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Oct-01-2011 18:58printcomments

Dating Older Single Mothers Can Become Complicated

It becomes a classic case of Catch-22.

Dating older women

(SALEM, Ore.) - I've been consulting lately with a cross-section of my single friends in the older age bracket. Some decided to divorce late in life and have begun to date in a new Singles Scene.

This article is a compilation of feedback I have gathered. It may serve as a guide to others.

We all know that our society is increasingly divorce-prone. Once the divorce is completed, often the adventure of dating again resumes. For the older male, he finds that many of the women available to him are both mothers and grandmothers. Sometimes their children have families intact. At other times, major problems pop up. To the older mother, these are inevitably causes for concern.

With that concern comes the natural desire to "make things right". Many an older mother feels she need to step in when her adult children have made poor choices. The result frequently is resentment by the son or daughter. They feel a sort of regression. Their quest to become independent people is being placed in limbo. And sometimes that very conflict between single older mom and her children can seep into her budding romantic relationship.

Does this not present a potential conflict of interest? Does the new boyfriend want to become embroiled in this internal family situation? If he supports the position of the mother and it simply boomerangs, he may wind up with unwarranted blame. At the very time when the need to strengthen bonds with the woman is needed, he is faced with distraction.

It becomes a classic case of Catch-22.

Entry into any new family constellation runs its risks. The newcomer has yet to master the ground rules of that family's norms. He is caught between seeking companionship and getting engulfed in an unwanted family conflict in which there may be few winners. While this dilemma is not exclusive to older mothers, it is more common here simply because of the chronology of grandparents being in their 50's or beyond.

Elder dating imposes its own set of complexities. There is no automatic safety valve. More than ever, it gives added meaning to the "Look before you leap" maxim.

_________________________________ Community Writer Barry Lee Coyne brings to our readers stories from his combined career of journalism and gerontology, and explains that these paths shaped his values. Lee Coyne once worked for The Civil Service Leader in NY State and covered the Legislature. He has also done features on mediation and arbitration, and believes in healthy skepticism. This writer-therapist often views the world as the masks of comedy and tragedy placed upon the scales of justice. For him, optimism inevitably wins. "Lyrical Lee" has traveled to 30 nations aboard and was once a press intern at the UN. His first published article was in The NY Daily News in '59, dealing with the need for integrity in public office.

He also launched the nation's first tele-conference on health education for shut-ins, created the Eldermentors project in VA to pair retirees with immigrant students needing role models, and was the main catalyst behind CCTV's "Public Public" panel show here in Salem. Lee received his BA in International Relations and an MSW in community organization. He currently serves as a member of Salem's Library Advisory Board. To send Lee an email, please write to this address:

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