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Seeking a new friend and potential partner can be a disconcerting activity, especially if we haven’t been “out there” in years!

When we dated in our younger years, our friends “fixed us up,” or we met new companions in a variety of settings, including work. As we age, seeking a new friend and potential partner can be a disconcerting activity, especially if we haven’t been “out there” in years. Regardless, we may feel that finding a compatible friend will enhance our quality of life, and that a positive result will make our efforts worthwhile. If that is the case, we need to experiment with a variety of ways to reach out, and on line dating is among them.

A 2012 AARP online dating survey of adults age 50+ showed that older Americans are open to dating online -- they are looking for a serious relationship (48%) and friendship/ companionship (26%); 14% of respondents said they are using online services for casual dating. The top three reasons why people over 50 have tried an online dating site are: they are able to meet a broader range of people; there is no pressure - they don’t have to reply or talk to people they don’t want to; and, a friend recommended it.

There can be many natural concerns about dating, especially following the death of a spouse or a divorce later in life. Sometimes our friends and family may not encourage us to date, seem overprotective, or view dating in older age as risky. While some adult children are open to their parent dating again, others may feel threatened or disrespected.

Some children feel that a parent dating again dishonors the parent who died. Family members may also worry about the new person affecting their inheritance. These issues can be a real barrier for older adults who want to meet someone.

It is important to make our own personal decisions that affect our happiness and base them on how we want our future years to unfold. Discussing our views with our loved ones ahead of time and providing reassurances that our search will be a prudent one can ease tensions and help make our choices understandable.

Once we decide to move forward, we should take steps to ensure that the dating process is as safe and enjoyable as possible. It is very important to be in a positive frame of mind and approach meeting new people with an adventurous spirit. We should expect that we won’t encounter a new companion immediately and may need to get together with several people before one of them “clicks.” Meanwhile, we can enjoy socializing, exploring our options, and discovering new perceptions about our likes and dislikes as we search.

Let us know how you have approached meeting new people after 50! We can trade ideas and concerns and pick up new and safe ways to have an improved social life.

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I have been using an online website and have met numerous guys but not Mr. Right. I have enjoyed the process and only had one questionable incident. I had a fellow pick me up at my house on the second meeting. He asked if he could come in to use my bathroom and then stalled when we were supposed to leave the house to go to the movies. It was then that I realized I didn't know him well enough to have him come to my home. I had been with him about 2 hours when I first met him and he seemed very nice.

Nothing negative happened and we left shortly afterward. He probably was curious and wanted to see more of the house, but it was my own anxiety that was the truth teller. I will make sure that I meet someone more than once in a public place before I ever do that again.

We need to feel safe and comfortable when we are meeting new people and not let our desire to "find someone" interfere with our better judgement!

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I just met a really nice guy. We dated a few times and it got to the point where he wanted more intimacy. That's when I realized he wasn't for me. It was hard to let him go, but I decided that at this age it was important for me not trade off physical contact just to have someone in my life. We can't let loneliness run us. By choosing someone who is not suitable, we lose the chance of finding someone else who would be more appropriate.

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My friends just left from NC. The couple spend a few days here and my friend Jerry was telling me that her friend was in her 60's, divorced, and using an online site. She had met a guy she liked, went out twice, took him to her home on the second date and in the middle of the night got up to get some water and to sit for a minute in the living room. When she returned to the bedroom, her date was gone!! Never called.

OMG. Can't emphasize enough how we have to get to know a person before we take them home and share our belongings and person with them! He could have been a robber or worse. We are not kids anymore and this isn't the 60's. Nor are we young kids who can just "hook up" and forget about it tomorrow. Be careful out there.

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I've been using an online website to meet new male friends and I've met some really nice people....not Mr. Right as yet, but certainly men who at first blush have many of the characteristics I would look for in a partner.

I have a friend who is a psychologist and he says that we all would be surprised at how many men and women in older age still want to feel that strong "chemistry" and forgo common sense as they search. He said he wishes for me that I look for a good friend and a good match first. He thinks that the attraction/chemistry will grow once I know that the person I am with is good for me and makes an interesting and fun partner. OK, I'm ready!

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I just met someone a few weeks ago who seems to have many of the attributes I am looking for in a partner. I found him on one of the dating websites for older persons. I am thrilled that this could happen to me at this stage of my life. Whether or not he turns out to be "the one" is beside the point as he is a quality guy and worth the time to check out. Don't be afraid to get out there. Just be cautious and don't be discouraged.

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Hi, just letting you know that the new guy I met is still in the picture and it seems to be getting more and more serious. I can't tell you how surprised I am. I have been divorced since 1977 and my last long term relationship (15 years) ended about 3 years ago! My worries have to do with adjusting to having a "real partner" since I have enjoyed being single and fought getting remarried to be "free" and enjoy my successful career. As we age we really need more support, and that's what has made me look seriously at my life and choose to be with someone who will enhance my life further. I have been enjoying the search and have met many nice people. All to say that it is never too late!

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Still going strong with the boyfriend and meanwhile just received a wedding invitation from a dear friend who met her fiancee at her church. He is a widower, as is my boyfriend. She is 72 and he is 70. She has been divorced since the 70's and says she is really "in love." Wow.

I used to think it wasn't possible to meet men at my age but I am learning that this is not true. I think when we shut our minds to an idea (such as finding a partner in older age) we tend to act accordingly and not go to places or do things where we are likely to meet someone. If we have a positive attitude and are open about meeting new people, we are more likely to be approachable to others.

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Boyfriend and I are talking about getting engaged. Wow. I have been divorced since 1977 so you can imagine how scarey this is for me. I will have to make many adjustments as I am so used to living alone but will also gain so much - I will finally have a great partner to share what remains of my life. I wasn't really taking my looking seriously as I thought it would never happen. Another life lesson!

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Went away for 2 weeks with my new boyfriend, and that decided it for me. We are not compatible enough to "tie the knot." I'm pleased that I waited long enough and spent the time to explore who this person is and what characteristics he has that mesh and don't mesh with mine. The disappointment would have been much greater if I had not taken the time and made a life decision without all of the appropriate information.

It is possible to meet lots of nice people as we age but not all of them are for us. We need to be very sure about getting serious because we have a finite period of time and don't want to spend our last years in a bad relationship. So be careful out there and please take the time to do the research!!

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