By Emma Mitchell • 25 August 2023 • 8:00
Single in Spain. Image by Freepik
Being a single foreign woman living in Spain can be daunting, especially as we grow older and perhaps have failed marriages, long-term relationships or the loss of a spouse behind us.
When many lifestyle articles seem to focus on dating for the twenty and thirty-somethings, it can be tempting to believe that when a woman hits her 50s, 60s and beyond she should just give up, sit down and start crocheting cat bras whilst listening to historical romance audiobooks.
The reality is very different. For a start off, the median age in Spain in 2023 is 44.8 years old (up from 37.7 in 2005) and, rather than being propelled into decrepitude on a diet of Miss Marple and word search, middle aged women of a different nationality living in Spain are delighting in casual dating, on the search for Mr Right or being happy singletons building networks of female friends with no thought of a man in their lives.
If you’re not Spanish, it may be tempting to think that you’d need to sign up to dating apps and sites to find Mr Right, however most of the women we talked to who had found their soulmate did so organically, via their daily local interactions online and offline.
India, from Costa Blanca, came to Spain with her husband in the 90s and started dating following the breakup of her marriage a couple of years later. She met a fellow Brit on a night out in a club, cheekily offered to buy him a drink and they ended up married for 7 years. Her third husband, Mr Right, came along from a chance meeting on a message board for property purchase; they clicked over the keyboard and have now been together for 15 years.
India’s advice for finding Mr Right is, “Be yourself.” She feels that in her first two marriages she “Tried to be what they wanted,” but, “The third time it was a soul attraction.” When India first met the man who would become her third husband she was uncompromisingly truthful about herself and her past and says, “It’s very liberating to be able to be yourself.”
One of the common themes amongst women looking for Mr Right was how important it is to be in the right mental and emotional state to date. The wisdom is, only date if you want a relationship but don’t need a relationship because, as India says, “I think when you’re looking you give off desperate vibes and then the wrong ones come….it’s amazing as it is underlying and not obvious. It’s body language and very basic stuff that the animal in us picks up on.”
A good percentage of ladies we talked to didn’t want a serious relationship but enjoyed dating and having less serious boyfriends to fulfill the need for romantic nights out and male companionship.
Kelly, an attractive out-going blonde lady, feels that “Being single is easy, and I’m lucky that I have a good group of friends, but dating in Spain is not easy.” She went on to say, “I’ve tried meeting people in bars, through friends and on apps. It’s hard for many reasons; language barriers, age groups, interests etc it’s harder to find like minded people here. I honestly feel if I was in the UK I would not be single at this point.”
Not being able to speak Spanish fluently, Kelly felt, knocked out 90% of potential dates for her. But even if she had spoken the language fluently, it was important for her to be with someone who understood her sense of humour and British cultural references.
Jane, a glamorous, gorgeous 50-something from Costa del Sol warned that the dating game is a competitive one. With far more single women than men on the scene, she feels that friends can quickly become ‘frenemies’ who won’t hesitate to try and steal a date.
Sarah, in Costa Almeria, regaled us with her dating #phails. There were the men who looked great in profile shots, only to turn up 5 stone heavier, 10 years older and with a whole lot more scalp showing, still believing the lady would faint to the floor with a surfeit of suppressed sexual desire at first sight.
Then there was the portly chap who, on the third date, invited her back to his place and, after a few drinks, excused himself to the bathroom. Much to her bemusement (and, dare I say, amusement), he then burst out of the lavvy dressed only in a pair of very skimpy leopard print ‘tighties’ and proclaimed, “Here’s what you’ve been waiting for baby!” Needless to say, she excused herself and exited stage left.
Debbie remembers the time when, on a first date, the man she was with spent the whole time on his phone messaging other women and even, rather gallantly, sought her opinion on whether they were attractive enough for him to bother with. Wow…what a winner.
A good number of women we talked to said that, having tried the dating scene, they had decided that it simply wasn’t worth the effort. The one thing that united these women was that they had all forged close friendships with other women; whether that was a big social circle or a small group of close confidants. They all had gained passions in life, outside of relationships, that engaged them and gave them social contact.
Nicky, another Costa del Sol resident, said “After a lot of crappy dates with men I wouldn’t normally look twice at back in the UK, I realised that it just wasn’t worth the hassle and I asked myself why I was bothering to keep dating.”
She went on to say, “I realised that I wasn’t fulfilled and I stupidly thought I needed a man to make me happy; it turned out I just needed outside interests and friendships!” Nicky now has a good circle of friends and is in several fitness and social groups, has taken up painting and, as the twenty-somethings say, is living her best life.
All the women we talked to agreed that, if you are in search of Mr Right, then it’s better to look closer to home than on apps. Culturally, the Spanish don’t use bars and clubs to find relationships in the same way many Northern Europeans do, so this is one area where getting involved in local community groups and events and learning the language really elevates the chances of finding someone.
If you prefer to use apps, then the popular ones aimed at finding relationships in Spain are:
Meetic.es, Parship.es, and eDarling.es. However, if more casual dating or no strings attached ‘hanky panky’ is more your thing then Tinder and Badoo are the way to go.
However you choose to date; here’s the sage advice passed on from the women we talked to:
My 77 year old Mother always said, “Darling, don’t get into a relationship until you’ve got a full back history, met his parents and got a thorough financial breakdown.” My Mother is on her third, and happiest, marriage with a man she met on match.com…..having had me write her profile and vet every man who responded to it.
As for me? Well I met my Mr Right dog walking. Our dogs (his, a rescue Lurcher, mine an 85kg Neopolitan Mastiff), clicked immediately and pretty much forced us both to walk and talk whilst they played together. That was 12 years ago and, as I remind him daily, when the statistical probability of him dying first proves to be true, I’ll make sure that I find another just like him within a suitable mourning period of no less than a month and, for mental health reasons, no more than two months. #Romantic.
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Emma landed in journalism after nearly 30 years as an executive in the Internet industry. She lives in Bédar and her interests include raising one eyebrow, reckless thinking and talking to people randomly. If you have a great human interest story you can contact her on email@example.com
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