Dating can be awkward at any age, but when you're over 65 there are a variety of new challenges facing you. Intimidating as it may seem, it is still fun to date, and love is still in the air!
By Dr. Marilyn Field
First, there is the EX-FACTOR! The average age for divorce for women is 42, and for men, it’s 44. So, it comes as no surprise that there are plenty of fish in the sea! The EX-FACTOR ‘baggage’ is probably one of the biggest issues for seniors, as every new couple over the age of 65, usually has an ex.
Whether widowed, divorced, or never married, it is more than likely that the ex has left a significant impact. Whether it is kids, which is usually the most wonderful thing to come out of a marriage, or emotional scars, which is almost inevitable, some baggage is there. If you are a senior just getting back to the dating scene, the first thing you’ll need to do is accept the baggage. Don’t forget, you most likely have baggage too!
Accepting the person’s past and them accepting yours is a huge step towards a positive future. We all have an ex or a few ex’s out there, but that shouldn't stop you from re-entering the dating game. Use your life experiences with your ex to help you decide what you want from the future.
IT’S NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO MEET SOMEONE
With each year, it seems the losses pile up, and your circle of friends seems to dwindle. Remember when your friendship circle seemed to grow endlessly? It seemed like every time you went somewhere, you met someone new.
For seniors, meeting someone is not that easy. Your social network is significantly smaller than when you were last in the dating scene or than in your younger days. Also, there are not as many people over 65 hitting the dating scene, so the opportunities are more limited. Any discussion about dating these days should start with a look at online dating. The Internet, and its many dating websites, have changed dramatically for senior singles!
For some seniors, online dating may seem like a scary, cheap, or even crass way to meet someone, since a machine (i.e. computer) and intimacy may feel completely opposite. You don't have to worry about being authentic with a new potential person to date because, video calling is now available. With video calling your online dating formats are a potential way to convey a multidimensional and authentic sense of yourself. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out and then make an informed decision if it is right for you. Plenty of seniors meet people the old fashion way; at church, in the grocery store, or in assisted living facilities.
WATCH OUT FOR SCAMS
Some seniors are more vulnerable to falling for scams, and there are awful people out there who prey on them just for that very reason! While many of us older adults are using social media, the Internet, and our smartphones, there are still some seniors who are in the basic or barely understanding stage.
It can be very exciting to sign up on an online dating site; setting up your profile and preferences, finding the best picture, and scrolling for that special one. Most people are really there to meet someone, but some are there to try and take your money.
Catfishing is a term for when people set up fake profiles on dating websites to scam unsuspecting individuals. These fake profiles are commonly set up by people in other countries. They are easy to fall for because these guys are professional at stealing names and photos of real people and then crafting the profile to match a real person.
The “catfish” may slide into your DMs (direct messaging), and start flirting, and then establish a relationship, and with time you may start to have feelings for the person (who is really a catfish). Just when it is time to meet face-to-face, they will come up with some drastic reason why they can’t make it, such as a death in the family, and then tell you about some financial crisis, bating your emotions, and getting you to respond to their offer without even asking you for anything.
IT’S OKAY TO DATE FOR FUN
Maybe you’re not looking to get serious, and that is perfectly fine! Many seniors start dating for fun and companionship, and have zero plans about getting married. You can write your own narrative for your dating experience. Whether you want a steady companion or just someone to hit a movie or a coffee house with, whatever you feel like, at this stage of your life is totally acceptable.
In fact, many seniors like to date more than one person, to fulfill different needs. You may have a card game partner, a movie partner, and a romantic partner!
PRACTICE POSITIVE SELF-DIALOG
It doesn’t really matter what age you are, practicing positive self-dialog is extremely beneficial! Tell your anxious self “I am vibrant” “I am calm” “I am capable” “I am okay” “I am easy to talk to”. Using realistic and positive affirmations is a great way to build your confidence while you are on your way to dating again, or not. Remind yourself you are still that flirtatious sexy person you were years ago.
It is so important to your overall health and wellness to develop a positive attitude. It is one of the most powerful habits you can incorporate into your daily life, especially as you age. It is a critical component for your mental health and well-being that will provide you with energy, joy, and fill you with passion.
Your mind is a powerful tool that makes anything realistic you want to do achievable. Positive Affirmations are as easy to understand as they are to put into practice. You simply repeat positive statements to yourself that will eventually overcome any of your negative thoughts. Positive self-talk can make your experience with dating enjoyable and easy, if you tell yourself it will. It is a great tool for increasing your self-esteem, self-confidence, and motivating yourself. It can truly change your life!
SENIOR DATERS NEED TO KEEP AN OPEN MIND
When you were younger, you probably daydreamed a lot about the perfect romance for you. Someone that matched your values, opinions, special interests, and who was drop-dead gorgeous to boot. With age, compatibility seems to be number one on the list of potential dates, more than appearance, age, ethnicity, or religious orientation.
At this point and time in your life, superficial aspects most likely don’t carry as much weight as having someone to enjoy life with. Even if you are just watching TV, rummaging through the local antique shop, dining out, or going to temple, church, or any other organized religious get together, having some with you to enjoy these things with can make life wonderful at any age.
One of the best things about senior dating is there isn’t as much pressure on either one of you to fit into some type of predetermined mold, and there is more room to be your authentic self as well as getting to know your date for who they really are.