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Mature Dating: Your Guide to Dating as an Older Adult

A couple who's mature dating, sitting on the couch laughing and snuggling with each other.

If it’s been some time since you’ve dated, you may feel a little insecure about how things are done today. Is it sweet or creepy to bring flowers? What topics may be off-limits? The simple act of dating goes through stages as time progresses, meaning that dating in 2018 isn’t the same as it was in 1998—or even 2008, for that matter.

The good news is that there are certain things that have remained true throughout the years. And in some ways, dating as an older adult is a bit more fun than you may think. Here are a few things to know before setting up your first date.

You’re not too old for dating apps.
The biggest change that’s happened in the past decade or so is the way we meet people. Online dating has been around forever, but the stigma about it thankfully stopped a handful of years ago. Probably because we, as people, spend a lot of time in front of computers, so meeting people through profile has become more natural.

Online dating is actually a pretty wonderful way to screen people before setting a time and date to meet in person. You can get to know their likes, dislikes, and if there are any red flags that hit you right away. Be on the lookout for real photos as opposed to posed photos. Do they look like they’re having a lot of fun in the images they share? That’s a good way to figure out their personality. Good sites to check out include Zoosk, eHarmony, and Match.

When you set up your profile, remember that honesty is best.
Are you looking for a long-term relationship or just someone to have fun with? Maybe you’re just looking for someone to accompany you to the movies on occasion. There’s no wrong answer, but it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page with a potential partner. This is true for dating at any age, but if you’re still in the midst of mourning a loved one or just wrapped up a nasty divorce, you might not be looking for something serious for a long time, if ever.

Try to remember that your potential date might have a busy schedule.
Even if you’re anxious to jump back into dating, remember that both you and your potential match have a full life already. They may not feel comfortable texting at work, and they might legitimately have a list of errands that need to be completed to keep their house afloat. They also might have kids that demand attention, or pets that follow a strict schedule. Unlike back in the day, free time is often hard to come by. So make sure you don’t get discouraged if you don’t get messages back right away. A 20-something may be glued to their smartphone, but a 55-year-old has a lot to do.

Take things slow at first.
Not saying that you should avoid getting physical after the first date if you’re both feeling it, but remember that both of you might be a little overwhelmed at the prospect of dating again. Dating and meeting new people is tough, but it’s especially tough if you’ve spent years either in a partnership or blissfully single. Even though all relationships go at their own speed, it’ll take a lot of pressure off if you mentally view the first date more as more casual.

Be respectful of the fact that they may have a little baggage.
The truth of the matter is, you do too. Everyone does. But if you go into this thinking that you’ll find a senior man or woman that hasn’t dealt with hurt, or loss, or issues with trust, you may be a little disappointed. Also, know that there may be children in the mix. If they’re underaged, issues like custody and child support will also be a possibility. If they’re legally adults, they’ll still be in their lives regardless. In general, senior dating works best if you try your hardest to be open to all sorts of situations. If you’re uncomfortable with something big, you need to remember that it’s likely not going to change.

Don’t get discouraged.
There’s one thing that hasn’t changed about dating—it’s still hard. If it were easy, you wouldn’t see so many articles regarding dating advice floating around. Just remember that a lack of dates doesn’t mean you’re going to be alone for the rest of your life. It means that the great people have yet to find you. These things often take time.

Try to break your routine.
It’s true—older people are a little more set in their ways. Because they have to be! Having a schedule helps keep things in order, so sometimes even the thought of changing it might lead to unwanted anxiety. But dating should be fun, not formulaic. Don’t be afraid to break character on occasion. And even if you don’t end up finding the one in the process, you might end up connecting with a lot of fun individuals that’ll help you gain some new life experiences.

Choose a dating location you’re comfortable with.
Sometimes, things like knowing the menu in advance will help calm your pre-date jitters. It’s one less thing you have to be nervous about. But make sure that location isn’t tied to a specific memory with an ex. You’re bound to revisit eateries on occasion, but doing so for a first date might make things emotionally harder than they need to be. It’s also good to know the surrounding area. If things go poorly, you can make a quick exit. But if things go well, you can easily pick out the secondary destination for the night.

Be yourself.
As you grow older, you become more and more aware of the fact that time is sacred. And that time shouldn’t be spent questioning someone’s motives or playing games. You’re no longer in high school, and there’s no longer pressure to seem cool or exaggerate certain accomplishments or stories. Just be the person you are day-to-day, and show your date why you’re worth pursuing.

Dates can be intimidating for both parties, but if you approach them with a kind and carefree attitude, you’ll likely find yourself having a ton of fun. Just know that you’re never too old to date, and you’re never too old to meet new people that’ll enrich your life.

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