Think it’s nearly impossible to meet someone when you’re over 50? Nope. Check out where these folks found great dates...
Two charitable hearts connected with a kiss in the park
“One time I met a man cleaning up trash in a local park. There, among banana peels, fast-food wrappers, and napkins with bubble gum stuck to them, we fell for each other. We even had our first kiss in the park after he asked me for a date! Doing charity work is not only fulfilling, it gets you out there in the world. And you learn from the get-go that he has a good heart, simply because he’s there in the first place.”
— Sheila, 57, Boston, MA
Love lesson: Step outside your comfort zone and get involved in community service. If you don’t know where to start, volunteer in your own town (at fundraisers, park clean-up days, church food drives, etc.). You may meet an empathetic sweetie — or at least make a new friend who will widen your social circle to include more class acts.
Events that encourage audience debate can also help you meet a mate
“I attend lots of audience-oriented events — anything from book readings to TV show tapings. My advice is: Don’t be afraid to spark up a challenging conversation with someone at a lecture or book reading. You never know, the feisty discourse could lead to love! I was an audience member on The People’s Court and was seated next to a nice-looking woman. After the show, we walked out together and fell into a natural conversation about the verdict, which we vehemently disagreed on. We continued bantering the whole way out of the TV studio, onto the street, and over dinner later that night.”
— Matthew, 60, North Ft. Meyers, FL
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Love lesson: Always put your opinions out there when you’re at an event that encourages conversation, even if you’re afraid the other person won’t agree. You may find out you share the exact same sensibilities. Even if you don’t, though, you’ll get to know each other quickly and learn rapidly whether he or she is a good listener — or the dreaded talk-over-you type.
Exploring new locales led to their long-distance love affair
“One time I met a man on a cruise to Bermuda — we kept running into each other. Being on a boat together made it difficult to miss one another… not that we wanted to! We struck up a conversation about the awful lasagna in the buffet line and ended up in a long-distance relationship after the cruise ended. A vacation is a great getaway from daily life, and since everyone is relaxed, it alleviates the pressure of dating in a normal setting. What better way to get to know someone than in warm weather amongst friends and fun?”
— Penny, 63, San Diego, CA
Love lesson: Visiting new places gives you a new perspective on life and can even make you feel more confident, because you’re removed from your normal routine and stresses. Even a quick weekend jaunt with a group of friends or a solo trip to a music or arts festival can help jump-start your romantic life. And even if you don’t meet someone special, it gives you a great opportunity to try out your flirting skills away from prying eyes.
Working together helped her close the deal on more than just a property
“Work is conducive to romance because in a lot of fields, you spend many hours chatting with people. I’m a Realtor, and I once met a man while selling him a home. You learn quickly what a person’s tastes are, and often, his or her life story as well — things you would never find out at a bar. This relationship — although short-lived — made me realize that everyday situations can bring about romance.”
— Marie, 54, Lynchburg, VA
Love lesson: Well, first, a caveat: in some workplaces, office romances are a real no-no — so check your company guidelines before getting your flirt on. Now, even if there are no prospective dates in your office or you just don’t want to get involved with a colleague, consider your office mates to be an untapped social network. Plan to RSVP “yes” on invites for everything from retirement parties to happy hours — after all, you never know who will tag along with one of your coworkers that also happens to be single.
An impromptu lunch turned into a successful set-up for them
“Meeting a man in your social circle is smart, because you have a good screening system to make sure he is a good match for you. I had a standing lunch date with a girlfriend of mine who asked if I would mind if she brought her friend along at the last minute. He was a navy civilian who had just returned from Iraq. During lunch, he folded his napkin in the shape of a rose and handed it to me. I felt comfortable pursuing this man because he knew my close friend, and we started dating shortly after that.”
— Ellen, 49, Watertown, MA
Love lesson: Re-evaluate the singles who are already in your life. There could be a match you’ve never looked at in that way. If not, widen your social circle by asking friends to set you up with their pals. And don’t shy away from new situations — accompany a friend to a wedding, a work party, even a college reunion.
Her witty personality made her stand out from the crowd and sparked a connection
“I once met a great woman because my name was on a mass email, and one of the respondents ‘replied to all’ with a clever one-liner. I was having a bad day, but her message made me laugh, so I responded. Then she emailed me back, I messaged her next, and so on. Before I knew it, we were sharing anecdotes from our childhood and first marriages. I felt like I knew her so well before we even met — and then I fell in love. If somebody’s personality shines through in a crowd, don’t ignore it. There could be a connection there just waiting to be sparked.”
— John, 55, New York, NY
Love lesson: Look for opportunities in unusual places. Email allows you to be candid without worrying about how you look. Whether you add comments to a friend’s blog or try online dating, you may be surprised at how many kindred spirits you’ll find who are also single and looking.
Flirting while he got into shape doubled the benefits to his heart
“Meeting people while you exercise is great, because you know right away that their health is important to them. You also know a part of their daily routine, which can provide a comfort zone. One time, I met a woman through a walking group. We got to know each other over the course of a five-mile walk through the city. We got fit and fell for each other at the same time.”
— Michael, 61, San Diego, CA
Love lesson: Join a co-ed walking group. Chatting makes exercise seem less dreadful, and since walking is a low-impact sport, you’re not huffing and puffing while trying to flirt. If you can’t find a walking group, consider joining a co-ed class at the gym.
Her daughter’s matchmaking efforts brought plenty of suitors to the table
“My daughter took out a personal ad for me in our local paper without telling me and personally interviewed five men she thought I’d click with. Then, she set up a dinner for the three of us and strategically left the table. Boy, was I surprised. If you don’t want to do something as bold, ask your kids if they have any friends with single parents you might enjoy meeting. It’s worked for a few of my girlfriends who have met great partners this way!”
— Janet, 56, Waltham, MA
Love lesson: Sure, your grown kids may not come to mind when you think of potential matchmakers, but they know you deserve only the best, which means they won’t try pair you up with someone unworthy. So go ahead, let them know you’re open to meeting someone! (Keep the tone light, though, so they don’t feel pressured to play matchmaker.) Who better to set you up than the people who know you best... i.e., your children?
Elise Nersesian has written for Redbook, Stuff, and other publications.