Dating in the Golden Years

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If you think you’re too old to find love in the afternoon of life, think again. This is one of the best times to find your perfect match. Why? For starters, you probably have more time on your hands; you know what you want in life; and you have given yourself the complete freedom to just be yourself, no judgement allowed.

Besides, no matter one’s age, love and companionship are definitely integral aspects of a happy life. You may be widowed and ready for a new partner, or you may be out of a marriage for a while. Whatever the reason, love does not discriminate. Forget about your age! Love doesn’t check your ID. But before you head down the path to finding new love, there are a few things to consider.
Be specific about what you desire in a partner. You have a wealth of experiences, mistakes and lessons that should have taught you well by now, and from those you can determine exactly what you want in a relationship. Find someone who shares the same interests or retirement goals; that is key to compatibility. Also, exercise patience. Finding true love is typically easier said than done. Don’t feel as if you have to rush into anything and don’t feel as if the first person you meet is the one with whom you should partner. Be willing to date for a while so you can find the right person for you.

What about the kids? If you have children, it might be a good idea to let them know you are dating. Hopefully, they will be supportive of this decision. Also, make sure they understand you are not trying to replace the other parent. Who knows, they may even be able to give you advice on what to do and what not to do.

Even though you are ready to get out there and mingle, do you even know where to begin? That can be a challenge. Consult your circle of friends and don’t hesitate to reconnect with someone from years ago. You just never know what might transpire. Online dating services are another option. While some folks may harbor a bit of hesitation in that regard, many older adults use online dating as a great way to connect with the perfect match. When you construct your online dating profile with specific information about yourself in terms of interests, hobbies, philosophies, values and goals, the website will select potential matches based on those criteria.

Senior centers are another avenue for finding connections. These centers frequently host events throughout the year for a variety of holidays and activities, and the pool of single seniors at these events makes for an easy way to meet new people.

If your passport is your favorite book and you love to explore the world, consider joining a senior travel group. This is a terrific opportunity to meet like-minded people and get to know someone while enjoying a relaxing vacation.

Now that you have a bit more time on your hands, you might consider engaging in some volunteer work, especially if your perfect match must be someone who is kind, compassionate and empathetic. With the common denominator of shared interests, the compatibility factor increases.

But now we have to introduce a delicate subject: physical intimacy in a relationship at this stage in life. The chances for pregnancy no longer exist and you may feel a sense of heightened freedom to enjoy a physical relationship. However, proceed with caution. Dating at this stage in life does involve opportunities for unsafe sex and sexually transmitted diseases.

It has been reported that more than half of men and 40 percent of women in the older adult population are sexually active. In conjunction with that, the rate of STDs is rapidly increasing. This is when there might be a role reversal; the children of these seniors might want to initiate a “safe sex” discussion with the parent if the parent intends to become sexually active. Just because one is older and wiser doesn’t make that person less susceptible to communicable disease. In fact, as one grows older, the immune system weakens, putting the individual at greater risk for infection. Throw in heart disease, liver damage or diabetes, among other aging-related health issues, and these can complicate matters.

Seniors must have the same access to education about STDs as do their younger counterparts, including information on what the short- and long-term effects are and how transmission can be prevented. Physicians should address the STD issue by asking questions of sexual activity in their patients; seniors should be aware Medicare provides free STD screenings with low-cost treatment options if the results come back positive. If all else fails, the availability of free condoms at senior centers might be an answer!

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