Many people say that it’s a couple’s world and indeed, it may seem that way when you have been widowed or divorced. For those who are newly single the perception of a “couple’s world” is especially daunting. Baby boomers who are choosing to date have to learn to embrace a new identity and navigate a new social environment.
After spending decades as a couple, many people face overwhelming feelings of isolation and loneliness when they find themselves suddenly single. People who are now 50 and older most likely met their spouses organically, at work, school, or a social event. When boomers were in college, computers took up entire rooms w and electronic socializing and dating were the stuff of science fiction. Needless to say, dating has changed. Social media and online dating services have made people more accessible to one and other which may be a good thing for people are ready for a new, healthy relationship. But to be ready, it is important to do the work of mourning the loss of your prior relationship and becoming comfortable with yourself and your identity in your “new normal.” Skipping this step and moving too quickly into dating can make you more vulnerable to being exploited or manipulated.
Many people who engage in support groups following divorce or the death of their spouse are adamant they will never date again. They are certain that they will live as a widow or a divorced person forever. But, forever is a long time. Boomers may have decades of good health and good living ahead of them. One of the happiest moments I have as a grief counselor is when I get a call from a former client and the conversation starts with, “you are not going to believe this…I met someone.” I cannot tell you why the conversation always starts with, “you are not going to believe this.” I totally believe it!
There is good news for those ready to re-engage in social activities and even start dating. Now more than ever there are activities to accommodate all types of people and interests. Travel companies are catering to singles, there are book clubs, outdoor activities, Mah Jongg and bridge groups for singles.