Finding Love and Companionship
Andy Precop first met Muriel, his future wife, under the most unusual of circumstances in 2006. Then 76, Andy was at the hospital three times a week to care for his wife of that time during her dialysis treatment. At the same, Muriel, a 74-year-old widow, was also undergoing dialysis.
“I became the tea boy,” Andy says with a laugh. “I made tea for my wife and eventually made tea for Muriel. I got the impression she liked how I made tea. After my wife passed away, I continued to visit the hospital and talk to Muriel. Eventually, I asked her out and it was the beginning of an old-age friendship.”
The couple married on December 18, 2010 and currently resides in Kensington Court, an independent retirement community in Windsor, Ontario.
“If I had to do it all over again, I would do it twice,” Andy says. “To find someone after losing a partner, it’s a very good life.”
Like Andy and Muriel, more single seniors than ever before are seeking relationships today. While new and exciting, the dating world later in life can be a strange and intimidating territory.
Kathy Damer is the editor and creator of www.senior-dating.org, a site dedicated to providing advice and support for seniors in search of love and companionship. There can be many natural concerns about dating, especially following the death of a spouse or a divorce later in life, Damer explains. She urges seniors to approach dating “with positivity and confidence and a sense of fun.”
“Remember to take it slow and be cautious,” Damer says. “It’s easy to fall head-over-heels for someone once those romantic feelings are introduced again – especially if they haven’t been involved in a relationship for a long time. The best approach is that it is fun and companionship, and if something more develops then let it grow over time.”
How to start dating again
The dating world has changed dramatically in recent years with the rise in popularity of online dating sites, some of which cater exclusively to the senior population.
Damer recommends three sites, eHarmony (www.eharmony.com), Silver Singles (www.silversingles.com) and Senior Friend Finder (www.seniorfriendfinder.com). Signing up for a free trial is a great way to determine which site you prefer.
With most sites, users build a profile with information about themselves and connect with other users via direct messaging, email, or live chat to learn more about one another and, if they so choose, arrange a meeting in person.
“Essentially, you don’t have to go out and spend a fortune on a new outfit or dinner to see if you like someone,” Damer says. “The sites make your prospective companions available to you, and then you can begin chatting online to see if there are common interests that may provide the foundation for a good companionship before the actual dating begins. Some people just enjoy the fun of chatting with people without ever meeting them.”
If you are not comfortable using a computer or do not have internet access, you can find single seniors in other ways. Consider joining a group or club that participates in activities you enjoy, such as a walking group, a senior center, a painting class or choral group.
Chances are there are others looking for companionship within these groups. First date suggestions
What should I wear? What will we do? What will we talk about?
First dates can no doubt be taxing, but they can also be very enjoyable. Damer suggests being relaxed, not over or under dressed, and meeting in a setting that is conducive to getting to know your date.
Conversation should be kept light, avoiding hot-button topics like politics or religion, which can be discussed during a later date once rapport is established. Also, Damer encourages daters to shy away from talking too much about divorce, loss of a spouse or any health problems. Consider that smoking may also be a turn-off for your date.
“All of these things can have a big impact on how you are perceived,” Damer says.
“You want to make a good impression, especially if you really like the person you are out with.”
Dates should be kept to a reasonable time limit. Damer suggests no more than two hours.
“As much as you may want to impress your date by booking theater tickets and dinner, put the theater tickets on hold for later on,” Damer says. “Give yourselves a chance to get to know each other over coffee or dinner. If things go well, then your next meeting will be something you are both looking forward to.”
Finally, don’t agree to anything that is too far out of your comfort zone, such as a picnic during allergy season or a long walk if you suffer from arthritis. Only do things that make you feel comfortable and go to places that put you at ease.
Consider your family
One of the biggest challenges seniors face when dating is the attitude of their children, Damer said. While some adult children are open to their parent dating again, others may feel threatened or disrespected.
“Some feel that one parent dating again is a dishonor to the deceased parent,” Damer says. “Some also feel that they will be replaced by a significant other and worry about how it may affect their inheritance. This can be a real barrier for seniors who want to meet someone.”
Damer recommends seniors discuss these issues with their children before dating and provide any assurances they need, including introducing them to anyone who is a potential companion.
Avoid becoming a victim
The arrival of online dating has certainly revolutionized the way people connect. But it also comes with a caution – users beware. The Better Business Bureau ranked online dating scams No. 3 in the Top 10 Scams of 2011.
There are simple guidelines you can follow to protect yourself.
- Never give out personal information like your phone number or address until you are quite confident about the legitimacy of the person you are communicating with.
- Never give out money or banking details and do not discuss your net worth, especially if you live in an expensive home or drive an expensive car.
- Meet in a neutral place and make sure you alert someone of where you will be going and who you are meeting. Better yet, arrange to be dropped off and picked up by a friend and introduce the friend to your date.
Seniors taking more traditional routes of dating still must be wary of scams and con-artists. Be sure not give into requests for money, keep the pace of the relationship slow and steady, and be cautious of those who seem overly eager for marriage.
For the most updated information on dating scams, visit www.romancescams.org. Using these tips and suggestions will ensure you enjoy a fulfilling and enriching dating experience.