“At first, I felt like I was being unfaithful to my late husband,” says Paula, a 65-year-old widow who recently began dating again. Sam, a 70-year-old retiree, wants to date, “But my grown kids don’t think it’s such a great idea for a man my age.”
Like Paula and Sam, many seniors think about dating, but question doing so in light of past relationships, family concerns or health issues. Dating later in life, however, can be rewarding, offering seniors the attention, companionship, affection and support people of all ages long for.
Why date now?
Admittedly, your reasons for dating now may differ from those you had in your youth — but the human need for intimacy and companionship does not change, no matter what your age. You may be content being single or satisfied with your current social circle, but you also may seek a degree of intimacy that is not being met by your friends and family. Sharing life experiences, such as the joy of grandparenting or the grief associated with a loved one’s death, with someone at the same stage of life can be enriching. Or perhaps you miss the passion and emotional investment romantic relationships can offer.
Dating later in life also can be just plain fun. Now that you enjoy freedom from the responsibilities of raising a family and maintaining a household, you can take a risk and pursue new relationships. Plus, relationships between men and women today are more equitable, honest and open, and society is more tolerant of relationships that cross ethnic, racial or religious lines.
Letting go and saying goodbye to past relationships is the key to enjoying dating. Remove reminders that hinder you from moving on, such as your wedding band or keepsakes on display in your home. Doing so does not mean that you are forgetting a loved one. It just means that you can see beyond what was and to the potential for future relationships.
Grown children sometimes object to a parent dating later in life. Do not be embarrassed by your desire to see other people in a romantic or intimate way. Ask your children for their support, but do not yield to their wishes.
You may think your physical condition or health problems are reasons to not date. But such concerns can and do happen at any age. Plus, through dating, you will meet other people who, like you, are coping with the inevitable aging process. You will appreciate having friends to support and empathize with you through this stage of life.
The singles scene all over
Finding people to date is not difficult if you look for everyday opportunities and are willing to take a chance. Consider meeting others through:
- Online dating sites
- Volunteer groups
- Clubs and civic organizations
- Adult education opportunities
- Bookstore lectures
- Church or synagogue
- Travel groups
For the most part, dating is much the same as you remember. Nowadays, however, it is appropriate for women to invite men out, and even pick up or split the bill. One way to help ease the transition is to ask your date for coffee or a walk in the park, outings that generally are shorter and more casual than an evening dinner date. And always use common sense when it comes to safety. Think about alcohol use, sexually transmitted diseases and sharing personal information with strangers.
Want to learn more about adult dating?
Read our three-part series, Adult Dating: From Attraction to Commitment.