Dating After 50

Got boomer dating burnout? It's OK! After all, you've been around the block, and it's human nature to feel bored. "Some of the rules have changed since the days when you were first single, and being the only person over 40 at an event is not ego-boosting," says JoAnn Magdoff, Ph.D., a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City. "It can be hard to stay motivated to stay out there."

The good news is that even if you're feeling meet-and-greet ennui, there are ways you can get reinvigorated to get out there. The first step? Redefine your concept of dating. "As a person in the 50+ bracket, your situation is very different from when you were in your 20s," says Dr. Magdoff. How so? A lot of the pressures of younger dating-"Is this the person I'll marry and start a family with?" have passed. "You can be much more inventive, much more flexible in what you want or expect from dating," notes Dr. Magdoff.

Focus on just enjoying the journey. You may find someone to grow old with, or you may just find someone with whom to share an occasional weekend along the way. "We're talking about independent people who can connect in whatever way they want to for their own desires and their own particular reasons," says Dr. Magdoff. "Enjoy the freedom that comes with your age-it can be great and liberating."

Once you've redefined your expectations of 50+ dating, it's easier to go forth and socialize. Check out these mix-and-mingle ideas that'll have you excited about stepping out again.

Love-Life Booster #1: Cultivate New Hobbies
"Why not approach this period playfully? Look for someone you can share a laugh with as you learn something new like golf, surfing, Italian or tango," advises Dr. Magdoff. Take classes. Challenge yourself to try things you've never done before. Not only will this bring you into contact with new people, it'll give you new things to talk about with the "same old people" in your life… making you a more interesting person. Here's how Debbie, 53, of Boulder, CO, explains it, "I know I'll never be a champion rock-climber, nor will I ever speak French like a native, but by talking classes and exploring these interests of mine, I feel as if I'm pushing my boundaries. I have more confidence-and more to talk about with dates. Plus the people in my classes have expanded my social network in a wonderful way!"

Love-Life Booster #2: Do Good
Giving back is not only a great way to exert your baby boomer social conscience, but it's also a brilliant means of connecting with like-minded individuals. "Activism is a great way to meet people, and many of the individuals involved in these groups are over 50 because we're the ones who lived through Vietnam and the oil crisis in the '70s so we're concerned when we see history repeating itself," says Sandra Chalton, Ph.D., 55, a university professor in Menomonie, WI. "I know that my life is too busy with work for me to try and fit in dating but if I'm giving up my free time for something I feel strongly about and I happen to meet another intelligent, passionate person in the process, then it works for me." You never know who you might meet while replanting a forest or attending a rally.

Love-Life Booster #3: Attend All Reunions
Though you may cringe when the invite for your 35th high-school reunion arrives in the mail, it's the perfect thing to get you out there. Just ask Kim Bassett, 56, Washington, D.C. who met her last two boyfriends at reunions she attended after her divorce. "I don't know if it's the fact that there is already a comfort level from shared history or that in some cases there was always that -what if' factor with certain people, but I have had great luck finding dates at reunions-including the man that I'm living with now. I think because we already had things in common, the transition to dating was easy and natural." It can be really energizing to reconnect with your past as well. Dating people who "knew you when" can bring out your high school/college spirit all over again. And don't think you have to limit it to just school get-togethers… remember there are reunions for clubs, church groups, etc… Keep your eyes open for chances to reconnect with your former life. It just might make your future more interesting.

Love-Life Booster #4: Get Wired
It's a big, wide, technological world and diving into the cyber fray can definitely spice up your social agenda. Not only will exploring technology help keep you "of the moment" but it can also open up a myriad of dating possibilities that weren't available in the past. Ever sent a flirty text message? Or perhaps used your cell phone to find someone across a crowded room? These tech tools take dating to a whole new level and make it even more fun. "Today virtually everyone uses cell phones and email, and more and more people are finding dates on Internet sites," says Dr. Magdoff. "For many boomers who work hard, late nights at a bar or club are not a sustainable option to meet new people. This is where online dating can be really helpful."

The Internet can also allow for matches in venues that 50+ daters might not have considered. "I met my husband through the Internet, something that wouldn't have been possible years ago because he lived out of town and was visiting New York City for the summer," says Flo Rothacker, 51, who also encourages her sometimes hesitant 50+ friends to try online dating. "We met through technology, lost touch, and then reconnected a year and a half later through technology, and I can now say we are a match thanks to technology… what have you got to lose!"

And try these two quick tips:

Don't avoid young folk and trendy spots. Just because a place or a pursuit is popular with the 20- or 30-somethings doesn't mean you can't enjoy it, too. So take your new date out and try that 80's night at a neighborhood club or visit a sake bar-remember, half the fun of dating is the adventure!

Do network. Tell a few key people - say, one relative, one friend, one close business colleague - that you're looking and ask them to please set you up… they can expand your dating pool, and blind dates are under-rated. They can add a sense of mystery and surprise to your love life, and what's more, many successful couples started that way!

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