CLT Boomer

The challenges and rewards of dating as a Boomer

Patrons watch their shots at Top Golf's newest location in Charlotte.
Patrons watch their shots at Top Golf's newest location in Charlotte. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Looking for love over the age of 55?

Michelle Renée Smith, president of East Coast Match and professional matchmaker, offers this advice. “You’ve got to get out there,” she says. “It’s not going to happen staying home with your dog or cat.”

Smith has worked with hundreds of singles, many over the age of 55, and says there is a difference when it comes to older clients looking for love. “Many of us in this age range actually want to have things in common with our dates, including core values and interests,” she says.

Sense of urgency

Figuring out how and where to meet someone is challenging at any age, but entering the dating pool after years of being coupled up can be daunting.

Rhonda, 65 and Jay, 69, met through a MeetUp.com group – an online community that brings people together for weekly or monthly activities centered around common interests.

Prior to meeting Jay, Rhonda tried online dating and admits she met some really nice people and some not so nice people. She eventually joined a 55 and older MeetUp.com group and met Jay at a dinner event.

“We started a conversation and found we had a lot of things in common,” says Rhonda.

After their initial meeting, they didn’t see each other for a while. After a few weeks, Jay sent Rhonda an instant message asking if she wanted to get together. “We met for coffee and that was it – we haven’t been apart since,” she says.

They dated for a year and this past September celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary. A sense of urgency is one of the biggest differences that come with dating later in life, they say.

“At this stage of life, when we knew something was right, it was right. We don’t have as much time,” says Rhonda. They agree they were lucky to finally meet the right person. “I’m so happy I can’t tell you,” adds Jay.

Too picky?

Another relationship obstacle boomers face is finding a love interest at the same life stage of life. One person might still be working while the other is retired, or health issues could hinder travel or other plans.

Jim, 70, has been dating on and off since 1999. He is retired and financially secure and admits he has become picky in his older age.

“You become much more selective in terms of education, values – even in respect to what part of the country they are from.”

Jim happily reports that after 17 years of on again, off again dating, he has met a wonderful woman. “We have found something uniquely special,” he says. Jim says it’s MAGIC (Mature, Adults, Grateful for Imagination and Creativity).

Taking time for yourself

Whether due to break-up, divorce or death, many Boomers can find themselves with an unexpected single status. Before getting back into the dating game, Smith advises her clients to take time for themselves.

“People who are suddenly single can find their self esteem is shot,” she says. “People should not get out there and start dating until they have that in check.”

Debra, 60, took the me-time advice when she contemplated dating after 22 years of marriage. “I took the necessary time to heal instead of jumping in,” she says. “Dating again was uneasy. I joined a couple of MeetUp.com groups to meet and make friends and get myself back in the world.”

One of the biggest advantages of dating later in life is knowing yourself says Sherri, 55. “You know who you are and what you do and don't want in a mate. Stick to your guns, don't ignore the red flags and trust your gut instinct.”

Taking time for yourself and thinking about what you want out of a relationship is important at any any age, but as Smith reminds her clients, “If you’re not in the game, you can’t win.”

Five first dates

Let’s assume the first coffee or wine meeting went well. So where should you go on your first REAL first date? Here are some fantastic date ideas. Happy dating!

1. Hit it off at Top Golf. You might have passed this large golf facility on I-485 without realizing its amazing first date potential. Hit the driving range while enjoying a beer or soda and you are set for a great evening.

2. Take the Soul of the South Uptown food tour. This tour is offered on Fridays at 4 p.m. Get to know the city and your date during this three-hour tour covering 1.5 miles. Explore new places to eat and drink and let the conversation flow.

3. Peruse the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market as a fun daytime date. Enjoy the sights and smells of market while you linger of lima beans and talk over tomatoes. If you hit it off, pick up a few ingredients to cook up for dinner.

4. Go back in time and visit a bookstore. Grab a coffee or latte and talk about your favorite authors, pick up a question book or flip through a travel magazine. This is a low cost date where you can learn a lot about each other.

5. Dance the night away at Brio Tuscan Grille. Most Friday evenings you can find a fantastic band playing some great tunes in the open bar area at Brio. Even if you and your date don’t want to dance, the music and the people watching is second to none.

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