Upon hitting age 50, couples may find themselves in an empty nest. At this age, their children are no longer children anymore; but adults who are starting to live independently, working on their careers, travelling the world, getting engaged, getting married, starting their own families, or raising children.
With the rise of divorce rates, as well as natural human mortality, those aged 50 and above may even find themselves alone and without a companion. It can get lonely at this time in life, especially with losing people you loved or moving on from a relationship that didn’t quite work as expected. Regardless of age, people need companionship and a place where they can feel that they belong, be it in social groups, through a friend who will serve as a constant companion or through romantic relationships.
Senior Dating and Society
When asked to envision the idea of dating, the first thing that might come to mind to any typical human being is a picture of a male and a female, between ages of 18 to 35, sitting in a restaurant, having dinner. This concept alone is already a hindrance for seniors to explore dating again.
Senior dating may seem difficult, but it must be understood that dating, no matter what age, can be tedious and complicated. For seniors, these feelings may be amplified given that the society might see the practice as unorthodox, thinking that they are well past that phase in their lives. Such stigma should not be the case and must not discourage seniors from pursuing their desires and needs.
Boomers, having had lived a chunk of their lives working on a career or advocacy, or otherwise providing and caring for their families, might find it in their nature to not think about themselves anymore and act selflessly.
Seniors also might have this notion that acting on impulse and having fun is not an adult thing to do but rather something that must be saved for teenagers. At this age, they might have experienced all sorts of emotions and events that they find themselves not yearning for excitement anymore. By the age of 50, they might start feeling that dating might not work anymore and that it is something that only the youth can enjoy.
It is, however, essential that the elderly see themselves as human beings needing social interaction and belongingness, and therefore deserve to be fully happy and content with the lives they lead.
Based on an article from DatingSeniorMen.Com, seniors could also be carrying baggage from an old relationship that has gone wrong or the passing of a life partner. Society also might have imposed unspoken rules that moving on too soon is unacceptable. To move forward, it is critical that emotions become balanced first and the heart is ready and open to accepting new things, such as people entering their lives.
The article also identified other factors that can make senior dating a bit more challenging. Other than the obstacle of previous relationship/s, there are other deal-breakers that may occur in senior relationships. Seniors, having have experienced a lot in their lives, have established identities. They have unwavering preferences and inclinations that one can find difficult to compromise with. A less than obvious example may be objects accumulated through the years, like collectibles and memorabilia, that may seem like junk for other people but have significant importance to the owner. Day-to-day activities may also hinder an otherwise beautiful relationship. Being older, their vitality in doing activities may not be as high anymore. There are also those habits and quirks that they have developed over the years and are not easily forgotten.
Depending if they have children and grandchildren, one of the most challenging obstacles are not objects or behavior but the people who surround them. While this is not always the case, there are children and/or grandchildren who are very supportive; there are also those who have nothing but the senior’s happiness in mind, but are just cautious fearing that their parents / grandparents will be hurt again – especially if they have already seen said parent / grandparent suffer and grieve in the past.
In an article published in AARP, just as it is at any age, dates, more so first dates, are nerve-racking. While it is completely understandable to feel jitters, remaining honest and open during dates might reduce the probability of anxiety.
Seniors however, have an advantage in this arena, as with age, comes maturity and a greater sense of self that there is no longer an urge to pretend or impress. Seniors, having gone through experiences in their lives, know better and are more likely to be real and be their selves on the first date.
Given that seniors already have an extensive library of life experiences, their first impressions radar might also be fine-tuned making it easier to sense what is sketchy or fake. This can make the process of wading through information, characters and intentions a lot easier.
Unlike teenagers who act on urges and hormones, senior dating will entail patience. Lots of it. Still on the life experience card, seniors might find themselves carefully measuring and analyzing another person’s character and intentions. Especially if they have gone through a past heartache. Avoiding a similar scenario will make them think twice, if not more, before taking a plunge.
Despite all these expectations that, being adults, seniors are expected to be responsible and rational, it is important for senior to still have fun. Having all these characteristics that make them better in judging other people must not hinder in the naturally fun nature of dating.
Finding Love Online
With the help of media and pop culture, senior dating is making its way into the mainstream, and while seniors are cautious treading the relationship waters, an article by eHarmony reported that seniors comprise a sizable portion of online daters. From this number of seniors in the online dating scene, about half are divorced or widowed.
The availability of websites for seniors to meet people is making getting to know people an easier task. If personal encounters are something that you try to avoid or are reluctant to meet people one-on-one immediately, online dating might be the solution. Given that seniors are more reserved and careful in seeking relationships and finding love, the online channel is a great way to slowly ease into another person while getting to know them more deeply.
- Be ready. Now this tip doesn’t only apply to senior dating but to relationships in general. No point trying to get into a new relationship when one is still clearly not over a past love. If wounds haven’t completely healed, or if one hasn’t picked up the pieces of themselves yet and are not yet in a good, confident state, the time isn’t right. It is crucial that prior to entering this scene, one is emotionally, mentally and physically ready for what it entails.
- Research. There are lots of online dating sites out there, either trying to capture a wide audience, or focusing on a niche market. There are also free sites, and those that require paid subscription. Free sites tend to have larger database of people, while paid subscription sites offer a certain level of security; there are also sites with a free basic membership and extra fees for premium features. One might also want to consider other inclinations if they are interested in meeting people of a specific race, religion or specific locality. These are factors that may be tweaked and customized depending on personal preference.
- Ask for opinion. Upon registering at each online site, a profile will need to be completed. This usually entails providing a profile photo, a short description of one’s self, and other pieces of personal information. It would be best to ask for an opinion from an outsider’s point of view. This may be a friend, or a child – if they’re supportive – who can give an honest opinion and advice on how to make that profile more appealing and more authentic.
- Be open. While it is true that one can tweak and customize online dating profile to the effect of finding specific results to match a preference, it is also important to keep an open mind. Often, ideals are too good to be true. If there is too much conditions and non-negotiables, the chances of finding a match will be slim to none. Keeping an open-mind will provide more choices and maybe even surprise with the exciting turn-out of the matches.
- Set expectations. Set your ground rules and manage expectations. There will be those who might be looking for fun, and those seeking a deep, emotional connection. Ensuring these are laid out will make it easier to maneuver in the online dating scene. This way the confusion and other emotional turmoil may be avoided, guaranteeing a pleasurable online dating experience.
- Practice caution. As with any age, online dating must be done while practicing caution. A lot of the people on online sites are real people who want to find companionship or love, but there are also those who are there to scam people. Be wary of this. It is highly recommended to first message or talk online and get to know each other before agreeing to meet. Chatting first will allow one to get to know someone better. Don’t give out personal information immediately. Should one agree to meet personally, it is best to do it in a public place or even with a friend.
- Don’t Rush. As with the previous note, be safe by practicing patience. While a lot of people might be well-meaning, there are those who are also out to get you. To notice the nuances between someone who’s genuinely nice and honest, versus those who are faking it can be discerned through constant communication over time.
SeniorDating.Org acknowledges that while a significant number of online dating sites’ members are genuinely looking for companionship or love, there always is a danger of strangers who have less than good intentions are just on the prowl for people they can take advantage of, and using the tips provided above, it is up to the members to practice caution and vigilance when dealing with other members.
At this age, sex still plays a key role in finding love, however, it can be a challenge given that vigor depreciates with age, confirmed by this senior testimonial.
An article in DatingSeniorMen.Com also touched on this topic, stating that seniors still manage to have sexual intercourse and find pleasure in it. The Daily Beast echoed the same thoughts, reporting that in a study of 7,000 senior subjects, 31% of men still masturbate at age 80 to 90; and a significant 60% of those aged 60 to 70; while marginally lower, 14% of women aged 80 to 90 and 34% of women aged 70 to 80 still practice self-gratification.
WebMD discusses the issue of sex and aging, the changes involved and what can be done by the parties to keep it enjoyable. SaferSex4Seniors.Org allows an avenue for seniors to give feedback on their sexual activities and doctors give responses based on issues reported.
In this area, it is up to the parties involved to come up with a strategy and compromise to keep their romantic relationship ignited. In an article published by Helpguide.com, it is specified that communication is key to convey thoughts and desires to your partner, as well as reciprocation. Being honest in this zone will ensure that sex remains pleasurable even in the senior years.
The same article mentioned that the need for intimacy is ageless and discussed the benefits of sex for seniors, which includes improved health – both mentally and physically. Additional benefits are sex as a physical exercise and the fact that sex decreases anxiety.
Resources for Senior Dating
Listed below are resources for online dating and match making for those aged 50 and up.
https://www.seniormatch.com/ Senior Match operates with the purpose of not wanting anyone aged 50 and up to be alone. The app is available on both Google Play and iTunes, and may be integrated with Facebook. Not solely for dating and relationship, the app also provides matching for activity and travel buddies.
http://www.match.com/online-dating/seniors/singles.html Match.Com, best known as a general matchmaking and dating site, has a category curated for the seniors and those looking for seniors. With a straightforward layout, signup is easy allowing seniors to meet and mingle from all over the world.
http://www.eharmony.com/senior-dating/ eHarmony also caters to all ages, but has an organized section specifically for the seniors, whether they are looking for activity buddies or lifetime partners. A scientific match-making program is in place through a questionnaire during registration. This system allows for a well-curated set of matches based on each member’s personality, location and other preferences.
http://www.ourtime.com/ Our Time is a dating site specially designed with the 50 and up market in mind, and celebrates this period in life. The app focuses on specific interests and desires of the market through a messaging and email platform.
http://www.datingforseniors.com/ Dating for Senior is a seniors’ community where one can sign up for free and check out a list of possible matches. Members provide a short bio / description and a headshot that is displayed on the website.
http://www.aarp.org/ AARP is not a dating site, but is a community niche site for seniors that not only caters on the relationship aspect but the holistic lifestyle of seniors. Members get lifestyle tips and articles that ensure a vibrant lifestyle at this age. Topics covered ranges from health, work and jobs, entertainment, retirement, travel, to finances and so much more.