For some divorced or widowed older adults, the past three months have been especially trying. Beginning with Thanksgiving and ending with Valentine's Day, the season's parade of holidays that emphasize togetherness can sometimes be gloomy to those who are single. While many are happy with their lives, some may want to find a companion, friend, lover or spouse. Welcome back to the dating life. Just don't expect immediate results.
"It takes a lot of shopping," says Nancy Davidoff Kelton, a dating expert at AARP Dating (aarp.org/dating). Kelton offers advice and support to those returning to dating and those discouraged in their quest. The website includes a "Dating Boot Camp" for those re-enlisting in the dating scene after a long hiatus. The articles and the features on the site are free to AARP members and nonmembers.
AARP is also a partner in a separate paid subscription online dating service where users upload profiles and chat with potential dates. The most popular subscription plan is for six months ($35.97 for AARP members, $71.94 for nonmembers). Sami Hassanyeh, AARP's senior vice president for digital strategy and operations, wouldn't disclose the number of dating-service subscribers, but said results have exceeded AARP's expectations. The dating service can be accessed from the AARP Dating page.
Kelton can testify to the success of online dating. "I met my husband online," she says. Kelton, who was divorced and in her mid-30s, didn't want to get remarried until her daughter was grown. "When my daughter got engaged, I got right online," she says. She soon found a man, and three years ago, when Kelton was 60, the two got married.
Kelton acknowledges that not everyone who is single has the desire to date. Many boomers and seniors have full lives with children, grandchildren and their own activities to keep them fulfilled. They cherish their independence and enjoy days of "me" time.
For those who want to date but would rather not do it online, the old strategies still work. Kelton says don't be shy to ask friends to recommend eligible dating partners. And simply getting out by doing volunteer work or taking courses in subjects that interest you often turn up like-minded individuals in similar circumstances. Even if you don't find a winner, it's a no-lose situation, Kelton says. "If you don't meet somebody, you're happy and doing something you like."