People who are singles over 50 are the second highest group of the 14.3 million singles in Canada. The latest Statistics Canada census data shows that Canadians in their late 50s are more likely to be divorced than any other age category. And for the first time in Canadian history, population estimates reveal there are more people aged 55 to 64 than there are people aged 15 to 24.
Legend has it that Feb. 14 was named for Saint Valentine – a martyred priest who married young couples in defiance of an edict from the ruling third-century Roman Emperor Claudius. Almost 2,000 years later, red hearts and valentines are exchanged by lovebirds and school-aged children in our modern day Canadian culture.
We are inundated with television commercials and radio ads encouraging consumers to purchase flowers, chocolates and even diamonds to celebrate love on Feb. 14. But some may be alone for the first time after a divorce or loss of a spouse, and not everyone who is single is interested in a relationship.
Whether that individual is looking for a soul mate in the manner of Catherine and Heathcliff in the masterpiece, Wuthering Heights – “whatever our souls are made out of, his and mine are the same” – or for companionship after a divorce or loss of a spouse, starting over later in life can be difficult. Maybe you haven’t been on a date since the first Trudeau was in office and you went to a drive-in movie on a Saturday night. The prospect of a first date can be daunting to say the least.
The good news
A recent This Is 50 survey published online by the Today Health & Wellness website reported that 60 per cent of singles over 50 said they don’t need a relationship to be happy. Nearly half of those participants said they are actually enjoying life more now than in previous decades.
Companionship and remaining socially active are key components of healthy aging, so being in a relationship can actually be good for your health as well. People in committed, healthy and happy relationships have a lower chance of cardiovascular disease, according to researchers from a New York University study. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but theorize a good relationship can provide someone with emotional support, physical and intellectual intimacy and closer ties to extended family, all of which may contribute to lower blood pressure and improved overall health.
So where do singles over 50 start if they want to meet someone and start dating again? Here are a few tips:
Join something! A great way to meet someone with common interests is to do something you love. Are you an exercise junkie? Join a health club or take an introductory boxing class, for example. Love foreign languages? Maybe it’s time to finally learn Spanish. Creative Retirement offers a variety of programs and classes for retirees and older adults. A hard copy of their 2017 Guide is available at any Winnipeg Public Library.
Just do it! Sometimes expectations stop people before they get started. That date your cousin has been trying to set you up on may not turn out to be the love of your life, but he/she may turn into a great friend.
Volunteer. Hospitals, libraries, non-profits and animal-focused organizations are always in need of volunteers. Volunteering attracts a wide variety of people and is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people.
Try online dating. The research shows that people in their 50s are the fastest growing segment of online daters. There are even sites geared toward people 50-plus.
Connect with old friends. High school or college reunions and social networking sites like Facebook are great opportunities to connect with people from the past and reignite old friendships.