An expert's dating advice for over 50s
Dating can be a minefield. Especially online. But it can also be really exciting, and an amazing opportunity to meet people. Charly Lester is the founder of Lumen, a dating app for over 50s – we asked her for some advice about dating in later life.
Why did you feel there was a need for a dating app for over 50s?
I've worked as a dating expert for over 6 years now. The most common question I was asked by people in their 30s and 40s was how can they help their divorced or widowed parents date again, and which app or site they could use.
The more I researched the market, the more I realised lots of over 50s were using apps designed for millennials, and even lying about their age to get on them. I also noticed that many of the products 'designed for over 50s' seemed to treat people like they stop using smart phones and apps as soon as they turn 50.
How does dating change in later life?
I think one of the biggest challenges for over 50s is that often they haven't been single for many decades, and may not have even dated before. There can be an element of education because modern dating can feel a bit complicated.
That said, most people I meet grow more comfortable in their own skin the older they get. They know what they want, and what they don't want – which can be great for dating.
Do changes in people's bodies affect how they feel about themselves or how they date?
Changes to your body affect your confidence, whatever age you are, and so aspects like menopause and erectile dysfunction can really affect people's confidence. I think the key is knowing when to take time for yourself, and to enter the dating scene when you are feeling confident and happy in yourself.
If you meet someone when you aren't feeling your 'real self' it can be an unhealthy match. Once you meet someone you do like, communicate about body changes – everyone goes through them. Communication is a key part of relationships and most problems can be solved by honest communication.
Do you have any tips for keeping safe when meeting someone new for the first time?
Keep conversation on the dating app or website where it can be monitored for red flags (like money requests), moderated (if someone gets abusive) and where you have the control to block and report people.
When you meet up with someone, do so in a public place, don't let them pick you up or drop you home until you know them, and try not to share too many personal details early in the relationship.
Remember you're meeting a stranger – don't leave your bag or drink unattended, and take your time to get to know them. Always tell someone where you are, and report back at the end of the date!
Most people I meet grow more comfortable in their own skin the older they get. [Older people] know what they want, and what they don't want – which can be great for dating.
For someone who hasn't been on a date in decades, do you have any advice on how to behave and what to talk about?
If you're worried about conversation drying up, don't just go for a coffee or a drink – it can feel too much like an interview and you end up with no external conversation starters.
Choose an activity – ideally one where you're walking round side by side – so there are natural distractions and conversation starters. It's a lot less intimidating, and that way you can do something fun, so you're not wasting your afternoon or evening if you don't end up attracted to the other person.
What's the best way to tell someone you don't want to see them any more?
Just be upfront and honest. People's biggest complaint about dating is 'ghosting' – where someone just disappears without being honest.
And do you have any advice for moving past a break up?
Take your time after a break up. If the relationship has been a long one, take time for yourself to find confidence and independence. Only date again when you're ready.
If you're rejected early in a relationship, remember most of the time the issue is not you, it's likely to be the other person. Try not to take it personally and remember it's just one person.
The phrase 'there are plenty more fish in the sea' exists for a reason – everyone gets rejected at some point.
Finally, do you have any advice for introducing a new partner to your family?
Take your time – don't rush things. And communicate with everyone – them and your family.