Later in Love: Why you can find love again when you’re older
Getting back into the dating scene is a scary situation for anyone, and it can be more daunting when you've been with one person for a long time. Whether it is because of divorce or a partner’s death, if you are looking for love again, it is out there.
Joe and Vianka Sanchez will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary this summer. They started dating after a month of talking online, after first connecting on Match.com. Their first date was at Starbucks for coffee.
Both admit that they felt instant chemistry.
"That night, I invited him to go out with my family, and from there, that was it,” Vianka said.
“I think we found a commonality that we were comfortable with each other,” Joe said.
It was a second marriage for both. This follows a growing trend for many Americans, in which people over 40 are becoming single again.
“There's not one perfect way of doing something, so I say you gotta put yourself out there, open your heart and give it a chance,” Vianka said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 50 percent of adults will marry a second time. That means older Americans will be looking for love again.
When you're young, both Vianka and Joe agree, dating can be a one-dimensional experience.
“You go into it when you're young thinking you really know everything and you really don't,”said Joe.
They are both proof that, when it comes to finding love again, you are never too old to start over.
“It's almost like saying, 'I still got it. I’m still young enough. I want to have somebody in my life,'” said relationship expert Kimberly Brenner.
Brenner works with both men and women in her office. She said people become single again for many reasons. The key thing she tells everyone is to make sure you are ready.
“Love is everywhere. Everybody's looking for it, for heaven's sake. We are the ones who keep it at bay,” she said.
Dating is different when you’re older, Brenner said. When you’re young, the only dating people know is high school dating, which can be one-sided and all-consuming.
So, if you're entering the dating scene again, here is some advice.
First, figure out what you're looking for and set your standards high.
"Think about it first and get really clear, kind of like having a game plan,” Brenner said.
That means figuring out who you are as a person, and what you want in a partner.
Second, dating should be fun. So quash the anxieties and focus on being the best version of you, and develop yourself.
"Enjoy life," Brenner said. "Join organizations. Learn a new skill. Play an instrument. Go on a cruise. Don't be afraid to be single.”
Brenner said it is okay to date several people at once, before you commit to anyone. Which brings us to the third point: Don't rush into sex.
"Take your time," Brenner said. "Don't rush into it. If the guy can't wait, he's a boy.” She said sex doesn't mean commitment. Make sure you define the relationship first.
If you're dating online, be careful because people can say or do anything. Brenner said there are some red flags, including someone not posting a profile picture, someone moving the relationship forward too quickly or someone wanting you to meet them out of town. Move slowly and take your time, Brenner said.
The woman “shouldn’t do anything for the guy. The guy should do it all for us,” Brenner said.
She said men should be open and honest about their expectations because, when you are older, there should be no game-playing. She said there is a big difference between dating a boy and dating a man.
"A boy likes a challenge and the catch, but he will be willing to become a man for (a) woman. He won't become a man for a girl. For a girl, he'll become the father, and that's not good,” Brenner said.
Most importantly, Brenner said, before you even consider dating again, make sure you have healed from your past.
“It's hard to find love when you're so bitter and angry and resentful. No man wants to be around that. They'll run to the hills,” she said.
Her advice for women is to really know yourself and make sure you're emotionally ready. She said women need to value themselves.
“I really self-reflected,” Vianka said. She made a journey of self-discovery before she began dating again.
"Let the past be in the past. Learn from it and move forward. Have an open heart, trust and a lot of respect.,” Vianka said.
Now, more than a decade later, she and Joe have friendship and love and a life they can’t imagine without each other.
“We are each other's mentor, friend. We do everything together,” said Vianka.
"The happier you are with your own life, the more attractive you will be to a dating partner," Brenner said.