Healthy Living on a Budget

Tips for Dating Later in Life

Dating as an older adult can be both easier and more difficult than it is for younger adults.

New Yorker Lorri Eskenazi, 60, has one of those dating stories that show why you should never give up. Married for 25 years, divorced for the past six, she turned to the dating app Bumble—she liked that Bumble has women reach out to men for dates. And at first, she enjoyed all the interest from the men who swiped her profile as a match. “It was fun at the beginning,” she says. “It was almost like a game, and it was really cool to have access to all these people.”

Then it became more like a chore. The same men kept popping up. She had a few “ghost” her—that is, the man would disappear without a word. But she had noticed that one of the men whose profile she kept seeing was a friend from her teenage years in Brooklyn. She reached out to him on social media, asking if he would be interested in a get-together as friends. And now they have a bicoastal relationship.

At any age, dating is full of contradictions. It can boost your ego and deflate it. It can be fun and dismal. And dating as an older adult can be both easier and more difficult than it is for younger adults.

Furthermore, you’re not alone. The divorce rate for adults over the age of 50 has doubled over the past 25 years, according to the Pew Research Center. And, says Christina Pierpaoli Parker, a PhD student in clinical psychology specializing in geropsychology, an analysis of widowers ages 65 and older found that 18 months after the death of a spouse, 37% of men and 15% of women wanted to date. If you are dipping back into the dating scene, here are some good tips for dating when older.

Ignore judgment. Getting back into dating for some can be exciting, but it can also provoke feelings of shame, judgment and guilt, especially if you are widowed, Pierpaoli Parker says. Friends may tell you that you’re moving too fast (or slow) and adult children may be resentful. But it’s important to remember, “there’s no right or wrong time to get into dating,” she adds.

Digital dating isn’t that scary. A Pew Research Center survey found that the number of 55- to 64-year-olds using online dating nearly doubled, from 6% in 2013 to 12% in 2015. “Many singles who have come to me have never tried online dating,” says Julie Spira, founder of Cyber-Dating Expert. “But since their friends are not fixing them up, they have to take matters into their own hands.”

Don’t be ageist. Both men and women frequently want to date people 5 to 10 years younger than themselves, Spira says. But get over your own ageist ideas, and widen your pool, she says. After all, a 70-year-old can be sharper and more fit than someone 20 years younger.

Be open—but not too open. Be very aware that there are scammers, and even the most astute can be taken in. If somebody seems too good to be true, he or she usually is. Search online before committing. “I found one prospect’s ‘real’ profile with a picture of his girlfriend,” says Janie Jurkovich, author of the self-published book Single and Sixty (available on Amazon.com, $16).

Sex, sex, sex. The issues may change, but talking about sex can feel just as scary at 60 as it was at 20. Never feel coerced or manipulated. “Becoming intimate is a choice, not a requirement,” Jurkovich says.

Safe sex is still important. Older adults account for an increasing proportion of sexually transmitted diseases, Pierpaoli Parker says. The Centers for Disease Control data shows that between 2010 and 2014, adults over 65 saw a nearly 52% jump in chlamydia infections, for instance.

Leave the drama behind. “Everyone has baggage—that builds the character we have,” Spira says. But you don’t need to unpack all that baggage right away. “Bring the best version of yourself to the date. Don’t talk about medical problems right away. Don’t talk about your divorce or your ex not paying spousal support.”

Check in with how you feel, Pierpaoli Parker says. “One simple question to ask yourself when you’re with someone: Do I feel I have to perform—is it draining? Or do I feel energized and connected?”

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
The 12 Best Tech Stocks to Buy for 2022
tech stocks

The 12 Best Tech Stocks to Buy for 2022

The best tech-sector picks for the year to come include plays on some of the most exciting emergent technologies, as well as several old-guard mega-ca…
January 3, 2022
How to Know When You Can Retire
retirement

How to Know When You Can Retire

You’ve scrimped and saved, but are you really ready to retire? Here are some helpful calculations that could help you decide whether you can actually …
January 5, 2022

Recommended

22 Best Retirement Stocks for an Income-Rich 2022
dividend stocks

22 Best Retirement Stocks for an Income-Rich 2022

Ideally, your retirement stocks will help you generate a sizable and reliable income stream. These 22 dividend payers make the grade.
January 21, 2022
12 Questions Retirees Often Get Wrong About Taxes in Retirement
retirement

12 Questions Retirees Often Get Wrong About Taxes in Retirement

You worked hard to build your retirement nest egg. But do you know how to minimize taxes on your savings?
January 21, 2022
14 IRS Audit Red Flags for Retirees
retirement

14 IRS Audit Red Flags for Retirees

Seniors beware: Your actions can increase the chances of the IRS giving your tax return a closer look.
January 21, 2022
A Charitable Trust With Many Benefits for Retirees
Charity

A Charitable Trust With Many Benefits for Retirees

You can use a charitable remainder trust to help support causes you love and leave money to heirs in a way that mimics the old "stretch" IRA.
January 20, 2022