When you are twenty, you can afford to date without forethought. Having all the time in the world allows you the luxury of asking anyone for any reason to spend a little time together. Because you are new to adult life, stretching your experience with different kinds of people works to help you figure yourself out. We find our life’s envelope by fooling around at the edges.
Logically, there’s no reason not to do the same if you are fifty. You might even want to make the case that being free of youthful responsibilities – and maybe even your own children – means you can return to self-discovery with your dating. Life gave you ups and downs, and now you can use the found knowledge to find someone compatible.
But I don’t think it works that way. Maturity narrows our focus to those elements of life that are important. Casting off that which doesn’t interest us gives us time and (importantly) the energy to pursue what is of value. Discarding choices can be liberating, in the sense that we more clearly define ourselves…both to ourselves and that yet-to-be-found other person.