When we’re young, it’s easy to swipe across on Tinder or head out to the bar for after-work drinks. But as we get older, meeting people becomes a bit more of a challenge.
Recent research by Lumen, a dating app exclusively for over 50s, found that one in six Australians over the age of 50 feel lonely every day or on most days. But that stat doesn’t have to be so high.
We chatted to Lumen’s co-founder and former dating editor Charly Lester who revealed that there are a few reasons why over 50s may be feeling lonely.
“Recently we conducted a survey into loneliness over 50, and the main reasons people gave for feeling lonely were not working any more, being single, and that their children had left home,” she explains.
Unlike other age groups where it’s easy to make friends at work or chat to other parents at the school gate for example, Charly says there are fewer opportunities like that as we get older.
“Many younger people make friends simply because they are in situations where they are surrounded by other people in the exact same stage of life as them, or through their children. The older you get, the more of an effort you may have to make to meet new people, but that shouldn’t put you off.”
The conversation on mental health is certainly changing but Charly admits that there’s still a stigma around loneliness as when you feel like you have no one around you, it can feel like a personal failure.
Ever felt like you aren’t attractive enough to others to have a partner, or enough friends? Well, this isn’t the case and it’s all about putting yourself out there a bit more.
“It can feel like a big step to admit that you are feeling lonely and start doing something about it,” Charly says.
“Like most things, once you start talking about a problem, you realise that hundreds of other people feel the exact same way. In fact, our survey shows that over 4.2 million over 50s worldwide feel lonely at least a few times each week, and the issue isn’t one suffered just by over 50s, either.”
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If this all sounds very familiar, then you can make a change and make new friends. It may sound daunting to put yourself out there, but Charly says start by thinking about the activities that make you happy whether that’s playing a social game of netball or a night out at the theatre.
“Research clubs and groups near you which offer these things, and sign up. That way you’re not just starting a new hobby to meet people, you’re also doing it for the activity itself.”
“Cafes, bars, libraries and village halls often have evening clubs and activities, so if you can’t find information online, take a walk around your local area and start asking around to see what’s on offer. Your local council can also be a great resource, with many running sports clubs specifically for over 50s.”
But if you want to connect to someone in a 21st century way, signing up to Lumen isn’t just for those looking for romance.
“You can also make friends in our subject-specific groups,” Charly explains.
“Lumen has groups where members can discuss Travel, Home and Garden, Sport, and Films & TV, and over the coming months we will be making even more groups where members can chat to people in their local area.”