Rachel Borrill looks at the thorny issues of forming romantic second-time-round relationships.
WE can all imagine the angst, the fears and horrors of post-divorce dating. Will we have anything in common? Who pays on the first date? Dress to impress or go casual and then do you really want to learn about and then have to tolerate someone’s bad habits all over again.
It is a minefield. But fear not, help is at hand in the guise of a new rom-com film Enough Said, starring the late James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which tackles the thorny issues of dating, parenting and sex in later life.
“A copy of this film should be served with your divorce papers,’’ wrote one reviewer on Twitter.
Although there is nothing remotely romantic or comical about a marriage breaking down and agreeing to divorce, once the hurt and pain eventually eases, most people realise that actually they don’t want to spent the rest of their lives alone — and so the hunt for a new partner begins.
Jennifer Haskins, director of the dating agency Two’s Company, says men tend to be “much quicker to lick their wounds’’ and are eager to find a new partner.
“Women spend much longer trying to analyse what went wrong in the marriage, where as men tend to miss having a woman in their life, even if it was a bad relationship that they came from. They miss the female company and get out looking for a replacement partner much quicker,’’ she explains.
In Enough Said, which has been hailed as a realistic look at the pitfalls and difficulties of finding a new love in later life, the leading characters, Eva and Albert, are both in their mid- 50s and are ‘real’. He is balding, overweight and stuck in a rut. Whilst she is pretty, her laughter lines and the onset of a few wrinkles are apparent.
On their first date, Eva is clearly anxious but prays that her sense of humour will see her through. Haskins believes this is a good approach too. Keep the first date simple. Go for coffee, or a walk in the park.
Often there will also be children involved which can create a few problems, says Haskins. Surprisingly many men, with children, will specify that they do not want their new partner to have any.
“But I would point out, that a woman with children will totally understand if you need to drop everything because your child needs you. However, a single person often wants to be put first, which can cause problems,’’ she says.
And then there is the thorny issue of sex. Haskins points out that many men will also stress that they still want to be “intimate’’ with a woman.
“They will be coy, even men in their 60s and 70s, but they will say they want intimacy, they want to still feel alive,’’ she says.
But for many women, their biggest fear will be revealing their body to someone new. Their stretch marks may have been cute to the father of their children, but maybe not so much to another man.
Linda Kelsey, 60, the former editor of Cosmopolitan magazine whose 24-year marriage broke down in 2005, agrees. “The hardest thing about romance in later life? Making love with the lights on,’’ she says.
“However, the frisson you feel when you meet a man you fancy is no different from anything you feel when you’re 18 years old. Once you have got over the terror of sex, I think you can enjoy it more than you ever did before.’’
In the film, when Eva and Albert finally make love for the first time, they vividly portray these fears. He is worried that his weight might crush her. “Can you breathe?’’ he repeatedly asks.
Then he wonders why Eva kept her eyes shut throughout. “I kept my eyes closed as I figured if I couldn’t see you, you couldn’t see me,’’ she admits, hiding her body under the sheets.
* Enough Said is out now at cinemas across the country.
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