If it’s been a while since you’ve been in the dating game, you might feel a little out of your element. Times have changed and so have dating norms. But there are more adults over the age of 55 dating now than ever before, whether due to divorce, the death of a spouse, or a lifetime of singlehood.
When you were younger, you probably met potential dates at the bar, church, or through a mutual friend. Those are still viable ways to find dates, but most people now use online dating to make the process easier.
You can use a dating website like Silver Singles, OurTime or eHarmony to find potential dates in your area. You’ll usually need to pay a monthly membership fee and set up a profile, including a photo of yourself, your general location, interests, and what you’re looking for in a partner. The service will match you up with people who fit your requirements, and you can then talk with them through the website’s chat feature and decide if you’d like to get to know them more.
While many younger people move straight to an in-person meeting, many older adults are more comfortable talking on the phone before meeting in person. You can do whatever makes you most comfortable.
You might not be looking for a serious relationship, and that’s OK. Many older adults date for companionship and fun with no plans for marriage. You can set your own expectations for your dating experience. Whether you want someone to spend time with every now and then or a constant companion, it is totally acceptable at this stage in your life.
In fact, many older adults date several people at once, to fulfill different needs. You might have one person you spend time doing your favorite activity with as a companion, and another you’re more romantic with.
In your younger years, you may have daydreamed about meeting a svelte, tall-dark-and-handsome type who was five inches taller than you and matched your ethnicity and religious beliefs. In your later years, compatibility is likely to be a more important factor when evaluating potential dates than their age, appearance, religious orientation, or ethnicity.
These days, appearance, age, and other superficial things probably don’t matter as much as having someone who enjoys the same things as you and will happily spend time in your presence, whether you’re just watching television, dining out, scouring the local antique shops, or attending lectures together at the university.
That’s one of the best things about dating in your senior years. There is less pressure (on both of you) to fit some kind of pre-determined mold, and more room to be yourself and get to know your partner for who they really are.
In the same vein, it’s also helpful if you are open to meeting people from different backgrounds (religious, cultural, or otherwise). You’ll give yourself more options and also find it enriching to get to know someone else’s way of life.
It goes without saying, but the dating world is very different today than it was when you may have last been dating. A lot of the dating rules and social norms you might have experienced in your youth are no longer strictly followed. In many ways, this is good news and may give you a stronger chance of finding someone you are compatible with.
Depending on the type of person you’re trying to meet, you can break some old-fashioned customs. It’s not just men who ask for the first date anymore; if you’re a woman looking for a man, you can feel free to subtly or not-so-subtly indicate your interest and even ask him out. If you are LGBT, you will have less difficulty finding a date and more freedom to date openly. Most dating websites allow you to indicate if you are a man seeking a man or a woman seeking a woman.
Of course, if you prefer to find someone who is more old-fashioned or traditional, it’s ok to stick to old-fashioned dating, with the man paying and opening doors for the woman. Many older couples enjoy these customs and find them more comfortable. There’s no wrong way to date in your senior years, as long as everyone involved is comfortable with the process.
There are lots of dating scams out there targeting older adults. Most of these involve people building fake profiles and trying to convince you that they like you so you’ll give them money. If you meet someone online who seems too good to be true, they probably are. Check out our article on senior dating scams to be sure you don’t fall victim to some of the most common dating scams.
There’s a lot to learn about dating as a senior, but half the fun is the process of learning something new. As you figure out what you want in a partner, you’ll probably learn a lot about yourself, too.