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Dating at 50 or older may sound daunting whether you're recently single or have been going alone for awhile. And although things may have changed a lot from dating as a 20-something, (think sexting, tecting and TTYL) millions of singles of a certain age are looking for love.
But it doesn't mean they aren't discerning about potential partners. Among those ages 50-65, the top three deal breakers are poor health, financial instability and a potential partner they find physically unattractive, say some 2,033 singles surveyed over the summer.
At least three-quarters or more of those surveyed as members of the online dating site OurTime.com, for singles over 50, cited those factors as deal breakers, with poor health at the top at 78%, followed by financial instability at 76% and physical unattractiveness at 75%.
"When you are 50 and older and thinking about dating, you're thinking about going out and having somebody to do things with and having a companion and living life," says social psychologist Terri Orbuch, of Detroit, the website's relationship expert and a research professor at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.
The survey for OurTime about dating behaviors, beliefs and he overall dating landscape by online survey provider SurveyMonkey, of Palo Alto, Calif., also found that among the respondents, 71% are divorced, 80% have children and 99% are heterosexual.
Ron Rizzi, 59, a digital media specialist and marketing professional in Ft. Lauderdale who participated in the survey, says his divorce was final in January after 32 years of marriage.
Rizzi, who has two sons ages 19 and 22, says he and his former wife have focused on being amicable."
"It's important for yourself as a human being and important for your children," he says. "If it were The War of the Roses, (the 1989 movie about a bitter divorce) what are you passing along to your kids and what would they be thinking about an institution known as marriage?"
"You need to have an amicable, cordial relationship with another human being after spending a portion of your life with them," Rizzi says.
Clinical psychologist Judith Ruskay Rabinor of New York City, believes it's so important to have a friendly relationship with your ex that she wrote a book about it. Befriending Your Ex After Divorce: Making Life Better for You, Your Kids, and Yes, Your Ex was published earlier this year.
"Children are the glue that keep the parents together," she says. "It takes a village and your ex-husband remains such an important person in your village."
The survey finds that most agree it's possible to be friends with an ex. It didn't specify a spouse or a relationship, but 56% say they're friends with one or more of my exes; 22% say it's possible, but they aren't friends with an ex; 15% say they don't believe it's possible; and 7% don't have any exes.
Orbuch says her earlier research has shown that most people do say they are friends with an ex.
"For many people, it could be 'friendly' - I'm not ready to tear his or her eyes out, but does it mean I'm going to movies or hanging out with them? Probably not I would argue," she says.
The survey also asked whether respondents want to marry at this stage of life. The reaction was split - tipping slightly toward the altar, with 51% wanting to marry and 49% against it. Among women, 52% want to marry. Among men, 52% don't.
Debra Stevenson, 60, of Los Angeles, is divorced and unsure about marriage.
"I'm looking for a partnership," she syas. "If it ends up in marriage, that's a possibility. I haven't had the experience of a really good marriage and I'd like to have a chance to have a good relationship."
Stevenson was among the survey respondents who believe that finding someone the same age or 1-5 years younger works best. Of the participants, 15% wanted someone the same ago and 26% were looking for a partner 1-5 years younger. Although one-quarter of the respondents didn't care about age, Stevenson, founder of an event marking and consulting company, says she has noticed definite differences.
"There seems to be a break around 63 or 64 that's generational," she says. "What I've found is I don't have as much in common with the people older than I am - everything from musical taste to activities to their view on the world."
As an over-50 single, Stevenson says dating is a lot different than when she was younger.
"We've figured out that we're living longer and we're more active," she says. "Hopefully most of us know a lot more about ourselves and potentially can be a better partner."