Navigating Senior Dating: A Guide

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox
Updated December 13, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Are you getting back into dating after divorce, being widowed or long-term single life? Many find that the dating scene for older adults is growing—possibly meaning that there are more potential matches out there for you. 

Below, we’ve summarized some of the top senior dating and flirting skills that can help you get started in this new phase of life. We’ve also explored the role that online therapy can play as you work to navigate this season.

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Tips For Dating As A Senior

Dating as an older adult doesn’t need to be rushed—and it doesn’t mean you have to change your standards. You might still choose to spend your time with people you sincerely respect and enjoy the company of, refusing to compromise and remaining discerning with who you choose. As you do this, you may find it helpful to remember that you do generally have the option of staying single or spending time with non-romantic friends, if you don’t feel like dating is right for you at this time.

However, if you do find yourself in the dating pool, you may find that many of your dating experiences now might be similar when compared to your earlier experiences in the dating scene. For example: You might get jitters. You might feel nervous “butterflies” because you might want to make a good impression. You might even feel that special first-date connection with a new love interest.

Or, maybe you won't—and there’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone can respond differently when it comes to dating and romance, with some not experiencing attraction or romantic feelings at all. 

No matter how you find yourself feeling, however, it can be freeing to understand that your cumulative life experience can make your later-in-life dating experience fresh and new—rather than overwhelming.

Here are some additional tips that can help when or if you’re ready to enter the dating pool. 

Be Honest

You may be surprised that this must be said, but many people may try to present themselves 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 might eventually see the real you — which can lead to feelings of surprise and concern that this wasn’t the side you were showing in the first place. Plus, you can deprive yourself of the acceptance and support that many crave, which you deserve simply by being yourself. 

In short? It can be better to be honest about who you are so that you can match up with a person who is compatible with the real you.

Trust Your Instincts In Dating

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, you can benefit from trusting those feelings. Your gut often knows what it's doing. 

It can be helpful to 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. Additionally, if you feel ready to go all-in, you may just walk away with a lifelong connection that you’ll value. 

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Ask Questions On Dates

If you’re on a date, feel free to ask about the things that are important to you. It can keep the conversation going, and it can help you to determine whether this is a person you'd like to spend more time with. 

Additionally, when a person answers your questions, consider listening to them closely. You may benefit from simply believing that they are telling you the truth, even if the answer is one you don't want to hear.

You might also try to ask the important questions. That can include asking about topics such as their financial standing, relationship goals and life goals. This can save you both a lot of time, and can help you determine if you both are a good fit.

Some people might date looking for a future spouse. For others, that's not the goal. It can be helpful to 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 can then accept that this person isn't likely to be a match for your personal goals.

Be Patient

Many older people who are dating might have a lot of standards they want to be met with a potential partner. This can be because they often have the life experience to know what they want and what they do not want. This means that you might want to take your time, making sure that you’re choosing the right person to spend time with.

Don't Tolerate Disrespect

If someone seems patronizing or disrespectful to you on a first date, you can 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 can be helpful to acknowledge that their behavior may not improve over time.

Examples of disrespect can include being condescending about your career or life choices, or outright being derogatory or rude. However, any remarks that can make you feel guilty or uncertain about yourself can be signs that this person is disrespecting you. You generally always retain the right to leave an unhealthy situation and seek a love that you deserve—free of behavior like this. 

Look For Someone Similar to You

While some differences can balance people out or help each person to enhance their strengths or mitigate their weaknesses, it can be helpful to place equal focus on finding a mate that aligns well with similarities. 

Be Positive About Senior Dating

Being optimistic and unafraid of making connections that could turn into dating opportunities can help you to navigate senior dating with confidence. Consider approaching someone to talk—it likely can't hurt, and it might turn into a pleasant conversation (even if they're not a potential match).

Consider Internet Dating

Internet dating can have its pros and cons. You might try online dating to begin your dating adventures, as striking up a conversation online can allow you to talk to someone with less risk of embarrassment. This can be especially true if you don't know the person yet—giving you ample opportunity to forge new connections in your own unique way. 

Not sure where to start? You can try finding someone interesting to talk to, and practice asking them first date type questions. Who knows, that online conversation may turn into an in-person first date!

Make Eye Contact With People

Eye contact can be a simple way to gauge interest and start conversation. For example: If you meet someone's gaze and they smile, you can try to begin a conversation.  You can then mutually determine if you want the conversation to continue, or if you wish to pursue a relationship with the other person. 

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Removing Expectations: Limiting Fear About Senior Dating

Expectations can limit your dating experience, especially expectations around others’ behavior. That’s why it’s generally best to try to keep your expectations under control if you’re meeting someone for a first date. 

While it can be normal to have some expectations around your experience, you may find that you benefit most by keeping expectations neutral.

Why? 

Simply put, if you don't assume these things; it can be a wonderful surprise if they happen. And not expecting them can help to mitigate your disappointment if they don't. 

Standards Vs. Expectations: What’s The Difference? 

It can be helpful to understand that dating expectations are not necessarily the same thing as dating standards. While many may believe that one should certainly have a set of standards you are looking for in a potential partner, expectations can limit the possibilities for some. Remaining open-minded can open the door for many to have new and impactful emotional experiences. 

Where To Meet People

You may be wondering: Where do you meet potential dates? 

For many, the best way could be just to do the things you would do anyway. Using this method, you can go places you love to go—possibly meeting other enthusiasts and likeminded people in the process.

For example: If a healthy lifestyle is important to you, the gym may be a good place for you to look for people to talk to. You can still be respectful of their workout time while remaining open to opportunity, especially if you find yourself in conversation. 

Alternatively, if you prefer intellectual stimulation, bookstores and museums may be good places to go. You can also try special interest groups or fairs. 

How Online Therapy Can Help 

Dating can feel difficult at any age. If you're feeling overwhelmed or need help finding yourself before you find someone else, you can consider enlisting the help of a professional therapist to keep you optimistic and on the right path.

Online therapy can be convenient in this context, as it can allow you to check in from anywhere with an internet connection—whether that be home, the office or elsewhere. It can also be more reachable than in-person methods for people who have mobility issues or who simply can’t find the time to take off work and make it to a doctor’s office in person.

Several clinical studies have been published with details that suggest that online therapy can be just as effective (and sometimes even more effective) compared to in-person therapy methods. 

Many people who participate in online therapy have expressed that they find it easier to open up over online mediums due to the extra level of separation that can exist between the person and the therapist.

Takeaway

You may not be surprised to learn that the standards you have for dating in your youth might not be that much different from the standards during the rest of your dating life. People are generally looking for mutual honesty and respect in relationships. 

You may find success entering the dating pool later on, empowering you to experience people in more mature age groups. Online therapy can be a helpful resource to you as you navigate this new season and can be reached through your smart device. BetterHelp can connect you with a therapist in your area of need.

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