Getting divorced later in life can be a drag. Dating in mid-life can feel impossible. But with the prospect of growing old alone, many people over the age of 45 ultimately start to actively date in the hopes of meeting a suitable companion.
Perhaps the greatest shock to someone who's been married for the past 25 years or so is how much the dating scene has changed. It used to be that only "losers" had to look online for a mate. Now, the ones who lose out are the ones who don't go to a dating website.
Not only has the way to meet people changed but you have probably changed quite a bit from when you were in your 20s or 30s.
It's simply become the easiest and most efficient way to meet someone. And it's no longer stigmatized to say you met on Match.com, JDate, Our Time or Plenty of Fish.
So where does someone begin? Knowing what site to go to can help but you also may just have to experiment with a few different sites to see which one feels best and seems like it has kindred spirits.
People often tell me they want different things now that they're older. For some, their standards are higher than before. Perhaps they were with an addict so this time they just want to be with someone who is mellow (maybe even boring); or, perhaps they had been with someone who didn't "meet" them as a partner and now they want to hold out for their intellectual equal.
Try This Writing Exercise
In order to get clarity on what you're looking for, it can sometimes be helpful to make a list of how you've changed as well as how what you're looking for has changed.
The next hurdle is to create a profile. This is where lots of people get stuck. I find that people over 50 tend to believe that no one would possibly be interested in them because they perceive themselves to be "old."
The good news is 50 is the new 30! There are more 50-somethings out there than any other age demographic. That means that there are more people out there like you. The pool is much bigger than you think.
While it is true that those in midlife probably have more complicated lives—an ex (or two or three), children and relationship wounds—many of the folks will be wiser, more mature and will have a healthier perspective on what really matters in life than their younger counterparts.
You Will Need Patience and Perseverance
I tell people that if you hate dating, date more. You need to get to a place where it's no big deal to say, "next!" If you only date two or three people, losing one (especially if you are the one who is rejected) can really smart. If you date 100 people, having one not work out is not as big a deal. It's a numbers game, after all, so if you widen the pool, you'll increase your chances of meeting someone compatible.
The bad news is that sometimes people lie or misrepresent themselves. This is particularly true, I'm told, when it comes to a person's age and, unfortunately, sometimes the marital status as well. You have to be careful and screen well.
You may be tempted to fudge your age or status but let me just tell you that there will be no easy way to disclose the truth without risking anger and mistrust from the person you deceived. It's not usually good to start out on a dishonest note, even if you think it's just a little white lie.
I consulted a dating coach friend of mine, Catherine Schoen, and asked her about how those in mid-life could write the most attractive profile. Here's what she had to say.
Your photo is everything—90% of responses online are a result of your photo. Put your best self out there.
Of course that makes sense, but you have to know how to define a good photo.
One of my clients had a dating profile up for a couple of months with a lovely (though faraway) shot of her and her kids. Although she is an attractive woman, she got almost no winks or visits to her page. She took her profile down and changed her photo to a closer shot of her on a ski slope with a big smile on her face. Needless to say, it was like night and day. She got lots and lots of attention and eventually entered a long-term relationship.
Cathy advises either asking a friend who has a really good eye to take you out for a photoshoot or invest in a professional photographer. And take photos outside in nature or with you doing one of your favorite activities. She says to avoid the studio because it looks too contrived and, if I can add my own two cents, avoid shots of you where an ex had been in the shot with you but you cut them out but his or her arm or hand is unmistakably wrapped around you. That's a dead giveaway that it either hasn't been very long since you ended that relationship, or you're not over your ex yet. Either way, trust me on this one, don't do it thinking no one can tell. They can.
Although Cathy suggests leaving photos with the Fido out, it can certainly be another quick way to rule someone in or out. If you're an animal lover, you might want your potential mate to be one too. If you're not, seeing a pic of a prospect with a long-haired cat or four dogs might be enough to check him or her off the list immediately.
Two additional tips that Cathy added to her list were to have at least one full-body shot, and no pictures more than a year old (or 50 pounds ago). Otherwise, like with the age or status thing, you might be accused of false advertising.
As far as what to write, Cathy suggests that you write something simple but unique. She says, "Three paragraphs is plenty. White space is your friend."
A common mistake people make is they try to list the full spectrum of their interests and of who they are. People also use this precious small space to list what they aren't looking for.
Cathy's last bit of advice is to skip statements like, "we'll hold hands on the beach," or, "we'll sip wine watching the sunset," because, while lovely to envision, those are shallow promises and part of the natural evolution of any budding romantic relationship.
Group sites like MeetUp.com offer activities for singles as well as pursuits for the general public (like Francophiles, Dachshund-lovers, kayakers and much more) so if you're too shy to go on a one-to-one date, perhaps you can step out with a friend and attend an event doing something you love. Even if you don't meet a potential mate, you will have enjoyed yourself.
Online Is Where It's At
Either way, the internet is a wonderful platform to explore.
If you never get yourself out there, you will likely miss out on a wonderful social scene. Dating and meeting others through the internet may feel awkward at first, but, like everything, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
If you'd like more tips from Cathy, visit her website at CatherineSchoen.com.
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