When you picture your golden years, what do you see? Some of us imagine a crowded dining table filled with sisters, brothers, kids and grandkids all laughing and jostling for the last piece of cake. Some of us picture a hammock strung between palm trees, a cold margarita and cool breeze as we watch the sun set over the waves. One thing’s for sure — when you fantasized about life after 50, you probably never pictured getting stood up by your Tinder date at a motel bar.
But hey, life happens. Some of us struggle for decades to find “the one.” Some of us have fairytale marriages until life interferes and things change. Now more than ever, men and women in their 50s, 60s and beyond are finding themselves dumped back into the senior dating pool. Wondering if you’ll sink or swim? Consider this guide your life boat.
Before you jump into dating, ask yourself — am I ready? Like most things in life, your success with dating will be largely determined by your attitude.
“Mature women entering the dating world can be their own worst enemy,” says Dating After 40 Mentor Rosalind Sedacca. “If you approach dating with the mindset that all the good men have been taken, there's no one worthwhile out there, I'm too old to attract a quality partner, I'm too heavy to find a love relationship, dating isn't worth the effort, or with any other self-defeating belief system, you'll prove yourself to be right.”
The same goes for the guys. If you keep telling yourself, “I’ll never find a woman as active as I am,” “I’m just not attracted to women my age,” or “These women are only interested in my money,” you’ve already decided you’ll never find love. Your mindset matters!
“Men are attracted to women who are confident, secure and believe they're a great catch,” says Sedacca. “These women live full, rich lives without being obsessed with finding a partner. However, they are available and get out to events, activities, meetings, parties, and other opportunities to meet new friends. They have a positive expectation about dating and expect to attract a great guy. Their attitude opens the door to new experiences and connections that lead to successful dating and relationships.”
Again, this advice goes for you guys, too! You attract what you put out into the world, so make sure you’re projecting confidence and positivity if you want to attract a quality partner.
What do you hope to get out of senior dating? The clearer the vision is of what you want, the easier it’ll be for you to plan your approach and get out there and make it happen!
So ask yourself — what do I want? You may be hoping for a soulmate to spend the rest of your life with. You may be looking for someone just to take walks with. You may even just be interested in some casual sex with hot singles. The important thing to remember is that whatever you’re looking for, it’s YOUR choice. Don’t let friends or family pressure you into feeling guilty. You deserve to be happy, whatever that means for you!
But what kind of person should you date? Marcie Rogo Co-Founder of Stitch says when looking for a partner, it’s best to let go of your filters and requirements from your 20's. “If you let yourself return to the same dating mindset you had before your first marriage, you're going to miss out on a lot of amazing people. If you're no longer having kids, think about what is important to you now and try to focus on people with similar interests. Do they want to do the things you want to do? Do you have similar lifestyles? Height, religion, and even age might not serve you well as preliminary qualifiers.”
If you’re not sure what qualities to look for, ask your friends what they love most about their partners to get some ideas.
Deciding to get back out there is one thing, but where, exactly, is “out there?” In a perfect world you could just stand in your doorway and yell, “I want a date!” and the suitors would line up around the block. But in the real world, you’ll have to meet them halfway.
“Your next companion isn't going to just show up at your door, so you're going to have to do some work and be vulnerable,” says Rogo. “If you're not ready to go online, enroll in a class, start volunteering, or go on a singles trip to start meeting people in an un-intimidating environment. Go in with the expectation of making some new friends and you might find you'll come out with more.”
Meeting someone new might require you to visit new places and try new things. Not sure how to shake up your routine? Try visiting one of these places:
Although it might seem intimidating, try out some of these activities solo. If you’re paired off (even with just a pal) other singles might not be as likely to approach you.
Probably the most difficult aspect about dating over 50 is the way you are most likely to meet someone,” says Marriage & Family Therapist Lee Berg Marchesani. “I know how terrifying and overwhelming this process seems at first, which is part of the reason I encourage my clients to have fun learning and experimenting with online dating. I think online dating services are a great place for the over 50 single to date, as you can find sites that are geared toward the over 50 crowd.”
Here are a few of the sites that are popular with the single senior crowd:
“I am happy to say I am a success story of online dating,” says Marchesani. “I met my husband on Match and have been happily ‘matched’ for five years. I believe my positive experience with online dating had much to do with my attitude towards the process.”
You can create your own online dating success story by following these tips:
Set realistic expectations for dating sites. “Dating sites and apps are not meant to make choices for us,” says Linda F. Williams, MSW, Founder of Whose Apple Dynamic Coaching Services. “Even the most reputable dating sites can result in less than stellar matches. Remember, there is no computer algorithm that can weed out hidden agendas or ulterior motivations.“
Create a rational timeline. “Whether you’re in your 20s or over 50, it can take anywhere from two weeks to six months to land a solid date,” says Justin Lavelle, Communications Director for Peoplelooker.com, the background checking source that helps users determine whether their online date is who they say they are. “In some cases it happens faster for younger singles only because they are less apprehensive to make the move. If you haven’t found other quality singles to date after six months, you may want to consider making some revisions to your profile.”
Share current photos. It might be tempting to post a profile pic of yourself in your 20s, but most online daters will know you’re fibbing. You still look great, so just be honest! If you don’t have many current photos, enlist a friend to help. Snap a shot outside (natural lighting is always the most flattering). Try an active photo that shows you doing something you love, whether it’s hiking, gardening or sitting in your remodeled convertible with the top down. And of course, don’t forget to smile!
Beware of catfish. “Seniors can be too trusting and are the most targeted for online dating scams known as ‘catfishing,’” says Lavelle. “Studies show that as you get older, your ability to decipher deceit declines. So you have to ask yourself, is this person who they say they are? Are they authentically interested in me or are they after something more?” Here are some tips which can help you protect yourself while diving into online dating:
Remember, online or off, if you feel in your gut that something isn’t right with your date, you’re probably right. There are plenty of fish in the sea — so throw that catfish back and keep moving!
"There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment." ― Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever
It can feel exhausting to continue searching for romance, but remember that the next door you open might just lead to love. And if you find a shortcut, don’t be too shy to share it! We’d love to hear dating tips from seniors who’ve found love later in life. Feel free to tweet your tips and questions to @ASTROGLIDE!
Looking for love as a senior? Learn why 50+ may be your real sexual prime!
Images are for illustrative purposes only.