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Starting Over After Losing a Partner

Here's how to ease back into the dating scene

Don’t stop at shared interests, though. Factors that loomed large in the past—good looks, financial success, whatever—may pale in the present as you acknowledge the importance of a partner who is kind and supportive, or one who is funny and entertaining. In short, grant yourself the freedom to gravitate to a whole new kind of person.

4) Take stock and retool. If you’ve become a bit, er, casual in the weight, wardrobe or grooming departments, now’s the time to ratchet up your game. Visit a salon or barbershop and ask how you could best update your hairstyle. Seek out a clothing consultant or personal shopper — someone who can advise you on a flattering look and help you pick out items to achieve it. (Some higher-end department stores offer this service free of charge.) Or ask a close friend to be brutally honest about what your ideal makeover would include. And whatever exercise you once enjoyed, try to make it part of your daily routine.

5) Make a connection. So much for your preseason conditioning. Now it’s game day — time to go out and (yuk!) meet someone.

Certain shortcuts are time-tested. The simplest is to ask friends if they know someone you’d enjoy meeting. Don’t be embarrassed — it’s a good beginning. Most people probably won’t think of suggesting this on their own (and if they do, they may hold back for fear of offending you). So actively encourage them to think of you as a single, eligible person.

Everyone’s circle of close friends is necessarily limited, however, so mention your quest even to those you don’t know well. Research shows that many opportunities come through our “weak ties,” or people we know largely in passing: hairdresser, chiropractor, a neighbor’s visiting sister—even your seatmate on a flight!

Finally, don’t rule out meeting someone online. Most well-known dating sites have a large contingent of “seekers” in their 50s, 60s and 70s (and some in their 80s and even 90s), and several reputable sites are now completely free. Countless widows and widowers have met men and women of quality and intelligence online. You’ll have to practice standard “Internet safety” — due diligence, public first meeting and so on — but there’s no reason you can’t use this tool as successfully as romantics much younger than you. Online, as in life, the rule of thumb seems to be that the heart is a lovely hunter.

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