“Seek, and you will find.” Luke 11:9

Dating may not be the right word for what a widow-man might do in search of female companionship. Among younger people, dating seems to go on more rapidly and more casually than dating women in my young adulthood. Fewer rules seem to apply today, and there are more venues for meeting women than ever.

If you are over forty and thinking about dating, you might want to know that some people will find it strange to think of you having a “girlfriend.” If you are over seventy, it may seem stranger still, even comical, to others and yourself. But having a “girlfriend” and dating in some form will let you respond to a pull toward a special friendship with a woman. And the truth is, there are differences in male-female companionships now compared to the dating we knew as young men.

I have had little experience with dating since my widowhood began. Most of my social contacts with women near my age have been widows and divorced women who are not interested in dating in the romantic sense.

Simply meeting women is the first challenge of dating. Meeting at church, on the job, or through friends may still be the best way to connect with women your age. And there are far more ways to follow up than in the “old days”: email, text messages, Facebook, and the ever-present cell phone with caller ID and voicemail are just a few ways to communicate. Old-fashioned greeting cards or letters in the mail are options, and they can seem more personal than the modern electronic methods.

“Computer dating” existed back in the 1960s, but online dating is much more sophisticated now. There are so many online dating sites now that you need to investigate carefully if you want to try this. I know several men who have found wives online with whom they are happy today, so it can work successfully. Meeting women online does not necessarily mean you plan to marry one of them; it can be just for dinner or for a night at the movies.

Dating has become more casual than when I was a young man, and the expectations have changed. On the one hand, it seems easier now to have a truly casual date for dinner and a movie with no expectation of an ongoing relationship. Many women wouldn’t want any other kind of date. At the other extreme, some people assume that a date will lead rapidly to sexual activity. Women are often wary of men seeking dates because of this heightened expectation. You also need to realize that some women you meet may have more aggressive plans than yours, either for commitment or sex.

You may need to develop ways to communicate your trustworthiness to a woman you want to see socially. You may need to find ways to avoid getting into an awkward situation with a woman. There are wonderful opportunities ahead, but there are also perils to be avoided.

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