Supporting Seniors in Dating
Many of us long for a companion with whom we can share our time and the important things in our lives. In older age, that desire for companionship doesn’t go away. Seniors are now living longer than ever before and continuing to live fun, active, and full lives well into older age. Older adults who have lost their partners as a result of death or divorce may find themselves wanting to seek out a new partner but may not where to begin.
For many seniors, it has been a long time since they were active on the dating scene, and it can feel overwhelming and difficult to find viable and comfortable options. Seniors have grown, aged, matured, and changed since their younger dating years, so it can be a whole new experience navigating dating in a new time, with a new set of experiences behind them and a new set of expectations to navigate.
Helping Seniors Date
There are many things that loved ones and caregivers can do in order to make the experience of dating a little more comfortable for seniors. The biggest thing is helping seniors meet new people with whom they can forge new relationships. Introducing seniors to new people in the same age range by encouraging them to attend various groups and events can be a great place to start. There are many ways seniors can meet new people:
- Through friends and family
- Clubs and interest groups
- Places of worship
- Through shared hobbies
- Classes and learning groups
- Online dating sites
Barriers for Seniors
A major challenge for many seniors is overcoming the barriers that they see for themselves around dating. A big one for many seniors is the fact that they feel undesirable and may believe they won’t be able to find anyone who is interested in them in their older age (even people who are around the same age as they are).
Unfortunately, western society and culture typically views advanced age as a negative which can create numerous challenges for seniors. It can be hard for older adults to overcome internalized feelings associated with this societal outlook. As loved-ones and caregivers, it is important to do everything possible to remind seniors that they are valuable, desirable, and capable of finding meaningful romantic relationships that fulfill them.
Another barrier for many seniors can be the fear of what their family members will think about them dating again. Family can be proactive in helping to curtail these feelings by addressing the issue upfront and openly. By providing unconditional support, family members can make sure they are very clear about by encouraging and reminding seniors that they deserve to be happy and to have the companionship they desire.
Getting Over the Stigma
Online dating sites can be an excellent resource for seniors to find like-minded individuals to share their time with. For older generations, online dating often carries negative associations with many people viewing it a last-ditch effort for people who are extremely desperate.
The truth is that it gets harder and harder to meet people organically and online dating is a great way to connect with people in the same area in the same situation. Of course, there are also safety risks with online dating, so seniors should be thorough in their vetting processes and never meet someone in person that they have just connected with online. Taking time to get more familiar with a person’s background and speaking that person on the phone can help ensure they are actually who they say they are.
Dating Support for Seniors
Dating can be a challenging endeavor at any age, but for seniors it can feel like a whole different game. Providing support and helping to facilitate circumstances in which seniors can make positive connections with other seniors is a good start. Frequent reminders that it is okay to be out on the dating scene again in older age can help make seniors feel better and more comfortable about entering back into the world of dating.