Online dating sites are a great way to meet new people and find love, whatever your age. If you're dating in your fifties, it's worth keeping in mind that things have changed. Not the "rules" - but you! Here are six ways dating later in life is different compared to your twenties, and how to find love...
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See also: Dating in your 50s-plus? What NOT to ask on a first date
See also: Dating after divorce - dos and don'ts
1. You have more of a past
One consequence of dating when you're older is that you have more of a past. Not talking about previous relationships is easy in your twenties, when you were only with someone for a few years, but if you've spent half of your life with another person, it can be hard NOT to talk about the past. Whether you're widowed or divorced, talking about a previous partner can make your date feel uncomfortable - and they should be the focus of your evening - not the ghost of a past love.
Bitterness is one of the biggest moans of older daters. Avoid talking negatively about your ex, or limit how much you say. You may have every right to be angry, but bitterness is never attractive.
Once you get to know each other better, talking about the past will happen naturally and easily.
2. You have (grown up) kids now
When you were dating in your early twenties, having children seemed a far off dream. Now you're in your fifties, having a family is very much a reality.
Teenage children can be tricky when it comes to introducing a new partner, but so too can grown-up ones! If your children tend to be free with their advice and judgement, you have every right to keep things quiet. In fact, it's probably best to wait until you feel confident in the relationship before you introduce your new partner to your family. Many people make the mistake of involving family too soon, and being swayed by their opinions. You deserve a private life, so give yourself time and space to get to know each other.
3. You have a wider social circle
Being in your fifties and having lived for longer means you have more funny stories and anecdotes to tell – which is a good thing! Not so good, is spending all night talking about people your date doesn't know. Talk too much about people who are unfamiliar to your date, and you risk boring them, or worse, alienating them. The same advice goes whatever your age: make the focus of the evening your date.
4. You're more fixed in your opinions
Everyone is different, but as we get older most of us get more set in our ways. There's nothing wrong with having fixed views on politics and religion – but if you want your date to go well, be careful how you voice them. Yes, it's important to find someone who shares the same values as you, but if you're too forceful in your opinions, you risk putting your date off. Not everyone enjoys talking politics – in general, leave the "big issue" debates for another time.
5. You have a certain "type"
Maybe you were married to a business go-getter who neglected you and the kids, or maybe you regret spending five years of your life with a dreamer. Be careful not to make snap decisions based on previous experiences. It's highly unlikely that the person you're dating is just like your ex. Be open minded and get to know someone before you decide you "know their type" and rule them out.
And if you've been attracted to the same "type" since your twenties, try dating someone different. Forget your thing about blondes, and go on a date with the brunette that you really enjoy chatting with last week. Dating second time around is a chance to do things differently – so be daring!
6. Your time is more precious
Finally, now that you're older time is even more precious. If someone puts you down or makes you feel uncomfortable, don't stick around hoping it gets better. People usually show the best version of themselves on the first few dates, so if you get a bad feeling go with your instinct and move on. Eventually you will find someone who brings laughter and love to your life. Until then, enjoy looking!