29 January 2019

Dating advice for over 60s

When you reach 60, it can often feel as though your love life has stalled, particularly if you’ve been single for a long time. Whether you’ve been single your whole life or had a relationship come to an end, there’s no reason why you can’t meet someone new and find a companion to share the rest of your life with.

We spoke to five amazing dating and relationship coaches across the UK about their tips and advice for getting yourself out there and dating when you’re over 60.

It’s never too late

“There has never been a better time to date as a 60-plus person,” says London dating coach Hayley Quinn. “As a dating coach I get to see the forefront of dating trends, and with people being in better health, living longer, and choosing to separate more readily if a relationship isn't working out, there are more mature singles on the market than ever before.”

London dating coach Rachel New agrees that dating in your sixties is nothing to feel apprehensive about. “I have a number of clients in their sixties who are enjoying dating. They have a positive and adventurous outlook on life, make an effort with their appearance and lead stimulating lives - so there isn’t really much difference between them and my clients in their fifties.”

Dating and relationship psychologist Madeleine Mason Roantree from The Vida Consultancy understands why it can feel discouraging for many over-60s. “It marks a change in life when you are eligible for senior discounts - it’s not uncommon for people to think they are unattractive and somehow redundant. As with any other generation, there is no need at all to be hindered by negative thoughts. There are centenarians out there that are probably more fit and flexible than your average 30-year-old desk jockey. You may feel more ‘creaky’ than in your younger days and experience more age-related ailments, but that should not stop you from living your life. Certainly not when it comes to finding love or companionship.

“Loneliness is one of the biggest enemies in life, so finding someone becomes important. If anything, it may add years to your life, as research shows that longevity is linked to the quality of one’s relationships.”

Look for someone on the same page

Love Mentor Elizabeth Sullivan says that simply getting yourself out there is the first big step. “As soon as you decide to date, get out there and start meeting people (so you don’t overthink it!). Be proactive and friendly, explore new hobbies and activities, and make sure you are spending time in the same kind of places as the people you want to meet.”

As well as this, Madeleine says to be open and honest with what you want. “Be clear about what you want from dating. Think about whether you are looking for a romantic relationship or companionship. Whether you’d intend to move in together or not. Think about what sort of lifestyle you would like to follow and who might have a similar one.”

She also says to be realistic. “Many people don’t feel their age and therefore only want to date people much younger than themselves. While relationships with large age gaps do exist, bear in mind that it may be harder to achieve. Why not find someone who is on the same page as you, both in age, fitness and libido.”

Andrea Crump, The Fearless Love Coach agrees with this. “If you have a big zest for life, the last thing you want is to be with someone who is dull and unadventurous whose idea of an exciting time is slippers in front of the TV.”

Give online dating a try

“If you aren’t meeting people through your social circle or hobbies, be open to new ways of doing things such as online dating,” says Elizabeth. “One of my clients Sarah, 63, has just got engaged after meeting her fiancé on a dating website 2 years ago!”

Although it can feel a bit new and scary, it’s nothing to worry about says Rachel. “A lot of my over-60s clients are successfully using online dating apps for all ages such as OKCupid and Bumble, as well as specialist apps for the over fifties such as Lumen and Our Time.

“There are even specialist apps for walkers, gardeners, music lovers, science fiction geeks, and a host of others, so you can find people to share your interests.”

Hayley also says to ask for help from friends if you need it. “To help get your profile set up, ask a friend to take some new photos - natural light and a good selection of 4 or more images seems to work best!”

She also recommends signing up to dating sites that fit your needs. “Many sites are targeted quite specifically towards short- or long-term relationships. Baby Boomer generation dating site users are also statistically proven to turn more matches into dates than their younger counterparts so online dating arguably works better for mature users.”

Dating with mobility issues

Rachel says that suffering from mobility issues shouldn’t put you off dating. “Even those who aren’t as active as they used to be still read, listen to talks online, watch films and documentaries and pursue their interests through online communities, so they have plenty to talk about on dates. Many people date via phone or Skype too, so if you can’t get out, you can still enjoy friendship and romance.”

Although the increase in online dating platforms makes it easier to connect with people, Hayley says to still try and meet people by getting out and about. “It is also worth being proactive by re-building your friendship circles and meeting people in real life, as I'm sure you can remember from the first few times around this is always the best for sensing whether you have an immediate connection.”

Elizabeth says that if you do have mobility issues and require aids like a walking stick or stairlift, make sure you plan ahead. “Think about transport there and find out if it is easily accessible. If you can, arrange to meet your date somewhere you have been before where you know the environment. You wouldn’t want to arrange to meet someone at a new venue and then find out there are three flights of steps! If you want to try somewhere new, however, do phone ahead and check access.”

Tips for a first date

If you have a first date lined up, Rachel says to come prepared. “Make sure you have interesting topics of conversation or questions to discuss on your date. Plan ahead by reading newspapers or books, seeing a recent film, listening to discussions on the radio, visiting an exhibition. Your date should be excited about what your latest news will be each time you meet!”

She also says to look the part and if necessary, ask for help from close friends or family. “Get some advice on your clothes. Appearance is still important for making us feel good about ourselves, but we can stick with our old favourites which may be less flattering or stylish! Dating is a good excuse to treat ourselves to a new outfit.”

Elizabeth also recommends keeping the date casual and laid-back. “Stick to the basics, don’t go for a fancy dinner on the first date, instead go for a coffee, a drink or go for a walk in the park. Do something fun - first dates should always be fun!

Her most important tip though is to be yourself. “If you like the person, be open and show your interest, don’t play any games.”

If you're stuck for first date ideas, this article is chock-full of romantic date ideas that are sure to impress.

Manage your fears

“Don’t let fear get in the way,” says Madeleine. “There are many legitimate fears when it comes to ‘senior dating’. The biggest one is becoming someone’s caretaker. However, there is never any guarantee how our lives end and whether we are the ones who end up needing the care. Think about what fears you have, work out how to overcome them. Otherwise, you end up not doing anything at all.”

She also says that if you are really nervous and overwhelmed by the idea of dating, there’s no shame in asking for help. “Whether you try online dating or matchmaking, go to a dating coach, stylist or nutritionist to get the help you need to fill your confidence and get yourself out on the dating scene. The main thing is to give yourself permission to date and allocate time to do it.”

Madeleine says that above all else, it’s something to be enjoyed and not something to be hesitant or scared about. “Make it a fun project rather than a deadbeat mission or full-time job. You will meet wonderful people along the way, and you can learn from the less wonderful ones. Make dating a hobby until you meet your match. This mindset will make you more attractive.”