For nearly 60% of single people over 50, “finding love” is the top New Year’s resolution, and more than half rank it as the number one priority in 2012, according to a survey of members of OurTime.com, the online dating site for singles over 50.
At 56% of respondents, "Find a Companion" ranked higher than exercising more (34%), reducing stress (29%), saving money/spending less (28%), dieting (20%) and quitting smoking (12%). This is not entirely surprising, since the respondents were members of an online dating site. (We can presume that a query of participants in Weight Watchers or Debtors Anonymous would yield quite different results.)
Still, the survey suggests that Baby Boomers are romantics at heart, as the desire for companionship also outweighed dating more (33%) and having more sex (29%). "There is a recognition that relationships are a huge source of contentment and fulfillment," says psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz, the relationship expert for OurTime.com. "You can have a lot of money and perfect health and no relationships and be quite unhappy."
The good news for singles seeking love: The numbers are on their side. "If you look at divorce rates for the decades of the 1970s and 80s, they were quite high –- so there are a lot of single people in this age group, which means a bigger pool for whoever is out there looking," Saltz says. "It’s a unique opportunity because this age group is now using the internet in a way they didn’t before."
Just don't be too picky when you first dive into the pool, she suggests. "We have a tendency with dating websites to say, 'I want X,Y and Z and you don’t have Z' -- and that can really shrink your field quickly. Try dates with lots of different people and don’t say no at the get-go." For a full list of Dr. Saltz's online dating tips, check out our slideshow.
Being shy about looking for love will get you nowhere. Be assertive. Frequent social settings where singles hang out, join an online dating site and tell your friends you are on the market to be set up. "(Baby Boomers) have traditional been a generation where the woman would prefer to be asked out, but you can't necessarily afford to sit and wait for the ask," says Dr. Saltz.
Lots of people will subconsciously focus on small potential problems early on, and end up writing off a possible match before it even begins. Take time to see the bigger picture to determine what is really important. "It's easy to get into 'does this person meet everything on my list?' " says Dr. Saltz. "How much do you want it? Will you let small things undo it?"
Start communicating what you want -- whether it is emotional or physical. In turn, be open to really listening to what your potential partner wants; the mutual exchange will assure that both parties are fulfilled and getting the most out of the relationship. "You have to be willing to talk, share, compromise and negotiate -- and that's all about communication," says Dr. Saltz.
Don't be afraid to work what you got, whatever your age. Sure, maybe you want to lose a few pounds or get a new haircut, but don't obsess or try to be something you're not. Be confident being you, and you'll exude the right kind of sexiness attract someone who is equally confident and happy. "If you've been out of circulation for a long time these are the anxieties that plague you and inhibit you," says Dr. Saltz. "But if you look at other surveys that have been done on this group, people are less judgmental about others' appearance than they used to be and more interested in intimacy."
This is the flip side of "don't be nitpicky." You're at the age where you know what you want (and don't want), so don't settle for anything less, especially when looking for love. If you want to make it last, wait for that special someone that brings out your best qualities and makes you feel great. "Be less judgmental upfront, but also, you don't have to take whatever comes," says Dr. Saltz. "The point of going out there is to find what you want."