Dear Sara: I’m a 63-year-old gentleman, retired from health care and living alone in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area. Sadly, my last real long-term relationship ended over a year ago, and it seems virtually impossible to meet a quality woman near both my age and home location. My friends reassure me that I’m a perfect gentleman, well-groomed, articulate, educated, financially secure, have a great sense of humor, and not hard on the eyes. I’m not a church-goer, team sports player, or one for night clubs. I’ve tried several popular online dating sites without any success (despite being told that my profiles are well-written).
My retirement does afford me an abundance of free time, however it seems no one else has any time for a relationship. The women close to my age are still working and have many other family responsibilities. I’ve been encouraged to seek out women considerably older than myself, to find someone who is also retired. It seems that the women I meet in their early to mid 50s still have younger children at home, and are looking for a man to provide for them. As all of my friends are married and living several hours away, I find myself lonely and depressed. My entire family consists of only two much older brothers, both of whom live very far away and maintain very little contact. I’m very open to pursuing a monogamous long-term committed relationship. Any advice you can offer will be deeply appreciated. – S
Dear S: Finding the right match is hard—no matter what your age or circumstances, and no matter how many fine qualities you have. There are so many things that have to go right: physical chemistry, intellectual and emotional compatibility, etc. So when someone isn’t a match, that doesn’t mean either of you did anything wrong, or is lacking in any way. It just means that the two of you aren’t a good fit.
You haven’t had good luck with internet dating so far, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t ever—just because you’ve gone on ten mediocre dates doesn’t mean the eleventh won’t be great.
But regardless of whether you decide to try online dating again, I would suggest taking some steps to meet people in real life. You say you have a lot of free time, and you’re frustrated that women your age seem so busy. You also provide a list of things you don’t do (play sports, attend church, frequent nightclubs). So my question is, what do you like to do? Forget meeting a romantic partner—are there activities you enjoy that could also have a social component? And if none come to mind, are there ones you would be willing to try? Volunteer work, continuing-education classes, meet-up groups, clubs?
I know single people get this advice a lot—go join a group! But here’s the thing about people who show up to photography classes or trail-clearing walks—they usually have a fair amount of free time, too.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll spot your true love the minute you walk into that canned-food drive or Spanish class. Chances are, you won’t. But you will get to meet other like-minded people–people with a bit of extra time, people who might become friends, people who can invite you to other fun outings or activities. And at the very least, you’ve left the house and done something you enjoy.
If you focus on expanding your social circle, rather than locating that one special person, you’ll get to enjoy a lot more success. You didn’t find love today, but you did get an invitation to a New Year’s Day brunch. Maybe you’ll meet someone there. Or maybe you won’t, but you’re still increasing your chances that you’ll meet someone in the future. And when you do meet that person, she’ll see someone who is able to enjoy his life, regardless of whether or not he’s in a relationship. People tend to like that.
One last thing: You provided a long list of all your good attributes and mentioned that you are having a hard time finding “quality” women. You also said you think women in their 50s are looking for someone to provide for them. I would be careful about thinking about relationships in this transactional way—of comparing your “worth” to someone else’s. Everyone is worthy of love, so I would suggest focusing less on everyone’s “value” and instead on finding people you like spending time with.
Sara Eckel is a personal coach and the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. Ask her questions here.