Tips for Dating in Your Golden Years
Whatever your age, dating can invoke a sense of caution and an overwhelming feeling. It may seem even more stressful, though, if it’s been quite a while since you were on the dating scene.
You’re less likely to cross paths with your soulmate at a fraternity mixer, but that doesn’t spell doom for your dating life during your senior years. However you go about it, i.e., being set up by mutual friends or Internet and app dating possibilities, dating doesn’t have to be difficult. Regardless of age, initial dates can cause apprehension and anxiety.
Fortunately, there are ways to ease yourself back into the dating world, things you can do to get back out there and enjoy dating again.
Dating in Your Golden Years
- Learn to love yourself
- You must love and know yourself before you can seek out a significant other. Unfortunately, whether recently single or have recently decided that you’re no longer happy alone, adults often jump back into dating before they’re ready. It often helps to first take measures to increase your self-confidence, such as talking to a friend or relative who builds you up and encourages you or treating yourself to a haircut and some new clothing.
- Explore your options
- Getting back into the dating scene may be as simple as letting your friends know that you’re ready to look for someone to share life with. Letting people around you know that you’re interested in dating allows those whom you love and trust to think of single seniors who may be interested, as well, like relationship networking.
Finding people to date is not as difficult as you may think; there are a lot of places to go and ways to meet people.
Tech-savvy senior adults can, of course, delve into the world of online dating. Apps have made dating much easier for adults over 50. In recent years, many sites have emerged specifically for older adults reentering the dating world. These “senior sites” have seen greater usage in the past five, establishing credibility among senior citizens and their families, as well.
- AARP Dating: This site allows you to create your own personality profiles, then interest potential companions with creative date ideas you’d be interested in sharing with another person. Visitors to the site can whittle down possible dates, contact prospective ones, and set up initial meetups.
- eHarmony: More than 14% of all eHarmony users are over 55. Use of the site is a bit costly but makes more sense when you realize that the site is responsible for 4% of marriages in the U.S.
- Hinge: Hinge is a way to digitally meet single friends of friends without the sometimes awkward face-to-face introductions. The site coordinates with your Facebook friends’ connections and searches for potential interests.
- Stitch: Created especially for seniors, Stitch is a mobile dating app that allows users to seek the companionship they are searching. Stitch pairs people in your area based on mutual interests and desires, which can help alleviate some of the stress.
- Friends and Family
Friends and family can be a great source for meeting new people. Friends and family know your interests and personality and can connect you to their friends/acquaintances with whom you are going to have things in common. Events put on by friends of yours, like weddings, graduations, etc., can be a great window to connect with new people and explore whether people might be a good fit.
- Shared Interests or Hobbies
Your activities and interests can be another way to meet someone special, i.e., at church, political events, or other events about which you are passionate. For example, if you play a sport casually, find a place where you can keep up those skills and meet people at the same time. Specifically, joining a club may “put you out there” more with potential dating partners.
SETTING BOUNDARIES FOR DATING LIFE
Whether you are already confident as you step back into the dating world or trepidatious about the process, the most important factor is setting your own rules.
Here are some possible boundaries that you might choose when dating:
- Date only one person at a time, or be very clear beforehand that you are dating others.
- Meet only in public places until you know the other person very well.
- Don’t rush into a commitment to someone.
- Alert your family to the fact that you are dating again, so they won’t be surprised.
Review the rules of online dating
Whichever app or website you choose, it’s imperative to review the foundations of dating a digital stranger. It is recommended that you connect with a person before setting up a face-to-face meeting, whether you talk over text or on the telephone. When the time comes to see the person for the first time, here are some safety rules:
- Find ways to verify that the person is who he/she says he is. You can do this by seeking out social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram, etc., and you should try to hold an extensive conversation over the phone or better yet, video conferencing. If you have any concerns, end contact and report him/her to the site that connected you.
- Always choose a public place for your first meeting, such as a coffee shop, a lively restaurant or a local bookstore. Always tell at least one person where/when your date is scheduled for, so he/she can check in on you, if necessary.
What to do on dates
- This should be a fun process for both parties. If that means going in a group or double dating at first until you feel more comfortable, work that into your planning. Group/double dating can take a lot of pressure off of the date, as well.
- Possible Destinations: You have a wide range of location/entertainment options for dates, such as working on a hobby that both enjoy as a date. Or, if golf interests both of you, hit the course and include lunch or dinner. A church picnic is another possible date option, as are attending an event or performance.
- Movies or concerts
- Museum or art gallery
- Going on a walk in the local park
- Taking dance lessons
- Wine tasting event.
Specific Dating Concerns for Seniors
Most seniors have many concerns when contemplating beginning to date again, which might vary from being unsure how much the dating scene has changed to worries about how family may react and how a possible marriage might affect pensions or social security.
- Income Worries
Widows often draw a pension or other income from a deceased husband. Re-marriage can make you ineligible for this pension. If you are in this situation, you may choose to avoid dating, so you do not have to give a significant source of income. Seniors must be smart about finances. These tips should help you make a wise decision regarding this:
- Contact the pension provider and ask for a written list of rules.
- Consult an attorney or retirement specialist to help explain your options.
- Determine if your social security will be reduced.
- Will your new, combined income be more or less than what you receive currently?
- What happens if your new husband dies before you?
Although it is imperative to gather all of the facts, sometimes you must follow your heart and then determine how the finances will work out. For example, you might decide that it is worth taking a part-time job to have the potential for companionship again.
- Family Reaction
Another concern is whether grown children will be accepting of a new person in their lives. The deciding factor in whether this concern becomes a reality depends entirely upon the personality of the children and your new significant other. Start with a simple introduction. Adult children can sometimes worry that the new man or woman will try to usurp the place of his/her own mother or father. Do what you can to show that this is not the case. In time, you will be able to determine whether the two groups will mesh well. While adult children may have opinions, you may have to decide how much weight to give those opinions. Most likely, if the new significant other in your life makes you happy, your children will (ultimately) be happy, as well.
Breathe deeply and try to enjoy dating again. Regardless of age, there is enjoyment to be had on the dating scene. And you might meet someone wonderful in the process!
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