How I found the love of my life at fifty

29 weeks ago
18 minute read
By Mairi Macleod

Finding the love you need for the relationship you want.

The day I arrived to live in Edinburgh was, I think, the worst day of my life.

Don’t get me wrong – I totally love our capital city, and it’s one of the best places in the world to live. It just didn’t get off to the best start for me.

The thing is, on that day I was escaping from a very bad relationship, and I had twins of 8 months and a two-year-old in tow.

I can barely describe the gut wrenching sensations I was feeling. I was full of self-doubt: was I doing the right thing – for me, for my little son and two daughters? I was even doubting my own sanity, but also running scared. And I think you can imagine, being on your own in a new place with 3 tiny kids is no picnic at the best of times.

I’m happy to say life has improved dramatically in the 20 years since then. The kids have grown into fantastic young adults and I’m in a really good place. The wonderful people and places of Edinburgh have been a total life saver, but I wanted to share some of my story with you in a bid to help other EGGs avoid falling into the kind of black hole I did.

So how did I get into that dark place?

Well I did what many of us women do. I was in so much of a rush, back in my 30s, to get with a guy who ticked all the boxes that I forgot to check he had the qualities I actually needed for a happy, lasting relationship. I was choosing with my gut instinct rather than my common-sense brain.

Back then we were living-it-up in London. He worked in the city and liked to chuck money around so we ate at posh restaurants and went on skiing holidays and it was all pretty exciting for me as a skint research student. He was gorgeous, charming, and said he wanted all the same things as me. Because I really wanted it to be true I chose to believe him and jumped in head first.

But, as no doubt you’ve guessed, things took a very nasty turn once we got hitched, and only went downhill after that – hence the abrupt arrival in the Scottish capital, where I hoped I could lick my wounds and build a new life with the kids.

When the twins turned 2, I enrolled at Napier University to train in specialist journalism. In my previous life I’d been a biologist travelling to remote parts of the globe to study animal behaviour but that clearly wasn’t an option now, so I decided to write about the science of behaviour for the press instead. I loved the research and writing, and it was a great way of keeping up with my subject and being able to fit around the kids.

But, I have to say it was a pretty lonely time, so when my brood grew a bit I thought I’d try a bit of online dating and find me a nice new man. I signed up and completed my profile with high hopes.

Perhaps you won’t be surprised to hear this… but I didn’t find a queue of suitable gentlemen at my door.

Yes I met men online, yes I had dates and got together with guys, but I was clearly doing that thing of choosing with my gut instinct again. I was picking men who seemed sexy, edgy, a bit of a challenge. But they didn’t make me happy.

Why was I getting it so wrong?

I clearly had to change the way I was looking for men – and then finally the penny dropped. I’d been researching and writing about the science of human behaviour and relationships for years – I already had the answers.

Evolutionary biology can tell us so much about why we behave and feel the way we do – the ultimate explanation - and I love the fact that it has so much power to explain how we can change our situations to get things to be the way we want.

For one thing, it made me realise that following our gut instincts when getting together with a guy is going to end badly. These instincts evolved back in stone-age times when a woman needed different things from her man. Back then the blokes you’d want to look out for were the big, dominant, high status ones who could provide for and protect you and the kids. We still want those things, even though they’re not usually traits that indicate a good long term relationship partner. Nowadays we’d be a lot better off if we can consciously evolve our preferences to suit us better in the modern world and for the life stage we’re in.

So I put my consciousness into action, went over the research and then armed with a knowledge of what I needed to find in a man for a happy relationship, and how to look for one, I got myself out there to find him.

It was a cold and rainy January night when I met my man.  Me and a pal took ourselves to into town for a singles night, to see what gems the Slug & Lettuce might have to offer. I got chatting to Rob, and I liked him, but it wasn’t love or even lust at first sight. We got to know each other over the following few weeks because he attended some classes I was running. I could tell he was one of the good guys, but it wasn’t until I heard him sing and play ukulele in a pub session – and totally own the room - that I really got the hots.

Well it turns out I’ve found the love of my life. We got married two years ago and I’ve never been happier. But the crazy thing is, if I’d been following my old ways of looking for men I’d never have given him a chance. I’d never have even got to the stage of hearing his gorgeous singing voice. I keep thanking my lucky stars that I learned not to trust those stone-age instincts for choosing a mate.

Finally then, pushing 50, I got it sussed – the relationship thing. And now my mission is to help other women in midlife do the same, and find a partner they can have the best relationship with.

So what did I do to make it work?

Well I’ve got 6 ways you can help yourself right now:

  1. Understand the type of man you need

You might want your man to be 6’4”, with a super-fit bod and a 6-figure salary. You might want this kind of man, but so does every other woman — so if you get with one of these how secure are you going to feel? And since he’ll know he’s in big demand, the chances are he won’t value you in the way you’d like.

Of course I’m not suggesting you “settle” but you might want to rethink the qualities you’re looking for to make sure they’re what you actually need for a happy relationship. I reckon that means a guy who’s considerate, trustworthy, and one who’ll try to make you happy every day. They do exist.

  1. Know who you must avoid

There are some guys out there who press all the right buttons at the start: they’re charming, they put you on a pedestal, they buy you gifts or send red roses to you at work, and they say all the things you want to hear.

This might feel amazing – but be very careful here. You could be dealing with a bloke high in the Dark Triad – a particularly nasty combo of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. With these guys it’s all fabulous at first, but once they’ve got you hooked things can turn very sour very fast.

You need to look out for inconsistencies. Does he maintain the wonderful persona when he thinks you’re not looking?

The best rule of thumb? If at the start it seems too good to be true, then it probably isn’t true.

  1. Don’t be in too much of a rush

So you need to take a bit of time to find out what a guy is like then. But so often we jump without looking. Imagine… you’ve just met a gorgeous hunk, he’s oozing charm and the sparks are flying. You can’t wait to get it on with him. Problem is, when we get intimate with someone, our neurotransmitters go into overdrive, our attachment system swings into action and we find ourselves smitten with this bloke before we’ve worked out if he’s got what it takes to last the distance. More often than not, we then find ourselves spending the next few weeks or months or even years trying to get him to be the way we want – but it ain’t going to happen – he’s not that guy.

Better to find men you’d like to get to know as friends first, men who seem interesting, nice, that you’re curious about and would like to get to know better.

Research shows that if we like someone, if we like their personality and sense of humour, we gradually begin to find them more and more physically desirable.

A slow burn might seem less exciting than a firework display – but you won’t be using up all your time and emotional energy on someone who’s never going to be good for a relationship, and you’re likely to be a lot happier in the long run.

  1. Get it right with online dating

You’re probably thinking, “I hate online dating!” Most of us do, but it can work and we all know someone who’s found love this way. Let’s face it – this is a numbers game, and the more men we can check out, the more likely we are to find a good one, so online dating gives us the potential to bump up the number of men we can meet and assess.

But a big factor in your success with online dating will be the mindset you approach it with. If you’re convinced you’re just going to meet scammers and players and such – then those are the men you’ll see. Of course we need to use objective criteria to root out the duffers, but having a positive friendly attitude will help you to home in on the good guys and it’ll make decent men more likely to message you.

  1. Don’t leave it up to the “Universe”

I’m always amazed at how often I hear women saying something along the lines of “what will be, will be”, or “when the time’s right he’ll find me”.

Really? By what magical process might this happen? And why would you want to leave something as important as finding a life partner up to chance?

The problem is, if you wait for men to put themselves on your radar, it’ll often be the players, the narcissists, the ones who are confident and have all the moves but don’t have the personality to back it up. The good guys tend to hang back because they’re respectful and care about what people think. So this means that for both online dating and real-life meeting – you need to take some responsibility and get proactive. You need to get into the habit of making yourself more approachable to the good guys. And make some moves yourself - it’s the 21st century.

  1. Confidence is key

You absolutely are attractive for a man who’s right for you. Everybody likes different things – it’s the way we evolved to be – so own your idiosyncrasies. Of course some men will run a mile if you let them find out you’re a computer nerd, or a fitness fanatic, or a literature buff. So what? You don’t want them. Some men will love your particular quirks and the kind of person you are and those are the ones to be interested in.

Get yourself out there and know you’ve got what it takes. Good self-esteem is your most powerful tool in finding the right man because it means you won’t put up with crap. And if you can bump up your confidence – that’s going to make you a really attractive prospect – it’ll make you shine.

And when you meet a guy, don’t be thinking “How can I make him like me?”, “How can I be attractive to this guy?”

Instead, ask yourself, “Has this guy got the capacity to be the kind of partner I need?”, “Has he got what it takes?”

That’s how to find yourself a fabulous relationship.

And if you’d like my support in identifying, attracting, desiring, and finding one of the good guys, sign up for my FREE MASTERCLASS, and you can contact me or check out my other resources at