The thought of a first date can strike such terror in a 50-plus heart, evoking horrific memories of emergency phone calls and being stood up, that the prospect of being alone forever actually seems bearable.
But take heart. Whether you're newly divorced, widowed, or out of a committed relationship, we hear dating after 50 can actually be better than it was in your 20s or 30s!
"The main difference is that you’ve had previous experiences in relationships and sometimes in marriage. Instead of taking that as negative, I would encourage people 50 and over to use that information and those emotional kinds of situations as a positive thing. You can learn from those experiences," said author and "love doctor" Terri Orbuch in an interview.
Orbuch is a relationship expert for OurTime.com, the largest online dating site for post 50s.
"They [post 50s] have wisdom about what's more important in a relationship, they know what they're looking for, they're more confident, and have more money at this point in life to use in the dating world," Orbuch says. Just over one in five single post 50s braved a first date last year, according to data from OurTime.com. Orbuch notes that dating should actually get simpler as you get older and have a better feel for what you're seeking in a relationship.
But first dates after 50 aren't just about impressing your date like they once were, she says. The keys are to learn as much as you can about the person rather than just trying to sell your best self, showcase your interests and values, and show that you've put serious thought into planning your date.
Orbuch shared some of her favorite first date ideas with us. Have you had any fabulous post 50 dates? Tell us about them in comments!
#1) For an Organic Experience
If you have a green thumb, a farmer's market could be a great way to show off your gardening expertise or passion for cooking. With a first date, it's key to showcase what's important to you and highlight your interests, Orbuch says.
The best part? You'll be in your comfort zone within your community, and walking around you'll avoid any of those awkward first-date silences or uncomfortable lingering glances.
#2) For the Hopeless Romantic
Grab a blanket, some wine and cheese, and hit the park for a laid back picnic. "First dates that are outdoors are wonderful because of the fresh air, sun, nature -- all of those things are wonderful influences on how a first date can go," Orbuch says.
This classic option will make for a relaxing atmosphere so make sure to make eye contact, to send positive body language signals! Check local community calendars and see if there are any jazz or classical concerts being performed outdoors. No date is complete with a little background music, right? And if things go well, then what better place to end a first date than under a starry night sky.
#3) For the 24-Hour Arty Person
Brush up on your art lingo and head out to a gallery opening or a charity auction. "These events are great because you can discuss the art, interests of yours, and it can help you in terms of asking questions and keeping the conversation going as well...It also shows that person that you’re community oriented, and showcase any organizations you volunteer for too," Orbuch says.
Just make sure you know the difference between Kandinsky and Kahlo before you head out.
#4) For the Intellectual
It's important to find out about a potential mate's intellectual pursuits and hobbies early on, and what better way to find out then to ask about what they're reading or their favorite author. Local coffee shops and bookstores hold a variety of literary events, from poetry slams, book readings, and author lectures. It's a low-key, casual environment that doesn't scream first date but still gives you plenty to discuss and highlights your interests.
#5) For the Fitness Fanatic
Ladies, take note. Men are particularly open and better at communicating while they're engaged in physical activity, Orbuch says. "They're more likely to disclose more about themselves... research shows men are more comfortable talking side by side and much more likely to self-disclose."
Check out your local parks to see if they have any scenic walking or hiking trails. Besides being able to have a more candid conversation, spending time getting fresh air and exercise will not only get your feel-food endorphins going, but you can also show your date that staying physically fit is important to you.
#6) For the Wine Snob
See, swirl, sniff, sip, and savor your way to impressing your date. Check around your community to see if there are any locally-owned wineries offering tastings. If all goes well, you'll be in tip-top form to order the perfect bottle on the second date.
The wine will probably help your first date jitters and it'll help you gauge how open your date is to trying out new things. But make sure you don't drink too much. There's nothing as bad as verbal diarrhea on a first date, Orbuch warns.
#7) For the Foodie
Sidestep the stress of picking the perfect dinner venue and rustle up your apron. Cooking classes are definitely outside the box and hands-on activities are always a great icebreaker.
Gents, ladies love a man who knows his way around a kitchen, so use this opportunity to impress her with your one-handed egg-cracking skills. But even if you're no Bobby Flay, the planning it took to set up the date and your willingness to step outside of your comfort zone will only increase your appeal.