Dating in your senior years can seem, at first blush, silly or even awkward. If you are widowed or divorced, though, there’s no reason why your age should keep you from kindling a new romance and finding someone to share your sunset years with.
I was recently interviewed for this article about how to create romance in your life in your later years. The article used only part of the interview, but I’m happy to now share with you my interview in full below!
What are some common challenges or concerns older adults encounter in dating?
Whether you have been married before or not, feeling secure when it comes to dating after 40 is easier said than done. People expect that dating is going to be the same as it was when they were in their early 20s, and it’s not at all. The dating pool is different, and people have different life circumstances and stressors to contend with. The first challenge has to do with expectations. When you are a young dater, everyone is in a similar stage in his or her life, you have a younger outlook on who you want in a partner and there are easier methods to meet others collectively. Later on, life experiences happen so dating looks totally different. There are situations with divorce, death, children, financial constraints, work schedules, and more that you have to contend with which is not always easy. It’s important to have a present perspective on who you are and what it is you want combined with realistic expectations given your current life and choices.
Another challenge I see is that it’s not always easy to get back out there after you have been in a long relationship or marriage. Whether you have had previous dating experience or not, getting thrusted into the world of modern “dating” can be a shock to the system. Your dating muscle can be atrophied so you have to exercise it so that you feel more confidence when it comes to attracting the opposite sex. A third challenge I see has to do with aging and body image issues. Many times clients say they don’t feel sexy, beautiful or attractive because of their body changes, weight gain and sexual issues. This is the area I really help people with when it comes to their image with my inside-out makeovers so people can start to gain their sexy confidence back and attract who they want in their life.
What general advice would you give to older adults as they re-enter the dating scene?
Another problem when you are coming out of a divorce or long relationship is that your identity has been linked with your ex-partner for so long that you forget who you are separate from that person. So the key is to get to know yourself separate from your partner and explore your passions again. In fact, I tell clients to date themselves first! Once you feel good about yourself and know what you want, finding love and dating can be fun. It takes time and patience, but there are a few things you can do to get started and regain some of those dating skills that may have gotten rusty.
Change Your Mindset And Focus On You — The first step is to get back to the basics, by figuring out what your passions are and really getting in touch with your true self. Dating can be overwhelming, so focus on you first. After being in a long term relationship people tend to stop doing what they used to love. Revisit the things that once inspired you and get involved again. Perhaps there are hobbies, places to travel or extracurricular activities that you’ve been wanting to do. Reconnecting with your passions will help you find the things that make you happy, focus on yourself and even meet other likeminded single people.
Slow Down — Also after divorce or a long relationship many people try to numb the pain by quickly getting involved with someone else. That, however, is just a Band-Aid over a wound that needs time to heal. Slow down and don’t worry about getting into another relationship right away. Think of it this way – if you’re running a marathon you can’t sprint the whole way. You’ll get hurt and fall short. Instead, pace yourself. Create an energy that invites people towards you. Make eye contact and smile at people who are noticing you.
Have Fun — It sounds so simple, but you need to let go of the urgency to find that perfect partner. The problem is that neediness and sense of desperation can cause your potential dates to run for the hills. Instead, make dating fun. Find your inner child again by being playful and light. Avoid interrogating on your first date. Don’t ask a hundred questions to see if s/he meets your criteria for marriage. Avoid heavy conversations, talks about politics or religion or bland Q&A sessions that don’t create connection. The key is to be in the moment, authentic and come from a place of curiosity.
What are some good places/ways to meet people?
You can meet people everywhere you go! Most people don’t realize that the world is a playground and that you can meet people just out and about in your everyday routine such as the grocery store, coffee shop, school fundraisers, networking events, etc. The important concepts are to take off the blinders and open your eyes to who is in front of you and to be proactive and get involved in activities, gathering with single friends and social events. I always tell people to diversify their dating portfolio much like a financial portfolio. The more you put yourself out there and find different ways of meeting people, the better chances of success you’ll have. Prince charming isn’t going to knock on your door unless you draw him to you!
Are there any tips you would share to help prepare for a first date?
The biggest tip in getting ready for a date is to have prep time to get into your fun, sexy side. Always give yourself enough time in between work, time with the kids and serious matters so that you go into the date fresh, light and positive. It takes only 30 seconds to make a first impression and people make judgments and assumptions based on two things in those seconds: your attitude and attire. So definitely pay attention to what you are wearing and how you are coming across. Many of my clients over 40 find themselves stuck in a rut still wearing clothes from the 90’s or wearing work clothes on their dates. Figuring out how to dress to attract the opposite sex is no easy task, but if you dress in a way that makes you look and feel confident then you know you are on the right track.
For women your primary focus should be to dress in a feminine way that honors your figure. As we get older women’s bodies change so it’s important to know your body type and emphasize the parts you love and deemphasize the parts you want to conceal in order to feel confident. When choosing your outfit and thinking about key essentials, keep in mind that men love women in dresses, skirts, jewelry and heels. And don’t forget about the details! Have your nails well manicured, wear makeup and style your hair so it’s flowing. Your goal for the first date is to appear mysterious, feminine and approachable. Make sure you’re not showing too much skin or dressing provocatively. Remember that sexiness is a result of creating intrigue and curiosity.
For men don’t underestimate the power of your clothes with the ladies! In fact, the number one thing that most women find attractive is a man who looks put together and successful. I’ve peeked in many men’s closets that are still filled with acid washed jeans, pleated pants and baseball jerseys from the days of old… not a sexy look when trying to attract that special woman today. Make sure you update your wardrobe by getting clothes that are youthful, fit your body well and have a unique personal style that suits you. Impress her by looking casually stylish with a few of these staples: a pair of well fitted jeans, a stylish shirt, leather jacket and clean shoes or boots.