It may not be a topic that one would expect to discover on a senior living blog, but the fact is, romance and dating are hot topics for today’s seniors. According to AARP, 45% of older adults (65+) divorced, separated or widowed. That’s a large segment of the population, and with adults living longer, it’s growing every day. While it may not be the most comfortable topic for friends and families to discuss, many seniors have a desire for love, affection and intimacy to live their best life. No matter how old you are, no one likes to feel lonely. Family members need to understand that seniors are not asexual beings and that finding love and intimacy later in life is a wonderful thing.
Seniors finding themselves navigating the single life once again often have many questions and don’t know where to start – or what the “dating rules” are in these modern times. It may have been 40 or more years since they’ve dated, and the rules, the technology and certainly the times have changed significantly over that period.
No longer do you have to be introduced to a potential love interest at church or through family members (although both are still excellent ways to meet people). Today, dating websites and mobile apps make connecting with people easier than ever. Don’t forget about right in your own backyard – according to A Place For Mom.com, “Senior living communities are one place where dating has blossomed. Men and women who had once resigned themselves to isolation have been able to rebuild intimacy with a new companion, in a new place, and in new ways.”
“It’s never too late to enjoy another person’s company and admiration. And, contrary to what you may have heard, it’s a lot easier and better after 50 than when people were young and a whole less secure in who they are and what they want,” said Dr. Pepper Schwartz, AARP’s Love & Relationships Ambassador. “People can do well alone, but I think we were all meant to love or at least be affectionate with someone. Dating, flirting, sharing feelings, and maybe, if we’re lucky, falling in love, is good for our heart, mind, soul and body.
If you’re stepping back into the dating world after many years away. Here are a few key things to remember.
- Be open to new experiences. People of every age and every walk of life are potentially more educated, more socially aware and more tolerant than ever before. You’ll find people have more open-mindedness to previously taboo ideologies and topics. Understand that going in. Also, be open to activities that you’ve never participated in before and embrace someone else’s passion – or at least view it from their perspective for a while.
- Expect to be nervous. You can expect to feel as nervous and awkward at age 70 as you did at age 17 when asking that special someone out for a first date. “A first date evokes a junior high school dance: nervous people trying to look cool. But watch out for those jitters — they can make you feel so anxious that you project your own hopes on to this new person, rather than noticing his or her true nature,” according to
- Be comfortable with your decisions. You may be interested in dating several new acquaintances, or perhaps you’d prefer to focus on one at a time. Either way, do what’s comfortable for you, and be upfront with all parties about your choices. Stay true to yourself – if you didn’t kiss on the first date when you were 19, you certainly don’t have to kiss on the first date when you’re 64 – times may have changed, but your values belong to you.
- Ignore online dating. Online dating is an option for people of all ages – including seniors – and there are a lot of sites that have been established to connect interested seniors,” says com. “If you are not comfortable with computer use, you can take a computer class, get help at the library, or ask your family. You do have to be careful online but if you exhibit caution, you can have access to a wide variety of people. Online dating is a popular way for people of all ages to meet compatible mates.”
- Spend your entire date talking about your health. “From rattling off physical ailments to discussing former relationships, seniors may be prone to oversharing on a first date,” says US News.com. Instead, keep the conversation light and keep some information to yourself for a bit. No one – and we mean, NO ONE wants to hear about your last colonoscopy on a first date.
- Constantly talk about former relationships. This is a no-no for ALL singles, but many seniors, especially those whose spouse has passed, tend to ignore this advice. Your former spouse may very well have been your soul-mate and it was love at first sight since you were teenagers, but going on and on about a former partner only diminishes the chance for any new relationship to blossom. Conversely, if your last relationship ended badly – speaking ill of that person paints you in a negative light. Keep those first conversations light and positive.
Start slowly and enjoy the journey and new personalities you meet. Everyone deserves a chance for happiness and joy – even in the golden years.
Categorised in: Daily Life