No matter what you read about online dating services and scams or weird encounters, online dating is a popular option for seniors seeking romance.
Finding love online isn’t easy for older people—it’s anything but. Scams abound, as Senior Planet reported on last year, and people misrepresenting their marital and financial status are all too common.
But every once in a while you come across a friend who found love online, and moved in with or married the person and is ecstatically happy. That gives the rest of us hope. So there is a reason to keep trying, and even if nothing clicks, online dating can provide a lot of interesting (and horrifying) stories for your next dinner party.
Pick a site. There are lots of services out there specifically for seniors. Check out these articles for comparisons of prices and features and unbiased ratings.
- PAY for the service. Don’t try to get away with the free option where you don’t get to make the first move. That means you’re not serious
- Do make the first move. Contact people who seem compatible and follow up.
- Don’t use too many filters. Be open to people who might not be tall enough, or rich enough, or something else enough, but who may turn out to be perfect for you.
- Use photos that are flattering –but not too flattering. Don’t photoshop them to death. Your photo should just be of you, and your pet if you have one, no grandchildren or friends, and reflect how you look TODAY not ten years ago. If you’re not slim let your photo reflect that—in an attractive outfit. Put up a few head shots and at least one full body shot. Make them realistic. Remember, you want to meet people in person, and the first reaction you want from them is “You look better than your photo,” not, “you don’t look at all like your photo.”
- Don’t lie about your age. You will be found out—Google is all-knowing.
- Write a unique profile. If you’re not a writer, hire one. Many dating sites provide this service. Surefire ways to stand out: Instead of “ I love to sit in front of a fireplace on a cold day,” create a word picture of yourself. For example: “I’m standing at an ice-frosted window on a freezing cold day, wishing I had someone to join me in front of my fireplace.” Avoid tired cliches like “I love walks on the beach and fine dining.” Replace with, “I love climbing the dunes in Fire Island and eating hot dogs roasted on a stick at a bonfire.” Specific is better.
- Avoid asking for universal qualities in a mate, like kind, adventurous, sensitive, or anything else unless it’s non-negotiable, like non-smoker, or churchgoer, or liberal. Everyone thinks they’re kind, adventurous and sensitive.
- After the initial messaging back and forth on the app, suggest a FaceTime call. A long video call will eliminate all the nasty surprises that come with first meetings. Online dating has become “extremely frustrating and fruitless,” says Courtney Cleman, CEO of the V-Club, a studio in New York City that offers courses on sex, relationships, and wellness. She was quoted in Men’s Health, “The issue is a combination of no chemistry or mental connection. I tell my clients that if they FaceTime before the first date, they can probably eliminate 90% of bad dates.”
- Pay attention to your intuition on the call. If you sense someone is covering something up, assume they are. Move on to the next.
- Make sure your in-person first date is short and time limited. Get together for coffee and make sure you have a meeting scheduled you have to get to afterwards.
- If you are long distance dating, keep video calling until one of you is ready to travel to meet. Long distance dating is tough, but for seniors who don’t have too many options nearby and who are willing to relocate, it can work.
Exposing the phonies
Is he or she who they say they are? This is a tough one. So many (mostly male) daters will lie about being married and string a woman (it’s usually a woman) along for months before she finds out. The demographic advantage lies with men at this stage of life, and many take advantage of female desperation for love. Older men can be targeted by younger women who are looking for sugar daddies. Don’t hesitate to be suspicious. If there are any red flags use a people search service to check someone out. It may cost you thirty bucks but can save you a lifetime of heartache.
Remember, dating should be fun. Be suspicious but not too suspicious – or you won’t have any fun. As long as you don’t give out your financial info, or send people money, and if you exercise some care and common sense, you should be fine.
Remember, you have to take some risks to find love. That has always been the case… and it hasn’t changed because of the internet.
Erica Manfred’s articles and humorous essays have appeared in print and online publications including the Washington Post, Atlantic, Salon, Village Voice, and the New York Times. A self proclaimed Geezer Geek, now in her seventies, she specializes in writing about aging. She’s the author of four books, including her memoir, I’m Old So Why Aren’t I Wise; Snarky Senior in the Sunshine State. You can subscribe to her newsletter at SnarkySenior.com or visit her website at EricaManfred.com