As of 2016, more than 28% of the U.S. population was 55 or older, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The Pew Research Center says 10% of those 50+ are divorced. And then there’s AARP, which just released a poll that shows two-thirds of 65- to 80-year-olds are still interested in sex.
All of this culminates in an older demographic that’s prime for dating. But, if you’re dating at 50 what can you expect and what should you do to meet interesting people, go on great dates, and move into a relationship? Well, there a few small things you may not have thought of that can help you out.
Here are seven important tips for dating at 50:
1. Don’t worry about age.
It may be cliché to say that age is just a number, but it’s the truth. Just because you reach a certain age that doesn’t mean you have to stop doing certain things, and that includes dating. You can date, go out late, visit clubs, spend the night with someone, and do whatever you want at any age, as long as it makes you happy and you aren’t hurting anyone else.
Even if you’re feeling a little old or out of place dating, don’t get down on yourself. Try not to talk too much about your misgivings in an online dating profile or when you’re on a first date. Instead, let your confidence and personality to shine through.
2. Try online dating.
Over 49 million people have tried online dating, so clearly there’s some kind of appeal to it. Plus, with over 8,000 dating sites and apps out there, you can choose one, two, or a bunch that can meet your needs. Dating apps, like the ones on this list, have made it easier to customize who you’re looking for by searching by your location, interests, and beliefs, and they allow you to date no matter where you are, no matter what time it is, and no matter what you’re doing. (That means you don’t have to go to a bar unless you want to.)
3. Take initiative.
Women no longer have to follow outdated dating rules that say they need to wait for the man to make all the moves. Both men and women shouldn’t sit in the backseat when it comes to dating—This is your love life, so take matters into your own hands. Send the first message on a dating site, ask for the first date, lean in for the first kiss if you think the moment is right, and so on. Taking this kind of initiative will make you feel confident, and the person you’re with will know you’re interested and reciprocate it.
4. Be safe.
Technology has improved our lives in a lot of ways. Online dating is a great example of that. However, technology has also opened the door for identity theft, romance scams, and other scary situations. You’ll want to do a couple things to ensure your dating experience is safe and fun.
Create a new email account that you’ll only use for online dating communication. Don’t put personal or financial information on your profile. Do a Google search on your dates before meeting up. And let a friend or family member know where you’re going to be on your date and when you expect to get home.
5. Be upfront.
The majority of singles don’t play games anymore. Things like waiting three days after a date to call or text, being unavailable in an “attractive” way, or waiting for the other person to say I love you first are outdated ways to try to gain power in a relationship that most daters, especially those who are older and more experienced, will see right though. People are more upfront about their feelings, and they want their dates to be that way, too.
If you’re looking for a serious relationship and are against hooking up, put that in your dating profile or mention it in your messages and on your dates. If you’re not interested in someone, let them know at the beginning. Don’t drag it on because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. You can be nice about all of this, but part of being nice, is being honest. You’ll save everyone a lot of time and energy by doing so.
6. Be understanding.
As I mentioned earlier, a good number of singles over 50 are divorced, and you may be one of them. Don’t think of this as baggage, it’s just something people go through, and it makes them who they are. A lot of mature singles have kids, too. And it can be a rich and rewarding experience dating someone who’s mature and experienced enough to have children.
Maybe you have a tumultuous relationship with your ex, maybe you met someone who doesn’t want to date a person who has kids, or maybe you’ll meet someone who’s going through something else entirely. The point is to be understanding of your potential dates’ situations, and they’ll be understanding of yours.
7. Stay positive.
These last two tips kind of go hand in hand. Being open minded and maintaining a positive attitude while dating will go a long way. Try to break out of your shell a bit, go out with someone who you might not normally go out with, and participate in activities that you may have been scared to participate in before. You’re going to have a few bad dates, but everyone goes through that. Don’t give up too quickly.
These are just a few things for singles in their 50s to keep in mind, but these tips can really apply to singles at any age. As long as you put yourself out there, try new things, and focus on having fun, you’re sure to meet someone who’s doing the same and looking for you.
Hayley Matthews is editor-in-chief at DatingAdvice.com, a popular site featuring advice from more than 250 dating coaches, matchmakers, and other relationship experts. In addition to expert tips and guides, the site also publishes reviews of online dating sites. When Hayley isn’t writing about dating and relationships, she’s listening to The Beatles or watching Harry Potter.