After my recent appearance on This Morning answering questions on how to find love in later life I was struck by two things. The first was how jaded everyone seemed to be with online dating and trying to find the man/woman of their dreams! The second, and this was from both male and female was the overwhelming sense of loneliness out there. The despair seemed to emanate from every voice and email and given that we were talking to older population it was all rather sad.
Thinking about it afterwards I came to the conclusion that most of the people that had responded were from the generation where you were expected to be part of a couple! It was just what you did! Dated a little, got married to the first man that asked and had kids. Simples! and you were mated for life! This was also true for me! There just wasn’t any alternatives out there. Sounds fabulous until it isn’t!
These days so many people get divorced or break up from long term relationships that you have to find a new way to cope when things go wrong and you end up back on your own. It may be through no fault of your own you could be widowed or there could be other people involved or maybe you just fall out of love. At least you don’t have to stay in a marriage you hate, at least today you have options!
But what are those options ? It’s very important from my experience to spend some time being on your own and just get to know yourself all over again. If you have been part of a couple for a long time it’s perfectly normal to feel like part of you is missing. This can be compounded by your friendship circle especially if all of the couples in your group are still together! If you are a close knit group a couple breaking up can send a ripple down the line. The still loved up couples can feel their relationship is under threat and can keep you at arms length which only adds to your misery.
It’s important at this point not to panic but give it time. Give them all a chance to adjust and keep the dialogue going with your closest alies. A girls/boys night out even if it’s dinner or the cinema can keep up the contact . Besides you never know who you may meet when your out and at this point in your life you should say yes to every invite. After the initial few weeks of moping about in your dressing gown! Eating tubs of ice cream and sticking your head in a vat of wine you need to get out!
A bit of reinvention is always good..nothing like a bit of retail/beauty therapy to sooth your broken heart . Spoil yourself! Keep busy and allow the waves of despair to wash over you until they are reduced to tiny splashes. A cliche it may be but time is what heals you.
But you need to get to know what makes you tick now. Your priorities will have changed! One of our callers the other day was from a single parent. Trying to manage a social life when you have to work around children can be a nightmare! They will need lots of reassurance so a mum or dad that’s constantly going out is not ideal. BUT and its big but, an unhappy lonely parent is not good for them either. So find a balance, enlist as much family help as you can ( but don’t take the piss) I’ve been on both sides of this equation!.
Another good idea is to find other single parents ( that you know well of course) and take turns in babysitting for each other or recruit good reputable baby sitters and maybe put all the kids together for a sleepover so you can split the cost. Further advice can be found at www.gingerbread.org.uk.
On the subject of children when you are ready to date don’t feel awkward about them coming up in conversation. Be honest and be proud!. It’s wise at first not to involve your children in your early dates with a new person. You may date a lot of new people and that’s about you and them. Only introduce them when it becomes serious. There is no rush but please do not see them as a handicap! Your children are your anchor in an otherwise turbulent world and you are most definitely theirs!
My overall message is don’t despair. Your life may have changed dramatically but that change might actually have a silver lining if you just give it a chance My own life was turned on its head more than once but I have come out the other side to find that life can be better than you ever thought possible.
Just take a deep breath and take one day at a time. Say yes to what you can and learn a new way to live your life. Life is after all about leaning to dance in the rain! Waiting for the storm to pass is no way to live! The world is full of possibilities…really!.
Until next time