17 Relationship Rules You Can Ignore Once You’re 50

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By Jonathan Trent

Dating in middle age is vastly different from dating when you’re in your 20s. The relationship rules that you have traditionally lived by fade into insignificance, leading to a more liberated love life. Here are 17 relationship rules you can ignore once you hit 50.

Prioritizing Your Partner’s Needs

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It’s easy to try too hard to satisfy your partner’s needs when you’re young, disregarding what you want from the relationship. This may prevent arguments in the short term but will likely leave you under-satisfied in the relationship, something that nobody needs when heading into their 50s.

The Man Should Make the Most Money

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Thankfully, toxic masculinity is being stamped out as we head further into the 2020s, with men becoming more comfortable with not being the breadwinner in a relationship. As the Pew Research Center points out, 16% of women in opposite-sex relationships now make more money, rising from 5% in the 70s. 

Waiting for The Other Person to Make a Move

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Once you hit 50, you tend to feel as though you have a lot less to lose, with rejection not hitting as hard as it may have done in your younger years. You realize that waiting for the other person to make a move is likely going to waste both of your time.

Your Partner Should Fill in Your Gaps

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The older and more mature you get, the more you realize that perfection just isn’t attainable for anyone. Over time, you learn to separate the idea of yourselves, realizing you are two individuals that have come together rather than a singular entity.

Never Date Someone With Baggage

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This rule is often seen as particularly important for young people, who worry they’ll enter a relationship with someone who isn’t ready for it. However, as you age, you realize that everyone has some form of emotional baggage that they carry around with them. It’s a sign of being human.

The Man Should Pay For Dates

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Maturity often comes in the form of realizing that traditional values aren’t always appropriate for modern society, such as the male half of the relationship always paying for dates. CBS News highlights that this view is still held by 70% of Americans, a number likely to fall in the years to come.

The First Year is All-Important

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The idea that an entire, potentially 25+ year relationship will be defined by the events of its first year is a notion that you learn to forget about once you hit 50. You realize that relationships don’t just make themselves work after the one-year mark, with love needing constant maintenance.

You Have to Share Interests

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Sometimes, having separate interests can prove beneficial to a relationship, as it allows you both to enjoy some time outside of each other’s pockets. It’s also nice to have something that is reserved for you and you only, which can be tough when living with a partner, especially as you age!

A Healthy Relationship Doesn’t Involve Arguments

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It may surprise you to find out that arguments can help to strengthen relationships rather than tear them apart, as it shows you both still care. There are tons of techniques, some of which are outlined by The Guardian, that older couples can use to make their arguments more productive.

There is an Intimacy Quota

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In past relationships, it was believed that you need to be intimate with your partner a minimum number of times per week or month to keep things healthy. As you get older, you come to realize that this is untrue, as feeling obliged to do something against your desire removes the enjoyment and spark.

You Need Children

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The stigma around child-free couples is beginning to die down for a multitude of reasons. Some couples may simply not want kids, some may be too career-driven, and some may feel as though they are too old to be parents. If the love is strong enough, kids just aren’t necessary!

Always Make Up Before You Sleep

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After an argument, a historic rule of relationships is that you should never go to bed angry or upset and should always hash things out with your significant other before sleeping. Sprinkle a little maturity in, and you realize that sleep allows you to have a greater perspective, ready for a morning discussion.

Never Talk About Money

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When you’re older and actually have money saved up, you find out that financial conversations are necessary. They prevent either of you from feeling as though you have to put up with most of the living expenses and can give you more peace of mind about your overall monetary situation.

Playing Hard to Get

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The older you get, the more you realize that playing hard to get is completely unnecessary, as well as being an immature way of going about the search for love. With less time to waste, playing hard to get will likely lead to the other person losing interest in the potential relationship.

Keep the Relationship Private

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Having open discussions about your love life with friends and family isn’t a bad thing; in fact, it can actually result in healthier relationship growth. Of course, you won’t want to share all your intimate details, but gathering other perspectives isn’t a bad thing.

You Have to Get Married

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People have historically seen marriage as the marker that a couple will be together forever. In reality, this sentiment hasn’t been true since the ‘80s, when statistics revealed that 50% of marriages end in divorce, as reported by TIME Magazine. The older you get, the more you realize that marriage isn’t a requirement.

Opposites Attracting

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Finally, in your youth, you may have disregarded your compatibility with another person, not because you lacked spark or things in common, but because you were too similar. The old phrase that ‘opposites attract’ is no more than a myth, with many realizing that being with someone who shares common interests is ideal.