Dating in later life: don't be desperate and dateless!

Posted by Diane Priestley

Dating the second time around can be traumatic. But it can be rewarding in itself

Dating in laterlifeRe-entering the dating scene as a mature divorcee isn’t easy. Some second-time singles have taken so many knocks in the rough and tumble of the dating game that they have sworn off dating altogether.

However there are countless benefits to be gained from playing this exciting game...if you play by the rules.

Dating allows you to learn about yourself and others in a safe context. You learn relationship skills such as listening, assertiveness, trust and honesty. It helps you to work out what you value in a long-time partner. Platonic dating teaches you sexual self-control and delayed gratification. You can get to know someone as a person without using sex to connect with them.

What are the rules? Singles of all ages can end up damaged by getting intimate way too soon. Sexual self-control requires well defined boundaries, which means setting physical limits. Boundaries are not meant to be a killjoy; they are to protect you from harm. Your boundaries let your date know what you will and will not tolerate. When you are clear from the outset about your values, preferences and morals, you solve many dating problems.

Dating for fun and personal growth

Dating is not necessarily about searching for a marriage partner. You can date for fun and discovery. You can find out things about yourself that need changing and learn new things about the opposite sex. Adopt an attitude of giving, rather than just taking. Try to see dating as a time to show others what being treated well is like.

Try going out with someone who isn’t your ‘type’ to learn about different people. If you aren’t looking for a long term partner, you can be open to all types and be amazed at what you learn. However, be guided by one criterion: date people of good character.

The best advice for recent divorcees is to forget about searching for a new partner straight away. Divorce is a major trauma. Go into divorce recovery, explore the issues of your failed marriage, grieve about your loss and get emotional closure before you go on the ‘market’ again. 

Where do you find Mr/Ms Right?

As in business, dating is a numbers game. Set a goal of meeting five new men/women a week. If you want to meet people, then go where people hang out. Attend events, go to parties, join interest groups, take classes, join a gym, go on holidays where there are lots of singles.

There’s no stigma to joining an online dating service or connecting with people through social media sites.

Choose character over appearance

When you decide that you’re ready for marriage or a committed long-term relationship, what do you look for? The euphoria of attraction and infatuation, caused by a rush of chemicals in the brain is not a reliable yardstick for choosing a life partner.

Choose someone with shared values, interests and goals who is of good character. You may be attracted to someone’s ‘outside’ but in marriage you experience their ‘inside’. They may have looks, charm, humour, intellect, talents and achievements and they might be fascinating company on a date, but over the long haul all you will be left with is a glossy image, which does not nourish your soul.

Someone with a mature character can connect emotionally, is not self-centred, has self-discipline, can be assertive, respects your individuality, is trustworthy and loyal, does not lie, does not blame, can face their faults without defensiveness and is committed to personal growth.

Once you have found a partner, after the dating game is over, you can enter marriage or a relationship having had a richness of experience that did not damage you or anyone else. You will be ready to share your joys, challenges and dreams with someone you have chosen rationally, for who they are on the inside.

Olderiswiser has launched its own dating site for people looking for companionship, friendship or just a bit of fun. Visit for more details.  

For more advice on dating, read How To Get A Date Worth Keeping by Dr Henry Cloud, Boundaries in Dating by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend and Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix.

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