‘You’re not spontaneous anymore’: How do you start a new relationship in old age?

“It’s not that spontaneous anymore.”
How do you start a new relationship as you get older?

“A new love is like a new life,” said one successful German. But how does that work when you’ve been around for a few years – and often have many relationships behind you? How can a new love work then? Experts advise a more practical approach – and tolerance.

Life has been going on for a while. However, your partner may already be dead or previous relationships may have broken down. According to the Federal Statistical Office, every third person over the age of 65 lives without a partner. But what if you don’t want it to stay that way? When can you imagine, even in old age, letting someone come back into your life – and meet them?

So first of all you have to deal with your expectations. Because: “Some things are different in aging,” says Dorothy Doering. The qualified teacher, born in 1949, not only wrote a book about finding a partner in old age. But also one about how teamwork works.

“You’re not as spontaneous and relaxed as you were when you were young,” she says. After all, you have legacy problems from past relationships. And: “Especially as you get older, you don’t want to make any more mistakes, because you want to learn from your mistakes.”

Important practical things

So cool at the beginning of a relationship instead of butterflies in your stomach? For qualified psychologist and holistic family therapist Matthias Richter, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Says the 66-year-old who is married for a second time. “Whether one can imagine facing the challenges of aging together. Whether there are common interests.”

Even if it seemed to some people that one should not let too much time pass in old age, one should find out in peace. about joint ventures. “Because at that age, it’s increasingly about spending free time together,” Richter says. “Of course the interests have to be proportional to some extent.”

Everyone comes with scratches and quirks

Above all, one should not expect to “find someone who walked out of his previous life without scratches and quirks,” Richter said. Or the other person will change drastically. Instead, better show: “Can I live with the dark side of the side I chose, which I chose?”

Professor Frieder Lang, a graduate psychologist and holder of the chair of psychology at the Friedrich-Alexander University, Erlangen-Nuremberg, points out that “a long life also means that everyone has a long caravan of relationships and people with them.”

Anyone who engages in new relationships in old age should know this. And you might also discover that it doesn’t have to be a love affair anymore — but other relationships can be satisfying, too. “Even with separate families and even without any sexual activity at all, you can feel a good stable friendship as a great happiness in life, and it’s not far from a partnership,” says Lange.

Live together – preferably on a trial basis first

And even in new love relationships, the shared apartment may not be necessary right away. For Dorothy Doering, for example, the “living out of sight” life model has advantages. What is meant by this is a partnership in which each individual maintains his or her own spatial environment. “You only do beautiful things together,” says the author.

Psychologist Richter advises thinking carefully about what you expect from each other before moving in together. Could it also be about someone wanting to take care of the family? Then you have to talk about it clearly. “And don’t try to do it maliciously.”

He recommends trying on mannequins beforehand, where you live in one apartment and then the other, if possible. “Because it is very difficult to reverse the movement once it is complete, given the current situation in the housing market.”

Speak – give space

So it’s better: to approach the new “we” step by step. This also applies to the family and friendly environment of the new partner. After all, there can also be concerns about adult offspring, for example – for example that a new partner can have an undesirable effect on a parent.

In a new partnership, perhaps you can live out what was previously neglected.

(Photo: IMAGO / YAY Images)

That’s why Richter advises talking openly with your children about wanting a new relationship. And to introduce a new partner carefully: “Maybe I don’t just fall in the house by the door: that’s my luck for old age. But say clearly that we’ve entered into a relationship and we’re also going to experience it.”

You should also continue to give the new partner’s existing friendships space, for example for joint activities or trips – even without yourself. This also applies if you’re not able to do much with your partner’s friends, says Richter.

Sometimes new concepts are needed

Anyone hoping to bring their environment to one table on public holidays and birthdays should also be prepared to bid farewell to some of the usual rituals. You can sit down and develop a new concept together, says Döring: “We’ve done it this way and that so far. How have you done it? And how should we do it in the future?”

In general: talk to each other. This should also be a recipe for successful relationships in old age – and true for physical closeness as well. “It is important that you talk to your partner about what you love,” says Professor Freder Lang. “For example, you could say: I like it when you touch me. It helps. If not, it may be important for the other person to be touched.”

Whoever succeeds in this probably cannot expect a whole new life from a new love. But: “You can design or enforce things your own way,” says Döring. “Or set other priorities or live out what was previously neglected.”

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