Learn The Best Ways To Navigate Senior Dating
By: Sarah Fader
Updated February 03, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Beverly Vanover, MS LPC NCC BC-TMH CCTP
Are you getting back into dating after divorce, being widowed, or long-term single life? The dating scene for older adults is growing largely due to internet connections, and that means there are more potential matches out there for you. If you're flirting skills haven't gotten a lot of use lately, here are some tips to help you find your way in navigating the dating world.
Tips on Dating for Seniors
Dating as an older adult does not have to involve lowering your standards. Don't rush it. You should still look to spend your time with people you sincerely respect and enjoy the company of. Remember, you always have the option of staying single or spending time with non-romantic friends.
In fact, you'll likely find that many of your dating experiences now are similar when compared to your earlier experiences in the dating scene. You'll get jitters. You'll feel nervous because you want to make a good impression. You'll feel your pulse race.
Or maybe you won't. Everyone responds differently. But you may find that life experience doesn't change the fact that meeting someone new can be exciting and scary. Sometimes these feelings can make you want to see what you hope for in a new person. It's important to pay attention to who they are though, and not project the person you want onto your date.
Here are some additional tips to help when you're actually on that first date.
You may be surprised that this must be said, but many people try to present as a "better" version of themselves when they're on a date with someone new. The problem with this is that if you hit it off, they're eventually going to see the real you, and that can cause big problems down the road. It's better to be honest about who you are so that you can match up with a person who is compatible with the real you.
The absolute worst thing you can do is pretend to be the person you think they're looking for. It sets both of you up for the possibility of disappointment and hurt feelings.
Trust Your Instincts
Whether you're getting a feeling that something just isn't right in the situation or you feel struck by magic and get along with this person right from the start, trust those feelings. Your gut often knows what it's doing. Remember that if things feel too good to be true, it's not a bad idea to step back and take a logical look at the situation.
This is what dating is about. Go ahead and ask about all the things that are important to you. It keeps the conversation going, as well as helping you to determine whether this is a person you'd like to spend more time with. And when a person answers your questions, listen to them. Believe they are telling you the truth, especially when the answer is one you don't want to hear.
Even when your instincts feel like this person is perfect, you've got to ask the important questions. That includes asking things about their financial standing, relationship goals, and life goals.
Some people date looking for a future spouse. For others, that's not the goal. You should know what type of relationship you are looking for and what type your date is looking for. If your relationship goals don't align, you must accept that this person isn't going to be the solution to your personal goals.
Many older people who are dating have a lot of standards they want to be met with a potential partner. They have the life experience to know what they want and what they do not want. That means they're probably less likely to get into a relationship impulsively. They'll instead want to take their time and make sure they're choosing the right person.
Don't Tolerate Disrespect
If someone seems patronizing or disrespectful to you on a first date, thank them and end the date. First dates are usually when people try to make their best impression, so if they're disrespectful this early on, it's not likely that behavior will improve over time.
What are some examples of disrespect? Being condescending about your career or life choices, for one. But any remarks that make you feel guilty or uncertain about yourself are likely signs that this person is disrespecting you.
Look for Someone Similar to You
This doesn't mean they should be exactly like you, but people tend to get along better with those who share many of their tastes and beliefs. It's true that some differences balance people out or help each person to enhance their strengths or mitigate their weaknesses. But don't worry about that; you're bound to have differences with anyone. Focus on finding more of the similarities, so you have fewer difficult differences to contend with in a potential relationship.
Be Positive About Senior Dating
Sure, it may seem like there are fewer potential partners when you reach 55 or 60. But it may be that other people close in age to you are also feeling a lack of confidence about dating. Be optimistic and unafraid of making connections that could turn into dating opportunities. Go ahead and approach someone to talk. It can't hurt, and it might turn into a pleasant conversation even if they're not a potential match.
Practice Your Flirting Skills Online
Internet dating has its pros and cons. One thing it can help with though is getting over the jitters of being "out of practice." Striking up a conversation online allows you to talk to someone with less risk of embarrassment, especially if you don't know the person yet. Find someone interesting to talk to, and practice asking them first date type questions, so you'll have some conversation ideas when you meet someone for a real first date. Who knows, that online conversation may turn into a real first date.
Consider Staying Out of The Past
It may be tempting to look up an old high school crush and see if they're single now. But it's usually a better idea to look forward in your dating life. Go out and meet some new people rather than searching the past.
Make Eye Contact with People
An easy way to start meeting people is just to make eye contact when you go out. If you meet someone's gaze and they smile, go ahead and say something to them. Be friendly and don't worry about whether it turns into anything more than a passing conversation.
Get Rid of Your Expectations of Senior Dating
Expectations are dangerous, especially so when it comes to dating and predicting the behavior of other people. When you're meeting a new person for a first date, it's best to keep your expectations under control. That is, they should be mostly neutral. Don't expect it to be fantastic. And don't expect that this date will lead to a second.
Of course, that doesn't mean you should be in a bad mood or actively work against the date being fantastic and leading to a second. It means that if you don't assume these things, it will be a wonderful surprise if they happen. And not expecting them mitigates your disappointment if they don't. If the date is a dud, but you had no expectations for it, then you can chalk it up to getting out of the house and having a new experience.
You may also want to be open to the possibility that people you go on dates with aren't looking for one partner. For many adults, they are looking for several companions to fit different needs, and they have decided that no one person can fill all those roles. You'll have to decide whether this type of friendship and flirting without a single long-term life partner works for you.
Standards vs. Expectations
It's also important to understand that dating expectations are not the same thing as dating standards. You should certainly have a set of standards you are looking for in a potential partner. For many older daters, the actual age number of the other person can be less important than it is for younger daters.
You may start to realize that a person can be 76, healthy, and active, or they can be 62, in poor health, and never leave their house. The lifestyle and activity level of potential partners becomes more important than the number.
Where to Meet People
So where do you meet potential dates? The best way is just to do the things you would do anyway. Go places you love to go. You're more likely to meet people with similar interests and priorities when you meet them at your favorite places and events.
If a healthy lifestyle is important to you, the gym may be a good place for you to look for people to talk to. Be respectful of their workout time though and don't interrupt if they look like they're concentrating on exercise. They're not necessarily there to flirt.
If intellectual stimulation is your thing, bookstores and museums may be good places to go. Or for you, the right place may be sporting events, concerts, or craft fairs.
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