Getting back on the dating scene can be daunting, especially when you’re going through the menopause. But you aren’t alone. Research shows that almost a third of people aged between 50 and 64 in the UK are either single, divorced or widowed.
Whether you’re still searching for ‘the one’ or have just come out of a long-term relationship, putting yourself out there doesn’t have to be scary—it can actually be fun. Dating in your 20s can be filled with pressure to have children or get married, but this isn’t usually the case for relationships at this later stage of your life.
TJ Gibbs, founder of The Love Coach, said: “By the time our 50s come around, we’re more realistic about what someone else can bring to our lives and much more aware of the limitations of people against our expectations.
“Lust is no longer the driving force. We’re not subconsciously looking for the father of our children, and this is replaced by a need for good companionship, conversation and an exchange of mutual interests. Hope of finding the prince has been replaced with the hope of finding a best friend.”
However, before you dip your toe back into the dating pool, it’s important you get up to speed on how it’s changed, and ease any menopausal symptoms that could affect your confidence.
Self-love and acceptance
Before you even think about searching for a partner, consider whether you’re ready. If you’re still angry or upset about your previous relationship, you may need some more time to work on yourself before introducing somebody else into your life. Use the lessons you have learnt from former relationships to help you determine who and what you’re looking for.
“Those who were in recent previous relationships may have lost their identity,” TJ Gibbs said. “Falling back in love with yourself is the absolute cornerstone to being able to sustain loving someone else. It will remind you of all the things you have to offer a partner.”
It may be decades since you last went on a date, which may leave you feeling self-conscious about your body. A survey revealed that one-third of over-50s considering online dating worried they would look too old.
“You’ve spent 50 years cultivating the amazing woman you’ve become and it’s time to celebrate your strength, love, passion, heart and courage. Remind yourself that your body is only part of what will attract your tribe, your vibe will do the rest,” TJ Gibbs added.
Menopause and sex
Most women will go through ‘the change’ between the ages of 45 and 55. The symptoms can often include vaginal dryness and stress urinary incontinence, which can result in discomfort during sex, less desire to have sex and a difficulty in reaching orgasm. This could make you feel nervous about having sex with a new partner.
TJ Gibbs said: “Ironically, due to the hormonal changes in our bodies at 50, women can suffer from the same insecurities that they first experienced as teenagers.
However, there are plenty of options that can ease these symptoms, so your sex life doesn’t have to be affected.
You can apply water-based lubricants to both you and your partner before intercourse to relieve any discomfort or pain your dryness might cause. However, this is only a temporary solution and if the symptoms continue to persist or worsen, you should seek medical advice.
Dr Rekha Tailor, founder and medical director of Health & Aesthetics, said: “Vaginal dryness is such a common issue for women going through the menopause, but this doesn’t mean you should just accept this as a part of getting older.
“Menopause can have a direct impact on sex, which is a vital part of life for many women. It’s important not to suffer in silence as this could have a damaging effect on your self-esteem and happiness.”
Vaginal rejuvenation, also known as Femilift, is a procedure that uses a laser to stimulate collagen growth, which in turn helps to rebuild and tighten the vaginal tissue. The course of three treatments costs £3,000 but it is worth the investment as it can be a long-term solution to menopausal symptoms such as vaginal dryness, painful sex and urinary incontinence.
The treatment is pain-free, with no side effects, and only takes up to 15 minutes. The results also last between 12 and 18 months.
“This procedure delivers a sense of relief to the patient and enables them to continue with their day-to-day lives without facing the disruption of menopausal symptoms,” Dr Tailor added.
“Vaginal rejuvenation can even improve the patient’s sex life by increasing sensitivity, tightness and lubrication.”
If you’re experiencing severe vaginal dryness, your GP may recommend vaginal oestrogen, which works to replace the oestrogen that the menopause is diluting inside your body.
Vaginal oestrogen is available in different forms, including pills (pessaries), vaginal creams and vaginal rings. It may be beneficial to continue using lubricants and vaginal moisturisers when you begin this treatment, before the oestrogen takes effect. Side effects of this treatment are rare, but can include vaginal itching and damage to latex condoms or diaphragms.
“All women react to each treatment differently, so it’s important to speak to medical professionals to determine which option is suitable for you,” Dr Tailor said.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
This form of treatment restores the hormones that your ovaries are no longer producing. Your GP might suggest it as an option, especially if you have a number of menopausal symptoms (hot flushes, mood swings, night sweats etc). However, HRT can result in a number of side effects, including vaginal bleeding, tender breasts, abdominal pain and headaches.
“It’s imperative that you don’t have sex until you’re comfortable,” TJ Gibbs said. “If you’re not ready, your body could actually be affected by sexual trauma even though you thought you were ready.
“The key to good sex when dating at 50 is to look for someone you want to wake up with, not just sleep with. Someone who appreciates all the benefits of the older version of you.”
If you’re worried how a new partner might react to the news that you’re going through menopause, wait until you feel comfortable in explaining your situation. If he or she’s worth your time, they will react respectfully and understand that you may want to take things slowly.
The world of online dating
Though you might feel ready to begin dating, you may be fazed by how much ‘the scene’ has changed, even from just five years ago.
Reports show that 20% of relationships now begin online. It’s also predicted that by 2031, this could increase to 50%, with the biggest growth expected among people aged between 55 and 64. There are now even online dating services specifically aimed at single people over the age of 50. So, if you aren’t already fully prepared, you may need to get to grips with the world of online dating.
To give your online dating profile the best chance of attracting a match, you should:
- share current photos that look like you
- write a short paragraph in your bio that showcases your personality
- include some of your interests to attract a like-minded person
- describe who or what kind of relationship you’re looking for
- be honest but don’t overshare
- be positive and smile in your photos
- end your bio with a call to action, such as, ‘why not reach out and say hi?’
However, always be on alert for any fake accounts, as there are unscrupulous thieves out there who use these pretend profiles to steal people’s identity or money. (This is known as ‘catfishing’.) But don’t let this scare you off—just avoid sharing any private information (e.g. home address, workplace, bank details) or giving money to anybody online.
The dating scene
Meeting your match online isn’t your only option. If you would prefer to meet people ‘the old-fashioned way’, you may need to step out of your comfort zone. This could involve trying something new (such as attending local groups and classes) or being proactive and saying ‘yes’ to more social invitations.
You may not have pictured yourself starting over, but once you get past the initial fears, you might surprise yourself and find a new lease of life.