It's not too late to fall in love again during your retirement years. In fact, now that the child-rearing years are largely behind you, it's the perfect time to find someone you truly enjoy spending time with. “You've completed your adult tasks, which are to raise a family and establish yourself in the community,” says Abigail Trafford, author of As Time Goes By: Boomerang Marriages, Serial Spouses, Throwback Couples, and Other Romantic Adventures in an Age of Longevity. “Once you're in your 50s and 60s, you put a premium not on scoring with someone, but on connecting with someone and being who you really are.”
If you're looking for a new relationship or at least a crush in retirement, you're in good company. Approximately 46 percent of Americans age 65 and older are currently single, including people who are widowed, divorced, separated, and never married, according to the Census Bureau. To help you connect with other single seniors, U.S. News consulted Brookings Institution demographer William Frey, who determined the U.S. cities with the most single people over age 65. We slimmed down that list with our Best Places to Retire search tool to single out retirement havens with plenty of opportunities to meet other singles and fun things to do on a date.
There's a bit of serendipity involved in finding a new love connection, but you can stack the odds in your favor. “A new interest will bring new people into your life,” says John Gray, a certified family therapist and author of Mars and Venus Starting Over: A Practical Guide for Finding Love Again After a Painful Breakup, Divorce, or the Loss of a Loved One. For example, you might sign up for southwestern cooking lessons or a painting class in one of the country's artistic capitals, Sante Fe, N.M. Or join a gardening workshop or horticultural society at the Memphis Botanic Garden. Many senior centers provide more than just bingo tournaments and affordable lunches. The Milford Connecticut Senior Center, for example, offers dance and exercise lessons, Tai Chi, conversational Spanish, French, and Italian classes, and computer skills workshops.
Gray recommends taking on projects and activities that encourage interaction in order to achieve a common goal. “Try some activity that you are not very good at and ask for help,” advises Gray. “Men bond with women more easily when they are doing something to help the woman.” Asking for or offering assistance playing poker, blackjack, or keno in Reno, Nev., is sure to make both of your pulses race. Afterward, you can relax at a concert, golden oldie review, or comedy show.
Retiring to a college town such as Providence, R.I., or Columbus, Ga., gives you plenty of opportunities to seek help with your homework or to discuss the week's reading over coffee. An added perk: college tuition is often discounted for seniors. For example, Towson University in Maryland offers a tuition waiver program for state residents age 60 and older who don't work full time. These retirees also get free access to the library and recreational facilities, as well as discounts to campus events.
Another great way to meet other singles is to ask your friends to make an introduction. Savor a glass of wine with a friend in Santa Rosa, Calif., situated in an area that boasts more than 200 wineries with tasting rooms, and ask if they know anyone who might be right for you. You might also take a bottle to go and hike the local redwood forests, observe the stars at the Santa Rosa Junior College Planetarium, or share a giggle over a Peanuts comic strip at the Charles M. Schulz museum.
Romance can also flourish in waterfront towns like Boston suburb Quincy, Mass., which has 27 miles of coastline. For an interlude that's more adventurous than an amorous walk in the surf, try your hand at scuba diving along the coral reef system in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. You can even explore a sunken ship as you traverse the multicolored aquatic wildlife.
New love at an older age could strike at any moment—probably when you least expect it. Don't shy away from a new romantic adventure. “Dating is one of the most fun, life-affirming, exhilarating experiences that can come into your life,” says Judith Sills, a clinical psychologist and author of Getting Naked Again: Dating, Romance, Sex, and Love When You've Been Divorced, Widowed, Dumped, or Distracted. “It is being 19 again, but knowing everything you know now, and that is something not to be missed.”
Ten great places for single seniors to retire: