The heart wants what it wants, wrote Emily Dickinson in 1862. And it seems the hermit-like poet is still right a century and a half later: the heart wants what it wants even when it’s older and creakier and a bit battle-scarred to boot.
Challenges to love the second time around could be numerous. The jaded singletons in your social set may be genuinely aghast over your hot-to-trot new romance. Your ex may be quietly heartbroken (or exultant). And your kids might say you’re bonkers (but probably from a terror that you’ll get married again and, in a fit of lust and folly, redistribute their inheritance).
But outspoken kids and battle-scarred hearts aside, there are LOTS of great things about falling in love the second time around.
Firstly, there’s probably a high chance that a hairy divorce has brought you here. Statistics show the over 50s are serving each other papers like nobody’s business (and while it IS nobody’s business, there’s something to be said for not living out the final 30-40 years of your life in a crappy marriage). Even so, the Big D has a way of upending your existence and identity for a while so the fact you’ve found new love after this cataclysmic life event is cause for the popping of at least a few champagne corks.
Secondly, you’re older and wiser and probably a curious mixture of caution and wild abandon. Life has thrown you some curve balls and half a century-plus of wisdom means you can still be incredibly prudent about what you do, how fast you move, where you live… while also deciding a trip across the Nullarbor in a rickety old campervan with your new paramour for company is the best idea ever. Love the second time around is all about that. Ridiculous fun, with a side dish of caution. (No trip across the Nullarbor would be possible without your expensive satellite phone, after all.)
Thirdly, the whole kids thing. There is no whole kids thing! You can actually have a love affair that, going forward, is all about the two of you. Travel and dinners and sleep-ins and me-me-me-me time.
Of course, the exception to the rule may be any existing adult kids you have and their irritating failure to launch, but look on the bright side: with a new lover you’ll hopefully have access to two houses and somewhere to escape to if necessary. (If you’re both plagued by kids who refuse to leave home, suggest the young’uns all bunk in together at one house while you love birds take the other one.)
Fourth, you’re old enough and ugly enough to have the whole ‘who am I and what makes me happy’ questions sussed, which imbues any love affair with a delicious simplicity.
Your answers to said questions may boil down to your hatred of structured travel where everyone wears name tags and matching khakis; the knowledge that small talk bores you silly and the fact that your gammy knee dictates sex must take place in a comfy bed rather than in the shower / on a hardwood floor / kitchen table / back of the car.
The great news is, you’re not afraid to speak up about these things for fear of being labelled a bore. You are who you are, you couldn’t give a rats’ what anyone thinks, and it’s amazingly peaceful not having to pretend.
Your new love will have to accept you – warts, gammy knee and all. (He or she no doubt has a similar list of non-negotiables and lumps and bumps requiring unconditional acceptance.)
Yep, love the second time around has a lot going for it. It may be a little creakier, but it’s also probably a little simpler and a totally different kind of fun.
So if you’re in (or on) the market for it, ignore the naysayers and let it happen. You never know – it could end up being the best 30-40 years of your whole damn life.
Have you found love again? Tell us your story!