Posted on November 12, 2012 by Eve Kilmer, Ph.D.
Three days before Lisa’s 26th wedding anniversary, her husband backed up a moving van to the garage of their home, took half of their furniture and belongings and moved out of her life. And just like that, at age 52, she found herself back in the singles market. Having been out of the dating scene for nearly 30 years, she wondered how she would ever meet someone new.
For most women turning 50 isn’t the easiest birthday on the planet, but add to that having to date again and it can feel downright scary. Although you are committed to a happy, healthy life, with or without a partner, you may prefer to find someone to share it with. The question is, how do you find a suitable partner? There are fewer unattached men as a woman ages, the dating world has changed, and you may not feel as confident about our looks. The good news is, by using proven dating strategies, you can successfully navigate a changed and unfamiliar social world with grace and finesse.
GET OUT AND PURSUE YOUR PASSION
Over the age of 50, there are almost twice as many single women as single men. But don’t get discouraged. According to an extensive Association of Advancement of Retired People (AARP) study, 75 percent of women in their 50s reported enjoying serious, exclusive relationships after a divorce, often within two years. The way to often do this is by increasing your own personal odds. The women who are the most successful at finding partners are the most active and embrace every opportunity to be out in the world meeting others. According to Dottie Riketson, a matchmaker and relationship coach in the Denver Metro area, women who find partners are “the ones who put themselves out there.” Ricketson advises, “You want to meet as many men as possible while doing things you love. Put yourself in situations that you enjoy and are engaged in, yet where there is potential to meet someone.”
“If photography is your passion,” says Ricketson, “take a photography class on shooting flowers. Or, if you’re someone who is really fit and outdoorsy, join a cycling, hiking or skiing club. The beauty of this is that you’re doing what you enjoy, while you’re out there in places where the type of guy you might want to meet is also,” she adds.
MIX IT UP
It used to be easy to find eligible guys in the normal course of going about your day. Back in school, all you had to do was go to class, attend a party, join a club on campus and you were constantly being set up by girlfriends.
As we mature, our world becomes more insular. We go to work, stop at the same neighborhood grocery store or dry cleaner and often come straight home. The solution: mix it up. Go to a different grocery store, coffee shop, lunch place or dry cleaner. Instead of reading the newspaper at your kitchen table, take in the headlines while sipping a latte at a local coffee shop or bookstore. Or bring along your computer and surf the online dating services, incidentally one of the few places where men outnumber women. Most importantly, be approachable, smile, be the friendly type and initiate conversations. Take risks, be assertive. If he has any interest, he’ll be grateful that you did and if he doesn’t, you have lost nothing.
Other possibilities? Try volunteering. Take your own or your neighbor’s dog for a walk. Have a single’s party in which each guest must bring a member of the opposite sex that they aren’t dating.
Go to Meetup.com (an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings) and join a group such as Grey Wolves, an over 40 adventure group in Boulder/Denver area interested in hiking, skiing, and social activities such as going to comedy clubs. Take a salsa or other dance lesson at the Avalon in Boulder in which everyone is encouraged to change partners so that you can dance with everyone in the room. Or if you’re really adventurous, companies like Elderhostel (www.elderhostel.org) or ElderTreks (416-588-5000) offer learning adventures worldwide.
Still more possibilities? Take golf or tennis lessons and sign up for mixed foursomes. Attend wine tastings. Go to conferences, seminars or lectures. Keep your eyes open at any place you shop, or for that matter, whenever you are out in public. Home Depot, computer stores and sporting goods outlets have an excellent men-to-women ratio. Also, remember, women are the best matchmakers. Let your girlfriends and other woman in your life know that you are looking. Certainly, whenver you get an invitation to a party, wedding, etc., consider going.
POSITIVE ACTION PLANNING
Set dating goals such as doing three things per week in which you increase your odds of meeting someone and write them down. According to Rebecca Savage, a dating coach in Denver, “Positive action planning takes away the burden of contemplating whether or not to follow through on dating commitments you’ve made whether it’s joining a club or attending an event. Get a desk calendar for your home and write specific activities you will engage in throughout the month (i.e. go to a new coffee shop, start golf lessons, etc.). Then, once it’s written down, don’t think about it, just do it.” Focus on making the effort and the results will take care of themselves.
When many women re-enter the dating scene, their self-esteem can take a hit. Guys don’t pursue you in the way that they did when you were twenty. Here are some ideas that have worked for others: If you need to feel more positive, start a gratitude journal. Every night, write down three or more things that you feel grateful about yourself and your life. Use the rubberband technique. Put a rubberband around your wrist. Every time that you have a negative thought, snap the rubberband lightly and replace it with a competing positive thought.
One way to increase motivation is to approach dating the same way you would find a job. Think about it. The more job interviews you set up and go on, the more likely you will find a great job. So although it may be anxiety provoking and uncomfortable at times, it’s worth the potential payoff. With finding a partner, it’s not too different. The more you get out there and meet people, the more opportunities you are creating for yourself, increasing your sense of abundance and the chances you have of finding a suitable partner. If you’re nervous, make the shift from worrying about what others think of you to, what do you think of them? Who do you feel drawn to? And go for it.
Dr. Eve Kilmer