs tend to break down into five categories:
- The need to love and be loved.
- The need to belong and have a sense of purpose in life.
- The need to have a positive self-image.
- The need for autonomy, or a need for some personal control.
- The need for security.
These categories play into how we feel fulfilled. Understanding what emotional fulfillment means to you is vital to finding a partner with whom you can feel satisfied and happy. But first, we have to understand what fulfillment means and what it doesn’t.
Your partner is there to complement you and make your life richer and more meaningful. It isn’t their job to complete you or fill up your empty spaces. It isn’t their job to make you happy.
Your partner plays an important role in your level of satisfaction, but they are not responsible for how you feel. That’s your job. They can add to your feelings of happiness or even detract from them, but the feelings themselves are your responsibility. It’s your job to do your own inner work and also to get some of your emotional needs met through interacting with the world and other people around you.
Looking for a partner to fulfill you in ways that you can only fulfill for yourself has a name – emotional vampire. If you are looking for a partner who makes you feel worthy and worthwhile, who makes you feel happy or whole, who will rescue you from boredom, who will fill up your empty spaces, then you might be a vampire yourself. If that’s the case, you have some work to do to become ready for dating, love, and your soulmate. These are needs that cannot be met by someone else. Expecting someone else to do your work for you only guarantees the relationship will fail.
Looking back at my own experience of finding love later in life, I would describe the steps this way:
- Refrain from looking outward for your healing, gratitude, acceptance, and forgiveness.
- Go inside yourself. Purge your life anything that doesn’t belong in your soulmate evolution.
- Focus on becoming the mate you want your soul to find.
Finding love after 50 and your soulmate is mostly a matter of preparing yourself to see and recognize a wonderful partner when they cross your path. Without this preparation, you could be chatting with your ideal partner right now and not even realize it!