Relationships aren’t only for the young

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Dating can be intimidating at any age, let alone after 50. Although it may seem like a tremendous challenge, by making a few changes in to your life and being proactive, going out may become easier than you could imagine. Rachel Greenwald, author of “Find a Husband After 35 Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School,” was invited on “Today” to share her five top tips for singles over 50.

In my experience, women and men over 50 can be successful in finding the right mate (either for the first time or the third) if you think about dating the same way you think about other challenges in your life.  You need a strategic plan — just like a plan you would use for accomplishing any other goal in your life (a work project, weight loss, or finding a new job).

Be proactive, and don’t sit around waiting for fate to knock on your door. Instead, open the door yourself! Challenge yourself to find love by next Valentines Day, Feb. 14, 2006. I know you can do it. Start with these five tips below. There are 100 more tips in my book where I have used the strategic thinking and marketing tactics that I learned in business school and applied them to the dating world:

Break out of your bubble 
After 50, you’re probably sealed inside a comfortable bubble with your long-time friends, your predictable job, your cozy home where you’re set in your ways, and you cater to your grown children and their needs. All the favorite things you love (playing cards, going to movies, gardening, reading the Sunday paper, etc.) have put you in a big, fat rut. Pop that bubble! Do something outside your comfort zone, such as drinking coffee alone at Starbucks instead of in your own kitchen. Go back to your high school and college reunions, even if you’ve gained a few extra pounds (it’s a Mecca for lost loves and divorced men).

Telemarketing: Ouch! (but it really works!) 
You’re not gonna like this, but I want you to make a list of everyone (I mean EVERYONE you know, about 200 people from your dentist to your realtor to your college roommate). You know a lot of people by the time you’re 50. Call them and say, “This is the year I’ve decided to find someone wonderful to share my life with. Do you know anyone to introduce to me?”

Online dating: how to get results 
It’s a visual medium, and the photo is everything! Be sure to have your photo taken professionally (good lighting is important after 50!). Also, have a male friend critique your written profile to make sure you sound like raspberry sorbet in a sea of vanilla ice cream. (p.s. Everyone wants a younger man these days and going online is the best way to find them.)

Niche marketing: network with grown children 
With the divorce rate so high these days, so many grown children (over 18) have divorced dads. Some have widower dads too. Get your grown children, or the grown children of your friends and neighbors — and don’t forget your grown nieces and nephews — to play Cupid for you with their dads.

Lose the cynicism 
Your cynical attitude may be keeping you single. Do any of these comments sound familiar: There are no good men out there! They all want younger women! I can’t trust men! Who will want me looking like this? I’m sick of the whole dating thing, I never meet anyone! If you’re over 50 and single, you probably have good reason to be cynical, but here’s a fact — the number one comment that men over 50 tell me is, “I’m looking for someone with a positive attitude.”

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

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