Oh, the negative things we women over 60 tell ourselves and do to ourselves!
I looked back on some of the things I struggled with the two times I dated seriously, first when I was 57 and then again when I was in my early 60’s.
As time went on I overcame them (mostly) but, at first, these things kept me from finding the love I was looking for.
Here are just some of many misguided thoughts and actions that may be holding you back.
5 Self-Sabotaging Things Women Over 60 Do When They’re Looking for True Love
1. Choosing the wrong kind of men for you.
You may be making the same mistakes over and over again in choosing a partner . . . if you haven’t done some work on looking at why you’re attracted to a particular “type” . . . and if you haven’t worked on knowing yourself.
You may be getting involved with men who are all wrong for you (and may be wrong for ANY woman), but they satisfy some kind of need in you, so you continue to be drawn to them.
Look inward first
In his article The Secret to Avoid Dating People Who are Bad for You, Cosmo wrote about his own experiences falling for the wrong people:
“There’s a bookshelf in my office crammed with books about relationships, collected through many years. Plus, I’ve read hundreds of dating and relationship articles.
Yet for years I continued to fail in the relationship department. Despite my best intentions, it seemed I was doomed to repeat one failed relationship after another.
I couldn’t understand why I was so unlucky in love.
If I could only find someone who satisfied a checklist of compatible interests and personality, all would be well.
It’s common wisdom that we’re attracted to certain types of partners. So, I figured I just needed to change my ‘type’ to find a better relationship.
The problem with that thinking is it left ME out of the equation. There is no way to solve a problem when half the information is missing.
To understand what I truly wanted in a partner, I had to first look inward.”
With the help of a therapist, he came to understand how his family dynamic had impacted the partners and even friends he chose.
Growing up “with an alcoholic, bullying, critical and emotionally unavailable father”, he and his siblings “lived in a constant state of fear and danger“.
His mother became the main bread winner, working nights and keeping things together as best she could, but she often wasn’t there to protect her four children from their dangerous father.
The relationship his parents modeled was deeply dysfunctional, but it was the one that stuck with Cosmo.
He realized that every relationship he had as an adult
“had people with some or all of the characteristics of my father. Or it had dynamics of the failed relationship between my father and mother. This could include bullying, criticism, danger, manipulation or destructive behavior.
It shocked me to discover that this is what I was attracted to, the very people and situations I wanted to escape since childhood.”
Before diving headlong into dating, think about what attracts you to the wrong types. It will help you pinpoint the right kind of man for you. Take the time to work on identifying who your ideal partner is, assessing the challenges you face and creating a game plan.
Another misguided notion you tell yourself: At your age, the good ones are all taken. You’ve missed the boat. You’ll never find true love.
So you settle for someone who’s “okay”. He meets some of your must-have criteria, but you’re not at all gaga over him.
This is understandable. You’re a woman over 60. Fewer years are ahead of you than behind you. You want to find someone sooner than later.
You SO much don’t want to be without a man that you’re willing to put up with too much.
My advice? Get yourself good with being alone. Know that you’ll be fine if you never find “the one”.
I think it’s the best way to go into dating, especially at our age, and older. This mindset will help keep you from settling.
When I met Cosmo, in my second dating go-round after Sam died, I was of this mindset. Yes, I wanted a romance and life partner, but I was very happy with my life as it was. I wasn’t desperate. I wasn’t willing to settle . . . and I didn’t have to.
A few words about dating again after a bad break-up
There is no right or wrong time to start dating again after the break-up. Everyone heals and readies themselves at their own pace.
Whether or not you instigated the break-up, you’re experiencing a bereavement and it takes time to get over.
If you’re dating again (or thinking about it) for the following reasons, wait:
- To ease or cover up the hurt and loss you’re feeling because of the break-up
- To confirm to yourself that the relationship is really over
- To prove to yourself that you’re still desirable
- To make your ex jealous
- Because being single feels wrong to you or you hate being alone
All of these are signs that you’re NOT ready. You still have healing and introspection to do.
2. Being afraid or unwilling to try online dating.
Are you like I was – resistant to trying online dating?
After my divorce in 2004, I was single for several years. When I was ready to date, I tried joining various local groups and clubs, hanging out in the grocery store produce section, and various other stereotypical “meeting” places, with no luck.
It took me another few years of that to take a stab at online dating.
I was afraid of it. I was convinced that the dating sites were loaded with predators, scammers and losers, and that I would be putting myself in danger.
But I made the plunge, and within 6 months I met Sam, with whom I had a happy, loving relationship for 3 years.
If you’re serious about finding the right man for a forever relationship, I urge you to put most of your efforts into online dating sites . . . even though you may be resistant . . . even if your friends look at you funny when you tell them you’re going to do it, and some of them will.
Dating sites are filled with mature men looking for women over 60
Fact is, online dating sites are where you’ll find the biggest group of singles over 60 looking for love. And our age segment is the fastest growing one on these sites.
Doesn’t it make sense to go where you’ll find the most prospects?
Dating to find true love typically takes some time . . . unless you’re very lucky.
With such a vast pool of single men over 60, the dating sites will give you the best return on your time invested.
You can dip your toes into the pool slowly and quietly by joining just one of the sites, putting up a bare minimum profile, and looking around to see who’s there.
A good place to start is eHarmony, our readers’ favorite online dating site.
As long as you don’t use your real name as your user name (the one that shows on your profile), you’ll be there anonymously. And you can take down your profile at any time, if you get squeamish.
Once you get the hang of it, and see how many prospects there are online, I think you’ll want to stick it out, and give online dating a try.
3. Having such crippling body image issues that you can’t imagine anyone wanting your aging self.
It’s the rare woman who doesn’t struggle from time to time with self-esteem issues related to the way they look. In our youth-driven society, it would be hard not to.
We’re constantly bombarded by images of youth and told that only young women are beautiful or worthy of love.
This can translate to the internal message “I must look forever young to even be in the running to attract men and find true love”.
Some women – maybe most women – endlessly assess and rate parts of their body.
Some of us are so misguided, we seem to purposefully set ourselves up to fail.
In my experience, women can be terribly self-critical, which can keep us from finding true love and happiness after 60.
Bad previous relationships can negatively impact current ones
We’re especially susceptible if we’re coming from a failed relationship and have never experienced true love.
We don’t know what it feels like. We don’t know that when a man is truly in love, he’s not at all focused on our looks. He loves us for us.
Along with this goes the anxiety some of us feel about being naked with a man (once we’re ready for intimacy), especially if we haven’t been intimate with someone for a long time, which happens to many, many of us.
If you’re coming into dating after a divorce or the end of a bad relationship, chances are you weren’t being intimate for a while.
If you’re a widow and had been caring for your loved one throughout a prolonged illness, you may not have been intimate for a while.
Time passes . . . we start thinking about dating . . . we look in the mirror and assess the goods.
Misconceptions women over 60 have about single mature men
We decide that men will only be attracted to a youthful body. We will never truly have that again – even if we do lots of nipping and tucking – so we avoid having a man see us naked.
The reality is that there are plenty of men over 60 and beyond who won’t care about your sagging and wrinkles.
They have plenty of their own, so they won’t judge you for looking your age.
I know from my own experience and talking with other women over 60 that body image is a major issue.
The answer may be obvious. We need to learn to love ourselves, before we can expect someone else to truly love us. We need to get beyond crippling body issues before dating in earnest.
- Loving ourselves is important for good overall health and longevity.
- Loving ourselves makes us more lovable to others.
According to an article in the Huffington Post, one way for women to improve body image is to:
“Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
When you look in the mirror, try to replace any negative thoughts that are pushing their way through like an unwanted whitehead with an affirming thought about the way you look or feel. Replace a disapproving scowl, with a confident smile.”
Tips for women over 60 to improve body image
In her Psychology Today article, How Do I Improve My Body Image? Mary E. Pritchard Ph.D. suggests taking “the sticky note challenge”. The idea is to post sticky notes with positive phrases about you and your body in various places where you (and others) will see them.
And here are a few things I suggest doing:
- Tell yourself at least once a day that you’re beautiful, sexy and desirable. I mean, say it out loud. Verbalizing is very empowering and makes the statement more impactful.
- Stop saying negative things about your body and, when you find yourself thinking them, do your best to nip the thought in the bud.
- Stand naked (yes, naked) in front of a full-length mirror. Notice and say out loud how beautiful your body is.
- Embrace who you are. Literally hug yourself.
4. Thinking you HAVE to have sex on the first date . . . or early on . . . or before you really want to.
When I was dating, a girlfriend of mine told me about a girlfriend of hers who was also single. This friend told my friend that women – especially those over 50 – MUST sleep with a guy on the first date if they want to keep the man interested.
That blew me away! How unfortunate to truly believe that sex is the only way to attract and hold onto a man.
I can tell you from my own dating experience that there are plenty of men who want to wait to have sex as much as many of us do.
They want to be sure you’re the right one, for the long term:
- They want to be sure you’re free of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
- If COVID is still with us, they want to be sure you’ve been fully vaccinated.
- And they want to be driven initially by common sense, not sexual desire.
Perhaps a sure-fire way to guarantee you’ll have lots of first-and-only dates is to sleep with men on the first date.
A sex and dating mistake I made
I remember a man I dated early in my dating career. Within the first few dates we had agreed to wait a few months before having sex.
But in less than a month of dating, we both got carried away and things progressed too quickly . . . and then suddenly what seemed to be a promising relationship abruptly fell apart.
The main problem: He was a recent widower, not ready to date yet, although a counselor had convinced him that he was.
The intimacy shook him. He became immediately distant and, a few days later, broke things off in a phone call. He was so freaked out he couldn’t do it in person.
After that, I vowed not to let a strong physical attraction carry me away. I would wait a few months before having sex. I stuck to that plan from then on.
Then again, having sex on the first date or an early date might be okay. Everything could work out and you may hook up with someone who becomes your life partner. But more than likely, it will be a relationship killer.
Take your time. If he isn’t willing to wait – and it’s important to you to wait – he’s probably not right for you.
If sex comes up on the first date (no pun intended), let him know that you want to wait X amount of time – until you both feel it’s right.
And you both MUST get tested first for STDs. The over 50 dating crowd is the fastest growing segment of people with STDs.
Trust me. Sex with someone new is better when you wait until true love is in the mix.
5. Expecting men to make the first move.
Whether you have your sights on a man you’ve seen online or in real life, don’t wait around for him to reach out to you. It may never happen.
If you sit and wait, you may be doing just that for a long, long time. Someone has to make the first move.
I can tell you that it’s empowering to take the initiative. I often made the first move, and never got pushback. The men were very receptive.
If you’re a woman, don’t be afraid you’ll come off as too pushy. I believe that very few men over 60 think that way. If they do, maybe they’re not right for you anyway.
One caveat: Making the first move leaves you open to rejection. Try not to take it too hard.
If a man says “No thanks” he’s probably decided you’re not right for each other. He’ll actually be saving you time and potential heartbreak.
After all, if it isn’t right for one of you, it isn’t right for both of you.
One of my secrets for successful online dating
I have a great tip for online dating:
Act quickly (like immediately) with the new men you see on the sites, if they look of any interest to you.
I mean new members whose profiles you’re just seeing for the first time. Once you’ve been on the dating sites for several weeks, regularly scouring the members who are potential dates for you, you’ll become familiar with the “regulars” and you’ll notice when someone new has joined.
These newbie men may either be new to online dating, new to that particular site, or back at dating after a relationship ended.
Newbies are good ones to pay attention to. They’ll probably be more receptive and responsive than those who’ve become jaded and too picky because they’ve been at it too long.
This strategy worked like a charm for me with both Sam and Cosmo, my soulmate now.