Whether you’re embracing this moment with relief, or it’s a terrifying, crushing blow, finding yourself single after 50 is new and challenging territory. Here are three tips to help you navigate your way.
1. Keep the old but try the new
Take a good look at your support system. Who will you call for a soft shoulder to cry on, a companion for a Sunday afternoon, an advisor on investments or home repairs or internet dating? You may not have needed all of this support before, but this time in your life requires a broad range of resources. Reach out to your friends and make those connections. But don’t expect your married friends to suddenly be available at times they never were before. Join a yoga class, a book club, a church group, a political organization—whatever interests you—and find people who will be available for that Saturday walk or Sunday matinee.
2. Always remember to give something back
Newly single people are often bewildered and hurt when the invitations and offers of help dry up soon after their loss. Sympathy dinners and visits will only go so far. Yes, you may be at a low point in your life and not up to grand gestures or throwing parties, but you do have to contribute your share. You want your friends to be with you because they enjoy your company, not just to take care of you. They’ll soon get tired of that.
You may not feel like rustling up a dinner. So how about inviting someone over for coffee and cake, or wine and cheese? Or asking them out for a lunch or a walk? Can you help a friend with a special skill, such as altering a dress or fixing a computer glitch? Writing a note of thanks, or making a call to check in on a friend when she’s just had a work review or her child is ill will move your focus away from your own problems and keep a healthy balance in your friendships. And when you do get together, make sure the conversation isn’t exclusively about your issues. Remember, the next time you feel adrift ask yourself, “What have I done lately to nurture the people who are important to me?”.
3. Don’t just try harder, try different
Are you stuck in a depression or anxiety spiral? Are you making the same dating mistakes over and over? Are you frustrated that despite your best efforts, your life isn’t working for you? You could be trying really, really hard but going in the wrong direction. An objective professional could help you see your path more clearly and offer creative solutions for you. This is a critical time in your life. Use every resource you have to move you in a happier, more fulfilling direction.