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Maybe you made a New Year's resolution, or had a lonely Valentine's Day, or watched "The Golden Bachelor," and you find yourself contemplating dating again.

At age 50-plus, navigating the dating world and looking for love is very different from dating in your 20s and 30s. But dating isn't just for the young.

While the dating scene has changed significantly over the years, some aspects of romance remain the same whether you meet at a pub or through a website.

And popular television shows like "The Golden Bachelor," which featured 64-year-old Minneapolis fitness instructor Leslie Fhima, help remove some of the stigma and myths about dating as an older adult.

In fact, Jolene Beaton, a matchmaker for It's Just Lunch, thinks dating improves with age.

"More and more people have started to have the confidence to be out dating and find love again," said Beaton, who added that most of her clients are age 50-plus. "People get more comfortable in their own skin, and they have more capacity and resources. There's this thing called ego integrity — it's achieved around age 65 — when we accept our life as it is. It's when people really start letting go of judgment."

A recent Match report found that singles 50-plus are happier and more eager to date than younger adults.

Dating experts say there are plenty of reasons for 50-plus singles to be optimistic. Research shows that social relationships can improve cognitive and overall health.

And there are plenty of fish in the sea. About 35% of Americans age 55-64 and 36% of those 65-74 are single, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Family and his Minnesota ties are important to entrepreneur Marc Kline. Dating, he said, can get "complicated."
Family and his Minnesota ties are important to entrepreneur Marc Kline. Dating, he said, can get "complicated."

Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune

Know yourself

Re-entering the dating world can feel overwhelming, but it also can be fun.

One of the first steps, dating experts advise, is to take time to think about what kind of relationship you're ready for and what you want a courtship to look like. Do you want to navigate an ex-wife or teenage children?

"The 50-plus crowd usually has some experience; they've had long-term relationships or marriages," said Minneapolis relationship coach Alex Merritt. "Their outlook on life is a lot less fairy-tale-ish."

While that may mean they usually know what they want, she said, they also may be less willing to compromise, perhaps less willing to move or adjust established routines.

For entrepreneur Marc Kline, a divorced 62-year-old who lives in Minnetonka, his family and keeping ties in his birth state of Minnesota are important to him.

"I have roots here. I imagine keeping a strong foothold here," he said. "That can be a deal breaker right out of the shoot. It's not the Brady Bunch. It can get complicated."

Recent reports by online dating giants Match and eharmony show that 50-plus singles want it all —sexual attraction, a serious relationship, friendship and companionship.

"There's been a shift overall with people looking for significance in their relations, emotional intelligence, serious relationships," and less focus on appearances, said Rachel DeAlto, chief connection officer for Match Group, which operates 12 dating platforms, including OkCupid, OurTime and Tinder. The Match website says 37% of members are 50-plus.

Beaton agreed. Singles age 50-65 are "more focused on health and longevity," she said. "From 65-75, they're more focused on the quality of life, the conversations, the positivity; they don't want to get bored. Lifestyle choices are really big after 65."

Dwane Martin of St. Paul has been dating for five years since he divorced after 15 years of marriage. He tells his dates the first time they go out that he is interested in remarrying.

Before meeting in person, he usually asks: "What is your long-term relationship goal?" said the 62-year-old church deacon. "It's really about connection."

Dwane Martin, a church deacon, has been dating for more than five years after being married for 15. He's upfront about his relationship goals: He wants to remarry.
Dwane Martin, a church deacon, has been dating for more than five years after being married for 15. He's upfront about his relationship goals: He wants to remarry.

Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune

Go digital

If you haven't dated in a while, one of the biggest changes is that technology has transformed how people meet and find love. It can be a culture shock, but it's a legitimate dating avenue.

Thirty percent of U.S. adults have used a dating site or app, according to a Pew Research report. More than half report a positive online dating experience, and 42% say it's made the search for a long-term partner easier.

Online sites and apps can be a convenient and quick way to meet a lot of people in a short time while filtering for criteria like age and location. But many older singles try online dating only after other methods fail, said Merritt, who has a mechanical engineering degree and calls herself the "Love Engineer."

While Match and eharmony are the two most popular dating sites for 50-plus singles, there's a platform for just about everyone. OurTime and SilverSingles are for 50-plus singles only. Others cater to certain religious groups, cat lovers, tall people and even Star Trek fans. Some, such as eharmony, Hinge, OkCupid and SilverSingles, require singles to take a personality or compatibility quiz to help make better matches.

Most dating sites and apps offer free basic membership, but you may have to pay for profile upgrades, communication tools and other features starting at less than $10 a month to about $35 a month. It's worth checking out the various features to figure out which platform is right for you and whether it's worth paying.

Singles are even starting to use artificial intelligence (AI) to help them write first messages or their profiles, according to Match's 2023 Singles in America report released last month. Fourteen percent of online daters have used AI for dating, and of that group, about a third say it has helped them find better matches and find them faster.

Meet in person

But technology and dating aren't a match for everyone.

Some older singles dive into online dating but become frustrated by swiping (when an app requires swiping right or left to like or dismiss someone's profile) and messaging but never going on a date, experts said.

The Match 2023 report found that nearly half of all singles say it's a deal-breaker if someone uses AI to alter a photograph and nearly 40% say the same about using AI in conversations.

Perhaps that's why old-fashioned matchmaking — whether you pay for a professional service or mine your social network — still exists.

Experts stress that trying different dating methods may glean the biggest pool of potential partners. They say singles often overlook social groups, clubs and events as ways to meet people.

Kline, who divorced in 2005 after being married for 18 years to his college sweetheart, has tried dating platforms like Bumble and Match but now uses the It's Just Lunch matchmaking service.

"I'm looking for love," he said. "Everybody has their true north. It doesn't take too terribly long to figure out if their true north aligns with your true north."

Keep an open mind

Whether you meet someone online or at Target, it still takes time and effort to make a relationship work, experts say. They encourage going on a first date with someone who isn't "your type," or a second date even if the first one didn't produce fireworks.

"We often write people off for pretty insignificant reasons, such as they wore a shirt you didn't like or they had something in their teeth," said DeAlto, who has a master's degree in psychology and has appeared as an expert on Lifetime's "Married at First Sight" TV show. "Give people a chance."

Jim Hennen, 84, never though he'd find love again after his wife died five years ago. But soon after moving into Hayden Grove Senior Living independent living community in St. Anthony last April, he met a 79-year-old widow five doors down from his apartment. They've been "glued to each other" ever since, even though they live separately and remain unmarried, he said.

"I don't have a very good memory and she doesn't have a very good memory, so every day is a surprise," Hennen said of his partner, who wished to remain unnamed. "She's a good companion. We're very happy."

The experience that comes with age means many older adults are willing to give people — and romance — a second chance, experts say.

"We all want love," Merritt said. "It's a human need. There's not an age factor to it."