Divorce, separation, bereavement: these can happen to anyone. And as more people live longer, the chances of being single in later life increase too. But if the last time you went on a date was twenty years ago, where do you start? Here are some simple tips to make dating when you’re over 50 a little easier.
It’s not all about appearances. Yes, there’s going to be an element of physical attraction if your new relationship becomes serious, but most older people know that there’s more to a person than a gym-toned body. One of the advantages of having some life experience is that it teaches you to look beyond the first impression and to discover more about someone’s personality. Don’t put off dating just because you no longer have the body of a 25 year old.
It takes time to get to know someone. When you were 20 you were likely to meet someone, be physically attracted to them, get into a romantic or sexual relationship and then, over time, get to know them. At that point you might discover they’re not the person you imagined them to be and the relationship ends. When you’re older, it’s the other way around. Sometimes there’s an initial spark, but more often romance happens after you get to know the other person, not before.
You’re more likely to meet someone if you expand your social circle. You’re not going to encounter different people if you stick to your old familiar routines. Take up a hobby or activity that involves meeting new people. Try an evening class, join a walking group, or sign up for a local book club. The more people you get to know, the more chances that you might meet someone special.
Don’t treat every social interaction as a potential date. There is someone out there for you, but there are also a lot of people who just want to be friends. Not everyone who smiles at you is romantically interested in you. Flirting at every opportunity won’t make you more attractive; it’ll just make you seem creepy.
You’re not trying to recreate your previous relationship. If you’ve come out of a long marriage, or if your partner of many years has passed away, there’s naturally a grieving process for that relationship. Part of that process is wishing you could recreate something that makes you feel happy again. The fact is, you can feel happy and loved and appreciated and content, but your next relationship won’t be the same as your last one. If you meet someone new, then your relationship will be new too. Don’t try to turn it into your old one.
A date isn’t a marriage proposal. If you’ve had a long relationship, even if it went wrong in the end, your expectations will be based on that experience. You can find another long-term partner, but you’re unlikely to meet your new soulmate on the first attempt. Getting back into dating means meeting with people and discovering there’s no spark. Don’t try to make something work that’s clearly going nowhere. Say it’s not right for you and move on (and be prepared to have them say the same to you).
Don’t assume that you know the type of person who’s right for you. Just because you fell in love with someone when you were 25 doesn’t mean that you must meet the same kind of person again. Don’t tell yourself that you need someone who shares all your interests and opinions either. A few mutual interests is a good place to start, but dating someone who thinks and acts differently from you can open your eyes to new horizons.
Getting back into dating in your 50s can seem scary, especially if it’s been a long time since you were single. Remember that it’s not all about instant physical attraction, it’s about expanding your social circle, meeting new people and allowing romance to happen naturally rather than forcing it. If you get to know someone and feel there’s mutual attraction, ask them on a date, but bear in mind that it’s not necessarily going to lead to anything long term. Challenge your assumptions about yourself and the kind of person you might want to date and remember that there’s another person out there looking for someone just like you.
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