Guest blogger Laura Stassi, host of public radio podcast Dating While Gray, on what romance can look like in your senior years.

I’d heard about this thing called online dating. To me, though, it seemed reckless — like walking into a very loud and wild singles’ bar in a strange neighborhood. Was this seriously the way older people were finding long-lasting love? Was it the only way?

As a writer who’s tackled a lot of big research projects, I decided to use my professional skills for my personal life. I started investigating. I sought out men and women 50 and older who had been divorced, widowed or never married. I asked them what they were doing to find romantic love at this stage of their life, and if they’d been successful. 

The first person I interviewed, Francine, is an attorney in Nashville. After marrying and divorcing three times by the time she turned 50, she swore she’d never get married again. Several years later, she randomly met a friend of a friend while vacationing in Florida. At 67, Francine walked down the aisle for a fourth time. Never say never. (Her new husband, by the way, had been married and divorced twice before and is almost a decade younger than her.)

I found couples who’d met online, couples who’d been set up by friends, couples who’d reconnected with childhood friends or high school or college sweethearts.

I think my favorite stories were about people who met serendipitously — because if it can happen to them, if can happen to anyone! Widower Blair, for example, was on his apartment building’s shuttle bus to the grocery store when his neighbor Whitney hopped aboard. They formed a quick friendship that eventually developed into something more after Whitney’s long-distance relationship fell apart. Now they’re married!

Love in the later years may come with some complications. That’s because many older people are bringing to the table personal histories of children, careers and financial entanglements. So I also started interviewing dating and relationship coaches, financial planners and other experts. I asked them for advice and information not only about finding love, but keeping it.

I’ve learned that some couples decide commitment doesn’t necessarily mean getting married. Or that getting married doesn’t necessarily mean living together full time. Or that settling on just one partner doesn’t appeal to them.

A few more facts I’ve uncovered:

  • Older women outnumber older men regardless of marital status. But for older women seeking older men, this doesn’t mean that “all the good ones are taken.”
  • Online dating may be the good, the bad and the ugly, but it can also be exciting and even rewarding. And sometimes it works! Some research suggests that online dating is the number-one way straight and LGBT couples of all ages meet. But online dating isn’t the only way to meet a new romantic partner.
  • We’re never too old for companionship or for emotional and sexual intimacy. And if you decide to look for it, the opportunities are there.

To hear more from Laura, check out our webinar on Finding Love Later in Life

Photo by Jenifer Morris Photography

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