There are many advantages to being single in your forties and fifties. Comfortable in your own skin, you’re financially solvent and you know what you want from life. You’re an eligible bachelor!
But for the unattached who want to start a new relationship, the road to happiness can be peppered with pitfalls. If you’re ready to enter the dating fray, here are our top tips on how to make a great impression, and make it last beyond that first date.
Is online dating for me?
Joining an online dating site is an excellent first step for the tentative. You simply select a few interesting profiles, and chat via email before you decide whether to meet in person. And forget about any stigma; this method of dating is now seen in a much more positive light than in the past. 70% of single people would now consider using a dating website.
But before you go signing up to a dozen dating sites, take a moment to heed the advice of an expert. The editor of Silversurfers suggests:
It’s important not to simply rush out and join several dating sites. Instead, do your research carefully and choose a site that you feel matches your ethos, and which you think may attract people you’ll like.
Once you’ve chosen a website you like, ask someone to take a flattering photo of you. Be natural, and choose an attractive background. When you’re filling in your details, make time to think about what’s important to you. Are you looking for someone with whom you can share some fun and adventure, or do you prefer quiet nights in? If children are on the scene, a quiet, romantic movie night may not be a realistic proposition!
It’s only when you meet someone in person that you get a true sense of who they are. So after you’ve exchanged a few e-mails with a likeable lady, seize the moment, and arrange an informal date. Sasha at The Happiness project London thinks it takes thirty seconds to know how you feel about your prospective partner. Her suggestion for a initial meeting:
Arrange a quick coffee and say you have plans shortly after so you can make your escape easily if you need to.
Coffee shops, gastropubs and wine bars are perfect for a light bite and some conversation. When you meet your date make sure you smile, keep eye contact and keep your questions light. But do be prepared to answer your date’s questions honestly. This is easier if you think ahead about what you’re looking for in a relationship. Being upfront about any awkward exes or children is essential.
Speed dating or social club?
Forget any notions of a slow, seductive courtship. The idea of speed dating is to get to know people quickly. Ian Steadman of blog Completely London says:
The idea behind speed dating is that we humans pretty much decide what we think of someone within a few minutes of meeting them. It’s lust at first sight.
You probably have some idea of the kind of person you’d like to meet, but speed dating requires an open mind. Look out for unexpected sparks of attraction, and feel free to ask plenty of questions. You’re certain to discover a few interesting tidbits about the person sitting opposite you.
Classes and social clubs create great opportunities to meet like-minded people. If speed dating’s not for you, try this more traditional route. Your future partner could be a lover of languages, a classics bookworm, or a keen mountain climber. And there’s definite appeal in learning a new skill while you bond with a special someone.
It’s also worth exploring the option of singles’ holiday sites, geared towards helping people meet new friends while enjoying a break.There’s no shortage of suggestions from the guys at travel site Flashpack:
It could be yoga in the desert, surfing on the beach, riding Vespas through the Spanish countryside. It could be trekking through mountains, cycling through city streets, or just cooking a new cuisine.
These are great ways to take a break from the norm and expand your horizons while you’re looking out for love.
How to dress to impress
It’s polite to turn up to your first date in a stylish, well-fitting outfit, whatever the venue. If your wardrobe is bereft of good quality staples, now’s the time to invest! GQ’s Nick Carvell says:
Instead of buying that Harley you’d always promised yourself (and will probably ride approximately twice), use your 50s as an excuse to buy all those wardrobe items you’ve always wanted, but have never been able to justify.
For a first date at a coffee bar or gastropub, smart casual is the order of the day. Blogger Michael Adams elaborates:
give yourself a smart look, using some casual pieces in your outfit. It can be dressing something up, or dressing something down. The key is that if it feels too casual, then it probably is, but if you’re feeling smart, then you’re probably on the right path.
Try dark straight jeans (no distressing) with a t-shirt, polo shirt or casual shirt. Layer up with a classic v neck, and add a bomber jacket in colder weather. If you’re meeting your date somewhere swankier, replace the jeans with smart trousers, and add a smart shirt and a blazer.
Pay attention to your footwear. A pair of quality shoes will always be noticed. Finish off a smart casual outfit with loafers, monks or slip on Chelsea boots. A more formal outfit calls for a well-polished pair of brogues.
When it comes to choosing colours, the mature man should opt for subdued tones such as camel, grey, navy, dark red and forest green. If you’re unsure how to incorporate these shades into your outfit, Fashion Beans blogger Evan John has several suggestions:
How about updating your trench in an olive green, throwing on a burgundy blazer or utilising camel chinos/trousers? These essential pieces will always be smart and sophisticated, so injecting a shot of colour can help identify you as an individual.
Sound advice, indeed, especially if you want to make sure you’re colourful, yet dignified.
Prepare to pamper
Men’s grooming has become more important than a decade or so ago, when it was simply a case of wash and go. Jake Watkins of Clothes Make the Man recalls:
Guys got dirty and ladies appreciated our gritty surfaces and musky odors (at least that’s what we told ourselves). Grooming was the exclusive domain of women and the wealthy who had nothing better to do. Oh how times have changed.
But this new found awareness doesn’t mean your bathroom shelves need to be packed with products. You can look and smell great with a simple routine. Well Dressed Dad’s Nick agrees:
I am of the firm opinion that… men really have a very short list of products that are justifiable.
However, you do need to make a bit of an effort in the grooming department if you’re considering dating. It’s only polite. Jonathan of Guy Style Guide says:
Keep it simple if it’s in the preliminary days – shave, shower and cologne. Don’t be scared to get a little metrosexual either, and pull out the tweezers if there are some stray hairs anywhere. It may be the difference between another date and an early night.
Keep yourself in great shape. Cook fresh, healthy meals and take some exercise. As well as keeping you looking good, it’s proven to lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and more. A final tip to looking more youthful? Moisturise. The Grooming Guru tells us why:
Not only does moisturising keep skin supple and healthy-looking it also acts as an insurance policy against future wrinkles because the drier skin the more prone to premature ageing it is.
Remember the details: brush your teeth, and keep your nails impeccably clean. Make sure that your date will remember you well by showing her that you have excellent manners. Pay her genuine compliments, hold the door open for her, and help her off with her coat. You’re a gentleman – make sure you look and act like one!
We’re keen to learn about your experiences. What are your top dating tips? We’d love to hear your stories on our Facebook page.