In September, I traveled to Portugal solo. One night, while eating dinner, an older couple beckoned me to join their table. The wife--a woman in her 70s with long silver hair cascading down over her shoulders--asked me what I do for a living.
"I am a dating coach and writer," I replied.
Amused by my answer, she pointed to her husband and said, "We just got married two years ago."
I smiled, anticipating a wonderful story.
No stranger to heartbreak, this woman survived an emotionally-abusive marriage while raising four children.
"I eventually mustered the courage to leave my ex-husband," she said. "But, those years broke me. Devastated, I spiraled into a deep depression. I ended up in a mental hospital."
"I'm so sorry to hear it," I responded.
With an impish grin, she laughed, "Oh, don't be sorry! It was such a blessing—finally I had some peace and quiet! It gave me a wonderful opportunity to heal and put myself back together."
In the years that followed, she lived on her own terms. She left a career in nursing to drive a mobile library. She tended an organic garden. She ushered her last child into adulthood.
Fully at peace with her own life, she met John--a widower who had been living on his own for almost a decade.
I asked where they met. Her answer surprised me.
"Where else? The internet! I was on a website called 'Plenty of Fish,'" she laughed. "He kept emailing me. I finally had enough and said, 'Let's meet!' And, we’ve been inseparable ever since."
I asked her what drew her to John--a quiet, good-humored and reserved man.
"He was kind," she answered. "And, I knew that life was better savored with a companion. Now, we travel through Europe, staying at $10 per night hostels. I feel like a kid again!"
I asked John what attracted him to his wife. He said, "She is alive. And, despite the challenges that she has faced, she is still optimistic and happy."
I am often asked the best age to find love. Love, in my opinion, has no expiration date. I have clients in their 50s, 60s and 70s who are wildly successful. The key to their happiness? A deep understanding of the following:
1. Age is nothing but a number.
Have you ever met a 20-year old who lacks vitality and spends his days glued to Facebook? Or a 60-year old with the joie de vivre of a teenager? If so, you understand that age is relative.
2. Opportunity is everywhere.
This week, I consulted with two potential clients—both in their early 60s. One sees a world of scarcity--she laments that men only want younger women. The other sees a world of abundance. She crafted a captivating online profile, signed up for classes where she can expand her social circle and says “yes” to all invitations. Guess which of these two is NOT sitting home on Saturday night?
3. Great love is richer for experience.
While young love is wonderfully innocent and sweet, mature love can be more satisfying and is often a beautiful counterpoint to loss and heartbreak.
4. Life breaks everyone. The courageous find purpose, meaning and opportunity.
A new client lost her husband to brain cancer and nursed him until the end. She has every reason to be bitter, but instead is using her experience to teach others how to be caregivers. After 29 years off-the-market, she is excited to date. She radiates gratitude, optimism and strength. It’s not surprising that men are drawn to her vivacious spirit.
5. Dating is a learned skill. It’s never too late to learn.
Some people get lucky—they meet their soul mate early. But, most others will experience a fair share of failure along their journey. Failure isn’t a problem, unless you get mired in pessimism and fail to learn from your mistakes.
Make no mistake--there is a right way to date. To have a successful relationship, you have to get real and work to build up your self-esteem. But, the good news is that with diligence and effort, it’s never too late to turn your love life around. Plus, it’s an investment that will keep you young.