Scams

Finding Romance Later in Life

Many seniors who are divorced, widowed or simply still single don't want to spend retirement alone. Here are tips for dating after 60.

By his late sixties, Ken Solin was in a rut. He had been dating on and off for about 10 years following a divorce, and he realized he was choosing the same kind of person repeatedly. So he reached out on an online dating site to a woman far different than his usual type–and they clicked. That was five years ago. Solin, now 72, and his partner just moved in together.

"What it takes more than anything to meet someone when you're older is stamina," says Solin, a voice actor who records audio books and lives in Mexico. "You have to be willing to stick with it for as long as it requires."

Finding romance at any stage of life can be complicated, but older singles face additional hurdles. Some, like Solin, are looking for love after divorce, or they are widowed after a long marriage. They often have to figure out online dating for the first time, from posting a profile picture to setting up coffee dates.

Their experiences are mostly without precedent, given that previous generations didn't enjoy the longer life expectancies that allow late-in-life dating. And even with older baby boomers changing the nature of the senior dating scene, senior romances and sexuality are still little-understood topics, says Pepper Schwartz, a University of Washington sociology professor and AARP's relationships expert.

"There's a lot of ageism about romance and sex," says Schwartz. "You'd almost think that everybody died at age 70 for the lack of conversation about it." But Americans widowed in their fifties or sixties could live into their eighties or nineties. A lot of people say they don't want to be single for that long. "They still have a need for romance and love," Schwartz says.

Looking for Love at Retirement Age

One advantage for older daters: The dating pool is growing. The divorce rate among adults ages 50 and older has roughly doubled since the 1990s, according to the Pew Research Center. In addition, more seniors are going online to look for love; the share of 55- to 64-year-olds who use online dating services doubled, from 6% in 2013 to 12% in 2015, Pew found.

There's also less of a stigma around elderly romance–you can enlist an adult child as your wingman, to get you online or to meet people, says Schwartz.

To succeed as you begin dating again, be deliberate about your search, says Marge Coffey, 73, a Chevy Chase, Md., therapist who counsels single seniors and who met her partner online. Decide this is going to be your part-time job for the next few months, she says.

If you're going online, enlist supportive friends to help. Then start with your profile picture, Coffey says. Hiring a professional photographer could cost between $300 and $700, but professionally shot photos could help create the right first impression. "You have to get your foot in the door," says Coffey. When writing your profile, avoid cliched phrases that age you, such as describing how you enjoy long walks on the beach.

Or, if online dating seems daunting, look for new social outlets. Join a neighborhood investment club, or take classes at a museum. "You have to give yourself the opening to be doing new things and meeting new people," Schwartz says.

If you connect with someone, you'll still have some challenges. If being in an intimate relationship is important to you, make that clear after a few dates, Coffey says. Otherwise you might feel like you wasted time with a potential partner who didn't have the same interest. If a date seems overly curious in your finances, consider it a huge red flag and cut things off. And make sure "you have your armor on" to tolerate dates that disappear even after you thought things were going well.

If you aren't having much luck, try a dating coach. Be sure to ask for references and check backgrounds carefully; fees will vary. Solin serves as a senior dating coach and charges about $125 an hour.

Finally, be patient. Finding the right person can take time. "When you started to get serious when you were young, it was never easy," Schwartz says. "It's not easy now. But it can be a lot of fun."

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
7 Best Commodity Stocks to Play the Coming Boom
commodities

7 Best Commodity Stocks to Play the Coming Boom

These seven commodity stocks are poised to take advantage of a unique confluence of events. Just mind the volatility.
September 8, 2021
Stock Market Holidays in 2021
Markets

Stock Market Holidays in 2021

Is the stock market open today? Take a look at which days the NYSE, Nasdaq and bond markets take off in 2021.
September 2, 2021

Recommended

How Exactly Do You Stress-Test Your Financial Plan?
retirement planning

How Exactly Do You Stress-Test Your Financial Plan?

Some tasks are not good for DIYers, and stress-testing your portfolio is probably one of them. Because individuals don’t have access to the same tools…
September 18, 2021
What Is the Social Security COLA?
retirement

What Is the Social Security COLA?

This year especially, cost-of-living adjustments are late to the party, as consumers are feeling the effect of price spikes now.
September 16, 2021
Retirees Likely to Receive Significant Bump in Social Security Benefits in 2022
social security

Retirees Likely to Receive Significant Bump in Social Security Benefits in 2022

The cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security benefits for next year is expected to be the largest since 1982.
September 16, 2021
The Downside of Delaying RMDs
required minimum distributions (RMDs)

The Downside of Delaying RMDs

With the SECURE Act 2.0, Congress is contemplating raising the age for required minimum distributions. However, don't assume you would benefit from th…
September 16, 2021