Are You Ready for Dating After 50? - dummies

Are You Ready for Dating After 50?

By Pepper Schwartz

Copyright © 2014 AARP All rights reserved.

As you take on dating after some time out of the game, you need to evaluate your state of mind and body. People over 50 might want to work through some checklists to evaluate the emotional and physical state they’re in now.

This is ground zero because if you don’t feel good about yourself, you’ll transmit that feeling to everyone you meet, and it will undermine the possibilities that may have been there if you had come across as a self-confident person who is living a fulfilled life. You need to make sure that you can feel good about yourself before you even get fixed up, go online, or join a singles group.

Your psychological checklist for dating after 50

In general, you have to attend to the following main aspects of your emotions:

  • Let go of past failures or frustrations and assume you can do better. You also need to let go of the hold on your soul that people you’ve loved or lived with still have. Your past relationship may have left you with shrapnel in your heart or a beloved spouse may have died and left you sad and lonely.

    Life deals people grave losses and traumas, and no one, least of all this author, minimizes these losses. The challenge is to put them in a place that allows you to approach someone new full of optimism and energy for exploring a relationship. If you’re not in emotional shape to do that, you have to work on your emotions until you’re ready to open up to someone new.

  • Get to a good place regarding your feelings about yourself. You’re older now and no longer have the face or shape of a 25-year-old. Of course, you know that rationally, but you have to find a way to feel good about who you are now.

    If you don’t like the way you look, you can either do something about it (exercise, lose weight, and so on) or accept the belief that you’re worth knowing — and desiring — just the way you are.

  • Surround yourself with people who are supportive of your new quest for love. If your children are unsupportive, tell them to get over their qualms and think about your needs as an individual. Hang out with friends who are happy for you and who send you back into the search for love if you start to back off. Everyone needs support, and you need to be willing to look for it and avoid naysayers.

  • Think about who you’re looking for and why. You have much to consider now that you’re not building a family with someone or just starting out in life. You might want to make a list of core characteristics that are important to consider for potential dates, but you need to take into account some differences at this stage of life.

    You may want to think more out of the box now that you aren’t picking the father or mother of your children. The person who was right for you in your 20s or 30s may not be a good fit in your 50s.

    On the other hand, you may still need someone who shares your values and fits into the culture of your family and friends. The bottom line is, before you go out again looking for love, you may want to revisit your romantic criteria.

Your physical checklist for dating after 50

You may be “camera ready” — or not. It’s easy to get sloppy about your looks if no one is admiring you. Sometimes it’s the little things people forget about (like clean nails!) that no one brings to their attention; others may look at those seemingly small imperfections, though, and make assumptions.

Going out again requires giving yourself an honest once-over — or asking a supportive friend to do it for you. For example:

  • Hairstyle: Has yours been the same for the last 20 years? Maybe that’s not a good thing. Even men sometimes need a more stylish cut. Hair should look clean, neatly kept, and at the very least, not immediately aversive. And guys, most women find those comb-overs to hide bald or thinly covered areas unattractive. Consider an alternative.

  • Clothes: Clothes need to be clean and unrumpled. Wear something that doesn’t look like you slept in it or used it for a tablecloth. If you look like a mess when you meet someone, the person may never take the time to find out you can generally put yourself together very well.

  • Hygiene: Examine your fingernails, your breath, your body odor, and whether your hair looks dirty or greasy. It may be the end of the day, but you still need to look and smell fresh when you’re meeting a date. For some people, something as seemingly trivial as dirty nails can be a deal breaker.

  • Weight: Face it: It’s a weight-conscious world. That doesn’t mean that no one will want you if you’re heavy, but it does mean that getting dates is easier if your weight reflects overall good health.

    Dating is a good motivator for setting up a healthy eating and exercise plan, which is invigorating, helps boost self-respect, and has health benefits. But don’t hesitate to begin dating just because you’re not at your best weight. Lots of people are in the same boat you’re in, looking for someone to love, and many will accept you just the way you are.

It’s not all about looks in the dating world, but your first interaction with someone is heavily influenced by appearances, so you need to pay attention to what you wear and your physical presence.