Dating After Forty, Part Four – Reconnecting With The Past

A remarkably common pattern among people who find themselves seeking a new partner in their forties or later is the discovery of a spark with someone they’ve known in the past, possibly the distant past.

My friend Y, who had courageously tried online dating, had resigned herself to filling her days with activities and friends. But then an old friend, a former colleague of her late husband’s whom she had known for over thirty years, was also widowed. She offered him her support and friendship and included him in her activities.

older couple at sunset

As he describes, “A man seems to have a different experience. I was 72 when my wife died and I did not think of looking for anyone. I received a number of phone calls and email messages from women, mostly in the style of “I have heard what a high quality person you are and would love to meet you.” One such call even came during the “shiva” (week of ritual mourning).  I ignored them all since I translated the message to “I hear you are a retired professor with a nice house in a good town…” and did not see any reason for pursuing these leads. After a few months, for which I give credit for sensitivity, married women friends and neighbours phoned and asked if I would like to meet a widow friend. I declined since I was still far from ready to connect. I was also leery of anyone new in light of the bad Chapter II experiences of a cousin and my late father in law.

My support network outside my family included a few women, good friends, but most were too young and certainly not interested in me as a possible partner. There was one old friend whom we had known before she lost her husband to illness. She was very supportive, we found common interests and there was no pressure to move things along. Our dating consisted mostly of going to left wing protest demonstrations and activities in the local section of Amnesty International. Time passed and matters evolved. We have been in a wonderful relationship for nearly ten years. I consider myself most fortunate.”

A common road to reconnection with the past leads via Facebook. Many of us find ourselves “friending” people from our past lives. Most of these renewed relationships go no further than a mild interest (and unspoken judgement!) regarding each other’s lives. But every now and then, a spark is ignited that had been suppressed or never acknowledged in the previous life.

Two of my friends are currently dating or in a relationship with men whom they had known in high school, but had not seen or spoken with for decades before the reconnection occurred. Those gawky teenagers are now interesting, mature adults, but the fact that they are not total strangers makes it a very different experience from the blind dates we discussed in Part 2, or the online dating we discussed in Part 3. It feels safer, somehow, and more familiar.

Stay tuned for Part 5 of our series, in which we discuss some pitfalls of dating after forty and how to avoid them.

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I'm a writer, editor, blogger and the Queen of Re-Invention. I've been a research scientist, a university instructor and a high school teacher. I was born in Israel, raised partly in the United States, educated in the Netherlands, and am now busy raising three amazing people in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.