Senior Dating, be Ready When Your Parent Dates Again              

Senior DatingSenior dating is happening more frequently as one parent may outlive the other by many years. With our parents living into their nineties, it is a probability that one parent will be widowed, leaving their spouse of many years, alone. For many folks, being single becomes oppressive and they seek out companionship. It is hard after decades of married life to suddenly be eating alone. To not have someone around to talk to, share with and just hold hands with.

Online dating has become very popular with seniors and they are the fastest growing group on dating sites. Some people seek friendship and some are looking for intimacy and marriage. People meet through friends, at Senior Centers, at religious organizations or at their own clubhouse or community. As the senior dating phenomenon becomes more widespread, it has become acceptable that “life is for the living”.  There are second and third acts. Older adults seek out a more active life thane their parents did. The issue of moving on often is more difficult for the adult son or daughter and even grown grandchildren.

Truly, no one can replace a parent, mother or father, or grandparent. For couples who have been together for 45, 50 or 60 years plus, the loss of one doesn’t mean the surviving spouse forgets them. However, family discord can arise when the adult sons and daughters feel a disloyalty of one parent to the other and of course there is the issue of money when a new person enters your parent’s life.

If you or a sibling is having difficulty accepting the new person in your parent’s life, you may want to seek counseling. There may be unresolved grief issues. The problem is yours and you will be getting in the way of your parent’s happiness, which probably is not your intent. Your parents may not have approved of who you dated or even married but they had to accept your decision.

In order to maintain a healthy and warm relationship with your mother or father, it is vital for you to examine your feelings about senior dating and work it through. It is very unpleasant to have your son or daughter disapprove of your choice in who to spend time with.

If there is a true concern about the person who your parent is dating, you may wish to do a background check.  You may wish to have a non-confrontational conversation with your parent about your concern. You are entitled to your feelings, and to share them. However, be honest with yourself, is there something wrong with the person they are dating, is he or she a gold digger, or unbalanced or are you jealous, grieving, or acting out of a sense of loyalty to your deceased parent?

Tips to deal with how you feel about it:

  • It may seem “too soon” to you but your mom or dad may have been letting go of their spouse for a longer period of time. This is especially true following a long illness or dementia.
  • Having a new person in your parent’s life can be viewed as a positive for you. Someone else to share in the care of your parent and someone who can offer more time and companionship. This leaves you with more time for your own needs.
  • These are your feelings and they may set up a very unpleasant dynamic between you and your parent which will consume your relationship.
  • Dating and having a new relationship does not dishonor the memory of your mother or father. Your surviving parent still has needs for companionship, conversation and closeness. This is apart from your relationship and apart from their relationship with your deceased parent.
  • When you are feeling better about this, offer your parent some tips about dating today– i.e. having the “talk” with your parent’s about STDs – sexually transmitted diseases. Scam warnings, and just how things are different today than when they first started dating your mother or father.
  • Help them get fit for getting out there. You can walk or go to the gym together,.

Seniors seeking companionship want you to remember; it is their life after all. If you “win” and they stop seeing that person, there will be sourness to your relationship which will continue. Unless you have a real sense of danger or manipulation, deal with your feelings and stay out of it. Work things through so that you can be supportive and loving to your parent.  People don’t all have to get along, but we do best when we show respect for a loved one’s choice.