When it comes to dating, by now you’re probably thinking been there, tried that. Want to put a little zip back in your love life? Take a cue from the younger generation and try some of these ways to keep dating feeling fresh, fun and exciting.
Keep it light
One thing a 20-something knows is how to have fun. So instead of drilling your date with super-serious and flat-out scary questions over a quiet meal, try to be a little more light and casual. “A big mistake that people at midlife make when they’re out on a date is that they conduct an interview instead of having a social exchange,” says Priscilla Marotta, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and president and owner of The Center of Psychological Effectiveness in Plantation, FL. Now, you don’t have to go to Six Flags and ride roller coasters to have fun on a date you’d be surprised how enjoyable some of the simplest activities can be. “Meet somewhere and go on a walk, or go for a bike ride. And sporting events get the adrenaline pumping! The important thing is that you have something besides each other to talk about. You don’t have to get a life history on the first date!” Dr. Marotta says.
Agrees Jon Spitler, 54, of Manassas, VA: “The most fun dates tend to be the ones that involve some mutually interesting activity that also allows some quiet time for personal interaction.” His idea of a perfect date? “Taking a motorcycle ride on a nice Sunday afternoon, having a quick dinner at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and then riding back.” Sounds fun, right?
Be open to meeting new people
For the most part, people in their 20s don’t have a jaded attitude towards dating because they haven’t experienced as much. And even though the 40-something and older crowd might have a good reason to be cynical, get over it already! “People in their 20s are more optimistic and view meeting new people as an opportunity, whereas a lot of 40- or 50-year-olds approach dating with trepidation and fear,” says Dr. Marotta. Whether you’ve been burned a million times or went through a painful divorce, you can find love again if you’re open to trying. Angie Welday, 50, of Estero, FL, is the perfect example. “Before I got married 10 years ago, I was the queen of blind dates! Of course, I met a lot of duds, but in the back of your mind you have to tell yourself, ‘You just never know what can happen.’ And so I kept trying. I know people who still aren’t married because they’re too close-minded. When you narrow it down too much, you’re not going to find that special person,” she says.
You might associate the word “assertive” as being desperate, pushy or aggressive, but it shouldn’t be that way you can make the first move and still come off casual and confident. “I really encourage women to be more assertive and to grab those opportunities. People in their 20s are willing to latch onto opportunities, and we’ve got to recapture a little bit of that later in life,” says Tom Blake, syndicated columnist and author of Finding Love After 50: How to Begin. Where to Go. What to Do.
“Let’s say the single mom is at the soccer field watching her child play in a game. Well, there might be guys there,” says Blake. “Don’t get totally focused on the kids running around because there might be somebody there you might enjoy. Strike up a conversation just small talk then after a while you could invite the person to have a cup of coffee some time.” Sounds easy enough, right? Well, Carol Hennessey, 49, of Chesapeake, VA, put this idea to the test, and it worked! And as you’ll see, it means being open to making new contacts of all sorts, because one new person can lead to another: “I was at a Rotary Club fundraiser, and I met a really bubbly, fun woman my age,” says Hennessey. “We talked for a long time and had a lot in common, so I ended up giving her my business card and told her that if she knew any cute, available men who want to go out and have fun, to give them my information. Six weeks later, I got an email from a guy I’m currently seeing!”
Take it slow
Self-induced pressure to find love can cause you to rush into relationships and maybe even settle with someone you’re not totally into and you’re worth more than that. So put on the breaks a little. “Relax and enjoy the process. 20-somethings see life as wide open, while 40-somethings are more likely to worry that time is running out and that all the good ones are taken. Remember, you’re a ‘good one!’ Giving yourself time makes you less apt to make decisions you’ll later regret and allows you to have more fun,” says Laurie A. Helgoe, Ph.D., psychologist and author of The Boomer’s Guide to Dating (Again). Like so many people, Frances, 54, of West Orange, NJ, rushed into a relationship after her divorce. “After my marriage collapsed, I rushed into a relationship that was unworkable. I felt that I needed to have someone. However, I eventually learned how to be alone how to be content with myself and my solo life. It was a great feeling!” And that great feeling will spill over into your dating life, making you less impatient with the process and more secure and discriminating as you look for the right partner.
Go out in groups
Going out in groups might seem like it’s only for the youngsters, but it’s something that everyone can benefit from. “Get your single friends together and each invite someone you’re not involved with. Going out in groups works because the pressure is off and you’re just out to have fun. Of course you’d like to meet somebody, but that’s more in the back of your mind,” says Blake. Joe, 42, from Ridgefield Park, NJ, has a recent success story: “I went out with a group of friends, and one of them brought along a woman I didn’t know. I felt more comfortable getting to know her in a group because I didn’t feel like I had to have my ‘game face’ on. Everything was more relaxed, and she saw me for who I was. We eventually got into a conversation and really hit it off.”
By borrowing these tactics from 20-something daters, you too can improve your dating life. Give them a try and see if they don’t help take the pressure off and put the fun back in.
By Ellen Collis (Courtesy Match.com)