Dating in Midlife: Starting Over When You are Middle-Aged

Dating in Midlife

Dating – The Second Time Around

The prospect of dating again can be downright daunting after a divorce or the death of a spouse.

It’s time to get out again. Your divorce is history, but you’ve been avoiding that next step. Or maybe you are finally feeling ready to date again after the death of a spouse.

The prospect of dating again can be downright daunting. All the rules have changed. You feel vulnerable, anxious and sure you will embarrass yourself.

To be sure, dating in midlife can be more complicated than when you were young. It is often harder to meet other singles your age, especially if you are female. Those you do meet are more likely to come with “baggage” – the hard knocks of life that can make relationships more complex.

You may find that compromising is harder since you are accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Then add your kids and other demands on your time that didn’t enter into dating at age 20.

Are you ready?

Overcoming inertia and fears about dating can be big hurdles for new singles. Make sure your self-esteem and confidence are intact before you venture out. Being needy or desperate can lead to poor dating judgments.

If you’re divorced, do you understand why your previous relationship didn’t work so you don’t make the same mistake again? If you find you are especially nervous, uncomfortable or are making constant comparisons to your former spouse, you may need to give yourself more time to heal.

Widows and widowers differ in how quickly they are ready to start a new relationship. Men who have lost a spouse are three times more likely as widowed women to have a new partner within two years. Those who did find new romance after the death of a spouse were happier than those who did not, according to one study.

What are you seeking?

Know what you’re looking for in a date before you start any search. Most middle-aged and older singles say they are simply looking for companionship. They feel no pressure to marry. In a 2003 AARP survey of 3,501 singles, ages 40 to 69:

  • 49 percent were looking for someone to talk to and do things with
  • 18 percent said they were seeking fun in a date

You may or may not want marriage or a sexual relationship. Maybe you just want a friend to go out to dinner with. Do you want to be part of a couple, but keep a separate home? Knowing what you want will make it easier to make dating decisions.

Get out there

It’s been said that dating is a numbers game. The more people you meet, the better your chances of success. This means getting out of the house. Here are some ideas to get you circulating:

  • Let friends, family and coworkers know you’re available and looking.
  • Surf the Internet for online dating and social networking sites.
  • Look into travel programs, such as Elderhostel or others that cater to singles.
  • Get involved as a volunteer for a cause you believe in.
  • Take a class at a local college, night school or community organization.
  • Attend your class reunions.
  • Join a special interest group. Consider a book group, hiking club, choir or mature singles network.
  • Have a party where each guest must bring a single friend of the opposite sex.

Be warm, chatty and approachable wherever you are, whether it’s the line at your local grocery store or at your church or synagogue. If you’re female, remember that it’s acceptable today for you to do the asking for a phone number or date.

And let your age and experience work in your favor. Your hard-earned maturity and wisdom can make dating drama-free and more satisfying the second time around.

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