For those who are getting back to dating after 60, the things that change might come as a shock if they’re remembering dating experiences from their youth. Although it may have been decades since their last date, it’s important to not be put off by the differences.
These new features and cultural differences around the senior dating scene can make dating life more fun and more productive than during our formative years.
10 Things That Change When Dating After 60
Here are 10 ways dating today is different, and how people dating later in life can benefit.
1 – Age differences don’t matter so much
Personally speaking, dating an older woman (or a younger one) when I was in my twenties would have raised some eyebrows. However, as we age, those age differences don’t matter as much. A five or ten year age difference doesn’t have the same impact in our sixties as it would have in our teens or twenties.
Today, there are even dating sites that cater to people who prefer a specific age group.
For example, AgeMatch is an age-gap dating site that caters to men and women who prefer either older or younger partners.
Also, most of the popular dating sites let members select their age preference when they sign up.
As with all your dating efforts, be sure to understand what you truly want in a partner so as not to waste time on incompatible partners.
2 – Life experience is deeper
Later in life we’ve accumulated lots of experience at work, at home, and in social settings. We’ve hopefully learned how to navigate our way through relationships in each of those environments. Or, at the very least, we should be better at it than when we were in our twenties.
We can rely on that experience to guide us in our dating life, too.
You can read this article for examples of the richness that can come our way as older adults.
3 – Most prospective partners will have been married
In 1970, 66% of adult men and 61% of adult women were married, according to the US Census report on marital status.
Current data shows the number of married adults in 2020 declined to 49.3% of men and 46.3% of women.
This means that for those of us over fifty, our prospective dates will likely have been married at some point.
Back in our teens, twenties, and thirties, most of our dates would have been single and never married.
4 – Most singles over 50 are not looking for relationships or dates
Most men and women over 50 are not looking for dates or a relationship, according to Pew Research.
“Half of those ages 50 to 64 and three-quarters of those 65 and older are not looking for either a relationship or dates at the moment.
Those who have never been married are more likely to be looking to date (62%), but divorced and widowed singles lean more toward not dating at the moment (56% and 74%, respectively)…
Men are far more likely than women to be on the dating market: 61% of single adult men (all ages) say they are currently looking for a relationship or dates, compared with 38% of single women.
When we were young, most singles were in search of marriage or a committed relationship. That still holds true today, with 63% of adults 18-29 actively looking to date. So, if you’re looking for a younger partner, a larger percentage of them will be looking for a relationship than singles over 50.
The bottom line—while the singles over 50 population is growing, fewer of them are looking for partners. Have realistic expectations for your preferred age group.
5 – Our bodies have changed
As we age, our health and physical priorities change along with our bodies. To paraphrase comedian Ray Romano, we can go to bed feeling just fine and wake up in bed with a broken ankle.
We no longer behave like we’re invincible as many of us did in our youth.
Nevertheless, some physical aspects can improve. I’m more physically fit in my sixties than I ever was in my thirties and forties.
Whichever direction our fitness level has gone, prospective dates will want to know all about your current health. Be prepared to be honest.
6 – Priorities are different
During our twenties and thirties, we were working towards our vocations. That might have been education, careers, or starting a family.
Later in life, we’re either retired or on the tail end of a career. Perhaps we’re on our second or third career.
Children have grown and have children of their own. Our hobbies and interests probably changed, too.
7 – Online dating is essential
This is one of the biggest differences in dating today versus dating several decades ago. Online dating sites and dating apps are here to stay. And there are thousands of them to choose from.
You might argue, “People dated for decades without online dating…why use it today?”
Of course, you can indeed start dating without ever going online.
The problem is that our personal social circles are incredibly small.
Dunbar’s number theorizes that there is a cognitive limit to how many people an individual can maintain stable social relationships, in which we know each person, and know how every person relates to the others in our circle.
The limit averages around 150 people. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have on Facebook! A few hundred people is all our brains can handle.
And if you don’t agree with that number, then think about your own circle of friends. How many do you know well? How many are in touch with you?
For the sake of argument, lets say you intimately know a whopping 500 people. Of them, how many are single, or know people who are single, that they’d be willing to introduce to you?
The number of available prospective dates is likely to be just a handful. How many of them are suitable?
Now, compare your circle of friends to what’s available on a dating app. A search for dates in a metropolitan area is likely to yield thousands of potential partners in seconds.
Dating sites also have great screening tools so it’s easy to find partners with compatible interests.
Sure, you might find a suitable partner through your circle of friends. But it’s likely to take time to work your way through everyone.
And how do you say “No” to well-meaning friends or co-workers who set you up on dates with partners whom you know aren’t right? It can be tricky navigating personal relationships in your search for a romantic partner.
8 – LGBTQ partnerships are more acceptable
Although there is still a long way to go with society’s acceptance of LGBTQ relationships, a growing number of people are coming out later in life.
In Sexual Re-Identification After 50, the author estimates there are currently 1.5 million lesbian, gay and bisexual people over 65 in the US (about 2.7%.) By 2030, that number is expected to double.
The Administration for Community Living says the total population of 65+ as of 2021 was 54.1 million and is expected to increase to 67.5 million by 2030, a 25% increase. That means the LGBTQ community will comprise about 4.4% of the 65+ population versus today’s 2.7%.
If you’re single again and questioning your sexuality, now is a better time than ever to find your way.
Even though there will be challenges, there is plenty of upside to coming out later in life.
In Coming out later in life: LGBTQIA+ at 30+, the authors point to the following positives:
- You’re more emotional secure than in younger years, and you probably don’t care as much what others think.
- As an independent adult, there is no reliance on parents for financial or other resources.
- Society as a whole is more open-minded about sexuality.
- There is freedom to choose your community, either in-person or online.
- There is more social support available today than ever before.
- Older LGBTQIA+ people may have higher levels of resilience and well-being, and “lower levels of minority stressors (e.g., harassment, rejection, and [internalized sexual stigma]).”
- Being older can afford you more distance and privacy to figure things out.
- For transgenders transitioning later in life, they don’t need a caregiver’s permission for legal or medical services.
9 – Hookup culture
Hookups, a newer name for one night stands, is on full display in apps such as Tinder, OKCupid, Hinge, Grindr, and AdultFriendFinder.
It’s important to know what you want in a partner before selecting online dating sites or apps. For example, someone looking for a long-term relationship could have a tough time finding a suitable partner on the apps just mentioned.
We compiled a list of popular dating apps and resources to help our readers find suitable partners.
10 – STD’s are on the rise
Reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) for people 55 and up are still on the rise…by a shocking amount.
The STD chart below from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a whopping 1,113% increase from 2000 to 2020 for syphilis. Gonorrhea had an increase of 414% over the same time frame.
It’s always been wise to be cautious about unprotected sex. Yet the evidence shows that plenty of men and women are dispensing with caution as they start dating again.
Play it safe and get a checkup before you plan to be sexually active. And have a prevention conversation with your partner.
Preparing for the Changes of Dating Over 60
If you’re coming back to dating later in life, accept that things are not the same as they might have been thirty, forty or more years ago. That’s not a bad thing.
The mature dating experience can be fuller and more rewarding when we come to it with the right attitude.
If you want some help with a return to dating, be sure to get our weekly Smart Dating Over 60 newsletter.
If you want to jump start your re-entry to dating, get copies of The Mature Dating Game Plan and Mature Dating Challenges.
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