Single people over 50, I’m not here to tell you that in order to survive and thrive being single, you must love yourself first, learn to be alone, practice gratitude, or any of the usual dating platitudes you’ve heard a million times (even though they’re all true and good advice).
You’re of a certain age and know all this, and if you’ve been single long enough, you’re already well versed. Every dating coach’s mantra is be comfortable in your skin and good on your own—it’s what being an empowered single is all about. But after 50, even starting at 40, you guys need to step it up!
These days, surviving single life is less about mastering solitude and doing the inner work, and more about getting out of the damn house!
Between the pandemic, smart phones, laziness, and fewer social outlets, our worlds have gotten smaller and more isolated. This means we must get resourceful, shake off complacency, and kickstart ourselves into action.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, we have an epidemic of loneliness. It’s bad for singles in general, but for people in midlife, it’s a particular concern. A 2021 Harvard survey discovered that nearly 40% of Americans reported feeling lonely “frequently” or “almost all the time or all the time.” A lot of my coaching clients are over 50, so I can tell you the struggle is real.
My one tip to survive and thrive being single is MAKE AND MAINTAIN MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS, but there are three ways to do it:
- Connect with and cultivate your circle of friends, community, family, and social network. In other words, find your people. Lean on them, call on them, seek out their company and companionship. Reach out to old pals and make new ones. Stay in their loop and keep them in yours. There are many reasons having to do with mental health, aging, and wellbeing, that support the benefits of face-to-face, in-person interaction. As the old Playtex bra commercials used to say: “Support can be beautiful,” so find it where you can.
- Identify the things that bring you joy, purpose and meaning. Got any hobbies or interests? Any skills you’d like to learn, sports you’d like to take up, cultural activities you’d like to participate in? There are faith-based groups, local classes, volunteer opportunities, and Meetups for just about everything, including art, music, social activism, pickleball, hiking, yoga, wine tasting, etc., so no excuses! And don’t forget dog parks, home improvement stores, driving ranges, and jury duty as opportunities to meet and greet.
- Start flirting, or at least, refresh your memory. Put your phone down, take out your ear buds, look up, catch someone’s eye and say hello. Start interacting IRL without the help of a screen or an algorithm before you forget how!
Speaking to the men here: Approaching a woman can be tricky these days–blame feminism, MeToo, fear of rejection, etc.–so make sure you approach in a respectful, non-threatening way. Start with a nice word or compliment, and if she looks away or says no thanks, believe her and move on. Always be mindful of signals and signs.
Newsflash for the ladies: Dating power dynamics have shifted, so it’s perfectly acceptable for women to make the first move now. Strike up a mini conversation, ask a question or favor, say good morning, commiserate about something, share a laugh. All of these are welcomed ice breakers that give men (and introverts and shy people) a safe path. Plus, people appreciate being seen, heard, and acknowledged. There’s nothing sadder than feeling invisible, so think of it as doing your small part for humanity.
Because dating the old-fashioned way is so ridiculously fraught, let’s make it a little easier. Meet each other halfway. Be gracious. Show interest. Step up. Be assertive and receptive. Check your fear at the door. If we stop engaging with each other, nobody will survive and thrive in the dating world, much less in the world in general. Change starts with you, so be the change you want to see in the world.
As I said earlier, the good news for midlifers is that we’re not new at this. We’re a generation that thankfully still knows how to look people in the eye and speak. We’ve socialized and flirted once before, and can do it again. All it takes is a little human contact.
This is how change happens: One gesture, one person, one moment at a time. Now get out of the house and start connecting!
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If you’re looking for more actionable dating advice and inspiration like this (with some juicy dating stories, true confessions, and tough love thrown in), check out my self-help memoir, “Done Being Single: A Late Bloomer’s Guide to Love,” now available on Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
If you need more hands-on dating help, apply for a free 45-minute discovery session with me here.
For more wit and wisdom, follow me @trevabme.