Five late-in-life love stories that will remind you that there’s no expiration date on your heart.
I always thought I’d get married in my late 20s or early 30s. Maybe that’s because my mom was coupled up with my dad since her sophomore year of college and had me when she was 25 years old. Maybe it’s because, despite all the progress we’ve seen since the 1970s, there’s still an unspoken expectation that you’ll find love and tie the knot by the time you reach a certain age. Maybe it’s simply because the vast majority of people do take that route: There’s an 86 percent chance a woman will marry by age 40, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
So, when I hit my mid-30s and I was still single, I wondered if I would ever find the one. I was clear that I could take or leave the marriage piece; but I longed for a partner. Thankfully, a lucky swipe on the dating app Bumble led me to Brian, an incredible man I married on New Year’s Day at nearly 43 years old. He’s proven to be the kind of partner I didn’t think was possible—a best friend, a support system, and an adventure buddy all in one. And if I could rewind time and tell my anxious 30-something self anything, it would be to relax—it will happen for you when you meet the right person.
There are so many reasons why you could find yourself single in middle age and beyond—whether your first spouse died too soon, your marriage ended in divorce, or you just never found the one you wanted to share your life with. If you’re not intentionally single, the search for your person can be exasperating and even a cause for self-doubt.
If hopelessness is starting to sink in—or if you just want to be reminded of the life-changing, transformative power of love—curl up on the couch with these four amazing stories that are guaranteed to help you keep believing.
All the experiences of our past have made us who we are today and helped us understand what we want and what we don’t want.
“Both of our lives took off after we met. Jaime got her dream job. My career got better. It’s amazing how good love will do you good.”
Barb + Jaime
Barb Morrison had officially decided to delete their OK Cupid dating profile when Jaime Karpovich’s face appeared. It was Day 12 of Morrison’s online dating adventure, and they were over it. “I don’t like swipe culture,” says Morrison, a 53-year-old music producer from Frenchtown, NJ. “But when I saw Jaime, I was like, ‘Ooooh, who’s that?’” The two started flirting, and after six attempts asking Karpovich out on a date, they finally got together at Early Bird coffee in Frenchtown. One coffee turned into a 9-hour date filled with easy conversation and a firefly-filled walk along the river.
“When I got to the coffee shop, I saw Barb through the window and immediately felt like they were going to be my person,” says Karpovich, a 38-year-old marketing manager. “I’ll never forget sitting on a park bench along the river that day and in less than an hour, we were talking about the deepest parts of our lives and our souls.” From little things (like the fact that they both had the word “beauty” tattooed on their arms) to the big stuff (they discovered their fathers passed away when they were the same age as kids), it seemed like the universe was giving them signs, adds Morrison: “It felt like magic just kept getting thrown at us.”
Which is why, 11 months after they first met, it seemed fitting that Morrison proposed in a field full of fireflies—and a year to the day of that first, magical date, they got married during the pandemic in their Frenchtown backyard with just four friends and a photographer to witness the happy event.
The pair are convinced that meeting when they did—after they’d each had their fair share of prior relationships—teed them up for more happiness not just with each other, but individually as well. “Both of our lives took off after we met,” says Morrison. “Jaime got her dream job. My career got better. It’s amazing how good love will do you good.”
For Morrison, falling in love with someone who also understands their identity as transgender and non-binary felt incredible. “I was in a relationship right before Jaime where the person didn’t understand that part of me, and the fact that it wasn’t a question with Jaime—and I didn’t have to do a lot of explaining or convincing—was amazing,” says Morrison. “I was also really turned on by how Jaime identifies as a queer femme. The fact that she’d done enough self-exploration to know herself that way was superhot!” As for Karpovich, it just felt natural. “Barb is someone I’m very physically attracted to,” she says. “And the way we’ve explored gender roles in our own lives feels like fun, rather than an obligation.”
To be sure, there’s an overwhelming sense of gratitude both Morrison and Karpovich feel when they think about finding each other. “We’re not religious people, but we say grace at dinner every night because we’re so grateful,” says Morrison. “We’re happy we get to help
each other be happy.”
Jeff + Lorelei
Jeff Bogle never saw himself as the kind of guy who’d try a dating app. He met his first wife when he was in his early 20s—well before online dating even existed—and was married for 17 years. But when Bogle, then 43, separated from his wife in the summer of 2019, the travel writer figured he’d give Tinder a try for a month. Three weeks later, he met Lorelei, 41, who’d just signed up for Tinder that morning.
“I was 22 when I got married, and I got divorced after 8 years,” she says. “Since then, I’d dated here and there but didn’t have anything really meaningful or deep or long-term.” After months of urging from her friends, she paid for a year’s subscription to Tinder—and 12 hours later, she’d matched with Jeff and couldn’t stop giddily texting with him. When they met at A Touch of Italy in Wilmington, Del. in late August 2019, sparks flew immediately. Jeff drove back home to Philadelphia after dinner that night with a feeling that his life was about to change.
“I’ve always loved the Australian singer Gordi, and I was listening to her debut album on my drive home after our first date and I felt like I was listening with new ears,” says Jeff. “The last song on that album is all about finding the person you’ve been looking for without even looking and wanting without knowing you’d wanted.” He sent Lorelei a YouTube link to the song, which she loved immediately, and which quickly became their song. A few months later, Jeff Tweeted Gordi asking her to write out the title of and lyrics from that song—“Something Like This”—and after she did, both Jeff and Lorelei had the phrase tattooed on their forearms. “It’s on my left arm and her right, so when we hold hands the words touch,” says Jeff.
A few months after meeting, the couple moved in together in an apartment in the suburbs of Philadelphia. And when COVID hit in early 2020, they took advantage of cheap rent deals in New York City and moved to the East Village—a longtime dream of Jeff’s. “She could see the glint in my eyes every time I talked about living in the city,” says Jeff.
“And now, I get so much joy seeing how happy living here makes you,” adds Lorelei.
This kind of mutual desire to make each other happy—and revel in each other’s happiness—is the stuff that reminds them of what they were missing in previous relationships. “What I’ve come to realize is that the way I demonstrate love wasn’t received in my marriage,” says Jeff. “I’m very service oriented—I love baking and cooking for people and taking care of things for the people in my life. That didn’t matter to my ex; we were incompatible in the way we give and receive love.”
Lorelei says this realization—as well as her own ahas about what works and what doesn’t for her in a relationship—has deepened her connection with Jeff. “All of the experiences of our past have made us who we are today and helped us understand what we want and what we don’t want,” she says. “I learned so much about myself in my first marriage. And I wanted to make sure that if I ever did get married again, it was to somebody who had all of the qualities I was looking for.”
It didn’t take her long to realize Jeff was that guy—and the pair were married a little more than a year after meeting.
“Everything in this relationship, which we entered as fully formed adults, is more intentional,” says Jeff. “In our 20s, you think, Well, we’ve been together for X number of years, someone’s got to ask the big question,” he says. “You’re on that track. But in your late 30s and early 40s, there is no track! The beauty of that is that we get to make our own.”
Terree + Brett
Terree Oakwood was happily married for 28 years when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. During the course of their happy union, the pair had three children together, built their dream house, and looked at the life they’d created in awe. So, when Terree’s husband, Jake, passed away in January 2018, the grief was overwhelming. “I never imagined I’d live without him,” says Terree, 59, from Allentown, Pa.. “Jake and I were great friends, in addition to being partners. When you’re suddenly left without your person, it’s very lonely.”
About a year after her loss, Terree says she felt like she had so much left to give. She talked to her girlfriends about feeling ready to start dating, and one of them suggested Terree was ready to say 100 hellos. “I said, oh my stars, that’s what I’m going to do,” she says. “I’m going to meet 100 men and find someone who is really compatible.” She signed up for Match and Bumble and had many phone conversations and dates but didn’t feel any sparks.
Then, she got a message from Brett. He started his note saying he was intrigued by Oakwood’s photos and was sorry they lived 75 miles apart. (Terree didn’t want to date someone more than 25 miles away.) She was flattered and replied with a thank-you and wished him well. “Brett said, ‘Well, if you ever get into the rolling hills of Lancaster, look me up!’ He just sounded like such a nice man,” says Terree. “I replied, ‘I really hope you find the love of your life.’”
Two weeks later, a message alert from Brett popped up again, with a plea to meet in person, just to see if there was something there. They met at the Chanticleer Garden in Philadelphia on a sweltering hot July day in 2019. “We walked the whole garden, drenched with sweat but smiling, enjoying the landscape and each other,” says Terree. “And we haven’t stopped talking.” When Brett proposed around Christmas 2020, it was an easy answer for Terree—and the pair were married last July in a small ceremony at a nature preserve they visit often.
“Being married to Brett feels like such a surprising gift,” says Terree—a gift that took on new meaning in the fall of 2021, when Terree’s son died tragically. “The devastating pain of losing a child is unlike anything else, and I’ve been taken to the floor a number of times,” she says. “Brett picks me up. He looks into my eyes and says, ‘I am here for you. I promise you I’m going to get you through this. I don’t know how or when, but I will.’ That promise has given me inner strength. Knowing he’s here by my side as I experience this grief is everything.”
Susan + Jon
Susan Gates was 29 years old and dating an amazing-on-paper guy when she felt the urge to get married. “Looking back on it now, I was kind of a cliché,” says Susan. “I was like, ‘Oh no! I’m about to hit 30! What’s next?’ I was more focused on getting to that next rung on the climb in life—not on whether or not I was truly compatible with the person I was with.”
And so, just before her 30th birthday, Susan got married—and 13 years later, she and her husband got divorced. Looking back on it now, she doesn’t regret these decisions. “Each event of your life, every decision you make, is like part of a patchwork quilt,” says the 52-year-old insurance agent from Cherry Hill, NJ. “You can’t just take things out, otherwise you’ll have holes in your blanket. And we’ve all got holes in our blankets.”
Throughout the 8 years following her divorce, Susan didn’t focus on finding a new husband. She dated a lot (her friends called her the queen of first dates!), but she was busy navigating custody agreements with her ex about their two daughters and focused on her own healing.
As her girls got older—one is now a sophomore in college and the other is a senior in high school—Susan started thinking about dating more seriously again. Then, the pandemic hit.
“I became the queen of meeting for a coffee in parking lots and taking socially distanced hikes,” she says. When that got old, she took a break from her go-to dating sites, Bumble and Hinge. When she started getting renewal requests a few months later, she decided not to pay for subscriptions again. “When you use these services for free, they only roll out one guy at a time,” she says. Which is why it felt like kismet when Jon popped up on her Bumble feed as she was standing in line waiting to check out at the grocery store.
Immediately, she thought Jon was really cute. Then, she noticed plants in the background of his dating profile picture, “and no gym selfies!” she says with a chuckle. Within a couple of days, they exchanged phone numbers. On April 25, 2021, they had their first date at Love City Brewing in Philadelphia, and they’ve been dating ever since.
“I’ve tried so hard not to be jaded over the course of all the dates I’ve had,” says Susan. “Finding someone I clicked with took a long time. But my best advice for others looking for love later in life is to not settle. Know what your standards are, what you’re willing to negotiate and not, and stick to it.
I waited 8 years for Jon. I would’ve waited 8 more if I knew he was out there.”