Dating After 50: Feel Good about the Way You Look

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You'd think the pressure would let up when you hit 50 — and perhaps it does a bit. But it doesn't go away completely. So you need to take on some of the myths that may stop you from entering the dating world simply because you feel so bad about how you look. What you may think of as disadvantages aren't disadvantages to many people you'll meet.

It seems the entire world conspires to make people feel bad about the way they look. Thousands of diets, gyms, and health gurus tell people that they're too fat, skinny, or flabby. Liposuction ads feature photos of women and men who look great except that they have a little tummy.

Even people who have great bodies by most people's standards can feel bad if they don't have muscle definition or six-pack abs.

Make sure you have flattering light in your bathroom or wherever you look in the mirror as you get ready to go out. Part of how you act comes from how you feel you look. Harsh fluorescent light makes you appear unnecessarily blotchy and overexposed. That cuts into your self-confidence, and you can't afford to start out the evening feeling unworthy and unattractive.

Change the words you use to describe yourself

Not everyone wants someone slim or thin. Some men say they like a date with some “meat on their bones” — and they mean it. Some people like their guys to be big “bears,” meaning they like hairy men and men with a tummy. Others prefer bald men.

Some men want women with an hour-glass figure — busty and curvy are their kind of wonderful. There's no such thing as only one acceptable shape, so let that misconception go.

You can begin a redefinition of yourself if you revise the language you use to describe yourself. Seriously. Try these new terms — and don't lapse into the old ones!

  • If you're a heavier woman or have bigger hips or a large chest: Use words such as luscious, voluptuous, and sensual.

  • If you're a heavier man: Use words such as solid and substantial.

  • If you're skinny: Use wiry.

  • If you're short: Use compact or petite.

  • If you're a tall woman: Use statuesque.

  • If you have a flatter chest: Describe your build as athletic or trim.

You're a person, not an evaluation. You can look attractive in so many ways. Don't let general cultural preferences keep you from loving yourself and feeling good about how you look.

Accept the flaws that everyone shares

Older people are more likely to accept flaws because they have them too. It's humbling to lose all your hair or have it so thin that it's almost transparent. But everyone has something going on — even if not all of it is visible.

Almost all people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s have had something to contend with: bad backs, hair loss, scary diseases, lost flexibility, and aching joints, to name a few. Women have menopause to contend with; men experience changes in their erectile ability.

People try to handle these issues and flaws with some grace and fight back with good diets, exercise, and various kinds of coping mechanisms. Most people are tolerant of the issues of others because they have something of their own that they want others to overlook.

So forget about being self-conscious about wrinkles and saggy body parts. You've earned these changes over the years, and that doesn't mean you're undesirable or unattractive.

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