Feature Stories

How Dating can Work in Retirement

Many of us can find ourselves single again after a long term marriage or relationship. Whether through divorce or the death of a spouse, being single at first may feel scary and daunting, but can actually be fun and an exciting new adventure. Dating can lead to a “romantic relationship” and ultimately the chance for finding love again.

I am contacted daily by those in their 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s who may have last “dated” in their 20s. They desire a romantic relationship and recognize the landscape and rules have certainly changed. What’s wonderful about retired singles is that they can dedicate the time and energy to meeting new people without the pressures of work and raising children. Boomer and seniors also have an awareness of who they are and what they are looking for in a compatible partner.

Many options are available for those ready to get out there and meet like-minded people. But, before that, I recommend being emotionally prepared and really ready to start a new chapter. The key to success is recognizing that your history is part of you and your story, but when dating, less is more in the beginning. I encourage clients to stay in the present and the future when conversing with a prospective romantic partner. This allows others to get to know you – your own personal interests, hobbies, personality and goals — leaving your past to be shared and discussed when you are both ready to hear and be accepting of more detail.

So, if you have the time and are emotionally ready to date, you need one more reminder before you start considering the available options. The person you’ll be on a date with, sitting across from you, is a human being. He or she isn’t perfect and even if you don’t see it at first, you will eventually — they have flaws like all of us. Once you grasp that the people you date will be imperfect, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how dating suddenly becomes fun, easier, real and beneficial. Look for the good in all people and you’ll enjoy the process of meeting people so much more. 

The best place to meet new people is closer than you think. Tell everyone in your circle — friends, neighbors, your kids, your place of worship — that you are ready to date. Reach out to old friends you may have lost touch with. Go to your high school class reunion. Give everyone you know permission to introduce you to those they may know. It’s a great, safe way to meet new people .

Accept invitations to parties, cookouts, volunteer events and generally just get out there and participate in your community to increase your chances of meeting others like yourself. 

I highly recommend ‘meetup’ groups available online. Join a group that offers a way to connect with others that share your same interests, hobbies or favorite activities. This avenue increases the chance that you will meet someone with a common interest – a great place to start that doesn’t have the initial romantic pressure. A “friends first” beginning is always best. Taking a class or participating in local community activities increase your chances for bumping into someone that may spark romantic interest. 

For those considering a more proactive and selective approach, choosing to seek professional assistance is an option. Hiring a matchmaker, my area of expertise, has the benefits of privacy, discretion, safety, screening, presenting you with people working toward the same common goal and finding a mutually exclusive romantic relationship. Matchmakers are dedicated professionals who understand dating and can help you navigate this new territory. They also can identify patterns of behavior and coach you on how you can make better connections with people you date. 

Everyone is aware of online dating and hopefully the benefits, as well as the well-documented dangers. Sadly, there are a lot of predators that find this avenue ripe for taking advantage of retired single people — they prey on their naiveté. While online dating can work, caution and a healthy awareness when meeting complete strangers is necessary. 

Dating is admittedly a process, one where you should not expect instant results. Remember, everything worth having takes energy, commitment and time. Talk to people who are in a loving relationship, they can provide inspiration or a pep talk when you need one. Visualize how you will feel when you find love — keep the faith, it will take time.

Nicole LeClerc is a matchmaker and owner of Compatibles, offering traditional and personalized matchmaking for Vermont singles.

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