The World of Dating – Senior Edition

Navigating the waters of a parent dating may seem murky and uncomfortable, we assure you there are benefits as well. First thing to remember is it’s ok not to feel ok at first, but you should make an effort to find acceptance.

Just when you thought the world of dating couldn’t get any more interesting, we introduce the dating life of your mom or dad!

As an adult child you may find yourself caring for both your teenage children as well as an aging parent. From the stubbornness and need for independence to the world of dating, yes we said dating, there are plenty of similarities between your teenager and your aging parent. Although there are books filled with tips on how to raise a child, one subject that isn’t talked about as much is how do to deal with the fact that mom or dad has started dating again. In this blog we will talk about boundaries, addressing concerns and what to remember when having conversations about the topic. While navigating the waters of a parent dating may seem murky and uncomfortable – we assure you there are benefits as well. First thing to remember is it’s ok not to feel ok at first, but you should make an effort to find acceptance.

Sometimes hard to stick to and difficult to enforce with others; lets talk about boundaries. When it comes to your parent’s dating life it is important to start out with setting healthy boundaries for how much and what type of information you are ok with hearing.  Keep in mind, if your parent is coming to you, they are looking for someone to talk to. If you can’t be that person, help them find someone who will listen.

What do healthy boundaries look like? Since these will differ from person to person we can’t tell you which boundaries to set, we can only tell you what you should think about when setting them for yourself:

How are mom/dad meeting people:

  • Online – do you want to know what their profile looks like and says? Do you want to see who they are matching with?
  • In-person – is your parent a social butterfly who can easily start up a conversation in the grocery store that leads to a date? Do you want them to come to you before going on the first date?
  • Through friends – if mom/dad have a friend setting them up, how much information do you want to know?

When the dates happen:

  • Do you want to be able to track mom/dad using a cell phone app to make sure they are safe?
  • Do you want to know that they are going on the date?
  • Do you not want to find out about the date until after it’s happened?
  • Do you only want to know about a date if it’s a good one?

If they start seeing multiple people:

  • How much of an opinion do you have on what your parent does?
  • Do you want to talk about safety concerns?

If they start seeing one person seriously:

  • When do you want to know that things have moved to the next level?

And you know we have to mention it…


  • How much do you want to hear about this aspect of dating?
  • Addressing health concerns
  • Practicing safe sex – how involved do you want be in making sure mom/dad are being safe?

Now that you have some things to think about when it comes to setting boundaries lets address concerns:

  • Financial Concerns – as an adult child you want to be sure your parent is set for any financial needs they have in the future from care to housing and everything in between. It is ok to address these concerns and make sure they are making smart financial decisions. Be certain they are not sharing any sensitive information with a new partner, and they are not overspending . These concerns are natural and if brought up the right way can be discussed calmly.
  • Emotional Concerns – one thing to be aware of is where your concerns are coming from, are they legitimate or are they based in emotion? If you feel that your concerns are on a more emotional level, work to find what those underlying feelings are and address them.
  • Timeline Concerns – if it seems like mom/dad are moving at a very fast pace in their dating life, know that it is more common than you would think. As we age there is a knowledge that time is precious and should not be wasted. This doesn’t mean it’s wrong, it just may seem a little fast for you. Trust your parent’s judgement and if you have concerns, bring them up. First determine if it’s a legitimate concern or an emotional concern that you need to work through.

We’ve covered the not so fun topics on older adults dating, but it’s important to remember that having connection is important in life. People who do not have connections risk becoming socially isolated. To learn more about what it means to be socially isolated, check out our blog, The Difference between Loneliness and Social Isolation. As the adult child you may think that you or your siblings or your kids are the connection that mom/dad need. Remember you are not the one that goes home to an empty house or apartment every day. The connection your parent has with you and your family is so special but they may be craving more. As we grow older our desire to have connection with others and the greater community does not diminish. Those connections provide purpose, everyone needs purpose.

As you start to become more comfortable with the idea of mom/dad dating they will feel more comfortable coming to you with topics and boundaries may need to be adjusted, but a new and stronger relationship will form. Welcome the new partner as a potential friend and keep an open mind. As you may tell your kids, adding someone new to your life doesn’t mean the people already there are less important.

If you know your opinion carries a lot of weight with your mom/dad, think wisely before sharing it. If, like dealing with your teenage child, you find your opinion doesn’t seem to matter that much, that’s ok too. Trust your parent’s judgement and know that they’ve been able to handle things pretty well on their own thus far.

Sadly, there is no handbook on how to handle your older parent dating. All we can do is continue to talk about it, share any concerns and celebrate new connections.

If you’re considering senior living for yourself or a family member, we hope you’ll visit one of our communities. You’ll find a maintenance-free, activity-filled and engaging lifestyle to help support your wellness goals.

You’ll also discover many benefits in a Northbridge Senior Living community, including our Signature Program S.T.A.R. Club (Sharp Thinking, Active Residents) – which offers our residents several activities to participate in with others, including:

  • Daily exercise group
  • Walking club
  • Tai Chi & yoga
  • Nutritional classes
  • Library and book club
  • Museum outings
  • Artists in residence program
  • Multi-generational music
  • Genealogy Generations

If you are considering senior living as the right choice for yourself or a loved one, we invite you to Find a Northbridge Community near you to learn more.

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