Leisure Features

Lovely to Meet You

For anyone who has loved and lost for whatever reason, it’s nice to think about what’s to come—no matter if you’re 25 or 65. And no, you don’t have to be a 20-something single to have hope. Even Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell is focusing on the over-50 crowd in her latest book, Is There Still Sex in the City? (Catch her at the St. Louis Library Headquarters Sept. 27!) For advice on what you can expect if you’re looking later in life, we asked Charly Lester, a leading dating industry expert and co-founder of Lumen, a dating app for those over 50. Because love should not discriminate based on age.

What is the hardest obstacle people over 50 face when dating?
Most people over 50 are coming out of long-term relationships, so they haven’t dated for decades—or they may never have dated, given how much the world has changed in recent years. Dating as a concept has changed a lot in the last 10 years, which can be quite daunting. There also used to be a stigma surrounding online dating, which millennials have broken down but this age group still worries about.

How do you suggest they meet people?
Even if I didn’t run a dating app, I would suggest online dating. More than 40% of relationships these days begin online, and you’re opening yourself up to meet so many more people than you would by limiting yourself to work or friends. Sadly, singles events are less and less popular. Thanks to social media, a large part of our lives is online, so it’s not a huge step to consider meeting new people online, too.

How do you find someone worth your time online?
The key is being honest about who you are and being open to meeting new people. Try not to be too restrictive early on about who you chat to. You never know what might come out of it.

Any suggestions on wherto go for a first date?
I’m a big fan of active dates where you go and do something, whether that’s a walk in the park, a trip to a museum, or playing a sport. Sitting opposite someone having coffee may seem like a low-key option, but you actually put a load of pressure on yourself because it can end up feeling far too much like a job interview. If you choose an activity where you are side by side, surrounded by natural talking points, conversation may flow a lot more easily.

How do people start over if they have lost a spouse or are dealing with a divorce after being in the same relationship for years?
First, make sure you are ready to date. Don’t rush into it. Take time to grieve your partner or the past relationship, and make sure you feel confident in yourself. If not, you’re unlikely to attract the right type of person for you. Once you’re ready to date, make sure you don’t just search a carbon copy of your former partner. We all change, and what we need from relationships changes. Think carefully about what you want and need in this stage of your life.

What do you think people should expect from relationships at this age?
Everyone is different. Some people simply want occasional companionship, others want to live with someone again, and others want marriage. Whatever you’re looking for, communicate and be honest with the other person.

Is marriage a realistic expectation?
Yes, definitely! And far quicker the older you get. We’ve had at least two Lumen weddings where the lovebirds only knew each other a couple of months—they knew exactly what they wanted and went and found it!

Any red flags when using an online app/site?
Keep conversation on the app or site; scammers tend to try to get you off apps where the conversation can’t be monitored. On a dating app, you easily can block and report people. If someone makes repeated excuses why they can’t meet up with you, that should be a red flag. Also, I always suggest using an app or site where you can see the other person’s real location (we use GPS on Lumen so you know someone really lives in the same city as you) and research safety features. We photo verify every single member to keep people as safe as possible.

Charly Lester is co-founder and CEO of Lumen. She was profiled in Forbes in 2018 and was the founder and CEO of The Dating Awards, an international set of awards for online dating and matchmaking companies.

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