3. Pick your meet 'n' greet venues wisely
Does walking into a gay bar make you feel more out of place than Lady Gaga shopping for clothes at a mall?
Yes, it's true that the Olympic-sized pool of dating prospects you swam in years ago seems like a lap lane when you reach your 50s. So the best bet is to cast a wider net. Get off of the sideline and get involved in your passions and interests. For example, if you like the outdoors, join a gay hiking or walking group, and meet men while you get fresh air and exercise. Focus on smaller parties, events centered on hobbies and interests, and volunteer opportunities. And, if you haven't already, try online dating, which is bringing new hope to those of us who don't have a ton of time or want to hang out at bars.
Check out sites such as Match.com that can help you find long-term relationships versus flings or hookups. Then create a profile that reflects who are you, what you want and includes recent photos. Don't post the online profile of Dorian Gray by showing off your shiny youth. When it comes to truth in advertising, it's one thing to shave a couple of years off. It's another to leave out an entire decade! If you want a real relationship, then be real. Lying raises a serious red flag. Your date will wonder, "If he's not honest about his age, what other lies is he telling?"
4. Be self-aware, not rigid
One advantage of age is self-awareness. When you know yourself better, you can quickly size up what you want in someone else. Maybe you're more careful about first dates and immediately nix a pointless second night out. You're quick to assess if your date wants the same level of relationship as you, whether that's casual or committed. You recognize dysfunction and mismatches faster now than you did when you were younger.
But that doesn't mean you should be rigid and inflexible. Keep an open mind and try to expand your horizons. Chat with a guy who isn't your "type" and stretch your boundaries. And so what if he doesn't immediately strike you as hot and sexy? Now it might be comforting to find a partner who can relate to your experiences and your outlook, and has the same pop culture references you do.
It's also a good idea to ask your closest friends for regular feedback (yes, ask them to give you input on your actions and choices), so you don't get stuck in your ways.
5. Realize you can be single and happy
Hey, you don't have to tell me it's tough being gay, single and over 50. It's not like gay subculture has given us lots of happily dating, older gay male role models. With all the focus on marriage equality these days, it's easy for gay men to think that being single and happy is an oxymoron.
There's more focus on getting into a committed relationship than there is on making sure it's the right one. The truth is that sometimes when you want a relationship so badly, you draft the first reasonable candidate. Or you're miserable because there's no prospect on the horizon. Neither is a good option.
Don't settle for anything less than chemistry, shared values/lifestyle/goals, trust, and a growing and abiding friendship.
Especially at this stage of life, why would you want a relationship that doesn't bring you happiness? I can think of something far worse than being single, gay and older. Being coupled, gay and unhappy.
Dave Singleton works for AARP Publications and has written two books and numerous columns on dating and relationships.
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