7 May 2010
Dating in your 50s and beyond
Whether you’re widowed, divorced or simply single, dating in your 50s can be daunting. In fact, dating at any age can be daunting, but as you become older it can feel like it’s much harder to meet new people. Here's how to tackle dating in your 50s.
Whether you’re widowed, divorced or simply single, dating in your 50s can be daunting. In fact, dating at any age can be daunting, but as you become older it can feel like it’s much harder to meet new people. As friends get married, have children and move away your pool of available singles shrinks dramatically.
But this doesn’t mean that meeting someone when you’re in your 50s – or beyond – is an impossible task. For starters, being 50 isn’t what it was when our grandparents hit their mid century. Women have babies at 50, both sexes start new careers, take up new hobbies; it’s not just one more step towards retirement any more. As Michelle Pfeiffer said in a recent interview: ‘50 isn’t just the new 40. It’s actually the new 30. Pass it on!’ Here are our tips for getting back into dating:
Profit from your experience
Just think about all the things you know now that you didn’t know when you first started dating. Not only are you in a much better position to size up other people, but you’ll also know yourself much better. Maybe a divorce has forced you to stand on your own two feet for the first time in years, or bereavement has made you realise that life is too short. Whatever your history, you have light years more experience than the 18 year old you.
One simple way to work out exactly what you want from a new partner is to do a variation of our ‘Ten Must Haves/Can’t Stands’ feature. All you need is two sheets of paper and a little time to yourself. Think hard about the ten characteristics your ideal partner would have, and the ten ‘deal breakers’ they simply can’t have. For example, maybe they need to have a great sense of humour, but definitely not be career obsessed. This will help you gain clarity over who you’re really seeking at this stage in your life. You’ll likely find your new ‘ideal’ partner is far removed from the one you thought you wanted in your 20s.
This is no time to be a shrinking violet. The dating world can be a tough place, and you need to grab every opportunity you can get to meet new people. It’s a cliché, but you never know when you’re going to meet someone special. Firstly, tell everyone you’re looking for someone new. Friends, family and colleagues are great sources of new people. We’re not saying walk around wearing a big sign saying ‘I’m on the market’, but just find a way of dropping into conversation that you’re interested in meeting new people. You’ll soon find them mentioning friends and events that you could be interested in, leading you into a whole new world.
Your next step is to resolve to grab every opportunity you’re given with both hands. Sometimes, we pass up great opportunities because they seem daunting, or simply because a night in on the sofa seems more appealing. But, the more you get out there and meet new people, the easier it’ll become. If you’ve not been to a social event alone since before you were married, that first step might be incredibly nerve-racking but, as with most things, the thought of going will be far scarier than the reality.
Lastly, create your own opportunities. Staying home alone isn’t going to help you meet new people – join a book group, learn a new skill or volunteer. At the very least you’ll have fun, and at best…well, the opportunities are endless.
As they say, ‘fake it ‘till you make it’. Not all of us are born exuding confidence, but by pretending you’re the most confident person in the world, genuine confidence will follow. This is easier said than done, but when you’re stepping out into those initial social situations, here are a few ways to fake it:
• Make eye contact – if you’re talking to someone and really holding their view they’ll know you’re listening to them, and that you’re secure in yourself
• Interact with the person you’re listening to – really pay attention to what they’re saying and use their cues to talk about yourself
• Store up ten interesting stories or facts about yourself – by having something interesting to say when talking to someone, you’ll worry less about drying up and you’ll be able to relax into the conversation
Finally, don’t pressure yourself. Rather than seeing each social opportunity or date as your last chance to meet someone, simply enjoy the experience. You’ll have some good dates, some great dates and you’ll probably have some awful dates. Take them all in your stride – your date will be able to sense desperation, and that’s not an attractive quality.
Try online dating
It’s probably no surprise that we’re advocating online dating. But, especially for more mature daters, going online is a great way to get back into the game. You can review your matches from the security and comfort of your computer, and really get to know them before you even meet up for a coffee. You’re under no obligation to meet up with anyone until you’re completely comfortable with them, and with eHarmony’s Secure Call feature, you can even speak over the phone without ever revealing your own phone number.