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Picture the scene: I am a newly mature single sitting alone at a table for two, wearing smart casual gear which I hope looks suitable, I am waiting for my blind date, Jackie, to appear. To look my best, I am not wearing my glasses, which means that people entering the room are blurs to me. She looked good in the picture she sent me, but how long ago was that? A rather bulky female blur comes in, and I half rise, then sit back in relief. Now a slim and rather sexy female blur glides in, and I stand up. I’ve got it right – it is Jackie. As she gets closer, I realise she looks pretty and empathic – what a relief!
The new world of mature singles dating
Some years before this scene, I recall one of the single guys in my men’s group telling me how he’d met this woman through a soulmates ad, and had a blind date with her. It seemed scary and artificial to me, and I declared I’d never do it. In fact after my long first marriage ended, I had numerous blind dates through soulmates ads, and found two good relationships through them.
If you’ve been many years in one relationship, it’s a strange new world to meet as a senior single. This is one of the biggest re-inventions you may need to take on. Ideally, before you plunge into dating, you need to sort yourself out more basically. This means clearing self-destructive habits like depression, anger, addiction, and learning better communication skills.
Communication skills may sound a long way from romance and dating, but it’s not. As mature singles, we can’t expect sexual chemistry to blow us away and weld us together. Empathy is what you need now! This requires skills in truly listening to your date, maybe reflecting back what you’ve heard, also voicing your own feelings appropriately, and finding the common ground. You’ve probably both been hurt before, so feeling safe, heard, respected matter a lot.
Dating advice to get you started
Make the best of yourself
If you’ve been living alone as a senior single, or in a long-term relationship, you may be used to scruffiness. If you’re dating, you will need smart, freshly washed clothes, a good haircut, and fresh breath: this assumes you want to succeed, and are not hooked on being rejected. If you want to hear more advice, my latest book, Not Fade Away, explores positive ways to face ageing and the dating scene from my own personal experience.
Don’t let your Story take over
Most of us have a Story, dating from childhood, which sets a pattern for our relationships as adults. If you felt abandoned or rejected, idolised or isolated, guess what might come up on a blind date? My book shows you how to understand your Story, and replace it with a positive one.
Find your own way
Blind dates and soulmates ads can be stressful, and they don’t suit everyone. Maybe you already know someone you could explore connection with? Or think about places to meet people: I know men who’ve joined yoga classes and women who’ve signed up for car maintenance, with a double agenda!
Screen before you date
Every blind date is a big emotional and time investment. Do as much screening as you can before meeting up, to improve your chances of success. Know the kind of partner you are looking for, and check things out by phone or email. Understand what the other person wants, and if you’re likely to suit each other. Ask for a picture, and send yours. Learn what matters most to you, and the questions that can explore this.
Enjoy the journey, not the outcome
Blind dates are nerve-wracking: you are both accepting or rejecting each other, and it probably happens within the first minute. I can recall a couple of blind dates with truly gorgeous women, who ticked all my boxes, but were clearly not interested. There is a gift in all this, learning to value yourself even when she turns you down. I tried to enjoy the conversations, even when they were going nowhere.
Blind dates are not therapy sessions
If you’re still hurting from a major breakup, this nice person across the table may seem ideal to pour out your troubles to. Don’t! Start with easy topics, go gradually deeper if it suits both of you. Keep it a dialogue: ask plenty of questions, talk about yourself, but not for too long. Talk about positives: what you enjoy, what you are looking for and offer in a mature relationship.
Happiness is wanting what you get
You may be yearning for another settled, long-term relationship, or desperate to avoid commitment. Part of being a senior single is staying open to what’s possible, here and now, learning to embrace surprises and be gracefully flexible.
Value what you offer
You may worry about your looks, but don’t be hard on yourself. You are not in your twenties, that’s just a fact. Fortunately, most mature people value other qualities more than looks. If you offer emotional competence, empathy and dependability, you are a good prospect!