Dating in Later Life
Many of us, when we are over 50 or over 60 find ourselves without a partner and wishing to find one. Regardless of how happy we are being single or have come to terms with bereavement or divorce, regardless of how wide our social circle, we may still seek a degree of sharing and intimacy that is not met by family and friends. Some of us miss the emotional investment or passion that a romantic relationship can offer. How then do we find new potential partners and just as importantly how do we assess their suitability?
What people seek in a partner can vary from a soul mate or life partner, a close friendship, someone with whom to enjoy leisure time, through to a one time date or sexual encounter. With the rise of internet dating and its ease of meeting people, dating as a social activity has become an end in itself for some. So we need to know what we are looking for from dating and make sure the person or people we date want the same things. Read our Guide to Internet Dating for more information about the over 50s dating services available to use and how to get the best from it.
Dating in later life
Our reasons for dating in later life are often very different from our younger days. Marriage suitability and attitudes to parenting are less important criteria when we ae over 50. Physical attraction is not always the top priority. Also as many of us are financially secure in retirement and later life, money may be less important to us than finding someone who shares our interests and wants to spend their leisure time the way we do.
Dating in later life can be fun too, when we have the freedom from the responsibility of raising a family. At this stage of life we may be more open to cross social, class, religious and ethnic boundaries in our choice of potential partner. Due to longer, healthier lives and increased divorce rates in the over 60’s, the number of available potential partners is higher than ever. The later life dating game has never been as interesting and challenging!
When to date
Firstly, make sure you are happy with your life as it is. Dating will not cure any problems or personal issues. Take time to get over the end of a previous relationship. On the other hand don’t make assumptions that you won’t have another fulfilling relationship. Whether to date, and when to date is a personal choice and timing is important.
Ways to meet potential partners
The most common way of meeting people is through friends. See our Guide to Forming Friendships which includes ideas for meeting people by joining in with activities, sports and hobbies, as well as through travel, social and other networks and clubs. Some of the ways we might meet a potential partner are listed below:
- Dinner and other parties
- Outings with friends
- Volunteer groups
- Education classes
- Clubs and political organisations
- Leisure interests and hobbies
- Travelling alone or in groups
- Transportation: trains, boats and planes
- Places of worship
- Social Networking and Communicating
- Friends Reunited
- Our address book
- Internet Dating
So, the message is, “Get out as much as you can.” Join anything that may interest you, contact your friends, say "yes" to every reasonable invitation. Research different options such as specialist interest groups, introduction agencies and on-line dating to help you decide which methods you might use and how much resource (time, money, effort) you will put into it.
Attitudes to later life dating
In later life we may find romance, a soul mate, or we may find a special friend who provides support, companionship, and understanding. We may not necessarily see that person as the person we are dating or even as a potential life partner, but know we would be at a loss without him or her in our life. Each relationship takes its own path, the one that is right for us at the time. There are no rules other than the ones we impose on ourselves.
Our family and friends may take it upon themselves to pass judgement just as our parents may have all those years ago. However difficult it can be to assert ourselves we have the right to decide our relationships independently of those closest to us, unless we are subjecting ourselves to potential risk or abuse. We can understand adult children’s concern for our welfare, for their financial future, for their stereotype of us as a parent, but in the end we must pursue our own course, even if we choose to be a ”Silly Old Fool” in their eyes!”
Our own attitude is important. Regardless of how we meet someone, on-line or in person we need to be sensible and not put ourselves at risk. Just because you share a mutual friend or enjoy the same activities does not mean you can put your complete trust in that person. At the same time, entering into a new relationship requires that we share with others who we are, what we like, how we spend our lives. Without this preparedness to open up, trust and relationships cannot develop. Knowing our boundaries between disclosure and exposure is important.
Whatever our views on dating there is no doubt that it has grown in popularity for the over 50s age group. If you are still unsure if it is right for you and would like to know more read Carol Dix's Ultimate Guide to 21st Century Dating.