Dating for the over-50s can be a complicated affair, and finding a soul mate is just the first step. Many people want to meet someone outside their circle of friends and work, but this could mean someone who doesn’t live locally – and moving can be a step too far.
So why not rethink how a relationship can work, rather than jump in and co-habit? After all, couples can ‘live together apart’ (LTA). You both keep your bases, but spend quality time – weekends and holidays in particular – together.
There are good practical reasons not to drop everything and move. Not least, it could be impossible. Property could be tied up with children, elderly parents could be living nearby, or business commitments could make moving a non-starter. And a new partner may have the same issues.
According to Sarah Howes, owner of introductions agency Carpe Diem, LTA works well for new couples who are reluctant to uproot and sacrifice their independence.
“Meeting new people can be daunting at the best of times. A lot of our new members, although affluent and attractive, may have reached a low in their life, having lost a loved one or gone through a traumatic divorce. Then there is the prospect of giving up life as you know it to move in with someone new,” she says.
Howes encourages her clients to be more adventurous in looking for a partner (when they are ready). LTA is one way to manage a relationship that people can bear in mind.
She says: “Consider this: holidays alone will be a thing of the past. At weekends you can alternate the shopping and truly enjoy each other’s company, accepting life as it comes without the youthful pressure to settle down.”
Howe has clients who have found that LTA works for them. Charlie, a widower aged 54, is an odds analyst for an online gaming company and lives in Putney with his twin boys. Georgia, 52 and divorced, runs a thriving event management business in the Cotswolds, with an enviable little black book of Gloucestershire clients and a daughter away at university. The couple met 18 months ago through Carpe Diem and have been weekending with each other ever since.
“Charlie’s twins are 17,” says Georgia. “It would be unfair to expect them to move on my account, with exams coming up and the strong friendships they’ve formed at school. Having lost their mother, I simply couldn’t ask Charlie to relocate. It would be too much of a traumatic upheaval to expect the children to move at this important stage in their lives.”
Charlie agrees: “I don’t expect Georgia to give up her business. To be honest, the boys are quite capable of looking after themselves at weekends and I enjoy the break. As well as the finer things in life,” he says, reaching for Georgia’s hand.
When Sarah Howes has signed up a client, she may make suggestions for dates, but also understands that people can be picky. Nonetheless, there are times when she will stick her neck out. One client was Jane, a Fulham property developer with metropolitan tastes, who was hoping to meet an outgoing man who lived nearby.
Robert, a quiet academic from Herefordshire, called the agency and Sarah “had a hunch”. Despite not immediately matching Jane’s profile, the two were put in touch. A date was fixed for a meeting, but Jane got cold feet and cancelled. However, Robert persisted and invited Jane to stay for the weekend. Sarah says: “She rang me, telling me it was too far and asking if I would cancel on her behalf. I persuaded her to go, as I was beginning to see similarities coming through.”
Jane went, and they are now a couple, spending their weekends in the country and the week in London. Like many of Carpe Diem’s clients, they are LTAs: sometimes together, sometimes apart – but always an item.