Navigating Online Dating in Your Golden Years
Love is ageless, and the desire for companionship is universal. It’s a thread that binds us as humans.
Yet, among seniors, loneliness is a significant issue. Spouses pass on or marriages dissolve into divorce. And, because people are paired up, whether it’s their first marriage or a subsequent one, the pool of available companions has dwindled.
Seniors living alone are more likely to become depressed or lonely as they age. So, perhaps you should consider online dating. Yes, navigating the online world can be like driving for the first time in rush-hour traffic, but it can also be a terrific and safe place to meet like-minded people. Maybe you’ll meet Mr. Right, or maybe you’ll make a new friend. And, really, can you have too many friends?
Here are a few dating sites that are perfect for those of us in our second act, plus some guidelines to follow so your dating experience is a great one:
“Who will you meet?” a friendly voice asks when you log onto Our Time. A dating site that celebrates the golden years, Our Time prides itself on recognizing that the needs of people in their 60s, 70s, and beyond can be very different from singles in their 30s and 40s.
The vision of Stitch is to provide an answer to the isolation and loneliness that we all inevitably face at some point in our lives. It’s a “community” more than merely a website, and it brings together Stitch members for local activities, group travel, volunteer activity, and online discussions. It’s aimed at helping those over 50 find romance, friendship, or anything in between.
Founded by Dr. Neil Clark Warren, a clinical psychologist and author of eight books on love, marriage, and emotional health, eHarmony has a Compatibility Matching System that does the work for you, narrowing down the field to match you with compatible people, based on its 29 Dimensions Model – or features of compatibility.
How About We
This website has a version targeted specifically to those over 50 and is unique in that it matches people based on proposed dates: anything from coffee to a night at the opera. Users propose potential dates: “I’ve got two tickets to La Boheme. Would you like to join me?” Among its features, you’ll receive a daily email with potential dates based on your preferences, such as religion or political leanings.
Used by 38 million singles worldwide, Zoosk will pair you with users with whom you are most likely to have a special connection. You’ll be guided through the process, from signing up to searching, with tutorials and tips for making the most of the site. You can meet members through your own search tools, or through Zoosk’s matchmaking feature.
Safety Tips for Online Dating:
- Not to strike an immediate note of fear, but, if posting a profile picture on a dating site, use one that can’t be found anywhere else online, such as Facebook. Con artists love to scam the elderly. Your photo, if it’s available elsewhere, can lead to identity theft.
- Meet in a public place. There’s safety in numbers, and so a coffee shop or restaurant provides enough witnesses if the date goes south. Never meet a man at his home or invite him into your home until you get to know him.
- Tell a friend about your date. Give a family member or friend details about where you’re going, whom you’re meeting, and when you’re expecting to be home. Take a minute to check in with your friend or have them call you. (A phone call from a friend is also a handy excuse for escape if the date’s not going well).
- Don’t accept a ride from your date. Drive yourself to and from it, or take a taxi or public transportation.
- Stay sober. This may seem obvious, but it’s worth being said. Drinking can lead to recklessness and poor judgment.
Tips on Etiquette
Post a picture that is natural and pleasing, and include a nice, upbeat headline. Be honest in your description of yourself. Humor is a great way to make a connection, too, so don’t be afraid to have some fun with your profile.
When emailing a match, open with a compliment – “You have a great smile,” or, “I’m impressed with your list of favorite authors.”
As tough as rejection is, a match may disappear with no word. Some find it simpler to walk away. So, be the bigger person and move on.
When a date goes well, send them a note the next day. A simple “I had a wonderful evening” is sure to put a smile on your new friend’s face.
Tips for Meeting Offline
It can be tough, when you’re trying to get back into the dating world, to decide on where to meet and what exactly to do. How about a live production – a play or an opera? Love it or not, it will give you plenty to talk about after. And who doesn’t love to dress up for a live show?
Go for a short hike or scenic walk. Take along a small picnic or pick a cozy café for a coffee break along the way. You can go at your own pace and talk along the way. Make sure to pick a path that’s not isolated, so you’re not alone.
Consider a baseball game. You don’t need to be a sports fan, and baseball provides a sporting atmosphere that is quiet enough to allow for good conversation.
Take a cooking class. Learning new skills keeps us young, it’s a great out-of-the-box idea, and cooking something together can be an intimate experience.
Volunteer your time. Show your date your compassionate side by doing some community service. Do you work in a soup kitchen? Bring along your date. If it doesn’t go great, at least you’ll leave feeling good about how you spent your day.
See a movie. An oldie but a goodie, seeing a movie is always a great date. Stick to something mainstream that both of you are likely to enjoy. It should lead to some stimulating conversation afterward.
Enjoy a wine tasting event or winery tour. They usually are a more adult crowd, and a vineyard provides a beautiful and romantic backdrop.
A Few Final Thoughts
Remember the good ole days when people dated? A handsome boy would pick you up. You’d head to the soda shop or perhaps take in a movie. The perfect ending was a kiss goodnight.
One of the great things about online dating is that it’s made the casual date cool again. And, who knows more about casual dating than those of us on the shady side of 60 or 70? So, go ahead, take the plunge. Love in our golden years can be even better.
Gary Simmons is a Certified Senior Advisor and Case Manager for A Hand to Hold. He strives to make the home care experience a better one for seniors and their families. Gary Lives in Atlanta, GA with his family and loves taking Disney vacations with them.