Dating for Boomers With Baggage

Finding love can be tricky when you are a person of a certain age, but it’s worth the work. Here’s what’s true and false about dating after 50.

Sixty-four-year-old Barbara Pelman of Victoria hasn’t dated a whole lot since her 20-year marriage ended in 2000. But you have to give the girl credit for trying. It’s not her fault that the guys she’s gone out with haven’t exactly been soulmates. There was the man who was obviously hung up on his ex-wife. Then there was the guy who couldn’t commit. And we won’t even talk about the married man in search of a little 60-something sugar on the side. “Most people dating after 50 come with broken hearts and baggage,” Pelman observes. “You have to do some very quick automatic screening.”

Broken hearts and baggage are just a couple of the differences between dating now and dating in the good old days. Back in your 20s, life was a highway. Your body was buff, and your skin was smooth. You still got carded at clubs, and the only person waiting up for you at home was a roommate hoping to hear all the juicy details about your evening.

Now that you’re over 50, though, it’s a whole new game. Whether you’re divorced, widowed or never married, you’re still looking for Mr. or Ms. Right (or even just their cousin, the lesser-known All Right). You no longer have a roommate waiting at home but you quite possibly have boomerang kids – who, incidentally, would pay good money not to hear the juicy details.

And that buff bod? Let’s just say that, two caesareans, one knee surgery and more than a few wrinkles later and you’re counting on your sparkling personality to make up for any physical shortcomings.

Which brings up a few questions. Are looks really such a big deal anymore? Or will your older dates be more forgiving of that pot-belly and balding pate? Read on for more on this and seven other true-or-false notions about dating after 50.

1. When it comes to a few good men (or women), they’re just simply AWOL in this age group.

FALSE, FALSE, FALSE. “A lot more people are getting divorced later in life, and it is widening the pool,” says Josey Vogels, Canada’s most widely read sex and relationships columnist. Toronto writer Julia Moulden, 51, found corresponding stats while researching her new book about the baby boom generation, We Are the New Radicals (McGraw Hill, 2008). “Almost a third of [boomers] are single. There are 30 million of us in North America. There are a whole lot of us wandering around!” But Moulden firmly believes it’s a matter of putting yourself out there. Herself single and looking, she attends every social event she’s invited to. “It’s a lot of work. It takes a lot of time,” she says. “But because it is so important [to me], I will invest time in it.”

Vogels points out that there may not be as many natural opportunities for meeting mates compared to younger years spent attending school or hopping bars. But, she says, people can meet anywhere. “It’s less important where than it is being open to people. People respond to an open face and an open smile.” She adds that retirement is a great time to re-engage in hobbies or join clubs of like-minded people. “Follow your passions. Take some risks!”