By Evelyn Block
More than a third of Americans 50 plus are divorced, widowed, separated or have never married. Getting into the dating game after being absent for a long time will feel strangely familiar to most folks, mostly because it’s like being in high school all over again. Same worries, “does she like me,” “Am I attractive enough,” “How does this dress look?”
Even the belief that the dating game has changed doesn’t totally apply; men who grew up in the 50s and 60s still want to do the asking, and women often are so fearful of ending up in a caretaker role that they are unrealistically picky about who they will date. Being desperate not to be alone leads to poor dating experiences as people seek one another just for the sake of companionship. That leads us to rule number one of getting back in the dating game.
1. Learn to feel comfortable with being alone. If you rush into the dating game to assuage feelings of loneliness, you are likely to make poor choices. Being comfortable by yourself makes you more interesting to others. Work on your relationship with yourself before you consider a relationship with someone else.
2. Be your best self. Dating makes you vulnerable but you need to remember everything isn’t about you. If he looks at another woman or she checks her phone messages, try not to take it personally. You are the center only of your own world.
3. Vulnerability is part of the dating game. Try not to over analyze everything. Sometimes it’s just bad timing. Both you and your date have a history and are likely nervous, so try to keep things in the “now.” Talk about common interests and activities before you get into the personal.
4. Know what you are seeking. Are there certain qualities you are looking for? If you are seeking friendship and good times and your date is looking for a new spouse, you’re likely not a good match.
5. Learn how to strike a balance. If you know what’s not negotiable to you in a relationship, you’ll also know where you are willing to compromise. At this stage, everyone comes with some baggage, commitments, family issues, and a geographic and financial history. If you like 5 star hotels and your date loves camping, or you love the east coast and your date will only live on the west, determine how much you are truly willing to compromise without making yourself or your date miserable. Know your bottom line.
6. Talk and talk some more. But save the complaints and rants about your ex-spouse or kids and boss. Relationships take time to develop and as the kids say, TMI (too much information) too early is a relationship wrecker. Everyone has shattered dreams and hurts and disappointments. Learn to share them over time.
7. Think outside of the box. Age is but a number and at this stage of life; you are free to date whomever you wish. Drop the stereotypes, the homophobia, the ageism, and the preconceived notions. Be open to new experiences and new people. Allow a true friendship to blossom. Second marriages are more likely to divorce than first marriages simply because they are often based on infatuation or the need to be “rescued.”
People new, or new again, to the dating game, often inquire about meeting on the Internet. A future article will address Internet dating.
If you have experience or any additional tips for readers dating after 50, please feel free to post them.