Online dating can be intimidating, but with the right attitude and some helpful hints, you might just find things go swimmingly.
If the last time you had a first date involved a rotary telephone, a curfew, and a flashing porch light, you’re in for some fun. Dating in the 2020s looks quite a bit different. The popularity of online dating websites has changed the world of dating for singles of all ages, but mostly for the over-50 population.
Meeting new people has always been hard for older adults who may not be as active outside the home as younger people. Relying on friends for introductions is very limiting. But online dating allows seniors the opportunity to find and talk to prospective dates within the privacy of your home, and at your own pace.
With millions of older adults using online dating sites, the over 50 population is the fastest-growing user group, so there is no need to feel awkward. As you may have said to your mother once upon a time, “Everyone else is doing it!”
With online dating, first you pick a website to join. Here is a list of some of the popular dating sites for people over fifty.
Before you join, you may be able to view members’ pictures or profiles, but you won’t be able to connect with them until you pay for a membership. Membership prices vary depending on the site and the length of the membership.
You will create a profile, with a recent picture, telling a little about yourself and your interests. If creating your profile is daunting, have a friend or family member help you. AARP offers these tips for creating a good online dating profile.
You will also set some search parameters for your prospective dates. Geographical location, age range, height, build, smoking and drinking habits, religion, ethnicity, and education are some of the typical categories you can set your preferences for.
Now the fun begins. You will be matched with profiles that are similar to yours or the search parameters you defined. You can delete profiles that don’t interest you, mark ones that intrigue you, or start a conversation with the men or women whose profiles you like.
Once you begin chatting with someone through the site, it is up to the two of you to decide when to take the conversation to email, a phone call, or a personal meeting. Keep these tips in mind as you explore dating online.
- Commit to giving it some time. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t make a love connection in the first month. It may take some time, and many frogs, before you find your prince or princess.
- Engage with the website. Sorry to say, but it’s not magic. If you are not actively using the website, it won’t be working hard for you. Most sites use algorithms that track your usage, so if you are not engaging by clicking on members’ profiles, liking or disliking profiles, or messaging people, the algorithm can’t see what you like or dislike, and your matches will decrease.
- Keep an optimistic outlook. Go into dating as “something to do” or as “making new friends.” Psychologists say that dating increases confidence and overall happiness, so have fun with it. If nothing else comes from it, you will meet some interesting people and maybe collect some good stories to tell.
- Be honest, but keep your dirty laundry hidden. Do use recent pictures and be honest about your physical traits and preferences, but don’t bore your date by complaining about your ex or lamenting about your cholesterol level.
- Take initiative. If you are a woman, it may feel strange to make the first move, but today there is no stigma attached to women doing the asking. In fact, you may feel safer and empowered by choosing who you want to connect with.
- Be flexible. Allow for some leeway with age and other attributes. You may be pleasantly surprised if you allow yourself to consider someone that hadn’t fit your original parameters. Men often search for younger women, and miss out on great prospects their age, while women tend to be afraid to consider men more than a couple of years older or younger.
- Be safe. Don’t give out your full name, email address or phone number until you have validated that the person you are chatting with is who they represent themselves to be. Both men and women need to protect themselves against online scammers. Women should get a man’s full name and check him out on Google or social media before agreeing to meet him. Never give your address out. Instead, arrange to meet somewhere public. Always tell someone where you are going and with whom.
Sandy, a 58-year old from Tampa, Florida, met her boyfriend online. She shares her experience.
“I never expected to be dating again in my sixties, but a year after my husband passed away my daughter helped me set up a profile on Match.com. I went out on several dates over a few months and met some very nice men, but nothing sparked. I was deliberating whether to renew after my initial six-month membership expired and then Rick and I started chatting. We’ve been dating for four months now and it’s going great. I didn’t have to renew my membership after all!”
Sandy’s boyfriend, Rick, 63, offers this advice, “Don’t be afraid to reach out to people online. Everyone is (on dating sites) for the same reason, and everyone appreciates it when someone says hello or strikes up a conversation. It’s all about putting yourself out there and meeting people.”