Dating in retirement can be pretty intimidating, especially if you’ve been off of the market for a while. If you’re one of the 45% of people over 65 who are divorced, separated, widowed, or single, you may feel as though romance and love are no longer in the cards for you. The dating world has changed a lot since you were in your twenties and thirties, and reentering it after a leave of absence can be scary, no matter how great of a catch you know you are. If you’re ready to try your hand at love again, but you’re not sure where to start, you’ve landed on the right article. Here are some suggestions for building your confidence, meeting exciting new people, and hitting those first dates out of the park.
Reconnect with yourself first
No matter how much the world changes year after year, one fundamental aspect of dating will remain true: confidence is always attractive. If you’re not feeling your best, other people and potential romantic partners will pick up on it and wonder why.
Every person has something unique to offer in a romantic relationship, and until you are aware of the special qualities you would bring to a partnership, you are not likely to find someone who can truly appreciate and compliment those characteristics.
Before you dive back into the dating pool, spend some time getting reacquainted with yourself, your hobbies, and your passions. Think of it as dating yourself; pursue your passions, and reignite that fire in your soul. Not only will you be a happier person for it, but that lust for life will make you more attractive to others who share it.
Know what you’re looking for (and what you’re trying to avoid)
One positive aspect of dating later in life is that you have decades of experience to draw from. Before you step back onto the dating scene, take stock of the lessons you’ve learned from past relationships and partners. Did your marriage ultimately end because you and your spouse held conflicting philosophies about money, sex, religion, or life in general? Is it important to you that your next partner enjoys travel, loves dogs, and exercises regularly? Are you hoping to get married at some point in the future, or is a more casual relationship ideal? Identifying your top priorities, as well as any red flags you want to steer clear of, can save you a lot of grief and heartbreak down the road.
Don’t force it
Once you decide to reenter the dating world, you might feel pressured or anxious to find that special someone as quickly as possible, but don’t let that impulse dictate how you approach others in social situations! If you have a one-track mind that is dead set on finding a new lover, you’re going to give off an aura of desperation that can be off-putting or even intimidating to others. Going into every interaction with expectations of romance is bound to end in disappointment more often than it will result in a new relationship. Instead, be genuine and friendly, and just focus on having a good time when you’re out and about meeting new people.
Explore your element
Even though dating might feel a little strange at first, you don’t always have to leave your comfort zone to meet new people. In fact, one of the best ways to meet potential partners is to continue doing the things you love and going to the places where you have the most fun on your own. If you’re a big fan of golf, and you meet your next date at the clubhouse bar, you can go into that first date reasonably confident that you and your date have at least one shared hobby to talk about. If you love going to museums and art shows, those are perfect venues to mingle, make friends, and possibly practice your flirting game. If you’re hoping to have deep, insightful conversations about literature and philosophy in your next relationship, consider joining a book club, attending readings, or taking more trips to the library or local book store.
Hit the gym
If maintaining your physical fitness is one of your top goals in retirement (as it should be), consider joining a gym or fitness class rather than exercising alone at home. Even if you don’t meet your next date in the weight room or while balancing side-by-side on your respective BOSU balls, you’ll still be making an important investment in your physical and mental health. And if you do happen to make a romantic connection while you’re putting in miles on the treadmill, you’ll have a built-in gym buddy to keep you accountable to your fitness goals.
Get involved in your community
One of the best ways to meet people who share your interests and values is to attend events and get involved in your community. You don’t need to run for mayor or attend every neighborhood watch meeting, but you have absolutely nothing to lose by attending a free community event or volunteering with a local charity. We’ve compiled a few suggestions for getting involved in community in this article if you’re interested in getting started.
Get connected (or re-connected) on social media
Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have radically simplified the maintenance of our social networks. Before the internet became a standard utility in most American homes, catching up with an old friend or colleague required you to set up a meeting, or at the very least, pick up a telephone. Now, staying in touch is as easy as sending a quick text message from your smartphone. If you meet someone interesting at a party or when you’re out on the town, it’s likely that you’ll be able to invite them to connect on one of these sites. If they accept the invitation, and you felt like you two had some chemistry, consider continuing your conversation via the messaging feature that comes standard on most of these platforms.
Social media has also made it easier than ever to answer that age old question: “what if?” If you’re itching to know if your high school crush or college sweetheart is single, you can probably find the one who got away on one of the more popular social media sites, like Facebook or LinkedIn. If that special someone is still married or in a committed relationship, it’s not the end of the world. You might reconnect with other classmates, old friends, or acquaintances you met during your career instead.
Back when you started dating in the 70s and 80s, opportunities to meet new romantic interests were relatively limited; you had to rely on chance meetings,blind dates, or the dreaded parental set-up to expand your dating pool. The internet has completely changed the game and it’s become incredibly common to meet your significant other online or through a dating app. If fact, in a 2017 survey conducted by TheKnot, 19% of newlyweds met online.
There are plenty of free dating sites apps, like OKCupid and Tinder, that allow you to create a personal profile and connect with people with similar interests. Other paid websites, like match.com and eharmony, offer more specialized tools for gauging your compatibility with other users. Niche dating sites offer matchmaking platforms for people within certain religious groups or with highly specific interests, so if you’re looking for a life mate who hates gluten as much as you do, or who feels as passionately about heavy metal music, rest assured that there is a dating site out there catering to people who share your passions.
Play it cool
Whether you meet your next romantic interest in person or online, try to resist the urge lay all your cards on the table during your first date. While it may be tempting to put it all out there–including the health issues that have been cropping up, the close friendship you maintain with your ex-spouse, or the colonoscopy appointment you’ve got scheduled for next week–it might be more fun for you and your date to maintain a certain level of mystery in the earliest stages of your relationship. Rather than rushing this budding relationship, take your time and let it grow at a natural pace. Getting to know someone new should be exciting and invigorating; try to enjoy that process as much as you can before things start to get serious.