By Rachel Lankester, Author, Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause and Beyond
It can be really hard getting divorced. None of us goes into marriage expecting to get divorced and even the best, most civilized divorce can be a difficult time in your life. You may come out of it thinking you never want to have a relationship ever again. Or you may be desperate to connect with somebody new after feeling pain for so long.
There’s a reason why many people say never again once they’ve been divorced. But I am living proof that it’s possible to date after divorce and find a fulfilling relationship in later life. I even got married again! We may say once bitten, twice shy. But then again, there’s also the triumph of hope over experience!
If you’re going for the hope option, read on!
My top 40 tips for successful dating in your 50s after divorce.
1. Believe that you’re never too old and it’s never too late – getting older is a privilege and you’re no less valuable and attractive as an older person than you were as a younger person. So embrace who you are and believe that anything is possible.
2. Take your time – don’t go rushing into a new relationship when you’ve just finished another one. Even if your previous relationship was long dead. Take time to grieve your old relationship. It all needs to be processed so you can move on. It also pays to take time to work out what you really want next.
3. Put yourself first – you may have spent many years putting everybody else first. That’s highly likely by the time you’ve reached your 50s, especially if you’re a woman. It’s time to start prioritizing yourself and not everybody else first.
4. Work out who you are now – in your 50s you’re likely to be very different to who you were once. Especially if you’re a woman and you’ve already gone through menopause. You are a very different woman post menopause. Society tells us that difference is something negative, but I argue that it’s incredibly positive. But you do need to work out who you are now. Otherwise you may end up revisiting old mistakes in a new relationship.
5. Accept that the dating scene may be very different now – you are different and whoever you date will be very different potentially to you dated in the past. Don’t try and recreate dating experiences that you had in your youth. It’s bound to be different so just accept that.
6. Be open to whoever might cross your path – don’t automatically just go for somebody who appears to be the opposite of your former partner, they may not be underneath! Also don’t go for what you always go for, as that will necessarily limit the pond from which you can fish. Stay open to whoever might play an important role in your life going forward.
7. Take some time to work out who you would like in your life – do they need to share your interests? Are you looking for a committed relationship or a casual relationship? Do they need to be a certain age? Do they need to have/not have children? Would you like a partner of the same/different sex this time round? While I want you to stay open to a wide variety of people, it’s useful to work out what is and isn’t important in their profile. It will save you a lot of time in the long run.
8. Create a chuck-it list – we’ve all heard of a bucket list but sometimes a chuck it list can be really helpful. Write down what is non-negotiable for your life and anyone who shares it going forward. Things you absolutely do not want to be part of your life in the future. This could also save you a lot of time when evaluating potential future matches.
9. Develop your list of must-haves, nice-to-haves and deal breaker qualities in the right person for you – more time-saving devices when it comes to filtering potential dates. But also don’t get fixated on finding the ideal relationship – it’s unlikely to exist and some compromise will likely be required! It’s all about balance!
10. Consider a variety of ways to meet people – you may have dated exclusively off-line in the past. It’s definitely going to be more difficult to meet someone in your 50s off-line than on. So if you haven’t tried online dating, be willing to give it a go. Similarly don’t just consider online dating. You might meet someone in real life after all! Why not go on a personal development course? The more people you meet, the more likely you are to meet that special person.
11. Try online dating – it’s far more likely that you’ll find a good match by including a dating site or two in your plans, than if you just rely on meeting someone in real life. You’ll have so much more choice and possibility, as well as a far bigger dating pool. So give online dating a try and keep an open mind. Recommended dating apps/websites to try include match.com, bumble, eHarmony, Hinge, Stitch (over 50s), Ourtime (over 50s).
12. Have fun in the dating game – you don’t have to find a new person immediately – you can have lots of fun trying, even if it’s a serious relationship you’re looking for. If you’ve just come out of a difficult divorce, it’s about time you had a bit of fun. And the right mindset will boost your chances of finding a great potential partner.
13. Don’t settle for the first person who makes you feel good – unless of course they really are amazing! But take some time to assess whether they’re really as wonderful as they may at first appear. Check them out fully!
14. Believe that your baggage is a bonus – by the time we’ve reached our 50s, and are definitely older adults, we all have a lot of baggage. It’s called life experience and it makes you all the richer and more interesting to know. We’d be pretty dull without all that baggage at our age!
15. Stay in control – it’s your life and you have the right to make wrong as well as right decisions! But try not to get too carried away by new things and new people. Keep the dating on your terms. This is your new beginning.
16. Balance acting impulsively with consideration – sometimes it’s good to be impulsive and other times it’s better to have a good think before acting. By all means be adventurous, but don’t give over completely to impulse.
17. Be honest – this goes for what you say when meeting someone, as much as for what you may put in your online dating profile. It’s just not worth being dishonest. You will waste time meeting the wrong people by doing that and ultimately, you’ll probably get found out. It’s especially not worth lying about your age! Be sure that your photos are representative of how you look now, not 10 or 20 years ago! You have nothing to be ashamed of! Consider age as your superpower!
18. Don’t be too worried about the past – we all have bad things that have happened to us in the past, but that doesn’t have to define who we are now. Every day we have the chance to start with a clean slate. Who you were doesn’t have to be who you will be. Letting go of the past can be very powerful.
19. But also work on any issues you may have – it really pays to work on any unresolved issues you may have. For women, menopause is a great time to review everything, get rid of what no longer serves of us, and make the very most of what brings us joy. If we don’t deal with unresolved issues, especially ones related to previous relationships, you can bet they will come back to bite us in the bum in the future. Don’t let the past negatively impact your future relationships.
20. Don’t talk badly of your ex – it’s not a good look! Also, try not to over-analyze and don’t discuss past relationships. Save that for your best friend not a potential suitor.
21. Try not to worry too much about how you look – who you are is much more important and interesting. We all want to look our best, but don’t put unnecessary expectations on yourself.
22. Don’t wait until you’ve lost some weight/changed your hair/got a new wardrobe before you start dating – just do it now. Whoever you end up with will need to be happy with how you look every day, not just on special occasions. They’ll see you at your worst and your best. That’s not to say don’t make an effort, but don’t let fear of not being perfect stop you from getting started.
23. Try not to take rejection personally – you’d think we might have tougher skin by the time we reach our 50s but that’s not usually the case! Being rejected can hurt. But try not to let it hurt you too much. There are always plenty more fish in the sea! Pick yourself up, brush yourself down and start all over again!
24. Keep dating conversations light initially – you’ll soon know if there’s compatibility and potential for a long-term relationship. That’s one of the bonuses of being older – we don’t hang around with working people out – our gut is finely tuned! But it pays to keep things relatively relaxed at first, to avoid any potential extra hurt if things don’t work out.
25. Just move on quickly if you get ghosted – it’s sadly not uncommon these days for people to get ghosted on dating apps. This means that people just suddenly stop communicating with no explanation of why. If this happens to you, try to move on quickly and not let it get to you. There are always plenty more fish in the sea!
26. When using a dating website, try phone and then video dates for the first few times – you’ll know if you want to invest time and energy after a few calls especially being over 50! Make the most of the technology. Check out their social media profiles too!
27. When meeting people for the first time in the real world, do it in a public place – best just to be extra careful until you know your date better. If there are other people and things going on around, it’s that much easier to slip away safely too.
28. Make a first date short – if you haven’t talked much before meeting, make the date short, a drink after work or a coffee. You don’t want to get stuck having dinner with somebody you really don’t hit it off with.
29. Be alert for scams – sadly there are people in the online world who are just out to scam others. Often romance can be the pretence around which this is framed. Don’t let this put you off dating completely but do be alert for any red flags. Don’t let your heart carry you away into foolhardy behaviour! According to the FBI, 82% of romance scams are on women over 50!
30. If you have particular interests, try going on a course – you never know who you might meet there. You’ll have similar interests from the get go.
31. Try not to get worried about sex – anyone you want to have a relationship with needs to be on your wavelength when it comes to intimacy. If you feel they’re talking about it too early, they’re making impossible demands or it just doesn’t feel right then say goodbye nicely and move on. You’ll know when it feels right to take any relationship to the next stage. And don’t forget, they may be as nervous as you!
32. But do practice safe sex! – older people are the fastest growing group to catch sexually transmitted diseases. Don’t put yourself at risk! We may think it can’t happen to us, even that we’re too old to be at risk. But it can happen to anyone. Stay safe!
33. Don’t make life just about dating – discover new interests, catch up with friends, join a Meetup group, develop an exercise routine. Don’t make everything about finding a new partner, as this may make you overly needy and potentially quite vulnerable to rejection. You may meet a special person by getting out and about too.
34. Don’t let loneliness drive your dating – again, you will come across as needy and are more likely to make bad decisions. Find other ways to reduce your loneliness, and create your own full and purposeful life.
35. Tell your close friends you’re dating and ask them if they know anybody suitable – there’s a reason why matchmaking can be really successful in some cultures. Sometimes other people know who will suit us, better than we may. So be open to friends’ advice, especially if they think someone might be a suitable match. Make the most, also, of your support system.
36. Don’t rush to introduce a date to family – it’s worth waiting to be really sure of a connection before you introduce anyone to family, especially children. Take your time. You may be older but that doesn’t mean you have to rush!
37. There are no rules about who needs to call whom for a second date – you don’t need to sit waiting for a call if you want to progress things. Just pick up the phone and call. The worst that can happen is they say no.
38. Don’t close yourself off to people of a particular age group – we can all be guilty of ascribing certain characteristics to people of a certain age group. In fact, we get more diverse the older we get rather than less so. You might meet someone older than you, who has a very open-minded and energetic approach to life. And if you set a specific age barrier to your potential dates, you might miss out on them. (I nearly did!)
39. Smile and laugh a lot – there’s nothing better than being with someone who smiles and laughs a lot – so long as that’s genuine!
40. Be ready and willing to step outside your comfort zone – that’s where the magic happens!
I hope you’ve found my top tips for dating in your 50s after divorce useful and inspiring. Stay open to possibility and remember that it’s never too late to find happiness. Stay safe and have fun!
Rachel Lankester is the founder of Magnificent Midlife, author, host of the Magnificent Midlife Podcast, a midlife mentor and editor of the Mutton Club online magazine. After an initially devastating early menopause at 41, she dedicated herself to helping women vibrantly transition through the sometimes messy middle of life, helping them cope better with menopause and ageing in general, and create magnificent next chapters. She’s been featured in/on BBC Woman’s Hour, iNews, The Sunday Express, The Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, The Age Buster, Woman’s Weekly, Prima Magazine, eShe, Tatler HK and Woman’s Own amongst others. She believes we just get better with age. Get her book Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause and Beyond.
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Last Updated on July 14, 2023 by Editorial Staff