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Approach a Potential Date: Etiquette for Women over 50

Copyright © 2014 AARP. All rights reserved.

In general in dating, and this includes daters over 50, there’s still an expectation that after eye contact is initiated, the man will walk over to the woman rather than vice versa. This is particularly true when a guy is older; the last time he dated, these were the rules — and he’s sticking to them!

On the other hand, if you’re an assertive woman who wants to take control of this little dance of eye contact and approach, you need to pull a man over to you without giving him the (possibly false) idea that you’re only interested in sex.

A good deal of research indicates that men often misinterpret women’s friendliness as a sexual come-on, and women often mistake a man’s sexual flirtation as just friendliness. You can see the problem!

So if you’re going to approach a guy, you want enough of a direct gaze to get him interested but not so much that he feels he’s in for an immediate evening of hot times.

One way to temper your forwardness and direct gaze is to make the conversation lighthearted, fun, and not too intense. Think of some topics you have in common (say a delayed airplane or a destination) and chat up your potential date on some of these topics.

If you feel you’re not making headway, tell him directly that you’re just entering the dating world again and that you wanted to meet him because he’s so attractive or interesting looking or on the same commuter jet that you take — whatever applies.

Granted, this can be embarrassing if he whips out pictures of his six kids, but be ready to laugh at yourself and the situation and say something nice: “Well, your wife is a lucky woman” or “I could tell you were a family man type. I was just hoping it was in the future, not presently!”

You risk a bit of embarrassment if you directly approach someone and say you’re interested in him, but men do it all the time and live through the always present possibility of being shot down. There’s nothing wrong with failing; there’s only something wrong with not trying!

Women are used to being able to touch a man to indicate interest and as a sly promise of possibilities to come if things go right. But when you’re just approaching a man, he may feel either that the touch is a solid promise and prelude to something totally sexual or that it’s really too pushy.

Younger men may not care, but older guys have learned that getting involved with women they don’t know well can be trouble if they’re not careful. Don’t touch early on and give the wrong impression or scare the man away.

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