Dating after 50 is a whole new ballpark. Most people dating in their 50s or later have a wealth of dating experiences under their belts, and they're not necessarily looking to play games. We've reached out to middle-aged daters, and people who've dated in their 50s or older but have since settled, to learn about the dos and don'ts have dating after 50.
Here's what they had to say.
1. Do practice safe sex.
"Patients over age 60 represent the largest increase of in-office treatments for sexually transmitted diseases," says Deborah Porter, a 65-year-old, "very active sybarite" and the creator and organizer behind the Las Vegas Erotic Arts Festival. "Older people also are more likely than younger people to have late-stage HIV infection at the time of diagnosis. Senior women have to learn to protect themselves and bring their own condoms to the party. After all, the stigma attached to a woman’s thriving sexuality has loosened its choke-hold over the years, making it more socially acceptable for women to be in charge of their sexuality. Unlike my mother, I’ve come to understand the importance of safewords, condoms and a good lube."
What's more, it's important to be safe in all regards.
2. Don't assume you're exclusive.
"Even men of a certain age are keeping their options open, and you should, too," Porter says. "Money, status and a new Mercedes make a 65-year-old grandpa a hot commodity, whereas sultry women like us are just considered thirsty cougars. So don't hesitate to put men in rotation."
3. Do sign up for the right dating sites.
"Meeting new people in your 50's can be hard, you have a set routine you might be used to and finding time to deviate from that routine could be a challenge," says April Davis, owner and found of LUMA - Luxury Matchmaking. "You can combat the difficulty in meeting new potential love interests by joining a dating app or dating service that caters to people in your age bracket. You can also opt for a matchmaking service to save time and leave it to a professional with experience to find someone that will be most suitable for you."
Just make sure you sign up for the right sites.
"Sign up to the right dating site; there are plenty to choose from, but some cater to a younger audience where mature women might find it harder to actually find a date," says Sonya, a relationship expert and owner of Her Aspiration, who has clients over 50. "OurTime, for example, could be an ideal dating site for women over 50 that I often recommend to my clients."
4. Don't doubt the dating pool.
"Don't get caught up thinking there are 'no good ones left,'" Smith says. "There are plenty."
Don't give up.
"Most importantly, never consider yourself too old for dating — every woman has the right to love and to be loved, and just because you're over 50 shouldn't discourage you," Sonya adds.
5. Do look for companionship first.
"Rather than looking for a potential husband, seek companionship, seek companionship first and go with the flow," Porter says. "Find someone you like hanging out with, going to dinner or the movies with. Someone to discuss books and music with or to cook with. Women who might have spent a lifetime as 'Mrs. Somebody' may feel isolated and alone and think they need to marry again. But a consistent partner to share your life with is equally satisfying."
Finding a partner to offer you companionship is key.
"Let us be honest, at 50 our bodies might not look as tight as it used to be — you need to offer and seek more than that," says Davis. "Of course, you want to find the person you are looking to spend your days with attractive but you also want to make sure they make a great companion and that your personalities and characteristics complement one another. Focus on finding someone you want to spend time with and someone that makes you smile, not just someone to show off to your friends and family."
And you don't have to be so serious about it.
"Just because you are 50 doesn’t mean anything," says Michele Smith of M Communications, Inc. "Don't be so 'mature' and serious; make your first priority to have fun!" Smith says.
The important thing is to enjoy yourself.
Whatever the case, take it slow.
"Take it slow," Sonya says. "Don't fall easily, as mature guys aren't necessarily looking for long-term relationships."
6. Don't bring up the past.
"It is always great to self-reflect, learn from your mistakes, and grow as a person," says Davis. "So don't compare your current date to your ex or complain about how your ex did you wrong. Try not to drag baggage from past relationships into your new experience so cut away the baggage and start afresh!"
7. Do conjure your sensual and erotic spirit.
"Boomer women like me may feel as though those days of garter belts, pencil skirts and tight sweaters, when women knew a lot more about seduction, are long gone," says Porter. "But you’re never too old to light some candles and take time to re-discover your sexiness. I suggest putting on a pair of stilettoes and Marvin Gaye, then practicing your strut. Slip into that expensive lingerie you’ve been saving wrapped in tissue paper in your top drawer. Try those yoni eggs you’ve heard about. Or soak in a hot bubble bath while reading erotic short stories or reminiscing about when sensuality meant a light touch of fingertips or soft kisses grazing erogenous zones, and of course, slow dancing, belly-to-belly."
8. Don't involve people in your life too soon.
"You want to be certain of if you are willing to go the distance with someone before you start introducing them to your family and friends," Davis says. "If you introduce too soon, this could put unnecessary pressure on you to make something work that might not be meant for you. Get to know the person well and figure out for yourself if you see the relationship lasting and with time they can meet your loved ones."
9. Do keep confident and honest.
"Remember you are better at dating than you think!" Smith says. "Dating is just meeting people."
Another way to feel confident is through dress.
"Dress and adorn your body in ways that feel beautiful and sexy to you," Smith says.
After all, confidence in you gives other people confidence in you.
"Have confidence in what you have to offer — it's very easy to compare yourself to other single women, especially younger women, but don't spend too much time doing that," says Jennifer Greene, a relationship coach. "There are a lot of men out there that highly value women who have a little bit more experience, maturity and confidence. Use that to your advantage. Don't be shy about your intentions, and don't be afraid to make the first move on a guy you might be interested in."
Being honest with yourself can also boost your confidence.
"At this point in the dating game, you are too mature to bother with trying to impress someone by being ingenuine," Davis says."Yes, you want to put your best foot forward, but your true best foot forward. Be honest with who you are and what you are looking for. You want to attract someone that matches your personality and has the same values, being honest will help you get to that person faster."
10. Don't compare yourself to others.
"Don't try to compete with the 20-year-olds," says Greene. "It can be very easy to fall into the trap of trying to compete with the 25-year-olds for attention. Don't fall into that trap! You have a lot to offer a man but guys your age who are chasing much younger women are often looking for something a bit different. Instead, focus on what you have to bring to the table and skip the guys just looking for empty-headed arm candy, unless that's what you want to be!"
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.