Emotional growth and socialization are hot topics in today’s “healthy aging” world.
While filming “The Age of Love,” his eye-opening documentary on seniors who go speed dating, director Steven Loring spent months observing the ins and outs of the dating scene through the adventures of his 70-and-older subjects.
And he discovered that, while bodies and times have changed, emotions have not. “Once we were past the jokes and stereotypes,” Loring says, “It’s clear that speed dating brought out the same hopes and same butterflies most had felt the first time around.
“The truth is, there’s an active, booming older generation eager to seek new companionship. But while that desire has not dimmed with age, it can be daunting to get back in the game.”
And so, as this comic and poignant film screens in dozens of communities this summer, Loring shares eight top tips on dating again when you’re older:
- Health issues are not a topic for conversation. You don’t want to give someone new the impression you’re seeking a caregiver — you can discuss your prostate later on.
- Show you’re happy with who you are now, no matter your situation. One speed dater with a portable oxygen tank got several dates because he made it clear that it didn’t define him.
- Don’t focus on past relationships. Former partners will be mentioned, but don’t go into detail. No matter how wronged you feel by an ex, your date will see you as a complainer. And if you extol the virtues of a former spouse, your date may fear never living up to the competition. Acknowledge your situation, but don’t seem stuck in the past.
- Review your wardrobe. Single men who once left clothes-shopping and laundry to their wives should seek advice on their outfit. It may be your favorite sweater, but the stain will not score you points on a date. Be your best with someone new — looking good means you care about others.
- Be confident, curious, lively. You can’t erase wrinkles or have a teenage figure, but you can make eye contact, ask engaging questions and exude vitality. As one speed dater put it, “At this age, beauty is about being open and adventurous.”
- Don’t involve your children right away. Wait until it gets serious. Your parents showed love by worrying about your future. Your kids will show love by supporting what makes you happy now.
- Take your time before getting physical. The years ahead are fewer, yet most older daters say they’re in no rush. In your 20s, it was about hormones and social expectations. Now you’re looking to share values and ideas with someone who sees you for who you are. It’s no longer about “happily ever after” but about comfort and understanding, so slow and easy is best.
- Be willing to step outside your comfort zone. If your approach is outdated, shake things up. Both women and men should feel free to start a conversation, to make the first move. Plan a date that takes you somewhere you’ve never been. Taking a chance makes you more interesting and sets you apart from the crowd.