If you’re over age 50 and looking to get back into the dating game, you’re not alone. Nearly 18 percent of adults age 57-64 and 14 percent of adults ages 65-74 are in a dating relationship.
Today’s technology landscape provides more opportunities to meet and communicate with a new love interest, and it seems like new dating sites are popping up on a daily basis that cater to the 50-plus crowd.
While the idea of dating causes many to cringe, there is a lot to be said for dating as an older adult. Being in a relationship can improve health, well-being and expand social support.
Older daters do have some advantages over their younger counterparts:
More relationship and life experience: As we get older, we become more comfortable in our skin and better acquainted with ourselves. Older singles also tend to have more life and relationship experience under their belt and know what they want from a partner. Dating relationships benefit from this knowledge, experience and comfort level. Not to mention that adults tend to become better conversationalists over time amassing stories and experiences that we can share with others.
Less pressure: For many older adults, dating is an enjoyable experience because there is less pressure to find “the one,” rush to marriage, or create a family. In fact, dating as an older adult need not lead to a grand romance. For some older adults, dating is focused on companionship and shared interests, finding someone to travel with and spend time with, without the pressures of a particular relationship status.
More self awareness and knowing your “deal breakers”: As we learn more about ourselves over time, we also learn what we want in a potential partner. It is interesting to note that our “deal breakers” in a dating relationship change as we get older. Based on a survey conducted by ourtime.com, adults 50-65 still look for physical attraction with a potential mate, like younger adults do, but physical and financial health are also important to older singles. These traits take on new meaning as we get older and seek a mate who can enjoy life’s adventures with us.
Ready to get back in the saddle? Here are a few tips:
Be aware of online dating scammers: Unfortunately, new technology often opens the door to scammers who prey on the good intentions of others. Each year older adults lose millions of dollars to romance scams. Anyone can be a victim of this crime. Some warning signs to look out for: poor grammar or awkward language in their dating profile, always having an excuse for why they can’t meet you in person, professing their love early on in the relationship, and talking about personal financial troubles and asking for money early on in the relationship.
Use existing networks: Many older adults find love right in their own backyard. If you’re looking to date, put the word out to family and friends. Existing social contacts are the best way to meet or get reacquainted with people who share similar interests.
You’re never too old for protection: Older adults in dating relationships are more sexually active and tend to be more satisfied with their sexual relationships than their married counterparts. However, one thing that doesn’t change with age is the need to be safe in our sexual relationships. While sexually transmitted disease rates are on the rise for adults over 50, many are foregoing protection.
Based on a survey conducted by AARP, only a fifth of older adults in a dating relationship report using protection regularly with their partner. Need some help having this conversation with a partner? Joan Price shares her thoughts on how to approach your partner about protection in this Huffington Post article.
Jennifer Crittenden is the assistant director at the UMaine Center on Aging where she helps to develop and implement research, training and service initiatives that address Maine’s most pressing aging-related issues.