There are three common ways that people over 50 meet new companions.
Church groups and clubs top the list.
Second on the list is the set-up.
Third is the Internet.
Even though the World Wide Web may have seemed like some kind of science fiction in the ’60s, the years when
many baby boomers entered the dating scene, it’s a reality today.
“You’ve got a lot of years left; why close yourself off to others, to this world that has so many benefits?” said Terri L. Orbuch, a psychologist who’s known as the Love Doctor.
She’s a spokeswoman for Ourtime.com, a community of Internet dating sites for people over 50.
It’s not unusual for a person to be single, whether by divorce or a tragic loss, later in life.
“We know that when individuals have relationships in their lives, they are significantly healthier,” Orbuch said.
Spending time with a partner can reduce the chances of getting sick and improve mood, staving off depression.
“We see really physical health benefits,” the psychologist said.
It’s not always easy to enter the dating world, especially if someone is coming off a decade’s long relationship.
Sharing a milk shake at the soda fountain probably isn’t happening any more.
Instead, people are finding new friends in the world of online dating.
Just creating an online profile can be a valuable exercise, Orbuch said. It forces people to think about who they are and what they’re looking for in a companion.
“You want to have compatibility,” Orbuch said. “That’s the glue that keeps the relationship together.”
While it’s OK to say that you want to lose weight or look younger than you are, it’s not a good idea to fib on a profile.
“You don’t want to start a relationship off with a lie,” she said.
Dating sites work in different ways. Many, including Ourtime.com, will search for potential matches and let you decide who to contact.
Once you’ve started exchanging emails, it’s best to take things slowly, Orbuch said.
Wait a week before talking on the phone, then another week before planning to meet in person. Taking a relationship from online to offline can pose real dangers, she said.
Always plan to meet in a public place and tell friends what you’re doing.
“You never want to give money to someone you meet online,” Orbuch said.
Intimacy is wonderful, but people should think carefully before becoming sexually active.
It’s important to talk to a physician and understand how best to protect yourself.
Just because the risk of pregnancy may be diminished or nonexistent, sexually transmitted diseases still can be a threat, even later in life.
Orbuch recommends unpacking baggage that might be left over from previous relationships before jumping into the singles scene.
Remembering a person is fine, but, “You’re not looking for a replacement, but looking for a companion.”
Adult children may have mixed feelings about a parent returning to dating.
Wait until the relationship develops to something serious before introducing a new companion to the family, Orbuch said. Then explain to loved ones that the relationship is making a difference.
“Sometimes you just need to say, ‘This is what is best for me,'” Orbuch said. “You have to say, ‘This is the person that is making me happy.””