And while it is good to find enjoyment in solitude, I think most would agree that the best fun comes out of spending time with people, and casual dating can be a wonderful enhancement to your life. No one says you have to go out and remarry or get serious with someone – it’s entirely up to you to set the parameters of what you really want.
So, let’s delve into why my senior dater would have made this silly comment in the first place.
Imagine the following scenario. You are all alone and you are starting to believe that it is going to stay that way despite your deep desire to meet people and feel special again. You have convinced yourself that no one will ever come close to your former partner who saw your true beauty. You look in the mirror and you say to yourself that your “best years” are over and that no one will find you attractive enough to want to go out with you and it probably just isn’t worth the effort involved. It’s just easier to go on moping and maybe one day things will change. Maybe being sad and alone isn’t all bad.
You see the happy couples in ads on TV and you yearn for that kind of connection again, but then you convince yourself that relationships are only for young people. And then you start to think about your kids and your grandkids – what on earth would they think if you started dating? You can already hear the dialogue in your head: “How could you do that to Dad?” “You are too old to date and this is embarrassing for me to have to explain to people. And what will the family say?”
Does any of this sound like that negative voice in your head?
If so then the most important thing you need to work on is your confidence, because until you build that up, it will be very difficult to get past this “woe is me” trap that we all can easily fall into.
A few articles back I touched on some suggestions to help rebuild your social life (clubs, groups, seniors’ centres, classes etc.) after the loss of a spouse. Getting out socially, making new friends and acquaintances, and trying new things will help build up your confidence. It is amazing how good you feel when you try something new that you end up really enjoying.
The other advantage to building up a new social life and developing some new interests is that you are going to also be proving to your kids that you aren’t just a helpless old soul that needs to be taken care of . That’s not what they want you to be so you shouldn’t want it either. You are showing them independence and initiative and that you can take care of yourself. This will hopefully pave the way to an easier acceptance when you eventually re-enter the dating arena.
Once you start working on this “soul” homework you can look at the next phase which is to take a good look in the mirror. And I am not just talking to the ladies here. Gentlemen! Don’t forget, if you have been in a rut it makes sense that you may not have been too concerned about your appearance. But a little effort in this area can make you feel like a million bucks!
The salon that your daughter or son goes to may be a bit pricey for your budget, but even if you go just once and get a really good cut that suits you, you know that they will do their best to make you happy if you’re the parent of a regular client. Get someone to take your photo after your new “do” so that you can show any salon exactly what you want for future cuts. Also, try to ensure that if anyone suggests a little colour, PLEASE make sure that the new colour is right for you. Just because you had ebony hair when you were 25 doesn’t mean it will suit you now. An unsuitable colour can be very aging and ruin your whole look. And for all you colour-do-it-yourselfers, use caution and get some advice!
As far as the wardrobe goes, start with a bit of purging. If you haven’t worn it in a LONG time (five years or more) it is probably out of style, and likely wont fit properly anyway so give it away to a charity. If you aren’t sure if something suits you or is outdated, ask someone. I remember my Uncle Bert, who loved his baby blue polyester leisure suits and wore them right into the new millennium, even though they were only fashionable in the seventies. UGH!! If there are any Uncle Berts among my senior daters reading this, PLEASE get rid of those suits!!
When you go shopping, take a friend or family member who is patient, has a good sense of modern style and is not in any way competitive with you. This way you will get some help picking out some new pieces that you can wear with confidence. And remember if everyone told you that pink was your best colour when you were younger, I am sure it still is one of your best shades. So if you don’t know where to start on the colour wheel, stick with colours that you have always been complemented on wearing, but maybe try a shade or two brighter than you used to wear since your hair and complexion may be different now.
If you really feel you want to splurge on a complete makeover, do an internet search for image consultants in your area to see if you can find someone who may specialize in seniors’ makeovers. Don’t be afraid to ask to see their success stories in a portfolio before you decide. After all, you will be putting yourself in their hands and you want to make sure your money is well spent. I recently discovered that some cosmetology programs at community colleges will offer free makeovers to seniors – but remember they are students, so you are their homework!
For those of you who are suffering in the confidence department, hopefully some of these suggestions will help put you back on track. Start with some changes in your life to get out of the house and meet people and the rest will all follow naturally as you begin to feel better about yourself. And please stop listening to the negative “what ifs” that keep floating around your head. Instead think positive so you can get out there and enjoy your life. You will be amazed at how wonderful you can feel about yourself.