If you’re reentering the dating game after being out of it for a long time, don’t fret: No matter how long it’s been since you were single, you can navigate the new waters like a pro and find the partner you’ve been looking for.
But first, there are a few things you should be aware of. Read on to discover exactly what you need to know about dating later in life, whether you’re simply looking to dip your toes in the water or are ready to dive into a new relationship head first.
1. Tinder Isn’t Just for Teens
Believe it or not, Tinder is a great place for older generations to meet, says Jenni Skyler, PhD, director of The Intimacy Institute for sex and relationship therapy in Boulder, Colorado. And it’s not just for hooking up: Dr. Skyler says that many of her patients have had more luck finding a relationship on Tinder than through online dating sites like Match.com. “I think the level of rejection is less painful on Tinder, and it’s easier to log on to an app than a website,” she says.
2. It’s Helpful to Make a List of the Qualities You Want in a Partner
Just because you’re dating later in life doesn’t mean you can’t still have deal breakers. But when you’re anxious to meet someone, it can be easy to ignore red flags, notes Skyler. To stay focused on finding the right person, make a list of the qualities you want in a mate. “Doing so is a great way to balance your head and heart,” she says.
3. It’s Ideal if You Both Have Kids
If one of you has children, it’s best if the other does, too, regardless of their ages, says Skyler. “There’s this understanding that your kids come first,” she explains. When one person has kids and the other doesn’t, issues like jealousy and power struggles can arise.
4. You Still Need to Have the Sex Talk
You might be nervous about getting busy with someone new, but it’s important to communicate with your partner before hitting the sheets. “You need to talk about your sexual health, your desires, and what your boundaries are,” says Skyler. Doing so will make both of you more comfortable — and the conversation is an indicator that you’re ready to take the relationship to the next level.
5. It’s a Good Idea to Examine Past Relationships
“If you’re divorced, it’s for a reason,” says Skyler. “Maybe the sex got bad or you grew apart, but there were valid problems.” To avoid making the same mistakes twice, it’s beneficial to reflect on previous relationships and notice patterns in your behavior (for example, maybe you always shut down at the first hint of criticism, or you tend to get jealous easily). Taking a hard look at yourself and your former relationships will help you reverse bad habits and find a relationship that works.
6. Erectile Dysfunction at an Older Age Is Normal
Men in their fifties and beyond may need a little extra time and stimulation to get an erection, notes Skyler. And while that’s totally normal, “having erection issues can make men shy away from dating or rely on taking Viagra more than they need to,” she explains. She advises her male clients to have an open conversation with their partner. Keep it light and playful by saying something like, “Even though my penis is sometimes slow to the join the party, when it does, it will be well worth the wait.”