Midlife Dating: Filling Your Social Calendar     
by Susan Dunn, MA, Personal Life Coach

If you find yourself suddenly solo at midlife wondering how to keep a balanced social life and meet other singles, you aren’t alone.

Sometimes friends and country clubs are divided up in the divorce along with the possessions, or you may find your invitations from married couples dwindling or difficult. Formerly an enthusiastic host or hostess, you may find it too challenging to entertain alone in your own home, while feeling like “odd man out” with the former married crowd you moved in. You may also have lost your best tennis or racquetball partner in your former spouse.

Others take a hiatus after a breakup or loss of a spouse, and then, when they feel like getting active again, wonder how to go about it. It isn’t just about finding a new partner, it’s doing things you like to do with others.

Here are some suggestions.

You can find these groups through yellow pages, search engines or local churches. If you don’t find one in your town, start one. They fill a need.

These groups may or may not be age-limited. Structured in various ways, they usually have an Activities Chairperson who schedules events. The person who wants to “sponsor” an event or activity gets it on the calendar, coordinates logistics (collects money, books tickets), takes reservations, answers questions and serves as welcoming host at the event or activity itself.

Regular activity groups such as an Adventure Group are a great idea too. Activities are physically oriented, including dancing, kayacking, hiking, and camping trips. There could be one around culture too, or travel. They include both single and married folks, just like church, the Rotary and the workplace.

It’s a great way to meet new people, whether you’re a couple new to town who knows no one outside of work, or a single person hoping to find a partner.

Socializing around shared interests with an unplanned group of others is one of the best ways to meet new members of the opposite sex. They have a good energy, and you’re already on the way toward compatibility. Volunteering would also fit this category. Check out your local museums, non-profits, libraries, hospitals, zoo and alma mater to see what groups you can belong to and enjoy.

And don’t forget civic organizations.

Remember, you can make it happen. If you went to a big school and still live in that town, why not start a Single Alumni Club? You’d connect with people you have a lot in common with – history.

A Singles Friends Group may or may not be age-defined, and can include a wide variety of social events and activities out on the town, up in the hills, or in the homes of members. Some may date, but it’s mostly about new friends and shared interests.

Included might be: wine and beer tasting, happy hour, a crafts party for members and their grandkids, Super Bowl party in someone’s home, Sunday night dinner and movie, a cruise, volunteer work, going to a rodeo, ballet or symphony, attending a cooking class, Game Night at someone’s home (bring your favorite board game), a Dance Gala inviting all-city singles, bowling, and just about anything else people enjoy doing together.

Churches sometimes sponsor these groups, giving them a place to meet on Sunday morning, or they can be held in public facilities such as a hotel, restaurant, or library.

Many churches and religious institutions actively minister to singles and offer Sunday School classes, Bible study, small groups, social events, and volunteer opportunities. Ask other singles where the good ones are, and call around to some churches to see what they offer singles.

Speed dating or pre-dating is another option. Either in-person at a public location, or by phone and Internet, you meet people in your age and interest category in short (6 minutes?) “pre-dates”. (See www.pre-dating.com .)

“We facilitate the whole thing,” say these folks, who schedule events in various cities throughout the US, “so there’s no awkwardness, no pressure, no embarrassment and no games … just great fun!” Couples who indicate a mutual interest are given each other’s contact information after the event.

Here are some of the categories: Singles (ages 40-49); Jewish Singles, Single Parents, Interracial (White Men/Black Women), Latin/Speakers of Spanish Singles; Younger Women (25-39) / Older Men (40-55), Younger Men (25-37) / Older Women (38-49), Athletic Singles, East / West Indian Singles, Marriage Minded Singles, Smokers / Smoker Tolerant Singles, Tall Women (5/10”+) / Tall Men, and Singles without Children.

Sample venue? Complimentary quesadilla bar and happy hour drink specials from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m., held on a Wednesday night, cost is around $35. They say you’ll connect with about 10-12 people.

What if you fit one category but want to date within another? Say you’re a 60 year old man who likes to date 25 year olds, or a tall women who prefers short men? Pre-dating.com says they “favor diversity” and will try to accommodate, but only allow about 1 in 10 to be out-of-category.

Initially I thought this mode best for extraverts who love the frenzy and sheer numbers, but introverts could also do well because they’re perceptive and get a chance to visit one-on-one, which is their forte.

Dancing is great fun and exercise, and a great way to meet new people of all ages. Check out local dance venues to see if they’re offering dance classes. You can brush up on your skills at a local dancing school, and also meet other singles there.

Or take group lessons at local dance halls which offer them free (or for little) early in the evening to help fill up the place on “off” nights. Even the fabled Bill Bob’s offers dance lessons on Thursday nights, in their case bringing in national talent to teach it, but if your town’s like mine, you’ll be amazed at the local talent. To locate a dancing teacher near you, go here: http://www.dancespots.net/Find/FindATeacher.asp?SE=Y .       
These are just a few of the ways you can put yourself around other single people in a more structured way and get a jump on a social life. Active participation allows you to meet other singles, possibly for dating, while also meeting friends, enjoying your life, going new places, trying new things, learning new skills, and having fun.

About the Author
©Susan Dunn, MA, Midlife Dating and Relationship Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc . Offering coaching for men and women in dating, transitions, retirement and other midlife issues. Susan is the author of “Midlife Dating Survival Manual for Women,” available at www.webstrategies.cc/ebooklibrary.html . Mailto:sdunn@susandunn.cc .

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