Somewhere along the line, society has accepted the notion that dating is only for young people. Oh, of course there’s the occasional movie or commercial depicting older people dating. But for the most part, the denial of senior dating is really quite extreme.
Search Google for images of dating and out of the first 1000 or so photos, there are exactly six that depict people with gray hair. And one of those is of a morose-looking woman sitting all by herself which, sadly, seems to be a reflection of the image many younger Americans have of older people wanting to date. But if we consider the facts, however, it only stands to reason that there are plenty of seniors who might want to date again.
Take a look at the state of senior living in the US.
For one thing, there are more older Americans alive right now than at any other time in our history.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 40.3 million people age 65 or older in the United States on April 1, 2010. That’s five percent more than a decade earlier and 13 times more than there had been in 1900.
Not only are there more older Americans, but we are living far longer than we did in the past. Life expectancy has nearly doubled during the 20th Century. But despite the fact that there are more older adults in the US, it seems that society’s expectations for seniors are that everyone should sit around and twiddle their thumbs, play bridge or watch TV all day once we hit a certain age.
And what kind of senior life would that be? Certainly not a lifestyle that most of the dynamic seniors in our community would be eager to adopt.
We want to get out, meet new people, and enjoy new experiences.
“The heart knows what it wants” as the old saying goes.
Just because our hair colors change and our knees aren’t what they once were doesn’t mean that we lose the urge to spend time with a person whose company we enjoy.
In some ways, in fact, this desire may actually be greater than ever.
With a little bit of luck, we are wiser than we were when we were 20 or 30 or 40. And we have a lifetime of experiences and adventures that we have accumulated. Few things are more invigorating than sharing those things with another person and hearing their experiences in return.
There are no reliable estimates on precisely how many seniors are dating. But the evidence is abundant. There are dozens of reputable dating web sites for senior citizens. AARP has dozens of pages filled with advice for seniors who are already dating or want to be.
It may sound complicated, but dating has always been complicated.
Obviously, there are many different issues to cope with when you’re looking to date as an older adult.
You may have adult children who are shocked to learn that their widowed or divorced parent might want to find companionship again. You may wonder it’s too soon to date someone— a particularly profound concern for widows and widowers, and if you’re still in mourning, you might be right.
And then there are the age-old questions that probably haven’t changed much since you were a teen.
Where do I start? How do I ask someone out? Should I wait for someone to ask me? Where should we go? What should we do?
It’s funny how some things never change.
The big thing here is that you shouldn’t let anyone make you feel that you shouldn’t date again.
Human beings are social creatures— we like to be around other people. And, just as when you were younger, going on a date with a person doesn’t mean you must begin a romance. You may not even want to strike up a friendship.
What we do know is that interaction with other people is stimulating and intriguing and sometimes quite entertaining.
Just because you’ve lived a few more years than other singles is no reason to deny yourself the joy of human company-- especially when it can keep you living well after retirement. When the time is right, don’t be afraid to get back out there and find someone you enjoy spending time with.