By Jim Palmer
For the last 20+ years, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have been two of the most popular reality shows on television. Ratings have been strong since the first season, and many people across the country even get together to have Bachelor and Bachelorette viewing parties. The show has had 60-seasons since it premiered in 2002.
If you are not familiar with the series, it resolves around a single bachelor or bachelorette, typically in their 20s or early 30s, looking for love with 25 or more potential suitors. These men and women go on dates, hand out roses to their favorites, and the bachelor or bachelorette slowly weed out the candidates until they are down to the final three men or women. After meeting the parents, they send another candidate home, leaving the final two. At that point, the bachelor/bachelorette needs to decide who to pick and whether or not to propose to that person. I haven’t really watched very many episodes of either of these shows in the last 10-15 years (watched a few in the early seasons), but have been sucked in at times when others in my family have it on the tube... so I know how it all works.
This fall, the franchise is launching a new series with the same concept... except the bachelor is a little older. They are calling it “The Golden Bachelor,” and features a 71-year-old grandpa from Indiana who lost his wife of 43 years about six years ago and is now ready to find love again.
This column isn’t meant to be a plug for the Bachelor franchise (although it kinda seems like it after these first three paragraphs). But the concept caught my attention. First, I started thinking about how different dates would look like for someone in their 70s compared to someone in their 20s. What is important? How would the conversations be different? I also started thinking about friends and family members in their 60s and older who have lost their spouse and are possibly considering a new relationship -- whether that means dabbling in the dating world, looking for marriage again, or just wanting a close companion to talk, laugh, and cry with on a daily basis.
The idea of a second (or third or fourth) chance at love or companionship is something that I have run into a number of times during my time with the Senior Perspective. I have interviewed and featured couples who have found love and marriage in their 80s and 90s, and I have known of at least three marriages that happened as a direct result of the personal ads in the Senior Perspective (we had to discontinue those personal ads a couple years back due to people misusing them). In addition, I have talked to many people over the years who are being interviewed about a different topic, and they mention to me that they are lonely and/or depressed since they lost their spouse. They don’t always say that they are looking for someone new, and some are definitely not, but you can see the pain in their eyes (and sometimes tears) that they are struggling and lonely.
This got me thinking about love and companionship for our senior readers. I wonder how many people are looking for love and/or companionship? How many have found love later in life? Then I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to hear the stories of some of these couples in the Senior Perspective? Maybe some of these success stories could even help those who are looking for a new relationship but don’t know the best way to go about it (some people haven’t been by themselves for 50+ years and a lot has changed in five decades).
So I’m looking for any couple that has found love/companionship later in life. I’m interested to hear your story. It doesn’t have to mean marriage, but it can. It doesn’t have to mean that the person has lost a spouse, but it can. It can also be someone who just found love for the first time later in life. Or it might be how your life became less lonely because of a group of people who came to provide the love and companionship you were looking for. I’m open to all feel-good stories.
If you are willing to share your story, please answer the following questions and email them (email@example.com) or mail them (Senior Perspective, Attn: Jim, P.O. Box 1, Glenwood, MN 56334). Please send to me with a picture or two of you and your spouse/companion as well. I would like to feature these stories in one of the editions of Senior Perspective this winter.
Here it goes...
Note: Please write in full sentences, and include as many details as you are comfortable with. If you and your spouse want to both share details... even better. Just note whose thoughts are whose so I can tell when I write it.
1) If you were married before, how many years?
2) If you were actively looking for a new companion, how did you go about finding them? Or did it just happen naturally? Explain.
3) How did you feel prior to this new relationship, and how did these feelings change after? Did any of these feelings surprise you?
4) How many months or years have you been in this new relationship? How has your life changed?
5) If applicable, where was the first date held? What did you talk about?
6) Were there any challenges that you had to work through (can be emotional challenges, too) along the way?
7) What kind of things do you like to do with your friend(s)/companion/new spouse? If you were married before, how do these activities differ from your first marriage?
8) What advice (if any) do you have for others who may be working through loneliness and are considering a new relationship/companionship?
9) Where do you live now?
10) Include your email and/or mailing address so we can get back to you with questions (I may have follow-up questions).
11) Don’t forget a photo!
12) Any other details you would like to add that people might be interested in?
I know not everyone is comfortable sharing their stories, and that’s OK. But if you are, we would love to hear from you. I’m sure people would be interested in hearing your story, and it might also help/inspire/uplift some of our readers.
If you have any questions, feel free to connect with me by phone or email. My contact info is on Page 5. Thanks to all of you who are willing to share your story!