According to the latest census research, those over the age of 50 are now divorcing at double the rate of younger people. The even more riveting subgroup is those over 50 who are remarried. The odds of divorce are 40 percent higher for people in remarriages, so the people most likely to divorce late in life are the ones who have already been divorced and then remarried.
I heard one recent news report that 40 percent of online daters today are over the age of 50. If you’re in that group, you are at significant risk for a rebound divorce, or marrying the wrong person, usually far too quickly, later in life. When those marriages don’t work out, the consequences can be even harsher because you are older and less resilient, financially and emotionally.
Here’s how to protect yourself from a crushing late in life divorce:
#1. Realize that those you date — like yourself — have significant baggage, and be prepared to deal with it. Over the age of 50, most people have baggage in the form of financial issues, emotional issues stemming from a failed marriage, children they are still raising or putting through college, and much more. The goal is to find someone with carry-on baggage, not steamer trunks.
#2. Date a long time before you plan a future. The older you are as a single person, the longer it takes to unpack the baggage. Most older daters are reluctant to reveal all of their warts in the beginning of a new relationship. The risk of rejection is so high that people tend to focus on just having fun and superficial conversation until they can build a high level of trust. That means you don’t know what you’re getting until far down the road — sometimes two or three years.
#3. When you find someone special, be bold with your questions. By pacing the relationship slowly, you can afford to dole out your biggest questions and get the answers you need. Ask about financial status, especially debt or unpaid taxes. Ask about past relationships, and listen for dysfunctional patterns that are not likely to be any different with you. Ask about issues with children, the ex and extended family. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Dating is very personal, and the more personal your conversations early on, the more quickly you know what you’re getting into.
#4. Educate yourself about dating and relationships. This is prime time to reflect and learn so that you don’t recycle the same mistakes you made during the last two decades. Use a sounding board in the form of a coach, a therapist or a trusted (wise) friend to help you see into your blind spots. Read self-help books like mine — "Date Like a CEO" for men and "Temptations of the Single Girl" for women — and arm yourself with the knowledge you’ll need to navigate the significant landmines of dating over 50.
About the author: Nina Atwood, M.Ed., LPC, is a nationally known psychotherapist, the author of five self-help books, and a frequent expert media guest. Read Nina’s transformational books: for women, "Temptations of the Single Girl: The Ten Dating Traps You Must Avoid"; and for men, "Date Like a CEO: Leadership in Life and Love for Men." To successfully date online, get Nina’s $0.99 cent eBook "Internet Dating for the Savvy Single." And get loads of free advice at www.singlescoach.com.Comment