Seniors And Dating15 minute read

15 minute read

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Updated for December, 2018

Studies show that a growing number of Americans aren’t married. Whether because of divorce, separation or death, nearly 20 million seniors age 65 and older are single. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to stay that way. Intimacy and companionship are an important part of life and contribute greatly to our happiness, health and overall well-being. But the decision to pursue a relationship can be a difficult one as we age.

Happy elderly couple in field hugging

There are several factors to consider when choosing whether to date – chief among them is whether you are ready. If you’re coming out of a divorce or mourning the loss of a spouse, it’s important to make sure you are emotionally ready to begin a new relationship. There’s no magic number of days, weeks or months to wait before you begin to date again, and your timeline may be different from your closest friends.

Once you determine the time is right, you may want to decide what kind of relationship you’re looking for. Do you long to be married again? Or would you rather just have a casual companion to go to the movies or have coffee and conversation with from time to time? AARP has a check list of the sorts of things you will want to think about before setting out on the senior single’s scene.

Are you still bitter about what happened in your previous relationship?

If you’re still carrying around the baggage from your divorce, then you may want to wait before you start looking for love. Someone who could be a potential companion may be turned off by your bitterness.

Are you interested in listening to and getting to know other people?

Sometimes it can be easy to talk about ourselves, but hard to truly listen to another. If you are still deeply grieving the death of your spouse, listening to someone else open up about themselves may take an emotional toll you aren’t ready for.

Are you ready to have a good time?

Divorce and death create great loss and it’s necessary to find your way through those deep valleys of despair. If you haven’t been able to find contentment in the current season of your life, then you probably aren’t ready to date.

Ultimately, the choice to date is yours, but etiquette expert Emily Post cautions it’s important to take your children’s feelings and concerns into consideration

If you feel the timing is right, you may want to discuss your decision with your adult children. Ultimately, the choice to date is yours, but etiquette expert Emily Post cautions it’s important to take your children’s feelings and concerns into consideration. It may be difficult for them to see you with someone other than their mother or father. If death is the reason you’re single, your children may not be able to get beyond their own sadness to embrace your pursuit of happiness. They may also be concerned or afraid that you will be taken advantage of in some way, or that your bank account may become more attractive than your brain to a potential suitor. All legitimate reasons to be cautious as you enter the senior dating pool.

Senior citizens centers are another good option to make friends or meet others.

elderly couple having a picnic
So… you’re ready – now what? Consider places you already go and interests you already have as options to meet someone. Most places of worship have senior-geared classes and activities. Whether it’s monthly luncheons for widows and widowers or regular day trips for the 55 plus members, chances are there are likely others in the group seeking the same thing you are. Since you are both members of the group, you already have a common interest.

Senior citizens centers are another good option to make friends or meet others. There are nearly 10,000 senior centers across the country offering everything from meals to health, fitness and wellness programs to social and recreational activities. Book clubs, travel groups, volunteer organizations you have a passion for, exercise classes and friends of friends are all ways to seek out new friends who could turn into potential dates.

Before you sign up for one, it’s important to do your research to determine what is the right fit for you

senior man on phone at cafe
There is one rather new and notable way to meet others that wasn’t around the last time most seniors were dating and that’s online. Don’t be afraid to use the internet as a place to find who you are looking for. A 2013 Pew Research Center study found that six percent of Americans between ages 55 and 64 had used an online dating website or app. That’s a pretty good amount, considering the study found only 10% of 18- to 24-year olds used those sites.

There are multiple online dating websites, and some of them are even geared specifically to seniors. Before you sign up for one, it’s important to do your research to determine what is the right fit for you.

eHarmony

eharmony uses a little bit of science to help you select your soulmate. The service has what it calls a Compatibility Matching System that narrows down the field of potentials from thousands of seniors based on your criteria. You don’t have to search the site, but instead eharmony uses its matching system and sends you emails with profiles it believes are most compatible for you based on the information you provide.

There’s a specific portion of the site dedicated to senior dating, and eharmony offers dating advice and online dating groups specifically geared toward seniors. Depending on the plan you choose, it can cost between $20 and $40 per month to be a subscriber.

Match

The concept of online dating is relatively new, but Match.com has been around for a while. It started in 1995 and was the first ever website of its kind. It’s relatively easy to create a profile with basic information. Match also allows you to go back later, if you choose to, and fill in more details about yourself.

Match has a large database of users and it’s fairly easy to browse through them to see what similar interests you may have or qualities you find important. And while browsing is free, you will have to pay to be able to connect with anyone. Match charges between $14 and $18 a month depending on the subscription you choose.

Our Time

Our Time is a subsidiary of match.com. It’s specifically geared toward singles 50 and over. Your profile is set up based on your answers to several multiple choice questions. It’s free for a basic membership that allows you to search profiles and receive match suggestions. For about $12 dollars a month for a six-month membership, you can send and receive emails to possible connections and use chat room options. You can look for long-term love or just a good friend. Once you’re a member of Our Time, your profile will also be shared on sister websites, SeniorPeopleMeet.com and SeniorsMeet.com.

Silver Singles

Silver Singles is designed for anyone 50 and older. Once you create a count, you’ll take a personality test that helps pair you with matches based on your compatibility. The site says it will send you between three and seven matches every day until you find one that’s right for you. It’s free for a basic membership but can cost you around $35 a month for six months for the full range of services it has to offer.

There are plenty of other boutique online dating services that are tailored to specific criteria like religion, ethnicity or even hobbies. Whatever site you choose, make sure it is a reputable one. The dating website should list full contact information – including an email address, street address and/or a phone number. It should also promise that your data won’t be sold to a third party. Many dating sites have the option for signing up for auto-payment. If you go the auto-pay route, keep an eye on your bank statement if you decide to cancel the service. Some sites have received complaints for continuing to charge people, even though they are no longer customers.

Don’t get in a car with a date you’ve met online until you feel comfortable enough with who they say they are.

couple toasting to a relationship
If online is the direction you decide to go, there are some things to consider as you click through the possibilities.

Seek trusted help with your profile.

Just like your younger days when you sought advice from your friends about love interests, allow them to help you now. Let them help you pick out a picture of yourself to post and read over your profile to make sure it focuses on the qualities you want to bring out most. You may even want to enlist the help of a more tech savvy grandchild you trust and who will be honest with you.

Be safe.

If your gut tells you this doesn’t feel right, trust it. Take your time getting to know a match through website chat options first. Question, to some degree, everything you’re told. You want to make sure the person is who he or she says they are.

Once you move on from communicating on the dating website platform, make your next interactions on your mobile phone. Don’t give the person your address or your home phone number until there’s a strong level of trust between you.

Make sure your first few meetings with them are in public places, never a private or remote location. Tell a friend or family member who you are meeting and where you are going, and make sure you carry your mobile phone with you. Don’t drink too much or even at all. When you are first meeting someone, you don’t want to do anything that would impair your judgment.

Don’t get in a car with a date you’ve met online until you feel comfortable enough with who they say they are. Either drive yourself to and from the first few meetings or have a ride ready, so you can be in control of when and how you leave.

Don’t rush into a relationship.

Take your time to really get to know the person you’ve connected with. Caution is key when you are communicating with someone you’ve met online.

Don’t give up.

You may meet the right one right away. Or it may take quite a bit longer to find who you are searching for. Just keep trying.

Texting, taking phone calls or just browsing through Facebook while you’re out together can be a big turn off.

Elderly Couple walking dog
First date jitters aren’t just for 16-year olds. It doesn’t matter how old you are, meeting a potential romantic partner for the first time, face to face can be full of nervous excitement. The most important thing to remember is to listen just as much as you speak. Ask a lot of questions. It not only shows you are interested, it provides useful information for you to decide if a second date is worth your time.

For all the talking you may do, there are some topics and other things you may want to avoid on the first date. AARP suggests these do’s and don’t’s.

Wear the right clothes.

It seems like this should go without saying, but… it’s important to make sure you dress for the occasion. If you’re meeting for dinner, dress nice. If you’re playing putt-putt golf, those great-looking high heels may not be your best option.

Be on time.

No one wants to have to wait on someone you are meeting. There are unexpected circumstances that are out of your control and can delay your arrival. If that’s the case, communicate with your date and give them the courtesy of knowing what’s going on.

Put your mobile phone away.

This may seem like more of a tip for your grandkids but look around anywhere and you can see how many people of every age are buried in their phones. Texting, taking phone calls or just browsing through Facebook while you’re out together can be a big turn off.

Take it easy on the picture sharing.

Your date probably doesn’t want to see multiple pictures (or any for that matter) of your cat, dog, kids or grandkids… at least not yet.

Don’t discuss politics or religion.

Some family members aren’t even able to discuss these topics at Thanksgiving dinner, so don’t try it on a first date.

Keep it close to the vest.

You don’t want to overshare, and you don’t want to discuss everything you thought was wrong with your ex or everything you loved about your deceased husband or wife.

The study surveyed 7,000 seniors and found that 31% of men and 20% of women in their 70s and 80s were still kissing, hugging and messing around with their partners.

senior couple on the beach
It’s not unusual or unexpected for seniors to have intimate relationships with their dating partners. Research from the University of Manchester found that adults are having sex well into their 70s and 80s. And not only are they doing it, they are highly satisfied with their sex lives. The study surveyed 7,000 seniors and found that 31% of men and 20% of women in their 70s and 80s were still kissing, hugging and messing around with their partners. More than half the men and a third of the women over age 70 said they were still sexually active and more than 30% of them said they have sex at least twice a month.

If you are currently or become one of the many senior citizens who are sexually active, don’t forget to be safe. Just because you can no longer become pregnant, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect yourself. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of senior citizens with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) continues to go up every year. In 2016, the CDC issued a report showing there were more than 82,000 cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia reported among Americans 45 and older. All three can be cured with antibiotics but can have serious health consequences if left untreated and can compound existing health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you’re having sex, you should use a condom and have an honest and candid conversation about STDs with your partner.

Be transparent about any financial baggage you may have. Before you walk down the aisle, be honest about your assets and debts, credit reports and scores, and any previous financial agreements you have with a previous spouse.

couple holding hands
If you’ve managed to be able to find your soulmate the second time around, experts caution that you shouldn’t rush to the altar. There are things to consider with marriage later in life, that you don’t necessarily have to think about in your 20s and 30s.

It’s important to think about your estate plan. Your new spouse will be given some built-in inheritance rights when they say, “I do.” Financial advisors strongly suggest reviewing your estate plan to make sure your assets will be distributed the way you want them to be after you die. It’s particularly important if you want to provide for children from your previous marriage.

Be transparent about any financial baggage you may have. Before you walk down the aisle, be honest about your assets and debts, credit reports and scores, and any previous financial agreements you have with a previous spouse.

No one enters a marriage thinking it will end in divorce, but it’s still a good idea to plan for that option. A pre-nuptial agreement is something you may want to consider with a second marriage. An attorney can write one up for you and it will spell out how assets should be split if the marriage fails or a spouse dies.

Much like when you decide to begin dating again, it’s important to talk to your children if you’re considering marriage. The decision is always ultimately yours, but a new spouse can be a difficult adjustment for children of any age. Open communication is key. Blending a family with minor children can be challenging, and many experts recommend counseling for everyone involved. If you have adult children, they don’t necessarily have to like your new spouse, but it is important they respect who you’ve chosen to spend your life with. Listening to whatever concerns they may have can be a step in the right direction.


Whether you chose to date, remarry or live single, it’s important to be happy. Finding contentment at any age isn’t always easy. One of the leading causes of mental and physical decline as we get older is isolation. Seeking out others who have similar interests as you can help combat loneliness and improve your mental health. Even though staying at home and keeping to yourself can sometimes be the simplest route to take, look for ways to make connections and socialize in ways that bring you happiness – it can improve your overall well-being.

Sources:

www.cnbc.com/2015/12/14/older-and-engaged-here-are-5-considerations-before-marrying.html
www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2017/std-exposure-rises-older-adults-fd.html
www.census.gov/population/socdemo/statbriefs/agebrief.html
www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2017/single-americans-week.html
www.aarp.org/relationships/love-sex/info-07-2011/online-dating-tips.html
www.huffingtonpost.com/lifetime-daily/sex-and-seniors-whats-nor_b_14226416.html
www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150317103937.htm