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5 amazing tips for dating over age 50

By Pepper Schwartz
AARP Media

Regardless of your age, some things about dating never change: You have to figure out who to look for, where to look and how to recognize that “special someone” when you meet him or her.

But there’s plenty about the dating scene after age 50 to distinguish it from your 20s or 30s. The important thing to remember is that you can be successful. So don’t let yourself get intimidated. It can feel overwhelming when you join a singles group, get fixed up by a friend or look for a partner online, but you’ll soon rediscover old skills – and develop new ones.

Think of this stage in your life as an adventure and you’ll enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

1. Make sure you’re ready

A little self-reflection can prepare you to dive back into the dating pool and start a new relationship.

With research showing that people are drawn to individuals who project a happy, grateful, and open approach to the world, the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you are psychologically in a good place.

You don’t have to completely overhaul your lifestyle, but you should prepare to make some accommodations. When you meet someone new, you may have the opportunity to learn a new hobby, socialize with a new circle of people, or adjust to someone else’s routines, quirks and preferences.

Try not to be too fixed in your ways; some of them may be about to stop in the name of love!

2. Decide what you’re looking for

Spend time thinking about traits of a prospective partner. It determines who you approach, how you get to know someone and where you look for dating prospects.

Even though your child-rearing days may be over, your family ties likely remain strong – and complex. So you’ll want to make sure that you and a new mate share similar values about family obligations.

And then of course there’s sex. Few of us are willing to accept an arid sex life. You can get an idea of how important sexuality is to a person from his or her body language. Eventually, of course, you’ll have to ask outright: How important is it to you to connect sexually on a regular basis?

3. Put your best foot forward

Some people over 50 mistakenly assume they’re too old to date. The reality is that someone out there is going to find you appealing. Banish any feelings of being “too old.” Focus on your strengths.

Some people are insecure about dating because they obsess about the qualities they used to have. Make a list of your strengths – you’ll be surprised how long it is. Then review it and think about people who would appreciate those qualities.

Starting an exercise regime is a wonderful way to prepare for this phase, because it makes you look and feel good.

If you haven’t changed your hairstyle or bought a new outfit in a while, you may want to hire a fashion consultant (available through department stores). Give the consultant a budget and your goal, and she can work wonders for you. You might even submit to a makeover: a new hairdresser, a couple of new outfits recommended by the consultant, a manicure and a new cologne.

4. Know where to look

Meeting the right person takes time and resilience, but you can maximize your chances of finding a partner by thinking where they’re mostly likely to be.

Most cities have events organized for single people. Whether it’s a bike trip, a wine tasting or a film festival, everyone present has a passion in common. You’ll be attending something you’d enjoy anyhow, and you’ll have something to talk about with everyone you meet there.

Try to score invitations to parties – they’re the perfect place to meet people you don’t know. It takes guts to introduce yourself to a stranger, but showing up at these events (and learning to mingle) will expose you to many new people.

People over 50 are the fastest-growing group of Internet daters, and that’s a good thing: It means the choices are vast, and the chances are high you’ll meet someone you never could in any other way. Online dating also lets you sift through a large pool of possible dates according to age, interests, and values.

5. Kindling an old flame

Finally, remember that old friends can sometimes become new flames.

Just as the passing years have taught you a great deal, chances are they’ve brought insight and maturity to others your age as well. This often makes people better versions of themselves at 50 than they were at 25.

So if you run across a friend from high school or college, don’t assume they’re the same old person – and don’t rule out a date if they show interest in getting to know you again.

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

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