Can you share real-life love stories involving women over 50?
November 26, 2017 11:10 AM   Subscribe

There’s a lot of bad news on metafilter and elsewhere about the love-finding prospects for hetero middle aged women like me. I’m 51. I’ve never had a good, happy, mutually fulfilling relationship, though I’ve had a number of unhappy, unfulfilling ones — and lately no relationships at all.

This unsatisfying romantic history is basically the result of being weaned on a number of "adverse childhood experiences” that left me and my siblings with persistent narratives of inadequacy and unlovability. My three siblings all married right out of college and remain in harrowing, loveless marriages.

I’ve done a lot of inner work over many years and feel pretty wise about my own issues (i.e., they’re not gone or fully resolved, but I think I understand them pretty well), and feel ready to actually be in a satisfying relationship. But it feels like finally figuring out how to use the DVD player when everyone has moved on to live-streaming. It feels like I’m just too late. So, I’m fishing for anecdotes to give me hope. The perception that men my age only want 25-year-olds clearly has some basis in fact, but not all men out there are like this, right? Can you share stories of women you know who found love, intimacy, satisfying sex, the whole nine yards, later in life?
posted by swheatie to Human Relations (34 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
My father's second wife was 48 when they married. She had a very brief marriage when much younger but as far as I know had been single most of her adult life. The marriage is now at 15 years and counting. I can testify to the love and intimacy (it's my father, I don't ask about how satisfying the sex life might be).
posted by metahawk at 11:45 AM on November 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

My cousin and his wife married in their 50s. Neither had been married before. They seem really happy together.
posted by ilovewinter at 11:58 AM on November 26, 2017

My aunt married her boyfriend two years ago - it’s her first marriage and his second. She is in her mid-60s. In many, many ways, he’s the perfect match for her and she has said that when she’s with him, it’s like she has everything she wants in life. She met him in her apartment complex a few years before they got married - he helped her with some small tasks and she cooked for him, and soon enough, they fell in love.
posted by umwhat at 12:07 PM on November 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

Oh, and also - my aunt had had a string of unsuccessful relationships for years, but she had been very single (no dating at all) for perhaps 15 years before she met him.
posted by umwhat at 12:09 PM on November 26, 2017

My mom and dad divorced when she was 41. She was single with almost no dating for over a decade. When she was 52, she met a guy at a country western dance she went to with a friend. Six months later, they married. They've been very happily married for almost 20 years.
posted by Barnifer at 12:25 PM on November 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

A cousin of mine got married for the first time in her early fifties. She has a lot of emotional issues as she has anorexia, had been on disability for over twenty years, and she was single all that time. Then one day she met her husband-to-be by chance on a street corner. He is a super nice guy whom everyone likes, and quite nice looking. They just celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary last month. They have a good life now with their adored dogs. I think he has some grown children from a prior marriage, one of whom just got married, so it's likely my cousin will get to enjoy being a step-grandmother within a few years, and he owns and operates several small businesses, which she helps out with, and she's been doing so much better mentally and physically now that she's happy and busy.

That same cousin's father was widowed in his late forties. He didn't date anyone for the next three years, until my cousin met a woman (a widow the same age as her father) whom she thought was wonderful at some church function. She convinced them both to let her set them up on a dinner date. They had that dinner date, started dating, and my uncle proposed three months later. They were married for 33 very happy years until my uncle died at the age of 83.

My father's favourite cousin was widowed at 84 -- he and his wife had been together a good 60 years. He found a girlfriend within a year or so and he and Peggy were an item for the next 12 years, until she died, and he followed her about five months later, just this past September. They never got married or even lived together, but they travelled together and went out socially and visited their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and clearly enjoyed what they had together. It's really never too late to find someone to love.
posted by orange swan at 12:37 PM on November 26, 2017 [13 favorites]

A friend in her mid fifties, never married, saw the Cirque du Soleil tent and on a whim, drove over, walked up, and bought a single ticket to a performance that was about to begin. Turns out the man in the seat beside her had essentially done the same thing. They started chatting and now they are happily married!
posted by MelissaSimon at 12:41 PM on November 26, 2017 [18 favorites]

My mom was in her late sixties and divorcing my stepdad when she was set up with her now-boyfriend by mutual friends and they’ve been together for I think it’s been five years now.
posted by greta simone at 12:49 PM on November 26, 2017

"No good men over age [x]" is a sustaining story of the patriarchy. When I first heard it, it was "no good men over age 28!" It serves to make sure women continue to settle for bad relationships now that it's no longer necessary for women to be married for sheer economic survival.

I've spent my entire adult life as a hetero woman in big coastal cities with supposedly terrible dating conditions for hetero women. IME there are only 2 kinds of women who want to be in good, fulfilling heterosexual relationships (at any age) but aren't. The first is women who stay in bad relationships, and the second is women who don't date at all. Literally every other woman I've known who wants to find a good relationship has eventually found one -- at ages ranging from 25 to 65.

I actually think it's an advantage not to be 25 because it prevents you from wasting time with dudes who value female youth over any other characteristic.

Anyway you wanted inspiring anecdotes, so here are a few I found with a pretty cursory google search: (this one is better than you might expect based on the source and headline)
posted by mrmurbles at 1:00 PM on November 26, 2017 [25 favorites]

My neighbor (late 50's) just married a childhood acquaintance. She dated sporadically over the years but never found "the one". His wife passed away a few years ago and they became reacquainted. Dated for a year or two and got married about 6 months. She is glowing and the happiest I've ever seen her! He lives three hours away and they travel back and forth between the two houses.
posted by rglass at 1:01 PM on November 26, 2017

I married a couple this year who are in their fifties. They met through online dating. I couldn't do the premarital counseling because they lived several hundred miles away, so I made a referral. The groom told me their counselor said he had never encountered such compatible people, based on the instrument he used for the work he did with them. At the wedding, they were like teenagers. It was so cute.

I got married when the internet was still kind of new, so I have never tried online dating sites, but the more people I meet, the more impressed I am with it. Also, to echo what mrmurbles said, there is an advantage to being older when you are dating, because you really know better what you are looking for and it is easier to separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.

All the best to you.
posted by 4ster at 1:36 PM on November 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

A dear friend's dad remarried to her stepmom a few years after friend's mom died. Stepmom not only was a first-time bride in her fifties, she's a committed feminist! Dad and stepmom are both charming, lovely people, and stepmom dotes on her step-grandkids - she likes to say she jumped straight to the "whee, fun grandkids" part without any of the grunt work.

BTW I flagged mrmurbles' comment as fantastic - I think sometimes Metafilter can get too pessimistic for its own good. Yes, we live in a patriarchy, and yes, dating can be a horror show, but there are plenty of good potential partners out there, and people of all ages, genders, and body types find true love every day. People also like to shit all over online dating, but for many, it's been a godsend - relying on kismet and luck and "gee I hope Susan's new boyfriend invited some of his cute friends to the party" gets old fast. Online dating allows you to cut to the chase and look for other people who are similarly available and looking, rather than crossing your fingers that the attractive person at the party or bar or on the train or wherever really is single, available, and compatible.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:10 PM on November 26, 2017 [5 favorites]

I bought some furniture off Craigslist from a woman in her late 50s who was moving in with her boyfriend, whom she'd met online half a year prior.
posted by noxperpetua at 2:27 PM on November 26, 2017

My nana fell in love, decades after my grandfather died, with a charming widower who bought her canned vegetables in bulk when it was on sale and a flashy diamond ring. They didn't marry, since it would have affected their financial statuses negatively, but they were very happy together. I believe she was in her late 70s/early 80s when they met.
posted by studioaudience at 2:42 PM on November 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

My sister-in-law, single most of her adult life with few relationships, met two wonderful men in her fifties and had to decide between them. Both were widowers, one ten years older, one near the same age. She's been married to the "winner" for over twenty years. They're very, very happy.
posted by Elsie at 2:44 PM on November 26, 2017

I didn't think of this at first, but studioaudience's comment reminded me of my grandma's story. My grandfather died when she was in her 70s. Their marriage was not very happy, and she lives in a very small town in rural Iowa. She had no interest and no prospects for romance of any kind and so assumed she would be alone for the rest of her life. Almost 20 years later, a local farmer retired into town and moved in next door. They married when she was 93. They absolutely adore each other. I've never seen her happier.
posted by Barnifer at 3:56 PM on November 26, 2017 [7 favorites]

A colleague met a guy online in her late 50s. They are great together, best friends who love travelling and eating out and theatre etc. I don't think they'll marry - both been there before but they are clearly life partners. Whenever I am cynical about relationships she'll say, but what about X and I have to concede, they are perfect for each other. Plus I've seen her with one of his sons and it's what I would love in a step mother - mutual respect, friendliness but no overbearing parenting.
posted by kitten magic at 3:59 PM on November 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Have you watched Grace & Frankie? It’s defintely fiction, but has some cute and realistic romantic plot lines for the two hilarious retired main characters.
posted by Grandysaur at 4:02 PM on November 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

My mother had been divorced for over a decade and hadn't really dated much. At the age of 47 she met a former classmate at a conference; she'd had a crush on him during their training, but he was 11 years younger than she and back then it seemed too wide a gap. Now they met again, and she dared to ask him out! They married a few years later. So far they've had nearly three decades of happiness.

I sorta followed in my mother's footsteps. I was forty, never married, had been single for years, when I noticed I kept trying to make the goofy young fella at my local independent video store laugh. On a whim, I asked him out. Our own age gap isn't as large as my mother and stepfather's, but we're working on our own decades of happiness. We've got one so far.
posted by goofyfoot at 4:17 PM on November 26, 2017 [8 favorites]

My mother-in-law died a few years ago after a short battle with cancer. She was a very matter-of-fact lady and, although I didn't hear her say it, I can absolutely imagine her saying, "Now Ray! Don't you go mourning for me! You get out there and meet someone nice when I'm gone." So a year after she died, my father-in-law called up my husband and asked for his help setting up an account on Catholic Singles. Several months passed, and one day we get a phone call that he's met a nice woman. And a few months later, they're getting married! Soon!

"They're not wasting any time," I said to Herr Vortex. "They met six months ago!"
"They don't have much time!" he said. "They're both 78 years old!" I saw his point.

There is nothing more life-affirming than going to the wedding of two septuagenarians. They were both so happy, and all of us kids/kids-in-law/grandkids/etc were so freaking happy for them. They're having so much fun together.
posted by Elly Vortex at 4:34 PM on November 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

[I meant to address this particular point in the post: "The perception that men my age only want 25-year-olds clearly has some basis in fact, but not all men out there are like this, right?" Neither my mother nor I had any bent toward younger men; and neither of us are by any means gorgeous or rich or seductive or anything. I do wonder if my mother's decision to get bold and ask out a man several years her junior in the '80s, and the subsequent happiness of her decision, helped me to do the same twenty+ years later.]
posted by goofyfoot at 6:00 PM on November 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

My shrink got married at age 51, after being single for fifteen years.
And my mom appears to be happily in love with someone who loves her back for the first time (uh, not with my dad, but this doesn't surprise me) at age 67.

Once in a while, it happens.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:19 PM on November 26, 2017

My dad got remarried at 65 to a woman about that age, and they're very happy. He had been single for about 20 years previously.
posted by Slinga at 6:55 PM on November 26, 2017

My mom! She is 60 and madly in love with a man she met on a dating site! They are very happy and he treats her well and is generous and respectful to her.
posted by Aquifer at 7:22 PM on November 26, 2017

I shared my dad and stepmom's story here.
posted by anderjen at 7:39 PM on November 26, 2017

For the last several years, I've had a few inappropriate crushes, but very few dates. I'm not an easy match, and New York City is not an easy place to meet men, so I'd become grudgingly resigned to a long-term single life.

But all that changed this year.

A few days after my 50th birthday, my ex-boyfriend, who lives a hemisphere away, got back in touch. We'd met up and stayed in contact off and on for three decades, but emotional blocks (his inability to talk about his feelings) and geographical blocks (the war of the hemispheres) had broken us up several times. In the interim, I'd had a long-term relationship, and he had gotten married. When his marriage was ending, he and his wife went into therapy. She rapidly stopped going, but he continued for the next two years. That's where he learned to talk about what he wanted, how he felt about me ... and how we felt about each other.

For the last six months, we've been writing love letters back and forth every day. It's the most romantic thing I've ever experienced, and we're both flying high. In January, we'll finally meet again in person and, this time, we have practice leaping boundaries. Thirty years after our first meeting, we're finally talking marriage. I never would have predicted it when we first met at 20 ... but it just feels right.
posted by Violet Blue at 7:43 PM on November 26, 2017 [9 favorites]

I am dating a woman who is 51 and never been married. I am divorced for 8 years or so. Both of us have talked about being pretty sure that we would never find the one. I am not sure if she is it, but I am sure that you can find someone regardless of your past life.
posted by AugustWest at 10:30 PM on November 26, 2017

I became single at 45, started dating with no real plans to ever have another long-term relationship about a year later, started dating and met lots of interesting men and then at age 47 I met the man I'll be spending the rest of my days with. He was 54 at the time, never married, no children, and, as I said, I had no plans to settle down with one fella, but we fell in love. It's 6 years later, we're still in love, living together and consider ourselves a couple for life. He's everything I've ever wanted in a partner (well, except he's not wealthy) and I've never been treated so well by another human being, nor felt as loved and trusted as I do now. It happens, really it does.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 3:23 AM on November 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

I don't mean to derail with a response about a man, but he's gay so... maybe that counts? He's my husband. We met just a year or so before his 50th, when I was in my late 20s, and by all accounts we each provoked a flourishing in the other that has not stopped in the (almost exactly*) ten years since. Your self-description could be his self-description, almost word for word. Our story's punch, if I had to point to one, is that looking for fulfillment in only the most expected and appropriate places leaves one overlooking quite a lot of possibility. Let the masses gossip and go where your desires lead.

[*We met sometime the week after Thanksgiving, 2007--kismet]
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:31 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for sharing these wonderful stories. So glad I asked.
posted by swheatie at 3:30 PM on November 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Late to the party as usual, but I've been in a relationship with a 55 year old woman for the past 9 months. I'm a 56yo bloke. We've lived in the same rural area for 30 years and were not aware of each other, yet we are very similar in outlook and sensibilities and both quite atypical for this part of the world. We also both have issues from previous lives that we've worked on and, like you, have learned to manage.

Neither of us really expected to find another big love at this point in our lives, yet here we are. Life really is full of surprises.

I much prefer partners near my own age and I say this having dated people much younger and much older. I relate well to young people generally and have some much younger friends, but when it comes to relationships, I want to be with someone who is similar culturally. I find younger folk are usually at quite different places in their journeys and this seems more pronounced to me now than it used to.

As another data point, my ex wife was in her mid 50s when she met her current husband. They met while walking their respective dogs in an inner suburb of a large city.

My partner and I met on OKCupid. Online dating is a bit weird at first but it can work really well for people of our age.
posted by mewsic at 2:02 AM on November 28, 2017

Late to the party, too – and with another cheering story of people far older that's worth recounting. My grandmother, at age 82 and a widow, put an online dating ad up, without a photo, and without much text, either. The very first man who replied turned out to be the same age, lived nearby and was a longtime widower.

They fell in love and got married when they were 83! And they were/are genuinely starry-eyed for each other.

It's tougher now (three years later) as my grandmother has Alzheimer's and he has cancer – it's really tough for the whole family, actually. But they are still together and still going strong, despite everything. Not to sound too corny, but it really can happen at any age. If someone can find love at 82, definitely don't give up yet (or indeed, ever!)
posted by considerthelilies at 8:53 PM on November 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

I just thought of a more famous example - US Senator from Maine, Susan Collins married for the first time at age 59.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:49 AM on November 30, 2017

A friend of mine who is either 50 or just about to turn 50 (at least late 40's) had pretty much settled on a life of being single, but random events happened and a year ago she started dating an old crush of hers who had divorced his wife. They are perfect for each other.
posted by christiehawk at 3:29 PM on December 3, 2017

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