How Do I Start Dating When I'm Over 60?
We had people submit their questions to our Resident Sexual Health Clinician, Dr. Kathryn Ellis, OTR/L, OTD, AASECT-SC, an occupational therapist and American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists Certified Sexuality Counselor.
You get to make your own rules. That's the number one thing I hear a lot when people start dating again. Whether the person is 20 or 60.
People will ask me, “How many dates until I sleep with the person?” or “Who pays for dinner?” as if there are set rules. But abiding by these “rules” becomes oppressive and exhausting, because we don't know how or when to show up as our authentic self.
Instead, spend some time thinking about the person that you're looking for. Who are they? How are they? Go beyond common items, such as he's honest, kind, funny, stable, a good communicator. You deserve that. We all deserve that. That should be on your list. There should be a baseline. We want this person to be a good person. But you get to ask for more.
You get to ask for what you want. So think deeply about it. Do you want somebody that goes kayaking with you? Do you want somebody that loves animals? Do you want somebody that is hilarious or a good cook? Someone who makes you feel really important? You get to ask for these things.
Knowing ahead of time what you want lets you shoot for the moon. You’ve got this opportunity to meet a bunch of people, and they're not all going to work for you. Part of dating is that it doesn’t always work out. Dating is rejection. You don’t always get a second date or even want to go on a second date.
So also acknowledge that you have to be protective of yourself and your time, but not so much that you’re closed off to the opportunity. Don’t go into dating if you feel that rejection is going to be difficult or that you are not ready for that. And if that feels really scary right now, then talk about that with a therapist.
Because rejection is just a natural part of meeting people and not everybody is your person.
I would also think about attitudes around sex. Everybody has very different expectations around sex. When sex happens and where sex happens.
You don't have to follow anyone's lead, you can follow your lead. This goes for everybody, not just people that are dating in their 60s. This even goes for people that have been married 40 years. You don't have to follow anyone's lead, especially when it comes to sex.
Also focus on your understanding of your body and what works for you. It’s important to know how much you have to communicate about your body when you are having sex with a new person. Perhaps you have been in a relationship where either you didn't really talk about sex, you didn't talk about what specifically feels pleasurable for you, or you did and the person got it down pat.
Ultimately, when you have a new person, you do have to share about your body, often explicitly, what you do and don’t like. That will make the experience better for everyone involved.