It comes from a place of love, but it can also undermine the relationship if these women allow it to

It comes from a place of love, but it can also undermine the relationship if these women allow it to

echoes the thought: “Suddenly the problem isn’t, ‘I know you so well‘, it’s, ‘I don’t know you at all‘. In a long marriage, you’ve got the backstory, the front story, you’ve shared a story, maybe had children together, moved through the world together. There are all these shared events and there’s a kind of shorthand between you.”

That old ease might explain why some people choose to reconnect with lovers from their youth: you’ve shared a past, they know John ukrainian women vs russian was your favourite Beatle, they’re physically familiar. “This whole dating thing is both exhausting and exciting,” says. “If there’s a spark, it can be really exciting. You can become more set in your ways as you get older. Your habits, your likes and dislikes are more bedded down. It’s good to challenge all that. You actually learn different things about yourself because you’re no longer in a relationship with the person who was your familiar reflective mirror for so long.”

I ask Nick why he persisted with the dating circuit for years, even after so many wrong turns and some heartbreak along the way

It’s not for everyone. Maggie Owens says she knows plenty of women her age who have chosen to be on their own. “They’ve had upsets of one sort or another in their previous relationships and they just wouldn’t go back again, wouldn’t give it another go. They have their work and their friends or whatever and it’s enough for them.”

Owens knew she wanted to find a significant other and she kept at it, even though the online dating was “torture”. In the end, she met her husband through friends.

“For me, it’s about physical intimacy. I’d lived alone for many years and you do miss that closeness. It’s also having someone you can rely on, someone who’s got your back. I have a lot of friends but it’s not the same.”

Another woman, divorced, tells me there are definitely social disadvantages to being a single woman. “It’s the single men who get the casseroles and the dinner invitations, and everyone thinks you want to steal their husband,” she says, accustomed now to the unfairness of it. Still, she’d rather be on her own, she says, than go the way of an old friend. “She traded singledom for the trappings of coupledom and has settled for a crashing bore.”

“There is some kind of star that is always pointing towards love,” he says. “We’re imbued with the idea of romantic love, in songs, films, popular culture. We’re all enchanted a little with the idea of it, and when your marriage collapses, or your partner dies, you want love again in your life. There’s nothing quite like being in partnership with someone, sharing companionable silences, going to the movies, to dinner, doing post-mortems of what the party was like the night before. Filtering your life through someone and having your assumptions challenged.”

It’s a touching speech, although I worry it confirms the spurious idea that it’s only in a couple, even in the third age, that people can find real contentment. Is a partnership really so essential?

To read more from Good Weekend magazine, visit our page at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times.

“Old age” starts much later these days, rates of “grey divorce” – divorce after 50 – have risen in the past few decades, and generations who historically would have been dead and buried by now are instead alive and well … and signing up to online dating sites.

“A lot of men re-partner straight away. They’re terrified of being on their own. For me, a big part of it was to get comfortable with myself.”

McCarthy confesses that for quite a while she did feel like “the second Mrs de Winter”, from Daphne du Maurier’s famous novel, Rebecca, a woman struggling in the shadow of the fabled first wife’s reputation.

“Some people don’t even tell their children in the beginning that they’re in a new relationship because they don’t want the backlash,” says Malta. “Even though it’s not actually the children’s money, they can feel like it is. In the case of older women, in particular, there’s often an element of protectiveness on the part of the children. They think their mothers are a bit naive. ”

“It seems to me there’s no real difference at this age than earlier. I was self-conscious but I would have been feeling nervous and inadequate when I was young, too.”

At least with dating sites you know where you stand, explains Dr Sue Malta, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health, who has studied late-life romances

“You can become more set in your ways as you get older. Your habits, your likes and dislikes are more bedded down. It’s good to challenge all that.”

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