Getting back into the dating game

Are you single and looking to get back into the dating game, but are unsure as to modern-day rules? Okay, maybe some dating terms have changed. For instance, have you heard of ‘Netflix and chill’? Maybe look it up. The short story is that it has something to do with getting lucky at home whilst watching the telly. Really though, it’s all just courting rebranded and our list of hints should help get you back ‘on court’.

Getting back in the saddle
So you haven’t dated for a while. You’re probably a bit mystified as to what has changed since your last foray. But rest assured – times may have changed but the game is still the same, although you may find that the playing field has levelled a bit more in recent years. The good news about dating is that it should still be a blast for you no matter your age. Becoming reacquainted with modern dating etiquette will help you back on the horse and having fun in no time.

For the boys
Women have fought hard for their rights over the years, and this may intimidate some men, but fellas, one thing hasn’t changed – women still love to be asked out on a date, no matter how outspoken they may seem outwardly. Just don’t be surprised if they make the first move though.

There are no set rules when it comes to planning and paying for the night out, but quite often a woman will offer to pay, or split the bill. If you want to be considered a class act though, you should always offer to pay, but don’t be surprised if a modern mature woman insists on paying for herself – and don’t fight them too hard if they do refuse your offer.

It always pays to be a gentleman. In fact, more often these days it is becoming a lost social grace. Opening the car door for her, pulling out her chair, offering her your coat when it’s cold, pouring her drink first, walking on the road side – they are all gestures that are not lost on modern women. Try to make her feel special when you take her out, but don’t go overboard. It’s the little things that count.

If you like a lady, then flirt with her a little. See how she responds. You should be able to tell if she is interested by her tone, the amount of eye contact she makes with you, how she smiles and by her general body language. There is an old male myth that if a lady repeatedly touches her hair whilst in contact with you, then she may like you. Don’t take it as gospel, but be aware of her ‘tells’ and act accordingly. Don’t be too shy, but don’t be too forthright either – you’ll scare her off that way.

And if you do manage to snag a lovely lady, treat her as an equal and don’t – I repeat, don’t – ever expect her to be your maid. It’s the time of life that both of you deserve to enjoy the company of another, so don’t go into a relationship looking to be looked after. That may be a by-product of a new bond, but it should never be the priority.

For the girls
Okay ladies, you’ve got your eye on a lad but he’s not asked you out for a date yet. Well, why not ask him? More often these days it’s the ladies who take the lead. And don’t the men just love it! And if you can’t pluck up the courage to ask him on a date, at least let him know you’re interested. Time is of the essence so go on, what have you got to lose?

If you are planning to meet a man who you don’t know very well, make sure you meet him in a public place the first few times and always let a friend or family member know where you’ll be on your date. This goes double if you’ve met them online and not through an introduction from a friend or loved one.

If you’re uncomfortable on a one-on-one date, organise a group date instead, or meet somewhere where you an engage in some kind of activity that eases the pressure of the traditional face-to-face date.

It’s still fun to go to a movie and dinner for your first date but why not twist it around a little and do the movie first? That way you’re assured of having something to talk about with your date.

General help from the dating gurus

  • be polite, respectful and courteous on dates and remember your manners! Social graces go a long way and are always appreciated
  • be punctual and if you are going to be late, let your date know
  • start as companions and transition into romance – get to know your new beau
  • don’t compare your date to your previous spouse – not in your head and especially not out loud
  • whatever you do, don’t act desperate. You may be lonely, but don’t act clingy and don’t expect your date to fill your void. Keep your friends and family close, indulge in your hobbies, and the rest will flow from there. Romance should develop naturally, so don’t ever try to force the issue
  • have fun and try not to take your date too seriously. Let things happen naturally and, as previously stated – have fun!


It may be daunting to get back into the dating game, especially if you’ve been away from it for so long. But you’ve got to look for love to find it, and the only way to do that is to put yourself out there. It’s never too late to meet the right person, and certainly never too late to have some fun! 

Do you have any suggestions for how to get back into the dating game? Have you ‘gotten back on the horse’ recently? How did you go about it? What things went right for you? What went wrong? Would you share your experiences with our members?

If you don’t have a date, but would like to try online dating, why not read this article by dating guru Bettina Arndt to see if it’s right for you? Could online dating work for you?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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