Dating can be complicated at any age. However, being 50 years and older and single presents a unique set of challenges. Not only will meeting people be harder, but etiquette will also be different.
“You feel more invisible, so even the idea or prospect of dating can be a little scary for the first time. On the positive side, you have a better sense of self and who you are and who you would want to date,” said Joseph Jeffers, 59, marriage and family therapist.
Individuals who have hit 50 years of age are most likely settled down, be independent, and self-supporting, therefore the needs in that future significant other have changed.
“The goals are different, when you’re older and you’re dating you’re looking more for a companion and you don’t have the pressure of finding a mate to establish a family per se,” said Edgar Sierra, 33, marriage and family therapist intern at the San Diego Counseling Center.
Meeting other older and single individuals is not an easy task. Bar hopping and clubbing are probably not the best options. Sierra said that places like museums, libraries, coffee shops and art performing events are the best places to meet people.
“There are groups for almost every interest you can imagine, find groups in San Diego and they will indicate where they meet and you can just show up,” said Jeffers. “Those are people of similar ilk, that you can have an intelligent esoteric conversation with.”
Dating etiquette varies as age increases, the habits of two 20 year-olds will not be the same as the habits of two 50-year-olds.
“The etiquette around money for example will be different, if you’re over 50 the woman doesn’t necessarily expect the man to pay for everything,” said Jeffers.
Sexual expectations will also differ once both individuals are older.
“It’s not quite as important […] after 50 both men and women have peaked sexually, so it makes sense that there is less emphasis on the sexual aspect of the relationship and more focus on intimacy,” said Jeffers.
Whatever the case regarding sexual intimacy, sexually transmitted diseases should still be a concern.
“Because you’re a senior (it) doesn’t mean you can’t contract AIDS,” said Sierra.
Several of the do’s and don’ts of dating as a 50 year-old or older are common things any individual expects of another.
“Don’t expect sex by the third or fifth date, do expect honesty, don’t expect the man to pay for everything, do expect consistency, don’t expect to necessarily cohabitate, do expect returned phone calls, don’t tolerate flakiness,” Jeffers said.
Overall, dating is somewhat harder to do with age but it isn’t impossible.