When Rhonda Lynn Way was in her 50s and on the dating scene for the first time since she was 21, she had no idea where to start. She tried to use dating apps, but the experience felt bizarre and daunting. Way is now 63 and still single. Throughout their adult life, their generation has had higher rates of separation and divorce, and lower rates of marriage in the first place , than the generations that preceded them. And as people are living longer, the divorce rate for those 50 or older is rising. But that longer lifespan also means that older adults, more than ever before, have years ahead of them to spark new relationships.
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Rhonda Joy McLean-Craig, 65, is a woman accustomed to defying the odds. I finished high school at 16 and college at Rhonda enrolled in Yale University and, after earning her juris doctorate, moved to New York City to become the first Black female attorney at a private firm. Once again she was integrating a new space and weathering the storm that came with it. She worked her way up to deputy general counsel of Time Inc. When Rhonda and Bill finally met, the pieces fell into place.
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Across the table from me was a South Korean guy who had watched videos of me eating KFC during his time serving for his home country's national military. He had told me that watching my videos made him happy and miss America. Now we were on a first date because I am a crazy narcissist. I asked him careful questions about his years in the service and his home country.
Suddenly single at 52, I had a lot to learn about dating. But nothing prepared me for the casual racism. I had been with my partner for six years when she announced, abruptly, that it was over. I remember she was crying.