Dating Again

By Cindy Cafferty

November 20, 2008 5 min read

DATING AGAIN

Jumping in the singles pool can be fun the second time around

Cindy Cafferty

Creators News Service

Diving into the dating pool can be daunting at any age. For recently divorced, widowed or lifelong singles entering their golden years, it can seem downright frightening.

But if the thought of the "singles scene" makes you think more of a horror scene -- requiring a strong stomach and a taste for drama, with no good ending in sight -- it's time to think again.

"The baby boomers are hitting 60, they are not going to accept the old [dating] norms ... they're more comfortable with who they are," said Deirdre Fishel and Diana Holtzberg, authors of the book "Still Doing It: The Intimate Lives of Women over 60" ($25, Avery) and the creators of the documentary film and website (stilldoingit.com) of the same name. "They aren't looking for clones and they are more open to different kinds of relationships."

The dating game has changed, and members of the boomer plus generation aren't just key players: They're figuring out what it takes to win. In fact, experts agree that with the right attitude and some key advice, a little gumption and some patience, dating for the older generation needn't be a scene at all.

So how do you get back into the game -- or enter the playing field for the first time at an advanced age?

The first rule is there are no hard and fast rules. But balancing an open mind with knowing what you want, and adding a little patience to the mix, can go a long way.

"The traditional 'singles scene' is out. More people are turning to matchmaking or online dating," said Fay Goldman, prominent New York matchmaker and head of Meaningful Connections. "Luck, timing, patience, attitude, believing that you can create this situation -- all of it comes into play."

Some of these factors may not be within your complete control, but how you navigate online dating or approach a matchmaker is, and acting on expert advice can put the odds in your favor.

There is plenty of hope out there. According to Paul Breton at eHarmony, nearly seven percent of members identify themselves as 45 or older and divorced (double the number since 2000), and of the success stories of former members, nearly one in four involves a person 50 or older.

eHarmony offers the following tips for those getting back into the game and looking online:

* Make sure that you are ready to date. If you're still emotionally attached to a previous relationship, eHarmony suggests waiting until you've made peace with it before attempting to find a new one.

* Dating is an activity. Make sure you have the resources, time and energy to invest in the dating market.

* A good online profile is key to attracting desirable prospects. Be yourself to give your matches a better sense of whether it is the right match. Share something quirky or interesting about yourself, and update your profile regularly.

* A picture is worth a thousand words. According to eHarmony, users who post a photo are nine times more likely to get a response than those who don't. Make sure photos are recent, include more than one and get creative by posting action shots of you enjoying your favorite activities.

For those not comfortable with online dating, a matchmaker can be a viable alternative.

"Some of my clients would rather not have their picture online or may want to be more discreet in their dating efforts, but may also be too busy to involve themselves in activities that would help them meet someone in person," explained Goldman.

For those thinking about using a matchmaker, Goldman offered the following advice:

* Come in with a good idea of what or who you're looking for. While photos are crucial to online dating, matchmakers tend to focus more on profiles so having the ability to adequately describe your dream man (or woman) goes a long way to finding a suitable match.

* Be prepared to describe yourself in detail. What are your interests, hobbies and passions? What are the deal breakers or deal makers for you? The more detailed you can be about yourself the better.

Finally, don't forget about all the activities you're already involved and the dating prospects that could be right under your nose. And while patience is a virtue, don't be afraid to take the initiative -- particularly if you are a woman -- in asking someone out.

Fishel, Holtzberg and Goldman all agree that the golden years can be the best dating years with the right attitude.

"The beauty in getting older is that you know who you are, you know what you want and you've lived through so much," Fishel and Holtzberg said. "You have a lot more to offer, and you're a lot more likely to take a chance on a person or different type of relationship than you would have in your 30s."

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