Navigating your midlife dating options

In case you haven’t noticed the trend yourself -whether it’s happening with your friends, colleagues, or in your own relationship- it seems that in recent years, the promise of “‘Till death do us part” is often likely to expire when couples reach their fifties and sixties. “Divorce is becoming an increasing problem for the 50- and 60-year-old set,” reported Psychology Today last year, citing new data from the U.S. Census Survey. Nobody seems to know the exact reasons behind this, but we’ll leave that to the psychologists and surveyors. After all, we know (despite whatever our own marital status may be) that the reasons for divorce are myriad and depend on the individuals in question. A more immediate concern, especially if you find yourself single and over fifty, is what the dating scene is like for your age group.

Midlife dating can be a daring adventure

There are discernible trends when it comes to dating in mid-life. Knowing them may allow you to sidestep the pitfalls (or at least some of them!) and find a more direct route to a successful relationship.

Your ex, part two
If you’re divorced, or just out of a relationship, it’s natural to try and find a comfort zone when it comes to your next partner. But “comfort” doesn’t always equal “happiness.” If you broke up with your previous mate because he was, say, controlling and humorless, be careful that you don’t inadvertently seek out someone with the exact same qualities. “Take a look at all the men you’ve dated and been in relationships with, along with why you were attracted to them and why you broke up in each case,” advises Lisa Copeland in an April 2014 piece for the Huffington Post. “Doing this little exercise will help you find the clues for who is and isn’t your best type when it comes to finding the right man to share your life with.” Although it might seem counterintuitive, in this case stepping outside of what feels comfortable may be key in meeting your Mr. Right.

Also Read: Tying the Knot At 50

Midlife dating can be fun if you know what your options areFraud alert
Okay, maybe it’s not the type of fraud that’s punishable by law, but perhaps it should be! Singles in their fifties report this common scenario: the person they connected with on a dating site looks nothing like the photo he or she posted online when it comes to an actual meeting, and they’ve apparently shaved a few, or many, years off their supposed age, too. “For every online dating success story, there are hundreds of failures: misleading (or outright fraudulent) profiles, years-old photos (at 50, that makes a real difference),” laments Ronni Berke of CNN.

If you’re exploring online dating, you can do your part to keep things real by posting a current photo and being upfront about your age, or at least by stating a ballpark age range or cultivating a sense of humor about it–think something like “forever young” or “old soul, young at heart.”

Don’t listen to the bad hype
When it comes to the likelihood of finding romance later in life, you’ve probably heard loads of unflattering comparisons. You may recall a 1980’s-era Newsweek article -the negativity of which is still felt today- that claimed women over forty were more likely to be killed by a terrorist than to remarry. “The story and its claims were found to be completely flawed and Newsweek, after the twentieth anniversary of the piece, even retracted it,” notes online relationship site YourTango. “Nonetheless, the image of the middle-aged, unloved divorcee continues to persist and seemingly legitimate publications continue to rehash it.” If you’re ready to be out there and dating, don’t be discouraged by statistics or data. Just enjoy being your best self and taking what you’ve learned throughout your life and applying it to meeting a new mate. And keep in mind, whatever the stats may be about remarrying, you’re at a stage of your life where your goals don’t have to be compared with those of someone in their twenties. Maybe marriage, per se, isn’t the cards for you, but a successful, fulfilling, long-term relationship is.

Also Read: 7 Lifelong Tips to Be Happy In Midlife

Embrace the online options
If you’re feeling funny about venturing online, rest assured that many have found success by signing up with a reputable site. And there’s an almost equal number of men and women online looking for love, according to StatisticBrain. In addition, you’ll be in good company, age-wise: Huffington Post reports that “those ages 50 and older are one of the fastest growing segments among [eHarmony’s] more than 33 million users worldwide,” and the trend is similar on Match.com: “25 percent of its members are between 50 and 65. Boomers on Match.com have grown 89 percent in the last five years.” In other words, there are like-minded singles in your age group online. While you may meet some Mr. Wrongs as you embark on your search, dating missteps are famously a part of anyone’s relationship timeline, whatever their age. Be positive; use what you’ve learned; and happy hunting!

Luisa Colón

Luisa Colón is a writer based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including the New York Times, New York Magazine, Glamour, Family Circle, Latina, BuzzFeed, and many more.