As we age one question remains, Why is dating after 50 so difficult?

By Tom Blake 

Tom Blake
Tom Blake

In 2001, I was interviewed by Matt Lauer on the “Today” show. He asked, “Why is dating after 50 so difficult?”

I responded, “Some of us haven’t had a date in 30 years. We’re out of practice.” During the interview, I outlined the five main reasons that made dating after 50 difficult. Twelve years later, people still ask the “why is dating difficult” question, but now they add “after age 60, 70 and beyond.”

Here’s my 2013 answer:

1. We aren’t prepared. After a long-term marriage or relationship, perhaps of 35 plus years, our spouse or significant other may be gone. We had prepared to spend our retirement years together, not prepped to date again. But now, that’s what we’re faced with, and we don’t know how to begin, where to go or what to do. It’s perplexing, daunting and scary.

2. There aren’t places to go where there are relatively even numbers of single men and women in our age range. One night a month, Tutor and Spunky’s, my Dana Point deli, sponsors a Meet and Greet gathering for singles aged 50 to 90. Many widowed people attend. The women-to-men ratio is often 4- or 5-to-1. That’s about par for age 60-plus singles events across Orange County.

3. More on the dreaded ratio of women to men. Census statistics reveal that as people reach their 60s and 70s, the number of single men decreases significantly. What can women do to overcome the lack of single men? At an AARP convention, Dr. Ruth Westheimer said, “The ratio is a fact of life, you can’t change it. However, if you put your mind to having a nice appearance, and an openness to meeting new people, and a willingness to do social things, and you’re positive, you can effectively reduce the ratio. Commit to having a good life, with or without a man.”

4. We’ve aged. At 70, singles don’t have the energy they had before—and dating takes energy (and time and money). We’ve added wrinkles and wear and tear to our bodies. Some older singles go to bed early. The last thing they want is to be out on a date at 9 p.m. seeking love. For many, it’s easier and less complicated to be curled up and reading a book at home.

5. Compatibility is difficult to find. As we age, we are more set in our ways. We know what we want and what works for us. We’re not going to accept someone to share our life who doesn’t measure up. Often, adult children object to a widowed parent dating again, but the pool of available compatible people shrinks with each passing year.

Dating after 60 is difficult, but not impossible. At the deli Meet and Greets, Dave, a widower, 93, met a new love and is very happy. Fred, also a widower, kept putting off attending. Once there, he met Joanne and they are now a couple. One reason fewer men than women attend is that women keep capturing them and taking them away.

Some of these men don’t come back. Why? I’ve asked a few that I’ve seen at Costco or the hardware store.

The gist of their replies: “My new partner doesn’t want me to attend anymore.” I wink and say, “Perhaps she’s afraid you’ll meet someone else.”

They smile and give me thumbs up. But, don’t let the dreaded ratio or your age stop you from getting out and about. There’s a lot of life to live—with or without a man or woman.

To comment, email Tom at tompblake@gmail.com. 

Tom Blake is a Dana Point business owner and San Clemente resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at www.findingloveafter50.com for more dating advice.

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