Dating at Midlife/Battle of Sexes :)


Hi Dr. Belove,
  As many people here - I would like to start with thanking you for your wonderful answers,
  so powerfully insightful, for non-judgemental kindness with which you approach so many unusual situations.
  I have read many of your articles, and answers to other people - and wisdom of your opinions is so admirable.

  I'm in my mid-forties, have been married twice, first time I married really young, at 19, after daing 1 year.
  I had a child, but the marriage did not last, my first husband had been drinking heavily.
  After I left him, in one year, I had met my second husband, dated him 3 years, lived together 1,5 years before
  getting married. This was much happier marriage, but - it ended. Originally I'm from Eastern Europe, and immigrated
  to North America more than 12 years ago, my second marriage ended here - about 7 years ago, we'd tried to reconcile
  3 times - but I could not do it, some basic trust had been gone. The main reason for break up of my second marriage:
  my child had a very difficult teenage period, very rebellious - and my husband was not up to this challenge, I had
  to choose - and I did, I left to give my child a home. Of course there were so much more to it - but I want to keep
  it down to the point as much as possible.

  I never doubted myself, I always knew I will want to have another relationship, perhaps even a marriage -
  but I would like it to be more based on equality than it was in my previous relationship.

  I have read one of your answers that made that brilliant point in separating a "chooser" and a "creator",
  it really made it clear for me - I do feel like I have a bit of a tweaking to do with my "creator" for relationships.

  I am moderately successful in my career, I have analytical job in IT industry, I still managed to stay athletic,
  and still am a semi-decent looking - in other words, I still have suitors, and I can choose ...
  But it really does not work, I have a very difficult time establishing a satisfactory relationship and as a result,
  quite often I leave it. I don't know if I am a subject for therapy or coaching, I feel I need coaching.
  I am a reader, since childhood, that's the best way to learn for me - but because of it, I know what I trust -
  and do trust your voice, I would like to get your prospective on how I could become more successful in relationships at
  this point in my life, and in this society - because last time I had to choose a partner it was different age, and continent.

  I have tried different online dating sites, on one of them a bit than a year ago I've met a gentleman, I did find attractive,
  we had two dates: on a first date he told me about his broken marriage, on a second date about his last girlfriend -
  the later story was touching and sad to the extent that I literally cried, which was really uncomfortable to do in a sports
  bar full of people - I thought him not ready for a relationship and didn't continue. He came back this year, few weeks back -
  telling that he would like to have a second chance to meet me - this time around he sounded more together, and more into
  having a relationship. We had few dates, on the second date at the end he was making more and more references to sex,
  which freaked me out a bit - it looked like he was just about to ask me to check out his pad or something, so I clammed up a bit,
  he felt it and he didn't. Next day I stated in very simple words, that I do like him, but I am not going into intimacy,
  without getting to know him properly, and for that I need time - he said that I am worth waiting, but ever since it reminds
  more and more of negotiation ... I do imagine that it very common situation, unfortunately it is very common for me too...
  I am not scared, but I want to have a chance of a relationship ... When I get to know someone I do relay on my observation,
  I listen and a lot of it I see quite clearly quite fast, which sometimes makes me look reserved ... Since I know it -
  I do try to show my playful side - then it quite often goes into hints at when the intimacy will start... I am struggling
  with finding this balance - it is a very long time for me ...
  How would I un-tangle this for myself? Where to start?
  I do have a very nice life - I have a great relationship with my kid, now 25; I love my job, my friends and my hobbies -
  but I do miss being a part of couple ... Please advise,
  Thank you in advance,

Dear Halina,

First of all, I'm touched deeply by the feedback you've given me on my work. It's about all I could possibly ask for. It suggests that I have been successful in my attempts to be wise and generous and insightful and helpful.  Those have been my standards.  Thank you.

I might be able to help you.  Since your question is fairly global, not about some specific challenge, I think a few conversations together could go a long way for you.  You do seem to know yourself pretty well, which is what I would expect from  someone at midlife, although I don't always find it.  So you might want to arrange for one conversation (which would be free) and then, if that feels right, you and I could agree to work together for four or five hours and then take another look at things  
Meanwhile, the story about you crying in the sports bar says a lot about you, about him, and about your potential relationship.  Apparently he trusts you, you can feel his heart, and you are compassionate and caring person.  None of this necessarily means you should create a relationship with this man, but still, it's nice to make that kind of emotional connection with people.

You had an intuition -- that he was not yet ready for the relationship you would want -- with such intuitions, it's good to, first, trust them, and, second to look more carefully at the intuition to learn what it tells you about you and about him.  All in all, it sounds like you made a good decision.  Now he's back.  And he wants more.

Clearly he is a very open hearted and vulnerable man.  Also he is a man who likes to be close. The danger is that he may move too quickly, get too close and then panic and flee. The danger for you is that you might get hooked.  these are risks you probably must take in any relationship with serious possibilities.  It's how co-creation works.  At some point either one of you can say, "no, this isn't working,"  but you have to walk down the path a bit and feel it before you can make that intuitive judgement.

Sex makes the whole thing very tricky. These days many older adults include an early sexual encounter as part of the exploration.  Many of them have had the experience of wanting to leave an otherwise good relationship because the sex was so unsatisfying. Many midlife adults re-think their principles about their sex life at midlife. Some become more struck, others less.  As you said, "it's hard to find a balance."

You said, ' I do try to show my playful side - then it quite often goes into hints at when the intimacy will start... I am struggling
 with finding this balance - it is a very long time for me ..."  and it was hard for me to understand just what you meant.

I think that if we spoke together I would want to hear more about that. I'm not sure I understand it.  Maybe we can talk about that in the exploratory phone call between us.  I would also want to hear a bit of your background and relationship history. Maybe there are patterns there worth knowing more about.  Those patterns give structure to your intuition and shape your decision making. It helps to know these things.

In my way of thinking, (and I'm a certain kind of person), your fears remain your fears. They can be trusted advisors, or dominating spirits. But they can't be eliminated, only denied, and that action has a cost in terms of diminished wisdom.  The same for any potential mate. The two of you must be together for a while before those things become evident. And then you have to decide whether and how you will trust that person as a co-creator.

Well, I'm starting to wander and I prefer to be more focused. I hope I've addressed the themes in your letter and that we can find time to talk. Feel free to follow up in writing if you wish. Thank you again for your kind and interesting and insightful feedback and your inquiry.

Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D.

Dating at Midlife

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Philip Belove, Ed.D.


Hi. I`m Philip Belove (that is my name, really). I`m 71 and I`ve been a psychologist all my midlife, the past 35 years. My specialty has been counseling and coaching other midlife adults.  I think we all figure things out as we go along, but even more so at midlife. Being between 40-ish and 60-ish and single is like being a stranger in a strange land. I`ve learned which questions help people find their own way. I created this category, I publish a blog at and I write articles for various web sites. My commitment is to help people 1) understand and improve how they deal with others, 2) understand the forces that rule the relationships they are in, and 3) make the decisions which will shape, or create, or end those relationships  so they achieve the goal of midlife development  to finally live with personal satisfaction. I`ve been divorced twice myself. I`m in a satisfying relationship with a fine person. I`m very interested in learning about your challenges and in offering what I can.


Professionally: Licensed Psychologist. Marriage and Family Therapist. Coach.Author. University Lecturer. Personally: I'm 71. I've probably made all the big mistakes, er, learned the big lessons.I've forgiven myself and made many apologies and I've made it into a good, stable, sweet relationship. I now have a perspective on midlife.

Please check out my book, Rabbis in Love, at Also my blog at The Rabbi book was done as part of a research project. My collaborator, Marilyn Bronstein, and I wanted to interview couples with very successful marriage and also we wanted to talk to people who cared as much about their spirituality as love. Maybe being able to love and be spiritual were one and same, we thought. So we found a rabbi couple and the interview was so astounding that we interviewed nine more rabbi couples. One dropped. They'd revealed too much. It's a fascinating book and, Jewish or not, religious or not, these couples do a lot of things right and there is a lot to learn from them.

Masters in Counseling Psychology, Alfred Adler Institute Doctorate in Consulting Psychology, focus on family therapy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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