One of the great advantages of growing older is that the older you get, the younger you feel. Relatively, at least.
Researchers in the US found that whereas 25% of the under 30s surveyed felt older than they actually were, only 3% of the over 65s did. In fact, 30% of the respondents who were aged between 65 and 75 felt between 10 and 19 years younger than they actually were, and one in six felt more than 20 years younger.
For many, advancing years bring a confidence and determination to make the most out of life. So if you're single, why not get back in the dating game? It's wasted on the young.
Here's what you need to know about your dive into the dating pool after 55:
1. Keep a sense of humour (and an open mind)
Funny stuff happens on dates. So your date who appeared to be tall, dark and handsome at first meeting manages to lose his toupee when he stoops over to help you retrieve your dropped napkin? At least he's a gentleman.
Maybe the fascinating new chap at your book club goes all Walter Mitty on you when you go for coffee. No need to try to escape through the bathroom window, unless you're feeling especially agile of course.
Dating disasters are part of the rich tapestry of life. And it doesn't get any easier after 55, I'm afraid! Just put it down to experience, make your excuses, and maybe wheel out your tale of woe over a cathartic glass of wine with your friends later.
2. Don't waste time. There are plenty of fish.
Remember what you used to say to your teenage kids when they came home from the school disco feeling dejected? It's still true. And when you're dating in the sixth (seventh, eighth...) decade of your life, there's really no reason to waste time on dates that don't make you smile.
According to the last UK census, 27.7% of the population are over 55. That's something in the region of 20 million fish in this particular sea. And if you're open minded on age, then you're only increasing your odds. Don't settle for a date you're ambivalent about. There's someone out there who will tickle your fancy!
3. Dating based on common interests is still the best idea
Some things might have changed in the world of dating over the last few years, but the fundamentals of human attraction haven't changed since people were sitting down to a nice first date plate of woolly mammoth.
You're more likely to find a suitable partner if you join activities, groups and clubs based on your personal interests. Not only is this more fun, you can reinvent your whole social life in a way that is often impossible for younger people who have to work around childcare and job commitments. Chances are, if you're dating after 55, there's nobody there to stop you going out on a school night. So off you go!
4. There's nothing odd about internet dating
If you're dating for the first time since the internet became ubiquitous, then you might be a little bit skeptical about the internet dating pool. But in fact, it can be perfect for dating after 55 because you can build relationships up at your own pace, messaging and chatting before meeting in person.
What's better is that there are sites specifically designed for over 55s in the UK, such as Mature Dating UK or Singles Over 60 and many more. Alternatively, you could choose a site based on your interests, lifestyle or even the newspaper you read. Think of it like a quicker, smarter personal ads page, where you can freely filter out the unappealing without ever needing to resort to a 'Dear John' letter.
5. Be clear about what you want
If teenagers tend to have one thing on their mind when they're dating, figuring out what you want from a date gets increasingly complex with age. You might be looking for some fun and friendship with someone who shares your interests, maybe you're hoping to rekindle old passions and put those '50 Shades' ideas to good use, or perhaps the endgame is to find a new husband or wife.
Being clear (as far as possible!) about what you're hoping to get from dating is best for you, and fairest for your prospective dates. There's no harm in being upfront, so this is no time to be shy.
6. Be safe
As much fun as it is, meeting new people involves some risk. It's worth thinking about being safe when dating, whatever your age. If you're meeting someone for the first time or whom you don't know well, make sure that the venue is neutral and somewhere with plenty of other people. Tell friends where you are and ask them to check up on you mid-date. If it's a disaster, their call can give you an excuse to leave!
Another option is to use SenChat to meet people who share the same interests as you, in the comfort of your own home. A simple, safe, and easy way to chat with people on the large screen, right from your favourite chair.
Be aware of scams, too. Older people looking for love have been targeted by criminals posing as potential dates who then ask for money (for travel or because of fictional emergencies). If it looks or sounds dodgy, it probably is. Don't be drawn in.
7. Don't abandon your friends
However fantastically your dating experience goes, don't forget your friends. They can share the highs and lows of the dating experience with you, and will be there even if your Prince Charming turns into a frog.
So if you're single and wondering about getting back out into the dating scene, what's stopping you? Entering the dating pool after 55 doesn't have to be about a fumble behind the bike sheds or a wild night out clubbing (unless you want it to be, of course). And even if your days as a 24-hour party animal are behind you, what have you got to lose? You might find love, and at the very least you may have some fun!