What does romance and dating mean as you get older? Different things.

“Dating is different when you’re older,” I heard a woman say as she selected oranges at the market.

I have to admit to becoming a sometimes eavesdropper since I discovered supermarkets are full of interesting conversations floating about amid the groceries.

“In what way is dating different?” I wanted to ask a total stranger. And how should I do this? Tell her I’m a writer and collect conversations. Assure her that I would never use her name in print even if I knew her name?

Just as I was pondering how to proceed, her friend, or at least her shopping companion, asked the question for me.

“How is dating different?”

“I mean I’m not really looking for romance anymore.”

“What are you looking for?” her friend asked.

“Honestly I’d like to find someone who enjoys watching movies in a place other than in front of the TV.  I miss going to the movies with my husband.”

“I understand. Being a widow is tough. But I disagree with you about the romance part.

Not me, I’ve had my fill. Companionship and someone who still drives at night.”

The conversations stayed with me because I sensed they represent the two sides of the senior romance scenario. Whether you’re widowed, divorced or without a partner, you may find yourself asking yourself at some point where you stand on romance.

Yes, no or maybe?

It might be something as simple as meeting someone who also has season tickets to the Pasadena Pops. One of you drives and the other brings a picnic. You see each other again at the next performance.

Or perhaps you hope, secretly or not, for a romantic encounter. A fairy-tale love story where you get swept off your feet, or at the least a cozy dinner for two ending with a good night kiss.

Then again, maybe you are perfectly happy with your life and the only thing you want to change is for people to stop asking, “Are you seeing anyone?”

In some ways, it’s like high school all over again. Do you have a date for the prom? Are you fine to go on your own or maybe you’d be happier at home with a good book or a Netflix movie?

Fast-forward 50 years and you find yourself having the same conversation as you select tomatoes at the supermarket.

What’s it going to be? Maybe a few more twirls around the dance floor.

Email patriciabunin@sbcglobal.net. Follow her on X @patriciabunin and at patriciabunin.com.

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