The dating game is a daunting prospect at any age, but getting back into it in your senior years can be terrifying. Your immediate concern is whether senior dating etiquette differs from dating at an earlier age. If so, are there any tips for dating correctly?
Senior dating etiquette is a little different from what you did in the past, but there are several tips for dating correctly as a senior. These include not discussing former or deceased partners or health problems, avoiding topics like politics, religion, and financial details, and being attentive.
So, dating is like any other activity where age and experience change the way you do them. There are some other things you should and shouldn’t do when dating in your senior years. So, help yourself get the most out of your senior dating experience and follow the tips set out below.
Dress Appropriately for Your Age and the Venue
One of the first things you’ll need to consider when preparing for your date is what you’re going to wear. Whatever age you may be, first impressions count. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed in the dating game.
The important thing here is to remember your age. Whatever your gender, mutton dressed as lamb isn’t a good look. And it’s likely to be a tad embarrassing for everyone.
So, dress to impress, by all means. But when you’re at a certain age, you have to do it with dignity. Try not to dress like an aging rocker, even if you are one.
Turning up to a date wearing your favorite t-shirt displaying a strong political statement may have been hip and trendy in your youth. But unless you’re dyslexic, 61 isn’t 16.
In a similar vein, button up your shirt or blouse. That’s not to say, do the buttons all the way up. But revealing too much chest or cleavage lacks a certain decorum.
Remember, the keyword is dignity. That may mean opting for more classic styles, which you probably do anyway. If so, there’s no reason to change that when you’re going on a senior date.
That doesn’t mean you have to dress formally. You need to dress for the occasion. So, have regard to what you’re doing.
If you’re going to a movie, go for something casual but smart. It’s the same if you’re going for coffee or having a picnic in the park.
In contrast, if you’re going to a fine restaurant, of course, you’ll need to step up your sartorial game.
Whatever clothes you choose to wear, make sure you’re comfortable wearing them. That’ll make one less distraction so you’ll be able to concentrate on getting the other things right.
Don’t Dwell on Your Ex or Deceased Partners
Doing This Is a Quick Way to Turn Off Your Date
Taking your date on a tour through past relationships is a big no-no at any stage in a new relationship.
The problem is, by the time you’re in your senior years, so much water has passed under the relationship bridge. It might seem impossible to avoid the subject.
But, you have to remember, it’s a date, not a therapy session. That’s even if your date is a therapist.
The point of dating is to explore if you’re compatible with each other. It’s the same whether you’re looking for someone to enjoy the odd day out with or for a deeper relationship.
Well, it’s OK to give a past relationship a fleeting, but respectful mention. But you should prepare a skillful segue or two to move the conversation on as quickly as possible.
Spilling your guts about all the strife of past relationships won’t appeal. Not even to the most ardent listener.
The same applies if your return to the dating scene follows the death of your partner. Dwelling too long on this subject may be off-putting for your date. They might get the impression that you’re not yet ready to move on.
Sometimes, it’ll be the case that you can’t avoid the subject. In that event, bear in mind a couple of pointers.
Here’s What to Do in Case You Can’t Avoid the Subject
First, waxing lyrical about past loves will make your date uncomfortable. Everyone suffers uncertainty and insecurity when launching back onto the dating scene. That’s right. It’s not just you.
So, be considerate of how singing your former or deceased partner’s praises may compound your date’s insecurities. Speak about them in a neutral way and then move the conversation on.
Second, avoid spouting negativity about former or deceased partners. Otherwise, your date will be wondering what on earth they’ve gotten themselves into. Sure, they may look and sound like they’re sympathizing. But really, they’ll be formulating their quick exit strategy.
So, think in advance what you’ll say if you can’t avoid the subject.
In particular, consider how you can steer a quick path through and away from it. Your aim must be that it doesn’t become a major topic of conversation.
Put it this way. Leave all that emotional baggage you’re carrying around by the time you reach your senior years at home. At most, take a small disposable carry-on bag prepared in advance. Only open it if the subject is unavoidable. And dump it as soon as possible, preferably without opening it.
It Doesn’t Have to Be About the Long Term and Sex
The purpose of senior dating is one of the main ways that it differs from dating in your younger years.
Don’t go into it on the assumption that your date is thinking only about one thing.
When it comes to your senior years, what you want from a relationship can be drastically different from the things you wanted when you were younger.
Long term sexual relationships may have been a priority then. But, having since been around the block too many times to mention, you may be yearning for something else. Perhaps, something a little less complicated.
So, don’t assume that your objectives and those of your date are the same. This is crucial, especially in the early stages. Part of the reason for dating is to find out what each person wants from it.
It may be that what you or they want now is companionship rather than a full-on relationship, physical or not.
So, maybe you just want someone to go to dinner or for a walk with you now and again.
Friendship is equally as valid an objective for senior dating as is love.
That’s the beauty of senior dating. There’s no pressure to find a partner to produce babies. And what kind of relationship you want is up to you to decide.
This video explains it perfectly:
And, it may be that you’re not looking for an exclusive relationship. So, you might want to date a couple or more people at the same time and do different things with each.
If that’s the case, it’s courteous to make that clear early on to avoid confusion and disappointment.
Of course, if, for both of you, it’s all about the sex, then good for you. If you find you hit it off with your date, then go for it.
Go Prepared With Questions to Ask Your Date
Asking questions is the way we find out about each other. When dating as a senior, there are endless questions you can ask.
Both of you have now accumulated so many life experiences. So, there shouldn’t be any shortage of topics to keep the conversation going.
Well, that’s the theory. The fact can be different when your nerve-riddled brain and vocal cords can’t seem to get in sync.
So, take the stress out of dating and prepare in advance. Spend some time putting together a list of questions to ask your date.
The questions will help you discover whether you have things in common. A good list of questions will help keep the conversation going.
The aim is to avoid those embarrassing silences, which can be so loud. Especially on a date, frequent silences can make both of you uncomfortable.
If you’re stumped for questions, ask friends and family for some suggestions. Or go online and search for some example lists.
Just be careful not to turn your questions into an interrogation. Questioning should be relaxed and flow naturally, not fired at your date one after another.
Here’s a great video that will give you ideas of conversation topics when you’re on a senior date. Once you’ve watched it, build yourself a list of questions around these topics.
Topics to Avoid: Health Issues, Money, Politics and Religion
Although you want to keep the conversation flowing, there are some subjects you’ll be better off avoiding on a senior date.
Of course, one of the downsides of aging is the likelihood that you’ll be suffering from various ailments. They’ll probably be a natural topic of conversation with friends and family.
But, going into detail about your health issues isn’t a good topic of conversation when you’re on a date. At least not until you’ve known the person for some time.
Similarly, asking your date about their health issues may come across as intrusive. It’s just a bit too personal in the early stages of the dating process.
So, keep your medical history to yourself on a date. Save it for when you see your physician.
Also, steer clear of discussions about money. So don’t ask or get drawn into conversations about finances. That’s a subject to reserve for family and, possibly, your closest friends.
Other topics to shy away from on a date are politics and religion. They can be divisive subjects, even amongst close friends.
As we grow older, our views can sometimes become more developed and entrenched. No more so than with politics and religion.
It goes without saying, the last thing you want to do when you’re on a date is to offend. Although it may be unintentional, once done, it’s not easy to undo. It can bring a conversation that was otherwise flowing nicely to a dead stop.
So, it’s better to avoid politics and religion until you know each other better.
Especially in the early stages, keep the conversation light. Use it to explore uncontroversial subjects. For example, interests and hobbies you might have in common. Or, places you may both have visited. You can also talk about funny or unusual experiences.
Pay Attention to Your Date
One of the keys to any successful date is to show that you’re interested and focused on what your date is saying.
It’s even more crucial when dating as a senior because both parties have so much more life experience. So it’s harder to fool older people into thinking you were listening to them when you weren’t.
So, maintain as much eye contact as possible without turning it into a staring match. That might come across as creepy. In other words, keep it natural.
The important thing is, don’t let your eyes wander for too long. In particular, don’t be looking at every other attractive stranger in the room, as if you’re scanning for better options. Especially younger ones.
All you’ll do is deflate your date and undermine any confidence they might have mustered to get themselves to turn up.
So, focus on your date. Show interest in what your date says and try to develop the conversation based on the topic they’ve raised. It’ll show you’re interested and want to know more about what they’re saying. So, it’ll encourage more dialogue.
You’ll both gain confidence from this, which will make for a more comfortable dating experience.
Flirting and Flattery Are OK, but Don’t Overdo It
Flirting on a senior date is a great way to introduce some intimacy without being intimate.
It doesn’t need to be sexual, and indeed, you should steer away from that type of flirting, to begin with.
But, touching your date’s hand or arm, or some other more subtle gesture will help put them at ease.
You’re both old and experienced enough to know that touching doesn’t always equal sex. It’s just something that friends do, and it sets a warm and friendly tone.
Flattery is also a useful tool in your dating armor. After all, who isn’t susceptible to being told how good they look. It’s even more meaningful when you’re told this in your senior years.
So, complimenting your date is always an excellent way to get them to relax from the start. They’ll have been just as nervous as you about what impression they were going to make.
But, be careful not to overdo the flirting and flattery. Coming across too strong at an early stage will make you look desperate and could scare people off. Excessive flirting, in particular, can seem somewhat undignified or come across as forced.
So, keep it as subtle and as natural as possible. The aim is to relax your date, not make them feel uncomfortable.
Maintain a Positive Attitude Throughout the Date
As you go through life, there will be tough times mixed in with the good. But those tough periods can leave us with mental and emotional scars.
It’s easy to feel disillusioned and bitter about some of the hands that life deals.
But, whatever hard times you’ve been through en route to your senior dating experience, don’t let that be the lasting impression you leave on your date.
Remember the happy and thrilling and inspiring experiences. Bring those to the fore of your mind as part of your preparation for your date.
If you find yourself talking about difficult times, put a positive spin on the negative experiences. After all, you got through them and survived to progress to a new and exciting chapter in your life. That’s something to celebrate.
If you ooze positivity, it’ll rub off on your date. Positivity is motivating and inspiring, as well as attractive.
Coming across as depressed or bitter has the opposite effect. And it’ll leave a lasting impression of the wrong sort. It may also put an early end to what might otherwise have developed into a longer-term relationship.
Don’t Drink in Excess
Although many people use alcohol as a crutch to calm their nerves, research suggests that it may inhibit social performance.
Drinking in excess isn’t a good idea on a date. Common sense dictates that you want to keep your wits about you, especially if you’re meeting someone new.
But, it’s not just a safety issue. If you impair your senses with alcohol, you’re not going to be able to pick up on the signals we send each other in our social interactions. You can end up saying or doing things you wouldn’t usually do and de-rail the date.
These signals can be subtle through speech, facial expression, and body language. And the ability to pick up on those signals is crucial when you’re on a date.
So, know your limits with alcohol intake, and don’t assume it’ll help you on your date.
If you need to get yourself into a relaxed state, try some yoga.
As you can see, senior dating etiquette isn’t rocket science if you follow the above tips for dating correctly.
It’s OK to feel nervous and insecure, but you can rest assured that your date is probably feeling the same.
So, take the plunge, because a whole new world of exciting relationship adventures awaits.
And, of course, you’re at that stage in your life where you have the freedom and the wisdom to enjoy it. So, stay calm, keep it simple, and, most of all, have fun.
- Wikipedia: Dating
- Telegraph: Dressing to Impress as an Over-50s Dater
- Aging in Place: Seniors and Dating
- Retirement Living: 5 Things to Know About Dating for Seniors
- Youtube: Not Looking for Love? No Problem Senior Dating is Still a Great Way to Make Friends
- New York Time: The 36 Questions That Lead to Love
- Youtube: Dating After a Divorce if You’re Over 50
- Top 20 Senior Dating Sites: Senior Dating Conversation: Topics to Avoid
- Executive Search Dating: 5 Reasons You Should Pay Attention To Your Date
- Rate MDs: How to Flirt as a Senior
- Science Direct: Feeling safe but appearing anxious: Differential effects of alcohol on anxiety and social performance in individuals with social anxiety disorder