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Dating After 50: Have the Rules Really Changed?

IMAGE "This is silly," Iris thought as she glanced at herself in the mirror. "Why should I be nervous just because I'm going to have a conversation with a man?"

It had been 2 years since her husband died, after 35 years of marriage, and Iris realized that she missed the companionship of a man. Now she felt ready for the comfort and security of a caring relationship. So, with a last glance at her watch, Iris headed over to her computer. Her "date" was on the Internet, with a man she had met on a matchmaking website.

Sounds like things have changed. Not really. The Internet is one new way to help you meet people like yourself. Let's hear from some more people on how they meet people later in life.

In the Flesh

Do not want to meet your prospective date online? How about an activities club, where the focus is social activities and sporting events? Or a dinner club, where 6 or 8 single people meet for a nice dinner and conversation once a month? Maybe you would feel more comfortable at a church or synagogue singles night. Or maybe it is time to enlist the help of your friends, who probably know some terrific single people you have not yet met.

Dating is just as nerve wracking now as it always has been. After many years of marriage, you may feel that you are out of the loop or that the rules have changed. They may have a bit, but the best advice has stayed the same, just be yourself. If you want to meet someone face to face, there are still plenty of opportunities.

Once you meet someone you would like to know better, arrange a date for something you both like to do. If you enjoy being outdoors, arrange a nature walk. If you enjoy a quiet chat, arrange to meet at a museum coffee shop. Try avoiding movies as a first date because there is not much chance of having a conversation.

Some Dating Advice

You may wonder what has changed in the dating world. Who should pay? Is it okay for you to call? How soon is too soon to invite your new friend to your home for an intimate dinner? How can you let your new friend know you are interested without seeming too forward? And how do you flirt?

The truth is, there are never perfect answers to these questions, so just go with what feels right to you.

Here are a few simple suggestions:

  • It is probably better to avoid the subjects of money or politics on a first date, until you know more about your companion's situation.
  • Men—Do not opt for more than a chaste good night kiss on the first date, and do walk your date to the door.
  • Ladies—If you have enjoyed yourself, call your date and say so.

On the 'Net

According to Iris, who lives in an upper-middle class community in Southern California, "...the Net is how the world is meeting." She says almost all of her single girlfriends use the Internet as a resource for meeting men.

Rich of Boston adds a caveat. "It's really just an anonymous 'singles club.' People on the Internet can hide behind that anonymity. They can be whoever they want to be. If you feel that something just isn't right, then go with your hunch. Don't get caught up in the fantasy life of the person you're chatting with."

As Jim says, when used right, the Internet can be an ideal place to meet people. It offers you the opportunity to get to know someone before meeting them face to face. Just make sure it does not keep you from meeting someone. Ultimately, dating is about you leaving your home and meeting other people.

Tips for Safe Internet Dating

Concerned about the safety of online dating? Consider the following advice:

  • Begin anonymously—First of all, get an anonymous online account. Do not post your real name anywhere online. Many times, personal information can be easily accessed.
  • Take your time—Take time to get to know your new friend. Chat about favorite books, movies you love, or places you have been.
  • Pay attention to details—When you progress to talking on the phone, pay attention to make sure that everything seems to fit. Does what you hear in the background follow what you were told?
  • When it comes time to actually meet, use your head—Avoid relying on your date for transportation. Take your own car or hail a cab. Meet in a neutral place, and always let a friend know where you are going and what time you expect to be home. Arrange for a definite place to meet inside wherever you are going.

Looking for Companionship and Fun?

Regardless of how you decide to meet new people, one thing is clear: a growing population of people in their fifties and a high divorce rate have created a sizeable pool of unattached single adults over the age of 50. And regardless of gender, there are 2 main reasons why they are seeking dating relationships, for companionship and fun.

  • AARP

    http://www.aarp.org

  • Senior Dating

    http://www.senior-dating.org

  • Health Canada

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

  • Seniors Canada

    http://www.seniors.gc.ca

  • Castleman M. The man's guide to dating after 50. AARP website. Available at: http://www.aarp.org/relationships/love-sex/info-01-2011/men%5Fdating%5Fafter%5F50.html. Published January 10, 2011. Accessed July 22, 2015.

  • Schwartz P. Puzzled about dating after 50? AARP website. Available at: http://www.aarp.org/relationships/love-sex/info-06-2010/naked-truth-online-chat-transcript.1.html. Published June 25, 2010. Accessed July 22, 2015.

  • Senior dating for beginners. Senior Dating website. Available at: http://www.senior-dating.org/senior-dating-for-beginners. Accessed July 22, 2015.