Online Dating After 50

It's never been easier to meet new people and be social.

By Amy Schulman

For most single grandparents, life is filled with work, activities, friends, and, of course, grandchildren. But once in a while, you start thinking about dating again and have no idea where to begin.

Some of the best ways to meet people are the tried and true: at work, through friends or relatives, or at religious or community events. But today’s technology makes it easier to cast a wide net and meet people in your area you may never have bumped into otherwise.

Other grandparents who are "out there," meeting people through dating services or in other ways, are surprised at how easy it is. “While you might not have the face you had at twenty, you are truly older and wiser, more fun and more sensitive,” says Dr. Jeanne Segal, program developer for the organization Wise + Healthy Aging, and the author of The Language of Emotional Intelligence (McGraw-Hill). “You know what’s really important to you and hopefully you have more time to invest in getting to know someone and making a relationship work.”

Alice Solomon, author of Find the Love of Your Life After Fifty!, met her current partner when she was in her 60s. Solomon advises others who want to do the same to go after the people who interest them, and to be flexible. “At this age, you really should know what matters to you most,” says Solomon, a Florida grandmother of five. “Shorten the list of characteristics that you want in a partner to no more than five. Be very specific on those things, and open-minded on everything else.”

Online Dating Services

Solomon believes the internet is the fastest way to meet other singles whose interests and needs meet your own. The stigma of using dating services has evaporated, and the number of available singles online makes the services more legit than ever. Seniors.com, seniormatch.com, and eharmony.com are some of the most popular services. Match.com alone claims that about a quarter of all users are over the age of 50, and reports that it is the site's fastest-growing group of users.

Typically, online dating services ask you to complete a form that asks questions about you and the kind of person you wish to meet. After you sign up, you may look through other people’s "profiles" and e-mail them to start a dialogue. “It’s really that easy,” says David Goldberg, 64, a Florida grandfather of three, who married a woman he met on jdate.com, a national service focused on Jewish singles. “And it helps you find people who are looking for the same things as you.”

Goldberg, who is now divorced and again meeting people online, says he often exchanges several messages with a new person via e-mail before arranging a few phone calls to make sure there’s a connection before meeting in person. Goldberg and other experienced dating-service users are careful to maintain privacy, and to avoid putting anyone in an uncomfortable situation. For example, he always offers his own phone number, instead of asking for a date’s, and he arranges for first dates to be in public places like coffee shops. Once a face-to-face connection is made, couples who met online fall in love (or not) just like couples who met through any other method, but perhaps a bit more efficiently.

Meeting the Grandkids

For grandparents who become lucky in love, introducing a significant other to their families can be cause for pause. Goldberg and Solomon both waited until their new others were significant before introducing them to their children and grandchildren. When they did, they told their families that they were seeking acceptance of their partners, not necessarily approval.

To keep first meetings as stress-free as possible, consult with your children before introducing anyone new to your grandchildren, and try not to have the welcome take place at a major family event. "It can be hard on a family to suddenly learn there is someone in your life and you are going to marry them," says Amy Goyer, vice president for outreach at Grandparents.com. "The way your new love interest interacts with your grandchildren may have an influence on how you feel about that person so it's good to see how he or she interacts with your family.”

The reactions of children and grandchildren are unpredictable, but so is love. If you’re inspired to restore romance to your life, don’t let worries hold you back. This is truly the best time for you to find the joy you deserve.

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