Dating at 50: the definitive guide

Dating in your fifties can be easier and more fun than last time round. Sex correspondent Karen Krizanovich introduces our dating articles, all by writers of our age, and searches the dating websites to discover which ones are right for us

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You want love. You want sex (good sex). You want a good life, especially now that you’ve got a bit more life mileage. Be pleased: high50 has cornered the market in 50-plus dating truths. Just look at the stories above to see our unique collection of articles on the subject. Or read on for tips to dating on the net…

First, though, let’s get one thing straight. Just because you’re no longer 25 doesn’t mean the game is over. In fact, these could be the best playing years of your life, if you let yourself think and act differently to those younger years, when you really didn’t know what you were doing. And remember: not even the most confident person really knows what they’re doing when it comes to love…

Online dating: which sites are for us?

It’s said that one in five relationships now begin online. You could be forgiven for thinking that there are almost as many dating sites as there are potential partners. But on reaching mid-life, we’re entitled to be a little picky, so what’s out there and which ones are worth joining?

You probably know that several national newspapers operate their own dating services, and these are often a first port of call when entering the online arena. Encounters, from The Times and The Sunday Times, and Telegraph Dating both have slightly older members than, say, the Guardian’s Soulmates, but all follow a similar model: set up a profile and browse for free; cough up the cash if you want to message potential suitors.

There’s no romance portal from the Daily Mail as yet, presumably because sifting through people whose interests include “getting irate, being offended, hypochondria, property prices, fad dieting and celebrity gossip” is a little deflating.

Then there are the big boys. eHarmony boasts that in the last few years, it has been responsible for nearly five per cent of marriages in the US and is now a serious player in the UK too. Rather than having to sell yourself with witty and charming paragraphs, it instead matches singles based on character compatibility and has a large 50+ audience.

Match Affinity, a spin-off from match.com, has a similar 50+ appeal due to its reliance on compatibility. Parship/Gay Parship requires users to take a psychometric test to determine matchable qualities.

My Single Friend is the brainchild of TV’s Sarah Beeny and, as the name suggests, lets your friend list your selling points for you. It features a wide range of ages and can be a fun way to begin internet dating.

The recently launched My Lovely Parent is a twist on that approach, with sons and daughters writing their single parent’s testimonial, and is thus aimed more at mid-lifers.

But be warned, if you’re looking for dedicated dating services for us more experienced folk, there are a lot that are either naff, patronising, or in the case of You’re Not Dead Yet, both.

Mature Free and Single is one of the better ones. It was set up by a couple who found each other online back in their thirties, and is an honest and fun dating hub for over-40s. Dating for Parents does what it says on the tin, but the common ground of raising children can ease introductions. And if country pursuits are more your style, try Muddy Matches for like-minded rural types.

For the young at heart there are, of course, some more eyebrow-raising destinations. Gentlemen with an eye for younger ladies may wish to take a look at SugarDaddie.com, which prides itself on its wealthy and desirable database. Its reverse is Toy Boy Warehouse, where older women can fulfil all their cougar desires in pursuit of younger men. A few more creative search terms and you’ll be able to find plenty more, erm, discreet and direct dating sites too.

Our final tip on the sites, though, is to take a look at Meet Up, the social network where like-minded people can get together for everything from squash to singles nights, all in your local area. We’re grown-up enough now to know that there’s more to dating than sex, aren’t we? Aren’t we?

Karen searches our dating archive

Dating now is not a case of ‘too soon old, too late schmart’, as the old German saying goes. You are not too old and your life mileage can make dating in your fifties easier than in your twenties or thirties because you’re smarter, both emotionally and intellectually. Mature dating: a fine romance by Annie Caulfield is a great primer if you’re having doubts about success.

Not that at 50 we’re immune to unusual situations, such as deciding about co-habiting. Pros and cons are highlighted in Distance loving? Live together, apart by Catherine Mansel Lewis. Hint: “Moving can be a step too far.” And Beau de Jour – a self-confessed “hunter in the jungle of love” – talks about the pitfalls of internet seduction for men in Sex and the social network.

In her unconventional article Sex: how can we girls still get it?, Linda Franklin takes a sideways look at how to get it on in extremis, and doesn’t pull any punches as she tackles the sticky problem of how to get some sex. It’s not for the faint of heart, but the advice is rock solid when it comes to pure results. (Hint: “We’ve had more sex than our mums ever did.”) She has more sexual advice in Sex at 50: strip for someone new.

And for a little less spice, Internet love: ‘The Rules’ for men has some home truths that, if you’re a man, you should know: useful things, such as, “The best relationships are ones where you can be truly yourself, which is what intimacy is”.

You knew that already, of course. But on the dating scene, a little refresher doesn’t go amiss. Being older can mean being better: you have more confidence, you know yourself and you really can put the knowledge you’ve gained to good use.

So what if you don’t look the same naked? It’s time to try something new – and that’s the you of today, not yesterday or yesteryear. If you’ve got it, baby, flaunt it. And now’s the time to admit that you’ve got it.