Finding your perfect match outside of the average dating age.
By Vicki Abraham
A LOVE STORY.
Jim Yates, a single, happy bachelor, was in his home office in Atlanta when he took a call from a business associate, Bermuda’s Deputy Mayor at the City of Hamilton.
At the same moment Claudette, the Recording Secretary for Hamilton’s City Hall, entered the Deputy Mayor’s office with a work request as she often did; it was a usual workday. She saw him on the phone and turned to leave but he called her back and gestured to take a seat; he wanted to introduce Claudette to the man he was on the call with.
It was unexpected and awkward, but they exchanged pleasantries and Jim offered to meet Claudette any time that she was in the Atlanta area. Neither Jim nor Claudette could have known that seven years after that light-hearted and impromptu introduction, they would marry!
Pre-pandemic Jim lived a busy life, he volunteered a lot, was involved in events and he always had a lot of people around him; he was very social and wasn’t looking for love, yet he was inspired.
“It’s never too late for love,” Jim shared, “I’d been single all my life with no intention of getting married and then sparks started flying when we met and we enjoyed each other’s company, the chemistry was there, communication was there, and connectivity was there. I think those were all the main ingredients that drew us together. I think the flipside of being in your 70’s is that no one really wants to grow old by themselves, so I was probably more open to having somebody special come into my life at this point in time. Claudette’s the only one who has been able to work that magic after all these years!”
A HUMAN NEED.
Margaret Swift Thompson, a CTA Certified Coach and licensed counselor says, “companionship and connection is a human need. People as they age may say, ‘I don’t have the energy to do that again’, ‘I don’t want to risk it’, or ‘It’s too scary’; people can let fear stop them from connection.”
“I don’t think you’re ever too old to have love”, she said, “but if someone feels that way, it’s OK. What about looking for someone who could be a companion to go to the movies with, or go out to dinner with, or join a club with, or travel with, once you get to that comfort level?”
People who have been single for many years may use social media to avoid loneliness. Margaret says, “It’s an avenue some people seek because at least there’s a connection. You’re able to send a message, a picture, and chat briefly here and there, although after a while they may find that it’s not enough. People who feel this way can ask themselves, ‘What am I willing to do differently?’ ‘Am I willing to put myself out there to meet people?”
DATING CAN BE DAUNTING.
Margaret’s advice is, “If dating feels intimidating, think of it more as meeting new friends, start with a conversation. At any age the key to connection is communication. Counter to connection is letting life go by and staying in a rut.”
Jim and Claudette’s fairy tale story is not uncommon. They have friends in the age group who recently married after their romance began a few years ago with a chance conversation at the post office.
“It could happen to anyone,” Claudette said, “we just have to be open to the possibility that it could happen and not shut ourselves off because we’ve been through things in life and in relationships, the good, the bad and the indifferent. I decided to meet with Jim out of curiosity, I was in Atlanta, and I knew he was familiar with Bermuda, so why not? A lot of women and men don’t give themselves a chance to love again. Neither Jim nor I ever thought we would be in the space that we’re in now, a married couple, that just never crossed our minds at the time. Over time we grew closer through conversation and doing things together, and we both like to travel.”
WHERE TO START.
When you’re ready to meet someone, how and where do you go? It all looks very different now than it did 50 years ago! Start with your own community; who do you know and who could introduce you to new people? Dating sites are also popular.
Entrepreneur and social media author Lon Safko was quoted in Forbes Magazine in May 2021, “As more and more seniors have become increasingly comfortable with the Internet, social platforms, and smartphones, senior internet dating sites have become very popular.
Sites like Zoosk, EliteSingles, SilverSingles, and OurTime focus on seniors meeting, while sites like eHarmony, Match, and Christian Mingle are experiencing huge growth with seniors.” Seniors are also using the dating app Tinder to meet people their age.
IS IT SAFE?
It’s true that some older people fall into traps and scams, and they’re taken advantage of because they’re lonely. They meet someone online who’s not who they say they are, they take people at face value and trust that their story is true. It’s important to be cautious when meeting people online.
Agree to meet the person at a public place, do activities and hobbies that you both enjoy; e.g; golfing, volunteering, service work, attending a community centre or going to the movies.
When Claudette first met Jim in person it was a short meeting in a safe public space – at an airport on a layover. When she eventually stayed with Jim, she was sure to let her children know where she would be and with whom.
“He invited me up to Atlanta for Superbowl, so I talked it over with my youngest son. He said, ‘Yeah Mom, go for it.’ I gave him Jim’s number and address and all the information I had on Jim. I thought, I don’t know this man and I’m going to his house!
“As it happened, we had a really great time, we hit it off. We went to a Superbowl party with his friends and when I came back to Bermuda, we stayed in contact the whole time.”
THE TECH ADVANTAGE.
When they first met, a long-distance relationship was no concern for Claudette and Jim. Thanks to WhatsApp they were in touch every day with video chat and sharing photos. Jim said, “I love the technology, we were constantly in touch, it made a big difference.”
Listening to a podcast can help with ideas and confidence building and there are some great options available. Bermuda-based Dr. Michelle St Jane published a series about online dating on her podcast: Life & Leadership: A Conscious Journey. Look up these episodes:
• Online Dating: The Deep Dive, Hazards and Risks | Kate Hames
• The 10-Hour 1st Date | Chyanne and Darryl Smith. They talk with great humour about online dating and cover topics like, Stages of divorce and the education that goes with it’, and ‘When to introduce someone to your children!’
Another podcast, ‘Dating While Gray’ may offer tips and ideas on finding love in your age group.
Margaret acknowledged that at any age and especially in your 70’s, “It takes guts and tenacity to put yourself out there, is not for the faint of heart. It requires vulnerability and that’s hard for a lot of people. It starts with the question; “Am I willing to put myself out there?”