Dating is hard for everyone, and it can feel doubly so if you’re dating as an older single. It can feel like everyone else around you is already spoken for, and like the advice and resources around you are designed for 22-year-olds who live most of their lives on social media. But while dating later in life may have some unique challenges, it can also be a rich and rewarding process that offers fulfilling connections and a space for genuine excitement and fun. Here’s what I recommend folks dating later in life keep in mind.
You aren’t alone, and you aren’t doing anything wrong
In a culture that often suggests to us a very rigid narrative about a timeline for partnership — we meet our One True Love young, marry, and settle down forever to age into sexless parents and then adorable, asexual grandparents. Of course, this narrative is the reality for very few of us — the US divorce rate is between 40% and 50% at any given time, and as many as 40% of new marriages are second marriages for at least one partner. Almost 40% of US adults between 25 and 54 are living without a spouse or partner.
One of the easiest myths to convince ourselves of in dating — and maybe in life — is that everyone else has everything figured out, and we’re the only ones fumbling or feeling like a failure. It’s easy to imagine that you may be the only older adult in your community who’s trying to date, and the dating pool includes only you and five thousand 23-year-olds. In reality, you’re in good company — you have a lot of options in dating, and also a lot of people just in the same boat as you. You’re allowed to feel uncertain or less than enthusiastic about dating, but you shouldn’t feel self-conscious.
Times may have changed, but the important stuff about dating remains the same
It’s completely understandable to feel intimidated stepping onto the dating scene right now, especially if you’ve been “off the market” for any reason for a while. It may feel like there are new terms and expectations that aren’t familiar to you; you’re retired and/or work remotely now, and so you feel cut off from making organic connections with potential dates at work or school; it may feel like the only way to date these days is through an app.