I’m a 70-year-old widower – I want to meet someone new but don’t know how

29 Apr 2024

"I’m in my early 70s and I lost my beloved wife five years ago. I grieved for years but somehow I’ve crawled out of this, with the help of my family and men’s group.

Now, unlike my peers, I want sex. I’m lonely for good company: people with whom I can walk and talk, with whom I can dance and dine, to hold hands and cuddle. I don’t want to go online to date. Where do I go and what do I do?

I’m retired but the past few years I’ve been very private as I haven’t wanted to share my sorrow. I’m looking for love – or maybe I’m looking for female companionship and intimacy. I’m self-sufficient and have a good head on my shoulders and lead in my pencil."

Michael, 72

Coming to terms with the loss of a loved one is truly grueling and experiencing deep sorrow shakes us as humans; I’m glad you’ve had strong support to help you through the rawness of your emotions. Many men I’ve spoken to have explained that when they’ve lost their life partners, grief comes in waves and can wash over them unexpectedly, sometimes years later. It’s not linear and is a sign of having loved deeply.

It’s positive to hear that you’re ready for good company – and that you’ve still got lead in your pencil, even if you might be feeling frustrated at the moment.


Firstly, I’d recommend you focus on getting to know more people, both women and men, to enrich your life with more friendships. The advantage of being more mature is that you have time to meet people doing things you love, with whom you’re likely to have a lot in common.

While you might naturally encounter more new people when younger, through work, children, and roles you might play in your community, many of them will be in your life predominantly because of a situation. By following your interests, you might meet someone and fall in love, but even if not, you’ll enrich your life through the experience and the friendships you make.


The University of the Third Age – U3a – has interest-based courses for people in their sixties, seventies and beyond. Group holidays are also very sociable and a great way to meet new people at a deeper level as you spend a lot of time together, from walking holidays in the UK – the Youth Hostel Association, ironically, seems to attract a lot of mature nature lovers – to more intrepid travel.

One Traveller has an excellent reputation for mature solo holidaymakers, while Saga Holidays is all catered towards the over-50s; Saga Magazine is also excellent, with many ideas of how to live a full and fulfilling life. If you’d rather a more mixed age, then Explore and Exodus will recommend trips for you. Health clubs frequently have a social life associated with them, and have the bonus of keeping fit.


You mention that you like to dance: whether you love the tango that attracts women who love to find a man to lead, ballroom dancing, or something more expressive, get yourself to dance classes. Meetup Groups are based on interests: don’t be afraid of asking your family or friends to help you navigate online bookings – or to teach you if you’re not comfortable yourself. Extend invitations to your peers: a lot of people feel isolated and they might appreciate a fun evening out, or regular dance dates for their diaries.

But even if you go alone, please don’t be reluctant to put your best foot forward: these are naturally sociable spaces. Dancing is a great way to experience the physical contact that it sounds like your body and heart craves. The ache for human touch is completely normal and I empathise with your feelings.


In your letter you say you don’t want to go online, but I would suggest that you don’t dismiss it totally. While meeting people through your interests is an excellent way to gain new friends – and maybe find love – more and more people do meet partners via the internet today. My advice would be to beware of long-distance relationships and profile pictures that might be a couple of decades old – and be clear about your needs: you’re not selling yourself for the approval of others, but showing who you are and inviting others to join you in the fun you want to have.


If a relationship develops, either with someone met through social events or through a dating website, you can decide whether you want it to become sexual. The older people get, the more intimate sex often grows because it’s not all about the physicality – while there may be fewer chandeliers wildly swinging, you’ll more likely enter the bliss of slowing things down and entering into a more caring, connected dance.

There’s a huge mix of attitudes towards sex in your age group: half of men and a third of women are having sex in their seventies, according to Age UK. There are so many ways to express yourself sexually; it might not all be about penetration. Mutual masturbation, lubricant, vibrators and Viagra might play a bigger role than before.

Plan more time for sex: it might take longer for your – and your new partner’s – body and mind to get aroused. You might also find different times of day work, too: one of my clients has a partner with a bad hip that tends to ache by the evening. Their pragmatic solution is to make the most of their retirement afternoons.


As you do start meeting more people, you might feel a fresh wave of grief as none of them measure up to your beloved wife. No one will ever replace her, your feelings towards her are sacred and I’m encouraged that it sounds like you’re looking for new experiences rather than to recreate something irreplaceable.

I wish you all the best as you move into this more sociable stage of your life after the grief of the past few years. It’s wonderful to hear your positivity and I’m sure this optimism will attract good people to you. I hope you enjoy your next twirl on the dancefloor and that it is full of laughter and love, of whatever kind.