Frances Cohen Praver Ph.D.

Love Doc

Love After 50

Can love in later life quell existential fears?

Posted Dec 08, 2013

Ann, an attractive, vivacious sixty- something woman smiled as she came into my office.

“Where shall I sit?” She asked.

“Anywhere you’d like,” I smiled back.

She chose the seat on the sofa closest to me. Looking pensive, she said, “I’m confused. You see, I met this man, Don, with whom I think I’m in love, but I have so many doubts.”

I asked, “Where did you meet Don?”

Her smile was back as Ann said, “We met on line, on a dating site. We exchanged emails, and spoke for an hour, and went on our first date. It was a little over a year ago. And we’ve been together since.”

“What is the quality of the relationship?” I inquired.

Ann said, “We do lots of things together and we like the same things. We both like country music and slow dancing, art museums, movies, and animals. I have a black lab and he has two Siamese cats.”

I commented, “It sounds good so far.” I then inquired, “Does he enlarge your life?”

“Yes, he does. He is warm, loving, and he has introduced me to country music, and interesting people. There are lots of good things about our relationship. But not everything is so good. It’s his daughter. Don has one child and two grandchildren and I have two children and four grandchildren. My family really likes Don, but his daughter doesn’t want him to be with me.” Dismay showed on her face and body language.

I inquired, “Any idea as to why she takes that position?”

Still perturbed, Ann said, “I think it’s about money. She doesn’t work and Don helps her financially so I guess she’s afraid he might be spending her inheritance on me. That is ridiculous as I work and support myself financially. Nevertheless, it really bothers me a lot.”

“What does Don say about this?” I wondered.

Ann responded glumly, “He says he loves me and his daughter is not going to tell him how to run his life. But it’s still so unpleasant, especially since our relationship has gotten serious.”

“How serious is it?” I asked.

“We are talking about living together. How would it be if she calls the house and I answer? I fear she’ll hang up.” Ann’s uncertainty about the future showed.

“I see your reservation here. Are there any other issues that give rise to doubts?” I empathized and questioned her.

She quickly said, “We have different personalities and I wonder if that’s a good thing or not.”

“How’s that?”

Ann sat up straight and said, “I am highly energetic, active, and he is laid back, which could be good as he helps me calm down and I energize him. Also I work and he is retired, so he has lots of time and I have little time. I worry that he will just hang out while I work.”

I asked, “Does he have hobbies or interests?”

She said, “Yes, he does, he plays golf, reads, and sculpts.”

I remarked, “Indeed, you are different people from different circumstances and there will be adjustments for both of you.”

“I am a widow and was married for 35 years and single for two years. Don is divorced, married for 25 years and single for three years. I just turned 67 and Don is 70 so we are not kids anymore.” Ann elaborated.

I interpreted, “And you are now facing an existential crisis in your life. A new chapter in your life brings doubts from past experiences, current ones, and fears of the uncertainty of the future. Not only that, but at this time in your life, uncertainty about your mortality abounds.”

I went on, “We all worry about the uncertainty of our future and some of us fear it. Embracing your life and seizing the moment are the best antidotes for trepidation of the future. Love after 50 can add purpose, satisfaction, meaning, and happiness to your life. In light of this existential message would your allow his daughter to thwart you happiness? I think not.”

If you, like Ann, have the opportunity for love after 50, this love will differ from young love, when there was little past, only present, and little fear of the future or your mortality. But young love does not always last and if a new opportunity arises when you are older weigh it carefully and don’t let small matters obscure the greater picture.

The carefree, abandon of youth was then, but now a richer, deeper love can be yours. As to certainties, other than death, there are none. It takes courage to take a chance on love at any time in your life, but where time is of the essence, it behooves you to take a chance on love now.


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About the Author

Frances Cohen Praver, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and relational psychoanalyst and author.

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