Living 50 Plus

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Dating after 50

Sweaty palms, heart palpitations and nervousness are common first date symptoms. Many people can remember the feelings of excitement and fear they felt the first time they went out on a date as a teenager. But those who find themselves back in the dating pool as mature adults quickly learn that dating jitters still may be present even after all this time.

Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that those over the age of 50 are now divorcing at double the rate of younger people. Loss of a spouse is another reason the over 50 crowd may once again be dabbling in dating.

Recent reports say that 40 percent of online daters today are over the age of 50. Successfully navigating the waters of matchmaking sites or old-fashioned meet-and-greets means reacquainting oneself with a few handy tips.

• Don't open up with your extended history. Older daters have more life experiences and potentially a greater number of past relationships. Recognize that you both may bring former spouses and even children to the table, but don't feel the need to delve into all of your adventures (or misadventures) on the first date. Early dates are not for setting the entire course of your relationship. They're for getting acquainted and seeing if this is a relationship you want to continue. Getting too personal right off the bat can sabotage a relationship before it starts.

• Take it slow. There's no need to rush anything along. Biological clocks or perceived societal notions no longer may be causing pressing relationship deadlines. Take the first date and any other subsequent dates at a pace that's mutually agreed upon. It may take several months to years before all of your truths come out, but for now focus on having fun until you're both ready to share more.

• Look for the positives. Before you decide a person is not for you, make a note of all of his or her positive attributes. What do you like most about him or her? Initial negativity or doubts may stem from your fear of rejection. Be open to others who may not fit your type.

• Don't get discouraged. The person you first meet may not be the right fit. Don't let this turn you off of dating. The right person may be the next one around the corner.

• Meet in public places. Many dates begin with online conversations with the intention to meet for a physical date later on. Always keep safety in mind when setting a rendezvous with someone you don't know well. Choose a public meeting spot, such as a busy restaurant. Ask a friend to check in on you via phone call. Consider a double-date if you're weary. Take your own car and meet at the date location rather than being picked up at home.

• Wait for intimacy. It may take a while before you feel comfortable getting intimate with someone new. This person should respect your feelings and not pressure you into a physical relationship until you are both ready. Also, give the other person time to grow comfortable with intimacy.

Dating after 50 means taking chances, going slow and exploring new relationship possibilities that make you feel comfortable.