In late April, I offered DivorcedOver50.com users a survey built around two simple questions: What are the best things about being a divorced person over 50, and what are the worst?
Here’s a link to the survey, if you want to check it out or take it.
Not surprisingly, the overwhelming winner for best was “freedom.” And the most common answer for worst was “loneliness.”
I wrote a piece for Huffington Post discussing the loneliness aspect, aimed at the Di-Curious. The premise is that loneliness can be attacked and overcome. And that a Di-Curious person, weighing his or her options, should not be scared off from Divorce due to that specific fear.
For the Divorced Over 50 community, that decision has already been made, whether by you, your ex-spouse, or mutual agreement. Because such a large percentage (including many who wanted the divorce or whose split was mutual) are facing loneliness, it’s important to discuss it on these pages as well.
Obviously, everyone is at a different point in their Post-Divorce Process. Some may not have experienced it yet, others may be in the midst of it, and still others may have moved through it already (suggestions and comments from those who’ve already overcome it would be greatly appreciated). And, certainly, some may never experience it. But for general purposes, let’s start at the beginning.
Early on, it’s important to recognize the real possibility you’ll face loneliness in your divorce. Knowing it’s coming could help lessen the impact. In fact, you probably felt a measure of loneliness as your marriage declined — this is just a different version of what you’ve already experienced. So it won’t be a shock, and it won’t hit you out of the blue.
And, as this is the Survive Stage of your DO50, it’ll just be one of the unpleasantries you’ll be experiencing. Others include the grieving process most people endure, mourning the death of their plan to live out their days with their spouse. Additionally there are the pressures and aggravations of the legal process, battles over financial matters, emotional issues dealing with children, the possible stress of moving and setting up a new place to live. In other words it’s a horrible time, you’re just putting your head down, doing what you have to do to get by.
But once you’ve made it through that (and you will!), you can move into the Revive Stage and begin getting your life back on track. And part of your revival can be attacking loneliness head on. It’ll require effort, and you may have to move out of your comfort zone, but there are any number of actions you can take. You can join a group or club, enroll in a class, or volunteer at a hospital, library, or school. Getting a dog can provide companionship, and help you meet people on walks or at the dog park. Joining a gym can be good for both your health and social life.
And remember, there’s no stigma to going out solo. Take in a movie, hang out at Starbucks, order lunch at the counter of your local diner. You never know what can happen when you’re out, but it’s absolutely certain nothing will happen when you stay home.
Some folks have had success using meetup.com to connect with like-minded people. And don’t forget to check Facebook for old pals to reconnect with in real life.
All of the above could help you find both friends and romantic partners, and of course every non-romantic friend you make could help lead to romance with someone he or she knows.
Online dating is another approach, skewing much more toward romance, though some people develop friendships through it as well. Some Over 50’s are reticent to go online, but preparation could help you have a better experience. You’ll also profit from an attitude of low expectations; by staying relaxed and not putting pressure on yourself, you’ll not only keep your sanity, you’ll make a better impression on your dates, creating a win-win.
And now, as you begin to thrive, you’ve fought off the loneliness and overcome it. You can relish your newfound freedom and the other positives of your single life. You know yourself better, you’re back to being the person you want to be, as you embrace the opportunities now available and move forward into the brighter future you deserve.
Here’s additional reading on the subject: