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Ohio Department of Aging Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

My Life - January 2010

Is the Dating Scene Getting Grayer?
Bars and Clubs Have Given Way to Volunteer Groups and Social Networking

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than a third of Americans over age 45 are single. Some may never have married, some are widowed and some are divorced. The sheer number of Web sites dedicated to helping "mature" singles find Mr. or Ms. Right indicates that dating after 50 is not only growing more common, it is becoming a huge industry. While dating at any age can be daunting, frustrating and emotionally exhausting, dating in your 50s, 60s and beyond has some unique challenges... and benefits.

People over 50 often date for different reasons than younger people do.People over 50 often date for different reasons than younger people do, and this makes the over-50 dating scene quite unique. In a 2003 AARP study of singles age 40-69, just eight percent said they were looking for someone to marry. Nearly half of all those who were dating said they simply wanted someone to talk to and do things with. A crucial first step to dating success is to fully understand why you are looking for a relationship and what you desire from that "special someone."

Odds are you will need to expand your social life, as well. Let's face it, most of us have less active social lives than we used to, and many of us wouldn't be caught dead trolling for other singles our age in bars and clubs today (besides, such an approach would likely prove fruitless). The secret is to cultivate your interests. Find something you enjoy doing or have always wanted to do, such as going for walks, learning a new language or mastering a new hobby, then go out and do it. Just being more active can expand your social life and increase the chance of meeting other people who share the same interests.

Travel programs, such as Exploritas, and volunteer programs like the Senior Corps provide great opportunities to meet others who share your interests and passions, as do competitive and regional sports programs. Lifelong Learning Institutes, offered at many Ohio colleges and universities, provide an opportunity to expand your knowledge as well as meet others.

Online dating has moved from being something that only the most desperate do, to the first resource many dating experts recommend. The services offered vary from a classified-ad type of listing, to more robust personal profiles that others can browse or search. Some sites offer matching services that are based on many different criteria. There almost always is a fee involved and the jury is still out on their effectiveness.

Social networking sites also are a great tool to find relationships. Facebook, for example, allows you to build a network of people you know or have known through work, school, church and other endeavors. These sites are particularly helpful for connecting you to people with whom you've lost touch. They also allow you to post information about your interests, hobbies and activities. Even friends who aren't looking for a relationship may be friends with someone who is and may be right for you. Web sites devoted to a specific interest, such as farming, cooking, biking and more, also may be a good place to meet other singles. Check if the site has a message board, chat room or other type of online community.

There is an old saying that you are more likely to be killed by a terrorist than find a serious relationship after 50. Thousands of singles each year are proving this wrong by understanding that dating is different today than when they were in their 20s. They are using a multitude of resources, pursuing their interests and finding love in the process.