Daring to date again
Do older people date or has the mating scene been left behind with the bellbottoms and the lava lamps? Well, many singles over 50 would like to date and become doubles, but they have trouble knowing how.
The bar scene seems ridiculous now:
What’s your sign?
So what’s a lonely older person to do? Here are some suggestions adapted from my book, Hot Granny. Though the principles below apply to all seekers, this advice was directed to women looking for single men:
What to do?
Try: The vast resources of other women. They know men, They have address books and memories. Their cousins, their co-workers and even their rejects may be just what would interest you. And you don’t have to already know these helpful women, Unless a stranger is talking to a lamp post, talk to her. I met my husband through a woman I sat next to on a plane.
Try: Getting out into the world of organizations. I know several people who were married late in life to someone they met in church. Others try political fund-raisers or they volunteer for food banks, community radio, music groups or alumni organizations. With the economy so constipated, do-good organizations need nice-do-gooders like you.
Try: Taking a class. Learn to fly fish. Go to a line-dancing class. Check out the offerings of the community college.
Try: Travel. Take a cruise. Take a cruise directed to an interest of yours…like jazz. Try an Elderhostel tour.
Try: Recovery organizations. If you have had a struggle with substance abuse, find an organization that encourages sobriety. One friend travels around the world, serene in the knowledge that anywhere she goes, she will be welcomed by fellow AA members—all of whom have a similar idea about how to have a good time.
Try: Getting active. Join a gym or a biking club. Hike with those who love the rivers and the mountains.
Try: The performing arts. Join a theater group, a band or a choir.
Try: The Internet. The Net is an adventure in cyberspace, but watch your back and know that many men who advertise for company already have it—they’re married.
Dating sites on the Internet have proliferated like horny bunnies. Each site may have different rules: photos required or not, membership fees or not. But all will ask you to say something about yourself.
If you have trouble tooting your own horn, you can ask a friend to help you with the write-up. Veterans of cyberdating suggest getting a book to learn how to write an appealing profile, take a good photo and discover ways to protect your personal privacy, such as http://www.myprivateline.com, a service providing a toll-free number that can be forwarded to your real phone number. (That’s so you don’t have to give out your home phone number right away – or ever).
If you do decide to cyberdate, wear a well-tailored rhino hide. Older women can get bruised by the reality that some men are only after younger game. And the going standards used to evaluate women are usually not related to character, kindness or experience – but to cuteness, bust size and layability. So, cyberdater, beware. And if your ego starts shrinking into a dry dustball because of rejections, stop the Internet action and get back to flesh and blood introductions.
Same old, same old and yet …
If you haven’t dated in a while or even if you have, first dates as an older person can be just as nerve-wracking as they were when you were sixteen. Mellow years but same fears. Even the questions are the same: What if you hate each other? What if you really like him and he doesn’t like you? What if he likes you and you hate him? Should you (blank) on the first date?
But some concerns are different: You will no longer waste time on jerks. You will survive if he doesn’t like you. You now know how to gracefully disengage. You can finally trust yourself to decide what you want to do on a first date or indeed, on any date at all.
So go forth and know it’s possible to be valued in your going-on-geezer years. Yesterday I told Cranky Pants, my late-life hubby, that a fund-raising mailer was asking him to donate an “appreciated asset”. He said no, he was going to hang on to me.
Mel Walsh is a gerontologist and certifiable geezer. Her book of advice for older women, Hot Granny, is available at The Book Seller in Grass Valley and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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