If you’re thinking about dating after 50, you may be embarking on an adventure you haven’t thought about in 20s or 30 years. After a long-term marriage, you may feel out of practice and wonder, “Where do I even start?” What can I expect when I’m dating over 50?
See also: Dating After 60
Lots of things have changed in dating rituals, like online dating, but more things have stayed the same. Dating is spending time with someone to find out more about them. Don’t focus on getting into a long-term relationship too soon. Before you start dating, know what you are you looking for — companionship? validation? sex? or something more enduring?
Dating After 50 For Divorced Women
I had been married 33 years when my then husband decided his girlfriend would be a lot more fun or something. After three years of me begging, pleading, sobbing and screaming, he still would not give her up, so I filed for divorce. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I was devastated, and I thought I would never be happy again.
I was 53 when our divorce was final. Early on in the divorce process, dating was the furthest thing from my mind. If you’re in the early stages of becoming — or being — single again especially at midlife, you’re probably not interested in dating yet, and that’s a good thing.
Especially after a messy divorce, you should take a deep breath, and set the pause button on serious relationships. Trying to start a new relationship before you have fully recovered from your last one is a recipe for disaster. (67-70% of second marriages fail, and you definitely don’t want to go through that again!)
Heal and re-discover your best self before you even think about dating
One important after 50 after divorce dating tip: Take care of yourself first. Focus on you for a change.
- Be kind to yourself. Do good things for you every day.
- Start a regular exercise program.
- Surround yourself with upbeat, active, good people.
- Rediscover your own goals and gifts and desires
Getting healthy physically will help you emotionally and you will be more confident as you start expanding your social connections. And remember, self confidence is the most appealing attribute to both sexes. You can’t feel confident if you are still in that “I must be such a loser” after-divorce thinking.
How to Start Dating After 50
If we’re 50 and beginning to explore new relationships, we have to figure out:
- What we’ve learned from our divorce
- Who we are as an over 50 single woman
- What kind of life do we actually want in the future.
By the way, especially after being married for a long time, it’s easy to lose our whole concept of who we are. What do I like? What are my values? What am I looking for?
Any relationship takes an investment in time and energy, so we have to get clear who we are ourselves and what kind of person we want to invest in. Before you start dating after 50, make that now-famous list of:
- Deal breaker qualities
- Must have qualities
- Nice to have qualities
What To Expect
When we start dating, we need to be prepared to “kiss a lot of frogs” so to speak. Regardless of if we’re just looking for friendship or a romantic relationship, those lists are really, really important! Why waste time with someone who has characteristics on your “Deal Breaker” list? Liar? Arrogant? Disrespectful? Controlling? Self-centered? Smoker? Not over his first wife?
Simply cross those people off your list! Do not waste a minute of your precious time trying to cultivate a real relationship with someone who has any of your deal-breaker qualities.
Decide what things are “Must Haves” to warrant further investment in the relationship.
Honest? Generous? A God follower? Has a job? Fun? A good listener? Enjoys family? Do not think you can change people who don’t share your most basic life values!
The “Nice to Have” list leaves more wiggle room. Not mandatory, but would be nice. Hair? Teeth? (Just kidding!) Likes to cook? Enjoys nature? Great dancer? Fabulously rich? Have fun with this one! Use your imagination!
The more clear you are about who you are and who you want in your life, the easier it is to find people who share your bigger life-vision.
Common Mistakes Men & Women Make
Two of the most common mistakes people over 50 make when they start dating are:
- Feeling pressured to find someone quickly. After divorce in our 50s, we think, “If I don’t find someone soon, I’ll be even older, and I’ll never find anyone!” That is not true! I was 56 when I met my new husband, and my life is amazing! Focus on you first.
- Letting loneliness drive our need to get married again after 50. Creating a satisfying life as a single person is the most important thing we can do before we start looking for someone else. Having a full, purposeful life of our own actually makes us more attractive. Desperation is never a quality people are looking for!
- Dating Our Ex. This is tempting, especially if we miss them and want them back, but dating your ex almost never ends well.
In my work, I sometimes deal with women who are divorcing after second marriages that were jumped into right away. These women almost all say they got into the new relationship too soon. For me the excruciating loneliness was a big part of that pull to fill that space where my old spouse used to be. But take the time to learn from the solitude, as hard as that experience is. Don’t rush it!
Online Dating After 50
The thought of dating at all after not having been on a date with anyone but our husband for decades, can be terrifying. But it doesn’t have to be. If we have found our strong, beautiful, worthy self again, we aren’t as fragile, and we can start dating with more fun and less angst.
Look at online dating as an adventure, and remember that one of the good things about menopause is that we start caring less about what people think of us! So, when dating at 50+, it’s easier to simply cross someone off our list who is not good for us.
Online dating at any time can bring amazing results. I met my new husband online! But every day, there seem to be more pitfalls to be aware of. Recently several scams aimed mostly at over 50 women have been brought to light. Google “online dating” and you’ll find hundreds of articles with good advice. One of my favorites is Ten Essential Online Dating Safety Tips.
Something else that helps is to be part of a safe community of women you can interact with online. Women who are somewhere on the midlife divorce recovery journey can share advice and personal experiences that are helpful to others just starting out on the dating scene. Find a group like that.
Dating Over 50: When To Kiss?
It’s weird to feel like we’re back in high school when we’re dating and our kids are in high school or older! Lots of things change when we start dating in midlife. One funny story is that the first time my now husband brought me home from a date, my high school senior son was waiting on the porch for me! Talk about role reversal! I thought it was cool, myself, and I felt like he wanted to make sure “this guy” wasn’t going to take advantage of me somehow.
When I first started dating, I wondered if I would ever feel those exciting feelings I felt with my first husband. I doubted it. When I was first divorced after being married for 30+ years, I couldn’t imagine even kissing someone, much less doing anything more than that.
Let me reassure you! Don’t worry about that! When the person is right and the time is right, all of those feelings come roaring back. In fact, after the first time my new husband kissed me, after he left I actually started crying because it was clear that a new relationship meant new feelings of romance and desire and love that I was worried would never come back.
Here’s one other little tip. I read not long ago that midlife men are least likely to practice safe sex. Just a little warning from your midlife divorce recovery expert!
Sadly, there is some “why bother” thinking for some women who are 50 years and older.
Here’s what happened for me: After several years of doing the grief and healing, I then started rebuilding a life that was full and rich and fun on my own. That was important groundwork. Slowly I became confident enough to think about sharing myself with someone else. I opened up my heart to friendship and love again.
I will admit, though, you usually have to bite the bullet and actually have the guts to get out there again. Here is a little advice: Go back to your “Deal Breaker” list, your “Must Have” list and your “Nice to Have” list. Be choosy.
Look at the things on your “Must Have” list first. Do you have the characteristics on that list?
Fun? Generous? Confident? Honest? Are you showing qualities that are on your “Deal Breaker” list? Not over your first spouse? Holds a grudge? Whiny? Clingy?
Look at the whole dating thing as an adventure, as an exploration … even after 50. Have fun! Learn about lots of other people. Learn more about yourself.
Especially after divorce, one helpful rule is to say to yourself, “I will not get into another serious relationship for at least six months, or 12 months” or whatever you decide. That will make your dating after 50 more relaxed and fun. Who knows what delightful things might happen?
Thank you So Much for this! I am going to be 57 next month. I have been divorced from my second husband of 20 years, for 6 years now. It was very painful. I dated a whole lot at first, and failed at it miserably.
My last dinner date was 2 years ago. I decided to take these last 2 years to figure out what I want and learn to take care myself for a change.
Thank you Suzy for your wonderful advice! It truly made a difference in my life
I am really new to all this…been healing 2 1/2 years now. Ready to go bu TV I have a major question. I hav ed been told that as a female, I need to really be aggressive in letting a man know I am interested in him
I don’t mean sexually but more like really being ( what I call) pushy. I have been told TV hat since there are soooo many single women looking, yo uh have to be pretty aggressive in elbowing out the competition. Your thoughts and findings? Very curious!!! Thank you!
Trust to me is the most important quality to look for. HONESTY otherwise everything in the new relationship is not solid and uncertain. When we are all feeing vunerable as we both been hurt as post divorcees.
I am in the vert beginning of finding out my husband of 2 years, together 12, wants a divorce and wants me to move out immediately. I am scared to death. I am 50 and I wonder if I will ever find someone.
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Several things women over 50, even earlier, need to accept, All men do NOT like to see a woman with fake breasts. Fake breasts as she ages look ridiculous. A woman who refuses to accept the act that her weight is a sign of the concern she has for herself, and others, is headed for failure. A woman who uses makeup with disregard for her true appearance is a FRAUD. If a woman needs “makeup” it should be sparingly applied, and NOT done so with a trowel. I have encountered numerous women who roundly ridicule a man for using a toupee, but will not hesitate to wear a wig or refuse to criticize other women for doing so. Women wear all types of underwear to give a false impression of their physical attributes, again being a FRAUD. Stop thinking you should be entitled to be dating Clark Gable when you look like a haired nancy pelosi covered in a ton of fake skin, etc.One more point. DO NOT wear clothing that displays your undergarments. In the 1950s, a woman, even girls, would be horrified to know that a portion of her undergarments could be seen. If another woman noticed,she would step close and whisper to the individual who would quickly retire to a location where the offending garment could be corrected. Today, women and girls appear to take pride in displaying such garments.
Clarke Gable had fake teeth. Just sayin.
How about we all allow everyone to dress, adorn, etc as they choose. And if they aren’t the one for you, that’s ok. Your statement is chock full of judgement. May all our hearts grow wider.
Thank you for the great article Suzy. I am now 64, was separated for 3 years and then divorced for another 2 years. I have just started the on-line dating journey. It’s weird and even a little scary. I did join eharmony, but have not been very pleased with this service. 4 different times I had started to chat with 4 different people, and the next day eharmony pulled their profile saying they were not adhering to their rules. Then another time I started chatting with someone and his profile was removed the next day! ?
I check in every day for updates and there are maybe 1 or 2 new guys that might be compatible with me. Maybe. I dont’ think I’m that hard to match up with. lol
I talked with eharmony to see if I could just cancel my subscription and receive my funds back. They would not comply. I decided to try another site. Match.com
There are so many more guys there I’m being matched up with.
I will say I do like the screening and questions asked from eharmony and the panel of answers you get to compare your possible match with to see how we both fit. It’s justunfortunate the site isn’t more active. Many of the guys are also far away. Maybe I’m too picky, but I gthink I have the right to be. lol
So I’ve dipped my toe in and we will see where it takes me. Thank you again for all the invaluable information about on line dating and safety, too.
I just wanted to say I am a man who has been married for 28 years and have now been divorced for 2 years after my ex-wife decided this is what she wanted. There were no affairs on either part. She wanted out because the intimacy disappeared after I broke my pelvis during the course of my work which severed ‘certain nerves’ downstairs. I can undersrand it to some extent but it was not my fault, and truth be told, I can walk, run, climb, and go to the loo, so there’s a lot to be thankful for. It could have been catastrophic but it wasn’t. I am 57 years old. I was a devoted husband and a good provider. We brought up three wonderful kids who are now successful in their own lives. I protected them all with my life, defended them and kept the roof over their heads in tough times. That’s all a man wants to do. It’s his basic instinct. But, it wasn’t good enough. Anyway, this website seems to be mostly about divorced women but I wanted to say that from a man’a point of view, we have our insecurities as well. I have been re-building myself for two years now following an extremely nasty divorce where my weakened ability to ‘satisfy’ because of the nerve damage has been paraded on social media to reinforce her reasons for deciding on a divorce. This has unfortunately caused me to feel an extreme reaction to the prospect of ever bothering to try to find someone else in my life. I’m widely described by my work colleagues (mostly ladies in the office) as a wonderful man with “an awful lot to bring to the table” who “writes himself off too easily” who is “far too young to be… Read more »