by Angelena Boden

In my teenage years, in the late sixties, I used to hang out with friends in the park and people watch. Once, we saw an elderly couple holding hands, pausing to kiss each other on the lips. ‘Yuck. Fetch me a bucket,’ was our response. Love belonged to the young – which meant nobody over thirty.
The dynamic of relationships were different back then. They were often founded on economic necessity (women) and sexual satisfaction (men). When love died, women stayed in empty marriages because divorce carried a taboo.

Men consoled themselves with having affairs and if widowed, were quick off the mark to find a new partner to share their golden years, often against the advice of their offspring. Except in the case of the “confirmed bachelor” or the “spinster” there was little encouragement to build a life of purpose outside marriage.
Nowadays, we’ve thrown off the shackles of convention, and if we want love and romance in our newly minted status as a single, we go for it and who cares what anyone else thinks. But, the criteria has changed.

The sixty pluses are more focused on trust than love per se. We look for someone with common interests, a companion with whom we can have a proper conversation that goes beyond, ‘What do you fancy for dinner?’ A relationship that isn’t built on power plays – financial or sexual. Life brings hurt and especially where the heart is concerned. Staying alone is preferable to suffering further pain.

Something else that changes as we get older is our confidence and self- esteem. Remember those heady days of youth when we strutted down the street in white stilettoes or swaggered around in tight fitting jeans? And didn’t we feel grand?
Grey hairs and saggy bits are here to stay but that doesn’t mean we can’t feel good in our less than perfectly iron skin!
Women who have followed a traditional role – the men are the boss – often don’t want to repeat that experience. Their newly- found independence is a source of pride, providing they have the resources to back it up.

Others flounder once they are alone and look for a partner who will take care of them, but here’s the snag: the available men either don’t want to do that anymore, or they, themselves, are needy with a lot of baggage. Having run a home and raised a family, single women want fun, adventure and to maybe try out things we haven’t had chance to do.
So, where do we find these new prospects? The dating world is very tricky and can be a source of huge disappointment. Once we hit sixty, we’re in different territory and we don’t have the map, or should I say, the App.

My new book, Love Bytes Back, addresses the issues of finding love after sixty and the perils of online dating. For the newly widowed and very vulnerable Kitty Merriweather, flirting and flattery on the exclusive Silver Rose website, gives her a thrill but takes her into the world of unscrupulous predators.
She has relied on her husband Bob, and has never learnt to stand on her own two feet because he discouraged it. She never understood boundaries or a demand for mutual respect – the hallmark of
all successful relationships.

After being in an emotionally abusive marriage for twenty years, characterised by coercive control, I remarried at age sixty, after 15 years of being alone and raising my daughters single-handed. We are semi-detached married, “together but apart” as we retain our own houses and live independently in the week. I do my thing, and he does his. We travel, visit family, chat on the phone or Skype and it suits both of us.

If you’re actively looking for love, then stop right there. It will sneak up on you when you least expect it.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all.