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Tag Archive 'transformation'

May 20 2010

Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off, And Learn to Trust Again

Dating at Midlife: How Can You Trust Again?
By Philip Belove, Ed.D.


If you are dating someone, you are probably considering letting him or her get pretty close to you. Yet at this midlife stage, you have probably also been involved in one or more major relationships that failed or ended poorly. That is why one of the most common questions asked by ThirdAgers is, “Can I trust this new person?”

It takes a while to get to know someone, and good judgment doesn’t descend upon you overnight. It is something you have to work at. Here are a few ways to start practicing:

  • Learn to trust yourself: Trusting another person more than you trust yourself is the definition of naiveté. In midlife, you have to develop your own judgment and honor it above the wishes of others.
  • Pay attention to your inklings: You know the tiny voices that tell you about things thatmight be true, but you just can’t be sure? These are the seeds of your intuition. Don’t dismiss them. They help you develop caution and they also help you discover opportunities. When you are dating, you usually have little feelings — good or bad — about something or someone. Never, ever brush those feelings aside.
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Apr 25 2009

What Happens in the Midlife Transformation

Published by under Advice

I have a friend, 72, who said, last week, “I’ve just realized that I’m going to die. I always pretended it was only something that happened to others.” At seventy-two he finally could handle the full impact of the challenge that drives us all through the midlife transformation.

Some of us never get that strong. For most of us, it takes years. I remember when the beginning edge of that awareness struck me. I was thirty five. I had been living a life designed more to make other people happy than to make me happy. Somewhere in my inner shadows I was sustaining myself on the thought that next time I would live life for me. I began to understand that depending on my next life to give spiritual justification to this one was a poor strategy, but I wasn’t sure of the alternative.

What was a better idea? I didn’t know and then I had a dream. In the dream I was in an office in an advertising agency visiting an important person, who I referred to in my dream as “the person in the advertising business I admired most.” In the dream I realized that that person was me. Even in the dream I felt sheepish about giving myself such importance. I had a lot to learn.

In my waking life I was not yet a psychologist. I was an associate creative director making television commercials for shampoo, soap, cereal, frozen pizza and dog food. In my dream I walked into my office and found this important person, “me,” on the window ledge about to jump.

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Apr 25 2009

The Capacity for Commitment: The Fourth Stage Of The Midlife Transformation In Midlife Singles

Published by under Advice

I’m going to claim that the mark of maturity in couples is their ability to communicate. I’m going to borrow a phrase from Bill W., founder of AA, and talk about how mature couples engage in something I’ll call “A Searching and Fearless Intimate Conversation.”
Is it really so desirable that men and women share deeply about their lives?

Let me tell you a story. I was invited to a “salon.” That’s what it was called. It was an evening of culture, conversation and pot-luck at a the house of a wealthy widow. Before dinner and conversation a man who played classical piano gave a small recital. He played one of Satie’s pieces and before he played he gave us a little lecture on the piece. He said, “The composer said that this piece should be still, steady, and reliable, like the ticking of a clock in an empty room.” And then our hostess, the widow, who was certainly a mature woman, said, “Yes. That’s exactly how I like my men to be.”

So there are couples who would rather not have a lot of sensitive communication.

I realize that my own view of maturity comes from psychology. And I do wonder about that. Is it possible that psychologists are just describing themselves and setting themselves up as a model of maturity? I find their case persuasive and grounded in research. You’ll have to make up your own mind. That is the condition of being an elder. You have to think for yourself.

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Apr 25 2009

What is a Midlife Crisis?

Published by under Advice

“Midlife crisis” is a phrase made for comedy routines, something women say about men when the guys start acting like teenagers. There is truth in the accusation. At midlife people do go through a change, one as profound as adolescence. They become “Elders,” people with enough adult experience and judgment to become sources of wisdom for the rest of us.

This process of becoming wise is the midlife transformation. Some people make it smoothly and some resist it with all their might. They need wisdom forced upon them. Such people are the ones who have midlife crises.

Do you ask, “Why would anyone resist maturity?” If you can sympathize with people who resist maturity, you can understand the midlife crisis.

When I have resisted maturity it has always been because of my pride. It can be excruciating to see how wrong I have been about certain things. My experiences in this regard are very common.

Fortunately, God (or whatever you want to call the Deep Force Which Shapes Our Lives) wants us to mature and get wise. And to the common, garden variety of person like me, and many of you, there is the Gift of the Midlife Crisis.

If the way of wisdom is humility, the stuff of midlife crises is humiliation having humility forced upon you. As horrible as that is, it’s still better than the alternative.

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Apr 20 2009

Truth, Daring and Dating at Midlife

Published by under Advice

Jerry, who is a man I’ve worked with, told me this story. Maybe it was an off night, or maybe it was second or third in a series of off nights, he wasn’t sure, but while he was in bed making love to his sweetheart, whose name was Angel, Jerry found himself thinking about calling his old buddy, Jennifer, for a friendly evening of sex. He caught himself rehearsing what he would say to Jennifer, who was bound to ask him, “Aren’t you involved with this new woman?” He heard himself sorting through possible reasons for not “busy” next Friday, or maybe Sunday night. He watched himself working out his ethical justifications. The only thing that was different from what he had done in the past – could it have been fifty times? More? –  was that he saw himself doing it and got scared.

Jerry was 48 and divorced twice. That in itself was not remarkable. Half of all marriages end in divorce and two-thirds of all second marriages. He’d been single for seven years with two major (two year long) relationships and a handful of minor encounters. You could say he was a veteran of the midlife dating scene. Angel was 45, with similar statistics.

There’s an old Irish joke that goes, “When all else fails, tell the truth,” and next morning, after breakfast, Jerry was scared enough to try it. He said to Angel, “I didn’t very much like our love making last night.” He left out the part about Jennifer.

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