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Over 55? Here Are 5 Tips for Successful Online Dating

The biggest obstacle for senior singles is technophobia.

Key points

  • Online dating is a big and growing reality for senior singles.
  • There are certain things you can and should do to stay safe when online dating.
  • Knowing your goals and parameters for dating is imperative for success.
Shutterstock, Ground Pictures
Shutterstock, Ground Pictures

So, you’re single and “of a certain age.” Well, there’s not much you can do about being older, but there is plenty you can do about being single.

The good news today is that you’re not just limited to fishing in the small pond of silver singles you meet at church, through friends, and through your various activities. Even if you’re not as tech-savvy as your kids and grandkids, with a bit of effort you can wade into the ever-expanding online 55+ dating pool.

If you opt for online dating, despite any fears you might have, you will quickly find that you are not alone. A 2020 study from the Pew Research Center found that 16 percent of seniors have used a dating site or app. And that’s 16 percent of all seniors, not single seniors. The percentage of older singles looking to meet someone online is obviously much higher.

Typically, the primary barrier to online dating amongst seniors is technophobia, or, more simply, a lack of technical expertise. This is easily overcome with assistance from a tech-savvy friend or relative. This person can help you set up your online profile and even sort through potential candidates for dating.

If you are new to the world of online dating, the following tips can help you find success as you bravely launch yourself into this exciting but occasionally confounding new world.

  1. Pick the right website/app. Not all dating sites cater to the same audience. Some sites are for younger people, some sites are for specific religions or ethnicities, some sites are for married people looking to cheat.... Your best bet is to find a site/app that caters to people your age who are truly single. The best options, as of this writing, include: SilverSingles, OurTime, eHarmony, and Silver Singles and Our Time cater specifically to older adults, while eHarmony and Match are more general dating sites that allow you to search for people your own age.
  2. Know your goals and parameters. Before you start dating, you need to decide what you’re looking for. Do you want to date casually? Do you want an exclusive (monogamous) dating partner? Are you hoping to find a long-term partner? After determining what you want, you can create a list of red, yellow, and green flags. A red flag might be something like, They are currently in a long-term relationship. A yellow flag might be, They live more than an hour away. A green flag might be, They have an enjoyable and infectious sense of humor. Even if you are tech-savvy and planning to post your online profile without assistance, I suggest sharing your goals and dating parameters with a few friends before you jump into the dating pool. I also suggest you check in with your supporters regularly, as they can help you stay on track as you date.
  3. Create the right profile. The right profile is an honest profile. Post a few good and recent pictures of yourself. You want to look your best, but make sure the pics you post are not deceptive. You want someone who wants to date you as you really are rather than an airbrushed version of you from 20 years ago. Don’t lie about your age. Don’t lie about your goals.
  4. Skip the long-distance romances. When you set up your profile, make sure your search parameters are limited to whatever distance you are willing to drive on a regular basis. In-person dating with someone who doesn’t live reasonably close is generally not worth the effort. Don’t even flirt online with people who live far away unless you’re willing to pull up stakes and move across the country to be with them. Which is something I don’t recommend because when you only know a person from your online interactions with them, it’s difficult to know who they really are and what they are really like. Charming and kind and romantic online is great, but it doesn’t always translate to the real world.
  5. Safety frst. Sadly, there are some unsavory people in the online universe, and they will take advantage of you if you’re not careful. So, do not share nude or semi-nude pics of yourself. Just don’t. If someone can’t wait until an actual date to see that part of you, they’re probably not worth dating. Do not send money to someone you meet online. Do not share your bank info, your online passwords, or any other info that might give them access to your private information or finances. Do not meet someone in person without a safety net in place. This means that your first several meetings should occur in a public space like a coffee shop or a park. You should also drive yourself (or have a close friend drive you) to the first couple of dates with someone. You should also have a friend on call and ready to intervene if you feel unsafe.

If you’re of a certain age and you want to enjoy dating, perhaps reviving your sexual life or meeting a new life partner, dating websites and apps are a great way to meet people. If you follow the basic guidelines above, you can date both successfully and safely. In fact, you may find online dating both easier and more rewarding than the in-person dating you did in your teens and twenties because now you’re a full-fledged adult and you’re looking to date other full-fledged adults.

As seniors, you and the people you date are clear on what you are looking for and what you’re not willing to put up with. With help from the sites/apps you choose to use, you can filter out inappropriate partners, avoiding people who aren’t going to work out while focusing on people who might.

More from Robert Weiss Ph.D., LCSW, CSAT
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