For people over the age of 55, dating could be a challenging aspect of life to navigate and, after about a year of isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, getting out there might seem even more overwhelming.
As businesses and activities begin to reopen in a post-pandemic atmosphere, seniors who are looking to get back out in the dating world are doing so just like their Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z counterparts — with the use of dating apps, online networks and community events to meet new people.
The top methods for seniors to meet other people were being introduced by mutual friends, dating apps or websites and local events, such as parties or community activities, according to a 2021 study of senior dating by Choice Mutual.
“For anyone who wants to date now that things are opening back up, definitely look into your community events or find groups that partake in activities you’re interested in,” said Collette Gee, a dating and relationship specialist and founder of the relationship-consulting business Finding Happily, based in Los Angeles. “Find like-minded people: If you like to bike, find a biking group; if you like to bird watch, find a group for that. Try to connect with others based on your interests.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many activities have moved to an online platform and still offer online options even though businesses reopen. Gee said virtual classes are an easy way to meet people who don’t feel comfortable in group settings just yet.
“Utilizing online events is a great way for anyone to meet new people,” she added. “There are virtual classes for almost anything now, you can sign up for a virtual cooking class, wine tasting, book clubs and so much more. You’re able to talk virtually with someone and it doesn’t require you to leave the house right away.”
Another online resource she recommends to people wanting to date is to use dating app and websites. There, people can sort what they’re hoping to find in a partner and meeting face-to-face isn’t immediately required.
“I was intimidated to start but once (my dating profile) was all set up it wasn’t hard at all,” said 71-year-old Sydney Tucker, who resides in Canyon Country. “I’m a people person, so I didn’t find it difficult to speak with anyone I matched with. It was a fun and easy process that ended up being very rewarding.”
Tucker, who used the dating app Tinder to find her current partner whom she’s been in a relationship with for a few months, said her friends talked her into downloading the app and her daughter helped set up her profile.
Tucker moved to the Santa Clarita Valley in 2016 with her husband, who died shortly before the pandemic settled into L.A. County. After some time, she downloaded the app in hopes of finding a “significant relationship,” she said.
“Once everything was sat up it seemed like I was getting a lot of responses right away,” Tucker said. “It was wonderful because I was able to see who was out there and match with people I felt like I could relate with.”
Tucker said she was able to partake in online dating despite the pandemic, adding that it was easier to converse with people over messaging than meeting face-to-face. Another perk from online dating was the ability to disconnect from people easily. She said if things didn’t work out, or there were instances where a user would need to be reported, it was simple to move on and didn’t have any “awkward tension.”
“If people are thinking about giving it a try, I’d tell them to not be afraid,” Tucker said. “You have the discretion and are able to disconnect with people at any time. For me, it was less awkward than meeting someone in person. Things can go at your own pace through an app, it’s fun and steady.”
Gee said it could be difficult to use online platforms to meet new people, and now that events and activities are reopening, it could be a great way to interact with new people. She added that activities and events should be utilized for an individual’s interests, not for the sole purpose of dating.
Volunteering is an effective way to meet new people, Gee said, since volunteer work is based on interests, it’s an easy way for people to meet others who share the same interests, whether it be at a church or hospital.
“The best way to find someone is by holding on to your interests and putting yourself out there,” Gee said. “I advise people to smile and be friendly to other people while they’re grocery shopping or doing other mundane errands. Presenting yourself in a friendly way will help you meet more people, even if you’re just at the store.”
The Bella Vida Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center is located at 27180 Golden Valley Road, Santa Clarita. It can be reached by calling (661) 259-9444. For information about events, visit myscvcoa.org.