I am taking part in this year's Blogging from A to Z Challenge. This is my submission for L ...
The knowledge that you are loved is without compare. That warm feeling you get when you know you are cared for and about, when you are cherished, when its the you that you really are that is both seen and loved ... like I say, its without compare. In an ideal world, we grow up experiencing that from our parents and then its easy and more natural to accept and even love oneself. It also makes it easier to recognise that what you're feeling - as both giver and receiver - is the right love, when it comes along.
But for some, the wires get crossed ... Life gets in the way, lust gets in the way, any number of different reasons can mean that you find yourself looking for love somewhat later in life than you expected to. Your experience of this will be greatly affected by a number of factors: your gender, your age, your attractiveness, if you live in or near a large town/city and if you already have or want children being at the top of the list. Any one of these aspects can both overcome other negatives, or can be a dealbreaker. The lucky ones have a social circle that provides opportunities to meet suitable mates. But for most, its the internet.
The internet - a place to find both riches and rogues! There are websites for every type of preference: lifestyle, religion, sexual, education, hobbies and interests, you name it and someone has probably started a dating site for it ... Some just let you loose at their membership, others believe in the power of their their complex algorhythms and provide introductions only. Some are free, some charge. There's no "best site", only the one that suits you and what you seek. A robust nature and the ability to laugh at yourself and your dates will stand you in good stead though. It seems accepted that most daters lie - about their appearance, age, height, weight, marital status ... Some use this to insist on the quick meet up - oh and to check whether they feel "the spark". Others believe that a proper relationship takes time in the getting to know one another stage, so they correspond and talk on the phone all before that first date.
Women speak of the 6-footers they've kissed hello to who turned out to be 5'8. Men speak of the 'older sisters' they meet due to old or unfeasibly flattering photos. I know smokers who categorise themselves as non-smokers, in the absolute belief the non-smoker they date won't be able to smell it on them ... and then wonder why date two never happens. And that's before we talk about those who are busy lying to themselves ... The girl who - deep down - just wants a bit of fun but as "nice girls don't do that" says she's after a serious relationship, so she ends up breaking the heart of the boy who really is looking to settle down. The widower who's promised his dying wife that he'll get on with life and be happy, so jumps back into dating until the grief and guilt overwhelms him and he ends up breaking the heart of the kind woman who's done her grieving before attempting to move on. Could either of the heart-broken have seen the red flags? Possibly, probably even. Some will always risk their hearts, others will count up the flags and will walk away without thinking "what if?"
You can see why I describe it as a matter of mostly mis-matched expectations.
I know a man who looks good (OK great) for his age and wants to date women around 20 years younger (fairly typically). I struggled not to laugh when my friend took the time to explain to him that as those much younger women he pursued (herself included) not only had the choice of men their own age but also men 20 years younger, why would they be drawn to him?
The reality is that very few of those looking for love in their later years are in any way realistic. In all honesty, if you want a bit of fun, some flirtation or an active social life, online dating is perfect. If you're looking for something serious, its more a game of patience. Certainly time and serendipity do play their part, and you're better being in the game where you can be found, than out of it. But its best if you put your focus and energy into living ... yes, I know its a cliche. Thing is, even if he doesn't happen along, you'll be having a ball. So he really has to be worth it for you to make room in your life for him. And isn't that the best criteria for picking a mate?
How did you meet your significant other? Have you run the gauntlet of online dating?