I’m Dating, Not Dead

By Clive Branson

My eye fell on the following personal ads. If you’re a woman, you may find this ad a tinge contradictory, and a confirmation of how you perceive some men’s true priorities.

SWM, 61, seeking SWF. Looks not important, but must be tall, slim and attractive.

Speaking of contradiction, here is an ad that might make you choke on your coffee.

DWW, 64, intelligent brunette, Christian swinger, 5’4”, 180 lbs. Likes kissing, walking, holding hands, skinny dipping, and hunting.

Now I ask you, what decent Christian isn’t a swinger? And as a bonus, armed, potentially dangerous and naked! Isn’t that a prerequisite? God, Bud and wife-swapping.

Yes, dating is not easy at any age, but you’ve reached your golden years. Whether you’re divorced, widowed or have never been married, the prospect of dating again is daunting, but it doesn’t have to feel like you’re a commodity for sale. Seniors generally have full lives and are not desperate for another marriage.

On-the-other-hand, once a spouse has died or you have experienced abandonment, your whole life feels like it has turned upside down. It’s an enormous void or a loss of self-esteem and it is only natural to genuinely miss the warmth of companionship or to be leary as to whom to trust. However, take the time to get over your mourning, otherwise it remains an elephant in the room.

Loneliness is mentally and physically debilitating and shouldn’t correlate with age, so try to mingle for there is more than enough ammunition to help you. It is understandable that as one ages, you’ll encounter obstacles:

  Older men often develop a sense of inferiority because they are less virile compared to their younger selves.

  Older women are much more self-conscious about their bodies because of society’s ‘youth’-obsession and expectations.

  Older men who are eligible, may seek younger wives to start a new family.

  Women still live longer than men, so the prospects of finding another partner can be slim and frustrating.

  Women don’t want a prospective male whose priorities are a nanny and a bank account.

  Men aren’t interested in women with unrealistic expectations or having delusional romantic fantasies.

  Women want an emotional connection. Men are more visually stimulated.

“When I first tried an online dating service, I was a bit dubious as to who I might find, but at the same time, curious,” recalls Richard Desmarais, a 74-year old professional photographer. “I met a lot of nice women, but they seemed emotionally broken, either from loneliness or scared by their previous relationships. The question I ask myself is: Do I want to be with someone because I don’t want to be alone, or would I prefer to be alone but have friends as my companions?”

One challenge that often impedes the role of dating is the assumption that it is a precursor to marriage and not a goal in and of itself. Based on studies by the U.S. Library of Medicine, women are less likely to date than are men, and people are less likely to date as age increases. Factors that increase the likelihood of older adults dating were: accessibility (i.e. driving), single-family residence, comparative health, family approval, and organizational participation. Specifically for women, health and mobility were the most significant issues. The study also claimed, for many, dating also meant facing fears on being taken advantage of – emotionally, financially and/or sexually.

Where to meet

There are so many places to find someone special, it’s just a matter of pursuing some of them and being patient. Place a personal ad in a newspaper. Be honest in your approach, but not long-winded or ambiguous. Take up dance or cooking lessons, join activities organized by the local library or volunteer your services. There are countless opportunities to help from fundraising and hospitals to church groups and theatres.

Consider joining a club to meet new people who could introduce you to others. The same applies to discussion groups, choirs, or art classes. Don’t be afraid to attend events on your own, such as lectures, the cinema, art galleries, museums, singles’ clubs or meet-up activities. In addition, there are bus tours, train excursions and cruise lines, though stick to the ‘adult’ or ‘senior only’ fares. You can find these online. The best thing about meeting someone through an activity is a mutual interest is already present.

Online dating

If the traditional methods don’t work, then go online. As the baby boomers are aging, more and more dating services are introducing services specifically focused on the needs of seniors. The positives of online dating are more obvious in that you can be selective in who you would like to meet. “Online dating certainly has its advantages, but there are also negatives,” expresses Dr. Felice Toonkel, a psychiatrist based in New Jersey. “There is a certain amount of anxiety based on anonymity. It can also be expensive and there is also the dilemma of ‘ghosting,’ as in being confronted by abandonment, insults, and abuse, the consequences to which can affect one’s self-esteem.”

Despite concerns and reservations about dating, some women view dating in later life as very enjoyable and beneficial – no dependents, more time to do things together, no pressure for new families. Companionship is by far the greatest incentive for dating in later life, but other reasons include the pursuit of physical affection, whether this implies sex or simply being together, the ability to reduce loneliness, and for physical and mental health and wellness.

“I highly recommend online dating,” declares Penelope Goranson, a 64-year old actress and editor. “Always be honest. Don’t post pictures of yourself that were taken when Nixon was president – you can’t hide your appearance when you meet. And arrange to meet in a public place for safety. I had a couple of disastrous marriages, so when I met Kent online, I had no expectations. After numerous phone calls, we met for dinner and played pool. He put up with my nonsense and I found his gentleness and humour contagious and comforting. He reminded me of my dad. June 16, 2018, we will be celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary. Our love for each other is as strong today as it was when we got married.”

Life is about sharing. There is someone out there who wants to share it with you.