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Can You Keep Old Relationships from Ruining New Ones?

By Donna Marie Todd April 04, 2023 Dating

By the time you’re over 60, you’ve had at least one, maybe more, significant love relationships. If you’re reading this article, chances are good that you’re single now.

It’s a fact: Love brings both good and bad to our lives. Being in love is the most exciting feeling in the world and being out of love is just flat-out depressing. A broken relationship often leaves scars on your heart.

It’s just a fact that when you’ve loved and lost, sadness and regret might have taken love’s place in your heart. Healing heart boo-boos takes time.

We’re Neurologically Hard-Wired for Negative Bias

We remember the regrets longer, and with more intensity, than the joys in our lives. This bias can make you afraid to explore a new relationship. Though natural, this negative bias keeps you focused on what went wrong, instead of all the things that went right.

It’s Easy to Remember What Went Wrong

Negative bias makes sure of that. He always left the toilet seat up, he never brought you flowers, and he criticized you for gaining weight while ignoring his extra 10. Maybe he had difficulty admitting he was wrong, or the words “I’m sorry” got stuck in his throat.

Don’t Let Old Wounds Keep You from Happiness!

It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing all new possible partners as “damaged” or new relationships as “broken” when any old patterns arise. While it’s wise to be aware of real danger signals, it’s also important to let a new relationship have some breathing room.

The Secret to Finding Joy in a New Relationship Is Hope

It’s okay to let a little hope into your heart. I’ll bet you’ve grown since your last relationship. I’m willing to bet that a wisely chosen new partner has grown from their past relationships, too!

Quick test: Name 3 ways you’ve grown as a person in the last five years.

You’re either growing or dying. Nature designs us to be driven toward growth.

Can you trust that many men who are single have grown as people, too?

Focusing on the Negative Defeats Hope

It’s easy to remember the things that hurt you: the harsh words, the stony silence, or the illness that took their life.

Can you remember the good things?

Can you remember the sweetness of your first kiss or the warmth of your hand in his? Was there a magical dinner or walk on the beach that made your heart beat in utter joy?

Take a Minute to Focus on Joy

Take a deep breath and remember two times when a relationship made you happy.

See? Those memories are there, too. Your mind uses negative bias to keep you safe. The irony is that the happy memories are the ones that are encouraging you to try dating again, right?

So, Let a Little Joy into Your Life

If you’re exploring the world of online dating, try remembering the joys of love before swiping past those pictures. This internal exercise not only brings positive energy to your search, it also makes it more likely that you’ll notice someone whose profile shows promise.

When You Smile, the World Smiles with You

Try smiling when you meet men at the grocery. Smile when you talk to a man on the phone. Joy has its own energy, and it feels really nice to receive it. Who would you rather date: The one who is smiling or the one wearing a frown? (Yes, I thought that’s what you’d say!)

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

At our age, there is very little left to be afraid of. Seriously! If he’s mean and wears a frown, chances are good that you won’t want that second date. If he’s kind and handsome but too poor to buy you dinner out, you’re old enough to decide if you want to be the one who pays.

“The Only Thing to Fear Is Fear Itself”

Franklin D. Roosevelt famously concluded that we should only be afraid of fear. You can trust your intuition and your hard-won wisdom. All the life experiences you have had are at your disposal as you dip your toes into the dating world. Don’t let regrets steal your dreams.

Don’t Worry About the Extra 10 Pounds or the Wrinkles

Men your age have those, too! We’re all a little worn around the edges at this point in life. It’s who we are inside that shows on our faces now.

Let the Inner Beauty of Your Life Shine

Work your love muscles as you explore dating again. First thing in the morning and first thing at night remember something that brought you joy and smile. Smile a big, toothy smile and pull the edges of your lips up as close to your ears as you can. Cool science fact: smiling releases happy hormones called endorphins into your body!

Focus Your Heart on What Is Already Right in Your Life

Do you have your health? What about wonderful kids and grandkids? Do you have fabulous girlfriends that believe in you and think you’re awesome no matter what?

Are you a great friend? Have you been a caring mother? Do you want the best for the people you love?

When you remember who you are, you’ll see how beautiful you are.

What man wouldn’t want a loving, kind, caring person in their life?

Don’t Let Negative Memories Keep You from New Ones

You have a right to be happy. Sure, there are some cads out there, but there are lots of nice guys looking for love, too. Just remember that it’s completely okay to think that he might just be as wonderful as you.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What suggestions do you have for other women who are looking for love? What has worked best for you in the dating game of life? Please share with the community!

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I am 66 and tried, out of curiosity, online dating. The problem I found was that a lot of people lie on their profiles which is a red flag for me. Between their desperation to find someone/anyone, being unhealthy, having way too much baggage or being too set in their ways, I realized it wasn’t for me. If I meet someone organically great. If not, I will be just fine on my own.


My goodness! On line dating is loathsome to say the least. I am almost 62 and frankly I’ve had enough of the kind men that are broke. Or worse, those that did not take care of their health.

I left the on line dating scene back in Nov and have been out here in the IRL world wondering if that random, organic encounter I used to experience meeting men will ever happen again…. I still am out here smiling but everyone I meet is either married , too young or too old . The 60 somethings are a rare find 😅🤦🏻‍♀️


I recently lost my husband of 34 years – he was the kindest, considerate, loving husband I could have had – sure some things he did annoyed me and I am sure (I know) I annoyed him. Now he is gone and I realize just what I had and do not think I could ever open my heart up again although I know given time I might. The pain is too great right now.

Lee Ann Phinney

You didn’t say how long it’s been since your husband passed away, or how old you are. Obviously, you need to grieve. But from personal experience, I have found that as long as you look at a situation with the “I can’t do it” (open you heart) attitude, you are not likely to be able to do it.


Lee Ann, I just turned 71, no children or family in the area. I am thankful that we moved to where we did, even though I did not want to I’ve here, but after my husbands Stage IV cancer diagnosis in 2020, we realized that had we stayed up North during lockdown, he might not have found treatment.

I’ve had some failed friendships where I am which was hard to deal with whilst caring for my husband, hospital trips, etc., but I have moved on from those going back. I’m doing ok, had an awful lot to deal with since he passed ….

I know I will be okay in time, I just have to find my way..I was very blessed.

Thank you for caring, Linda

Lisa Stege

I would say that if you find a potential partner, don’t rush into anything, despite those intoxicating feelings. get to know them as a person and friend first.

The Author

Donna Marie Todd is a storyteller and keynote speaker. The author of “Navigating Loss: A Survival Guide for the Newly Widowed,” she is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist® who offers online healing programs, blogs, and podcasts. Learn more at and

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