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March 3, 2020

How Can You Support Your Parents if They’re Ready to Date Again?

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What’s the best advice you can give your parents (or other fellow baby boomers) if they’re ready to get back into the dating pool again? Jess sits down with hosts Carolyn and Jeff on Global TV’s The Morning Show to further discuss. Check out her notes and video segment below!

1. They’re launching a Bachelor-type show for seniors — what does this say about dating in 2020 and any predictions for how this might be different than the traditional show?

It’s a reminder that our desire for love, companionship and sex exists across the lifespan. I just hope they don’t make age a central feature of the show or use it at the butt of jokes as is often the case in Hollywood. And I hope they use this rare showcase of love, dating and sex among seniors to promote safer sex, because older adults can be at greater risk.

2. How is dating for boomers different than dating for millennials?

The desired outcomes may be different. There may be less pressure to pair up and marry — especially if the daters are not longer interested in having kids, as they don’t have the same biological clock.

Some research suggests that men are more inclined to move in with a partner and women are less amenable to living together. Researchers suggest that men see female partners as elemental to meeting social, emotional, health and domestic needs; women find other sources of support. (Overall, the number of people living alone in Canada has doubled over the last 35 years — from 1.7 million in 1981 to 4 million in 2016.)

If you’ve been out of the dating game for some time, you may notice that things have changed. Safer sex practices are essential and the norm; your doctor may hold ageist assumptions and not ask about your sexual activity, which can affect whether or not they order the right tests, so you need to be your own advocate. Condom use declines with age, (perhaps) because adults and seniors are not targeted in safer sex campaigns.

And you have more options when it comes to meeting people — online and in-person. Meetups create opportunities for strangers to come together over any shared interest — from hiking and travel to baking and learning to speak German. And of course, you have so many choices of apps including niche dating apps for seniors. Many folks, however are still turning to eHarmony and Plenty of Fish, who have targeted sections for senior daters.

3. If you want to get back into the dating game, how do you approach this with your adult kids?

You don’t — unless you want to. You’re an adult. They’re adults. If you feel they can offer support or insight, you can certainly turn to them. But you don’t need their blessing or permission. Adult children need to manage their own feelings of jealousy and concern.

4. If your parents are dating again, how can you be supportive?

  • Be open to meeting their new partner(s) according to their own needs. You decided when it was time to bring home your partner and introduce them to the family; your parents can do the same. You’re not entitled to any details beyond what they want to share.
  • Express your support and let them know that you trust them; do not infantilise your adult parents! They have more experience than you and they always will.
  • Don’t treat them like children. You made mistakes while dating as a teen, in college and probably later into your life and they’ll make mistakes too; they have the wisdom and life experience to work through the hiccups.