Relationship Therapist Who Lost Her Husband 5 Years Ago Shares The Online Dating Tips She Learned As A Woman Over 50

Love will find its way to you when you take the proper steps.

Mature couple having a glass of wine, online dating Getty Images; Unsplash; glegorly / Canva

Five years widowed, downsized, and empty nested, work had displaced the daily routines we enjoyed as a couple. I still made time for Sunday dinners with my daughters, their spouses, and children. But they were the oasis and not my daily life.

Around the time I made the final trip to Goodwill and closed the last decluttered drawer, I wanted more than just work. The gym, running trails, and pursuit of all things healthy kept me distracted for the next few years.


But one evening, picking away at my computer keys, I set up an online dating profile using my best recent photos. A hallmark decision was to enjoy the journey and get the guy. 

Here are 10 online dating tips for women over 50, according to a relationship therapist

1. Show that you are more than just a person in a photograph

I decided not to tell the guy scrolling through that I was kind, compassionate, authentic, and ambitious. Though all of these were true at times, I wanted him to get the picture and not just the words.

So, the first paragraph described my grandmother, who was both a mentor and spiritual guide. The second referred to a quote, "Esse quam videri" ("To be, rather than to seem"), which shaped my formative years. The third was a list of movies I like, songs I sing, the funny bone I wish I had, and what I want.


I took a risk and described the kind of man I did not want to hear from and the person I was not: addicted, unfaithful, and self-important.

Your dating profile is a physical and emotional snapshot with a message. It says, "this is who I am, how I feel, and what I want, and I want to meet someone who feels and wants similarly." I wanted the man checking me out to know I have spiritual and deep roots. I don't forget the people I love. I am who I say I am.

One valuable caveat is your dating profile attracts the people you want to hear from and everyone else. Knowing this helped me keep my expectations modest and my patience intact.

Relationship Therapist Who Lost Her Husband Shares Online Dating Tips She Learned As A Woman Over 50Photo: Marcus Aurelius / Pexels


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2. Heal from past relationships and other trauma before putting yourself out there

Past age 50, you have been disappointed, betrayed, and felt sorrow and loss. You may even have been touched by horror and trauma, and the deeper your pain, the greater the need for recovery.

So, spend some time in therapy, journalling, and healing before meeting someone new. Regardless of how empathic and compassionate, the person you date is not equipped to help you heal. And if they begin to engage with you therapeutically, the dynamic stops being one of equals.

Past hurt will emerge as anger, sadness, guilt, shame, and blame. Recognize, name, and reframe it while waiting for your therapy appointment.


For me, it was as simple as saying, “This sadness is a result of feeling like a victim and, at this moment, I will reimagine my story. My hardship has made me strong, and what began as a bad thing turned into a stepping stone. I am resilient today.”



3. Prepare for love

When you release the roadblocks of past hurt, you begin to fill the void with self-compassion, other focus, and kindness. This fostered a conscious practice of paying it forward, intentional kindness, and more engagement with friends and the community than I was used to.

I confess to being a natural overworker, so the next few months of preparing for love brought me much-needed balance and happiness. I prepared for love by beginning each morning with repetitions of an openhearted yoga pose, and continued through the day with loving actions to model the partner I wished to attract.


The intentional listening, eye contact, smiling, and kindness I practiced were conscious and introduced the benefits of being more engaged. In that period, acquaintances became friends and friendships were more meaningful.

We spend hours of study and look for opportunities to expand and grow professionally, but assume we know the language of love. Having a good relationship takes effort and brings rich rewards.

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4. Make space in your life

Trying to balance dating or a new relationship with existing responsibilities will leave you frazzled and avoiding the process, a state preceding complaints, and the end of dating.


You know best if you need a housekeeper or a meal prep service. So, balancing career, education, and existing priorities with dating and a future relationship takes good boundaries and assertive communication.



5. Cultivate a healthy mindset

Have patience and modest expectations of when and who will prevent disappointment and keep you focused on the present and the process. So, please keep your standards of the one you will settle with, but relax certain elements.

With the attitude of adventure, fun, and curiosity, I embarked online, confident I would meet the one but having no expectations to do this quickly. I responded to men I would enjoy having a coffee with, getting to know their stories, sharing a laugh, and possibly going on a second date, a hike, or dinner.


A healthy mindset keeps you having fun. The pool of eligible partners has changed since your university days. But I was happy to expand my horizons into different cultures, professions, and interests, without compromising my wants.

6. Know what you want

Part of having a healthy mindset is not keeping a long list of must-haves or being unwilling to compromise on the essentials. Some want a live-in partner, others hope for a weekend steady, but past 50 you are free to make different choices than in the past.

My nonnegotiables were a person who was faithful, generous, and knew how to communicate and collaborate. I was also adamant that they be self-sufficient, undemanding, and not interfere with my goals. If that sounds selfish, I was prepared to give as well as get. In the meantime, I couldn’t resist tall men with kind eyes not afraid to see through and challenge me.

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7. Communicate on your first few dates

You have heard communication is key, and I will say to spend as much time listening as you do sharing. A first date is not the place to lay out your cards, life story, or details about your ex or family's disappointments. Also, stay clear of hot topics like religion, politics, or matrimony.

Your mutual attraction does not equate to a relationship, a friendship, or a soulmate, although it could someday be one. The person across from you needs to feel safe, relaxed, and connected. Anything more will hit a note of discord, and when that happens early in a relationship, it will ring their alarm bell, as it should. A date is not prepared to support and nurture you.

Relationship Therapist Who Lost Her Husband Shares Online Dating Tips She Learned As A Woman Over 50Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock


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8. Look for red flags

The excitement and nerves of the first few dates can leave you dazzled by his brilliance yet confused by certain behaviors. While it is impossible to know someone in a short time, you will not enjoy dating if you spend too much time with an incompatible person with very different values.

There are a few warning signs that should give you pause on your first few dates:

  • How they handle your boundaries: If you say you don’t want to do something, they need to hear you.
  • Excessive focus on themselves: A good conversation is like a dance where one person moves and the other follows, each taking turns.
  • Trouble answering reasonable questions: If they are evasive and deflect to avoid giving you factual information about themselves, be wary that they aren't trying to hide something.
  • Defensive responses: If they spend too much time justifying, making excuses, and never taking responsibility in the scenarios he describes, imagine how difficult it will be to solve problems should your relationship advance.
  • How they treat others: If the person you are with is curt, condescending, or mean to others, they are not a good person. Steer clear.
  • Checking their phone often: If they have given a warning of an urgent call they cannot miss, that is the only situation to excuse their distraction.
  • Talking about a future with you: If your person hints at your future together without knowing you, you can be so excited by this and overlook their other red flags. Stay grounded and ask yourself why they are so eager to secure you.
  • Talking about sex very soon: This is a problem if you are not ready for this conversation and if you ask them to wait until you know each other better.

9. Understand how to handle differences in values or goals with a partner

After 50, you have a clearer sense of your values and goals in life and are more aware than ever of the barriers these differences can create. By the second date, you are beginning to see these differences, appreciate the nuances they present, and need to weigh the costs and benefits.

As soon as you ascertain that they are equally interested in a relationship, ask how they might handle certain scenarios.



10. Talk about sex

When you are clear that you have a mutual interest in making the relationship long-term, don't allow sex to become an elephant in the room. It may be that it just happens because you are both willing, but there are some benefits to introducing the subject and hearing from them. This allows you to prepare and set the stage if you need to.


I have heard many cringe-worthy horror stories about online dating, and while some are true, a Forbes/Health study found that individuals between ages 43 and 58 found more success with online dating, and 72% stated that meeting on a dating app led to a romantic relationship.

While online dating may come with challenges, it can also lead to meaningful connections and lasting love.

By staying true to yourself, maintaining healthy boundaries, and embracing the journey with optimism, you increase your chances of finding the companionship and happiness you seek. So relax, enjoy the process, and trust that love will find its way to you. After all, it did for me.

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Reta Walker is a relationship therapist with over 25 years of experience, specializing in helping couples get back on track.