There are a lot of misconceptions about men and women over 50 and what they do and don’t want in a relationship. Many assume they’re more committed, mature, and ready for a relationship, or they’re possibly looking for someone younger. But are they really? To get to the bottom of it, we talked to dating coaches who specialize in midlife relationships. Here are 11 myths and (and the truths they’re hiding) about dating over 50.
Myth #1: Men and women who have children or are divorced have more baggage than those who never married.
The Truth: Everyone has baggage, it’s not exclusive to divorced people with children. “Even those who may have children without having been married or those who never married or had children may have elderly parents that need special care,” says Davida Rappaport, a psychic, personal growth counselor, and mature dating expert. “Most mature men and women do not abandon their responsibilities and obligations. This can impact any prospective dating situation, kids or no kids.”
Myth #2: Men and women aren’t interested in sex after age 50.
The Truth: Certain medical conditions that come with age—menopause or impotence for example—can make sex more difficult, but it doesn’t negate the fact that most people, regardless of age, still want and enjoy sex. “In a Gallup survey sponsored by the North American Menopause Society, 51 percent of postmenopausal women reported being happiest and most fulfilled between the ages of 50 and 65,” notes Bobbi Palmer, a dating and relationship coach for women over 40 and founder of Date Like a Grownup.
Myth #3: Men still love the chase.
The Truth: Even if they once were that guy, most grownup men no longer see the value in the challenge of chasing women. “First, the woman-to-man ratio is now in their favor and they don’t have to compete like they did in their 20s. Also, their hormones have mellowed and they have broadened their vision of themselves; reducing the need to rack up sexual conquests,” says Palmer. Not to mention, midlife men have more responsibilities and don’t have the time and energy to play cat and mouse.
Myth #4: Men and women in their 50s are looking for someone their own age.
The Truth: In some instances, yes. However, a large portion of these daters still behave like they’re in their 20s and 30s. “Some older men may be motivated by eye appeal and still want what they wanted back then, or still desire to have children with someone younger. While some women are looking for age-appropriate men, some still like younger men,” says Rappaport.
Myth #5: Daters over 50 are looking for a wealthy partner who can support them.
The Truth: Men and women over 50 are looking for someone who is at a similar financial level; someone who can carry his/her own weight. “They prefer someone who will desire a similar level of extravagance of lifestyle in terms of recreation and travel, and can eventually share equally in expenses,” says Heidi Krantz, a certified dating coach and founder of Reinvention Life Coaching.
Myth #6: Men and women become less selective as they get older.
The Truth: Men and women are just as picky as they were when they were younger. “They may want a partner that is still attractive with a nice body; they may request someone who looks their age and whose body is less than perfect. People still look for a type which can become harder and harder to find once someone reaches their late 50s and beyond,” says Rappaport.
Myth #7: Men in midlife want younger women. Therefore, older women are at a disadvantage because there are more, younger options for older men.
The Truth: There are plenty of men who want to date someone their own age or older! “The reality is that in that deal-breaker list that most people who date have, age is a sliding number. What people really look for is attraction, and that can be a mystique, a spark, a great sense of humor or a compatibility based on feeling really good when you’re with that person,” says April Masini, a relationship and etiquette expert.
Myth #8: Men and women in midlife don’t need love. They’re fine on their own.
The Truth: The need to love and be loved remains strong throughout our lives. Palmer points to a study by AARP that showed 70% of 50-64 year-olds and 63% of people 65+ reported being currently in love. Of those over 65, 46% reported being passionately in love. “Don’t underestimate the intensity with which we can both give and receive love later in life,” says Palmer.
Myth#9: Daters over 50 are more mature and have learned how to treat prospective dates respectfully.
The Truth: Some people never grow up which can be why they’re still on the market. “Some older men will still treat women disrespectfully—they catfish, ghost, and all of the other things that their younger counterparts are doing. Self- esteem issues, in both men and women, can still exist and they may not be able to handle things in a mature, adult manner,” says Rappaport. The reality is, it doesn’t matter what someone’s age is, some people just do not want relationships and are only interested in hookups.
Myth #10: Men don’t desire women over 50.
The Truth: Men in midlife care a lot less about your appearance than they do about your enthusiasm, your interest, and your enjoyment. “While appearance is always important, many women feel paralyzed because they don’t have the body they did the last time they were single—sometimes decades ago. They may be surprised to find that they are desirable when they feel desirable,” says Masini.
Myth #11: People who are 50 and older date to get married again.
The Truth: Not necessarily. Men and women dating over 50 have often experienced marriage previously; sometimes for many years. “After a divorce, they often spend time healing and become very accustomed to their own space, their independent lives, and their interactions with their adult children. Although they do desire companionship and even love, many are not interested in cohabitating or marrying,” says Krantz.