A gent of 75 is in love with a woman of 25. I know this guy. Let's call him Wolfie. He's an intelligent, successful man who runs his own business in Southern California. He's sensitive, caring and generous with one small ding in his psychological armor: he refuses to admit that he's old and going to die. The problem with Wolfie, like so many other older single men I see in Los Angeles, is that he lives in both illusion and denial. He devours his fantasy life but refuses to see how it devours him. While he pursues the lovely Lola of his old age dreams, he misses out on the opportunity to find a real woman closer to his age with whom to share his life.
I know another guy, a fairly well known filmmaker. He's in his seventies like Wolfie and is seriously and publicly involved with a woman much younger than he is. But he's a filmmaker and she's an actor so there you have it. It's working for them. A mutual exchange of talents for whatever reasons suits them both. As adults, they've decided to saddle the horse and ride the journey together. I suspect there's less illusion here than in Wolfie's case but still I would bet Filmmaker carries some fear of the impending decay and loss of his abilities that inevitably accompanies aging.
Now let's reverse the genders. Let's check out a woman in her fifties. Looks and acts a bit younger. Stays relatively fit and is very much engaged in life. She's compassionate, generous to a fault and supportive of others, financially stable and still quite attractive. Unlike Wolfie and Filmmaker she doesn't pursue men much younger than herself and not because she doesn't find them physically alluring and on rare occasions, emotionally and intellectually exciting. Although she has a firmer grip on the reality of finding a relationship after the age of 50 than most men, she's also not currently in a relationship that will see her through even the next decade of life. She has, on the other hand, accepted the fact she will die eventually but perhaps not before losing her memory and energy along with her muscle mass by the time she hits 90. She does not welcome or want this but has accepted it. From the time she was 14 she has known the loss of life through the monthly ritual of menstruation, the loss of hormones from menopause and the loss of at least one marriage, probably two. She's a bit more prepared to deal with being single in her old age, unlike the men in this tale.
I've spent a lot of time and energy in the last month thinking about the age issue because I recently found myself very attracted to a younger guy. There are lots of reasons for the attraction. First of all, everyone's attracted to this guy. It's impossible not to be. He's charismatic, funny, intelligent and "taken." The perfect storm for fantasy projections of middle-aged women. Okay I get that. But something interesting has happened during this Disney/Wizard of Oz/Hollywood Happy Ending fantasizing. I feel younger and sexier and I'm attracting more desirable men. Why?
Here's my conclusion. Youthful hormones that course through our bodies can be stimulated by simply hanging around younger men or women who get them going again. And once they get revived, the signals from our brain get sent out into the atmosphere and bring in more "juice," if you get my drift. So while Wolfie is sadly all by himself waiting endlessly for his 20 something to fall for him, he's turning away opportunities to engage with women say in their 30s or, god forbid, their 40s.
I, on the other hand, am smarter than Wolfie. I am ready, willing and able to reconnect. I was recently told I still had it by a pretty good looking guy in his forties. Not quite sure if the "it" he was referring to was the same "it" I hoped he was referring to but I'll let it ride and assume he was.
If life is meant to be lived right up until the moment we take our last breath, as many wise women claim, then it makes sense I would hold onto my fantasy younger man for a little bit longer in the hopes that someone with whom I can genuinely engage and perhaps deeply love will show up. When you're my age, you have to make love happen by sending out sexy signals, hoping for the best, and then letting go a 110 percent. After all, I may just end up living to be 100 years old. Look at it this way. By the time I'm in my 70s, my fantasy guy will be an older man of 60. When I'm 80, he'll be well into Social Security (if there's any still left, which is doubtful). We're all just fools for love after all, right? And there's no fool like an old fool, man or woman.
Sometimes it feels like the foundation of your social life is so strong that you no longer find the opportunity to meet new and exciting people. Throw a barbecue or party in which guests bring a friend that no one in the group knows. Alternatively, tag along with a friend the next time their office has a company picnic or function -- this is a great way to meet somebody who you know is responsible enough to hold down a career and who you can 'check out' with an acquainted friend before you agree to a date.
There's no longer a stigma about a woman learning to golf or a man taking a Pilates class, though such activities are still gender lopsided enough one way or the other to open up the dating options for the minority sex. In time you'll be able to go to a local public course and complete someone else's foursome, or cap off an exercise class by going for coffee with some of your fellow students -- both of which will give you the opportunity to meet a host of new people (most likely of the opposite sex). Just make sure you're doing something you want to do -- it would be a shame to begin a relationship under false pretenses.
Organizations such as "Habitat For Humanity" allow you to come into contact with people of all ages and from all walks of life, all of whom have strong, respectable values. And it's not just a great chance to meet a prospective date -- volunteering attracts interesting, good-natured people who themselves are excited to meet new faces and make friends.
Book clubs are great places to meet well-read, like-minded adults -- you can usually find one by calling your local library. Similarly, wine clubs, outdoors clubs and gardening clubs are good options as well depending on your interests. Joining a club allows you to grow as an individual and sets up the opportunity for you to meet someone who shares a common interest.
Singles over 50 are flocking to the online dating world more than any other demographic. It would be a shame to let 20th century prejudices about online dating spoil the opportunities that could await you with a membership. The perception that dating sites attract eccentrics or shut-ins is a dying one, but if you need convincing, just see for yourself the array of adults turning to sites like "Match" and "eHarmony" to help them begin meaningful relationships with interesting people. Here are the top five most popular dating sites for Post50s.
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