Dating After 50: Tips and Advice for Doing It Right
Dating can be intimidating for women at any age, but especially in your 50s and beyond. When you’re young, it’s easy to assume you’ll be in a secure relationship for the long-haul by the time you reach your 50s—but life can throw curveballs, and things don’t always go as planned.
Here’s the good news about dating after 50: You have years of experience under your belt. You’ve lived and learned, and you’re probably more confident than ever about what you want and don’t want in a relationship.
More and more women (and men) are opting out of marriage in their 50s and 60s, choosing instead to forge ahead solo into their senior years. Evolving social mores and greater economic independence among women are some of the factors behind this phenomenon. Yet, just because you’re not necessarily looking for marriage doesn’t mean you don’t want to date or have a romantic partner.Whether you’re recently (or not so recently) divorced or widowed, or you’ve never been married, ahead we offer dating tips and advice and bust some myths around sex after 50.
First, Know that You’re Fabulous
Getting back into the dating scene after decades of marriage or a long dating hiatus can feel overwhelming. You’re out of practice. You haven’t been courted in ages. You’re not 30 (or even 40) anymore. You have more lines and wrinkles now. Maybe you’ve put on a little weight …
Hold it right there, lady. Guess what? You’re not 20 or 30 anymore, and that’s okay. This chap thinks you’re perfect just as you are—and he’s right.
If something about your appearance is bothering you—those stubborn 15 pounds or your tendency to get choked up in social situations—by all means, address it if it helps you feel more confident.
However, also remember how hard we can be on ourselves. Assignment: Write down a handful of things (at least three) you feel good about, whatever they are. Your great sense of humor, your enviable shapely legs, your confident public speaking ability, your athletic prowess. Remind yourself often of all the reasons you’re a great catch, especially as you’re navigating the uncertain terrain of the dating world.
Now that you’re (hopefully) feeling more confident, let’s dive right into it and look at some tips for dating in 2017.
Go Virtual—Try Online Dating
You may be thinking “Oh no—that’s for kids.” Not so fast. You might be surprised to know that the number of 50-somethings using online dating sites is increasing. The world of online dating has evolved—today there are dozens of sites specifically designed for people over 50. Even sites like Match that are open to adults of all ages have a significant number of older members.
Dating sites like eHarmony and OurTime focus on compatibility and target people looking for serious, long-term relationships. Others, like 50-Plus Club, are ideal for those interested in casual dating, adventures, and (down the line, perhaps) something more serious. The world has gone digital—don’t knock online dating till you try it.
Try Something New
Joining a new group or trying a new activity may help you meet potential dating partners more organically if you’re not crazy about the idea of meeting people online. Join a wine appreciation group, fitness class, or a book club. If you’re a nature lover, join a hiking group or become a docent at your local nature center or natural history museum. If meeting someone with similar political views is important to you, consider getting involved with a local political group.
Meetup.com can help you connect you with local groups, wherever you live. If, after a while, you don’t meet someone you connect with romantically, at worst you’ll have discovered whether you like yoga or mystery novels!
Ask Your Friends to Set You Up
Many of us have been there at some point—the blind date that was so awful we vowed never to let our friend set us up again. It’s possible that your date-gone-wrong could just have been a matter of chemistry—a snafu with the mysterious pheromones and brain chemicals that operate beyond our conscious awareness.
Truth is, your close friends probably know you better than anyone else. Ask them to keep their matchmaking radar up on your behalf. In one survey, 39% of respondents said they met their spouse or significant other through friends.
So, you meet someone—online, through a mutual friend, at the grocery store, wherever. Now what? Here are tips for date night.
Remember that Conversation Is Give and Take
Just as you hope your date will listen as attentively as you share about yourself, he deserves the same in return. It’s easy to nervously ramble on a first date, unintentionally hijacking the conservation or, conversely, clamming up and scarcely saying a word all night.
Conservation is a two-way street. Listen attentively, take turns talking, and manage the conversation, if needed, by politely interjecting or segueing into another topic if he’s talking too much or if the conversation veers into uncomfortable territory.
Don’t Bring Up Your Ex
Speaking of uncomfortable territory, if you’re in your 50s, you’ve likely had your fair share of relationship ups and downs over the years. While it can be tempting to talk about past relationships (especially if your date takes the conversation there first), resist the urge, especially on the first date. Talking at any length about your ex (or worse—how your ex-husband cheated, or your last relationship ended because your boyfriend couldn’t get his life together) is likely to be a downright turn-off.
Keep the conversation positive, and resist sharing your relationship war stories. If you do mention your ex, or your date asks, keep it brief and tactful.
Do Mention Your Kids, but Don’t Gush
If you have kids, mention them if asked or if it comes up naturally in conversation (it almost certainly will), but don’t go on incessantly about them, especially on a first date. Your date is much more likely to be interested in hearing about you than about your son’s college choices or your daughter’s new punk-rock-loving boyfriend.
Don’t Jump into Bed
You’re thinking “I’m a smart, mature woman—I’m no novice at this.” You are, indeed, but it’s easier than you might think to rush into sexual intimacy and end up in a situation you might later regret.
Until you’re able to talk with your new squeeze openly and honestly about safe sex, where your relationship stands, and what you both want, you’re probably not ready for a roll in the hay. If your new flame pouts or pressures you before you’re ready, they’re not the one. Read these tips for determining when the time is right.
Myths About Sex After 50
Speaking of sex … myths and misconceptions abound about sexuality and intimacy in older women and men. It’s not all that surprising, considering the media is saturated with images of young 20- and 30-somethings enjoying active sex lives, while largely excluding those in their 50s and 60s.
The truth is that sex can be deeply pleasurable and satisfying in your fifties. At this stage, sex is about feeling good and comfortable in your own skin. You’re more likely to know what you like and be willing to ask for what you want, and, hopefully, you’ve shed some of the inhibitions you had when you were younger. Here are 5 common myths surrounding sex after 50:
Myth: Older people have little interest in sex.
Fact: Mature women and men consider sex an important and satisfying part of their lives, and sex is often more emotionally satisfying for older folks. A survey of seniors age 60+ conducted by the National Council on the Aging found that 74% of sexually active men and 70% of sexually active women were as emotionally satisfied or more emotionally satisfied with their sex lives than they were in their 40s.
Forty-three percent of those surveyed said sex is physically as good or better than it was in their younger years. The idea that older people don’t want or need sex and intimacy is simply a myth.
Myth: Sex after menopause is painful.
Fact: It’s true that hormonal changes can thin the walls of the vagina and diminish natural lubrication, which can make sex less comfortable. The good news is that there are solutions. Women do not have to live with pain or discomfort during sex as a fact of life after menopause. Estrogen replacement and natural creams that provide extra lubrication can help make sex more comfortable and pleasurable.
Myth: Women lose their ability to orgasm as they age.
Fact: Au contraire. In fact, many post-menopausal women find sex more pleasurable and have more frequent orgasms. One way to improve your ability to have satisfying orgasms as you age is to keep your pelvic floor muscles strong; these important muscles hold the pelvic organs firmly in place, but they can become weakened over time, especially after childbirth and menopause.
Doing Kegel exercises with a pelvic floor exerciser like PeriCoach can help strengthen these muscles over time, leading to longer, stronger orgasms. Strong pelvic floor muscles can also help prevent bladder leaks (urinary incontinence), a common problem for women.
Myth: Masturbation kills enjoyment with a partner.
Fact: As you age, the mantra “use it or lose it” really does apply. Masturbation increases hormone levels and helps keep vaginal tissue elastic and moist. This, in turn, can help fuel sex drive. More orgasms also mean more pelvic floor muscle contractions (i.e., effortless Kegels).
Myth: Erectile dysfunction is inevitable as men age.
Fact: While age can increase the risk for erectile dysfunction, aging is not itself a cause of ED. In fact, just 4% of men in their 50s experience a total inability to get an erection, according to the National Institutes of Health. Difficulty or inability to get an erection may be caused by an underlying condition like diabetes, heart disease, or a sleep disorder. Older men may be slower to develop an erection, they may need manual stimulation, and their erections may not be as firm as when they were younger—all these things are normal.
Mining the Earth for a Diamond
So, time for a reality check. You might have to date several (if not a dozen) men before you find Mr. Right. Do yourself and your dating partners a favor and let them know soon if you’re not feeling the chemistry, and be prepared for some disappointments along the way, too. Most importantly, though, enjoy yourself and keep an open mind and heart.
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful, and we wish you all the best on your dating adventures!