By Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D.

For many of us, a lost opportunity at love or the end of a long-term relationship can sometimes make us feel like a second chance just isn’t in the cards. And when Valentine’s Day is focused on romantic dinners for two or coupled walks on the beach, it can be a painful reminder of what we lack.

Let’s face it. There’s no substitute for young love, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy being loved again later in life, especially for seniors. “Fortunately, in some ways, there has never been a better time for women over 60 to be in the dating world,” says Margaret Manning. “The rise of divorce among ‘silver splitters’ means there are more single older men — and there might be more great guys out there than you might expect at first glance, especially if you give them a chance.”

Expert Dating Advice for Older Adults

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A loving and caring companionship is a good thing, but it’s also important to recognize that it’s different for older adults. If you find yourself ready to take a shot at love again, here are three pieces of expert dating advice for making this experience feel as good as if it was new.

1. Instead of going for red hot, opt for a slow burn: Daters who are 50 and older tend to be less impulsive. And AARP writer Ken Solin says that’s a good thing: “By now, we’ve collected enough life experience to know better than to fall for the first person we meet,” said Solin. “We understand what works for us and what doesn’t.” For older adults, the belief that a fulfilling relationship is out there waiting for us still holds true. The difference is that we are willing to wait for the right person to come along.

2. Bring the Sex-C back: Instead of relying on intercourse to be the foundation for your budding relationship, a growing community is coming forward with conversations about intimacy challenges. Laura Brashier, founder of RomanceOnly.com, helped ignite this conversation when she pioneered a site designed for people whose physical and emotional challenges prevent them from engaging in intercourse. “While these people are unable to have intercourse, they still crave intimacy but are unable to open up about it,” says Brashier. “I’ve discovered that people facing difficulties with sexual intercourse still want to show love and be loved in return.”

Sharing intimate moments with someone you love is an essential part of a growing relationship, but for older adults, that doesn’t always require intercourse. Instead, a loving couple can explore other ways to share pleasure and develop a personal connection. It can be as simple as spending a whole day together erranding, participating in common interests, sharing meals, and everything in between — and then parting ways at sunset.

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3. Expect respect: At this stage of life, older adults know what they want and what they deserve in a relationship. Yes, we want romance and attention, but we also need respect. “We all need respect, especially from those who are closest and most intimately connected with us,” says Peter Gray, PhD. “It seems to me that women, even more than men, have suffered when love directed toward them is not accompanied by respect.” It’s helpful to discover common interests, but a caring partner will also respect differing hobbies or career choices. For instance, if your partner cannot understand why you would pursue teaching as a career or insists that you give up bowling league to spend more time at the theater, these may be signs that your new squeeze is a drip. “A lack of respect is unacceptable under any circumstances, but it’s especially intolerable on a first encounter because it’s unlikely to improve with time,” says Solin.

Love certainly has its share of unpredictable twists, but there has never been an easier time to navigate those turns. For instance, with online dating sites catering to older adults and those facing struggles with intimacy, the ability to connect is offering new hope to older adults every day. By using a strategy that includes things like patience, honest communication about intimacy — and, above all, respect — you’re on the right track to finding new love again.

For more information about and articles by our relationship expert Dr. Amy Osmond Cook, click here.