Tips for Dating in Your Senior Years

Tips for Dating in Your Senior Years
About the Author

Vera Wilson is freelance writer based in North Carolina. She frequently writes on financial topics.

Dating can be a challenge no matter what your age, but it can be particularly daunting if you are an older adult whose first date might have been at a malt shop and who's more into book clubs than bar scenes. So before entering the dating world again, it's good to understand both the pros and cons about dating as a senior.

  • Gone is the pimple-faced awkward teenager. Today you're a mature adult, comfortable with who you are and with life experiences and interests that you are ready to share with others. You have lots to offer! And your radar is more finely tuned to help you avoid making the mistakes of the past.
  • The death of a spouse or an ugly divorce might have left you unexpectedly single. Give yourself time to grieve and heal. Crying into your napkin or incessantly complaining about your ex does not make for a great first date. Filling the void with someone just like your wife is unlikely, so it's important to be ready for new and different people.
  • Your adult children might object to your dating. They might be afraid you'll get hurt or taken advantage of, or they might simply have trouble imagining you with anybody other than their father or mother. Before you start dating, assure them you will be cautious and remind them you are not just a parent but also a person who desires companionship and, yes, even romance.

Despite these differences, the basic rules of dating still apply. You'll want to look and feel your best, so considering start an exercise program (read “Picture of Health” for ideas) and updating your wardrobe. People with similar interests still make good companions, so join a mixed doubles tennis team if you love tennis or volunteer for an organization you support ( here are some ways to volunteer for military causes). Despite rumors to the contrary, chivalry and good manners are not dead and are especially appreciated by mature women.

Although meeting people at events and through friends and family is still the norm, undoubtedly, the biggest change in dating is the advent of online dating sites. Once considered a last resort, today they are used effectively by millions, with individuals over 60 their fastest growing demographic.  

Simply put, online dating is a service that allows a community of people to gather, meet each other, and interact socially. And websites are tailored to every population imaginable. Some focus on certain age groups - www.ourtime.com is popular for the over 50 crowd - while some are faith-based, such as www.jdate.com for Jewish singles. Farmersonly.com boasts the tagline “city folks just don't get it.” Sites that focus on military personnel include www.militarycupid.com or www.usmilitarysingles.com. If you're disabled, try www.dating4disabled.com. Most sites charge a modest fee but usually allow a free trial period during which you can see prospective matches. 

If done correctly, the benefits of online dating far outweigh any shortcomings. Online dating sites allow you to identify and reach out to people who peak your interest but without the discomfort of face-to-face rejection. You can be specific about your likes and dislikes and avoid wasting time on a date with someone you clearly have nothing in common with. You can start slowly and meet someone in person only if and when you're ready. You can define the kind of relationship you're looking for, whether it's a friend to enjoy foreign movies with or a more serious long-term relationship.  

Just like traditional dating, rejection and disappointment are not uncommon, but here are some tips to help you avoid them:

  • Be honest. Posting pictures of yourself is encouraged, but don't use the wonders of modern technology to create a new you. Skydiving might help you appear youthful and adventurous, but if the last time you jumped was in 1992, you're better off including more current interests like fishing.
  • Be detailed, to a point. The more you express who you are and what you are looking for, the better success you'll have. Letting people know you collect Star Warsfigurines is fine, but don't forget more telling information about your personality and interests so you don't get pigeonholed. Fortunately, the websites have questionnaires to assist you in developing your profile.
  • Share facts about your work and family, but avoid specifics for now. Mention you're an economics professor but not at which school. Take steps to protect your identity by setting up a new email just for dating and don't use your name in your user ID, so you can avoid any unwanted contact. 

The truth is dating as a senior citizen can be easy, fun, and rewarding. Keep in mind fitness enthusiast Bonnie Pruden's words of wisdom: “You can't turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again.”

 

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