Losing a partner late in life, and yet still finding another partner.
By Dave Robbins
Barry Greyvenstein was 73 when he lost his partner of thirty years to Covid in July 2021. Within weeks he realised that he couldn’t live on his own, and started on a search for someone of like mind.
Dave Robbins was 59 when lost his partner of twelve years in June 2019; much like Barry he soon realised that he did not like living on his own (in fact he says he “detests” it), and set out on the effort of seeking a new partner.
Fast forward to August 2021 and, on a well-known gay site, they made contact. Texting messages to each other soon progressed to phone-calls and finally a visit in September (they lived 290 kilometres apart). Barry was extremely nervous (he hadn’t dated for thirty years!) when Dave drove up the driveway – he approached the vehicle with his hand outstretched for a handshake. Dave, to his and Barry’s eternal thankfulness, threw caution to the winds, said “bugger that”, and enveloped Barry in a hug. On such small things can relationships blossom.
By May the following year, they had moved in together, at the same time selling Dave’s property in his former hometown. And the partnership, and the two “teammates”, goes from strength to strength.
So how does one go about becoming involved again late in one’s life? These are some mindsets that Barry and Dave found were useful:
- Stay positive. Barry’s WhatsApp handle says, “Just believe in yourself”, and that is the way to approach everything. Yes, you are naturally in shock after the death of a partner, but you have to say to yourself the whole time, “don’t give up”. Because of the many practical things you have to do after your partner’s death, you are actually being forced to remain competent and clear-thinking, and those are the two aspects which will help you in your future dating.
- Put yourself out there. The right person is not just going to fall into your lap; you have to go out there and find that person. Become involved in a charity, or a hiking club, or anything that will put you in contact with people who, more than likely, will understand what you are going through because they have had to deal with it as well. Through them the chances are good that you will meet someone interesting. Also, note, that in helping others you start to help yourself. Social media is a way to go (that is how Barry and Dave met), but realise that a face-to-face meeting will tell you when the chemistry is right. And be honest in your profile as to what you are looking for, the age range that is acceptable to you, and the traits or interests that your ideal partner should have.
- Always acknowledge anyone who gets in contact with you. This is especially important when you come to social media. Don’t let anyone “hang” – make it clear if you are interested or not. If you say that you are looking for a partner in the age range of 55 to 70, be prepared for the guys in their 20s all saying that they “love older men” or “age is just a number” and attaching interesting photographs of appendages to prove it – handle it tactfully and never lash out and insult them. It does take time wading through the flotsam, but you will eventually find the lifeboat.
- Be yourself, not someone else. Often we try too hard to impress people, especially when those people could include someone that we wish to become more involved with – the best way to be yourself is, for example, to talk about what is keeping you busy. From this the other person can work out that, (a) you are making an effort to keep yourself busy and, (b) that you haven’t given up and are still making an attempt to live your life.
- Keep living, not just existing. Take the time to reward yourself by doing something which you haven’t done before, or not for a while. This stimulates your thought processes, and keeps that positive frame of mind going. It is easy to get into a “plod through life” mode – when you are out looking for a new mate, that is NOT the right bubble to be in!
- Be prepared to compromise. It’s often said that older people are “set in their ways”; to an extent that is correct. However, with the passing years comes a wisdom as to what is worth fighting for and what is not. And this wisdom can be used to recognise when something gives the other person pleasure, without in any way hurting or disempowering you.
Both Barry and Dave realise they are fortunate to have met each other, and don’t want anyone to think that they are waving the fact of their relationship in other people’s faces and saying “look how good we are”. Rather, it is their intention to motivate the older gay community, who may currently be on their own, to not give up hope and begin to believe that there is someone out there for them. And then they, too, can become a team.