Thinking about getting back into the dating game? It’s a new world out there and going on a date has changed. Here’s what you need to know.

Whether you’re looking for love and companionship in your 20s and 30s or your 60s and 70s, dating is a universal experience that remains timeless. You’re never too old to meet someone new, rendezvous for a dinner and a movie, and possibly have something develop into a relationship. It’s just the act of “going on a date” that can change over the decades.

If you’re looking to get back into the dating game but aren’t sure what to expect, don’t worry because you’re not alone. Many singles in their 50s and 60s would like to find a companion to share their life with but aren’t sure how to go about dipping their toe back into the dating pool.

Valerie Gibson, US-based dating and relationship expert and author of The Later Dater, says dating again doesn’t have to be scary, it’s what you make of it. “Most people just want to have someone in their life who loves them, cares about them, is supportive, fun to be with, interesting to talk to and shares their goals,” she says.

“That’s what dating is all about – the search to hopefully find someone with whom you can joyfully and happily spend your later years. You may not find them right away, but the journey through dating while you’re searching can be fun and exciting, and make ageing a fascinating adventure.” With that in mind, here are some tips from Valerie Gibson to get you comfortable with the idea of dating at any age.

Dating later
While dating is a universal and timeless experience for everyone, it can be different depending on your age. In your 20s and 30s, dating is young, passionate, romantic, and carries the prospect of a long-term relationship leading to marriage.

“The pleasure of dating in your later years is that dating is a little more low-key and less energetic, but can be much more meaningful and have a lot of depth and satisfaction, and often a lot of commitment.

“Both parties have had relationships/marriages and are well aware of what they want now in a personal connection. Although dating at these lovely ages may not have the same wildfire of that in your 20s and 30s (which can burn out quickly at times), meeting someone new and dating them can be just as exciting at a later age as it was when you were much younger.” However, she adds that a lot depends on your positive attitude, youthful spirit and health as to whether later dating works for you.

First date jitters affect everyone
One thing that affects singles, no matter their age, is a feeling of nervousness when meeting someone for the first time, particularly on a first date! It can be an intimidating experience, particularly if you haven’t done this in a good 20 to 30 years.

The best way forward is to leave your expectations at the door and simply enjoy the experience of meeting and learning about a new person when on your date. Relax, enjoy yourself, learn about the other person and ask questions.

“Most people are nervous at that first meeting and often trying too hard to impress. It usually eases on the second date and contrary to most opinions “chemistry” is not necessarily there immediately – it can grow.” If you don’t feel like it’s a good match from the get-go, however, when the time comes politely exit. Always treat people how you would like to be treated in similar circumstances.

Winning conversation

Whether you’re on a first date or not, there are a few topics you should steer clear of when meeting a person for the first time. It’s generally agreed that religion and politics are no-go zones, since these subjects are too inflammatory and divisive, and certain to make sure there isn’t another date.

“I always tell people to not pour out all of their previous problems with their dates, marriages or relationships on the first date, especially any horror stories of your last ex. A person wants to know a little about you and who you are but not your complete life history and all of your life’s disappointments.

“Keep it light and basically informative, discuss subjects such as music, books, movies, your travels, food and wine, hobbies, and you can also find out whether you have interests in common which is important.”

It’s a digital world

The dating game has changed quite a bit over the years, mostly with the arrival of the internet. Meeting someone online through a dating website has become one of the most popular ways where people are now searching for Mr or Mrs Right, particularly singles in their 50s and 60s.

“There’s no question that online dating has become the most popular way of meeting someone when you’re over 60. The biggest growing demographic for online dating sites are people 50-plus.

“It’s because it can be done from the comfort of your home, there’s some controllable privacy and anonymity to it which older people find reassuring and protective, and it’s the only way to meet hundreds, if not thousands, of other singles in your age group who you would never meet in everyday life – all at the click of a key.”

Valerie warns that while there are genuine people looking for love online, you may unfortunately come across others who are not so genuine. Be cautious and if in doubt, ask a friend or family member for advice.

While online dating is one great way to meet a partner, other options include through mutual friends, volunteering, joining clubs and groups, taking classes and basically, just getting out and mingling with people. “You’ll never meet someone sitting at home.”

Be informed about the new world
For those looking to start meeting new people and go on dates, the best way to prepare yourself is to learn as much about the new world of dating as you can. Read books, ask friends (even talk to your children if they’re dating!), do some research and get yourself ready both emotionally and physically.

“Always remember you have been through a lot in your life and dating isn’t life threatening after all! Make up your mind that you’re going to enjoy it and enjoy the people you meet, whether or not they are Mr or Mrs Right or someone who fits your long list of requirements.

“The people you meet are also probably nervous, just like you, and also looking for someone they might like, can get along with, possibly fall in love with and maybe share their life with or maybe just to share some good times!”

Image: Getty

This article first appeared on Over60.