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Dating in Your 50s

Whether you’ve been dating for a while or you’re re-entering the dating scene after heartache, don’t fear dating after 50. What you’ve lost to Father Time you’ve gained in wisdom and experience. Here are a few dating tips for the over-50 crowd.

Dating in Your Fifties: Nothing Has Changed

Dating may seem a little scarier now than it did when you were in your twenties, but in many ways nothing has changed. Dating is still about getting to know someone, taking the time to see if you connect spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically. Communication remains key. From early on, be intentional about showing real interest in the other person and getting to know one another as transparently as possible.

Most of that age-old advice is as pertinent as ever: Be yourself, smile, keep an open mind, and be honest. Know yourself — be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses — and know what you’re looking for in a relationship.

Dating in Your Fifties: Everything Has Changed

Everything listed above considered, some things have changed. Online dating is now the norm, with people getting to know each other online — or at least screening each other — before that first date. Your career is significantly further along than it was decades ago; financial security is often a benefit to dating later in life.

It’s important not to make assumptions in dating, especially in the areas of sexual expectations and gender roles.

Perhaps the greatest difference between dating in your twenties and dating in your fifties is the way you see and talk about the future. The future you once pondered is now. You’ve planned for retirement. You might have a family. Aging and death aren’t as distant as they once were. The way you and your date communicate about and focus on the future will dictate compatibility.

Dating in Your Fifties: Sex Matters

Sex matters. It did when you were young and it still does. Know your boundaries and values before starting to date someone new. Many older daters feel more sexually liberated and confident than in days of their insecure, inexperienced youth. Others are paralyzed by body issues and are terrified of being with someone new. And some are wrestling with hormonal issues that negatively affect their sex lives. Talking about sex is no longer taboo; expect to have these conversations fairly early on in a new dating relationship.

Note: With the greater prevalence of STDs today, even postmenopausal women should insist on protection during sexual activity.

Dating in Your Fifties: The Past is History

You have a past; who doesn’t? Take inventory of what time has taught you. What have you learned from past relationships? What do you need now? What can’t you stand?

Try to avoid talking about exes on the first date — or at least mention them only in passing and without bitterness. Bitterness is often the greatest criticism from older daters. Take life lessons from relationship disappointments and only start to date again when you’re ready to approach someone new with hope and optimism.

Dating in Your Fifties: Be Patient

First, be patient with yourself. Dating can be nerve-wracking. Take your time as you reenter the dating scene. If you’re nervous about meeting a stranger for dinner, opt for a daytime date. If you’re overwhelmed by someone’s affections, explain that you need to move slowly.

Be patient with dating in general. Not every person you date has to be “the one.” Besides, there’s no more ticking of that biological clock; instead of dating out of a sense of urgency to marry and have kids, you can slow down and ensure that you’re in a relationship for the right reasons.

Persevere and have fun.

Dating in Your Fifties: Involve Others

Don’t date alone. Sure, you should show up to dinner solo, but don’t start dating again without letting loved ones know. Tell your friends you’re ready to meet someone, and welcome them to set you up.

If you have adult children, you might find that the tables have turned with them now eager to give you dating advice. Involve your family as much as you feel comfortable, but expect that the politics of death and divorce might have some of them feeling uneasy about you seeing someone new. Don’t expect everyone to understand; instead, stand up for yourself with gentleness and grace in those situations.

Dating in Your Fifties: Embrace Life

Every decade seems to get younger and younger. You can still be vibrant and youthful in your fifties and sixties and beyond. Take care of yourself, live life with purpose, and aim to be someone you’d want to date.

Stay connected and involved. Meet people. Volunteer, take classes, go to church, and spend quality time with good friends. If you’re self-assured, prioritizing what matters and pursuing the things you love, you’re living a full life. And that, now matter what your age, is attractive.