A recent AARP study sums it up like this: “Freedom rocks, but loneliness is a downer.” About 45% of Americans 65 and over are widowed, separated, or divorced – so if you’re one of these single seniors, you can probably relate. Loneliness isn’t healthy; it can lead to depression and other health problems. So where do you start when you’re looking for more than just friendship? Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve been in the dating scene, or perhaps you retired to somewhere beautiful and warm, but now you don’t know a soul.
Online dating is not just for the young. Many sites report that singles over 50 are their fastest-growing group. While younger people tend to use online dating for more casual relationships, older singles tend to be looking for more serious relationships online. eHarmony and Match.com are two of the most popular dating sites for seniors (eHarmony even has a free version if you just want to try it out).
Dating sites are not the only way to connect online. Social media sites aren’t just for the younger generations, either; forty-one percent of Americans over 65 are on Facebook. See who you can find online — you might find that an old flame is newly single and wants to get together!
Contact a Matchmaker
If online dating isn’t your thing, there are plenty of ways to meet people “offline.” If you’re looking for a serious relationship and are willing to invest some time and money into the search, a professional matchmaker might be for you. There are about 3,000 professional matchmakers in the US, and most of them are happy to help seniors find a partner.
Take a Class
Another way to meet people is to sign up for a class (or teach one yourself). Make sure it’s a subject you’re interested in and a topic that encourages interaction. For example, you’re much more likely to get to know your fellow students in a dance class than in a computer class.
Join a Club or Organization
Find a group of like-minded people near you and meet up. Check bulletin boards at your local library, rec center, arts center, or senior center for activities and events. Most clubs have weekly or monthly meetings. You may meet someone who wants to get together outside of the club!
Helping out a good cause – whether it’s serving food at a homeless shelter, representing an animal shelter at a pet-adoption event, or wrapping presents for the holiday season – can help you meet people that care about same things you do. And you’re making a difference in your community at the same time.
Ask Your Friends or Children
Meeting someone through a mutual friend never goes out of style. Maybe your kids have friends with single parents who are also looking for someone to go out with; maybe you could start with a double date. Keep on the lookout when taking care of the grandkids, too. You never know — you might meet another single grandparent at the ballpark or the soccer field.
One last piece of advice: when you find yourself out on that date, be honest. Your relationship goals are probably not what they were 40 years ago. Are you just looking for someone fun to go out dancing with, or are you looking for marriage or a long-term relationship? Make sure you find someone with compatible goals — life’s too short to play games!